2 Months in Europe

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1. Posted by Bosetraveller (Budding Member 4 posts) 16w Star this if you like it!

Hi Everyone,

I'm travelling to Europe from the 4th of July until the 10th of September and I would love some advice.

Other than needing to be in London from the 20th-27th August, I have no other commitments.

I fly in and out of Frankfurt, Germany.

When I travel I really love to take in the culture and export the country as close to a local as possible (whilst still seeing the main sites each location is renowned for). I love going off the beaten track and exploring! Happy to stay in hostels and would go out of my way to stay in homestays or just spend time with the locals.

Some questions:
- Does this route make sense?
- Am I visiting too many places?
- Roughly how long should I spend in these places?
- Can I get public transport or are there some places that I need to get a car?
- Do I need to book things in advance being peak season?

Order of city visits:
Frankfurt
Munich
Switzerland
Austria
Croatia
Budapest
Vienna
Prague
Berlin
Hamburg
Cologne
Amsterdam
Poland
Lithuania
Latvia
Estonia
Finland
Sweden
Norway - Really want to see the northern lights somewhere between Finland and Iceland
Iceland
Ireland
UK: 20th - 27th August
France (mainly south)
Frankfurt - Fly back home

Any help small or big would be really appreciated!

Thank you! :)

[ Edit: Edited on 30-May-2018, at 08:35 by Bosetraveller ]

2. Posted by UliS (Respected Member 76 posts) 16w 1 Star this if you like it!

In my opinion a bit to many places in 2 months, i would reduce it a bit.
Budapest, Vienna and Prague are a bit similar, drop at least 1 of these, similar for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, alo Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin, take in the culture takes a bit more then 2 nights in a place.
Public transport is possible everywhere but for seeing out of the way places more timeconsuming, in big towns i would avoid driving by car, trafic and parking problems, complicated one way systems....
Booking ahead you should do with transportation, this can save a lot of money but cheap air and train (in eastern Europe stil cheap without booking) tickets you can't change, bus tickets you can usually change.
Seeing the northern lights is a bit of a chance thing

3. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1163 posts) 16w 1 Star this if you like it!

I think you're unlikely to see the northern lights as you will mostly have daylight during those months at high enough latitudes.

I also think you've set a busy schedule. Pre-London I think you have 16 countries in 6 weeks. Even 16 cities would be challenging - say a day to travel between each, you're giving yourself 1.6 days in each. For me that's too hurried for too long a time to be fun.

Choose at least half of those countries to cull!

4. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 350 posts) 16w 1 Star this if you like it!

Yes there's definately far too many places to visit in only 2 months.
You could have a week in most of those places and still leave feeling you've missed stuff.

Personally I think Frankfurt is rather uninteresting.
It's nice but not somewhere I'd stay for more than a night.
As you're starting and finishing there, I'd suggest you don't allow much time in July but if you like it then you can get back there a couple of days early to see more of it.
Whereas although some may say the same about Munich (not me, I really like the place), there's lots of Bavaria castles (like neuschwanstein) and sites to daytrip from there. You could hire a car but there are plenty of organised trips to these places and depending on the cost, would probably be a wiser idea and prevent issues with getting lost, not finding the venue, parking etc.

You've got London for a week which is good and more than many people allocate, but there's still more there than you'll manage to see.

You don't mention where you're flying in from, but be aware that you could be affected by jet-lag.
Similarly you may feel a little rough/sick sometime over a 2 month period, especially with different food etc.

So the first thing I'd suggest is working out what you consider to be 'Must Do/See' stuff and build around them.
Some of those places are very expensive to stay (especially London).

5. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 368 posts) 16w 1 Star this if you like it!

You've included more whole countries in your list than cities? Are you just ticking them off or do you want to see places in those countries?

I agree that you're trying to fit in far too many locations. You have 22 locations listed for 7 weeks. That's a maximum of 3 days in each place, including time travelling to and from. You can just about scratch the surface of a city such as Amsterdam in 2 days.....but a whole country?

I don't think Budapest, Prague and Vienna are similar and wouldn't suggest you cut any of them out. You could cut out Latvia and Lithuania, visiting Estonia and getting the ferry from there to Helsinki. You could also cut out Hamburg and Koeln (Cologne).

You'll have no real problem with using public transport (trains, long-distance buses, budget airlines): it's all safe and comfortable enough. But you need to start firming up your itinerary now. There are excellent online advance discount fares for many European trains (especially the high-speed ones) and, to be honest, you need to be booking budget airlines now for best fares in July & August (the height of the high season).

www.skyscanner.net will give you all airlines for your route and dates. Always book on the airline's own website and make 100% certain you know and keep to any baggage rules. Also check if the airline allows airport check-in: some budget airlines don't and you'll need to print off your boarding pass or have it available on your phone. Make sure you allow plenty of time for check-in/bag drop and getting through security. It's best to be at any airport at least 2 hours before departure.

Use the official German railway website in English to find train times and details for almost all European trains and fares from and within Germany:

https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml

Each of the countries on your list has its own official railway website, all with at least some English-language pages. Google e.g. 'uk official railway website' to find them.

Eurolines lists many long-distance bus routes but there are also many other independent operators. Long-distance buses are usually slower than trains but cheaper.

https://www.eurolines.de/en/international-bus-lines/

I'm afraid you're unlikely to see the Northern Lights, sorry. There will be very little, if any, real darkness in Iceland and Finland when you are visiting. Sunset and sunrise are only a few hours apart and the time between them is twilight rather than darkness.....and you need darkness (and a clear sky) to see the Northern Lights.

6. Posted by Stefmuts (Budding Member 105 posts) 16w 1 Star this if you like it!

Till Amsterdam the route kinda makes sence but then Poland and so on is off track
Your list is too long for just 2 months and if you want to go off the beaten track I would not just go to the major cities, for example the Netherlands is way more than Amsterdam, and Austria is way more than just Vienna (head into the mountains)
I would take no more than one country per week, hire a car and explore, visit small towns to really get to know the countries you visit

7. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 710 posts) 16w 1 Star this if you like it!

24 places in 72 days? You are not going to experience any culture; you are going to be running from place to place. Can you do it? Yes. But this doesn't sound like what you want to do. You've gotten good advice above so look through it and start cutting destinations. I know this is difficult, but what we do when forced to cut is to save these destinations for future trips. That way you don't feel like you will never see them. A prime example would be your wish to see the Northern Lights. You are not going to see them in July and August, so save that for a future trip, preferably in winter when it's dark all the time.

Look at what is most important to you and put the rest on a list for future trips.

If you really want to get off the beaten path, plan a bicycle trip or hiking trip for the future. Southern France would be great for that.

Generally, do not rent a car in a city. Cars are an expensive nuisance in a city. If you want to get out and visit small towns and villages, check transportation options and if they are limited, that's the time to rent a car. Take a train to the nearest city and rent your car from there but not until you have finished visiting the city.

We've never had trouble with accommodation in high season, but we tend to stay in out-of-the-way places that aren't tourist heavy. Major tourist cities could be difficult, but you can usually find something. Looking for a place can take visiting time so you might want to book ahead for major cities just to save time for sightseeing. If you get stuck, go to the local tourist office and they will usually help you find a place.

Good luck and enjoy your trip.

8. Posted by Bosetraveller (Budding Member 4 posts) 16w Star this if you like it!

Thank you so much to everyone who has responded so quickly!

First thing I will do is definitely cut out some places as you all are right. Spending so little time in each place doesn't allow for much culture.

One of my main reasons for this trip was to see the northern lights, but also to explore the beautiful Scandinavian countries. Would it make more sense to do France early in the trip and leave the last two weeks (27th August to 8th September) just for Norway? I understand I might still not see the lights but I believe it will be darker in September?

Possible new plan:
Frankfurt - arrive 3rd July
France
Switzerland
Munich
Austria
Croatia
Budapest
Vienna
Prague
Poland (maybe?)
Berlin
Hamburg
Cologne
Amsterdam
Ireland
UK: 20th - 27th August
Norway
Frankfurt - Fly back home

Is this still too much for 2 months and 7 days?

Thank you again to everyone, really appreciate all this help!

9. Posted by Peter (Admin 6519 posts) 16w 1 Star this if you like it!

We spent 3 weeks in Croatia alone when we visited there and still barely scratched the surface.
To just boil Croatia down to Zagreb (which is I'm guessing what will happen if you do this) would be a real shame. You'd be missing out on the beautiful coast as well as the amazing Plitvice Lakes for example. The same is true for pretty much every country you've listed.

Considering most of the countries on your list (10 of them) are packed into a 6 week period, yes I think you still have way too much on that list. Personally, I'd choose one of 2 options:

1. Explore the Central Europe route (that's places like Budapest, Prague, Croatia, Germany, Poland)
2. Explore the Western Europe + UK route (I'd include Germany, Netherlands, France and maybe explore more of the UK than just London)

Then you have that stop in London for 7 days and finish off in Norway for the last 2 weeks.

Really the more time you can spend being in places rather than travelling to places the better. It's also cheaper not to be moving around so much.

10. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 368 posts) 16w 1 Star this if you like it!

> I understand I might still not see the lights but I believe it will be darker in September?

It will be slightly darker but imo not enough to really make a difference, sorry

Your new list still mixes whole countries with cities and that's where the problem lies. As Peter says, if you only visit a country's capital you're not seeing the country or really experiencing its culture. All EU/EEA capitals nowadays are multicultural and cosmopolitan to a greater or lesser degree.

If you really want to just tick off places then the new plan is fine (though I still don't understand why you want to visit Hamburg & Koeln?). But please don't confuse that with 'experiencing' the culture because, frankly, you won't experience much of it at all. It can sometimes be difficult to understand just how different each EU/EEA country is, not just in terms of language and behavioural norms but also in terms of culture, historical sights & sites and landscape....and each country has regional variations in all those things. Amsterdam is not the Netherlands, Vienna is not Austria and London is most certainly not the UK (which is anyway made up of 4 countries).

Peter's suggestion of choosing either Central Europe or Western Europe routes is a good one. Otherwise I suggest you either substantially reduce the number of countries you intend to visit or accept that hopping between capital (or very large) cities in numerous countries cannot give you a valid picture of a country and its culture.

[ Edit: Edited on 31-May-2018, at 01:19 by leics2 ]