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European Itinerary - 3 Months

My wife and I are beginning to plan a three-month trip in Europe from September thru November and would like some advice on itineraries.

We are considering two possible itineraries scheduled around meeting some friends in Switzerland for hiking in early September and 3-4 weeks in Scotland which will include trekking the West Highland Way (so weather is a consideration). We have spent time in Northern and Western Europe so would like to see more of Eastern and/or Southern Europe and stick to the warmer (and cheaper) areas for lighter packing.

We are currently thinking about:

Option 1:
1. Switzerland until mid-September (10 days)
2. Prague, Budapest, Croatia until early October (3 weeks) (arrive by train; rent car in Croatia)
3. Scotland from around October 5 until the beginning of November (3-4 weeks) (arrive by plane; travel by train and car)
4. Spain (3 weeks) - flying home from Madrid (arrive by plane; travel by train, car)

Option 2:
1. Switzerland until mid-September (10 days)
2. Scotland from around September 14 until early to mid-October (3-4 weeks) (arrive by plane; travel by train and car)
3. Prague, Budapest, Croatia (and possibly Poland or Montenegro, Albania, Greece) (arrive by plane; travel by train, car, bus)

Any thoughts or advice about the advantages of either option or other alternatives we should consider would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
1757 posts

Key point 1: Schengen limits. You say 3 months, and it is 90 days. However, note that even a day over will trigger large fines. So, make sure that you are there for 90 days. The day of arrival and day of leaving count in the 90 days. If you stay Sept 1 - Nov 30, you are staying 91 days, and you would get fined. So, count days, not months.

As to MittelEuropa, consider Vienna (5), Budapest (5), Ljubljana and surround (4), Zagreb (3), Plitvice Lake Park (2), Split (4), Dubrovnik/Kotor/Mostar (5), Sarajevo (4), Beograd (3). I've been also to Romania (Timosuara, Oradea, Brasov, Bucharest). We were in a lot of this to early Nov, and got buy with a decent jacket.

Not been to Albania, so have no opinions.

Posted by
2338 posts

Just a comment about the 90 day Schengen limit. Your days spent outside the Schengen zone ( like Scotland) won't count. So add up all of the days you will spend inside the zone, including all of your entrance and exit days, just to be sure you won't overstay. Don't cut it too close, in case if any unforseen delays, though. The Passport Control agents will NOT be understanding.

JMO, but I think the earlier you go to Scotland the better, weather wise.

Posted by
16123 posts

The Schengen limit is very real, but Scotland (and the rest of the UK) is outside the Schengen Zone, so the OP should be fine.

Posted by
3153 posts

Too bad you can't put Scotland at the beginning or the end, making the Schengen time more clean cut. If at the beginning, you might even be there in time to see a bit of blooming heather.

About the weather in all the places you're going. To check on weather data for past years, not just averages, go to timeanddate.com World Weather. Search for a specific location, click on past weather, choose how far back from the drop down menu and look at what it was like on the days you plan to be there. Be sure to scroll down the page to see the different ways the data is presented. You may like some better than others.

This may be tedious, but looking back in time (it goes back several years) will provide more accurate daily and hourly data. Of course, you can also see the averages and the forecasts are useful before you pack.

Posted by
5 posts

We really appreciate all the advice on the Schengen visa. We had not really focused on it so it is good for us to keep it in mind. Our current plan is to be there about a week less than 90 days, so we should be okay.

I also agree that it would make the most sense to start (or end) in Scotland. Unfortunately, weather becomes a potential issue for hiking in Switzerland if we delay going there until the end of September or early October and the same for trekking in Scotland if we wait until the end to go there.

Thank you!

Posted by
9954 posts

As to Eastern Europe, consider Vienna (3), Gyor/Pannonhalma (2), Budapest (5), Ljubljana and surround (4), Zagreb (3), Plitvice Lake Park (1), Split (3), Dubrovnik (2), Kotor (0) Mostar (2), Sarajevo (2), Bosnia & Herz. rural (2), Beograd (2), Budva (2), Ulcinj (2) Montenegro rural (3), Timosuara (1), Oradea (0), Brasov (2), Bucharest (2), Romania rural (3)

Those are all sort of minimum nights. If you have time add a night to each. Dont forget Bulgaria (7)

Not been to Albania, so have no opinions.

Posted by
2146 posts

We went to Tirana in Sept 2019, on a tour. We stayed at the Rogner, which was a good hotel even by our standards(we usually stay at Hiltons because we have points.) We would have liked to stay at that hotel another night, as there was a nice outside area that we didn't have a chance to utilize. We also enjoyed Kruje, for which you should try to find an escorted tour from Tirana. The local national museum was interesting and our local guide was very pro-American.

Posted by
12053 posts

Great that you are going over for 3 months. I would too if it were possible but am working at going and staying for 100 days. If your dates and places are in order, then no problem.

Given the 2 options, I vote for #2 and would absolutely include Poland, not merely Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk but several other places eg, in the northeast, (Masuria, etc), the lower Vistula, and the southeast.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions. The advice has me leaning strongly toward the second option and maximizing our time in eastern Europe and including a number of specific places we had not been thinking about.

Posted by
12053 posts

"...specific places we had not been thinking about." Such as? In which country?

Posted by
5 posts

Fred,
We had not been considering visiting Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia or Romania, so the specific city recommendations for those places are helpful and give us more to think about.

Thanks!

Posted by
9954 posts

I made a quick trip to BiH last summer. One of the beauties of Budapest is the discount connections to Eastern Europe. Sarajevo was fascinating, but the towns and country west of Sarajevo was stunning ... fly fishing was outstanding as well. I suspect that country is on borrowed time so it should be soon on anyone's list.

Been to Romania a few times. Again, fascinating country but not my favorite. I lean more to Bulgaria.

My experience in Serbia is limited to a few days in Belgrade. Didnt really get a warm fuzzy feeling there.