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2 week Itinerary. Is this doable?

I am planning a trip to Europe between then end of December and beginning of January. I will arrive in Dublin on the 29th and intend to fly out on the 12th. Would this itinerary be doable?

2 Days in Dublin
4 Days in London
4 Days in Paris
3 days in Rome and then return to Dublin the day before my flight home.

This will be my first trip to Europe and the first time I've spend more than a few hours in a foreign country. Any suggestions are appreciated.


Posted by
6411 posts

So you have 12 days to play with - start by being realistic (and honest). If you're flying in from someplace far away, your arrival day (and your departure day) are pretty much a write-off - you can't count them as usable days.

Also, at that time of the year, days (daylight) is very short, so it will limit how much you can do each day (besides having limited daylight, some things close early - especially around major holidays).

With 12 usable days, I think you need to reduce your itinerary. The obvious outlier is Rome. Save that for another trip when you can do it (and more of Italy) justice. With 12 days, in the dead of winter, for your first trip, Dublin, London and Paris will be plenty. Many people make the mistake of trying to move too fast - we all (usually) learn that slowing down gets you a better trip.

Have you booked your flights yet? You can save yourself both money and (more critically) also save time by flying open jaws: fly in to one city, and out of another (so no time and money wasted circling back to your arrival point - this effectively "buys" you 1-2 more usable days - you get a longer trip just by doing this). If it were me, I'd fly in to Dublin, do 3-4 days there, probably fly to London and do 3-4 days there, then take the train to Paris, do 3-4 days there, fly home directly from Paris. Skip Italy this time, it'll still be there next time you go.

Other than the advice above, if you haven't already seen them all too many times, you should watch the Rick Steves videos on Dublin, London and Paris. Also look for his "travel skills" video, it has lots of useful info. Get his guidebooks for each location and start reading them, too.

Hope that helps.

Posted by
971 posts

I think this is perfectly doable. But I agree with David that it might be a bit too much. Have you looked into getting an open jaw, or multi city ticket, that allows you to fly home from Rome, instead of wasting time back tracking to Dublin?

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you both for your replies. I didn't count on my departure day for any activities, and we will arrive very early in the morning, around 5 am, would I still have to write that day off? I have not booked my flights yet, but when I was doing a price comparison it was going to cost me more for a multi city ticket. Flights to Dublin are relatively inexpensive from the airport I will be using which is St. Louis, MO (STL), at least in comparison to other places in Europe. Our original itinerary was for 8 days in London and skipping Paris. Would it be possible to do a day trip to Paris and get in a few of the sights?

Posted by
8889 posts

A day trip to Paris is possible by train. Timetables are here:
First train out of London at 05:40, arrive Paris 09:17 (one hour time difference).

It would be a very long day, and you would only see a few places. I think the best solution is to skip Rome, and fly home direct from Paris.

You say you are planning this for "end of December and beginning of January.". This is not the best time to visit these cities, expect places to be closed on New Years Day and the weather to be dark with short days (31st Jan, London, sunrise: 08:06, sunset 16:00).

Posted by
6411 posts

First, it's good that you have not yet booked your flights. Many people make the mistake of booking a round trip then discover how that costs them 2 days needlessly. You have enough time to settle on a plan first, then find flights that work with your plan (rather than the other way around).

If you arrive at 5 am, you can do some light sightseeing the first day, but keep your expectations low. For most of us, sleep on the plane is difficult or impossible; often one starts the trip with a sleep deficit...last minute tasks, the stress of getting everything done, etc. usually keeps me up all night the night before the trip - so it's a triple whammy: exhaustion before you hit the airplane seat, then a redeye with little or no sleep, you arrive really wiped out, plus there's jet lag (trying to adjust to a very different time zone), you're in a foreign country where everything is a bit different, etc. - on that arrival day, most of us try hard to just stay awake until after local dinner time (you probably can't check in at your hotel until afternoon anyway, but you can drop your bags there). Best advice is usually to try and be outside, walking and active, in fresh air and sunlight - that helps you stay awake and the sunlight helps you begin to adjust to the time zone. Of course, you're going to Ireland in the dead of winter - you may not get much sunlight and it could be very rainy (maybe even snow) so do the best you can. So yes, some light sightseeing is OK, but have low expectations for your ability to focus. No driving. Stay up until dinner, then crash and burn, you wake up the next day a little groggy but beginning to recover. That's your first real day in Europe.

Technically, yes, it's possible to "do" Paris as a day trip from London, but I don't think it's worth doing that way. You only get a tiny slice of time there, there's so much to see and it will just wet your appetite and break your heart rather than leave you satisfied. Pick three cities and give yourselves a few days in each.

Posted by
4 posts

Okay, I'm just starting to plan this trip so I will keep it at 3 cities. I just looked up a multi city ticket leaving from Paris, it took me back to Dublin for a layover anyway. Would it still be worth booking it that way if it costs me more than just flying pack to Dublin on my own a day early?

Edit: Also, I am planning those days because they are the only time I have available.

Posted by
6411 posts

Do what makes sense....but don't be blinded by focusing entirely on just one thing. Take into account...

  1. Where you want to be(!) - it's your trip!

  2. ALL the costs: hotel + air fare (you'll probably pay a little more for a night in Paris than in Dublin, but...hell, it's Paris!).

  3. Look at not just the $ cost, but the cost in time, too. If you're going through Dublin in both cases, you would burn two days of travel with an extra night in Dublin on the way home - really inefficient. Unless there's something you really want to do/see there on that day (badly enough to burn a whole day for), I'd try to make the return travel all in one day (or in one ticket). Going from Paris to Dublin, spending the night, then continuing on Dublin to home...that costs you a day, and I'd rather spend that day in one of your destination cities. When doing trade-offs, sometimes the time is more valuable than the money. I figure I can always get more money after I return home - but it's much harder to manufacture time (especially after your flights are locked in). It may sounds crazy, but for most of us, I think the commodity that is most constrained is actually "days in Europe", not money (unless you get to go to Europe frequently, anytime you want - you lucky dog). It's worth remembering that.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you. I definitely want to make the most out of this trip because I don't know when I will be able to make it back to Europe. I appreciate all advise you have given.

Posted by
7207 posts

Way too much travel.

London, Paris and Rome are amazing places that need more than 3-4 days.

Also, you probably will be flying a lot, due to the distance between cities.

I say eliminate two of these cities. Go with London (also do some day trips into the countryside) and Paris.

Save Dublin for a real trip to Ireland where you visit other wonderful places.

Do Rome when you do Italy.

Posted by
1207 posts

Way too many different places for your time frame. I know you said you aren't sure when you'll get back, but if you are like most of us with the travel bug you will find a way. At most I would do London and Paris, but you could really just do London and surrounds or Paris and Normandy. This would save the whole of Ireland for its' own trip and Rome with an Italy only trip. All these places really deserve more time than you can give. What are your major interests and perhaps choose the locations that fill them the best?

Posted by
870 posts

Hi Amber,

Congratulations on taking your first trip to Europe. It has been a while since I took that journey, but more recently, I took my friends to Italy and it was their first trip to Europe and like you, they hadn’t spent a lot of time on international travel. There are some things that I learned in planning that trip that may be helpful to you when you plan yours.

  • Fly open jaws (into one country and out of another). The advice you have already received is priceless. Backtracking to Dublin will take up time on your travels and even if you fly back a day early, you really won’t have time to “see the city again”. There is a false economy in comparing just plane tickets, you need to look at the total cost financially and with your time.
  • Rule of thumb on changing locations: it burns at least 1/2 day in transit (packing, unpacking, transit time). If you can minimize the number of location changes, you have more actual days for experiencing a place.
  • Everything takes longer than you think it will, especially when you are moving to different locations in which you have different money and different languages.
  • Since you are going over the holidays and New Year’s Eve—where do you want to spend New Year’s? What is going on that time of year that you want to take advantage of in the cities you are visiting? It is your trip, so do you want your trip to be a tasting menu with small bites of each location so that you can see what you like and then return or are you more interested in slower, more relaxed experience? This will dictate the places you go and how many.
  • Jet lag is real and if you don’t sleep on planes (like me), you can manage a light day of siteseeing (in the fresh air) on your first day. My friends did not believe me and were completely against me booking our flat for the night before we arrived so we can check in when we arrived in the morning and then doing a light first day. Afterwards, they told me the best decision of the trip.
  • Pack light—review the RS packing tips. If you are moving from place-to-place you will be forever grateful that you packed light (and yes you can do that in the winter).

Have a great trip. When you settle on the itineary, come back to the forum. I always receive great advice to specific questions about the location that I am traveling to.


Posted by
1316 posts

Way too much, you’ll only remember airports and train stations.

Is Dublin added on because of Aer Lingus? Dublin airport is a great place to enter the UK, you’ll likely have much shorter queues at immigration than at Heathrow. A connecting flight from Dublin will land in the UK as a domestic flight, so no horrible immigration queues at Heathrow.

You can easily fill all the days in London or add in another major UK city. That time of year isn’t for visiting cute villages or seaside resorts.

You could also easily fill the days in just Paris or Rome.

I agree with the above, if you want two cities, London and Paris make sense since you can take Eurostar between them and avoid the hassles of a flight.

It’s fine, and a good idea, to connect through Dublin if you’re flying Aer Lingus. Flying back and connecting through Dublin, you’ll preclear USA immigration and customs, so no long lines at immigration when you return to the USA.

But, I wouldn’t include any time in Dublin on such a short trip.

Posted by
15 posts

Almost anyone I've spoken to about Ireland has said Dublin was not the highlight of their trip - and after going, I agree. Dublin is a great city with many things to see but there is SO much in other areas of Ireland that really allow you to soak up the culture and scenery. I'd recommend to spend about a week in Ireland and the remainder of your time in London and maybe a day trip or two from London within England. The thought of going to Ireland and missing out on Galway, the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle (my favorite spot I visitied)... just makes me sad.

Also, if this is your first trip to Europe, there's generally less culture shock visiting these places - assuming you are from the US or another English-speaking country (i'm guessing based on your writing, but could be wrong!)

[[Playing Devil's advocate to myself, I also just noticed the time of year you're planning. Rome and Paris would have better weather that time of year.]]