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Itinerary and lodging help please


I have been reading the information on this site for a few years, and this is my first post.
We are planning our European adventure and could use some advice. Planning for August or September.

Part 1. College age Daughter and me, mid fifties and have been to Europe a number of times.
San Diego to London (3 nights)

Daughter spent 6 weeks in London in 2019 and family joined for a week so, this is to hit highlights and get adjusted to time zone.
Suggestions on airbnb, hotels appreciated.

London to Brussels by train (3 nights)
Suggestions on airbnb, hotels appreciated.
Is a day trip to Bruges by train reasonable?

Brussels to Paris by train (4 nights)

Looking at for apartment in Arrondissement 4, 5 or 6. This may not work since we don’t have the 5 night minimum stay that many apartments require.
Would appreciation other suggestions.

Part 2. Daughter flies back home and Husband joins
Paris to Milan by air (3 nights)

We would like to visit the Dolomites. I understand the best plan is to rent a car but am wondering if there is a reasonable route by Train. Checking Rome2Rio but not seeing how to make it more efficient.

Hotel suggestions appreciated.

Dolomites to Venice
Suggestions for travel other than my rental car?

Planning 3 nights in Venice and then return to San Diego.

I understand there are Country Forums and I will continue to review the posts there for specific information.
Thank you!

Posted by
26439 posts

By train Milan to Verona, change trains, then on to Bolzano. Total train time can be as little as just over 3 hours. From Bolzano there is good bus service up into the mountains, to places like Ortisei. You will be fine without a car. Note that Bolzano is a very attractive city (and has the excellent museum housing Otzi, the Ice Man) but is not actually at altitude. It is better to stay higher up.

To travel on to Venice, you would take a bus down to Bolzano, take a train to Verona, change trains there, and get a train to Venice. The train time should be between 3 and 3-1/2 hours.

The Trenitalia website ( requires use of Italian station names:

Milano Centrale
Verona Porta Nuova
Bolzano Bozen
Venezia S. Lucia

On routes like this, involving transfers, I look at the fare as well as the travel time. I don't want to pay a lot extra for fast train + fast train if I'm going to waste a lot of the time I saved, waiting at the transfer station.

Posted by
1287 posts

Great input from acraven on the Dolomites part of your trip- you won’t necessarily need a car there as you can just take the bus from Bolzano up to your choice of mountain towns.
You might look into a London accommodation called the Morgan Hotel and apartments in Bloomsbury. The creation of London siblings who built a fantastic Bed & Breakfast in a classic London brick building at 24 Bloomsbury Street. It’s expanded to a couple buildings now. It’s close to the British Museum with the tube station of Tottenham Court Road nearby. The breakfast here is fulfillingly a full English breakfast. Their website is
For Belgium, unless you have a compelling reason to stay in Brussels all three nights, I would suggest that you stay an hour away by train in Brugge/Bruges. There’s a reason half of all visitors to Belgium visit Bruges. You could return to Brussels for the one night before your TGV train to Paris, or just depart Bruges about 90 minutes before your train departs from Brussels Midi train station for Paris. I think you’ll love Bruges, and you can daytrip from there to Ghent in 45 minutes by train should you run out of attractions in Bruges.
My recommendation for a Bruges Hotel is the ancient Duc de Bourgogne Hotel from the 1600’s. This hotel looks directly across one of Bruges’ oldest canals and at the real hotel where the fictional characters in the 2008 movie “In Bruges” stayed- the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel. The Duc de Bourgogne Hotel’s website is
For your stay in Paris, you might try VRBO for an apartment stay of 4 nights. Look for a property that has
numerous reviews and a track record. Many have ratings. Ever since learning that AirB&B hosts can - and have- cancelled guest reservations at the last minute, I stopped recommending AirB&B. I can recommend the Hotel de la Bretonnerie in the Marais- one of the most historic neighborhoods in Paris. It has great French ambiance, a breakfast room, AC and an elevator.- two rarities in Paris. The neighborhood has Paris’ oldest house and a number of mansions the aristocrats lived in before the French Revolution. Many are now public museums.
Accommodations tend to be easier to book for September than August after the high summer season has concluded.
I think you’ve chosen the best way to go for your trip- the trains. When you depart Paris, you can fly to Milan or take a TGV train to Milan via Lyon in 6.5 hours. From Milan you can continue to Bolzano by train and then by bus or taxi in 30 minutes to Ortisei or Castelrotto.
Have a great Trip!
Ken from Carlsbad, Ca

Posted by
9337 posts

Agree with Kenko on everything except AirBnB. I hear about last minute cancellations more for VRBO (individually owned with no ratings). AirBnB owners depend on good ratings, it’s their life blood, they don’t make a habit of cancelling last minute.

In London, we’ve stayed at The Marlborough Hotel twice and liked it very much. It’s right behind the British Museum.

Lots of posters here highly recommend Premier Inns, in many areas of London.

In Bruges, we stayed at the Crowne Plaza, recommended by RS, in the heart of the city, and loved it.

For Paris, my favorite areas are the Marais (3rd and 4th Arrondissement) and Ile St Louis (4th Arrondissement).
My favorite hotel is Hotel de Lutèce on Ile St Louis. My other favorite is closed for renovation. Hotel des Deux Iles is also very good, same owners as Hotel de Lutèce. Ile St Louis is a charming small island next to Notre Dame, it’s the heart of Paris, the most central area, and is surrounded by the Seine river and amazing views.

Posted by
8013 posts

Coming out of Milan, you could take a train over to Verona and pick up a rental car there. The controlled access highway there is the easiest way to go north toward The Alps and The Dolomites.

You'd do best to start into the mountains around Cortina. It's really just maybe 2 1/2 hours north of Venice, and getting back to there is no big deal.
The mountainous areas of Europe are best traveled by rental car. The roads of Northern Italy are well paved and well marked. They're just crooked but not at all hard to travel through.

Our last trip into Venice was from Zell-am-Zee, Austria, over the Grossglockner High Alpine Highway into Lientz, Austria--on the Italian border. Then we came straight south into Venice. I've never seen such beautiful scenery--on the south side of the Alps in Austria.

Posted by
85 posts

Wow! Thank you for the great suggestions.
I appreciate the assistance.

Posted by
7183 posts

London: look into 122 Great Titchfield Street. We stayed there a few weeks ago, in their apartment - although it had a single bed. Their other rooms are handled as B&B, but still reasonably priced. Location is great - we walked to and from the British Museum. Then, although probably not something you’d want to do on foot, they’ll still be relatively close to the station for your departure to Brussels.

Paris: definitely look at Vrbo for potential apartment. There’s also Gites de France ( .

Posted by
6741 posts

Do you have any interest in Milan, or is your goal just the Dolomites? If Dolomites only, it is more convenient to fly to Venice than to Milan. Rent a car at Venice airport if you do so.

Posted by
32247 posts

Do you have particular interests or things you want to do and see in Brussels? I prefer to stay in Ghent/Gent or Bruges/Brugge. Both are very easy to Brussels, for Brussel Zuid/Bruxelles Midi for the Thalys.

Posted by
1643 posts

I'm with Nigel, and Ghent imo is preferable to Bruges for a number of reasons. Getting to Ghent from Brussels is blink an eye quick too. Bruges very easy day trip from Ghent (if you can't picture where they are relative to one another and take a look at a map). Ghent is super charming, almost Bruges-like in some aspects, but a bigger city with some public spaces and amenities a bit like Brussels. But not nearly as much of a big city as Brussels, with a lot less of the bigger city negatives (which to be fair are quite mild in Brussels).

For reference, populations:

Bruges 120k (this is largely dispersed out of the historic core, much of its suburbs separated by some fields etc from the edges of the historic town)

Ghent 250k -and a university town, so 43k students and probably a little more than half that many university employees. It's not a rowdy sort of college town, does have a lot of high quality affordable amenities, restaurants etc.

Brussels 2 million

Posted by
470 posts

For the Dolomites I can heartily recommend this charming property. Huge, immaculate room with beautiful grounds, spa etc. It is close to a bus stop, but we had a rental car when we stayed there. We took advantage of full board, and had a multi- course dinner every night that was simply delicious. It was a nice respite during a multi- week trip we were on. During the day we did some sightseeing and hiking. We returned in the afternoon to rest/ use the spa. Then a leisurely dinner. Really perfect.

Posted by
85 posts

Thank you brushtim for the recommendations for Paris - there are so many great options!

TravelingMom- the property looks amazing! I hope they have a room available for our stay.

We will most likely get a rental car. My husband is a good driver, but since we don't read Italian very well, we are a bit apprehensive.

Posted by
85 posts

Hello again,
We have been watching too many travel shows and keep adding places we want to visit.
I'm trying to decide what makes sense for this year and what will have to wait for next year.
I have the trip booked through Paris, but am looking for best use of travel time/hotel changes for the second half.
Now the trip looks like this:

  • San Diego to London - (4 nights)
  • London to Ghent - (3 nights)
  • Ghent to Paris - (4 nights) We thought about visiting Beaune and wine country for a few nights after watching RS's show but then realized it is too difficult to transfer to Italy. I know we should keep Italy off the list for this year, but that darn Stanley Tucci has us under it's spell.
  • Paris to Florence (flight from CDG) (4 nights)
  • Another city in Italy for a couple of nights to facilitate flights home, (Rome? Milan?) We have all been to Rome and while it is amazing and there is more to see, its exhausting to me and at the end of the trip may be too much.

Any suggestions?
Thank you!

Posted by
12154 posts

I really think you would want a car for the Dolomites. Without a car, I'd probably go straight to Verona, spend a couple nights, then train into Venice.

Hope you have a great trip. One of my trips was out of San Diego to London on British Airways. We stopped once in Phoenix but stayed on the plane while they loaded some passengers then direct to Gatwick and bused into London. Do they still fly that route?

Posted by
85 posts

Hello Travel Boss. The BA flight is now nonstop from San Diego to LHR. It is very convenient and we have it booked for our trip.
take care.

Posted by
12154 posts

Thanks Jules,

I'm a San Diego native. I pretty much surfed from South Mission to San Onofre and all points in between, Windansea was my home break (the most consistent when i was a kid).

The trip on British Airlines was with my mom and two of her friends. She planned a tour with her friends, but a husband got sick and his wife stayed home, so they were left with three. I filled in because my mom wouldn't travel without a partner. My first, and last, bus tour.

Posted by
1359 posts

I agree with you on Stanley Tucci. Enjoyed his show in Italy and hoping for more to come.