best travel itinerary for 2015 Europe trip

We are a family of 4 planning to visit Europe June 18, 2015 for a maximum of 3 weeks, leaving from Seattle. Like to see at least Athens, Santorini in Greece, Rome, and Paris. If possible, Venice as well. any suggestions for a good travel itinerary and means of transportation between the cities? We also need a few days to adjust to the time zone, better if in a more economic place to start slowly the first few days of the trip. thank you

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
8025 posts

We recommend flying those long, international legs; see www.skyscanner.com. There are some direct flights in summer from Santorini to Rome. Within Italy, trains are easy and affordable. For an overview of train travel time and walk-up ticket prices, see Rick's Train Cost & Time Map. Greece is the cheaper location for daily expenses, if you feel you need to "waste" a day. You have a lot of time to plan the trip. If you can come into our store and library in Edmonds, you can read books, buy books, pick up fliers, and take free classes with slides. You can also view Rick's videos here or online.

Currently, your plan is all big cities, except for Santorini.

Fly or ferry Athens-Santorini

Fly Santorini-Rome

Train Rome-Venice ($110 in 2nd class, or cheaper if booked 3 months ahead)

Fly Venice-Paris

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
2092 posts

I have spent time in Athens last month but did not get to Santorini. I had dinner Saturday night with an old friend and we were comparing notes about our two trips to Greece. He did visit Santorini but on a cruise ship. He said he felt sorry for the folks who live there because when the cruise ship came in the place was overrun with tourists. Much like what happens up in Alaska. I have removed Santorini from my list of places to return to.

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
765 posts

Charlie - Please do not remove Santorini from your places to return to. We visited Santorini in September and it was not overrun with cruise ship day trippers. We spent 4 nights there in the town of Fira and loved it. We rented a car and visited the ancient city of Akrotiri as well as the ruins of Thera and some traditional villages. We also visited Oia for the beautiful architecture and vistas. Yes, if you spend only a few hours on the island during the height of the season in the most popular town, you may be overrun by cruise ship tourists, but if you plan carefully you can enjoy one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Zxia - sorry but we cannot help you with your travel plans. We have never had such distances between locations. Even with three weeks and flying between cities you will lose almost one day with each change in location. With five cities and 21 days you may have four nights in each location which is three days to spend. Good luck with your planning.