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10 Days in Europe

Hi All,

I have been reading Rick Steves books, online articles and watching some of his videos. I stumbled across this forum and saw that it offers an opportunity to get some more specific advice to what I am looking to do so I figured I would ask!

I will be in Ireland with for a week with family doing a guided tour at the very ended of June. I have since decided that I am going to add on 10-days to visit other European Countries and Cities. Since I am flying into Dublin it made sense to book a round trip flight out of Dublin. I know its not ideal, but I have already set aside the last day of my trip to fly back to dublin for an afternoon flight back home.

I have done some research on various cities I would like to see. Right now, my plan is to fly to Barcelona from Dublin on the last day of the tour. Then I would make my way up to Paris then London and finally back to Dublin. I want to see those major cities but also some quieter remote parts of those countries. (A big bonus would be to fit in the Swiss Alps, or Italy as well.) I should also mention that I don't think I will be waiting hours to see things like the Lourve. Even though I would love to, I would rather spend my time more wisely.

Am I stretching myself too thin? Would I be able to do that trip with a selective EuroRail pass?

I am open to other ideas if this is crazy... I have never been to Europe before, so I am looking for a friendly, leveled head push in the right direction.

Also, I will be traveling alone. Any tips in this regard would also be helpful!

Thank you in advance!

John

Posted by
833 posts

10 days is stretching it for Barcelona - Paris - London, you wouldn't be able to fit in Italy or the Swiss Alps. What I would recommend is prioritize. Which 2 places are your biggest draws? If it's Rome and Paris, or Rome and the Swiss Alps, do that. If it's Barcelona and London, choose those two. If you try to see more than 3 places, you will spend over half your time traveling between them. You could probably fit three cities in, but if you are also wanting to see "quieter remote parts of those countries" then I would choose 2 destinations and plan some day trips from there.

A Eurorail pass is hardly ever a financially beneficial decision. Buying your tickets point to point (especially in advance, if you can narrow down your plans) will save you time.

Posted by
833 posts

Realize that Barcelona - Florence - Murren - Paris - London - Dublin (just as an example, based on what you mentioned) covers over 2000 miles. That would be like driving from New York City to Salt Lake City and expecting to see several cities along the way. All you would get is a tiny taste before you pack up and leave for the next.

Posted by
16764 posts

Hi, John. Since time is tight, I'd fly between most country pairs instead of using trains that might take 8 - 10 hours. See Rick's overview map to estimate rail travel time and (full-fare) ticket cost. I'd say you need at least 3 days each to see Barcelona, Paris, and London. From those cities, you might get a taste of a smaller town as a daytrip. There are interesting smaller towns between Barcelona and Paris, but that means you're on the train for most of two days and need two nights at your mid-point destination. The Eurostar train from Paris to London (2.5 hours) always requires a separate ticket, not covered by railpasses; book it several months ahead for the best rates.

To avoid lines at the Louvre and other museums, buy a Paris Museum pass at a local FNAC store, tourist information office, or a small museum with no line. See also http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/sightseeing/avoiding-lines or more specifics in your guidebook.

Posted by
20599 posts

If you have not purchased your airline ticket then you really should consider an open jaw - perhaps coming home from Barcelona. It will be much cheaper in the long run. With ten days, you are still very limited if you want to see things. You are trying to cover too much territory which makes for long travel time either by air or rail. Remember a one hour flight can chew up four or five of travel time. With limited time you want to keep your travel short. Consider Dublin, London, Paris and then Amsterdam and home. From Paris to Amsterdam you could use local trains and make a couple of stops in smaller town along the way if you wanted a variety of experiences. Or you fly to Barcelona and work you way to Madrid and home. You have lots of options but limited time.

Posted by
2081 posts

John,

welcome.

You can do all you want. just realize "stretching yourself thin" is up to you. There are some travelers on here that will do a city in one day and they like it. Some dont. If you divide up the cities by your days, you will get an idea on how many days you have per city. Not including travel time. You have to figure out what best serves your needs/wants/desires and go from there. If you feel that 1 or 2 days in each city is good, then go for it. Also, if this is your first trip, you will figure out by the end what was good/bad and what needs to be changed on your next trip.

So, as others have said make some priority or list of why you want to go there and narrow it down to two or three.

a comment. Just because you dont want to wait in line for the Louve doesnt mean it will happen. If you read up on RS book on Paris, he gives great hints to avoid/minimize such things.

When i was in London and Paris, i allotted both citys 4 full days and that didnt include any side trips either. Also, in those 4 full days, i didnt see everything i wanted to see. But whats left over is for the next time.

to me since this is your first time, i would try to make the most of it and then see how you would like to change it the next time.

happy trails.

Posted by
3304 posts

I do think that this is way too much to try to do in 10 days. I would choose two places and make the visits quality ones. You'll spend the first day in travel and getting settled. Then you'll have 3-4 days to spend in the first location. Then another travel/settling in day with 3-4 additional days to see the second place. The last day would be travel back to Dublin and catching the plane home. Why not just stick to Paris and London this time around and save Barcelona for another time? You'll waste much less time traveling. I would fly from Dublin to Paris, take the Eurostar to London and then fly back to Dublin. Ditch the train idea especially if you do decide to go to Barcelona...it'll eat up tons of time! Fly, fly, fly...that's my two cents!

Posted by
813 posts

I don't know what the guided tour you are going on is like, but on many guided tours you don't stay in one place too long. If that is the case with your tour, you might really appreciate staying longer in a few places after the tour. You can do the three cities if you don't mind the rush, but adding on Italy or Switzerland would really be exhausting. I would probably choose 2 of the cities for about 5 days each and do a day trip or two from each city. I have traveled alone and really enjoyed it. You are on your own schedule and can see what you want when you want. The hardest part for me was going to dinner alone. I did a lot of picnics and very casual dining. In the evening, I usually passed time by reviewing my plans for the next day(s) and going through my pictures. I really appreciated having my phone available to keep in text contact with people while I was alone.

Posted by
9361 posts

I, too, think it's too much to tackle in 10 days, particularly since this is your first trip. You have no real idea how difficult everyday actions can be when you don't speak the language, don't know where you are going, need to find your lodging and feed yourself, etc. You also need time to see the things you are going to see, not just walk past it. The fewer cities the better on this trip. I also agree that an open jaw ticket would be better than backtracking to Dublin if you haven't already bought your tickets.

Posted by
5 posts

A big thank you to everyone who has responded already!
You have given me a lot to think about. I have decided that I will definitely fly between destinations. And limit this trip to a max of 3.

I think my 1st priority is to see a Mediterranean city, which is why I chose Barcelona. In addition to the architecture and culture.
And my 2nd is Paris, again because of the architecture but also because the general consensus of what I have gathered is it is the 'best' european city.

My follow-up question would be- which do you think would get me the best experience - hostel, Airbnb, or hotel? Right now I am inclined to do Airbnb and rent a room from a local. Has anyone done this in Barcelona, Paris on London? And do you have a host you would recommend!?

thanks!

Posted by
11411 posts

John.. what is your nightly budget? ( in euros/GBP) . I will warn you at this point you are going to have to jump on it.. the best hostels book up fast.. and you are going peak time.

Posted by
5 posts

Well I am considering AirBnB over a hostel. About 75 Euros a night. But I wouldn't mind paying a bit more for the right spot.

Posted by
3304 posts

Airbnb is nice because you're renting from and interacting with a local. We have received great recommendations for places to eat, offbeat things to see, and had really great conversations with some of our airbnb hosts. We have used airbnb quite a few times in the US and other countries and have always had great experiences. My niece and her boyfriend travel about 15 times a year and use airbnb almost exclusively...they also have never had problems even in places like Chile and Guadalajara. As with any rental site, read the reviews, email and speak with the host over the phone if you can, and go with your gut. It's a great way to travel!

Posted by
833 posts

Because you say you plan on flying between destinations - want to make sure you realize that flying Dublin --> Barcelona makes sense, but you may want to do Barcelona to Paris by train (there are direct ones that go in 6h30m). That's longer than the flight would be, of course, but when thinking about flying you have to consider the extra time it takes to get out to the airport (rather than using train stations that drop you off in the city centers), getting there early for security, and so on. And then from Paris to London, I would definitely take the Eurostar rather than fly.

Posted by
339 posts

You may want to check out Cross-Pollinate.com for lodging in Barcelona, London, Paris. I have used them a number of times and have always been happy with where we have stayed. There is also information about neighborhoods on the website and blog as far as good neighborhoods for your trip. Very reasonable on the prices.

Posted by
13930 posts

Along with booking rooms quickly, you should lock down your itinerary and book the train and airline tickets as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more expensive they will be.

Posted by
5 posts

Devon, What is the direct train between Barcelona and Paris? I haven't been able to find it.

Posted by
4207 posts

This website shows three trains from Barcelona to Paris (Montparnasse) via Toulouse. These are fast express (TGV) trains, total about 8 hours. I picked July 4 because it's 90 days from now, normally as far ahead as you can reserve, and close to your timeframe. Look at the information on train travel on this Rick Steves website, including the links he provides. "The Man in Seat 61" is a comprehensive guide from a passenger perspective. The sooner you book the less it will cost.

FWIW, I think flying Dublin to Barcelona, train to Paris, and flying back to Dublin makes the most sense for you since you're already committed to Dublin for returning home. Save London for another trip. And have a wonderful time!

Posted by
833 posts

John,
The German rail site, bahn.de, is one of the easiest to review for scheduling. You will have to go through sncf.com (or a third party reseller - Capitane Train or similar) to purchase them. If you use sncf.com, choose a country other than the US as your ticket "pick-up" country or else you'll get booted to the Rail Europe site and pay more. I see trains leaving from Barcelona at 0920, 1320 and 1620, taking 6h33m to get to Paris. Booking in advance does get you cheaper prices, so I would book whenever you figure out your schedule.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks Devon!

I am starting to nail down my itinerary. I have lodging set in Barcelona and Paris and just booked my train to Paris from Barcelona!
The big thing remaining is getting my flight to Barcelona from Dublin; and Paris to Dublin. I am struggling to decided between the major airlines/airports and the budget airlines/remote airports.

Do you have any advice about this? The budget airlines seem VERY appealing but I don't know if its worth the hassle... I have also heard they can nail you with fees. Is there an airline(s) you would recommend? How easy/hard is it to get the more remote airports these budget airlines use?

Thanks so much for all the help so far! You all are amazing!

-John