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6 replies
Look for advice on travel between countries!
emacd33
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This summer (May 28-June 17) myself and two friends will be traveling to Lisbon, Barcelona, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Athens. Our flights to and from are already booked and now I’m struggling to find the best way to get around within the countries. I think we are going to fly from Rome to Athens just to save time/energy getting there by rail. I’ve been looking at railpass but I’m not sure how much it is really going to save me.

I was hoping to take night trains when possible. Right now I was thinking a night train from Lisbon to Madrid with a second train ride after that to Barcelona in the morning. That has a 30 euro charge on it. But then getting a night from Barcelona to Paris would have a 70 Euro charge making it (I think) much more expensive than a flight. Is flying a better option? The more I think about it the more confusing it gets so I would be extremely grateful if anyone here had some advice on what we should do. I’m look for cheaper over faster. I also wouldn’t mind spending a day on a train if there was some nice scenery.

Here my layout again if it helps
Lisbon – Barcelona
Barcelona- Paris
Paris- Venice
Venice- Florence
Florence- Rome
Rome- Athens

Thank you again!!

I am leaving from Boston, MA with $2000 for 20 days
Lisbon, Barcelona, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, Athens
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
augustin25
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I’d book that Lisbon-Barcelona flight as soon as you have your dates nailed down. By train you’d end up spending about 20 hours on trains, a lot of it at night and the Madrid-Barcelona is on the high-speed AVE line (at speeds up to 186 mph), so you won’t see much scenery, and you may have a layover of sorts in Madrid.

I think you’ve already figured all this out but when calculating the cost difference between train and flying be sure to factor in the costs of getting to/from airports, the cost of a railpass day and supplements (if you get a pass), and not having to pay for a night of accommodation if you choose train. Is backpacking new to you or your friends? If so, I’d be tempted to do either Barcelona-Paris or Paris-Venice by overnight train for the experience. I think Barcelona-Paris would be a better option to do by flight for the following reasons:
1) Multiple airlines service BCN-PAR, giving you a number of options for when you want to depart and where you want to land in Paris (Orly or Charles De Gaulle airports). Flying Paris to Venice gives you only Ryanair as an option, meaning you’ll have to fly from Beauvais, way outside Paris, and into Treviso, farther outside of Venice.
2) For BCN-PAR you can get a morning flight, land in Paris, get checked into where you’re staying, and still have most of the day left. That one Ryanair flight from Beauvais to Treviso leaves at 18:50 and arrives at 20:20, not the best timing in my eyes.

Vueling offers multiple morning flights from BCN-PAR. I’ve flown them two or three times without any issues: http://www.vueling.c… Easyjet also flies this route, with summer flights that land in Paris around noon http://www.easyjet.c… Ryanair flies sort of flies this route, but uses Girona (a good hour from BCN) and Beauvais (an hour outside Paris).

oldlady
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Paris to Venice is also a leg to look for a flight. Take an overnight train if you can’t find a flight. But, you’ve already hit the total of overnight trains and flights that I’d recommend for the whole trip and you still need to get to Athens — another flight or a full day on the train plus overnight ferry. Your memories are going to be entirely airport departure lounges, airplanes, buses to/from the airport, trains and train stations. You need to cut this to Paris, Italy and either one city in Iberia or Athens. My suggestion would be to leave Spain and Portugal for your next trip. Frankly, I’d leave Greece for another time too. Spending a day or two to get to Athens just to spend a couple of days there is a waste. What you really want to see and do in Greece isn’t, IMO in Athens and the logistics of getting to various Islands and around the mainland of Greece means you need about 10 days there to have a worthwhile visit.

augustin25
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I respectfully disagree, to an extent, with oldlady. A couple of flights is not such a big hassle to me. I flew Paris to Barcelona with my wife and in-laws about a year ago and it was no worse than a train trip of comparable times. We didn’t face long check in or security lines at CDG, and when we landed in BCN we grabbed our bags, found a taxi, and were checked into our hotel within an hour. The total time for to get to CDG, check in, pass security, fly to BCN, and get to our hotel was about about 5.5 hours. If you want to see Lisbon and Barcelona go for it. They’re two really fun cities, especially if you’re young.

That said, I’d recommend rethinking some of your itinerary. I just saw that you only allocated two days for Paris and three for Venice. Drop a day from Venice and give yourselves at least another in Paris. Think about what oldlady said about Greece. Do some research about Athens and make sure it offers enough for you (it might) before deciding to go and then being disappointed.

oldlady
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Quote:
I flew Paris to Barcelona with my wife and in-laws about a year ago and it was no worse than a train trip of comparable times. We didn’t face long check in or security lines at CDG, and when we landed in BCN we grabbed our bags, found a taxi, and were checked into our hotel within an hour. The total time for to get to CDG, check in, pass security, fly to BCN, and get to our hotel was about about 5.5 hours.
I don’t mind flying, but it’s still 5.5 hours out of your day. Since I think flying is more “hurry up and wait” stressful than the train, I don’t recommend it unless it’s significantly cheaper or faster.

The big problems is a 20 day trip with 4 very long trips involved. You’re talking about a flight of 7 hours or so to get to Europe, another to get back and 4 flights or overnight trains in less than 3 weeks. Sure it’s doable, but it would certainly be a more pleasant trip if there was more time to enjoy Europe and less time involved in getting around.

emacd33
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Thank you both for the advice. our tickets both to Lisbon and out of Athens have already been booked so there won’t be any big changes to the itinerary at this point. How much time we are planning in each city is still open to change.

I have traveled on a night train before, from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and I actually really enjoyed it. The more I think about it the more I am leaning towards a few night trains instead of flying. I know we are trying to fit a lot into a short period of time so traveling at night seems to be the best option even if it does cost a little more. I wasn’t even think of the cost to get to/from an airport in any of these cities and that would take up a large portion of the day when we could be going by night.

Just curious as to why Athens could be a disappointment? As a history major I was looking forward to Athens and my friends and I were hoping to spend a day visiting some of the islands.

Thank you again,

Erin

I am leaving from Boston, MA with $2000 for 20 days
Lisbon, Barcelona, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, Athens
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
oldlady
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Quote:
I have traveled on a night train before, from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and I actually really enjoyed it. T
Depending on which of the 4 classes of tickets you had, you might find that Russian overnight trains are significantly more comfortable than those in Western Europe. The wider rail gauge and the taller cars means the berths in Russia are noticeably bigger and more comfortable.

Athens is worth a day, but after you see the Parthenon and spend a few minutes at a couple of other sights, you’re in a modern, fairly unattractive city. The subway, with the mini-museums of what they dug up building the subway, is a highlight. IMO both the Italians and the Turks do a significantly better job of preserving and displaying ancient ruins than the Greeks. Even the “feel” of the museums is a negative set of don’ts (you’ll remember from the Kremlin). Athens was OK, but Turkey and other parts of Greece are, IMO, much better visits — even for history buffs. As I frequently state, I don’t think it’s worth the time and cost to get to Athens if that’s all you get to see of Greece.