Most Visited Countries in Europe

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11. Posted by Kingwindle (Respected Member 302 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Personally I have been to Paris on a few occasions. I have worked in France also on the south west coast. Compare these places and I did find a difference in attitude, where I worked they were more relaxed, friendly, in Paris as you have all described they seem to be in the ultra urban unfriendly, 'oh god not another english speaking tourist'.
It is good to see the different sites, the notre dam, la tour d'eiffel, and l'arc de triomphe, le louvre, la centre pompidou, (building with the inside on the outside- the structual work though) however I was not that impressed really witht he general atmosphere. Dont get me wrong, the sites are good but in general if you ask me to compare it to London and paris in an unbiased way i'd pick London- and the night life in London is amazing! If you want to reduce your spending on a night, have a few beers in you hotel room, it is expensive.

12. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Applegirl - wait until Kaite/mtlchica sees that!! She loves the city so much that you can be mistaken ffor thinking that she works for the tourist board there...

Admit to being surprised by your comment though, as i'm not sure if i've come across anybody that really disliked Paris or had bad things to say about it. To each their own though. From a personal point of view, i think Paris is great, although i'm not certain i'd actually want to live there. I wouldn't say the people are rude so much (well, some are), rather they are just French. That is not to sound like i'm slagging off the French, just that it is a cultural difference in they way they express themselves. I always find people in London (shops/taxi's/busses etc) rudder on the whole. They are very proud of their city and rightly so. Also to be honest, sometimes locals get p1ssed of anywhere where there's lots of tourists as it's hard to go about your normal business.

WARNING. OFF TOPIC RAMBLE FOLLOWS: I lived in Oxford for about 6 years, and used to dread having to go into the centre,a s it took so long to get anywhere because you were having to fight through hoards of tourists. And the year we lived in the centre, we lived in a wonderful old house with low ceilings etc. If we left the front door open for 30 seconds, we'd come back and you have a front room full of Japanese taking pictures and going through your stuff (seriously).
Yes, i am a tourist in lots of places and try and take the pictures/see everything, but having seen it from the resident side, it's not really all the surprising the the locals can get very rude. I'm certainly not excusing it, but...


In the summer Paris can be just too full of tourists/hot to fully enjoy, but is still wonderful, and i love the buzz around the Paris Plage when its on. There is so much to see/do, especially if you go away from the same half dozen places that everybody wants see/go to. The nightlife is plenty and varied, but just a different style to the UK. It's less manic, but i'm quite happy with that. I'm not a major club person so can't comment on that side.

Jooksing - sorry for stealing your thread!

Rick Steves seems to be the bible that most Americans and maybe Canadians use in Europe, but virtually is unknown overhere (unless you talk to American tourists that is). It's interesting the places which Americans visit which Europeans don't. For example, large numbers go to the Cinque Terre in Italy because Rick Steve speaks very highly of it (and it is a nice area, undoubtedly), but it barely features in many other European written guidebooks. So i suppose i'm saying don't base all your decisions on just one source.

As for your 2 weeks, yes you can get a very basic feel for the countries and i accept that is often preferable to just one country, especially if you may not come back to Europe for a considerable time/ever, but don't try and pack in too much.

For example if you plan on doing a Spain - France - Switzerland - Italy routeing as you mentioned and you include Madrid (or any of Southern Spain) and also Paris, you add considerable distance to your travels and stretches your trip even thinner. If Spa-Fra-Switz-Ita means Barcelona and the Cote d'Azur it's more managible.

In 2 weeks it's certainly not going to be viable to do both of Madrid and Barcelona as well as Paris without dropping at least one of Switz/Ita, or spending more time travelling than seeing. Maybe a couple of flights (if you go to/from the main airports, as oppsoed to some of the cheapy airports) instead of land travel may aid your trip.

As for basic suggestions (no, not all in 2 weeks, but in general for each country!):
Spain -

  • The Southern cities of Granada, Sevilla and Cordoba are wonderful and completely different to most European cities in design as they are Moorish. Probably either Granada or Sevilla if you just visit one.
  • Madrid - Great galleries, changes utterly after dark, surprsingly underrated, but also a bit isolated. True Spanish city. Great day trips to the likes of Toledo, Avila, Salamanca
  • Barcelona - probably my favourite city. Architechture, basic feeling, Sagrada Familia, nightlife, Ramblas. Catalan, not Spanish
  • San Sebastien/Bilbao - chilled, great fun (I thin SS has more bars per square km than any other city in Europe, possibly the world), Basque not spanish. Bilbao is undergoing an amazing transformation, including the Guggenheim
  • Others - The Pyrenees for walking and scenery, North coast area is unexplored but stunning, Valencia is often ignored, S de Compostela if your religious, Vigo/A Coruna very different in feel. Asst Island groups if you have lots of time or want something very different.


  • Paris (ask Katie!)
  • Lyon. Great French city. Best food/restaurants, relaxed, often wrongly ignored
  • Nice/Monaco/Cannes/Cote d'Azur. Lots of different areas to see can be very upmarket and in parts snobbish, but is beautiful. Relax away from chaos of the major cities.Good stopping point on way to Italy.
  • Lille - Last years European Culture capital. Lots to do/see, but generally off the tourist trail, and hard to fit in with your other plans.
  • Smaller southern cities - Carcassone, Montpellier (great old cities easily digestible and away from mad tourist rushes)Avignon (ampitheatre & Roman remains), Arles (also ampitheatre) and others
  • Others - Brittany. Relaxed rolling countryside, very friendly; Loire valley for wine, chateaux's etc; Toulouse, big student city so very lively and also major engineering centre, although not huge amounts to see; Lourdes if religious; Marseille large, seedy, dirty real life seaport but with a strange appeal; Bordeaux down to Biarritz/Irun - dunes, beaches, surfing, wine plus Bordeaux is a very decent city and Biarritz and old haunt of the rich/famous; Corsica. You have to make the extra effort to get there, but it's sure as heck worth it!


  • Interlaken/Grindelwald area and Luzern - most peoples idea of real Switzerland. Mountains/lakes, stunning scenery, lots of outdoor activities. Rail trips from Interlaken to the top of the Jungfrauoch (round trip) and Interlaken to Luzern are both worth doing for the journeys themselves. Luzern is almost perfectly siituated as a decent sized city. Boat trips on the lakes are cool.
  • Zurich - misunderstood city. Amazing setting, some lovely areas and good access to much of the rest of the country, although not cheap and a true business city. Several day trip possibilities including Liechtenstein (if only novelty value), Schauffhausen (lovely little city); St. Gallen; Lindau/
  • lake
  • Konstanz in Germany
  • Bern and Basel - Two wonderful cities, often bypassed. The capital is a great place which due to Swiss politics/finances doens't suffer any of the stuck up/snobbishness that most capitals do, whilst Basel on the border of 3 countries is interesting as a study of multi culturalism if nothing else.
  • Zermatt and Glacier Express to St. Moritz. World famous and virtual day long train trip over mountain tops showcasing Switzerland scenery. Zermatt is a ski resort but very interesting for its no car - at all - policy, and St. Moritz is in the Romansch part of the country and along with Davos etc very upmarket and posh. If you have time, continue via Tirano into Italy that way.
  • Others - The whole Italian Ticcino (Chiasso, Belinzona, Lugano etc) have a strange mediterranean feel; Lausanne is a very relaxed city; Geneva a very working city which i'm personally not that keen on


  • Rome is a simply amazing city with so much to see/do.
  • Venice - Unlike anywhere else really, although can quickly get overpacked with visitors, very hot and smelly (garbage rotting the canals). But not to be missed. Verona, less than an hour and a half away is brilliant as well.
  • Florence - Cathedral and so many galelries that its boggling. Pisa, Siena, Luca are all nearby and all worth a trip
  • Naples/Amalfi Coast/Islands - A mindblowing city because it is so different. The North/South divide is very obvious here, but it's highly recomended. The Amalfi Coast is one of Europes most stunning, Capri etc are fantastic, espcially if you stay a night so see it after all the daytrippers have gone. And of course there's Salerno/Pompeii etc as well.
  • Others - The whole coastal area from the French border through to Genoa, La Spezia and beyond (including Cinque Terre) is virtually a continuation of the Cote d'Azur in terms of scenery etc, but can be more laid back. Milan is very upmarket/shopping, and worth some time, but to me not 100% essential and can be missed on shorter trips. Parma, Bologna and the string of cities around then are wonderful old university cities which are light on tourists which means you get a much better feel for them; Turin is large, unvisited and refreshing if not spectacular; Sardinia (see Corsica); Sicilly and the "toes" of Italy are completely different to much of the country, especially the North, but often ignored and intoxicating.

I'm now going to lie down.

13. Posted by adrianne (Budding Member 2 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Wow, do I want to travel around 'my Europe' now! Haven't been to a lot of places that have been mentioned, unfortunately....

If you like beaches, and museums, and cities, Barcelona definitely is the place to go. You have it all there, and the Gaudi-architecture is just amazing.

Paris. Well, it took a few trips for me, but now I start to like it... Suggestions: Try to watch the movie Amelie befor you go, and go to the places that feature in the movie. I like the walk up to the Sacre Coeur a lot, taking the quite route up along the mills. On a warm summerday a biketour is very nice, to see all the main attractions. The cut costs, do as the French do, and get some nice goodies to eat and some wine to drink, and sit in one of the lovely parcs... Parc Citroen is nice, as is Parc du Luxembourg and the parc at Museum de Rodin.

It might be a plan to look at the prices of some lowcost-airlines like, etc if you want to do bigger distances. Than you could maybe see Prague as well. Mmmm, I really want to return there!

14. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I have to add in my 2 cents about Paris - because I loved it, loved it, loved it! I didn't find the people rude, but perhaps a bit curt. I found that once you got talking to them, they came out of their shells. Much like we do at home, I suppose, when a tourist strikes up a conversation that interrupts our bubble. Then again, I'm from Quebec so I spoke French the whole time - so I can't account for the language thing.

Paris was a very special trip for me. I think a lot depends of what happens while you're in there in the city you visit - who you meet, what you see, what experiences you live through. I went to New Orleans after Christmas and can't say I was impressed, but so many people who'e gone absolutely loved it. Our experiences were just very different.

A city is always your very own to discover. Oh... I sound like a tourist ad!

15. Posted by linsey085 (Budding Member 6 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I definitely think 4 countries in two weeks is manageable...i recently returned from a very similar trip. Needless to say, you won't be able to visit every notable city in each country, but you can definitely hit up a few good places and get a feel for the country. This is a good idea especially if this truly is a once in a lifetime trip for you. As for suggestions of which cities to hit up, i highly recommend Luzern, Switzerland. Its a beautiful city, great size and a good location to take some day trips. From there you can take trips to local mountain peaks or venture further out. I found that it was possible to do Zurich and Bern in a day each. In Italy i would go to Venice...a very unique place. Nothing quite like it anywhere else. Depending on what time of the year you are going, it could get quite touristy. We went at the end of December and it was still flooded with tourists, i'd imagine it being much worse in the summer. Nevertheless, I would definitely go. Beautiful place!

16. Posted by ashleigh49 (Budding Member 3 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!


I spent the summer in Tuscany, Italy and would really recommend visiting there, not only the main cities, Florence and Siena but also Lucca and Pisa and the Isla d'Elba. They are all just beautiful, every day off i got i would spend in one of them. Pisa does really only have the tower and its possible to do it and Lucca in the same day ... maybe as a day trip from Florence. There are also some lovely hill towns that u could visit if u are driving such as San Gigmiano but they are difficult to get to by train.

As for Paris i enjoyed it when i was there but prefered lots of other cities. Rome for example easily beats Paris. Amsterdam is great as well, the people are so friendly there.

awww... want to go back now!!

17. Posted by hasip (Full Member 24 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

flexirail or cheap-flights that's the question .
look for volare , ryanair and virgin-express and you will see that lot's of combinations with cheap 1-way flights are possible ( maybe in combination with 1 or 2 train-tickets ) within 2 or 3 weeks .
paris number 1 ? okay for sightseeing maybe , but for fun i would say munich and the nicest city not far from beaches not barcelona but surely lisbon .
strange that nobody mentioned these 2 city's .
for good food and museum visits i would vote for florence or madrid .

18. Posted by jooksing (Full Member 48 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

ok I finally decided my actual iterinary for the 4 countries in Europe. Here it goes:

From Toronto, Canada - Barcelona, Spain - Paris, France - The Alps, Switzerland - Venice, Italy - Florence, Italy - Rome, Italy -Toronto, Canada

Now that I have finally decided where I am exactly going, I need to know what the distances are or better yet train travel time between each city so that I know how much time I have at each city and wehterh I can fit it all in the 2 weeks.

I am definitely considering in looking at the Selectpass Saver...but my main problem is the travel from Barcelona to Paris..I need to know what the travelling distance is between the two cities and how much more it will cost me to travel on an overnight train... anyone with good websites to check out or have any idea on this???


19. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Mapquest will give you total distance and driving times. Try Eurorail for train information. According to them, Paris-Barcelona by train is just over 12 hours.

20. Posted by danielita (Budding Member 12 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Quoting jooksing

I am definitely considering in looking at the Selectpass Saver...but my main problem is the travel from Barcelona to Paris..I need to know what the travelling distance is between the two cities and how much more it will cost me to travel on an overnight train... anyone with good websites to check out or have any idea on this???