I am planning an anniversary trip and would love advice on where to go. This will be our third time and so I've narrowed down the options this way...contemplating Germany (Octoberfest)and Austria ending in northern Italy (Venice) OR doing Spain/Portugal. We love the outdoors, culture, food, the whole experience. Can you help me land on a destination? Been to England, parts of Italy and France, Ireland, Switzerland. Need someplace new. Thanks!
Octoberfest notwithstanding, I'd go with plan #1. Germany, Austria and northern Italy, especially the Dolomites (never been to Venice... next time!) are simply beautiful! We've been to these area's anywhere from early to late October 5 times the last 7 years and consider it the best time of year to travel to these places. Less crowds, nice weather and so much to see and do.
With 2 weeks you could see Bavaria, Austria, the Dolomites and Venice easily.
We have recent photo's at...
...that may be of help in deciding.
Hope this helps.
I'm with Kent on this one. Although I don't know if I would try to bring Portugal into the trip. We did part of Spain and Portugal in September of 05 in 3 weeks...starting in Barcelona, then Madrid, then Sevilla, then Grenada, then Nerja, then Los Arcos de la Frontera, then Salema (Portugal) and finished in Lisbon. We weren't rushed...mixed driving and trains...and we had a wonderful time.
With only two weeks, I'd be inclinded to start in Barcelona, then Madrid, then San Sebastian or Bilbao, then Santiago de Campostela or Salamanca, then Porto, then Lisbon. That's 6 stops in 14 nights. 3 nights in Barcelona (1 night for jet lag)...3 nights in Madrid. The alternative would be to leave Portugal for the next trip (and N. Spain). Head south and you could follow our itinerary without the Portugese extension.
Crap! I'm getting conflicting advice. You see why this can be overwhelming, there are just so many places to see and it's very subjective! With the declining value of the dollar, it might be a matter of where can I get the most bang for my euro. I'd like to make the best decision on this because for us Americans, our vacation time is PRECIOUS, we don't get much of it. How to decide?
Thanks for your replies, guys. I took a look at the link with the pics and Germany looks awesome! It seems now that my husband has a hankering to go to Spain, so looks like we are leaning in that direction. I'll be delving into The Rick's books so might fup with some specific questions once I know something about the area.
Sara....Spain is the place to go at that time of year....still relatively warm, sunny, and tourists have retreated somewhat. Spain is a unique blend of Christian, Moorish, Jewish, and Roma societies that you simply won't find anywhere else. If you want to rent a car, do it out of Malaga, because car rental rates there are far lower than anywhere else in Spain. Start in Madrid, loop down to Granada, the White villages (Ronda), Sevilla, then over into Portugal, then back to Madrid...you'll find tons to see and do. Many will suggest Barcelona as well. But I find that city too "cosmopolitan" and "international"....and it's quite a ways outside the "loop" already suggested.
Norm, thanks for the reply and all the great advice. I don't want to cram too much into this trip, but want to see a lot in the 2 weeks we have. I wonder if we could sufficiently visit the northern and southern parts of Spain or if there is one area in particular (north vs south) that's more appealing, with more to do and see, etc. Should we try to see more areas of Spain and skip Portugal altogether OR concentrate on north vs south and include Portugal? I have received several ideas on itineraries and contemplated on skipping Barcelona to spend more time in the other towns that were mentioned. Thanks!
I'm with Paul. Go with Bavaria/Alps. It's still my favorite and never disappoints.
As Bill suggested, I think you would want to do the loop through Madrid down south and into Portugal for your first trip. There are many great areas of Spain to explore, very different from each other....I (despite Rick's approach) love the mountains of Asturias and Cantabria. But for your first trip, you need to explore the true heart of Spain......Andalucia.
"...where can I get the most bang for my euro."
I haven't been to Spain/Portugal in many years. But after a 11-day trip to Germany this month, I will say that Europe on the cheap is still very possible there. I traveled around the Black Forest and along the Rhine and Mosel. Spent just under 20 Euros/night average for single B&B accommodations in smaller towns. (A double costs slightly less per person, generally.) In the Black Forest many towns offer free travel on the trains of the region to vacationers - yes, FREE - a perk I took hearty advantage of.
If you want the outdoors, I'd skip Oktoberfest and its overpriced hotel rooms (if any are even available) and head either to the BF, the Rhine/Mosel, or the Garmisch (alps) region south of Munich. All these regions have lots of hiking and biking options and traditional food. The BF and the Mosel each have wonderful half-timbered buildings, and terrific scenery, with 800-1000-year-old castles all over the Mosel/Rhine area. September is wine-festival month on the Rhine; Germans and foreigners flock to the streets for the music, the wine stands, the fireworks. Weekends are your target - and specifically Saturdays for the Fireworks and Rhine-in-Flames events. Hit Oberwesel on 9/12, St. goar on 9/19, Boppard on 9/26.
Garmisch has the Partnach Gorge, the Zugspitze (Germany's highest Alp) and the Fraundorfer Inn, with reasonably priced traditional food and Bavarian music/dance on their "Bavarian Evenings".
You'd be hard-pressed to go wrong with any of these options, IMO.
Russ and Norm, you both have fantastic ideas. This is my first time posting questions on the site and I love it! The areas you each described (Spain loop and the Mosel/Rhine) are equally interesting to me. I suppose the experiences would be vastly different. Perhaps there are 2 trips in our future, just need to decide on where to go THIS Sept! Would you tag Amsterdam/Brussels to the front of the Germany/Austria trip and end with Venice or would that be too much? It's just cool to have some variety. Thanks again.
Hi again Sara,
Just to get an idea... this is a link to a trip report I wrote for our trip in October 2006.
We did this in 11 nights, so from Austria or the Dolomites you could easily make it to Venice.