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Itinerary Suggestions? Starting in Paris ending in Venice

My wife and I are taking our 19 y.o. niece on her first train trip through Europe for two weeks in early September. She has been on a cruise through Med from Rome and along south of France and northwest Italy. We are planning only four stops, with starting in Paris for four days (wife and I have been twice), and ending for two full days in Venice (twice as wife and I as well).

I am a bit torn with lengthy train trips to see great sites for her and new sites for us. I am considering a north / northeast (Belgium) and then south trip (Prague / Vienna / Zermatt), or south (Lyon??) and then east (Switzerland mountains). Based on schedules, not long trips from Paris to Belgium / South France, but next two legs have 10+ hours no matter how I look at them. Trains are really a must to show her that experience and break down the travel barrier of traveling by train.

Would anyone have suggestions on what is best and worth the 10+ hour train rides? Thank you and Happy New Year to all.

Posted by
160 posts

Belgium to Vienna can be done with an overnight train. But no matter how you look at it, Prague and Vienna are not close to Belgium.

Posted by
10212 posts

You are making it hard on yourselves by including Prague and Vienna with “south of France” and Zermatt. Prague and Vienna are far to the east and really a separate trip.

You can easily see the south of France (or maybe Alsace?), Zermatt, and another Swiss stop (Luzern?) on your way between Paris and Venice, without any long train legs.

And do you mean four “stops” on your way, or ar Paris and Venice included as two of your “stops”?

Posted by
1665 posts

Paris, Amsterdam, fly to Florence, Venice. It's a long way from France to Italy so you are better off with a short flight.

Posted by
546 posts

Hi, could you explain what the 10+ hours of train travel refer to? If you mean the Switz. mountains, that's not true. From Paris, if you take the fast train to Geneva or Zurich (3 hours), then Swiss trains to, say, Lauterbrunnen (3.5 hrs more), we are talking about 6.5 hours.

Also, people can help you more if you describe what you like. "Best" means different things to different people. For some it is castles, others it is culture and food, others it is mountain scenery. For now I'll just suggest you Google image "Lauterbrunnen" and see what you think.

Posted by
10212 posts

Shoe, the 10- hour train trips come in because of Vienna and Prauue. If they omit those, it is not a problem.

Posted by
11837 posts

I don't understand the benefit of a very long train trip except if it's an extremely scenic one or a night train. I seem to remember people saying some train rides through the Alps aren't so scenic because the route includes long tunnels. On the other hand, I recall Emily writing about a trip, maybe 2 years ago, that included a scenic train somewhere in your area since she lives in Vienna.

You propose a 2-week trip, with one week split between Paris and Venice. That leaves one week. When you say 4 stops, do you mean 4 stops over 6-7 days with long train rides between them. I'd rather spend my time seeing a place than riding a train to get there.

Posted by
2308 posts

Belgium would not be my choice in your route. Prague and Vienna are way out of the way.

Consider these options:

1) Strassburg, France, Interlakken, Switzerland (and/or Zermatt), Milan, Italy, ending in Venice.

2) Take the fast train to Lyon, France then go down the Rhone River valley stopping at Viene, Avignon, Arles, Ponte du Gard and if possible St. Paul de Venice, then on to Venice.

3) Take the overnight train to Munich, then visit that city as well as Southern Bavaria before heading on to Venice.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all for your comments. There are some great suggestions, and this helps me to not continuously look at a map and try to figure out our itinerary. I’ve been looking at train schedules and using the planning app to try to get times and it can be challenging. So many options. :-)

I think at this point, I am considering two options. One is a train to Amsterdam for a few days and then a flight to Venice (thank you Richard). Two would be train to Lyon and short Rhone cruise for a few days and then train to Venice (thank you geovagriffith). No matter what the decision, it will be a great trip!