First time to Europe with our family of four. Planning to start in Paris and have 10 days. I want to go on to Italy, Florence, Venice...and my husband wants to go more towards Amsterdam and Copenhagen. What would be more fun for our kids, daughter 18 and son 21. I know my son is not too excited about museums and art. We have always taken beach destination vacations such as Cancun and Hawaii which he loved but we are definitely looking for something different and more cultural.
With 10 days I would stick with Paris and Amsterdam and include some short distance day trips from those two. Save Italy for another trip so you don't lose time on public transportation traveling further east.
Hi Jenn, I see that this is your first post so welcome to the forum. Your first step is to have a "family meeting" and figure out where you want to go on your vacation. You could easily spend 10 days in France, or Amsterdam/Copenhagen or Italy. Consider the time of year you are traveling, mode of transportation (rental car, trains), activity level, etc. You'll get more helpful responses if you narrow it down a bit.
I'd break the 10 days into two destinations and fly into one and out of the other. If the second destination is in Italy then fly budget airline to Pisa or Rome or Venice depending on where your second base is. You dn't have time for more than two places with perhaps a day trip from each. I might spend a week in Paris and do a couple of day trips to small towns or chateaux in the region and then finish with 3 nights in Amsterdam and fly home from there.
In any case, fly open jaw so you don't have to backtrack and get your intra Europe tickets 3 most in advance for low prices. For Amsterdam, the Thalys; for Italy one of the budget airlines like Vueling or Easyjet. If you want to scramble, you could do 4 nights in Paris and then 3 in each of two Italian destinations, but that gives you 3 days in Paris and 2 each in Venice and Rome or whatever you choose. Not much for major destinations.
And I suggest you re-post this question, perhaps with more information, under "General Europe" to get more useful responses from more people, who may not look at the "France" posts. The one thing you know is you're going to France, and the France board is good for questions about Paris and surroundings, but not so much about Amsterdam vs. Italy.
Without knowing more about your family's interests it would be hard to help. Obviously it also matters whether this trip is in summer (hot in Italy) or another season. And your kids are obviously old enough to weigh in for themselves too.
Another thought would be not to spread those ten days across more than a couple of cities. Each time you move you lose at least half a day, maybe a whole day, just with the logistics of hotels and transportation. And you spend more money getting around. Finally, when you know where you'll be going, try to arrange for "open jaw" flights (multi-city option on airline web pages) so you fly into your first destination and home from your last one. This costs little or no more than a round trip and saves the time and cost of backtracking in Europe.
Your younger adults can go off on their own. If son doesn't care to stroll through galleries he can plan his own excursion, delivering a report when you meet for the evening meal. My experience on the road with friends is that some independence will make the togetherness more enjoyable
I agree with what the people above have said so far. If you look under their names for the number of posts, you'll see they are by no means newbies to travel!
Let me follow up on a few ideas. The more details you can give us, the better. It's a little like writing in to WebMD and saying "I'm not feeling well, what do you prescribe?"
Now I know this is difficult, because you haven't even been to Europe to know what you like!
Still, there are things you can do. For one, what do you mean by "more cultural"? Lots of folks think that means more art (which I like), but I would argue that once you are off the beach, almost everything in Europe is cultural. Try different foods in Paris?--cultural. Visit Ann Frank's house in Amsterdam?--Historical cultural. Hike in the Swiss Alps--rural farm culture.
I'd suggest that homework up front reaps great rewards on the trip. How about sitting down as a family and viewing several Rick Steves videos (free on here) and everyone writes down what they'd like and see where those intersect? As long as you don't try to fit in too many sights (causing stress, as previous posters are well aware of), you will do well.
You could start with Paris:
Then maybe try Amsterdam, Venice, and maybe the Swiss Alps ("Best of the Alps").
I'm adding the Alps to your possibilities because I've not met anyone of any age who disliked it. My typical trips with a variety of folks has been Paris for 5 days and the Swiss Alps for a week or more. Also, for Paris, you kids may like more offbeat things like the Catacombs or the Sewer Tour.
As several have suggested, with only ten days consider confining yourselves to only two places and do some day trips from there. You will "waste" the better part of a day every time you change your overnight stops. With regard to where to go, have that "family meeting" someone suggested. I'm not saying let the inmates run the asylum, but the more the kids (including hubby) are involved in the planning the less likely you'll be to have "unhappy campers" on your hands.
You and your husband need to come to an agreement and choose between northern Europe or Southern Europe. You don't say what time of year is your trip. If it's the heat of summer, I would take those 10 days for Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
Next, your children are adults. If either of them or both don't want to follow the itinerary you and your husband have chosen, let them spend the day on their own and meet them for dinner.