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10 days in Europe?

Hello all,
I am planning a trip with my parents over spring break in 2017. It will be in Mid-March, so we are expecting a bit chilly. We will have about 10 days to travel. My question is where do you think we should plan on going? I really want to go to a few different cities and had two plans. One was fly into Paris, take the train to Venice, train from Venice to Salzburg, and finally train from Salzburg to Munich. The other plan that I had thought of was to fly into Barcelona, take the train to Paris, from Paris to Bern, Bern to Venice. However, my mom is concerned about cold weather. We have been to Paris in March before, so that will not be a problem. I would be open to only going to three cities but really want to go to Paris. Any help would be greatly appreciated because I am having a hard time drafting an itinerary! Thanks in advance.

Posted by
1705 posts

It would be more helpful to know how many nights you have in Europe. Do you have 8...or 10?

Either way, you have too much on your itinerary and you'll just be rushing around seeing very little. If you're set on Paris, well then you're off to a good start. It sounds like you're interested in Venice as well...don't take the train for a trip of this length...it's a long trip and it's easier to fly. Paris and Venice are well-connected by air.

You could do Paris and Barcelona and do a little research for a stop about halfway between them...train travel time between those two cities is 6.5 hours so you could also just go straight to Barcelona.

You could have an train/fly trip if you're set on Paris, Barcelona and Venice (although I would only suggest this if you have 10 or more nights on the ground).

Into Paris - 3 nights, train to Barcelona - 4 nights, fly to Venice - 3 nights.

Posted by
9411 posts

I'd like to present you with a thought to limit the trip a bit. I think with 8 or 9 nights it is difficult to go to multiple countries. Imagine 4 nights in Paris is really only 3 full days (arrival and departure days don't allow for much touring) and then you want to do 3 more cities? Think about picking one country. If you just go to Paris you can experience it in depth and you can take day trips into the countryside. Or perhaps add in London as an easy connection via the EuroStar.

Alternatively and for slightly warmer weather, you could pick Spain and spend some time in a city beside Barcelona. Maybe Madrid and Barcelona.

Posted by
7124 posts

I am with Valerie. Eight nights for me would only mean Paris and one other city. Ten nights possibly 2 other cities. You mention Venice in both plans, so for March would add Barcelona as a possible third destination.

Posted by
2466 posts

It's a long, not very interesting train ride from Paris to Venice. The night train is not comfortable and there's no point in using it. If you're bringing a lot of luggage, remember that you have to handle and load it yourself on trains, and if you have tight connections, this can be complicated.

On the other hand, there are frequent daily flights from Paris to Venice via EasyJet and other low-cost carriers. There are often special prices available - we paid 28 EU round trip two years ago on EasyJet. The flight only takes about 90 minutes from Orly to Marco Polo airport. You have to meet their strict luggage restrictions, so it's best to bring as little as possible. Or you could choose a major carrier like AirFrance, which would allow you a little more leeway in terms of luggage.

I would recommend checking flights as an alternative to train travel. The train from Venice to Salzburg will take about 5.5 hours, for example, which is a lot of time you could use to do something more exciting. In mid-March, you might see some snow, but you won't see much in the way of green or colorful landscape, if that's what you're hoping for. A short train trip might be nice, if you want to see the mountains and lakes, but I wouldn't recommend anything longer than 2 hours.

If you haven't visited this site, you might want to check it out - there's a lot of solid information about travelling by train throughout Europe, including the best way to purchase tickets: http://www.seat61.com/

Posted by
11153 posts

Where are you and your mom living now? That will determine if the weather in March in Venice, Paris, etc is "cold" or not to you. You can check websites for averages and the weather for the past few years, and see if these are acceptable to you (understanding that weather is not only unpredictable in general, but seems to be getting more unpredictable each year).

I agree that you should start thinking in terms of nights, not days. Remember these principles (ignore them at your peril):

1) Two nights in a city is one full day. One night in a city is less than a full day.

2) The day of arrival is often a jet-lagged haze, and the day of departure is consumed with getting to the airport for your flight back to the US.

3) Any time you change locations, even a short distance like Salzburg to Munich, you lose at least a half-day (figuring door to door). If it's a more time-consuming change like Paris to Venice, you lose much of a day.

For all these reasons, I agree that with 10 nights, have no more than 3 base cities. With only 8 nights, have only 2 base cities. You can always take daytrips out of a base city, if you want or need a change.

To investigate travel times and travel options between places, a great starting place is Rome2Rio: http://www.rome2rio.com/. But you should always treat it as just a start; confirm everything directly with the operator (bus line, airline, etc). And know that it doesn't show discounts available for advance purchase on many train routes.

To find flights within Europe, use Skyscanner: http://www.skyscanner.com/. Remember to do a "dummy" booking (up to the point where you put in your credit card) to see all the charges as well as all the rules (budget carriers tend to follow their own rules strictly; break them and it'll cost you a lot extra).

To find train routes and times, use the Bahn (German Rail) website http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en, following Rick's tutorial: http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/online-schedules. Note that this only has prices for trains starting or ending in Germany. To find the best train ticket prices for advance purchase, here's a list of where to look, from The Man In Seat 61: http://tinyurl.com/bo8x6o6