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Having a hard time choosing - Narrowed down my options between 3 countries

Apologies if you’re seeing this twice, I can’t find my last post.

I’m 22 and this would be my second solo trip. I’m having a hard time deciding between Greece, Italy, or Spain. I have 16 nights in total. Leaving in 2 weeks (yes I know I’m very late lol).

Greece looks so beautiful and I could maybe even fit in Istanbul since it’s close. If I did Greece I would want to do Athens + Crete + Naxos. But I’m afraid that maybe I would get bored since Greek islands might be more for relaxation and not as many sights as Italy?

With Italy I could do Lake Como, Venice, Rome, Florence, and the Amalfi coast. Maybe 2 nights Como (or Maggiore), 2 nights in Venice, 5 nights in Rome, 4 in Florence, and 3 nights Amalfi coast.

And finally with Spain I could see Barcelona + Madrid + Granada + Cordoba + Seville (and maybe Lisbon but that might be stretching it).

Any advice? I’ve never done hostels before. I heard Spain might be more friendly for meeting other travelers?

Posted by
272 posts

Italy would always be my first choice. Spain second I would do Greece with a group of friends. As a solo traveller I do not enjoy beaches on my own.

Hostels can be great you meet some amazing people.

Posted by
192 posts

I was in Greece at 22 many years ago. Personally, I think it is more of a trip with friends. It is absolutely beautiful though. If you feel you are good to relax on a beach, then go for it. Both Spain and Italy are easy to travel around as a solo traveler. Barcelona is great as you have everything right there (good transportation, history, friendly people, good food and a beach. And Italy is perfect in so many ways. Let us know what you decide.

Posted by
478 posts

I’ve been to everywhere you listed except Naxos. Greece is my favorite and there is a lot to do on Crete as it’s not a small Greek island. Enjoyed hiking the Gorge, the small beach towns in addition to the museum and Knossos sight as well as the car free Chania. We had a rental car which made getting around easier. Athens has a lot to do and there are other places nearby such as Nafplio.

Your Spain itinerary looks doable - a friend and I did the same but in reverse several years ago. Flying between Barcelona and Grenada was quicker than the train. We drove between Grenada and Seville stopping in Ronda for a night on the way. Cordoba was a stop on the way between Sevilla and Madrid. I really like Spain - the culture and the people.

Your Italy itinerary seems a little jam packed to me - 2 nights each for Lake Como and Venice seem rushed. If you want to include Pompeii and Sorrento, when down by Amalfi you could use another day or two. There is also Capri. Maybe pick Lake Como or Amalfi coast. If I was traveling solo I would pick Amalfi Coast because Como is a lot more relaxed and spread out. There is so much more to between Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Italy is one of my favorite places as well.

You can’t go wrong with any of the three but I agree that you might meet more people in Spain and possibly Greece.. if I was traveling solo at your age, I would probably pick Spain. For me, traveling to Crete and other Greek islands were fantastic because I was traveling with 2 friends. Athens was a blast solo and with friends. Same with Italy, I think I enjoyed my first trip more because of my friends. Spain I didn’t do alone, but I think I could have had just as good of a time solo. I went to Portugal solo and it was great as well.

Whatever you pick, I’m sure you will have a fantastic time!

Posted by
35 posts

I really appreciate everyone’s advice. My gut was telling me that Greece would be more fun with other people, and so I think I should trust it and save Greece for another trip.

I saw someone asking what my prior trips were. For reference my last prior trip was in Paris, France and I loved it!

Posted by
35 posts

Depends on your prior trips.

I’ve soloed Paris and Strasbourg in France and also soloed Hawaii, and went non-solo to London, Prague, Vienna, and Kiev.

Posted by
35 posts

I was in Greece at 22 many years ago. Personally, I think it is more of a trip with friends. It is absolutely beautiful though. If you feel you are good to relax on a beach, then go for it. Both Spain and Italy are easy to travel around as a solo traveler. Barcelona is great as you have everything right there (good transportation, history, friendly people, good food and a beach. And Italy is perfect in so many ways. Let us know what you decide.

Yeah it seems the consensus is to save Greece for going with someone and I think that’s what my gut was telling me.

Choosing between Spain and Italy is gonna be hard haha

Posted by
13541 posts

B1) If you loved Paris, then I would choose Italy. Actually if you loved Paris I would choose Prague, Vienna and Budapest for a lot of the same but a tremendous different too (but not on your list)
B2) Greece? Sure maybe with a groups; but never among my favorites and I tried to like it on two trips.

Posted by
226 posts

22! I am 40 but young at heart :p Spain is vibrant and energetic, you will enjoy Barca, Madrid and even Lisbon. lots of young folks here. I did hostels for first time this year in 6 cities and can share more about my experiences if you'd like. book a private room in an nice hostel if it fits your budget. feel free to ask here or PM me.

Posted by
5467 posts

I have been to all three countries, several times and love them all.

Italy is my favorite because it has it all, history, art and scenic places. There is nothing like Rome, Florence and Venice as well as the Naples area (Sorrento, Pompeii, Capri and the Amalfi Coast). Also, if you have time Lake Como for a couple of days. There are high speed trains from Rome to Florence and to Venice. Venice is so unique it is special. Florence has two wonderful art museum and the Renaissance history. Rome has the ancient sites and St. Peter's Basilica along with the most amazing work or art in the World, the Sistine Chapel.

Greece is amazing because of two things, the ancient places like the Acropolis in Athens and Knossos in Crete, but frankly, Greece is a poorer version of Italy or Spain. Also, getting to and from islands like Crew involve flights or ferries that take a lot of time. A good way to see the Greek Islands is by cruise, but you don't have time to plan and book that.

Spain is great, but getting from place to place will take more time than Italy. Barcelona, Madrid (do the Prado), Segovia, Toledo, Seville, Cordoba, Granada all will take some effort in travel between them.

All three countries are friendly.

Posted by
5544 posts

First Greece for a solo traveller. If you get bored there you should consider staying home! Loads of sights.

Second Spain - great mix of cities although rushed in your timescale allowing for so many bases and therefore so much time in transit.

Third Italy. Drop Como or Venice as 2 nights is only one day and insufficient time for either.

Posted by
35 posts

First Greece for a solo traveller. If you get bored there you should consider staying home! Loads of sights.

By Greece do you mean Athens + Islands? Huh, I wonder why the rest said it’s better non-solo? I’m getting mixed thoughts now

Second Spain - great mix of cities although rushed in your timescale allowing for so many bases and therefore so much time in transit.

How can I make it less rushed?

Third Italy. Drop Como or Venice as 2 nights is only one day and insufficient time for either.

Noted.

Posted by
35 posts

B1) If you loved Paris, then I would choose Italy. Actually if you loved Paris I would choose Prague, Vienna and Budapest for a lot of the same but a tremendous different too (but not on your list)

I’ve actually already been to Prague and Vienna (although not solo, with family)! Budapest is somewhere I want to visit, but I don’t know what I would combine that with in 2.5 weeks.

How about Amsterdam + Berlin + Budapest?

B2) Greece? Sure maybe with a groups; but never among my favorites and I tried to like it on two trips.

Ah okay, noted.

Posted by
226 posts

like you final selection. The three have a different flavor.
i had combined berlin with budapest too.

Posted by
99 posts

I have never been to Greece but i would slightly pick Spain over Italy. We found the tapas and wine to be cheaper in Spain than the restaurants in Italy, but you can hunt around and find good food at a fair price in both places. Your ideal itineraries in both countries are ambitious, and there would be a lot of train travel (more time and money) so I would carefully study the train maps and schedules in advance, and try to minimize connections from town to town. I will be blunt and say Como, Venice, and Amalfi in the same trip (including Rome and Florence) is too large of a geographic scope even with 16 nights. I would actually choose Amalfi over Venice for its spectacular vistas if you choose Italy.

Posted by
166 posts

I love your three choices. Enjoy! And then do the other three trips. They all sound great.

Posted by
204 posts

First choice would be Spain, looks like a good mix of places to experience ... maybe toss in Ibiza for a few party days/nights

Second is Italy but might be hurried ... I'd swap Lake Como and Venice for the Cinque Terra and add another day or two for Amalfi

Third is Greece, mainly because i have not been there yet so can't answer what to see and do

Posted by
98 posts

Please be careful roaming the streets of Amsterdam alone late at night. I was staying at a hostel in the city center a few years back and every night at least one guy would come in with a bloody nose and a missing wallet. The staff seemed unsurprised.

Posted by
79 posts

I haven't been to Greece yet but

  • Spain: More affordable (Granada accommodations quite spendy but food very affordable and excellent in all those cities), Madrid rather unlovable, Sevilla gorgeous,
  • Italy: Simplify your itinerary and you can't go wrong: Venice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi (or cut Amalfi)? Avoid Florence on a weekend. In Venice, get away from Piazza San Marco.
Posted by
773 posts

I am 16 to 17 years older than you. I have traveled solo to all three countries. Each trip was 13 nights on the ground, one night on the plane on the way there. My only experience with Islands in Greece was, I went to Crete for 2 nights and most of 3 days. I would have been as happy if I had gone to Olympia in Western Greece. There was nothing blatantly wrong with my itinerary. I just didn't give myself what most opinions would say is a good amount of time on Crete. I went to Nafplio; Heraklion and Chania on Crete; Delphi and Athens. I don't see why Greece is a place to only go with friends. My solo trip worked ok. Crete has enough to occupy you for 3 to 6 days. Rhodes has a neighborhood that was a Jewish quarter, and a synagogue built in 1577. If I go back to Greece, I would probably include the old town in the city of Rhodes, possibly Olympia, and towns and ruins I didn't see in my previous trip to Greece. So far in traveling I have been going to different places each time and not back to the same places. Go to Greece because Classical era Ancient Greece seems like a grandiose and influential civilization. Crete and Rhodes have plenty to do. Mainland Greece has plenty of museums and old ruins. Greece has so much to do.

In Italy I didn't make time for Venice. I went to Florence, day trip to Pisa, Pompeii and a small part of Naples, and Rome.

In Spain I skipped Barcelona. I went to Seville, Granada, Cordoba, and Madrid and a day trip to Toledo.

I couldn't discern that Spain people were more (or less) friendly that Italians or Greeks.

Chicago people were definitely unfriendly and the opposite of helpful. You can ask for details.

I went to Italy, then Greece, then Spain. Actually I went to Spain in March 2022. Starting when I went to Italy, I wrote myself a supposed day-by-day itinerary for that trip and each subsequent trip. I made my reservations 3 to 6 months or more in advance. I don't know whether this was necessary or whether I just needed something to occupy myself with. 2 weeks is too close to the last minute to properly plan a trip. You need advance tickets for many of the most popular sights.

I have stayed in 11 hostels in addition to low-end hotels. I was 32, at least ten years older than you, when I first stayed in a hostel. The crappiest hostel I stayed in was actually in Chicago (Illinois, USA). I had trouble sleeping due to some guy snoring, and there was no lockers. Every other hostel had lockers.

In Spain I stayed in 4 hotels. I did not stay in any hostels.

Posted by
35 posts

2 weeks is too close to the last minute to properly plan a trip. You need advance tickets for many of the most popular sights.

Not these days, I found plenty of reservations for where I’ll be going. And I booked them yesterday and am leaving next week