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1st time to europe- 1 month euro trip itinerary need advice!

Hi everyone :) i am just about to graduate college and planning a trip from the US to europe with two of my friends for one month!

We have a list of cities in mind and after looking at the map and some flights here is the idea of where we are planning on going. We are not exactly sure on how to get from each place or how many days we should spend in each city just yet. We are so excited to go to Europe, sight see, and enjoy the night life- really get to know Europe and everything it has to offer.

Are these countries and the flow cohesive? Any advice/changes/recommendations would be greatly appreciated. thanks so much in advance!

fly into London>Amsterdam>Berlin>Prague>Florence>Barcelona>Paris> fly home

Posted by
7905 posts

Please let me make a couple of changes that would be appropriate for 3 bohemians out for a great time:
London>Amsterdam>Berlin>Prague>Munich>Budapest>Paris> fly home.
I take it you've missed what goes on in Budapest's Turkish Baths on Saturday nights. It's a big laser light/smoke machine audio visual spectacular with hundreds in bathing suits--and not to be missed. You can then fly to Paris cheap on You might hesitate to move to your next city, and not want to leave this city.
And a few days listening to oom-pah music in Munich is a treat. And the English Gardens in Summer is also a great place to be.
I'd suggest saving Barcelona for your next trip. And there will be another trip.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks so much!! Appreciate your advice. Those cities seem like a great time, definitely have a lot to think about!

Posted by
32111 posts


I assume college graduation will be taking place within the next few months? If so you'll need to get cracking and start getting the details sorted as time is short.

As this is your first trip to Europe, my first suggestion would be to read Europe Through The Back Door prior to your trip. It provides a lot of great information on "how" to travel in Europe, and will help you avoid mistakes. Once you've got some plans worked out, use the country or city-specific Guidebooks to plan hotels, sightseeing, transportation, etc.

Using open-jaw flights would be the best idea, and once you've finalized your starting and ending cities and travel dates, you can book those. It would help to know where you're flying from. Most of us have our location listed in our Profiles.

Is there a reason that Rome wasn't on the list? It's a wonderful city with lots of history. Are you planning to visit any other places in Tuscany besides Florence?

If you'd really like to visit Barcelona, that should be possible although doing so will increase your transportation times and costs. The easiest transportation on that route would either be MXP-BCN via EasyJet or FLR-BCN via Vueling. For the trip from BCN to Paris, you can use either of those airlines to either ORY or CDG. You can check their websites for details. Be sure to read the Terms & Conditions carefully, especially related to luggage limits.

For the trip from London to Amsterdam, my preference would be to use the EuroStar to Brussels and then regular train to Amsterdam, as I try to avoid the usual airport hassles whenever possible. For the trip from Prague to Florence, I'd probably use EasyJet from PRG to MXP and then train to Florence. That will be a bit of a long travel day.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
16 posts

Ken- Thanks so much. That was incredibly insightful and helpful. Rome was left out just because it seemed a bit farther away than the rest and we have such little time. We are flying from Chicago :) the windy city. We are completely open to flying into anywhere at this point. I just purchased two of Rick Steves' books and another one on traveling to Europe. It is a very fun, exciting yet stressful time to plan these trips! Most of the advice I have been given is to reduce the number of cities I am traveling to and spend more time in each. I definitely agree with this but I am just having such a hard time shortening the list. Is it a totally crazy idea to cut London out of the list? Do you have a favorite city in Italy? Would you recommend Budapest?

Our newest train of thought was something along the lines of this:

Posted by
32111 posts


I don't think it's necessary to cut any cities from your list. With a one month time frame, you have lots of time to work with. You could consider something along these lines.....

  • D1: Depart ORD
  • D2: Arrive London
  • D3-5: London (possible day trip to Bath?)
  • D6: EuroStar to Brussels and train to Amsterdam (travel day)
  • D7-8: Amsterdam
  • D9: Train to Berlin (about 6 hours as I recall, so the better part of a day)
  • D10-12: Berlin (another city with great night life)
  • D13: Train to Prague
  • D14-16: Prague
  • D17: Flight to Florence via Milan? (travel day)
  • D18-21: Florence (possible day trips to Siena, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lucca)
  • D22: Flight to Barcelona
  • D23-25: Barcelona
  • D26: Flight to Paris
  • D27-30: Paris
  • D31: Flight home

Actually, Rome is only about 90 minutes from Florence via high speed train (300 kmH). It's a very easy trip. IMO, Budapest should be left for another trip, as it doesn't work as well with the overall route. One other option you could consider would be to skip Barcelona and either substitute Rome or just add more time in each of your other cities. I'd leave London on the list as it's a great starting point and will provide a more "gentle" culture shock for your first trip to Europe.

There are many ways this trip could be arranged, and this is only one suggestion. As this is your first trip to Europe, there are a lot of "small details" that will need to be worked out. For example....

  1. Many cities in Europe have more than one rail station, so it's crucial to know which stations you'll be using when you buy tickets.
  2. There are some potentially expensive "caveats" to be aware of when using public transit in Italy. You'll need to do some homework on that point.
  3. It's important to book things like the EuroStar and budget airlines WELL in advance, as the costs will increase sharply otherwise.
  4. You didn't say when this trip will be taking place, but it would probably be a good idea to pre-book hotels in advance.
  5. Each of you should check your Passports to ensure that they will be valid for the duration of your trip.
  6. Be sure to read the section in Europe Through The Back Door regarding obtaining cash from ATM's. Many of us recommend wearing a Money Belt.

You might find it helpful to have a look at the excellent Man In Seat 61 website. That provides lots of great information on using trains in Europe. Use the website (German rail) for checking schedules on rail trips all over Europe or the Trenitalia website for trips in Italy.


Posted by
16 posts

Wow- Incredible advice Ken. Thank you so much, I could not be more appreciative with all of your help. You are quite the Europe and travel expert. We are starting our trip right in May, so hopefully travel and weather won't be too bad :) I definitely have a lot to read and learn about planning this trip. That was really helpful though, thank you again!

Posted by
11613 posts


You are getting great advice. I also suggest putting Rome on your list. If you decide to drop London, consider Brussels, it's also a very friendly first-visit city, great people, sights, food, and of cousre chocolate and beer.

About weather: last May (beginning around the 10th), I started a trip in Berlin (great city) and it was raining and cold for the first ten days (by then I was in Vienna). Take a windbreaker or light rain jacket and a sweater.

About hotels: If you want to wing it for part of your trip, has last-minute deals (you can sign up for alerts and/or just check their website the day before or even the day of your arrival somewhere).

Electronics: Turn off data and use wifi ONLY. Most hotels or hostels provide it free, roaming charges will ruin you.

Posted by
16 posts

I am so thankful and lucky to be getting such great advice! I think starting off in London is a really good idea... eases into the European transition. After talking to some people, it seems like Rome is more popular and recommended than Venice.

London(4 days)>Paris(4)>Amsterdam(2)>Berlin(3)>Prague(3)>Rome(3)>Barcelona(3)

How does this look with the travel and days provided? Would love any advice/feedback! Thanks again :)

Posted by
15477 posts

London(4 days)>Paris(4)>Amsterdam(2)>Berlin(3)>Prague(3)>Rome(3)>Barcelona(3)

From Prague, there are easy rail connections to Vienna and on to Budapest. If you skip Italy (hard as that is, then fly to Barcelon and home from there.

Take a look at the Ryan Air and Easy Jet websites to see which cities are connected and the flight times and which airports are used. Sometimes the airport is a major one, but sometimes it can be miles and miles from nowhere. When you see the flights, you'll have a better idea of what is possible/efficient. There are no bad choices here, and all these places will still be around for your next trip/s. Combine this with open-jaw ticket possibilites. I just took a quick look at United's route map - they fly direct to some of your destinations, incl. London, but not to Spain, Italy or Hungary. Not that UAL would necessarily be the best priced option, just a start. Try to avoid a flight schedule with a plane change within the U.S.

A 5 or 6 hour train ride probably takes no longer than a 1 hour flight. The train stations are in the city centers, while the airports are almost always far away. Then you have the time to check in, security and wait for luggage offloading on arrival. When you compare trains with flights, take into account extra flight charges, for example for baggage (the carry-on limits are usually very low and strictly enforced), extra transportation costs (to/from airports).

Eurostar trains from London sell cheap tickets 120 days in advance (no refund, no changes). The same goes for Thalys trains from Paris to Amsterdam.

Posted by
15477 posts

For me, comparing Rome to Venice is like comparing San Francisco to Los Angeles. One is small with a very special atmosphere, the other is large with lots to see and do. Like all your other places, and Zoe's suggestions, there are no bad choices. Just lots of choices.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks for all of your feedback. I am really interested in seeing some countryside as well and Rome seems a little far out of the way. Any advice on this route?

London(3 days)>Paris(3 days)>Amsterdam(3 days)>Berlin(3 days)>Prague(3 days)>Budapest(2 days)>Switzerland(2 days)>Barcelona(3 days)

Posted by
18844 posts

I would skip Switzerland. Too expensive and too civilized. Vueling has direct flights from Badapest to Barcelona 3 days a week starting June 21. Add a day each to London and Paris. Huge cities and worth some extra time.

Posted by
4132 posts

If you want to see countryside (and you should!), add it to your itinerary. You've got all cities.

And if you really want to see some countryside, rent a car for part of the time.

For instance (and this is just for instance), if you are flying home from Paris you could take the train from Barcelona to Perignan and drive north, or to Avignon and explore Provence.

Of course to do that you have to give up something else, but I think it will be worth it.

PS In terms of Ken's proposed itinerary, I'd suggest flying into Amsterdam and out of London (ending Paris > London on the Eurostar). It will swap a 3-hour trip (Paris-London) in for a full day (London-A'dam).

Posted by
32111 posts


I wouldn't suggest skipping Italy, as it's a wonderful country with a unique character (not to mention fantastic food!). Regardless of where I might travel in Europe each year, I ALWAYS get back to Italy. That's important for me.

This Itinerary that you suggested looks like a good one to work with:

"London(4 days)>Paris(4)>Amsterdam(2)>Berlin(3)>Prague(3)>Rome(3)>Barcelona(3)"

The above Itinerary provides a brief look at several different cultures, which will provide you with valuable information to help plan future trips. With a one-month time frame, you have the time to visit all of those countries. You still have some time available, so you could still easily add Venice and/or Florence, as well as adding some time to some of your stops. As I mentioned earlier, Florence is only about 90 minutes from Rome via high speed train, so transportation is easy.

One other thing you'll need to give some thought to, is which part of each city you want to stay in. For example, some here prefer to stay in the Rue Cler area of Paris. It's close to the Eiffel Tower and other sites and has a really nice character, although some consider it "too touristy" (FWIW, I like that area). In Rome some prefer to stay in Trastevere or near Piazza Navona while others prefer to stay near Termini station (the Termini area is my preference as it's so convenient for transportation).

Once you've decided on a definite list of cities, check your local Library or bookstores for Guidebooks on each one to find the information to plan touring, etc. The group here can also help with that. May is not far off, so you'll have to make a decision on cities very soon and start putting the wheels in motion and working out the fine details. One other thing to keep in mind is that May is "spring shoulder season" so it could be busy in most of the places you'll be visiting. Therefore, pre-booking hotels would be a really good idea.


Posted by
1495 posts

"Slow down, you move to fast, you got to make the moment last now....."
A snippet of a Simon and Garfunkel song providing some excellent advice.
Hopefully your generation knows Simon & Garfunkel?


"We are so excited to go to Europe, sight see, and enjoy the night life- really get to know Europe and everything it has to offer." To fulfill this statement all of you should accept the following statements:

1) accept this will be the first, but not the last, trip to Europe.
2) "getting to know Europe" means absorbing the culture. Absorbing means investing time into exploring beyond the museums and architecture.

Consider the following itinerary:

Fly into London and spend six days. A good way to ease into your trip. Great subway, ez to take day trips.

Take the train to Paris and spend six days. So many different areas to explore beyond tourist zones.

Take the high speed train to Barcelona and spend six days. Hey, a beach at your fingertips! EZ day trips, plus another huge menu. Plus you get added time to each day since you must stay up till 3 a.m. to begin to understand the Spanish culture.

Take a flight to Rome and spend four days and then a train to Venice for four days. You will experience two totally different aspects of Italy.

This accounts for 26 days as I assume you will use and additional two and a half days in travel to and from the USA.

You will accomplish the following: English, French, Spanish and Italian parties with matching diversity of food, drink and party companions. Sampled four vastly different cultures. Allowed yourselves time to sample each locale. Not worn yourselves out with travel fatigue.

I encourage you to rent apartments in each location. Apartments offer the following advantages over hotels: multiple rooms to provide opportunity to spread out, a kitchen, contact with locals, better economics, opportunity to get out of staying within the tourist zone and some have a washer (but you will need to air dry your clothes). Another advantage of staying a minimum of four days per locale is less packing and unpacking.

Speaking of packing......... pack less, I mean much less. I have daughters and when we travel to europe they have learned how to share "staples" instead of each having to pack their own favorite "stuff" which they cannot imagine doing without. "Yuck" they said, but it meant less to haul and they came to appreciate not being pack mules. Take less then you need, everything you need can be purchased in Europe. Now here is the best incentive to pack less clothes.................. take the opportunity to buy clothes in Europe. Do you want to bring back some great memories? Than buy a blouse from each country and consider how nice it will feel when you wear it back in the USA.
Read up on how to be wise about pickpockets. Don't go in fear of being pick pocketed (it may happen), but learn how to take precautions. NOTE: you have a built in safety mechanism with two other travel partners. Always keep your eyes on the other persons stuff! Also, I ask our daughters to always have a "party buddy" while in Europe. This is the equivalent of a designated driver, someone willing to not over imbibe to help protect the group.

I know how difficult it is to think of visiting fewer places, but by doing so you are allowing yourselves to experience more places within the locales you visit. Absorb the culture! Take the time to create wonderful lifelong memories.

Enjoy and Safe Travels!

Posted by
9211 posts

I wouldn't add more places as per a suggestion above, I would add more time to the places you've listed.. London, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Barcelona. The other places and days on your list are good.
I would not fly out of London... it adds $200-$300 to your ticket b/c of taxes. Flying in is fine, doesn't cost more.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks for your responses! Here is my proposed itinerary! Would love advice :)

Day 1 Arrive in London
Day 2 Sight see in London
Day 3 Day in London
Day 4, London
Day 5 Train to paris
Day 6 Paris
Day 7 Versailles
Day 8 Paris
Day 9 Travel to Amsterdam
Day 10 Amsterdam
Day 11 Amsterdam
Day 12 Train to Berlin
Day 13 Berlin
Day 14 Berlin
Day 15 Train to Prague
Day 16 Prague
Day 17 Prague
Day 18 Prague
Day 19 Train to Budapest
Day 20 Budapest
Day 21 Budapest
Day 22 Train to Vienna
Day 23 Vienna, train to Venice
Day 24 Venice
Day 25 Venice
Day 26 Flight to Barcelona
Day 27 Barcelona
Day 28 Barcelona
Day 29 Barcelona
Day 30 Barcelona, fly home ☹

Posted by
9955 posts

I would take a night from Barcelona and a night from Prague and add that time to Paris. I think you have 4 nights in Paris, which means 3 days. You intend to take one of those days for Versailles. You won't scratch the surface of Paris in 2 days.

I think apartments are great for the following reasons -

  • It is usually less expensive than a hotel room. European hotel room are very small, so you have more room to stretch out.
  • You have a kitchen so you can save some money on food if you want to make sandwiches, breakfast or whatever.
  • You can rent a place with a washer. Some places have a washer/dryer combo machine. You will want to pack light, and staying places with a washer will allow you to do laundry in your down time. No need to find prime day time to seek out a laundromat.

I have not found that staying in apartments allows me more interaction with locals.

Posted by
18844 posts

Vueling flies direct form Venice to Barcelona for cheap (I see 50 euro fares in late June). If you want adventure travel, try night trains Prague to Budapest and Vienna to Venice. I don't see any cheap flights on those routes, and they are 7+ hour train rides. Do it at night and save the daylight for sight seeing. You're young enough to sleep on trains, and staying in a 3-person cabin is still cheaper than flying.
edit-You've made up your mind on the itinerary, now nail down your flights to London and home from Barcelona. Then you can think about internal travel, then nail down lodging.

Posted by
16 posts

sorry everyone! shortened it up a bit. hoping this works ! thanks for your advice :)

Day 1 Travel to London
Day 2-4 London
Day 5 Afternoon train to Paris
Day 6-8 Paris
Day 9 Versailles
Day 10 Spend the day in Paris, Night train to Berlin
Day 11-13 Berlin
Day 14 Afternoon trip to Prague via Train
Day 16-17 Prague
Day 18 Spend the day in Prague, night train to Budapest
Day 19-21 Budapest
Day 22 Train to Vienna
Day 23 Spend the day in Vienna, sleeper train to Venice
Day 24-27 Venice (possible day trip to Florence?)
Day 28 Fly to Barcelona
Day 29-31 Barcelona
Day 32 Fly Home ☹

Posted by
32111 posts


Your last Itinerary looks quite well organized. A couple of points to mention.....

  • Paris: try not to visit the Louvre on a Monday as it will be VERY busy. Note that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.
  • Versailles: try not to visit on a Tuesday as it will likely be VERY busy. As I recall, Versailles is closed on Mondays.
  • You may find that the night trains are not as practical as imagined. You'll have to ensure that there are no (or few) changes during the night, otherwise you won't be getting much sleep and will arrive tired in your next destination. You'll have to pay extra for Couchettes, and the experience may not entirely be "pleasant" if you're in a compartment with strangers that snore like a gorilla.
Posted by
16 posts

Ken- that is a great point and thanks for mentioning! I think I might try to nix the sleeper from vienna to venice and just fly from Budapest to Venice instead. Also- thank you for the helpful tips in Paris! I will definitely make sure not to go those days.

Does anyone know if its possible to get from Florence to Barcelona easily? I couldn't really find any cheap flights but it seems like train is an extremely long trip. I will probably nix Florence altogether and fly from Venice to Barcelona.. but if it werent too painless I would love to visit Florence for a day or two and then end in Barcelona

Posted by
32111 posts


As I mentioned in my first reply, you should be able to easily get from Florence to Barcelona using a flight with Vueling (a Spanish airline). Another option would be to take the train from Florence to MXP and use EasyJet (I flew that route on my last trip and it's very easy). EasyJet is my preferred budget airline in Europe, but Vueling is also good. I try to avoid RyanAir unless there's absolutely no other choice.

Budget airlines often use a "sliding scale" with the prices increasing as the flight fills, so don't wait too long to book for travel in May. Note that tickets are usually non-refundable and non-changeable when booked, so be sure of your dates when you book.

For the trip from Prague to Budapest, you might also consider a train during the day. There are direct trains with a travel time of about 7 hours, which is not too bad. That would allow you to see the scenery during the trip. One other thing to consider with night trains is that if you arrive very early (ie: ~08:00) you may not be able to check into your next hotel straight away. Many hotels provide luggage storage, but I prefer arriving in a new city mid-afternoon as the rooms are usually serviced by that time.

For the trip from Paris to Berlin, there only appears to be ONE CNL train with no changes on that route, departing Paris Est at 18:58. It has a travel time of 13H:30M which is longer than I'd want to be on a train. My preference would be a budget flight on that route and you could consider EasyJet from ORY to SXF. They appear to offer three flights per day on that route. I haven't checked the other budget airlines.

Posted by
18844 posts

There are no changes on the CNL AMS>BER, or the Metropol PRG>BUD. There is a night train option with a change on the VIE>VEN route, but just take the other one that goes direct, the EN944 operated by OEBB, the Austrian Railway.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you for all the sweet and helpful tips. I think Budapest might be cut out in favor of Amsterdam... it seems to travel better and easier in the schedule.


Day 1 Travel to London
Day 2-5 London
Day 6 Afternoon train to Paris (2 hour 30 min)
Day 7-9 Paris
Day 10 Versaille
Day 11 Spend the day in Paris, Train to Amsterdam
Day 12-13 Amsterdam
Day 14 Train to Berlin (6 hours)
Day 15-17 Berlin
Day 18 Train to Prague (4 hours 40 min)
Day 19-21 Prague
Day 22 Fly to Venice
Day 23-24 Venice
Day 25 Travel to Florence
Day26-27 Florence (3 hours)
Day 28 Fly to Barcelona (1h 30 min)
Day 29-31 Barcelona
Day 32 Fly Home

Posted by
32111 posts


The latest version of your Itinerary looks like a winner! If your group is in agreement, I think you'll all have a great post-graduation trip.

I'll post some additional comments in the morning (its getting late and I'm not focusing well at the moment).

Posted by
18844 posts

I see that Air One flies Prague to Venice on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday in the month of June for 50 euro or less.

Posted by
988 posts

Just curious, but do you have any kind of budget limitation for this trip? College students and new grads are usually on a limited budget and can't afford apartment and car rentals.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks all so much for the support! We actually just cut Venice in exchange for Rome :) but other than that, it is pretty much a winner and finalized! It has really been a journey in itself putting this together but I am so excited.

Elaine- yes I definitely plan on being savvy while in Europe and not want to spend a ton of money. But, I do not really have a specific budget in mind. I am planning on staying in hostels and getting advice on great ones in the area from friends and research :) Also, I don't think I will be needing a car (hopefully) It seems like most of the travel can be done with train and plane.

Thanks so much again! I could not be more excited :)

Posted by
18844 posts

Looks like everybody here is as excited as you are. Enjoy!

Posted by
32111 posts


Just to clarify, are you still stopping in Florence for a few days prior to going to Rome? Also, are you staying in Hostels at all of the places you'll be visiting, or splurging on a budget hotel once in awhile? I tend to use HI Hostels for the most part, but can offer some suggestions for a couple of independent Hostels in Rome if you need them. Having a HI Hostels membership provides cheaper rates and preferred booking over non-members.

Posted by
16 posts

Hi Ken! Here is my itinerary and budget that I roughly calculated..
May 6 Travel to London
May 7-10 London
May 11 Train to Paris
May 12-14 Paris
May 15 Versailles
May 16 Train to Amsterdam
May 17-18 Amsterdam
May 19 Night train to Berlin
May 20-22 Berlin
May 23 Train to Prague
May 24-25 Prague
May 26 Fly to Rome
May 26-29 Rome
May 30 Train to Florence

May 31-1 Florence
June 1 Fly to Barcelona

June 2-5 Barcelona
June 6 Fly Home

Total Hostel Cost: $30/night * 30 nights= $600
Total Flight to-from US: $950
Total train cost: $350
Total flights in Europe cost: $133
Total transportation cost: $1433
Total Room & Board Cost: $2033

Posted by
16 posts

I think we are planning on staying in Hostels, but the occasional splurge is ok! We do not have a specific budget number in mind, but we are trying to keep costs affordable but still have a great time and see everything we want :)

Posted by
9211 posts

Abby, 30x30 is 900. With all the great help you've gotten I think your itinerary looks really good now. Have fun!

Posted by
32111 posts


Thanks for the additional information. A few thoughts.....

  • May 6: I assume your flight departs on that date and that you arrive in London the following day? Does your flight arrive at LHR?
  • May 7-10: Have you determined which part of London you'll be staying in? There are good transportation options from LHR, so it will be easy to get into the city.
  • May 11: Train to Paris. It would be a good idea to get that booked as soon as tickets are available, in order to get the best prices. The Man In Seat 61 website has all the details on ticket purchase. Note that you MUST check-in for the EuroStar at least 30 minutes prior to departure, or you won't be riding. Leave lots of time as you'll have to go through security and clear French Passport control at St. Pancras.
  • May 12-14: Which area of Paris are you staying? Are you clear on how to get to that area from Gare du Nord? If you're planning to ascend the Eiffel Tower, you may want to book reservations online.
  • May 15: Are you clear on how you'll be getting to Versailles? Most use the RER "C" and the correct train will have "Vick" listed above the driver's window. It's an easy walk from the station to the Palace (just follow the herd). You may want to buy a Paris Museum Pass as that provides entry to the Chateau, as well as many other sites in Paris. If you'll be taking iPods or other portable music players, you could download Rick's free Versailles tour which you can listen to while you're going through the various rooms. It works quite well and almost like having a personal guide (and cheaper than renting an audio guide).
  • May 16: Were you planning to buy tickets for the train to Amsterdam while in Paris? I'd suggest using one of the direct Thalys trains, for example the departure at 10:25 (always nicer to use direct rather than with changes). You'll depart from Gare du Nord and your destination station will be Amsterdam Centraal.
  • May 17-18: For your time in Amsterdam, you might want to buy one of the paper cards with a chip for getting around on the Trams. I can't recall whether they have a two-day version of that, but perhaps one of the others could provide information on that.
  • May 19: I wouldn't bother using a night train from Amsterdam to Berlin. It's an easy 6H:14M via direct train in the day time. They have direct departures at various times during the day, so you could even leave in the afternoon if you wanted. ONE IMPORTANT POINT TO MENTION - if you're planning to buy your tickets from Amsterdam to Berlin at the central station in Amsterdam, you'll need to use cash as they ONLY ACCEPT "Chip & PIN" credit cards there. I've seen numerous travellers from the U.S. turned away from the ticket window after waiting in the queue because they didn't have a "C&P" credit card. As I recall, the queue there is a "take a number" arrangement so be sure to pick up a numbered ticket when you first enter.
  • May 22: Which area of Berlin are you planning to stay? I can suggest a good Pension in a nice area if you're interested.
  • May 23: Your destination station in Prague will likely be Praha hl.n (there are a couple of stations there).
  • May 24-25: If you need a suggestion for a good Pension in Prague (close to the Charles Bridge), I can suggest one.
  • May 26: When you arrive at FCO, you'll likely use the Leonardo Express to travel from the airport to Roma Termini. DON'T forget to validate your ticket prior to boarding the train or you'll be fined about €50 PP ON THE SPOT!


Posted by
32111 posts

Abby, Part 2....

  • May 30: You can buy tickets for the train to Florence using the ticket Kiosks. Be wary if anyone offers to "help" you use the machines. They'll have their hand out expecting a "donation" for their efforts. You may find it helpful to watch THIS short video on train travel in Italy. That shows using a ticket purchased online, but you can easily buy at the stations. The Kiosks are easier as there's usually a HUGE queue at the staffed ticket windows. Your destination station will be Firenze Santa Maria Novella.
  • May 31: I'd suggest choosing accommodations close to Firenze SMN station as it makes it easier when arriving and departing the city. You may also find it helpful to have a look at the excellent Ron In Rome website regarding train travel in Italy.
  • June 1: The airport in Florence is quite close to the city, so taking a Taxi to the airport is the easiest method. They have a "flat rate" as I recall. They may charge extra for luggage or for travel outside of normal "business hours". Hopefully you'll be packing light and not hauling around a couple of Steamer Trunks, as it will make the trip much more pleasant. When you arrive in Barcelona, use the Aerobus from the airport to Plaça Catalunya.

A few other comments.....

  1. Be sure to wear Moneybelts or take other reasonable precautions. There WILL be pickpockets at work.
  2. It's a good idea to take a "backup" ATM card, in case of any problems with the primary card. BE SURE to notify your financial institutions that you'll be travelling Europe, so they don't "freeze" your cards.
  3. Your Hostel cost of $30 night is probably a bit "low". That's only about €22 per night. Hostels in that price range could be a bit "dodgy" or could be quite a distance from the main downtown area. At one of the independent Hostels I use in Rome, the cost last time was €35 PP in a four-bed dorm.
  4. There are a few IMPORTANT things to be aware of when using public transit in Italy. Fast trains always have compulsory reservations which are specific to a particular train, date and departure time. You MUST ensure that you board ONLY the train specified on your ticket or you may be fined on the spot, and it's NOT cheap! Your train costs will increase sharply if you get fined. Also on Regionale trains (which don't require reservations), you MUST validate tickets prior to boarding on the day of travel, or again fines on the spot! The same is true when riding Buses.
  5. When in Rome, you might consider buying a Roma Pass or whatever as it may save you some money when sightseeing. The Guidebook has good tips on how to beat the queues at places like the Colosseum. If you don't buy the Pass, you might consider a B.I.G. (daily) ticket which is good on all modes of transport within the main part of the city (that MUST be validated prior to first use, but only has to be validated once - it expires at midnight on the day of validation).
  6. You might consider packing along a couple of Guidebooks for the main cities you'll be visiting. One example is the Pocket Paris which is small and easily carried while touring. I believe there are Pocket London and Pocket Rome versions. For about $10 each, the books have a lot of valuable information that may save you money and make the sightseeing go more smoothly.

That's about all I can think of at the moment. In the immortal words of Vinnie Jones, "I'm knackered".


Posted by
9211 posts

Wow Ken, you're amazing... and so nice...

Posted by
16 posts

Ken- I could not thank you enough. You are truly a travel and European guru/genius. Thank you sooooooo much!!! You have already made my travel arrangements and plans so much easier and more clear. I couldn't thank you enough! For specific areas of where I am staying.. that is definitely still up in the air, but will come with time. This has helped world- I have a ton of amazing tips and notes. Thank you :)

Posted by
9955 posts

Don't forget to budget for food, admissions and incidentals.

Posted by
15477 posts

Hostelworld's website will help you choose places to stay. Do read the reviews. The better hostels get booked up in advance, so I suggest you start making reservations. Most of the time, you can cancel the reservations with no penalty up to a few days before arrival, so it's worthwhile to reserve in advance. Then, if you have to, you can cancel, but you are covered and don't need to use precious sightseeing time to look for accomodations.

The Archi Rossi Hostel in Florence is one of the best hostels in Europe. Book directly through their website for the best choices and prices.

Posted by
14210 posts


Have you decided in which district you are staying in Berlin? There are more hostels in the eastern part of the city and newer ones. When you take the CNL night train Amsterdam-Berlin Hbf, you'll arrive prior to 05:00. Two mins after exiting the station on Invalidenstrasse, turn right, is the Meiniger Hostel/Hotel. The reception is 24 hr like other independent, private hostels. On the CNL nigjht train the absolute cheapest seats are those in a 6 seat compartment or the sleeperett, a reclining seat in the general seating area.

Yes, planning is very important. I took my first trip over of 12 weeks in the summer while I was still a senior, solo, stayed in HI hostels, no independent hostels back then. . When I came back, I still had one more semester to go. You are going at a great age for a great experience, regardless as a solo traveler or with others. Generally, it's true that independent hostels are closer to the train station(s) or in the "center" than are HI hostels.