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EUROPE 2012 RATE Places and lengthy in each place

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1. Posted by leodollar (Budding Member 16 posts) 2y

Travelers

Please, help me route my backpack trip to Europe March- May 2012. I plan on spending 38 days. Not sure it will be realistic or too rush to do all the places below in such a short time.

With the following list, I seek your assistance planning and rate the “must go,” the ones to cut and the ones to include (such as Greece I so wanted to go, not sure will have time).

Also, very important: how long I ought to spend on each of them for a full experience without feeling rushed.

DESTINATIONS:

1. UK
a. London (Arrival)

2. Netherlands
a. Amsterdam

3. GERMANY
a. Hamburg
b. Berlin
c. Munich

4. ITALY
a. Venice
b. Rome
c. Florence
d.Milan

5. SWITZERLAND
a. Zurich

6. FRANCE
a. Marseille

7. SPAIN
a.Barcelona
b.Madrid

8. PORTUGAL
a. Lisbon

9. FRANCE
a. Normandy
b. Paris

10. UK
a. London (Return)

I greatly appreciate your feedback. Upon your inputs, I can consider extending my stay and/or reducing my route

Best, Leo

2. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1769 posts) 2y

38 days will go very quickly so cut down some? You need to arrange a tight schedule and fly when you can. The worldguide internet sites on main towns and countries can be helpful. There are some cheap airlines to get around which need to be booked early.

London and nearby alone has enough to keep you occupied much of that time.

I would miss the Netherlands unless you have a specific reason for going there. Maybe a day in Amsterdam?

Germany maybe Berlin, maybe a day somewhere else?

Italy, a full day in Venice then down to Rome which needs some days and maybe a day at Pompeii. You could fit in the galleries and museum in Florence and the leaning tower, etc at Pisa if you can find time but like elsewhere, book tickets online before arrival to save lengthy queues..

I would give Switzerland a miss.

France. Not a lot in Marseilles to say the least. There are a number of good towns along the south coast but no real "must sees". France has quite a lot to see but it is widely spread out.

A fair bit to see in Spain. Barcelona and Madrid need at least a few days each. Watch out for pickpockets there and elsewhere in crowds, on public transport, etc.

Since you have little time, I would give Lisbon a miss this time.

Paris needs a few days at least. Maybe a day trip or two out. Annabel Simms' booklet will give you 20 day trips to nearby places rarely visited.

I find lowcostholidays has some good, cheap accommodation. Hostelworld has some cheap accommodation but not necessarily good.

3. Posted by judesbucketlist (Budding Member 6 posts) 2y

I didn't backpack, but took 35 days and spent 11 in France & 16 in Italy, with the last week in Athens & on Santorini. It did feel a little rushed at times, especially through France as there were a few places where I only stayed one night, so I can understand why you want to take things a little easier. Although I drove 11 days in total through France & Italy, I hear the trains are great for getting around more cheaply, but of course will take longer than flying between countries.

For your time in Venice, I disagree with Cyberia - a day just won't do it. I was there for 3 days and could have spent longer there's so much to see & absorb. If you're interested in visiting the islands (Lido, Murano etc), they all take time to travel to by ferry. Depending on your interests, you could do Florence in a couple of days as the historic centre isn't very big (though I highly recommend going across the Arno up to Chiesa di San Miniato) and you can take the hop on hop off bus. Friends of mine have gone to Pisa, but weren't that impressed as it's only the tower that's there, so you may not want to spend the time travelling there. Rome needs at least 3-4 days (be extra vigilant of pickpockets especially in the train station) if you want to take your time around the Forum / Palatino / Colosseum and the historic centre - you can go to Pompeii for a day or so from there.

I have friends who stayed in Marseille on the way from Italy to Spain, and do not recommend it - they said it was awful. You may like to try somewhere that's not such a big city - perhaps somewhere close to the Camargue like Avignon or Aigues Morte - both really lovely, historic towns.

As for Paris, stay as long as you can! I was there for 5 days and did manage to see the major sights and experience the city a little. Would have been happy to stay for months.

I could have gone to more countries. or seen more of those I did visit, but I wanted to take the time to really absorb the experiences and sights. If I had rushed it more, it wouldn't have been such an amazing trip and I would have been too tired to really appreciate the places I saw. I think it has helped me to remember and retain more, which is really what you want when you have a great trip.

My suggestion for what it's worth is that less is more - spend more time in fewer places. If nothing else, it will give you a good reason to go back & do it again, with different destinations.

Happy backpacking - you'll have an amazing time that will stay with you.

4. Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy (Respected Member 34 posts) 2y

It sounds like a good trip, it might be rushed but if its your first trip sometimes you cannot help but try and see everything. A few days in each is a good way to see lots of places and get a feel for them and you can go back to the ones you love.
I do both, i have done whirlwind trips and long one, obviously long stays are ideal but not always feasible.

The bigger cities, if you are thinking in terms of minimum days, i would say at least 3 full for Paris and Rome. Reading the suggestions above I would probably agree, Venice is really quite amazing you need at least 2 days as you will get lost for most of the day.

A suggestion might be to fly from Italy to Madrid, I understand your route and assuming you are using trains etc. If you flew you could leave out Zurich (Switzerland is beautiful but its killer expensive) Marseille (i've never been but its not the first time i've heard its horrible) and even Milan unless you have your heart set on it. Save yourself some extra days.

If you flew to Madrid (or Barcelona) then you can start your journey back up through Barcelona and France etc.
You do need a couple of days in Paris, you will sell yourself short if you only have one or two. Its a big city and if you want to go in to any of the museums of galleries you will lose hours out of your time there.

Sounds great you will have a fantastic time. Try and see everything you want to see and just go home tired, but make sure you don't run out of time, its hard to get the balance.

Happy travels.

5. Posted by hotpatriot (Inactive 2 posts) 2y

- Poland, Krakow
- Croatia, Dalmatia
- Italy, Trieste
- Bosnia and Hercegovina, Sarajevo
- Montenegro
- France, Cote d'Azur... ;)

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

6. Posted by leodollar (Budding Member 16 posts) 2y

Experienced travelers,

Thank you so much for your GREAT inputs. Based on your feedbacks, I remapped my route, included the days I plan on staying, and would like to share with you:

United Kingdom
London (4 days)
Germany
Berlin (3 days)
Italy
Rome (5 days)
Venice (2 days)
Florence (2 days)
Pompeii (1 days)
France
Paris (6 days)
Spain
Madrid (3- 5 days)
Barcelona (3-5 days)
Portugal
Lisbon (2-3 days)

Question: If I cut Portugal, any chance I can include a 3-4 days in Athens flying from Italy? Would that be feasible?

@Cyberia- Based on your feedback, I will probably extend from 38 days to 45 days. Is 4 days in London too much? I thought of stopping by Amsterdam just to add to my list of traveled places and take some pictures. What other city would you recommend in Germany beside Berlin? I set 2 days for Venice, added Pompei (Thank you for that), and didn’t include Pisa this time. I cut Switzerland based on your and ReganasaurusRex’s feedback.

@judesbucketlist- Based on your feedback, I gave Venice and Florence 2 days each.

@ReganasaurusRex- I love the idea of flying from Italy to Madrid, but am a little worried if I will manage to make such arrangements. For instance, f I decide to short or prolong my stay in Italy I lose the ticket purchased. How would you go about that? Buy once I am ready to fly or in advance (before even flying to Europe). Would you happen to have a website I can clarify these?

As far as my interests:
- Castles
- Soccer
- Beach
- Nightlife
- Coliseum
- The Holocaust
- Major events (Like Berlin wall, volcano in Pompei)

I am not a heavy drinker, nor big spender in food or lodging. I do, however, want to have the “local” experience as much as the tourism. Having that said I am all-open to eating not sophisticated but authentic food for that region. Same with alcohol.

Will $3500 USD (aside from the plane ticket) be sufficient for 45 days in Europe?
What are the variants to include in this calculation and/or how do you calculate per day expenditures?

7. Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy (Respected Member 34 posts) 2y

You have plenty of time in each city I think the itinerary looks good. You have deleted a few destinations, are you looking now at going from Berlin to Italy in one trip? That will be a hike. Your original stop in Munich might still be a good idea to break that up.

If you find you have too much time in a city look at doing day trips. When I was in Madrid I ended up doing 2 different day trips because the city itself didn't interest me (sorry Spain lovers) but its a good way to see something a bit different, get out of the cities. 4 days is good in London, tis a big city and if you want to go into he museums and galleries, see a show, 4 days will be good, there are also nice parks to spend an afternoon in. Places like Oxford are only 1hr away if you cant fill your day.
All the big cities have something nearby worth seeing.

In terms of getting from Italy to Madrid, I usually use skyscanner.net to check flights. Flights will def be cheaper bought in advance and the low cost carriers will not help you out if you miss it. If you miss it you forfeit your ticket with most airlines (saying that because i was in America recently and they just pop you on the next one - doesn't happen in the UK and europe) So you might need to book in that section and work to a schedule for a few days.

Athens could be feasible but look at the flight costs, for some reason it never appears that cheap to go there, they never have great specials like they do for a lot of Europe.

If you are interested in WW2 history and the holocaust I would really recommend, if you wanted to add a destination, to visit Poland. Krakow is beautiful, Schindler's list was set and filmed there. Poland is beautiful and easily one of the cheapest places in Europe. Outside Krakow is Auschwitz, the Nazi extermination camp which is well worth a visit. Otherwise while you are in Berlin there is a camp on it's outskirts called Sachsenhausen and also visit the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Also because you like castles, there is a place called Sintra a day trip from Lisbon you could visit.

8. Posted by Eurotourguide (Budding Member 2 posts) 2y

hi there.

If I were you, I would consider doing a coach trip, it will work out cheaper and much more convenient if you consider the flights / trains / buses you will have to organize for yourself not to mention accommodation and meals. If you take time to look at itineraries from different companies, you'll find most of your desired destinations are covered with 2 night stops, the added benefit of doing a coach tour is that you will have a guide to help navigate you around and will meet fellow coach travelers who are up for as good a time as you are.

the old adage of safety in numbers also applies here as well, the only shortfall I can see, is there not being enough time in some of the cities, I would have a look at contiki.com who market to mostly young party animals from Australia and America, or topdeck.com who offer the same type of tour, or expatexplore.com, all tours depart from London and will either have Amsterdam or Paris as the first destination.

hope this helps.

[ Edit: Decided to leave relevant link, but removed overly promo context. ]

9. Posted by leodollar (Budding Member 16 posts) 2y

@ReganasaurusRex- On the update itinerary, I had planned to go from Berlin to Italy, cutting Munich. Upon your follow up, I decided to include Poland and Athens:
Here is my map:
Arrive in London
FLY London- Berlin
TRAIN Berlin- Krakow
FLY Krakow- Athens
FLY ATHENS- Rome
Then use train as much as possible for Italy, Spain and Portugal
FLY Lisbon- Paris
45 days will be the enough now? By including Athens and Krakow, would you advice cutting another city? (I cut Pompeii. I would be more interested on the concentration camps more than the volcano for a 1st time trip in Europe)
United Kingdom
- London (4 days)
Germany
- Berlin (3 days)
Poland
- Krakow (3 days)
Greece
- Athens (4 days)
Italy
- Rome (4 days)
- Venice (2 days)
- Florence (2 days)
France
- Paris (5 days)
Spain
- Madrid (3- 5 days)
- Barcelona (3-5 days)
Portugal
- Lisbon (2-3 days)
TOTAL TRIP 40 days
Please, be open to critique my itinerary (including days of stay)
I am not set on flying as of yet because I want this adventure to be the least set on schedules. This is supposed to be a fun experience that have been with me for 12 years. I want to go with the flow and experience Europe. YET, I must have a blue print to set the path
Thank you so much for your continuous follow up
Best, Leo

10. Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy (Respected Member 34 posts) 2y

The trip sounds great. I don't think you will regret Krakow at all, Poland is really fantastic its really pretty and full of history and culture. By flying you can add in Greece as you originally wanted too. Win! Sounds really good. Poland has some cheap flights Lot and wizz i think are theres so might get a good deal down to Greece.

Flying does add some restrictions but it can save so much time. And you can look at it as being the parts of the itinerary set in stone, ie. the rest is adjustable as long as you are here by this date.
If you can get tickets in advance try to, it will save you money, also another thing regarding flights is weight limits, if you are not a light packer, become one. You generally pay for bags and restrictions on low-cost carriers can be as low as 15kg for checked luggage which isn't massive and if you want to really save a penny and do it a little rough, its usually free to take carry-on which some airlines have around 10kg or even an unrestricted weight as long as it meets size requirements. You have to be a super light packer though.

You have left yourself plenty of time in each place, I don't think you will be too rushed at all. As much as you want to get out and explore sometimes you need a sleep in and a chill day. And keep in mind the day trips you can do if you find that you've allocated too long in a place, that way you get to see a bit more of the country without any changes to the itinerary.

Pompeii is pretty cool but you just need a day there so keep it in mind as a day trip from Rome on one of your 4 days, it's a bit of a hike but doable from Rome.

Planning trips is fun, wish I was going :)