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Don't Judge Us Please

Don't judge us - we're doing it AND we WILL pull it off

London-->Paris-->Strasbourg-->Somewhere in BELGIUM(edited)--> Amsterdam-->Copenhagen

IN 20 DAYS (June 28-July 15th)

The only leg of this trip we will be flying will be from Amsterdam to Copenhagen (the rest will be rail or bus?)

We know, its ridiculous, we won't see all of the sites, we're missing too much...We are aware...buttt still doing it and would love some advice on the best thing or 2 things to do in each city and maybe if we should substitute a city for another city.

(edit): A little about us, we are not allergic to anything but we would much rather grab a bite at a quietly known local favorite spot, walk through old cities, admire beautiful architecture, have a beer, go for a hike (although we wont have our gear), and pretty much just enjoy the land and culture more than anything else. We plan on staying in AirBNBs and hostels if we can but will probably do a couple of nights in a hotel. We will also have backpacks which make it a little easier to get around.

Would love your thoughts but even if you can't share, enjoy your days folks

Love Zach and Sage

Posted by
956 posts

Is that 20 days on the ground or is that 18 days with the two days for travel? Are you counting your travel days and actual days in a city? Depending on how long the train ride is it can be a full 1/2 day in the destination city, by the time you get to your lodging, check in, freshen up. Anyhoo...The only places I have been that your going to are London and Paris, with my recommendation being to do a Walking tour with London Walks and their sister company Paris Walks. Each has a website which lists the dates, times and description of the walks and you just pick a time, show up and pay. We learned a lot about different neighborhoods and had fun on the journey getting to the meeting point. Everyone will have a different must see, here is mine, not sure how long your in each place.
London:
Cruise the Thames and land up at Tower of London, tour Tower of London (take beefeater tour)
Westminster Abby
British Museum
Paris:
Seine River Cruise
Notre Dame
Louvre Museum
Sacre-Coeur
Versailles- not a full day trip

Have fun! Take pictures and make sure you document somewhere what you saw and the date and place. I had a heck of a time trying to remember the order I saw everything when making my photo book, but I had a written itinerary so I could count on that for details.

Posted by
15566 posts

Hey, you just posted in Judgementland. My judgement is that it should be a great trip. If you leave on the 27th to arrive on the 28th, and depart on the 16th, you really only have 18 nights on the ground. 6 cities gives an average of 3 nights at each. I'd do 2 nights in Strasbourg and either Amsterdam or Copenhagan and add those extra days to Paris and London.

Posted by
12040 posts

Cutting Strasbourg would significantly make this trip easier. And if you haven't booked your flights yet, a better, more logical order would be London-Paris-Amsterdam-Berlin-Copenhagen.

Posted by
11417 posts

We know, its ridiculous....

Well gosh, I'd say ya'll did a pretty good job there of issuing a verdict yourselves. :O)

Okaydoke, Zach and Sage, as far as advice on the gotta-dos, it would help if you'd give some idea about what you think you'd LIKE to do? I could send you to a bunch of great museums and churches, say, but it you are allergic to museums and churches, that's not exactly helpful. How 'bout a few hints?

Posted by
15566 posts

Yes, going Strasbourg-Berlin-Amsterdam-Copenhagan is a huge zig-zag. Considering the first 2 legs are by train, they will each eat up a whole day.

Posted by
1065 posts

Just looked at the Rail Europe site and you can do your itinerary easily. There is even a speed train between Paris and Strasbourg that takes only 2 hours. They say the fare is competitive and you should book early. Time is money so rail beats bus, but I understand there are some express buses available. The Rail Europe site also had some city and museum passes available; sometimes there are some discounts available. Comparison shop first. The only advice I have to offer is that all of these locations are high tourist destinations and your dates are high season. You may have to book rooms ahead to avoid disappointment. Look at University Housing which is available this time of year. I prefer established B & Bs over the other one...because I've heard from friends that you get potluck good and bad when you have absentee landlords.

Posted by
1714 posts

Hello zachary714. At Copenhagen, I liked Rosenborg palace, and the Royal Treasury in its basement.

Posted by
6015 posts

Uh, June 28-July 15 is 18 days, not 20. Are you arriving on the 28th? If so, what time. Are you leaving on the 15th? If so, what time. It could be that you only have 16 full days for this trip so you may need to cut, if so you could eliminate Strasbourg - it's great but doesn't fit with the rest of your itinerary very well. More logical order would be: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, with a flight home from Copenhagen.

Posted by
6 posts

Wow! such incredible feedback so far, thank you all. I just want to make a quick revision, we would like to go to somewhere in Belgium not Berlin. Will reply very shortly with other info!

Posted by
645 posts

It's a long ways to Berlin by train from anywhere on your list, but it's the farthest from Strasbourg at a little under eight hours. Consider this:

London to Strasbourg (six hours by train)
Strasbourg to Paris (a little under 2.5 hours by train)
Paris to Amsterdam (a little under 3.5 hours)
Amsterdam to Berlin (a little over 6 hours by train or an hour and 15 minutes plus transport to and from the airport by plane)
Berlin to Copenhagen (7 hours by train or an hour plus ground transportation by plane)

Or you could do London, Strasbourg, Paris, and then fly to Berlin, continue by plane or train to Amsterdam, then fly to Copenhagen.

Edit: Belgium? That's much saner.

Posted by
11417 posts

Yep, Belgium will be much saner. On the route between Amsterdam and Paris by Thalys train (Brussels, anyway.)

Posted by
1250 posts

Suggestions -

Amsterdam - Dutch Resistance Museum & Anne Frank Haus or Van Gogh Museum.

Copenhagen - Rosenborg Palace

Paris - Orangerie museum and/or Musee d'Orsay

London - National Portrait Gallery and maybe a London Walk.

Posted by
444 posts

It can be done. Most here don't judge, just recommend. Some people like Vw, some like Toyotas, some Chevy. With travel, it is what you like and want to do. You can get burned out on Museums and churches and need to take a break.

I would spend a night in Brugge, Belgium, then straight to Amsterdam, a short train ride. It gives you a small city compared to the other large cities. It is called the Venice of the North. Take a canal tour, find a wind mill, find the Michelangelo statue, eat some Mussels and local beer, walk around the city when the day trippers have left. It will have a different feel.

I have never been to Strasburg so I cannot comment on it but from a travel stand point it does not flow with the cities on your trip. It is about 2 hours from Paris to Strasburg. Strasburg to Brugge is roughly 6 hours. Use www.bahn.de to check train schedules. Trains schedules are not out for your travel dates, but look for next month, they normally dont change much.

Also with all your travel, look up the dates certain museums are closed. You don't want to get to a city to find your main site is closed.

Posted by
7124 posts

I would insert a stop in Hamburg, and travel by train from Amsterdam to Copenhagen.
Change in Paris for Strasbourg after arriving from London on Eurostar.

London 4N
Strasbourg 2N
Paris 4N
Belgium 3N
Amsterdam 3N
Hamburg 1N
Copenhagen 3N

Posted by
6387 posts

Why are people here suggesting cities in Germany when the person only mentions
London-->Paris-->Strasbourg-->Somewhere in Belgium--> Amsterdam-->Copenhagen
in the itinerary?

This seems easier to navigate if you start in Strasbourg:

Strasbourg-Paris-London-Brussels(just pass through and see Grand Place) Brugge or Ghent or Antwerp-Amsterdam-Copenhagen

For ideas on what to do or see you should either get one of Rick's books onEurope (from the local public library to save money if that is an issue) or watch the videos on each city on youtube or search the internet. Only you know what you are interested in and must see.

Posted by
17618 posts

I think they mean 20 days including arriving on the 27th and departing on the 16th, thus 18 full days, June 28 - July 15th. Other than Strasbourg to Brussels (?) and flying to Copenhagen, travel times by high speed trains should be short, just a few hours. On the other hand, those high speed trains, particularly Thalys (Paris to Belgium to Amsterdam) are expensive, so the cost per city is high.

And, packing/unpacking, checking in/out of hotels, and getting to and from hotels is time consuming. Sure, you can see something in a city in the morning, before you leave, or in the evening, after you arrive, but for the most part, they only have 13 full days to see 6 big cities.

If it were I, I would delete Strasbourg (or at least make it a day trip from Paris).

Posted by
971 posts

Zach and Sage I agree with you that flying between Amsterdam and Copenhagen is the way to go. The airline Norwegian usually has cheap flights and the train takes ages and is more expensive. However I will agree with other posters here that Strasbourg is inconvenient to the rest of your itinerary. I also wonder what it is that you want to see there.

Posted by
3214 posts

I've visited all the places you list, and I agree with others that Strasbourg is the outlier here. I'd leave it off the list. For Belgium, we've stayed in Bruges and visited the racetrack at Spa-Francorchamps. (When I travel with my husband, at least one auto racing circuit must be included and one Go Kart track is much desired.)

Assuming that you drop Strasbourg and that you fly into London and home from Copenhagen, I think your broad itinerary would work. As others have suggested, now you need to do the homework to decide what your interests are. While you do that you may figure out those highlights you want to see on your own. If not, the folks here on the forum can pitch in with suggestions and perhaps tie-breaking opinions if needed.

I think you are very smart to ask about the 1 or 2 must-sees/dos, but keep in mind that there is often lots of variety among the responses as to what those might be. This thread is an excellent example of that.

Also keep in mind that a lot of time is spent in changing locations in addition to the actual transportation. And that counting nights is usually better than days, as in it takes 2 nights in a place to have a full day there.

I think this DB Bahn link in English is very user friendly. You will not be able to buy tickets there, but you can see all the details about your potential journeys, including maps for the routes. As a person who enjoys the going as well as the being there, I like to know the route.

The Man in Seat 61 is the best source I know for information and advice on European train travel, including when, where and how to buy tickets.

Another option for finding a variety of ways (planes, trains, buses, ferries, automobiles...) to get around is Rom2rio. You can also see maps of the routes for the various types of transportation.

The planning is half the fun for me. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Posted by
2456 posts

Jazz+Travels. The reason people are suggesting places in Germany is because the OP originally listed Berlin not Belgium as one of their destinations. I see that they have recently edited their original list but didn't indicate it was an edit.

Posted by
11613 posts

Doable, especially since editing Berlin. In Belgium, I love Brugge - go to the Neuhaus chocolate shop and judge all other chocolate by what you taste there!

Posted by
6 posts

Really appreciate everything so far fellow citizens of the world... hopefully the following answers a lot of your questions from us and gives you a little more insight into who we are and what we are expecting

@Brushtim - we will definitely take a look at these articles.

@ Letizia We actually arrive on the 29 at 7:30 AM and depart on the 16th at 10:15AM (So to be true, 17 full days - not 20). We would opt for bullet/express trains and want to fly from Amsterdam to Copenhagen because of the time constraints. We will definitely look into each one of those attractions in London and will try to keep a journal (but no promises)

@Kathy - not allergic to anything but penicillin however we wouldn't build our entire trip around churches, definitely more into a museum with fine art.. i guess if I really wanted to drill down into it, we would much rather grab a bite at a quietly known local favorite spot, walk through old cities, admire beautiful architecture, have a beer, go for a hike (although we wont have our gear), and pretty much just enjoy the land and culture more than anything else.

@Kathleen and @ Nancy That is EXACTLY what I'm talking about - I hear Strasbourg is a hybrid of German and French culture...Since we wont be going to Germany (apologize for the mistake in the original itinerary, I promise it was auto-correct), it would be nice to get a taste of the culture. It is a little out of the way but with that bullet train - 2 hours ins't so bad. I've also heard about those discounts and passes and we will absolutely look into it!

@Keith - Appreciate the support, I'm on your boat - I would love to stay at each city for months but unfortunately I don't have the time or the $$, so give me the best of the best and I'll be moving along. We will absolutely check out the Van Gough and Anne Frank house would be extremely interesting. We would like to fly from AMS to COP because of timing constraints - the flights are very very cheap and hopefully can fly super early or super late as to avoid it seeping into our day.

@jen Extremely helpful in terms of timing...we will look to our itinerary and factor in timing...thanks so much! and yes, much saner, right?

@kathy again - do you suggest Brussels in Belgium?

@Joel cut out Belgium?

@CSU Brugge sounds incredible - take Brugge over Brussels? Where do I get the best Belgian Beers? We will check museum times, thanks

@Dip_syd I don't think we would have time for Hamburg unfortunately...it looks like your itinerary factors in 20 nights but i messed up, we will only have 17 days - it may be tough but I did see the connecting bus - Germany may have to play into our next trip

@Jazz Travels - thats my bad - I changed it without showing the edit - should be all good now. Unfortunately we have to start in London as we have a quick engagement there on the 30th. We will check out Rick's books

@Lee how expensive? We actually will be trying to AirBNB and staying in hostels if we can so hopefully not too much to pack and unpack - I will try to convince the lady to leave half of the stuff she wanted to bring at home, and then the night before convince her to ditch another half....and another half, and another half ;-)

@LO you couldn't be more right...to each their own and I'm loving the feedback. We will definitely look into DB Bahn , Man in Seat 61, and Rom2rio...these are all sites I have never heard of before and am really excited you dropped them - its going to help out big time.

One love

Posted by
1803 posts

London: For budget lodging, look at London School of Economics. I'm partial to their Northumberland House location because it's very central - only a couple blocks to Trafalgar Square. 1) Tower of London (plan to get there as soon as it opens, go straight to the crown jewels and then backtrack for the Yeoman Warders/Beefeaters tour - or, if you go online well in advance (like now), you might be able to get tickets for the Ceremony of Keys that happens at night. 2) Westminster Abbey (try to go for Evensong). 3) Pubs - plenty of info out there to find some good historic ones depending what neighborhoods you are going to be walking around or staying in.

Paris: At that time of year, this is the one place I'd aim for a hotel instead of a hostel solely to get the air conditioning. Try Ibis hotels. Lacks "Parisian Charm" (it's a modern business travel type of hotel sort of like a Hampton Inn), but their prices are reasonable. 1) Musee d'Orsay (only if you like that style of art) - Louvre is great, but it's enormous, crowded and you'll only see a fraction of the collection. 2) Look for a tour that interests you on "Paris Walks". 3) See the Eiffel Tower at night from the ground when it lights up after sunset - skip the hassle and crowds - if you want a good view of Paris (and one that actually includes the Eiffel), go to the rooftop terrace of Printemps or Galleries Lafayette (free) - or go to the top of Arc de Triomphe (but skip walking up or down Champs Elysee - the shopping is not that exciting there.

Strasbourg - I'd skip it in favor of staying an extra night in Paris and doing a day tour just outside of Paris by train (ex. Versailles, Reims, Rouen or Vaux le Vicomte).

Somewhere in Belgium - I've been to Belgium a number of times. Brugges, while nice, is just a little dull in the evenings and also the architecture, windmill and canals are pretty close to what you will be experiencing in Amsterdam. I'd recommend Antwerp and check out the Cathedral, architecture, fashion (you might not be into that, but your travel partner might really enjoy it) and beers. They also have some pretty good museums if you like that sort of thing.

Amsterdam: Hotels can be quite pricey here, but if you go the hostel route, read reviews on Hostelworld.com very carefully if you want to avoid the frat boy crowds. For Airbnb, I'd look at rentals in de Pijp - go to Albert Cuypmarkt for some street food. For sightseeing, check out some of the small canal houses that are open to the public. Also, the Van Gogh Museum if you like his art (particularly if you are in Amsterdam on a Friday night when they are open late and have live music and a bar in the lobby) as well as the Rijks.

Posted by
7124 posts

With just 17 nights on the ground I think the decision has been made for you to drop Strasbourg from this trip.

London 4N
Paris 4N
Belgium 3N
Amsterdam 3N
Copenhagen 3N

Note...
Think only in terms of # of nights at a destination, for it's # of nights in a hotel that you'll need to book. You will have one less full day spent at that destination, leaving your arrival/departure days aside.

Posted by
30893 posts

Zach & Sage,

I haven't looked in detail at your proposed Itinerary, but a few thoughts come to mind......

Be sure to allow for travel times between locations in your planning. In many cases each location change will take about four hours when all is considered - checking out of hotel, travel to station, waiting for train, rail trip, travel to new lodgings, check-in, etc. In some cases the travel will be considerably longer, depending on the route.

When travelling on budget airlines, be sure to read the Terms & Conditions carefully, especially related to luggage limits. Which airline were you planning to use from Amsterdam to Copenhagen?

Most cities in Europe have more than one rail station, so you'll need to know which ones you'll be using in each case.

If you haven't travelled in Europe before, I would highly recommend reading Europe Through The Back Door prior to your trip, as it provides a lot of great information on "how" to travel in Europe. After that use the country or city-specific guidebooks to plan sightseeing, transportation, lodgings, etc. The Rick Steves books are arranged in a very easy-to-use format.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
13904 posts

Use a website like hostelworld.com - you can find hostels by city, read descriptions and even reviews. If you stay in large dorm rooms, you may be able to wing it (though I wouldn't want to wander around with a backpack scrounging for a room), but if you want a double room, or even to share a small dorm room, you should book in advance. Pay attention to the hours. Some hostels and Airbnbs don't let you check in from about 10 am to 3 pm which means you're stuck with your backpacks, making it difficult to sightsee - not just the weight, but they'll be in the way on buses, metros, in cafes and many museums, churches etc. won't check large items.

If I were to drop one of your destinations, it would be Belgium, not Strasbourg. But if you are just going to Strasbourg because it's "kinda" Germany, go to Frankfurt (either instead of Belgium or instead of both Belgium and Strasbourg). It has a well-preserved city center and easy day trip to Mainz (lots to see there).

Posted by
11417 posts

@Kathy - not allergic to anything but penicillin however we wouldn't
build our entire trip around churches, definitely more into a museum
with fine art.. i guess if I really wanted to drill down into it, we
would much rather grab a bite at a quietly known local favorite spot,
walk through old cities, admire beautiful architecture, have a beer,
go for a hike (although we wont have our gear), and pretty much just
enjoy the land and culture more than anything else.

@kathy again - do you suggest Brussels in Belgium?

There have been lots of suggestions about what to keep/add/remove from the itinerary so I'm unsure where you are with it right now. Personally, I'd go the London>Paris>Belgium (1 location)>Amsterdam>Copenhagen route (see David's suggestion) and drop Strasbourg as it's an outlier. For me, this itinerary still involves too much time/money spent moving around at the expense of sightseeing but we all travel differently!

I only mentioned Brussels as that's the Thalys stop between Paris and Amsterdam. As with some of the others, we much preferred Brugge: only an hour by inexpensive train from Brussels. You already have a number of big cities on the list so that one would offer a smaller, less urban environment. Beer? Belgium beers are excellent. Art? A great place for exploring Flemish painters (Groeninge Museum; Sint-Janshospitaal). It's a terrific town to just take off and wander, and we spent our fair share of time parked at outdoor cafes with a brew. Parts of it will be very busy during the day but it's lovely in the early mornings/evenings before/after the day-trippers arrive/leave, and it's not hard to lose most of them during peak hours simply by going off to corners they don't!

You could also rent bikes and ride to Damme and back. I'd throw in a couple of the old churches just because they're an important part of the culture and history. You don't have to spend all DAY doing them but they're well worth a look. Can give you some some suggested there if interested. Anyway, we loved Brugge, and enjoyed Gent and Antwerp as well but if you have to choose just one...

Paris: For art, Louvre (of course) and d'Orsay. We really liked the Cluny/Moyen Âge: very cool Medieval collection. Sainte-Chapelle is a must just for the amazing windows, and one of my favorite 1/2 days was a ramble through Père Lachaise cemetery.

Amsterdam: Not my favorite city but the Rijksmuseum is a must for art lovers (I am) and the Van Gogh's presentation is interesting as it displays the works in chronological order so you can see how his styles changed over time. Lift some craft brews outside at Brouwerij’t IJ.

London: We spent more time on history than art there (need to go back), and I'd put Westminster Abbey and the Tower on the top of the must-see list, and spend some time in the British Museum if you can. An unexpected gem? The Sir John Ritblat/Treasures Gallery at the British Library. Take a wander through Hyde Park. No shortage of pubs in that city.

Can't help with Copenhagen 'cause we haven't done that one yet.

Posted by
1757 posts

You haven't mentioned if this is your first trip to Europe but I'll guess it is. The best advice I ever got on this forum is to plan like it won't be your last trip, less is more. Your trip is all big cities so consider a smaller town although it may not be easy with public transportation. Hotels and food in small towns are usually much less expensive and you will potentially have more interaction with locals for a more "authentic" experience. Logistics trumps all so reconsider any destination that requires all day travel and minimize those days. In 16 days I wouldn't schedule more than two "all day" travel days.

Posted by
444 posts

You have some great suggestions. Now look into each of these and make sure they are what you like. Remember some places close on different days so plan accordingly. One key item to remember, is to be at the sites you want to visit when they open. Most tourists will not. They will sleep later, have a long breakfast and then get going. In summer, it is possible to see the main attractions before the mass of crowds get there. The difference an hour makes can be huge! Like Rick suggests in his books.

In Paris, St. Chappelle is a must see and it is a short walk from the Notre Dame. Also on the opposite of the Notre Dame enjoy a Gelato from Berthillon and go back and sit and admire the buttresses of the Notre Dame. Climbing to the top of the towers is a great climb to see the engineering and architecture that went into building it and the views are great! From the Notre Dame head south to the Latin Quarter for some cheap eats. We loved a Gyro from a Donner Kabab shop that was packed with people.

I would take a half day trip to Versailles outside of Paris, is a good change of pace from the cities. This could turn out to be a full day if you take your time. I would make sure you are there when the gates open and there are less people. The palace is amazing. It was one of the highlights of our trip. It has beautiful gardens to stroll through. Carry a sandwich you pack from Paris for lunch and have lunch in the Gardens. Be sure to see the Queens garden in the back right of the grounds. When you walk through the gate is like you are in a different place. We visited Versailles in the morning and then walked around the Eiffel Tower that evening, it was winter so the days were short.

Remember in Europe, you will generally have to pay to use the restroom so ALWAYS have coins handy. Most McDonalds have free bathrooms, so if we were wondering around and found one we would use that benefit BUT DONT EAT THERE. Look at the menu to see the differences.

With your limited time table, I would skip Brussels and go straight to Brugge. It feels stale, you have seen the cities of London and Paris, the buildings are very similar except the Grand Square, but you will see other squares in Brugge. In Brugge, I like to eat at Zevende Hemel, great mussels. http://www.restaurantdezevendehemel.be/ When you get to the main square be sure to try some Pommes Frites avec Mayo, french fries with mayo. They are great! Be sure to pick up some chocolate.

I factor in an hour to check out and get to the train station and an hour on the other end for the same purpose.