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Long European trip ideas for R and R

I'm planning an extensive trip to Europe which I will outline. In May we have a few weeks unplanned and would like to kind of renew myself by staying in an area with maybe a few side trips. I would like to rent apartment so have access to clothes washer in an area that can walk to restaurants and market. Maybe south France. My husband likes Nice. Any recommendations on where to rest up. We spent a month in Spain - all but Basque region already. I don't want to rent a car. It can't be too hilly of a town as my husband has trouble climbing.

Also are older couples welcome in Hostels? Some I know have private rooms. This would be for a night or two. The euro train pass looked costly for 90 days. I think we would do better to pay as we go on trains.

I think I will need a 90 day visitor visa.


Here is our itinerary. We are 70. My husbands hates long flights and we are taking a repositioning cruise to Europe. We arrive in Lisbon on March 30 and plan to stay a couple of days. Will take train to Coimbra for 2 days and then train to Porto for 3 nights. We will travel back to Lisbon for one night and then to the Albufiera area by train to settle in for 2 weeks plan to rent apartment near beach and restaurants. (Walking distance).

There is a break of about 6 days, I haven't decided on. Any ideas?

April 27 - May 1 in Amsterdam (tulips will still be blooming I hope)
May 2-3 - Copenhagen
May 4 - Take train to Malmo, Sweden
May 4-11 - Baltic Cruise (I found this really inexpensive Spanish cruise line- they speak Spanish aboard and I'm not fluent. LOL) It drops you off in Helsinki. I know it will probably still be chilly. Spend one night in Helsinki. (Tallan, St Petersburg, Berlin, Stockholm, Helsinki)

3 days undecided.

May 14 to June 1 - is open. R and R - Thinking of maybe south France.

June 1 - Athens
June 2 -9 Cruise, (same cheap cruiseline) Athens, Santorini, Montenegro, Croatia, Venice and it ends in Trieste, Italy.
June 16 - Board ship to NYC from Hamburg

Posted by
6956 posts

The euro train pass looked costly for 90 days. I think we would do better to pay as we go on trains.

A pass is rarely good value. The cheapest option in most countries is buying tickets in advance on the internet (not when you get there). For more info, read the "Man in Seat 61" website: https://www.seat61.com/Europe-train-travel.htm

I think I will need a 90 day visitor visa.

You don't say what your nationality is.

  • If you are an EU or EEA national you can stay, live and work in the EU for as long as you like.
  • If you are a citizen of many other countries, you are allowed to stay in the Schengen Area for "90 days in any 180". Time spent outside the Schengen Area (Croatia, Russia) doesn't count. 30th March to 16th June is less than 90 days, so you are OK.
  • For citizens of the third group of countries, you do need a Schengen Visa to spend any time in the Schengen Area. You need to get this from the Embassy of whichever country you will be spending the most time in.

So which category are you in?

Posted by
18546 posts

Assume that you are US citizens. You have accounted for 79 days. That gives you a cushion of 11 days but it looks like you are locked into arrival and departure dates so you do not run an risk of overstaying you Schengen zone visa limit. You are doing a lot of bouncing around. I take a big map and put some pins in it so you can judge distances better. I think you would be better served with longer stays in few places. A rail pass is of limited value especially if you could pin down within the next couple of months you longer train trips and buy the ticket now. The Baltic at that time of year could be pretty chilly and rainy so be prepared for that kind of weather.

Posted by
3698 posts

Since the OP says they will be returning home on a repositioning cruise to NYC (New York) it's a good bet they are Americans.

For the third group of countries, you do need a Schengen Visa to spend any time in the Schengen Area. You need to get this from the Embassy of whichever country you will be spending the most time in.

Did I miss something above? As long as they're not staying more than 90 days, OP wouldn't need a visa for anyplace mentioned here, except for Russia (St. Petersburg). If going there on a cruise ship, that (a Russian visa) is usually handled by the ship. OP will want to check that carefully before purchasing (better start brushing up on your Español...), otherwise they could be left stuck on the ship while it's in port there (getting a Russian visa on your own, while not impossible, is orders-of-magnitude more complicated than getting one for Schengen countries, and not something that one can usually just get on the spot).

Posted by
11 posts

I have two weeks in Southern Portugal where I am just relaxing and another two weeks somewhere I haven't decided. Just to stay in one spot and relax. I am from USA. If I drop anything it will probably be the Baltic cruise that will give another 8 days. And the weather is not so great in early May. Thanks all, I'm kind of leaning toward dropping that cruise.

Posted by
6956 posts

@David, "For the third group of countries" - I am talking about the country of which the poster is a citizen. They could be a citizen of the EU, and no limit applies; or a citizen of a country where they are allowed 90 days without a visa, or of a third group of countries whose citizens need visas for an visit to the Schengen Area,

"Board ship to NYC" - that could imply they are residents of the USA, but not necessarily, they could be visiting the USA as well. And not all residents of the USA are US citizens.

I don't think you can make assumptions about the poster without asking them. Since they made the statement "I think I will need a 90 day visitor visa.", it is best to clarify.

Posted by
20430 posts

Was the previous trip (Spain?) completed more than 180 days prior to the March arrival in Lisbon?

Posted by
15297 posts

Most of you longer connections between regions will be faster and cheaper by short budget flights, such as Portugal-Amsterdam, Amsterdam-Copenhagen, Helsinki-France(?), France(?)-Athens, and perhaps also Italy-Hamburg, depending on what you want to do between June 10-16. See www.skyscanner.com. None of these routes are candidates for overnight trains, except Venice-Munich, if you planned to see more of Germany.

Train and bus connections within Portugal and along the French Riviera are relatively cheap to buy as you go. The same applies to Italy, if you'll spend more time there. Train tickets might be more expensive in Germany, if you cover longer distances there, but they're also easy to purchase online whenever the plan comes together, usually with advance-purchase discount.

Looking Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the Deutsche Bahn train schedule link and tips for using it.

Posted by
11503 posts

I think Nice could be a good choice for some stay-put time. Much of the city is relatively flat, there are buses and a light-rail line for when you need them, and Nice is the transportation hub of the Riviera,

You might ask for opinions on two weeks in Albufeira in the Portugal forum. I suspect our knowledgeable posters may have other suggestions. I would certainly want more time in Lisbon (though the city is hilly) and less on the Algarve.

Posted by
8442 posts

Get out and see the East.

Helsinki to Budapest on May 14, $51 on Norwegian Air, Non-stop, about 2 hours.

Budapest to Athens on June 1st: Both Ryan and Wizz make the flight non-stop for under $100. Its a bit too early to get their schedules. They should be up by October.

Apartments run $45 for something sort of basic to $75 for a really nice unit with AC and Washer Dryer in a great location... $200 gets you a roof top terrace and deck.

Compared to the Baltic states i suspect you will find Budapest at least 20% cheaper --- maybe more.

Posted by
11 posts

My previous trip to Spain was five weeks with a week cruise to Italy. I didn't worry about visa but I thought I read Portugal required it.

Posted by
11 posts

craven, the only reason I chose Albufiera is that I thought it would have more in way of groceries and restaurants near the beach than some locations. I really would like to be walking distance and not have to drive and it is in April so I thought would be warmer, maybe not. I'm open to suggestions.

Posted by
10412 posts

Hi,

I'll address your question on staying in hostels. Yes, older folks are welcome in hostels. There is no age limit anymore in HI or private, independent hostels, only a few private hostels have the 18-35 age restriction. Private hostels offer also private rooms. I've stayed there plus in dorm rooms. I'm a couple of years below you and staying in hostels is still an option...just depends on where and which hostel,

I know you're still in the planning stage. Keep in mind that another option you have from Helsinki is the ferry. There is the Helsinki ferry connection to Germany, ie, Helsinki to Rostock or Helsinki to Travemünde should either of those connections fits into your plans.

Posted by
6956 posts

I didn't worry about visa but I thought I read Portugal required it.

Lorna, Portugal is part of the Schengen Area, so it is the same rules as other Schengen countries: If you don't need a visa for Schengen, time there is included in your visa-free "90 days in 180".

My previous trip to Spain was five weeks with a week cruise to Italy.

Yes, but how long ago was it? If it was within 180 days of your new arrival, the days are still counted. But, since you aren't travelling until April (2019?), that will be well over 180 days.

Posted by
11503 posts

I have no recent experiecpnce in Portugal or in southern Spain and have never been to Albufeira. It's just that I know many places along the southern coasts of those two countries have, een seriously overbuilt--and in an ugly manner (budget holiday flats), which makes it worse. And then there are all the British,pubs and German sandwich shops--I assume along with many US fast-food joints. Just not at all what I want out of my time in Europe (unless I'm looking at Bristish pubs in Britain, etc.).

I remember that Lagos and Tavira have drawn positive comments on this board, so I was serious in my recommendation that you post in the Portugal forum to get current input about Albufeira and other options in the area. Be specific about how you plan to spend your time. I think it will be too cold to swim in the sea, so do you plan to take long walks on the beach, play golf? Two weeks is a very long time in a small town.

There's at least one person on the board who currently lives in Portugal, plus another who visits there very often from the UK. I'm sure they'd be happy to give their views.

Posted by
1657 posts

I'd avoid arriving in Amsterdam on April 27th. It's King's Day, look it up first.

Posted by
1149 posts

Yeah, I second James E on "eastern" Europe, which is really MittelEuropa or SW Europe. Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Turkey - none of these are Schengen zone, all are different than Western Europe, all are cheap.

I'd go to Croatia for your R&R. You can do a wonderful 2 week trip in Croatia, and hit Slovenia as well.

Posted by
8442 posts

Paul, I am an old Cold Warrior. It's Eastern Europe. Or we could say the Warsaw Pact Countries, but that eliminates Yugoslavia. Soviet Bloc countries then? Naaaa, i could debate that too. MittelEuropa isn't in my native tongue and would sound a bit pretentious coming out of my mouth (when there are better English words) and doesn't include the Balkans or Ukraine so that doesn't fit what i meant to describe. Central Europe leaves out Ukraine and at least the lower Balkans. Nope, the only description that fits what i meant to say is Eastern Europe (a la Cold War).

Croatia is quickly becoming very "Western" in its pricing. So go soon while some discount exists. Time in my mind to head further East. Ukraine, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia (go ahead say it), Bulgaria. Not just for the cost, but to see these places before the cultures get too westernized...

Posted by
10412 posts

Historically, the term or concept of Mitteleuropa could have a dubious connotation, and we are talking pre-Hitler time.

Posted by
8442 posts

Fred, sort of precursor to the EU ... but by any means necessary? And for the ultimate good of just one power? Some of what i read sounds a little racist too (Slavs). Fred, seriously, your take?

Posted by
10412 posts

On Mitteleuropa as a concept, I can only give you a few comments since I would have to read up on it...

In Romantic Age, after the fall of Napoleon certain Austrian, German thinkers, philosophers, romanticists, poets (thrown them in too) toyed, dreamed, contemplated this idea of Mitteleuropa, first economically, and when you have some sort of economic unification, there soon follows as a logical step political unification.

Keep in mind these thinkers had become cultural nationalists and some political nationalists ie, using nationalism to drive out the French, and afterwards ie, the fall of Napoleon, Germany was not unified, one reason is no country and Great Power wanted that since the simple fact such an achievement would upset the balance of power amidst a ton of other reasons.

The Mitteleuropa idea is loaded with problems, economic, populations, (ethnic), religious, and above all, politics, ie a federal state under which dynasty.

Posted by
2135 posts

The Mitteleuropa idea is loaded with problems, economic, populations, (ethnic), religious, and above all, politics, ie a federal state under which dynasty.

Much like the EU then ; )

I have to say, I've never heard the phrase Mitteleuropa before and certainly never heard it used as a reference to Eastern Europe. Whilst not entirely accurate I believe that when referring to Eastern Europe the vast majority of people understand what countries are inferred. Using the phrase Mitteleuropa will simply result in a lot of blank looks.

Posted by
8442 posts

JC, Fred is always is an excellent educator. Want to learn, track down his posts. My favorite part of the forum.

Posted by
10412 posts

@ James...thanks. You're too kind. "racist"...may be a tad strong, but most certainly cultural superiority as the concept developed, however, it did. As far as the Slavs are concerned, I mean, then, they were the Czech and the Poles, ie, the western Slavs.

"Mitteleuropa" does not refer to eastern Europe. In which context is eastern Europe, geographically, culturally, politically after 1945 as the Soviet bloc, ie the Soviet territorial and politically gains as a result of WW2? .

Anyway, if I am referring to, talking about real estate from the Meuse/Mass to the Memel, I call that "Mitteleuropa."

Posted by
11 posts

OK all, We completely revised and rather than going north and south we decided to stay in southern Europe. Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and ending in Greece. Much more manageable.

Posted by
8442 posts

I'm really biased, when I need a week of R&R I head to the most beautiful, laid back city I know .... Budapest of course. Budapest is about halfway from Helsinki to Athens, and as fate would have it, Norwegian Air flies from Helsinki non-stop to Budapest for under $100. From Budapest Wizzair flies to Athens non-stop also for under $100.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you. We are going to be in Europe 3 months in Spring. March, April, May I'm looking for sunshine. So my 3 RR places are Southern Portugal, Nice, France and Crete. I know it might still sprinkle in Nice. It was much easier staying in Southern Europe. We are leaving earlier than planned and won't be going to Hamburg. We will have to do Northern and Middle Europe a different time. Thanks for all the info.

Posted by
287 posts

I agree - that will be much more manageable. From here, you just have a lot of reading and planning ahead to know what any place offers and what you two want to see and enjoy doing.