Please sign in to post.

20 days for travel to Italy, Greece, France, Switzerland, Croatia and Prague. Itinerary help needed.

We are a team of 6 planning for a trip of around 20 days and want to cover Italy, Greece, France, Switzerland, Croatia and Prague. We will be traveling from India and the time will be around early October 2018. Please help with itinerary suggestions.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
5042 posts

Six countries in 20 days is virtually impossible. Cut 2-3 countries and you will get so much more.our of your trip. Italy is a 2 week trip to itself, and you could add Croatia to that.

Posted by JHK
Palo Alto, California, United States
1692 posts

I agree with David that you have too many countries to visit all effectively but this maybe could work if you mean to visit only one city in each country. I'd probably still drop one if it were me but it's not and I am a pretty slow traveler. You have Prague listed but where do you want to go in the places that you list by country? Also, are you able to fly into one country and fly home from another?

Posted by Agnes
Washington DC Region, USA
4332 posts

Your question is so broad that it's really best left to guidebooks on Europe. They will have many different itineraries for each country. No one here knows your party's interests, so coming up with random itineraries will not be meaningful.

These are large countries (except for Prague), so you need to drill down to regions and cities first based on what you want to see in each. Then consult a map and look at distances between the different points - connect them logically so you save time/money. I too would narrow down your list of countries, or else you will be spending a lot of time and money in transit from one place to another.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
4660 posts

6 countries in 20 days gives you 3 days per country (and maybe only 2 for some of those due to travel time between them), obviously something's going to get short-changed. Unless you plan to only visit one city per country and waste a lot of time in travel from one to the next, you're just going to have a blur of memories for your time/money/effort. Pick 3 that are logistically easy to travel among and save the others for another trip (Italy, France, Switzerland) or (Greece, Croatia, Prague (Czech Rep)). But, even at that, countries like Italy, France, and Greece can take as much time as you can give them to explore even a part of so 5-7 days for each is skimpy.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
14454 posts

To reach Greece, Croatia, or Prague (Czech Rep) from any of the other countries, you would be strongly recommended to fly. That also makes those countries easy to cut from the list.

Similarly, if your only stop in France is Paris, you can affordably fly to the next stop in Italy (see www.skyscanner.com) or can take trains through Switzerland with a stop there, such as Paris - Lauterbrunnen- Venice- Florence- Rome.

It seems that many travelers planning similar trips from India will fly roundtrip to Geneva or similar plan, and that is not a good use of time. It's better to look for a "multi-city" flight plan, such as into Paris and home from Rome. At least when flying from the USA, this is not any more expensive. It's also best to fly to a city where you plan to visit, without having to make (or miss) a connection from one flight to another, or to a reserved train.

Rick’s Train Travel Time & cost Map gives you an overview of faster train travel times in hours, as well as regular (full-price) 2nd-class fares. Since you'll be planning well ahead, you should be able to reserve discounted train tickets for some longer routes (best prices 3-4 months ahead).

Posted by porelsoumen OP
2 posts

Thanks for the suggestions. I have kind of cut down on to the following countries and respective places to be visited:

Italy - Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Lake como
France - Paris, Versailles, Normandy, Loire
Switzerland - Berner Oberland, Lucern
Greece - Athens, Hydra
Spain - Barcelona, Madrid

Points to consider:
1. I will be going with my parents, wife and in-laws.
2. I can cut down on Spain if needed.
3. I understand that Greece will be a bit off track but still want to include it in the itinerary.

Please let me know if this itinerary seems to be feasible. If it is then in which order should I travel the countries or if you have further questions or suggestions please let me know.

Posted by Agnes
Washington DC Region, USA
4332 posts

You have 15 distinct places in different countries listed for 20 days. Can you see how that would be very difficult to achieve? That doesn't even include the travel time between the places. You need to be realistic. Right now your schedule would have you racing from one to another pretty much every single day, or other day (that's a lot of hotel room changes). A large city like Rome needs at least 3 full days, if not more, etc. Same for Florence and Venice - although they are smaller, they need at least 2 days each (preferably 3). So that's already 7-9 days out of your 20 days..and that's just three Italian cities seen on a fairly aggressive schedule considering you are traveling with a group of people (it takes longer for groups to get going than a solo traveler).

What I would do is start with just one country and allot a proper number of days to each city you're interested in that country (you'll have to do research about what you want to see there and how long it will take, approximately). Drill down and account for transport time between your interests. Subtotal the number of days you need for Country 1. Then go to the second country (preferably one that is close by or adjacent) and do the same. Add up days in Country 1 and Country 2. I bet by that point, you may have already used your 20 days. I think that will help you see that you've envisioned many more places that you can realistically see in 20 days.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
1588 posts

I think you should spend at least 3 nights in each location you want to visit. That will give you 2 - 2 1/2 days of seeing that city. Which is only enough to get a feel and see the local highlights. If you spend only 2 nights, that will give you only 1 day or 1 1/2 after traveling, which when back home you likely won't even remember what you did see. I wouldn't ever want to move that fast and I think you should reconsider. Not to mention how difficult it is traveling with a group! It is much slower getting everyone going than if you were just a couple.

Right now you are talking about 14 different locations in 20 days....much better to count in "nights" not days. Also, are you noting how much travel time between locations? Don't forget to count packing up, checking out, getting to your transportation (with all 6 people) then moving to your new city, finding your accommodation, checking in, then setting out to sightsee. All of that takes much more time than you realize and that is where you lose time. If you only spend one night then by the time you get there you will only have an evening before leaving again the next morning.

Make your decision based not only on desire, but also time and logistics.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
4660 posts

If you want to see all the places you list for France, Italy, Switzerland, the only way you are going to be able to do it is to cut Spain and Greece entirely. You simply do not have the time to travel from place to place that many times. While the countries in Europe look small and close together on a map, travel between them is not instantaneous. And, moving that many times with 6 people in tow is not going to be quick and easy. I'm sure you may be seasoned travelers and have used trains many times but, although the trains in Europe are fast and reliably on time, you cannot plan your trip down to the minute and still have options if something goes awry.

Another factor in your decision may be the weather in October. Lucerne will probably be nice and maybe even the BO, but you could also have snow at higher elevations in October and weather, especially visibility in the mountains, may not be clear. If you're going to plan only 2 days there you could be out of luck. So, in that case maybe you want to skip Switzerland this time and do France, Italy, and Spain - maybe fly into Rome or Paris and home from Barcelona depending on which way you plan your itinerary.

Your revised plan is still quite ambitious for 20 days and may not even be physically possible. I understand that with 6 people's desires to be taken into account, planning can be challenging at best. Some tough decisions will have to be made. Good luck.

Posted by CJean
Ontario, Canada
1179 posts

As everyone has said, your plan is too ambitious for the time available. Your second plan is no better - you've just substituted the Spanish cities for Prague and Croatia. You need to eliminate at least half of your planned stops. I doubt that the current plan is physically possible. If it is, all your group will remember are fleeting views from trains, planes, buses and taxis. You aren't leaving nearly enough time to actually experience these places, which is the whole point of travelling there, no?

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
882 posts

You've gotten a lot of comments. The best plan is 3-4 days in a place. That gives you 4 stops max, better to go 3. I would do France and Switzerland. Paris - Lyon/Dijon - Besoncon - Bern - Lucerne. Something like that.

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
882 posts

I see your "cut-down" itinerary is crazy. Italy alone is 2 weeks.

Here's how it works, in reality, on a travel day:
6-6:30 rise, potty
6:30-7:30 breakfast
7:30-8:30 airport/train station
8:30-noon travel
12-1 travel to hotel
1-2 unpack, potty
2-6 visit, sightsee ONLY 1 ATTRACTION
6-7:30 dinner
7:30-9 night sightsee
9-11 prepare for bed
11-6 sleep

You will do this every single day with your itinerary. For your vast expense, you will see 20 things in Europe. There are 200 things to see in Rome, 200 in Paris, 200 in each town. You will see 1.

We just were in Europe for 42 days. In that time, we went to 8 places and stayed 4 nights in each. We stayed 4 nights in Chartres, a small French town.

Please do not waste your money on this trip. You should spend the $75 to talk to a Rick Steves consultant. Hopefully they will help you plan a fun, but much less ambitious, itinerary.

Posted by Ted
Sydney
210 posts

Your itinerary of 15 destinations in 20 days is not feasible. The places you want to visit are very far apart. At a minimum, you should cut Spain and Greece since these are the outliers, and you should cut more as well.

Since you mention that you are travelling with your parents and your in-laws, the itinerary you have in mind is very tiring. I do not know the ages of your parents and in-laws, but what you have planned would be tiring even for a fit person in their 20s. You will be on the move nearly every day, carrying your luggage nearly every day. This will make everyone tired and stressed. I don't know how well your group gets along, but in the past when I have travelled with family, we have had arguments on much less tiring and stressful trips than you have in mind. Your itinerary sound like a recipe for arguments.

Posted by joe32F
Edmonds, WA
2350 posts

Your itinerary sound like a recipe for arguments.

That sounds like it would be an excellent result for what OP is planning.

More likely someone will end up in jail for murder or attempted murder, by day 6.

You really need to look at all the places you are trying to get to and then research how you get from place to place. Then you will see how unrealistic it is to do all you want in just 20 days. Cut you destinations to one-third, or extend your trip to 50-60 days. Otherwise you will have a miserable time.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
11613 posts

Go to rome2rio.com to check distances, travel times, modes of travel. Then see if you still want to keep this itinerary.

"Around 20 days" is not specific enough. Is that 19 nights, 21 nights, some other number?

Posted by Dale
Chicago
267 posts

That schedule is absolutely insane. Even if you were all the most ambitious travelers in the world, with that many changes of city, something will go wrong. There could be flight delays, train delays, or strikes. You could have a mixup with a hotel and have to spend a couple of hours working things out, which cuts very deeply into the very limited sightseeing time you're allowing for each city. You don't mention the ages of those traveling, but it appears you're all not in your early 20s with boundless energy.

Start from scratch. With 20 days, including a long haul flight from India, I'd limit it to two countries. Give yourself more time in each place, you don't want your only memories to be getting lost in 15 European cities. With this much time to plan, buy a variety of guidebooks and get some ideas of what you can reasonably cover in 20 days and keep in mind that six people traveling together move slower than one or two. There will be days when someone wants to sleep in or just linger at a cafe rather than seeing another museum or cathedral .

Posted by djp_syd
David in Brisbane, Australia
6944 posts

No, you can't do everything on your wish list, but if you stay with just the big cities, then you will get through a fair chunk. Just the highlights, mind you.

Fly to Athens - 3 nights
Fly to Rome - 3 nights
Train to Florence - 3 nights (visit Pisa)
Train to Venice - 3 nights
Fly to Paris - 4 nights (visit Versailles)
Fly to Barcelona - 4 nights

Posted by DaGuastafarian
Denver, CO
115 posts

Granted that the general outlook of this forum is largely for tourists who spend a lot of time in museums and waiting in lines, etc... which necessitates much more time. I personally don't do this, and so I am quite comfortable with a "faster" pace and "shorter" stays, even in larger cities. Also, I'm younger-ish than what I would guess is the median age for this forum, and am almost always just with my wife... so we are more maneuverable. Having said that, not to sound like a broken record, but even your "cut-down" itinerary is very far from feasible. In a 3 week timespan, I personally can hit quite comfortably 6-7 destinations (read: cities, not countries) in a mixture of bigger in smaller destinations. It's also best to pick cities that have a natural flow to them travel wise, generally by train, so as to minimize time btw destinations (read: Greece doesn't naturally fit this itinerary well at all, for instance)

You're either going to have to face reality and significantly cut down your cut down version and have an amazing time, as twenty days is a nice time period (I'm writing you from Paris, on the 7th-ish day of a 20 day trip, on my way to Switzerland this a.m. :) or you're going to be miserable. I agree with the person's itinerary above me as a nice place to start.

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
882 posts

OP has not responded. I suppose he is getting his track shoes oiled.