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10 days, 3 countries?

We have 10-12 days to spend in Europe and would like to see Paris, Italy and Portugal or Amsterdam. Can you tell me which country would make the most sense (maybe neither). Thanks!!

Posted by
6410 posts

Cut Portugal and Italy this time, don't think of it as an end of of the world situation where you will not have another chance

Fly into Paris 5 nights and then train to Amsterdam 5 nights and then fly out Amsterdam.
You could stop in Belgium or take day trips from Paris and Amsterdam ; the rail transportation in Europe gives you a lot of options

Posted by
2 posts

This makes a lot of sense. This will be our first trip to Europe and I hope not our last!
How far apart is Paris and Amsterdam? You recommend taking the train?

Posted by
6410 posts

Look at the Google map on your mobile device or the internet.
I would take the train.

Posted by
4200 posts

The Thalys train takes about 3 1/2 hours between Paris and Amsterdam, by far the easiest way to go if you choose to visit both cities. Another strategy would be to spend the whole time in France, about half in Paris and half in a nearby region that appeals to you -- Burgundy, Alsace, Normandy, Loire for example. Or spend the whole time in Italy or Portugal, visiting a few citiies or regions. But I think Paris and Amsterdam are the only two places on your list close enough together to combine in the time you have.

No one can really tell you what plan "would make the most sense" without knowing more about your interests, budget, time of year, past European travel, and such.

Posted by
6410 posts

I can't imagine choosing either portugal or amsterdam over Italy. No offense to anyone, but those are b grade countries compared to Italy.

the reality is that people have opportunities and are interested to travel to multiple places in the world and not just Italy; Italy is not going to disappear where they will not have a chance to visit later

Posted by
180 posts

you don't know that. One failing of this board is the number of people that assume that frequent Europe trips are affordable to everyone

Posted by
13930 posts

If you go to Paris, then Amsterdam makes the most sense as your other destination. The train takes 3-1/2 hours, and goes through Belgium, so if you have 12 days, you could stop for a couple nights to see a bit of that country as well. Going anywhere else means flying which will eat up the better part of a day.

While you're in Paris, you can day trip to one, maybe two, small towns to get a feel for "un-Paris", Reims and Chartres are possible. The Netherlands has a very good train system, you can day trip to a number of interesting Dutch cities.

Plan to fly open-jaw, into one and out of the other. Choose the multi-flight/destination option when looking for flights.

Posted by
7640 posts

B-grade countries? How insulting to the person who would like to travel there or those who live there. Countries and cities are not classified like that except in your own head.

I enjoy Italy, but also Portugal and Amsterdam. They are certainly not in a lower class than anything in Italy. It is all about what you like and enjoy, the history, the scenery, the architecture. All 3 places have ancient histories if that is your interest. One is NOT better than the others.

Posted by
3975 posts

Paris will take a week of your time, particularly if you haven’t been before and if you are going to lose the first day or three to jet lag. Amsterdam is the best fit for the remainder of your time and it’s readily connected by train. Fly open jaw.

Do you want to just see cities? What time of year are you proposing?

Everyone has their likes and dislikes and what fits for one person doesn’t for another. I would go to Portugal any day over Italy. The people are much nicer and in my experience, the food and wine are much better value. I don’t want posters to get into a debate about Italy vs Portugal. That’s not what you have asked about, but it’s just my humble opinion!

However, with such a short trip, I would try to minimise the amount of time lost in transit, hence my suggestion of Amsterdam.

Posted by
11411 posts

Amsterdam is not a country last time I checked .

Paris and Amsterdam make most sense - fly into one city and out the other and ties between them . Book the train “Thalys” online well in advance for best price . Spend more time in Paris ( it offers much more to see is bigger etc )

Second easiest would be to split between Paris and Rome - flying into one city and out the other - and fly between Paris and Rome ( it’s about 1.5 hrs and tickets can be cheap if you book well in advance ) .

Portugal will be wonderful too - but it’s not as easy to pair up with another major city

Posted by
1017 posts

My recommendation would be the standard Italy trip: Venice, Florence, Rome - fly into Venice, take trains to Florence and Rome, fly home from Rome.

But as you say " I hope not our last! ", you can do that next time.

Posted by
2360 posts

Although Amsterdam is much closer to Paris and I like Amsterdam, Italy is a must-see. I would do 4 nights in Paris, fly to Florence from Paris and then fly back to States from Rome (easy train ride between Florence and Rome).

Posted by
339 posts

I have suggestions and comments, but like all advice it is worth what you pay for it.,
Sit down with paper and pencil (every one going should do this separately). And write a list of places you want to go. And things you want to see. Be spicific not general . So Eiffel Tower not “Paris“
Rate them 1-30 (you need at least 30 as some will not make the cut).
Now compare them and see what makes the top 20 overall. This may give you a good idea of where to go. If you both want to take a romantic gondola ride then it would be better to go to Venice then a more geographically close city to Paris.
As for logical cities to pair with Paris. There is only one and that is London because of EuroStar..
As for Amsterdam nor almost anything else, it does not matter, you are going to spend about half a day to 3/4 of a day going just about anywhere. Close places will take the train longer distance takes the airplane but end result you can’t really get anywhere in less the. 4 hour and you can get everywhere in 7 or 8. (1 hour to pack and get to station/airport). 2-4 hours travel, 1 hour to get to Hotel, check in an drop luggage). So don’t try to pair up just pick what you WANT to see.
As for the logic of planing on going back. That is true and logical. However is may not happen. So pick the places you want to see the most without stuffing in to much.
So if you would be disappointed to NEVER see the Coliseum then go to Rome. Or whatever your must see in Europe is.
Last year we did Switzerland (and enjoyed it) vs Rome because we thought we would go to Italy this year. Now due to health issues my Dad will not get to Rome (ever) and it was his “Must see”. So looking back we should have gone to Rome. We had the time but chose the more logical destination. Oops.
So I say go to you top two cities no matter where they are located as it is going to take most of a day no matter what you do. And it does not matter the distance as it is time that is the restriction on your trip. So who cares what is close to Paris? If you get up a 8 you can be anywhere in Europe for Dinner and almost no place by lunch so realy no reason to let “distance” or “logic” dictate.

Now for my suggestions. I would go with London if you MUST choose by logic. Or I would go with Rome. Rome is a destination in and of itself and can easily be separated from the rest of Italy. And Italy takes more then a standard 2 weeks (when including Rome) so do Rome this trip with Paris and do the rest of Italy separately.
As for those that say Paris takes more the 4 or 5 days.. We’ll it can. But mostly if you are into art museums. Personally I think Day 1 in Rome or London would be a lot better then day 6 in Paris. Keep in mind that this forum and a LOT of the poster here are in a mindset of slower is better and go to Europe every year (or more) so they spend a LOT more time in Europe then is typical.

So decided what YOUR preferred two cities are and go see them. And forget about the distance between them or if the forum things they go together, This is your trip. Plan it to make you happy. And plan for future trips but don’t count on the, so if you have something you just HAVE to see in Europe then see it. Nothing will ever compare to standing in front of something you have always dreamed of seeing. And nothing sucks as much as sitting back think “if only I had seen X not Y. It takes away from what was an enjoyable trip.

Switzerland was nice and the train trip was fun but looking back on it I wish dad had gotten to see the Coliseum like he has always wanted to.

Posted by
16748 posts

Props to douglasjmeyer for expressing so clearly something I have often thought but never actually posted.

The fact is that I agree with the others about choosing something that makes geographical sense, because I am able to travel to Europe often and really find dealing with airports a buzz-kill. I'd much rather spend 6 or 7 hours on a train than take a 1-hour flight.

But there's nothing wrong with Paris+Rome or Paris+Lisbon, etc. Just realize that you don't get "Italy" on this trip unless you spend the entire trip there, and even so you'll see only a minute part of the great destinations in that country. As for Portugal, with 12 days I suppose you could do Paris+Lisbon+Porto or Amsterdam+Lisbon+Porto. But there's certainly more to see in Portugal than Lisbon and Porto.

Posted by
1650 posts

You are all over the map (pun intended).

Many first timers try to do way too much on their trip. They don't realize how much time travel eats up. They also tend to do drive by tourism rushing from one site to another and never staying still long enough to absorb the ambience of the area. I strongly suggest you not rush from one place to another. For 10-12 days, choose at most two places to visit.

As suggested, if you want to do Paris, London via Eurostar is a logical pairing. From each, you could do a side trip or two to get into the countryside. If you want to do Italy, choose your poison. I suggest you split your time between big city and country, such as Tuscany, Umbria or Sicily. You could do Florence/Tuscany or Rome/Sicily.

Amsterdam would also make a northern European destination. I'd pair it with Cologne Germany with some countryside visits. Portugal/Spain (Lisbon/Madrid) is another consideration.

My recommendation? Tied for first would be either Italy or Paris/London.

Posted by
11411 posts

I am confused...Paris and Amsterdam have been easy pairings for me for several visits.

Direct train.. 3.5 hours.. so only an hour longer than to london and just as direct.

Posted by
180 posts

I can't imagine why anyone would choose Portugal or Amsterdam over Italy. It's simple. You go to Paris, you fly to any point in Italy, use the train to get around in Italy, and then You fly home from Rome. Don't listen to the boogie men about Travel time.

What do you want to see in each location? Don't fall for the hype of "you need 7 days to see Paris" It all depends on what you want to do or see.

There is truly some ridiculous advice on this board.

Posted by
843 posts

If you can do the 12 days (although one of the best advice I've heard on this forum is to think of your time in Europe as in the number of nights rather than days), I'd start in Amsterdam then head to Paris and then London. That would give you 3-4 nights in each spot and they are easily connected via train (although book months in advance for best price). I would spend less of the time in Amsterdam and more in Paris and London, but you do what works best for you (I found Amsterdam to be so expensive for lodging and my three nights in Amsterdam cost more than the five nights we spent in Paris on our most recent trip!). Actually, you should probably flip the itinerary to start in London, then to Paris and on to Amsterdam in order to get acclimated with English speaking folks before journeying on (and I think you would avoid some sort of tax that exists with flights out of London to the USA). Edit: I guess I'm assuming you are American.
In your amount of time, if you want to visit Italy, just stick to Italy and fly into Venice, train to Florence, and then to Rome for the flight home.
I have not been to Portugal, but if you could spend a week and a half exploring the country, that sounds amazing. It will most likely be your more budget friendly option.

Posted by
1878 posts

I would limit it to two with the amount of time you have, and since the third choice is Italy or Portugal, then you are left with Paris and Amsterdam. I used to string together far flung places in my early travels, not any more. If you think you won’t be back for years and those are your top two then go for it. My own set of preferences would have me in one country for a trip if this length. If I visited two on your list it would be France (Paris) and Italy. But it’s not my trip, it’s yours!

Posted by
2089 posts

I don't think there is ridiculous advice being given here--people are expressing a preference, perhaps, based on their own experiences, with a big dose of common sense thrown in. I have made 11 trips to Europe in the past 9 years and have yet to work up a strong enough desire to go to Italy, yet I absolutely adored Paris and Amsterdam and thus MY advice would be to concentrate the OP's trip to time in these 2 cities, connected easily by train. See how that works?

Posted by
2860 posts

I agree with Christa that most of the advice given is quite sensible, not in any way ridiculous. Newbies typically don’t understand how much time traveling between destinations takes, nor do they grasp how much energy is required to adjust to new cities, languages, and cultures. 10 - 12 days is a very short trip, assuming op is from North America.
Paris/Amsterdam with, perhaps, a day trip or two from Paris, makes the most sense to me. (See the very first response.). However, Paris/Rome also seems o.k. The single most important piece of advice that op should heed is to reserve open-jaw tickets for the flights to and from Europe.

Posted by
180 posts

The biggest question here (two that have been asked but not answered are) what does the OP hope to see, and if this is their ONLY TRIP TO EUROPE, what would they be devastated if they missed out on? If they can take "11 trips in 9 years", then it's not even an issue or concern. Somehow I have a feeling that's not the case here, and the ridiculous part is the assumption of a majority of posters here that consider Europe to be as accessible as the corner 7 Eleven. That's not reality for the vast majority of the north American population for a great number of reasons

Until they rank their hopes, dreams, and wishes, it's impossible to give helpful advice. For once in a lifetime, Rome and Paris are bucket list destinations. Amsterdam over Rome or Venice? Bold take Cotton.

Posted by
4125 posts

You can have a really great trip with any two of these destinations. Also (which is not exactly the same thing), with only 10 days (8 on the ground?), you could not add another of these destinations and improve the trip.

Now let me qualify that. If you have 12 days, I think you could visit 3 countries if they were logistically proximate, in a way that might be a better trip for some people (you, maybe, i don't know) than any 2 alone. Example Amsterdam > Brugge > Paris; London > Amsterdam > Paris. For some that would be the optimal trip; for others too much too quick.

But of the 4 destinations you list, in the time you have, any 3 would be too much.

Posted by
921 posts

Paris and Amsterdam are the best countries to visit on your list. London would be my third pick.

Posted by
6118 posts

Paris and Amsterdam are the best countries to visit on your list.

Umm,..... when did the definition of 'country' change?

Posted by
1090 posts

Amsterdam would also make a northern European destination.

I've never seen a definition of Northern Europe that includes the Netherlands.

However, Amsterdam is very easy to pair with Paris. Maybe even easier than London since you don't have to deal with multiple currencies, security checks before the train, or worry about Brexit.

Posted by
921 posts

"Paris and Amsterdam are the best countries to visit on your list."
"Umm,..... when did the definition of 'country' change"

Joe, my poor attempt at humour. The OP, by his/her own admission, is unclear.