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10 days in Europe with 2 older teenagers

We would like to take our girls, 18 and 16, for their first trip to Europe this summer, probably in July. We would like to capitalize on the great exchange rate with the Euro, and maybe spend 10-12 days there. I don't think we would want to rent a car. I imagine spending time in 2 different cities, taking the train in between. I just can't decide which cities. I myself am well-traveled, but I am having trouble imagining which 2 cities would be most entertaining for the girls. They are both bright, and appreciate culture, but aren't into museums much at all. We had initially thought London and Paris, but the pound/dollar exchange isn't so great right now. Any suggestions for me? Thank you.

Posted by
6858 posts

If Paris is a must and taking train between two cities I would say Paris & Amsterdam, Paris & Munich, Paris & Nice. If you're ok with taking a budget flight between cities then Paris & Berlin or Paris & Budapest. I would imagine that most any city in Europe would be fine with girls that age but from what I've heard when talking to younger people, topping their lists would be Berlin, Amsterdam, Budapest, Paris.

Posted by
11503 posts

I still think London and Paris are great choices.. I am not sure where you are from , but there are usually good flights into Amsterdam,, and Amsterdam and Paris would be a good choice too.. They are only 3.5 hours apart by train too..
No need for cars in either of those cities..

From Paris there are so many great daytrips you could take too.. Versailles, Chartes, Reims, Provins( world heritage site) , Vaux Vicomte, Giverny) etc etc..

If you visit either London or Paris strongly encourage you to look at Fat Tike Bike tours.. they are fun and EASY( I did my first one as a middle aged woman who had not been on a bike in over 30 years!!) .. fun way to see places.. I highly recommend the ones to Giverny to see Monets Gardens,, and the Paris by Night tour.. includes a cruise on Seine..

I have only been to Amsterdam twice so am not as familiar with it as London or Paris but if I can help with those places , ask away.

I have taken both my 11 yr old and 13 yr old to both London, Paris, Rome etc.. on separate one on one trips with me.. my husband took our 14 yr old.. so I can assure you that they all have different favorite sites.

I also strongly encourage you , once you have settled on cities.. to get the kids involved.. my kids were all required to contribute to trip planning by coming up with three must see sites they wanted to visit, it really makes trips like this worthwhile,, they are not being "taken along" but are part of process( and its dead simple with a computer and the ability to google "what to see in" ) . Its like sweat equity for being taken on a great holiday.. plus trust me it cuts down on complaining.. they have to put up with your museum or cathedral choice.. and you have to put up with their choice of a Sewer Tour or Catacombs visit ( my 13 yr found that one online !)

Rome is another choice.. but I simply find Rome insanely hot and sticky in summer.. having been there a few times,, and once took 11 yr old there.. I would avoid it if I had a choice now.. ( spring or fall would be better)

Posted by
809 posts

Bear in mind that there are a LOT of free sights in London [like most museums] which might mitigate the bad exchange rate to some extent. I was there twice with my teen daughter and we had a marvelous time; we went to a number of plays/musicals, mostly with tickets from the half-price TKTS booth in Leicester Square, got [free] tickets to the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower [and liked it so much we were back the next morning for another tour], did several London Walks... There are also lots of reasonably priced housing options. So I think your first idea of pairing London and Paris might work fine.

One other question - are they learning a second language? If so, it would be fun to spend some time in a place where they could practice those language skills.

Posted by
11503 posts

Kathleen has a good point.. many good museums are FREE in London...for ALL of you.. a considerable savings.

In Paris your 16 yr old is free at the Louvre, Orsay, Rodin , Cluny, Invalids Army Musuem, as well as several others..

Your 18 yr old however is not free as the free visits are for persons UNDER 18 only.. but still every little savings helps.

PS most young people like the idea of visiting Amsterdam and Berlin for reasons that have little to do with either history or museums... lol .. I know I did when younger... lol

Posted by
2081 posts


i dont put alot of weight of the USD vs other currencies as to where i go or dont. July is 4 months out and anything can happen - good or bad.

i assume the Euro will be approximately 1.3 Euros per US dollar and go from there. If its more, i have to cut back, if its less, then i can spend more, but i always have some extra $$ that i can dip into. The Pound the same way.

Id still do the London/Paris combo since i find its so easy and convenient.

Happy trails.

Posted by
693 posts

I thought the exchange rate for the pound was as good as it has been for a long time?!

Posted by
2020 posts

Suggestions of cities based on museums may not be appreciated, since the original poster says they aren't into museums much at all. Though you can't get away from museums in European cities (and they should visit some for sure)
If the teenage girls stylish and into shopping -- Paris is their place, no question. As well as for people watching, strolling, outdoor cafes, and just beauty in general. From Paris you can take day trips to Versailles, Provins, Loire Valley (CityVisions tours) -- if you want to see some of the countryside -- don't really have to go to another major city. But if you want to stay on the continent, I think Amsterdam would be exciting and interesting for your girls also.

Ask your girls what interests them.

Posted by
1487 posts

Paris and barcelona.
Two distinctly different cultures, geography, metroplexes and one has a beach on the Med. Both have excellent public transportation systems. Suggest you rent an apt for each destination as you will have more space, separate rooms, a kitchen, etc. we find apts to be a better value then hotels.
To save money you should examine staying just outside of central Paris and taking daytrips into the city. Also examine opportunities to day trip into places within short train rides.
From Paris take the high speed train to barcelona.
Tell your daughters they have two assignments: 1) determine and thoroughly research at least one place in each destination they desire to attend. This way each daughter has ownership of a destination in each city. 2) research and define the best second hand shops in each city to do some clothing shopping. I am the father of two daughters and used the above two recommendations successfully to help faciliatate a two week trip. BTW: the girls loved, including my wife, the second shopping and made some real finds which I doubt they will ever give up. I enjoyed sitting at a nearby street cafe while they shopped. Good memories for all and also lite on the pocketbook.
Finally, suggest you do not try and get teenagers up and running early in the morning simply cuz you are on vacation. Tis unwise to wake sleeping teenagers early regardless of where you re on this earth.
Enjoy the journey!