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2 week vacation to Paris and Rome itinerary/budget help

Hello. My roommate and I are graduating college in May and we are planning a 2 week vacation to Paris and Rome (probably leaving the 9th of May). We are not bothered by including some extra days of traveling to be able to have a full 14 days of actual vacation. Neither one of us has ever been to Europe, and we are very excited. I have been trying to gather information for a couple of months. Rick Steves is the best information I've come across. We traveled together to Seattle and San Francisco this past summer, and we are definitely budget travelers. We want to stay in hostels and eat cheaply (having a few nicer meals spread throughout the trip). We don't want to skimp on the sightseeing though, because that's what we are going there to do! In addition to Paris and Rome, we also want to take a day-trip to Versailles, and I'd really like to see Venice. So maybe we should go to Paris first, then Venice, then Rome. Do you have any suggestions on an itinerary? Is it fine to spend a whole week in the same hostel in Paris, without getting bored? Should we just spend the whole week in Rome, without going to Venice? Will we wish we had gone to Venice? :) Just FYI, I am a Classics and Art History double major, so for me it's all about museums and historical stuff. I'm wondering if we should get a rail-pass. My roommate really wants to take a train from Paris to Rome (or Venice, whatever we end up doing) to see the countryside...so no night-trains. I agree. And we will definitely be using the metro of each country extensively, I'd assume. Any suggestions of what this trip would cost? Right now we are thinking about $4000 for each person, all-inclusive. Going by what Steves writes in his "Back Door" books, that should be enough for 21/22-year-old travelers on a budget...but I'd like to get other opinions as well :)

Posted by
10402 posts

Sounds like a fun trip! A week in Paris is great. You will have time to see most of the great sites, plus time to soak up the ambiance of just being there. A day trip to Versailles is easy. I don't think you will get bored. I took my 20 year old daughter to Paris for the holidays two years ago. We were there for 10 nights and she can't wait to go back some day. You can eat budget there. Plenty of crepe stands, pre-made sandwiches, and that kind of thing. If you want to go to Venice I would go there from Paris. It is a VERY LONG (over 12 hours) train trip and will waste an entire day. I would either fly or take the night train. Two weeks sounds like a long time on paper, but on the ground it goes by very quickly! Venice is very expensive. I would spend 2 or 3 nights there (depending on what time of day you arrive), then go to Rome for the rest of your trip. Fly into Paris and home from Rome. I would not get a rail pass. In Italy point-to-point tickets are not expensive. The metro is fantastic in Paris. In Rome, not so much. There are only two lines. I still used it, but also used the bus. Have a great trip!!

Posted by
1589 posts

Dear Bethanie, $4K is plenty for your plans. We do 2 weeks for under $3K and stay @ B&Bs. Have a great trip and don't forget to keep in touch with the folks back @ home!

Posted by
9110 posts

Not counting stuff you buy to lug home, trans-atlantic airfare, and the cost of getting to Rome from Paris, you can do it for less than two grand. This would allow you to feed your faces pretty darn well and stay in comfortable budget hotels. Venice will bump your average by 35-50 bucks per day. Take a look at museum passes. They never work out for me, but if you're freaky that way, they might for you.

Posted by
403 posts

Bethanie: In addition to the suggestions outlined by the other posters, let me add a couple. First, fly "open jaw". That is, into Paris and back home out of Rome. Second, check out the fabulous resource that is the website called "The Man in seat 61"...everything you could possibly want to know about train travel in Europe is here. For travel paris to Italy, use this link http://www.seat61.com/Italy.htm#Venice I would suggest following his recommendation. Day train, paris to Zurich. Overnight in Zurich. Day train Zurich to Milan, connecting to Venice. Spend only that night and perhaps the next day in Venice, then on to Rome. So Day 1 arrival Paris. Days 2, 3, 4, 5 Paris with daytrip to Versailles. Day 6 Train to Zurich. Day 7 Train to Milan/Venice. Day 8 Venice. Day 9 Train to Rome. Days 10, 11, 12, 13 Rome. Day 14 fly home. Adding days would let you begin in London, followed by the 2 hour Eurostar to Paris or to insert Florence in between Venice and Rome.
Sounds like a great trip. Be sure to do a lot of picnics...the weather in May should be ideal! Just don't sit on the grass in paris.

Posted by
12040 posts

For a college-aged budget, and night life recommendations, the Let's Go or Lonely Planet series are probably a better fit for you. Rick Steves' recommendations are more suited for people on a steadier income. Plus, I find that his books tend to significantly underestimate costs. Rail passes rarely save any money these days, and for your trip, you will probably get better discounts with advanced purchases.

Posted by
33334 posts

The Man in Seat 61 is good advice. Yes Venice. If you trawl this helpline you will find both folk who are keen on Venice and others who aren't. For me and my family we've been over and over and love the feeling. Have a chat with your roomie. I never fly and usually drive or take the train, but I would make a suggestion: You are on such a short trip that I would seriously recommend a discount airline from Paris to Venice rather than such a long train trip and hotel in Zurich. Put the time and money you save into more Venice. The art in Venice hangs where it was painted for, the churches, rather than museums. I'm sure you will see the difference. Only one museum is really necessary in Venice. Museums in Paris; museums and churches in Rome.

Posted by
62 posts

Thank you so much for all of your replies. I think we aren't going to go to Venice, as it does seem pretty expensive and we don't have a very long time for the trip. We will be flying open-jaw from Charleston to Paris and then back from Rome :) I have to figure out the train situation from Paris to Rome now!

Posted by
1035 posts

"Will we wish we had gone to Venice? :) Just FYI, I am a Classics and Art History double major, so for me it's all about museums and historical stuff." The answer, considering your background is YES, you will regret it. If you fly to Venice as suggested, you will still get to see plenty of countryside on the train to Rome. Some will disagree with me, but you don't really even need a ton of time in Venice. A few days is sufficient to get a good flavor. Sorry Vegas haters, but Venice and Vegas are similar to me. I'm excited to get there, love the feeling upon arriving. After two days of crowds, inflated prices and feeling ripped off, I can't wait to leave. Then 6 months later I want to go back again.

Posted by
350 posts

If you are looking for a hostle in Rome. Try the Beehive. It is great.But fills up very fast. It was not a traditional hostle, no kitchen but it was great. You may find cheaper places to stay but this was a great place to go back to at night.
Wendy

Posted by
199 posts

Bethanie, your trip sounds great. My only suggestion would be to fly into Rome and out of Paris. By the time you get to Paris the weather should be more summer-like.

Posted by
4105 posts

Bethanie, Just looked up the costs of my past 3 trips. Spent a total of $9535/ 48 days...Euro was 1.29/dollar 1.54/d and 1.39/d. average cost was $238/day inclusive. Air, lodging, food, transportation and attractions. Stayed at my daughters' for a total of 8 days, on 2 of the trips so took that off of the 48. Check out "The beehive.com" as a hostel in Rome. They also do apartments at "Cross-Pollinate.com" . In Paris "Vacation in Paris.com" #02 Paris Garden Studio" may be just right for the two of you. Renting an apt. can save you some money if you eat in a few times in each city. We loved getting up in the morning with the ability of having our coffee/tea out on the patio or balcony. In the evening a glass of wine and cheeses, overlooking our little piece of paradise, was also a treat. Part of the fun with these trips is in the planning. Hope I've given you some options. Any questions? Just PM me
gerri

Posted by
186 posts

Congratulations, Bethanie! Your trip sounds great and how wonderful to be traveling in May. Giverny, Monet's
Garden, will be beautiful then.....if you leave Paris early, it's a good half-day trip. Enjoy planning............

Posted by
1976 posts

Hi Bethanie. As a fellow art history degree-holder, I say don't skip Venice! I was only there for a day and have wanted to go back ever since. You could spend 2 days there and 5 days in Rome, to get your fill of medieval and Renaissance Venetian architecture; and ancient and Baroque Roman architecture. Also, do some art historical research on churches and other sites you want to see before you go. You'll get so much more out of seeing them if you can put them in context and remember some interesting idiosyncrasies about them.

Posted by
62 posts

Just an update: I've found Charleston to Paris and Rome to Charleston for 621 euros on expedia.co.uk!! That's around $829 which is cheaper than anything else I've found.

Posted by
62 posts

Sarah, I am being drawn more and more to Venice. Maybe we will stop by for a day or 2 by train, on our way to Rome :) Thank you so much everyone for all the responses. I really appreciate them!

Posted by
110 posts

'kay...couple of things... You've got lots of money budgeted. Yes you will wish you had visited Venice. Regardless of the Classics Art History angle,(do any of your profs know you're even asking the question??:-) It is a truly magical place. Personally I'd see Paris, Versailles etc, then night train to Rome (yeah I know your roomate wants to go in the day...) Rome, Florence, Venice, Home (or vice versa flying home from Rome) Couple of days in each is enough to give you a taste for the "next" time...cos there will be a next time....

Posted by
1 posts

I did 2 weeks in Europe this past summer and I would advise going to Paris first because it is a lot cheaper to fly out of Rome then Paris to the states. Also, I wouldn't take the Railpass bc you will be wasting so much time and that's really a shame with all the fab things that are around. I also used a lot of the Hop on Hop off tour buses for transportation. I used the metro here and there but the hop on hop off was much easier because it brought you right to the attraction rather then the general area. Rome is beautiful, obviously, and if you plan on going to the Vatican you'll need to get there early. I'm talking like 6-7 am. I was going to go, and got there around 830, and the line was about 3 blocks long. When I went the Pantheon was under construction so that was a little disappointing. Trevy fountain looks fantastic at night, you might want to go a little later. And I took a tour at the colloseum and I think that it made it much more interesting. Also, Paris os considerably more costly then Rome is, I ate A LOT of baguettes and crepes while I was there, so I hope you like bread because that it the most affordable thing. Also, while in Paris, I strongly advise you to get gelato along the Champs Elysses. It was fantastic. The best I've ever had, and I had A LOT of ice cream in those two weeks. : ) I stayed in a cute little hotel while I was in Paris that was cheap. It wasn't anything like American standards, but it was nice and reasonably priced. Also about 2 blocks from the Louvre, Hotel Londres Saint Honore. Good luck, have fun and drink some wine in the parks in front of the Louvre!

Posted by
1449 posts

A railpass within Italy is seldom worth it; I've yet to see anyone post on the forum they priced out tickets point-to-point vs a railpass and the railpass won. BTW note that you can bring food and drinks on trains, so for that long stretch from France to Italy stop at a store before you go to the station and buy a nice lunch and bottle of wine!

Posted by
132 posts

Yes. Go to Venice. The desk clerk in Paris was jealous when he learned we were going to Venice. Flying to Venice may not only get you there sooner. But may be cheaper. Sometime flights from Paris (also try Orly) are expensive or have long layovers in places like Dublin or Prague, which might work to your advantage. Also consider nearby airports to Paris. The greatest thing about Venice. It's such a treat to just walk around. And let yourself get lost. All those bridges. The canals... Have fun.

Posted by
73 posts

Hey Bethanie - Fun sounding trip, I couple things I found from my trip to Paris and Italy:
Spend the week is Paris: it's never boring there, and since you love museums, deffinitely get a museum pass to see them all. When you go to Versailles, don't miss Marie Antoinette's "Hamlet" - it's a bit away from the main house, but absolutely beautiful. Also, a one hour boat ride down the Seine river is a must - catch it at sunset and see the lights come on up the river - magical! Also, if you're in Paris for at least 7 nights, consider renting an apartment or studio - much less than hotels and you can do your owning cooking. Don't miss Venice - it was my favorite spot in Italy, and wander the back streets to get the local feel of it. The art of the water on the canals alone will be worth it. Your budget is good - you'll be fine on $4000 each. I traveled with another young friend last year and we did Italy on an average of $125 a day - food, housing, trains, museums and gelato included. Venice and Paris are a little more expensive, but you'll still be fine.

Posted by
62 posts

Thanks, Kelly! I'm assuming the $125/day was for each person, right?