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First draft for one month family itinerary

Hello! I posted a while back about our family's 2023 summer trip. It'll be me, my husband, and our 3 boys (ages 17, 15, and 11 at that time). We have 31 days to work with and are planning June 9 - July 9. I've spent the past few months doing a lot of reading and have a first draft ready for review. Please take a look and let me know your thoughts.

Day 1: Flight to Rome

Day 2-6: jet lag, 3 days in Rome, day trip to Pompeii

Day 7-9: train to Florence, 2.5 days in Florence

Day 10-12: train to Cinque Terre (via Pisa with a short visit in Pisa), 2 days in Cinque Terre

Day 13-17: train to Murren (will take ALL day), 4 days hiking and enjoying the mountains

Day 18-20: train to Salzburg (will take ALL day), 2 days in Salzburg

Day 21-24: train to Munich, 2 days in Munich (including a trip to Dachau), day trip to castle

Day 25-26: train to Rothenberg, 1.5 days in Rothenberg

Day 27-30: train to Berlin, 3 days in Berlin

Day 31: Flight home

I generally like to stay at least 3 days in one location. My husband and I have been to Rome and Pompeii, but the rest of the itinerary will be new to us. I prefer to do it as a south to north route so that the weather in Rome will hopefully not be as hot! Hopefully I've left enough time for "life", i.e. laundry, grocery shopping, taking care of any matters at home like paying bills, etc. We plan to travel pretty light so frequent laundry will be a must.

Thanks for your time and input!

Carrie

Posted by
1378 posts

You say you like to stay at least 3 days in one location, but you haven't actually built an itinerary where you do that.

I think you should consider eliminating at least one, and better two of the stops on your itinerary. I don't have a recommendation on which; it is really up to you to think about which are your highest and lowest priorities.

If you were traveling on your own, this would be perfectly fine, but with a family of five, I think it's too fast paced.

Posted by
9503 posts

Count nights, not days, in a place. Helps you get the right reservations but most importantly, illustrates where you have full days to use for touring.

This is a very fast pace for an entire month. Once you lay out the nights in each location, sketch out your arrival and departure times allowing time to check in and get oriented as well as pack, check out, and get to the train station. For example, you say 2.5 days in Florence. You will spend at least a half day getting there what with check out in Rome, get to station, take the train, get to lodging in Florence and get oriented. Whew! Did you get lunch? Are you all able to get up and get an early train so you are there by lunch time and you can count on a half day’s activities in Florence? Are you will to do that early morning departure each time you change locations?

Once you know exactly how much time you have in a location, lay out what you want to see and do and estimate the time it will take to do them. Add 20% because everything takes longer than you think it will. Plan downtime, too, and time for laundry once a week.

Posted by
533 posts

Hi Carrie,
Do your boys want to see Pompeii or do you want them to see it? The reason I ask is because it is not a convenient trip from Rome, plus, there’s five of you and Pompeii requires a lot of walking in the sun. The more people you travel with makes it harder to get along and remember, kids can’t go an hour without wanting something. Personally, I would skip Pompeii since it’s way more doable from Naples than Rome. For your sanity please don’t make this trip any harder than it needs to be.
First drafts normally have more on it than the last. I would minimize train connections as much as possible. You’ll be carrying luggage up and down stairs at train stations and they can be busy. Another question is, how do plan to get to Mürren? There is no train station there.

Posted by
2746 posts

I think your numbers don't add up if you count nights in each place, rather than days- but that's all to the good, since it looks like you will have at least 3 nights in most of your stays, except for Rothenberg. But I still think it's too much. I don't see where you've factored in any down days to just relax, especially in the second half of the trip, when at least some of you may be getting tired of the go go go. I agree that eliminating one place and allocating those days to a couple of the remaining places may allow for just that.

Posted by
867 posts

It looks like it will be a wonderful trip and make lasting memories for your family! Only you know whether it is too fast paced for your family. If I were tweaking for MY family, I might cut Munich and add a day to Rome and a day to Salzburg for Berchtesgaden.

There’s not much time for laundry except at night (and that might work for you, especially if you are staying in apartments) or if you have it done somewhere. I would also add that this pace could work if you are ok with just “taking a day off” when it seems needed, for example in the Cinque Terre - take the ferry ride or sitting on the beach instead of thinking you have to hike or visit all the villages.

You’ll definitely be tired when you get back but if all are good travelers and get along, it will be a great trip!

Posted by
831 posts

You are at the really fun part of the planning process- you have a lot of time for more input, revisions, and research . It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

Just some first impressions-
Is Berlin important to you ? It would give you more time if you eliminated Berlin, and perhaps flew out of Frankfurt, coming from Rothenburg.

I would also agree to count nights, not days.

I notice you're skipping Venice- [so close, yet so far.] Would you consider Venice, and also perhaps skipping Pompeii [very hot and all refreshments need to be carried in.]

Here's another idea- Rome to Florence to Venice, then Venice to Lake Como [instead of Cinque Terra.] From Lake Como take the Bernina Express on the long route to Murren, to experience more of Switzerland.

Perhaps Murren to Zurich, fly from Zurich to Munich, and continue on.

Just some ideas to ponder, as you have so many great options to consider.

Have a great time.

Posted by
7010 posts

To save a bit of wear and tear, consider Ostia Antica, vs Pompeii. Looks like a pretty busy pace, so every bit of travel time that can be avoided is a benefit. If Pompeii does stay in the schedule, I would do it the day before the move to Florence

If doing laundry in the room, finding hanging/drying space for 5 peoples clothes could be a challenge. Dropping the laundry off as you head out for the day and picking it up as you wrap up the day may be a solution to consider. Using a laundry service may not be the cheapest way to get clean clothes, but it solve a considerable time and logistical issue.

Posted by
3024 posts

I think you are over scheduled. I’d think about skipping Switzerland and substituting a Franconian city (Bamberg, Coburg, or other) for Rothenberg since Franconia is on the main line from Munich to Berlin.

From MSP some cities are easier/cheaper to get to, and Rome isn’t one of them. Assuming the old nonstops are restored, on the continent your choices are Paris, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt. It’s nice to go one direction on a nonstop. The issue with Rome is that most of the choices will fly through JFK (Delta), Philly (American), or Newark or Dulles (United). That means a morning departure, a lot of domestic time, and often an unpleasantly early arrival at your destination 6-8 hours before check in. Also the old family standby, Icelandair, doesn’t fly to Rome although maybe money isn’t a big concern.

Perhaps Delta will give you good pricing connecting each way in Amsterdam. That’s the preferred routing. Don’t be afraid to combine one ways on different discount airlines, say Condor outbound via Frankfurt and Icelandair return from Berlin. Lastly Delta tickets are often cheaper on Klm.com or airfrance.com so be sure to check.

Not recommending it, but since you have to connect anyway you could fly straight to Naples and start there, eliminating the day trip to Pompeii from Rome.

Posted by
193 posts

I haven't been to Pompeii, but I was very impressed with Ostia Antica, which is a very short, local train ride from Rome, basically a suburb. I would do that for half of the day you were planning on going to Pompeii, and then the other half spend in Rome.

For what it is worth, I enjoyed every moment of my time in Rothenburg. I spent two nights there with my friends and it was magical.

Posted by
24663 posts

Counting nights is easier once you get used to it, and paints a much more accurate picture.

If you only have 2 days in Munich and one is a day at Dachau (even if it is close and only takes a half day you are likely to be mentally exhausted and much of the rest of the day will be a loss) and the other is at Neuschwanstein (pretty much all day, all in), when will you have time for Munich? And Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Andechs, Oberammergau, the Zugspitze and (especially with 3 boys) a couple of hours cooling off in Partnachklamm?

Posted by
547 posts

That looks like an amazing trip. A few comments:

  1. Its perhaps one or two locations too many. The more I travel, the more I tell myself, "next time I'll do less." Its hard to resist the temptation, but its good advice, so here it is. You will much better enjoy one extra day at two sites, or two extra days at one site, than a rushed trip just to add Salzburg (or wherever) to your itinerary.

  2. Cinque Terre to Murren in one day is nuts. That's a 12 hour day just in transit, with at least 8 changes (Vernazza-Genoa-Milan Centrale-Domodossola-Spiez-Interlaken Ost-Lauterbrunnen-Winteregg-Murren). You will either have to leave before 5:00 am, or not get to Murren until after 8:00 pm. DO NOT DO THIS!

  3. Pompeii is not a day trip from Rome. Ostia Antica is.

Posted by
149 posts

Another vote for Ostia Antica over Pompeii. It’s another Roman city with theatres, shops, baths, etc. Doesn’t have the tragic story of the earthquake; it went into decline when the port silted up. It’s way less crowded than Pompeii and a very easy train journey from Rome, less than an hour. Also next stop on the rail line is Ostia, a resort town with a beach which the boys might appreciate. There are an on-site museum (small) and cafe at Ostia Antica. Or consider doing a trip out to Tivoli for a visit to Hadrian’s Villa, which is the size of a small town in a lovely rural setting.

I’d drop CT from this itinerary and add the days to Rome and/or Florence. And maybe drop Murren and head for the Dolomites instead, stunning scenery, easier travelling, and I understand good hiking.

One question, have you consulted with the boys on what they might like to do/see. If they have little interest in ruins or hiking or visiting art galleries or a Bavarian Castle you will either have to make last minute changes or have three whiny teens!

Posted by
4388 posts

Yet another suggestion to rethink Pompeii. It's a 6-hour round trip from Rome, and the site itself is worth at least half a day, preferably more. That will make for a very long day, especially in the summer heat.

Ostia Antica is an easy train ride from Rome, about 30 minutes. It's also much greener and cooler than Pompeii, and as I recall, the restaurant is better.

We love Pompeii, but we did it as a day trip for Sorrento, and it still took up most of a day. We had Ostia Antica on our 2020 itinerary, planned as a day trip from Rome. Maybe next year...

Posted by
2419 posts

Look at nights, draw it out like this:

Day 1 : fly all day
night 1 - airplane
Day 2 : arrive Rome, jet lag
night 2 - Rome
Day 3 : Rome
night 3 Rome (2nd night in Rome)
Day 4 : Pompeii day trip
night 4 3rd night in Rome
Day 5 : did you want to leave Rome this day or stay and therefore have 4 nights in Rome? If you leave that’s only 1 actual day in Rome

On travel days:
Day X - leave city Y in midday, 3 hours to city Z, arrive evening
Night X - city Z night 1

And so forth

I think it’s too rushed but draw it more clearly and you can think it through. I’d drop 1 -3 places. For me that would be Pompeii (too far, too much else to do in Rome), and Cinque Terre (adding time to Rome or Florence)

Also I don’t know Munich very well but can you go to Dachau, a castle, and Munich itself in only 2 days? If 2 days means 2 nights I’d say no way. If it means 3 nights, maaybe but both full days would be taken up with day trips.

Posted by
17907 posts

I see we have different interpretations of Carrie's itinerary. As I understand it, "Day 21-24: train to Munich, 2 days in Munich (including a trip to Dachau), day trip to castle" means this:

Day 21: Travel to Munich (4 nights). Two days to see Munich, including side-trip to Dachau. One day for trip to castle.

So that's 4 nights in Munich, allowing three full days there, with the group traveling on to Rothenburg odT on Day 25 for the only 2-night stay of the trip.

Overall, the pace doesn't seem too bad to me. However, I'm a solo traveler with no experience wrangling a husband and three children. What sort of accommodations do you plan? Getting so many people up and out quickly in the morning might be challenging unless you have at least two bathrooms.

In addition, I would echo the previous concerns about the two all-day train trips and the probably-exhausting mid-summer slog of a day-trip from Rome to Pompeii.

If the "castle" in Neuschwanstein, are you aware that (per reports on this forum, because I've never been there), the tour (mandatory) is only 30 minutes? That's an awful lot of traveling for such a short time at a 19th century pseudo-castle.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks everyone! I see I should have given you in the info in nights instead of days. I should have been more clear - I prefer at least 3 nights in one place. I truly hate 1 night stays; 2 nights is doable but not ideal. I have everything detailed in an extensive spreadsheet and do have travel times figured out etc but didn't want to get into all of those details with this post. The general consensus is you all do not like this plan! This is actually iteration number 3 - I hate to think what you'd say to my first two plans! Ha!!!

Of note, we are generally of the mindset, you can rest when you get home. It's worked well for our family and we aren't opposed to really long days (either sightseeing or just in transit). We just got done with a spring break trip that was a 20 hour drive on both ends that we did in 2 days there and 2 days back. This trip is however, longer than we've done. Our longest European trip to date was 24 days. So this is one week longer.

So here it is again but with nights instead of days:

1 night - flight from US
5 nights - Rome
3 nights - Florence
3 nights - Cinque Terre
5 nights - Murren
3 nights - Salzburg
4 nights - Munich
2 nights - Rothenburg
4 nights - Berlin

I will definitely look into the alternative to Pompeii - not sure I'd be able to convince the family of that but we'll see. We really enjoyed Pompeii the last time. As for other long day trips - it's worked great for us in the past mainly because we use private tours/guides. We've done it many times in England, Norway, and France. For example, we did a day trip to Normandy when we were in Paris. Yes, it was a long 12 hour tour, but it was great and while we didn't get to see as much as if we'd done a 3 night stay there, it was just fine for our family and our guide was so great with the kids and such. I'd do the same for Pompeii and Neuschwanstein. Not cheap for sure, but we've found sometimes it's worth spending the money to save on the hassle factor. Plus, I love just getting to talk with the guide all day. You learn so much about everyday life in whatever country you are in.

Same goes for laundry. If we are not in an apartment, I'll likely just pay to have the hotel take care of the laundry. That money is worth it for us instead of giving up a half day to go to the laundromat ourselves. 5 people generate a lot of laundry!

I guess if I had to cut something, it'd be Rothenberg, but I hate to do it! We missed Cinque Terre the last time we were in Italy due to a cancelled flight from the US that resulted in a huge mess and several lost days (I'm looking at you United Airlines!!!). So I'd really like to keep Cinque Terre since this is try number 2. Switzerland/Munich/Salzburg are the very top of my list so definitely keeping those.

Will chat with the family to see their thoughts on removing a stop and doing an alternative to Pompeii. Thanks again for reading and sharing your thoughts!

Carrie

Posted by
533 posts

After going into Wikitravel’s website, I learned that you must take a train to Lauterbrunnen to get to Mürren. You must then follow the signs to the cable car lift that will drop you off in Grutschalp to catch a train to Mürren. So, there is a train station in Mürren, but it does not appear in Deutsche Bahn’s (DB) website which I often use to gather information on train travel options.
Right now, DB is showing a minimum of four connections from Monterosso to Lauterbrunnen arriving at 10:25p. You then need to take a cable car to Grutschalp to catch a train to Mürren. I don’t believe you can travel from Monterosso to Mürren within a single day, but maybe you’ll be able to in 2023.
I also checked https://www.seat61.com/Switzerland.htm and it doesn’t mention what Wikitravel says so I think you’ll need to pick up RS guidebook who does an excellent job providing information on how to get places by public transportation. His books also give times that lifts operate.

Posted by
7 posts

MaryPat - The last I looked, there was a 7:00 train out of Monterosso that would get me to Murren around 6 or 6:30. You are right, you can't take a train all the way to Murren, you have to add in the cable cars. I was just using the term "train" loosely to indicate we wouldn't be renting a car and driving etc. It is definitely a lot of connections and a long day to get from Cinque Terre to Murren! I plan to look at the schedules again as we approach June just to try and compare the same months. Or maybe we'll be coming from Florence instead (which is also a long day!). We will be traveling with carry on only size luggage so quick connections should be doable.

Carrie

Posted by
1120 posts

Carrie, I'm glad you're rethinking Pompeii. It's too long for a day trip and I think you're shortchanging Pompeii timewise and if you don't include Naple's National Archaeological Museum to see Pompeii's artifacts. Maybe consider South of Italy for another trip?

I'm researching Munich for a possible trip next year or the following year. When I looked for things to do, I ended up adding an additional night/day. Our focus is on museums, castles and gardens. My research found a a couple things that may interest your boys. In Munich there is the BMW Car Museum https://www.bmw-welt.com/en/experience/exhibitions/exhibition_museum.html I decided that a daytrip to Nuremburg is possible and there's a train museum there to entertain your boys https://www.dbmuseum.de/museum_en

I have not been to or researched the rest of your itinerary so I can't comment on it. We plan on a few days in Salzburg; so far it's focus on Mozart and castles.

Edit: there is a technology museum in Munich that may be of interest https://www.deutsches-museum.de/en

Posted by
2599 posts

I"m the outlier-I think Pompeii is a must see, and it sounds like your family thinks it is too. I would eliminate Salzburg and Berlin, but not Rothenburg(I've been to all three).

Posted by
194 posts

If it's a general experience in Roman ruins you want, Ostia Antica is easier to reach, less crowded and the small museum is pleasant. However, if you or your children are ruins devotees, you might want to adjust your itinerary accordingly and reconsider Pompeii, especially since their museum has reopened. It's getting all kinds of good reviews. Here's one:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/after-decades-pompeii-museum-reopens-180976834/

Posted by
7955 posts

Do I understand correctly that you have already been to Pompeii?

Posted by
7 posts

Andrea - Yes, my husband and I have been to Pompeii. Our 3 kids have not been there.

Carrie

Posted by
4619 posts

Have you been to Venice? I see you skipped it for Cinque Terre. If that is true, big mistake. Venice is special and not to be missed. If you visit Pisa, it is only a half day there to see the sanctuary for the Leaning Tower, suggest visiting Lucca, it deserves a day.

Two days in Salzburg, not bad, but suggest a day in nearby Berchtesgaden, Germany, visit the Eagle's Nest.

Only two days in Munich. Dachau is worth a visit, but if only two days in Munich skip it.

Rothenberg ob der Tauber is worth a visit, but I suggest doing the Romantic road that includes more medieval towns (Dinkelsbuhel is like Rothenberg without the crowds). https://www.romanticroadgermany.com

Three days in Berlin, not enough, suggest cutting out some places and spend more time in the remaining places.

Posted by
284 posts

I would definitely NOT cut Rothenburg! We spent 3 nights there and loved it. We were there in mid September and before the trip all I read was how busy it was. That was NOT our experience at all. The evenings were busy wit hotel Night Watchman Tour, but otherwise we did not feel like the town was every crowded by any means. If you are looking for a place to stay, the Hotel Spitzweg was wonderful! We had our two young adult kids with us and had the family room which was perfect. Everything about the place was perfect, and the host was so welcoming etc. The boys would absolutely love the criminal museum!

Posted by
867 posts

Carrie, I think what you can see is not that people don’t like your plan - it’s that we all like different things! Ha!

Posted by
2419 posts

Yes! We all like different things. I am partial to longer stays (within my confines of 2-3 week trips this means 4-7 nights is ideal, someday I’d love to stay longer!), not rushing, and spending the time to see more of a place than the top sights, with time to wander around aimlessly. The trade off is obviously that I’ve been to fewer places than if I did 20 nights of 2 night stops. I do tend to advise people to slow down, because it’s hard to imagine how the fast paced trip will feel until you are there then it’s often too late to slow down due to reservations. But if you plan longer per place you can day trip if you get bored, or even leave early and squeeze in a last minute stop.

I also prefer the Mediterranean to more northern places but I try not to advise on this, that is pure personal preference!

Posted by
1319 posts

If you check age restrictions for visiting Dachau, you’ll see that there are things in which the 11-year-old will not be allowed to participate (the guided tour, and the film).

Posted by
67 posts

You've done lots of research and clearly planning the trip is a labor of love which most of us on this forum can relate to. I'm adding my voice to the suggestion of eliminating some of your destinations. From my experience if you slow the pace you'll better enjoy and absorb the culture and have the unexpected occur which often are the best experiences of travel. I don't think you mentioned what are your boys' priorities/interests. Being on a vaporetto (water bus) or a gondola ride in Venice or taking a pizza making cooking class in Florence, hiking with llamas, etc. might be fun for them.
I do love that you're planing a month long adventure.

Posted by
14211 posts

Ostia vs Pompeii. Ostia is a half day trip from Rome by local trains (one easy connection). It was the Roman seaport and the mosaic floors reflect that (fish, Neptune, anchors . . . ) and since it was for the plebes, it's almost all in black and white. Don't get me wrong, it's very interesting, with some of the same things you see in Pompeii - a fast food restaurant, wagon wheel ruts and such, but Pompeii is spectacular while Ostia is interesting. If the boys are keen on seeing Pompeii, keep it in. If it's more for you and DH, maybe take a pass. BTW I understand that there's a beach not at all far from Ostia (walking distance?), so you could spend an afternoon at the sea. The main issues with Pompeii are [1] the length of travel time (the Circumvesuviana and its tourist cousin, whose name escapes me, do not strictly adhere to a schedule so you need to pad some transfer time in Naples, and [2] the heat and sun - which you should remember from your first visit :-). You know your bunch best, if you think they can handle it, go for it.

Cinque Terre is picturesque if the weather's sunny and there are no crowds. It is a pain to get there and the beaches are tiny and the only sandy one is in Monterosso. Would you consider spending that time at one of the lakes instead? That might also make it easier to get to Lauterbrunen. I will also echo what several others have said - Venice is unique and extremely worth a visit. It will also make your train journeys easier. In the CT the only way to avoid the crowds is to hike the less popular trails. I haven't done any so I don't know if they are as scenic. I thought the most scenic thing in the CT was the ferry ride between Monterosso and Riomaggiore with the late afternoon sun shining on the coast. In Venice walk 4-5 minutes from the major spots and you lose the crowds. Ride the vaporetto along the Grand Canal in the early morning mists and and at night for magical experiences.

The train goes to Lauterbrunen. Have you worked out how to get from there to Murren?

Enjoy your planning!

Posted by
2599 posts

I don't know if they still do this, but Enjoy Rome had a bus you could take to Pompeii from Rome. It worked well for us.

Posted by
1079 posts

At the end of this trip will the memories be of:
- experiences created by the visit of the destinations
- experiences created by the travel to the destinations

Slow down you are moving to fast, you got to make the moment last..................

Please keep in mind you are traveling during the heat of the summer amidst "high tide" of tourist season which adversely impacts time to enjoy the experience of the attraction.

Hmmm, I wonder if the focus is too much upon destinations in contrast to insuring there is enough time at each attraction to enjoy the experience and create wonderful memories? It is tough to fall out of love with the idea of visiting so many destinations, but setting aside time to slow down can provide the opportunity to create wonderful memories.

Now to your proposed itinerary, please switch using number of nights at each location and also consider what time of day you will be traveling to your next destination (daylight is a valuable commodity for being on the ground and experiencing the journey).

I am reading eight trip transfers over a 30 day period. Please carefully add up how much travel time is consumed with each trip transfer starting with departing from the hotel till the time you arrive at the next hotel. Please also consider each trip transfer ADDS travel stress, the potential of travel "glitches" and expense.

Day 1: Flight to Rome - Is this the travel day where you depart USA and travel overnight? If so please count with Day 1 landing in the morning in Rome.
Day 2-6: jet lag, 3 days in Rome, day trip to Pompeii - I would toss out the day trip to Pompeii for it is a very long energy consuming trip.
Day 7-9: train to Florence, 2.5 days in Florence - Recommend first train out of Rome to Florence
Day 10-12: train to Cinque Terre (via Pisa with a short visit in Pisa), 2 days in Cinque Terre
FIND THE TIME TO SWIM
Day 13-17: train to Murren (will take ALL day), 4 days hiking and enjoying the mountains
Day 18-20: train to Salzburg (will take ALL day), 2 days in Salzburg - NOT my cup of tea, suggest http://www.bucketlistpublications.com/2014/09/02/5-less-popular-cities-worth-visiting-in-germany%E2%80%8F/
Day 21-24: train to Munich, 2 days in Munich (including a trip to Dachau), day trip to castle
Day 25-26: train to Rothenberg, 1.5 days in Rothenberg
Day 27-30: train to Berlin, 3 days in Berlin
Day 31: Flight home

Posted by
1120 posts

I’m curious about which sites you plan to visit in each city. Are there multiple museums/whatever per day, constantly on the go? Are you taking down time to sit in cafes and parks, casually walk the town/vicinity? Does your itinerary include teen boy friendly things to do? Have you built in flexibility so if they or you see a “shiny object” you can change your day’s itinerary?
I’m sure you are much younger than me so have a lot more energy to be constantly on the go. But what I remember most from traveling in my teens and again in my early 40s are the people and the one of a kind unplanned experiences.

Posted by
7010 posts

marbleskies---

Did you see this updated itinerary from OP ( 3-24-21)

So here it is again but with nights instead of days:
1 night - flight from US
5 nights - Rome
3 nights - Florence
3 nights - Cinque Terre
5 nights - Murren
3 nights - Salzburg
4 nights - Munich
2 nights - Rothenburg
4 nights - Berlin

Posted by
3024 posts

Chiming in with one more flight option. We were also 5 and the flights from MSP to Rome were just too expensive. What we did was fly to Copenhagen for a few nights, great city, then flew on a separate ticket to Rome from Copenhagen. This was much cheaper and we got to see Copenhagen. If you do something like this, stick to cities like Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Munich, and Zurich where the airports are close to the city and cheap to get to, not Paris or Stockholm for example. If Zurich works out you could visit Murren then, and take a much more direct way to Austria from Italy, a lot of trains connect those countries.

Posted by
553 posts

I have not been to Ostia Antica. I don't know what I missed. When I went to Italy, I (only) took 2 weeks off of work for my trip. I am a solo man traveler if that matters. I spent 3 nights in Naples. Perhaps I could have squeezed Naples down to two nights. I saw Pompeii as a day trip from Naples. I took the subway and then the commuter train, from Naples to Pompeii. Others are right: Don't try doing Pompeii as a day trip from Rome.

The archaeology museum in Naples occupied me for about 5 hours; it was totally worth my time.

As for your feeling that you always want to spend 3 nights in any city: In general some cities need 4 or 5 nights, some need 3 nights, some towns can be seen with only one or two nights in the town or as a day trip from a nearby town.

Consider writing another draft of your itinerary, listing where you will sleep on every night and listing one or more major activities for every day.

Posted by
128 posts

I would definitely not skip Switzerland! Hiking in the beautiful Alps will be a much more treasured memory, IMO, than visiting archaeological ruins for 3 boys. They will have seen lots of that in Rome. And I see no need to add any French destinations. But I would advise adding Venice to your itinerary since you will be so close. There is NO place like it! Stick to Italy, Switzerland, Salzburg and Germany. (I might consider dropping Salzburg, unless you are going to Bertesgaden) You are really only visiting only one place in Switzerland and one in Austria. I would add Luzern before I would go all the way north in Germany to Berlin. I am a big fan of Rothenburg ob der Tauber and your boys would enjoy the Nightwatchman's Tour! Or some place on the Rhine for a last relaxing night or two, west of Frankfurt and fly home from Frankfurt. You could tour a castle if you wanted to or just relax on a day cruise on the Rhine, viewing the castles and vineyards from the boat.