Combination of EAST and West Europe

We want to travel from Paris thru Black forest to Prague, Vienna, Venice, Zurich (2 weeks) and back to Paris (Before flying down to Athens and Santorini for a week. We are flexible and ready to improvise. 2 adults and 2 kids under 12 years of age. Total travel for a month approx. need to be economical. Which is a better option Eurail or car? We have done car several years ago on a similar trip but western Europe. Driving on the right side doesn't concern us either. Any suggestions? It will be a fast paced trip, the kids might go crazy too! but we do want to try and than improvise along the way.
Thanks!

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3410 posts

Saima: You say "Driving 0n the right side does not concern us ..." The whole of Europe drives on the right side, as do you in Texas, so it is understandable that it would not concern you.

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

I don't see this as an either/or question. With a full month, I think a combination of train in some places and car in others makes sense. You won't want a car in Paris or Venice, for example. But having wheels to toodle around the Black Forest would be fun. I would suggest sitting down with your itinerary and seeing where a car makes sense and where a train is a better option. Personally, I would probably take the train from Paris to Germany. I'd pick up a car for Germany and Austria, then use the train for Italy and back to Zurich. Others will have other opinions. Do what makes sense for you. Trains are such fun with kids. Mine would be sorely disappointed if we ever took a trip to Europe without trains!!

Posted by James
Frisco
1807 posts

My impression after a couple dozen trips to Europe over the last ten years is that cars are more trouble than they are worth. But that's just me. In most cities you could spend as much as $20 a day just to park it. Paris thru Black forest to Prague, Vienna, Venice, Zurich (2 weeks) and back to Paris? I just plugged your trip into Google Maps and its 3,300 miles and 33 hours of driving. Wow! The two week trip will result in one week behind the wheel and one week looking around? By train it would probably be closer to 60 hours. Don't go back to Paris and the route gets shorter a 1,000 miles and 11 hours. You would go; Paris, Black Forest, Zurich, Prague, Vienna and Venice then fly on to Athens. I didn't check the schedules but I am pretty sure you can do this reasonably by train. By the way, you never get close to "Eastern Europe". Prague is in Central Europe and that's as close as you get. If it's an exotic European experience you are looking for then do: Paris-3 days Train to Frankfurt-1 day Frankfurt-2 days Train to Prague-1 day Prague-2 days Train to Vienna-1 day Vienna-2 day Train to Budapest-1 day Budapest-2 days Guide to Bucharest-3 days tour through Romania Bucharest-1 day Guide to Sofia-3 days tour through Bulgaria
Sofia-1 day Air to Athens-1 day Athens/Santarini-7 days Personally I would skip Paris (love Paris but not on this trip) and spend more time seeing the exotic. If you go to http://budapestflat.shutterfly.com/ and look at the top of the page there are some links HU=Hungary, SK=Slovakia, BU=Bulgaria, RO=Romania just to see pictures of some of the exotic.

Posted by Saima
Dallas, Tx, USA
7 posts

Thank you all for your feedback. Thank you James for taking the time to provide so many details. I appreciate all the details. It helps put a different perspective on things. The only reason car interested us because of the flexibility it gives. Taking a train will allow us to fly from a different destination to Athens. Zurich is not important. That can be another trip. We would rather focus on Eastern/central/western Europe. We will still give Paris 2 days because our port of Entry has to be Paris. And my 8 year old is obsessed with climbing the Eiffel Tower :) Have to indulge her :) Would you suggest we get the Eurail pass to cover the tentative route you mentioned?
Thanks a lot

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

Hi, Good that you are not dropping Paris. After that I would suggest focusing on Berlin (can't miss that), Vienna, Budapest, and Sofia, unless if you want to switch Sofia with Athens. I would use a combination of trains and flying.

Posted by Saima
Dallas, Tx, USA
7 posts

Thanks Fred. Right now this is all research which is changing shape on a daily basis :) I think we will get the 10 day global pass which we have 15 days to use. We start in Paris than start Eurail to St Goar thru Frankfurt. We want to take the ferry on River Rhine. Berlin tempts me but reasoning tells me to skips it and go to Prague, Vienna (maybe thru Croatia?) Venice, Ancona or bari and cross over on the ferry to Patra. Budapest, Croatia is all there but 10 day travel not enough; maybe change it to 21 days pass and use it to return from Athens... Everything is still subject to change.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

Hi, Got it. If you drop Berlin, then I would suggest not traveling with Global Pass, since rail travel in East Central Europe, the cities on your itnerary, along with Sofia is very cheap relative to taking the ICE train in Germany. It would not be worth it even from the standpoint of flexibility.