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Time To Plan My EuroTrip
Maka90
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Hello everyone, it’s that time of the year again when I plan my next trip though Europe. This years trip will be different from last years, so I will be needing some help, especially with the transportation between the cities. The plan so far is:

1. Amsterdam
2. Madrid
3. Barcelona
4. Ibiza
5. Rome
6. Milan
7. Venice
8. Split
9. Athens (maybe)
10. Amsterdam

So my questions are:
1. What are the best ways getting from city to city (air/train with pass/point to point)?
2. Our round trip ticket will be to Amsterdam, so we have to end up back in Amsterdam at the end. If we don’t go to Athens, where would we have to go after Split to get a flight back? (Not sure if Split has an airport)

Any other recommendations/comments about the selected cities would be helpful. As well advice on maybe some other cities we should visit. Thanks!

I am leaving from Los Angeles with $2000 for 17 days
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DreamingOfItaly
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A couple of suggestions: skip Milan, go to Florence or Cinque Terre instead (highly recommend both, actually). Skip Athens unless you’re going to add the Greek islands. Athens is worth a day, nothing more, and not worth the cost and hassle of getting there unless you will be island hopping after. I say the same for Split. Good for a day, nothing more, and not worth it unless you’re going to explore the coast of Croatia, which I highly recommend. The island of Hvar is just a 60 minute ferry ride from Split and I would go there instead (and visit Dubrovnik too). I would first decide if Croatia and Greece are worth the extra time to explore the islands/coast and then work on your itinerary from there. (IMO, Greek islands and Croatia are must see).
Rome, Venice, Barcelona and Madrid are awesome places to visit but I would look to break up your trip with some smaller cities or small towns. Eventually all big cities tend to look the same and it gets very tiring. Your cities are also quite a bit away from each other and you’ll probably have to fly a lot from place to place, which is tiring and time consuming.

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augustin25
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Definitely skip Milan unless you have some compelling reason to go there. I doubt a railpass will make much sense, but it depends on how much you change your itinerary. Flights I would do: Amsterdam-Madrid, Barcelona-Ibiza (unless you really want to do the ferry crossing), Ibiza-Rome. Book them early and it will be cheap; the same goes for your Madrid-Barcelona train ticket (as low as 46 euros booked in advance). Trains in Italy. Easyjet flies Split-Amsterdam, and it’s dirt cheap, but only after July 5. When are you going?

Maka90
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Thank you guys for your responses!

DreamingOfItaly:
Thanks for taking the time to type that out for me. The reason for Milan was to primarily visit the San Siro, a big soccer fan. But after so many people saying the same as you, I will scratch Milan off the list to make way for another city or add more days to the existing one. I also heard before from others the same as what you’ve said about Athens. However, Greek island hoping interests me a lot and so do the Croatian islands you recommended above. I don’t know a lot about island hoping. Could you inform me about the islands I’d want to visit? Maybe there’s some package that includes them all? I should let you know now that I can’t island hop in both Croatia AND Greece, but only one. So whichever island hoping is best, I’d appreciate more info on. Thanks!

Augustin25:
Thanks for the response!
My trip will be 6/27 – 7/21, so Split would be towards the end (after 7/5)
From what I gather of your post it looks like:
Amsterdam AIR Madrid
Madrid RAIL Barcelona
Barcelona AIR Ibiza
Ibiza AIR Rome
Rome RAIL Venice

And if I go to Croatia/Greece then a plane from Venice to Split and then a plane from either one back to Amsterdam? Thanks!

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oldlady
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I would agree with the transportation choices. However, I find the “hurry up and then wait, wait, wait” nature of air travel stressful. All these flights would a trip killer for me. Any flight takes 5 hours when you add getting to/from airports and check-in time. A flight in the middle of the day kills the entire day for sight-seeing. My first suggestion would be a more compact geographic area. Options to look into if you really want to stick with this itinerary:

Ferry to Ibiza, Overnight ferry from Barcelona to Genoa (or somewhere in Italy) and train to Rome. Train to Bari or Ancona and overnight ferry to Split or Dubrovnik or ferry from Venice to either.

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I’ve never done ferry, and can definitely see it as a good alternative out of Barcelona. While I don’t mind a few flights, I also agree about planning them so they don’t eat up most of a day. I’ve always had good luck with intra-European fights, and have never had the long lines and long security waits like I’ve experienced for transatlantic flights. Flying into BCN, I’ve landed, gotten my bags, and taken a cab to the door of where I was staying in about 45 minutes.

Maka90
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Yes Oldlady I agree with your view on all the flying. If I could the only flight I’d take is the round trip one from and to home. But a train from Amsterdam to Madrid would just be ridiculous. Regarding the geographic area, yes we are probably sticking to it. Unless someone can suggest some new cities (open to suggestions/itinerary isn’t final). But as of now it’s looking like: #1
Amsterdam AIR Madrid
Madrid RAIL Barcelona
Barcelona FERRY/AIR Ibiza (Whichever is more convenient)
Ibiza AIR Rome
Rome RAIL Venice
Venice FERRY Split/Dubrovnik
Split AIR Amsterdam

#2
Amsterdam AIR Madrid
Madrid RAIL Barcelona
Barcelona FERRY/AIR Ibiza (Whichever is more convenient)
Ibiza FERRY/AIR Genoa
Genoa RAIL Venice
Venice RAIL Rome
Rome RAIL Ancona
Ancona FERRY Split/Dubrovnik
Split AIR Amsterdam

#2 seems like a better option, unless I missed something? Also, could you guys recommend a good website for flights inside Europe?

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I am leaving from Los Angeles with $2000 for 25 days
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augustin25
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I loved both Croatia and Greece, so I can’t really say which is “best.” Honestly, they were both amazing. Both had great beaches, unbelievable scenery, good food, and really kind and wonderful people. In Greece we only did Santorini- for 4 days. Worth every single minute of it. Someday (soon I hope!) I need to see Corfu, Crete, Mykonos, and Rhodes. Croatia was equally wonderful- only island I went to was Hvar (very easy to get to from Split) and then we had a rented car and drove down to Dubrovnik, truly incredible. There are buses that run that route as well. Anyways, you really can’t go wrong with either option if you can’t do both.

I too agree with OL regarding warning about flying too much, but also agree with augustin that every inter-European flight experience I have had has been very easy, smooth, and far quicker (in terms of getting to/from airports, checking in, going thru security, and getting baggage) than my experiences flying within the USA.

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oldlady
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If the question is “Croatia or Greece?” my answer would definitely be “Croatia.” I’m not a huge fan of Greece — not because there’s anything “wrong” with Greece. We were in Turkey on the same trip and we just liked Turkey Sooooo much better than Greece. Athens was an interesting day and a half, but not much more. I suppose it is a “must see” from the standpoint of “history of Western Civilization.” I did enjoy Mykonos (picture postcard gorgeous, though expensive and touristy) and Rhodes (ancient history and culture, early Christian history and culture, medieval crusader history and culture, modern city and nice beaches).

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Thanks for the advice regarding my choice between Croatia and Greece. I also decided on the following itinerary:
Amsterdam AIR Madrid
Madrid RAIL Barcelona
Barcelona FERRY/AIR Ibiza (Whichever is more convenient)
Ibiza AIR Rome
Rome RAIL Venice
Venice FERRY Split/Dubrovnik
Split AIR Amsterdam

If you guys have anything you want to recommend about the cities I’ll be visiting or any new cities, please go ahead! And thanks for all the help so far!

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If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, consider a multidestination flight, arriving in Madrid, but returning from Amsterdam. Its probably competitively priced, and would free up a day for more sightseeing.

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Maka90
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Haven’t purchased the ticket yet. I was considering doing that, but I thought they would have to be two separate one-way tickets? Never heard of a multi-destination ticket. Are they available through all the usual ticket sellers? (kayak/priceline etc.)

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Don
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Good idea for open-jaw (aka “multi-city”) flights — arrive to one city, but return from a different city to save backtrack time and expenses. Usually don’t cost much, if any, more than a simple round trip.

Cfares, Kayak, Fly, and Mobissimo all have good multi-city flight searches. Of course Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and airline websites can show you their multi-city prices too, but the first 4 I mentioned will each shop and compare a lot of other sources for you.

In addition, I’d add consolidators Flights, 1800FlyEurope, CheapOAir, and EconomyTravel.com to your multi-city flights search.

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Thanks for all the help guys. Any other suggestions would be welcome!

I am leaving from Los Angeles with $2000 for 17 days
London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Paris, London
I am leaving from Los Angeles with $2000 for 25 days
Amsterdam, Split, Venice, Rome, Ibiza Town, Barcelona, Madrid
Requesting help with Budget, Nightlife, Food
Maka90
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Updated the itinerary, now doing multi-city. It’s now looking like:

LA AIR Madrid
Madrid RAIL Barcelona
Barcelona FERRY Ibiza
Ibiza AIR Rome
Rome RAIL Venice
Venice FERRY Split/Dubrovnik
Split AIR Amsterdam
Amsterdam AIR LA

Anyone see any problems with that one?

I am leaving from Los Angeles with $2000 for 17 days
London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Paris, London
I am leaving from Los Angeles with $2000 for 25 days
Amsterdam, Split, Venice, Rome, Ibiza Town, Barcelona, Madrid
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oldlady
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I think your trip will work, although it’s still a little rushed for 17 days when you’re going to be covering so much geographic territory. I’d start checking prices for your flights now and book anything that’s cheap ASAP. Start looking at ferries when the 2011 schedules come out — usually in January. You might end up making some changes based on what you find for airfare costs. For example, I don’t see any low fare airlines that fly from Ibiza to Rome or any direct flights on that route. The major airlines show one or two connections and some have layovers as long as 9 hours.

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Hello Oldlady, I found a flight from Ibiza to Rome for $55, I thought that was a good deal? Also you mention that it’s doable in 17 days, however I am traveling from the 27 of June till the 21st of July. So since I’ll be there for 25 days, I’m sure the trip will be much more pleasant?

Also, since I will not be in Milan anymore, I will have 4 days leftover. Should I add a day to some of the existing cities or go to a whole new city. Which would you guys recommend? If new city, then which one?

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Florence (with a day trip to Pisa) or Cinque Terre would fit nicely between Rome and Venice. Florence to see the birthplace of the renaissance. Cinque Terre to enjoy great oceanfront scenery. I would pick one or the other, depending on your interests.

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Maka90
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Thanks ClevelandBrown, appreciate that. You guys have all been great help!

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That’s sounds fun Maka90, enjoy your trip Wink

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Hello guys! Totally forgot to ask a very important question. Would you guys be able to recommend some good sites for ferry and train tickets? Got the plane one down, just need these two for good point to point train and good ferry prices. Thanks!

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I am leaving from Los Angeles with $2000 for 25 days
Amsterdam, Split, Venice, Rome, Ibiza Town, Barcelona, Madrid
Requesting help with Budget, Nightlife, Food
oldlady
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For train schedules anywhere in Europe, use the German national rail company website: http://reiseauskunft… There is no general site for buying train tickets other than the travel agency websites (eurail.com, raileurope.com, railpass.com) that sell “global fare” tickets and add-on fees resulting in a ticket that’s usually 35% more than you’d pay at the train station. Even those sites don’t sell every ticket. Use the individual national rail company websites. The links are in this travel tip: http://www.eurotrip…. You may not be able to buy all of your tickets on-line as some sites don’t accept non-European credit cards, some don’t sell international (one European country to another) on-line and have only the schedule page in English so it’s difficult to navigate a purchase if you don’t speak the language.

I don’t see any reasonable ferry routes in your itinerary. Why are you interested in taking ferries? You’ll waste two full days of your trip when Eurostar is so much faster and easier. For ferry tickets, I generally google “countrya +countryb +ferry” That will get you a host of travel agency sites that sell ferry tickets. Check several of the sites as some are much easier to navigate than others and while I’ve never found serious differences in price, it’s worth checking. Figure out which ferry company runs the ferry and check out their website, too, although it’s often easier to use the travel agency sites.

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For your Madrid-Barcelona trip you should be able to book in English using this link:
https://w1.renfe.es/…

You can only book into early March right now, so you’ll have to wait a few months, but be sure to book early to take advantage of web specials (marked with a purple W) that are sometimes over 50% off of the regular fare. Right now I’m only seeing those specials into February, not March.

The Trenitalia site makes it all but impossible to book using a North American credit card, but I’ve used the TGV Europe site to book advance-purchase fare tickets for all over Europe and picked them up at stations in Paris. The site looks like it’s down right now, but I’ll check later and see what options it offers for pick-up in Madrid and Rome.

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TGV.com takes you to raileurope.com if you click USA as your home country so is NOT a good source for tickets. Just doing a random check on the TGV.com site, I see tickets at Global prices — higher than the regular price at the station. Plus, you miss all the available specials on the individual national rail company websites. You can buy Munich to Berlin on March 20 on the bahn.de site for a special fare of 59 euros (29 euro special is sold out). Regular fare is $116 euros. tgv.com shows only a $192 US fare — that’s 145 euros, 25% over standard fare. Booking the same ticket with France as your home country results in a 133 euro fare, 17 euros higher than standard fare and more than double the price of the available special fare.

I have not checked recently and could not get a price on the random Rome to Venice ticket I tried to compare just now, but italiarail.com (the banner on the right side of the page) used to be a reasonably priced site for Italian rail tickets. It was slightly more expensive than trenitalia.com but cheaper than raileurope and the other travel agency websites.

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I meant to mention not putting the U.S. as your country, and I’m not sure how big a difference it makes, but I was talking about TGV-Europe.com (selecting France on this site actually sends you to the SNCF site, so I was a little off in my recollection of how I booked). Prices depend on the route and you’re right that not all specials are available, but some are. The price from Milan to Zurich is the same as that found on Trenitalia. Last summer I booked Milan-Zurich at the special fare that I saw on Trenitalia.com and the Swissrail websites. Trenitalia wouldn’t take any of my cards and Swiss Rail required me to pick up the tickets in Switzerland, so I booked via SNCF and picked them up in Paris.

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tgv.com sent me to SNCF when I picked France as the country, so that’s the same as TGV-europe.com If you try to buy tickets from SNCF.com and click USA, you’re also directed raileurope.com. There seems to be a concerted effort on the part of the French rail system to make sure Americans can’t take advantage of special fares.

I bought tickets on-line from trenitalia.com with my US credit card in 2004, but have not tried since. Certainly lots of folks have had a problem trying to buy tickets from trenitalia.

I have never successfully bought anything from any European travel web-site if the first card was denied — any other card I tried on that website didn’t work either. That even applied if I started over on a new transaction with a different card. I was able to use the card that was originally denied to buy the tickets at the same company’s office once I got to Europe.

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I’ve had a lot of luck on both the Renfe and SNCF sites, but with the SNCF site you have to make sure to choose the option to retrieve your tickets at the window because the automated machines won’t take your card. Last summer I forgot to bring the card I had used to make the reservation, but luckily I dealt with the nicest ticket agent at Gare de Lyon. She looked up my reservation from the printout I brought, sold me my original seats at full fare but also filed a refund form for the difference between the special price I booked at and the full fare. The refund took about two months, but it was credited to my card. I seriously think that most other agents would have just told me I was out of luck.

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Thanks for all the info guys!

Oldlady, the reason why I’m asking for ferries is for my trip from Barcelona to Ibiza and from Venice to Split.

LA AIR Madrid
Madrid RAIL Barcelona
Barcelona FERRY Ibiza
Ibiza AIR Rome
Rome RAIL Venice
Venice FERRY Split
Split AIR Amsterdam
Amsterdam AIR LA

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Sorry, I was looking at your itinerary in the “Europe10” trip in the trip planner. I found this site a decent starting place for the Italy-Croatia ferries. http://www.find-croa… I have not found significant price differences among the sites selling ferry tickets, but I still recommend shopping around and checking the actual ferry company’s website, too.

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Oh that’s why you said that, ya I should probably get that removed from the trip planner lol. Thanks for all the help!

Edit: According to the website, ferries don’t sail from Venice to Split, so going to have to change the trip up a bit.

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So here’s the problem. There are no ferries from Venice to Split! The flights are also very long and expensive. Any recommendations on how to get to from Venice to Split?

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One option would be train from Venice to Ancona (4 to 5 hours) where you can easily catch a ferry to Split. You can also ferry from Venice to several ports in Northern Croatia, where you might be able to catch a local ferry to Split, although I don’t see any connections.

I think both Easy Jet and German Wings fly from Milan ( 2 1/2 hours by train from Venice) to Split. IMO, Milan isn’t a great tourist visit, but it’s a major transportation hub and it’s worth a day if it fits into your plans.

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I was considering the Ancora option. The problem is though, that the ferry doesn’t leave on the 17th of July. That’s the day that we were planning on going to Split, but I think we will put Pisa between Rome and Venice which will let us leave to Split on the 18th.

Regarding taking a ferry from Northern Croatia to Split, I wasn’t able to find any connections. Also, is it hard getting from Split to Hvar? Thank you!

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Maka90 wrote:
Also, is it hard getting from Split to Hvar? Thank you!

No, very easy. You can either take the fast ferry from Split to Hvar Town, which is only an hour, or you can take the slower ferry to Stari Grad, another town on Hvar Island. This takes about 1 hr 45 minutes and then you have a 20ish min bus ride to Hvar Town (the bus is timed to meet the ferry, and is very cheap). Either option works fine, but I would consult a ferry timetable beforehand as they run every couple hours, with more ferries running in the morning. I think there is only 2 fast ferries a day, and about 4-5 of the slower ones. You can purchase tickets in Split at the port.

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Awesome! Planning on splitting my four days in Croatia between Hvar and Split.

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It is always a pleasure planning a road trip as it involves loads of fun and adventure. I think you should not delete Milan from your itinerary as you are football fan and milan is a great place for football lovers. Try to contact locals as there might be some upcoming football matches in the city.

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A visit to the SanSiro would be awesome, but unless there are some games I might have to skip. I’m an Arsenal fan anyway!!! Don’t believe there are any games in July, season is over end of May.

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