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1st trip to europe

My fiancé and I are planning a trip in late September thru early October. I think 21 day or so. She has Barcelona, the Vatican and Prague on her list. I am looking at the alps Switzerland, German, Austria.

-flight into Barcelona -3day's
-Then fly to Rome -3 days
-Fly to Bern Switzerland 3 days in the alps.
-Then we have not figured out if we do a train to Vienna or fly. For 3 days.
- Last stop is Prague 3 and fly home.

This is 15 days. I think we can May be able to had a stop (Munch or London) not sure if we are taking on to much. We assume a couple travel days,
Any help would be appreciated. We are early in the planning.

Posted by
10344 posts

Have you been to Europe before? I'm trying to get a fix on how much help you need.

Posted by
32 posts

I assumed there would be a lot of well thought out itineraries on the internet that would cover the places we where interested to seeing. I have not see that many yet.

Posted by
10344 posts

Okay, first timers, that's who we especially like to help here, you came to the right place!
There are a lot of experienced Europe travelers here who volunteer their time trying to help.

You said itineraries: I'm not getting paid by Rick or Amazon to say this, but I'd suggest you go to Amazon, select Rick's book Best of Europe 2015, and use the "look inside" feature to look at the table of contents. It might be worth the $9.50 Kindle price, although the hard copy price, although much more, is better for the maps.

Another book with ideas and itineraries is Rick's Europe Through the Back Door: The Travel Skills Handbook.

And look around the rest of this site, you'll see a lot of help here.

Posted by
5158 posts

It looks like you will be flying quite a bit.

Think of your trip in terms of nights not days.

So spending 2 nights in a given location = 1 full day in that location, 3 nights = 2 full days and so on...

It takes time to travel from one location to the next, so each time you travel, you will lose half of that day.

Read some travel guidebooks on Europe & search this website for sample itineraries.

Keep in mind that less is more when it comes to traveling.

You want to give yourselves time to enjoy and explore each one of your destinations not just rush through it and move on to the next one.

I'd suggest spending at least 3-4 days at each of your chosen destinations.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

BTW, Late Sept/ Early October is a great time time to travel to Europe!

Happy planning!

Edit: You may enjoy reading this thread. There is good information for first time travelers to Europe:

Posted by
663 posts

Don't add more cities, instead add more days to each place you've already listed! Due to the time it takes to travel from place to place, that "3" days actually becomes only 2 full days. Perhaps some of those places you can easily see all you'd like in just 2 full days, but others (i.e. Rome), you could easily spend a month and still not see everything you'd like. Really, you should spend at least 5 nights in Rome! More if you'd like to take day trips to Pompeii or Orvieto.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks for the info.
I think it may be a good idea to limit the major destinations to 4-5 and spend more time at each. I have always wanted to see the alps most. What is the best way to take them on. I only put 2 days because I here because the alps region is super expensive, But I think Switzerland (alps) is a must. I am not sure if the best way to go. Is flying to munch and take a train to Switzerland and on to Vienna and Prague. Or is it better to rent a car. Or I look a little bit at flights.

Or is a Chamonix the better place to see the apls?

I think I can figure out what to do in the city or areas. I just don't have a feel what is the best way and most affordable way to get from city to city..

What do you suggest?

Posted by
10344 posts

Switzerland is the best place to see the Alps, in the Berner Oberland.

Posted by
32 posts

Ya. I think it is the place to see.
I will have to figure out the trains of Switzerland and how to make my way to Vienna and on to Prague. I thought it would be a scenic way From there.Just to used to North American travel. Just used to having a car. :)
More logics on this trip.

What would be the best rail pass?
This site seem to be helpful for estimating the cost..

Posted by
32 posts

I am glad I am starting a little early. Lots to plain.. Thanks for the input..

If you can think of anything I would need to know.. I would appreciate the input..

Posted by
2081 posts


When it comes to travel, everyone will have a different opinion/style and such. Since this is your first (of many?) then you will be learning about yourself and how you will want to do it the next time.

in my opinion, 3 days in each place isnt bad. thats what I'm noticing about my travels and how many days i end up with and my trip this year will be about 3 full days in each place. I could add to one and take away from another but i dont see it worth to stay one place for 2 days or less. But to each his own.

I will assume you mean 2.5? days in each city since you will need to move from place to place. you can consider it nights or whatever, but make sure you understand that on your traveling day you will loose about 1/2 the day or more to traveling also you NEED to add your travel days since they dont come free and they will take up your time & $$$.

If you consider 3 full days in each city and the 4th day is travel and so on, you won't have much time at all for another stop unless you decide to cut short some if not all of your cities.

as mentioned, you will be spending some time in some airports so get use to that.

Out of your places you want to go to, I've only been to Prague and Vienna. I found that 3 full days in each was good, but i could have spent more time in each.

Happy trails.

Posted by
5697 posts

Ryan, take a look at the section for local group meetings under Tips and Trip Reports-- if there's one near you, it's a good place to get face-to-face advice.

Posted by
11613 posts

Railpasses may not be that helpful, you may be better off flying between major points or just buying point-to-point train tickets..

The website is a good place to compare transportation methods, with links to websites for tickets.

You will be spending a short amount of time in each place, but if that is your travel style, do it and make it the special trip you want.

Posted by
809 posts

The cities/places you want to see are far apart, so flying is probably your best bet. There are a lot of budget airlines in Europe like Vueling, EasyJet, Ryanair; you can buy tickets very cheaply if you book well in advance, but be sure to read the fine print! For example, on EasyJet, like most of the budgets, you only get ONE piece of luggage in the cabin, not a carryon plus personal item. You can check a bag, but you need to prepay that when you buy your ticket or the cost goes up dramatically. You might want to check a site like and play around with different arrangements of your chosen cities to see where you get the best ticket prices and flights. I just did a Kayak search for flights from Rome to Bern which were really expensive, but there's an EasyJet flight to Basel that's one tenth the cost.

However, to get to the Alps, you might want to look at taking a train from Milan instead of flying somewhere in Switzerland. The website [a great way to get assorted travel options] shows under 4 hours by train from Milan to Lauterbrunnen. Though if you have to train to Milan from Rome, that adds another 3 hours to the trip...

There are so many options; it's hard trying to find the best one. But try different combinations and you'll see what will work for you. Happy planning!

Posted by
32 posts

I may need to take one of the city's off the the wish list for this trip. It is a little spread out. Transportation cost could get to high. I may add a couple day as well. Give us a little more time. I would like to take the trains a little. Mostly in the alps the see the country side .
I can tell I need I need to spend more time researching. Thanks for the input.

Posted by
2081 posts


......Transportation cost could get to high. I may add a couple day as well. Give us a little more time......

Dont assume or guess. It doesnt take a lot of homework to figure out if its expensive.

here are some train sites to check out.

seat61 this guy and his group does a lot of work so you dont have to. all yo need to do is to plug and chug using drop down menus. is another train web site.

here are some flight search engines.


you will need to plug and chug your dates since only you will know them.

as mentioned rome2rio is a decent site to figure out distances. I dont use it to make any bookings, but for info only.

also Rick steves books will have info in the back of each chapter relating to the city its covering and will have "connections" as to how long to nearby cities.

happy trails.

Posted by
15477 posts

Ryan, Before you buy any plane tickets at all, work out the times on paper for your "travel days."

Example: fly from Barcelona to Rome. Start at your hotel. (if your flight isn't a morning one, you'll have to store your luggage at the hotel, do your sightseeing, then return to the hotel).
- How long to get to the train/bus to the airport? (if your city has more than one airport, pay attention - sometimes the budget airlines fly to more remote airports).
- How often does the train/bus leave for the airport and how long is the journey?
- How much before the flight do you have to be at the airport? You'll have to check luggage - European flights are very strict about carry-on.
- How often does the train/bus leave from the airport to the city and how long is the journey?
- How long to get from the train/bus stop to your hotel to drop your luggage?

Then you'll have a better idea of how much time you'll have on those days for sightseeing. Generally even a one-hour flight will easily take 5-6 hours. If the flight is in the middle of the day, you'll lose most of that day. If the flight is very early or very late, it may take longer or cost more to get to/from the airport.

It's so tempting to add destinations (kid in a toy store), but truly less is more. The goal is to enjoy everything you do, not to try to do everything - all of us who travel a lot will tell you that we all make those difficult decisions to drop destinations and we never ever see everything we want to. Worse, the more we travel the more places go on our "next trip" list.

Posted by
32 posts

I think 15 day of all day sight seeing and then that leaves 6 days of travel. We can find little thing to fill those day. Or take a break and relax rest a bit.

I will run it by my other half and see what she has in mind as well. Thanks every for the ideas

Posted by
1717 posts

I agree with what Priscilla and Angela said. I suggest : go to three countries. You could fly to Prague. Train from Prague to Berlin. Fly from Berlin to Zurich, and trains from Zurich to Lauterbrunnen in the Berner Oberland region in Switzerland (near Interlocken).

Posted by
1994 posts

You mentioned being able to add some additional things on your travel days. The places you want to visit are so spread out, I think you'll find it often takes the entire day to move from one place to the other, even if you fly. And those can be unpleasant, exhausting days.

It's not just flight time. Many airports are an hour more outside the city, particularly for budget airlines. Also consider time going through security lines, waiting time at the airport, and flight delays and other airline glitches. Plus there's the time spent packing, checking out of you hotel, dealing with transit, getting lost on your way to the airport, and then reversing the entire process when you get to your next destination. The same general issues apply with rail transportation – although you'll probably spend less time waiting at the station, but you'll spend more time in transit between cities. It looks like you'll be spending about 30% of your vacation time in transit. That's certainly not how I would want to be spending vacation time.

I would suggest picking two countries and then finding variety within those countries. For example, Italy can give you seashores, lakes, mountains, archaeology, antiquities, art, food, wine, etc, and then there's Venice.

Posted by
1904 posts

It seems like you are jumping around so much. I would encourage you to try to develop an itinerary that you both are happy with but maybe move in a closer area so you aren't spending so much time and effort with giant leaps. To leave a hotel, get transport to the airport, check in early, wait for your flight and then fly, get off, get transport to the next hotel, etc. just doesn't sound very appealing to me, and very time consuming when you could be seeing Europe. Yes, you may not hit both of your must see's but I would think it would be better to give some of those up for a nicer time.

Some people chose just one country and see a lot of it. I prefer to mix it up and see contrasting places. You also have all cities except for the alps. It is really nice to mix city and countryside.

Traveling is tiring, traveling to a foreign country is more demanding. I just really think you would end up happier seeing great places that are closer together and spending more time on the ground. But, the Berner Oberland..... a must to stay on your list!

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks for the input. I may look at saving Rome for another trip and try to spend a little more time in each of the remaining places.
Its tough cutting location. Not sure when we will be able to get back. I will do a little more research and narrow down the must see location.


Posted by
16893 posts

Most itineraries online and in Rick's books are based on ground transportation, and therefore on destinations that are closer together. To connect these widely separated destinations, you are right to plan on flying. See as one search engine for budget flights. For these big cities and longer distances, you will be locking in all the timing for flights and hotels in advance. On another route with shorter distances, you might have more flexibility. The 9-hour train ride from Bern to Vienna is quite scenic, but not necessarily better than quality time in Vienna.

Posted by
6908 posts

On a trip to Rome 2 years ago, we had an apartment for a whole week, and barely scratched the surface of things to see and do - there's so much. The Roma Pass, a discount card good for 2 or 3 days (depending which version you get over there), gets you free or reduced admission to lots of sights, plus covers your bus/tram/metro transportation expenses. Sights within The Vatican are not included in the pass, and if you're just planning on going to Vatican City, then you might not need a whole week or a Roma Pass.

Our trips, more and more, have been planned around spending more time in fewer places, but if it's your first trip, of course, the urge to fit in lots of places could be strong. One of Rick Steves' main suggestions is, "Assume you will return," so if you don't see something this time around, you'll have another chance next time.