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Our first trip to Europe..need advice please!
i_need_lexy
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Hi guys!
This is the year my hubby and I will finally have the chance to travel to Europe for 3 weeks in Aug-Sept. I’m very exited and want to travel to all the popular spots. I think I will plan another think just for Greece some other year because its just not enough time.
Here’s what I came up with…
Barcelona, Spain (3 days), Paris (5 days), Cinque Terre, Italy (2 days), Pisa, Italy (1 days),
Venice, Italy (3 days), Rome +vatican (4 days) and Sorrento, Italy (2 days)

Is this too ambitious? Please let me know if you think I should make some changes to it.
Thank you experienced travelers Smile

Gina

I am leaving from seattle, WA with $6000 for 23 days
Barcelona, Paris, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Venice, Rome, Sorrento
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights

Lexy

i_need_lexy
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Please let me know if I’m missing good places to visit, and if I should trade some of these places for others.
Thanks!!

I am leaving from seattle, WA with $6000 for 23 days
Barcelona, Paris, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Venice, Rome, Sorrento
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights

Lexy

luv_the_beach
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My first question was…why Paris? It’s a highly, highly worthwhile city…

…but given that your trip revolves around Italy with slight incursions into nearby countries, it would make more sense to try exploring a bit of southern France, which will be much more along your path.

But then I remembered this is your first trip to Europe, so I see why you picked Paris.

I don’t think your itinerary is overambitious, but it is tight. Keep in mind that the commutes from Barcelona to Paris, and then Paris to Cinque Terre/Tuscany will be long. You might want to break up those commutes with a stop along the way, somewhere in Southern France. 5 days in Paris is a bit much, as much as I love that city. I would shorten it to 2-3 full days (that is, 2-3 days not counting partial days/commute days), and allocate maybe 2 days to southeastern France to break up the commute from Paris to Italy. From Paris, take a quick TGV train to southeastern France…no biggy (about 3 hours to Marseille…I believe 5 or 6 hours to Nice. This is because after Marseille, the TGV train switches from designated high-speed track to conventional track).

The rest of the itinerary looks okay to me. Greece would be a bit time consuming to get to, because you’d have to cross water from Italy, but not impossible. If you choose to, you’d have to drop Spain, and you can visit just Corfu by ferry from Bari or Brindisi or even Ancona, then fly back home out of Corfu (Corfu airport is well-served by easyJet and Ryanair, so you’d have to change flights at a larger European airport)…or you could fly to one of several destinations in Greece (Crete, Kos, Rhodes, Corfu, Santorini, etc) from Rome or Milan for a couple days, then fly back home (again, most of the major regional airports in Greece are well-served by Ryanair and easyJet, as well as conventional carriers). So, you’re right that both Greece and Spain wouldn’t fit, you’d have to choose one or the other for this trip.

Your itinerary as it is right now is perfectly fine…save Greece for another year. But I do recommend tweaking your time in France a bit, since you’ll be in the country anyways (you can even save Paris for another trip, and do a Paris-Greece trip next year…obviously, you’d have to fly from one to the other…or take a quick trek through Italy again). And while in Barcelona, consider a daytrip to a nearby town within Catalonia. But Barcelona on its own for 2 full days is still awesome.

Last thing: I almost forgot Italy. I’m glad you’re visiting Sorrento; definitely check out the Amalfi Coast while there. Your Italy itinerary looks quite good. I would honestly drop Pisa, or spend that time in another Tuscan town instead. You can easily drop a day from Venice as well. One of these days can be re-allocated to southeastern France. Another one of these extra days can be re-allocated to spending more time in the Sorrento/Amalfi area. Or you can spend 2 days in Tuscany, but choose maybe Florence or Siena instead of Pisa (and visit Pisa, or another of Tuscany’s many lovely small towns as a daytrip). I could easily see spending 4 days in Rome (provided you take advantage of the local lifestyle, and go for a stroll at night…so try to get a hotel/hostel from where you can easily access the city-centre at night). But for time-saving purposes, it wouldn’t be a disaster to drop a day. Although technically a foreign country, for planning purposes you can just consider the Vatican a Roman museum. The country is just a few city blocks, and only St Peters (and its piazza), Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museum are open to the public (unless there’s one other small attraction I’m missing). I visited the Vatican 11 years ago, and at that time, you just entered St Peters, and followed the crowds to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums…I’m sure it hasn’t changed since.

Of course, take into consideration commute times as well. This German railways website** is a wonderful planning tool that helps you look up real train schedules throughout Europe. Your commutes within Italy are all pretty short, but Cinque Terre is slightly out of the way (train-wise), due to being a relatively “marginal” area (as opposed to being a major economic/population center) that also happens to be squeezed in between the Apennine mountains on one side, and the sea on the other. This website will be a very helpful planning tool.

**When you get to the website, on the top right, change country from “Deutschland” to either “USA” or “UK/Ireland” for English.


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Cil
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Excellent, insightful advice from Luv.
You might enjoy approaching the Cinque Terre from the Côte d’Azur.

i_need_lexy
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Thanks a lot for the advice, I will definitely make some changes, specially changing Barcelona for Santorini. I’m so exited and glad to have found this site with awesome people like you.

I am leaving from seattle, WA with $6000 for 23 days
Barcelona, Paris, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Venice, Rome, Sorrento
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights

Lexy

oldlady
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Barcelona made your itinerary difficult. Santorini could make it nearly impossible. You may add a day to your flight from the US to get there and you could easily waste a full day (or even more) getting from there to your next stop. Check schedules and see how many waking hours in Santorini you’ll actually end up with before committing time and money to this destination. I think you’ll love it, but I strongly suggest leaving Greece until you can spend at least a week, preferably longer, there.

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I might consider stealing a day from Venice and adding a stop in Florence – especially because you’ll probably be travelling right through it. As amazing and unique as Venice is, I found it oppressively hot and humid – and August would be even worse than when I was there in early July. It’s also teeming with tourists and has extremely narrow “streets”, which, due to the aforementioned heat and humidity, means that there is a certain smell to the city as well.

I am leaving from Minneapolis and traveling for 24 days
Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg, Heidelberg, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Ljubljana, Budapest