Hope some of you seasoned travelers can give us a hand. My family is planning a European trip this summer (2 Adults, 2 Teens). We plan to fly into Paris and spend a day there. We are thinking of using trains for trip to Italy with stops in Florence, Rome and Venice. Would like to continue on to Switzerland and then Romanctic Road area of Germany. We leave out of Zurich at end of 2 weeks. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Any experience with using train? Hope to plan train trips so they would be at night so we could sleep and then arrive to spend day touring.
Way too many big destinations, too little time.
Tix already purchased?? If so...
Option 1 - conserve your ground travel:
Spend 3-4 days in Paris, head east for Rhine Castles (2-3 nights) on the way to the Romantic Road and Munich (3-4 nights) and then 3-4 days in the Berner Oberland (Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, etc.) and Zurich.
Paris 3-4 days
Fly to Italy;
4 days Rome
2 days Venice
3 days Florence
Train or fly to Zurich
Same as option 2 but drop an Italy destination and spend it in the Berner Oberland instead.
At this point, the only thing we have is airline tickets into Paris and home from Zurich. We have already been to Paris and spent 5 days there several years ago. Think that we should narrow focus to 2 countries instead of 4.
There are overnight trains from Paris to all three Italian cities. There are also overnight trains from Italy to Munich via Austria (Brenner pass). Since most trips from Italy to Switzerland to Munich to through or near Zurich, where you want to end, it might make more sense to do Italy to Bavaria to Switzerland, rather than Zurich to Munich and back. There are direct (no chng) train that go from Munich to Zurich in about 4 hours, and you can get special low fares for those trains.
You can find all of these schedules on the German Rail website.
There are not that many night trains and a lot of people want to use them; they sell out quickly, particularly the route to Munich, so book early.
I see. In that case, I think leave Paris, head east for a stay in the Rhine/Mosel region for 2-3 nights. Then...
Option 1: ...fly out of Frankfurt Hahn airport, which is in the heart of the Rhine/Mosel region, wedged into a rural spot between the two rivers (use Ryanair, discount airline, really cheap) into Italy for the balance of your trip provided you can deal with the heat, crowds, and expense of summer in Italy, and train or fly back to Zurich, or...
Option 2: ...skip Italy and do the Romantic Road, Munich, the Bavarian Alps (Garmisch? Mittenwald?), maybe Salzburg, the Bernese Oberland, and Zurich in your remaining 9-10 days. There's a lot to see and do even in this geographically small area.
After Paris, I would try to get a cheap flight into Rome and then work your way north. Rome-Florence-Venize-Switz.
With only two weeks, I think you'd be pushing to try to add the Romantic Road and then double back to Zurich.
Hello Paul. I agree with Frank. If you desire to go to ITALY, go to ITALY and SWITZERLAND. I do not recommend riding in trains all night. Even in a private room in a train, people do not get enough sleep in a train.
One day in Paris? Is your family name Griswold? lol
We joke that our trip will be like "European Vacation". We will actually spend 2 days in Paris-we visited Paris for 5 days a few years ago, so would like to spend time elsewhere. We are flying into Paris to pick up college son who is spending time in France for school this summer. If not for that, we would probably fly right to Italy. Thanks to all for your suggestions-right now we are "rethinking" our plans.
Bob, One day in Paris? Is your family name Griswold?
According to his second post, he has already spent 5 days in Paris.
My only question is, why is he flying to Paris, at all. He should have gone directly to Italy (or Munich). By flying to Paris he is just losing a day of his trip and adding the expense of getting to Italy later.
I was writing this post while Paul was posting his explanation. But, seriously, his college son should have been able to get to Italy on his own and meet them there. Or maybe they could have scheduled a flight to Italy with a plane change in Paris (usually not as expensive as two separate legs) and had the son take the same flight to Italy. But looks like they are already locked in, probably with non-exchangeable tickets. At this point I would forget Italy and spend the time in parts of northern France they haven't seen, western Germany (Mosel and Mittelrhein), then up the Rhein to Switzerland. If you book well in advance, you can get some low cost train connections in Germany and from the Frankfurt area to Switzerland.
I like the idea of catching a cheap flight to Rome. Then from there work your way north. Rome, Florence, Venice, Rottenburgh (romantic Road), then Zurich. I may be partial, but Italy is so much more interesting than Germany or Switzerland.
Paul, before providing a detailed reply, could you indicate if your airline tickets are changeable? Given the very short duration of your trip, visiting four countries in 14-days is simply too much!
Given the circumstances, my preference would have been to start in Frankfurt. Have the college-age Son meet you there (easy train trip from Paris). Travel to the Romantic Road, quick visit in Switzerland if desired and then into Italy (you should be able to visit at least Florence and Rome, but not sure about Venice in that short time period). Fly home from Rome. However if your tickets aren't changeable, it's going to be very challenging to fit everything in.
My husband and I traveled for three weeks in Europe in late Sept. and Oct. We flew into Paris and stayed five nights. We did all of our travel by train and it was wonderful.We did take one overnite from Paris to Venice. No problem with sleeping.We made our resevations through Euraide Inc.(a german Company) We bought a saver pass for three countries for one month. They were great to work with and all worked out great.I would highly recommend this country. Shirley
Yes, my last name REALLY IS "Griswold" !
Euraide (www.euraide.com) has an office in the Munich Hbf and another in Berlin Hbf, but they are an American company based in Florida. They have a German Rail terminal in Munich and they print your tickets there and send them to the U.S., at the same price you would pay in Munich plus about $50 for the service. You can call them in Florida, or FAX them, without international long distance charges.