backpacking itinerary 3 weeks

starting to plan a backpacking tour for July 31 to August 20 Just started yesterday so is not to much info...just the places that we know we want to visit..where to start and where to end... just to know if we are up to a good start... flight, London (2), Paris (2), Amsterdam (2), Berlin, Prague, Munich, Alps, Venice (1), Florence (1), Rome (3), Athens (2) Santorini (2) back home are we crazy or what... thanks for your help in advance

Posted by Adam
2923 posts

Knowing what you want to do is a good start. Your next step is to research each destination a little, so that you have a good idea of what there is to see and do there that interest you and how long you'd like to spend. This will give you the information you need to make your second cut. You might decide for instance to leave off Greece and probably some other destinations as well. Remember the idea is usually not to cram in as many stops as possible, but to have the best trip possible.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1620 posts

Shira, I'd suggest you go to the Deutsche bahn website (there's any English option) and put your destinations in. (You probably will need to enter a date earlier than your planned dates, but the website can still provide good info for planning.) I think you'll find you're spending much of your time on trains, with little time to see anything once you arrive at your next destination. Figure you'll lose a half day (at least) for short trips; a day (or maybe more) for long trips. (Pack and check out of lodging, get to station, buy ticket, figure out station and find right track, find lodging in new town, check in, unpack, get oriented... not counting delays for things like getting lost, missed buses/trains, strikes, etc) While European airlines can often provide cheaper travel than trains, keep in mind that you still need to allow time to get to the (often remote) airport, arrive early enough to get through security and any govt red tape, and then get into the city and to your lodging at the other end... you commonly will spend almost as much time as on train. Think carefully about when train and when plane make the most sense (time and dollars) I'd drop half of the destinations you plan, probably starting with Greece, since it's reltively remote.

Posted by Susan
St Paul
42 posts

Shira, In 1976, a friend and I spent 3 months backpacking throughout Europe. We bought Frommer's Europe on $10 a day and read it from cover to cover. We decided on the countries we wanted to visit and then the cities we would stop at in those countries. We listed what we were interested in seeing in those cities and that helped us decide how many days we needed in each city. We then mapped out the trip and researched travel time between cities. Do your research and decide what is important to you, simply racing through as many cities as you can or taking the time to discover the joys of each. I was 22 when I first backpacked to Europe and we raced through much of it so I am not criticizing you if that is your plan! I would also eliminate Greece and at least 2 other cities. I fell in love with Switzerland on that trip. London, Paris and Italy are the other locations I would keep on the list.
Good luck with your planning, that is half the fun!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5565 posts

I agree with Sherry. You are trying to do too much in the time you have. You aren't allowing for travel time. And you aren't allowing enough time in each place. Keep in mind that 2 nights in a location is equal to only one full day there. Your schedule as is allows you - 1 jet lagged day in London, 1 day each in Paris and Amsterdam, a few hours each in Berlin, Prague, Munich, the Alps, Venice and Florence, 2 days in Rome, and 1 each in Athens and Santorini. If your goal is to check some countries off on a list to say you've been there, then go for it. But if you really want to see more than the insides of trains and/or planes, then yes, you're crazy! :-) At this pace you won't remember much of anything. You say you have 3 weeks, but I count 19 nights. Is that correct? I would stay an absolute minimum of 3 nights in London, Paris and Rome. That's 9 nights. At least 2 nights in Amsterdam, Venice and Florence. That's another 6. So there's 15 nights. With the other 4 you could go to Germany. If you go to Munich you can also see the Alps. Greece and Prague are too far out of the way for the time you have. Planning a trip is half the fun. We all want to see everything, but you have to be realistic. Europe isn't going anywhere, so allow yourself time to see where you're going and know that you can always go back. My first trip I thought was a 'once in a lifetime' trip. I loved it so much I went 5 times in 5 years. I hope you have a great time!!

Posted by shira
Puerto Rico
75 posts

thank you so much for your help, tips, and all in between :)... we will make changes and keep you guys posted on them so you can keep on helping us.. thanks again

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
20293 posts

shira, I definitely agree with the others that your proposed Itinerary is FAR too ambitious for the time you have. IMO, you'll need to do some serious "pruning" on your list. To begin with, I'd skip Athens and Santorini as they're far removed from the others, and the travel time there and back will be prohibitive. One of the most important things to keep in mind, is to allow adequate travel times between stops. Also, you'll lose your first and last days due to flight times. On the flight to Europe, you'll arrive the day after you depart, and will be jet-lagged for a few days after that so likely won't be up to full "touring speed". The last day will be spent on the flight home, so you'll only have a maximum of 19 days for touring. If this is your first trip to Europe, I'd highly recommend reading Europe Through The Back Door prior to your trip, as that has a LOT of good information on "how" to travel in Europe. After that use the country-specific Guidebooks to plan sightseeing, hotels, transportation, etc. For the "big three" (London, Paris, Rome), I'd recommend AT LEAST three days in each. Also, it's a good idea to minimize one-night stops. Each time you change locations, it will require at least half a day and sometimes more. You could arrive in a new city in the late afternoon and only have the evening to explore before moving on to the next one. At least two nights in each place is a good idea. It's also important to plan a logical route, trying to minimize travel times where possible. Using open-jaw flights would be a good idea, so that you don't have to return to your starting point, which takes both time and money. Pre-booking hotels at that time of year would also be a good idea. July is not far off, so you'll need to get cracking on this! Cheers!

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1477 posts

I agree with other posters, you are doing too much. Stop and smell the flowers, and see the sights! Skip Greece, that is another trip. Pick 3-4 cities that are most important, and plan on at least 3 nights in each. From a major city you can take a day trip and see other smaller sights...and leave your pack in your hotel room, returning at night. 3 weeks sounds like a lot, but it will go fast, especially if you are always on a train getting somewhere else. Way back in 1976 I went to Europe on a backpacking trip...5 weeks worth. We started in Germany, went to Amsterdam, over to London, then to Paris, down to Madrid, up to Switzerland and then Saltzburg, and then back to southern Germany. Mostly spent 3-4 nights in each major city. Keep in mind I had 2 more weeks than you. We didn't get to Italy or Prague or Greece, that would have been too much travel time, and not enough quality time to really see a city.

Posted by shira
Puerto Rico
75 posts

ok so this are the changes so far... is this better...more or less nights in each place.?? London 3 - Paris 3 - Amsterdam 2 - Berlin 2 - Munich 2 - Alps 1 -Venice 1 -Florence 2 -Rome 3 (day trip to Capri) is this better...?
thanks again for your help guys...

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Plug in transportation time and it becomes 2,2,1,1,0,0,1,2,1,1,2. One third of the trip is being spent traveling between places. Some places you''ll show up, have supper, and get to sleep real quick so you can get going again the next day.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
20293 posts

shira, Your Itinerary is still too "busy" (IMHO), and difficult to realistically achieve in some ways. Could you clarify what destination you had in mind for "Alps"? You're covering a fairly large area (which means long transportation times), and I still believe that you'll need to do further "pruning" to make this work. Skipping the two destinations on the north (Amsterdam and Berlin) might help? Cheers!

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3017 posts

Leave out Berlin as it is far to the east of Munich. Look at a rail map and find a route between Munich and Venice. If you see an Alpine town/village on that route, stop there for a night or two (after doing a little research on that town).

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
2960 posts

It looks a bit like you really have at least 2 trips here. One in the north (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin and Prague) and one in the south (Rome, Athens, Santorini). Even doing JUST the northen leg will be a rushed 3 weeks. I'd look at dropping Prague as it is a bit out of the way. Something like this might work London- 4 days Paris 4 days Amsterdam 3 days Munich 3 days Berlin 3 days
Allow 1 day between each destination for travel time. It's still very rushed for some major destinations, but if you see it as just getting a taste of some great cities, it would work. You could also just pick 3 or 4 'biggie' destinations and do several day trips from each. London, Paris and Amsterdam or the classic London , Paris, and Rome combination are good examples. That way you could save some money by getting apartments and doing some 'self catering'.

Posted by Adam
2923 posts

"Alps (1)" is a bad plan. What if it rains that day? You'll have spent two days of travel time for 1 day of soggy fog. Give yourself time to enjoy these great places (and justify the effort and expense you are making ti get to them).

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8546 posts

So Shira, you appear to have a total of 21 days, and most of us don't count arrival or departure days, so really you have 19 full days on the ground.
You have listed 12 destinations.. so I am hoping you can see how this is not going to work. You do not appear to have counted the time in transit between places. Most places will require a minimum of 1/2 day of travel to get to. And when you plan to spend 2 nights in one place that actually works out to only one full day there, the other day is arrival day and then departure day.. So, you think Paris, London, Amsterdam, Athens, and Santorini are worth only one full day? You have allowed two full days for Rome, which is fine, fast, but fine. You have allowed mere hours to enjoy Venice and Florence, Alps, Munich , Prague and Berlin. Even if you enjoy whirlwind travel I think most places on your list deserve at least 2 nights, and places like Paris and Rome definately deserve at least 3. I think you should cut your list down to 5 or 6 places, 7 at most, and perhaps enjoy more then a tour of Europes bus and train stations.