29 Day Itinerary

Hello, my family and I will be traveling to Europe in 2014 from mid Sept to mid Oct. I've done some reading and research on places we'd like to see and have a rough itinerary planed out. 4 Days in London 3.5 Days in Paris Night Train to Mont Blanc Day in Mont Blanc Travel to Milan Day in Milan Travel to Venice 2.5 Days in Venice 2 Days in Florence 1 Day in Piza 1 Day in Tuscany 6 Days in Rome with 1 Day trip to Pompeii and 1 Day trip to Ostia Antica
3.5 Days in Athens with 1 Day trip to Delphi This is just an outline so far but I have 4 extra days and I'm not sure if I should add days to the places we are visiting already or go somewhere else. Any good ideas would help greatly, thank you.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1541 posts

Hello Raymond. I think four countries is enough countries in one trip. It would do no harm to add a few days in France. You said you will go to Mont Blanc. That is the name of a mountain peak. Where will your overnight accomodation be in that region ?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11663 posts

What night train to Mt Blanc? Do you know of such a night train from Paris? I don't know of one. The TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon only takes a little over 2 hours to the gateway for the bus.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

hi, i dont know what your likes are, but i would give Paris AT LEAST the same time as the London! happy trails.

Posted by Raymond
Victorville, California, U.S.
65 posts

Thank you, I was going toward adding the days to places we where already going to visit so that we could see and enjoy more of the places we would be at without having to feel rushed. Ron and Nigel, I read that there was a night train from Paris to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc on Rick's travel books and website. The only thing I'm not sure about because I've never taken a night train, is the website DB Bahn shows that there are 2 transfer on that night train. Do we have to get off the train and transfer or does it mean that you can stay on the train while it transfers tracks? If we do have to get off, it wouldn't be a very restful night. If we don't take the night train, I was looking into staying at one of the hotels near the summit where you can walk to the gondola ride. Thank you again for your input guys.

Posted by Rosalyn
1416 posts

I would definitely add some time to Tuscany and make a day trip to Pisa as part of that. Tuscany has something for every taste: Etruscan/Roman/Medieval/Renaissance sites for history, art, and architecture buffs, great food and wine for foodies, and gorgeous, varied countryside for nature lovers. (We're planning a 4th return trip in 2014.) You might also consider adding a day or two to Greece. If ancient history interests you - - I assume it does, since you want to visit Delphi - - , you could stay a couple of nights in Napflio (very charming) and visit Mycenae and Epidauros from there. The driving from Athens is not excessively long, I'm remembering three or four hours. So, two more days in Tuscany (plus the day you allotted to Pisa = four) and two more days to Greece, that's your four extra days.
Just a thought, while we're tinkering with your itinerary, why Mt. Blanc? and why Milan? I'd omit those and add the days to London and/or Paris. Lots to do in those places, including some awesome daytrips.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10500 posts

I would not recommend a stay in the Alps for any less than 3 nights. What if the weather is cloudy and raining on the one day you have allotted (which happens frequently)?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11663 posts

There is a difference between "night trains" and "trains which run at night". True night trains have sleeping facilities, often restaurant facilities and run through the night between remote places. They often go quite slowly as the track is so good these days, and trains so powerful, that they don't need all the time they take to reach destinations at dawn or later. Throughout Europe, including parts of the UK, trains run well into the night and start early. These are just normal trains without any sort of sleeping facility. For example, in the part of England in which I live, the last train from London arrives after 02:30, and the first train to London starts at 03:30. You wouldn't call either of then a Night Train, but lots of people do try to doze on them (and sometimes miss their stops). If the schedule shows you changing trains then that is exactly what you will have to do. You don't get on a train and then your carriage gets shunted from one to the other. Not these days. Often the stations (if they are open at all) will be pretty deserted, sometimes you have to wait for the next train outside on the platform. Sorry its not as romantic as it once was.

Posted by Raymond
Victorville, California, U.S.
65 posts

Thank you Nigel, this really helps. The night trail was something I really wasn't sure about. There is a train that leaves Paris at 1400 and arrives at 2030 in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc which I'd think would be nice. Many people I've spoken to have said that it's a very nice ride with a lot of scenery. I would like to spend more time in the Alps but being that going there was something of an extra site, I really didn't want to focus to much of our time there.

Posted by Lexma
568 posts

It would help you in your planning if you schedule things in terms of nights, rather than days. For example, does 4 days in London mean 4 full days, or 4 nights with 3 full days? It makes a difference in terms of what you plan or would like to do in each location. I agree with your initial thoughts - allocate your 4 extra days (nights?) between the places you already have. Though it depends on what your family is interested in. If you don't like cities, for example, then take those 4 days, rent a car, and spend your time in the Loire Valley or add all 4 days to rural Tuscany. If you all like museums, culture and history, then add more time to London, Paris and Florence (one of the best western art museums in the world). Venice is worth an extra day/night just because it's wonderful - you could spend all of your time just wandering along next to the canals (though San Marco is definitely worth your time, and don't skip the museum in the basilica). There is so much to see IN Rome that I'm not sure you need to spend two days traveling to both Pompeii (amazing) and Ostia Antica. You could wait to decide on Ostia Antica after you've arrived in Rome. I would drop the day in Pisa and add it to your 1 day/night in rural Tuscany. And suggest that you rent a car for that portion of your trip, as well. How old are your family members - that may make a difference in what you do/want to do and how much time you spend.

Posted by Joni
Dartmouth, NS, Canada
75 posts

One suggestion for Tuscany - Don't miss Lucca!!!!!!

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2374 posts

This Paris-Venezia route is too hurried. If you want to enjoy the Mont Blanc, you need at least 2 and a half days to make up for the possibility of bad weather (same applies to any weather-dependent mountain activity). There is no easy way to travel between Chamonix and Milano without a car.

Posted by Raymond
Victorville, California, U.S.
65 posts

Thank you all for you input, this is very helpful. Lexma, my daughters will be 14 when we go. Although they're teens, they love art and history as much as my wife and I. In fact, when asked if they wanted to spend more time at a beach, they said no. Rosalyn, when we started to plan our trip, Mt.Blanc and Milan was not part of it. After seeing an episode of Rick Steves on Mt.Blanc, my daughters wanted to add that part in. Since we would be leaving there and going to Venice, I saw that Milan was on the way and thought it would be nice to see The Last Supper and Milan's Cathedral. Other than those to items, there really wasn't much I wanted to do in Milan. I thought it might be a good stop on the way to Venice. Thank's again, these are things I need to consider, especially the weather issue of Mt. Blanc.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3692 posts

Mt. Blanc is wonderful, well worth your time. I'd recommend staying in Chamonix. The rest of your extra time I would add to Paris. You'll never run out of wonderful things to do there - most importantly walking, sitting in cafes and spending time in the Luxembourg Gardens - that would also allow you to do some really worthwhile and enjoyable day trips (Versailles, Fontainebleau, Giverny, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Malmaison, Chantilly).

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
4934 posts

I count 25.5 days in the first itinerary, with no allowance for travel times. Do you really have 4 extra days? It takes time to pack, get to the train station with time to spare, then get from the arrival station to your new hotel, check in and drop the luggage, before you can start sightseeing. You need much more time for flights (long trip to/from airport, security, baggage claim). Are your family good at keeping to a tight schedule, moving quickly and efficiently? This is potentially a very stressful plan. The less baggage you have, the easier it is to unpack/repack and haul it around. It does mean lots of hand laundry. Are your 14-year olds okay with that? If not, have you made allowance (time or $$) for laundry days?