I am looking for suggestions regarding traveling in Europe in late Feb and all of March. My husband and I in our 60's plan on going to Amsterdam in Feb (great price on airfare) and then we would like to take a month traveling to Italy the south of France or Spain for a month. How easy is it to train it to these places or is it better to fly? We also would like to be flexible making reservations in Amsterdam and then just go from there once we decide what place to go to next. Suggestions? thank you!
This sounds like a wonderful trip. Amsterdam is a great place to start. You will likely look for places to stay in the area, but might consider staying out where it is less rushed. Last year we stayed in Zandaam, a suburb and rented a house through VRBO and were very pleased. Many posters prefer Haarlem as a place to stay. Will recommend Martine's Table for a memorable dinner in Amsterdam.
Regarding the rest of your trip, if you are not in a rush to go to other countries, I would definitely go by train. the scenery is much better from a train than a plane :-) And the train will get you closer to your destinations, especially if you are interested in smaller towns and villages as places to stay.
Have fun planning - other posters will advise you on the ease of making your travel plans. We used Rail Europe to book all of our travel by train last year. It might be a little more expensive, but the website was easy to navigate and they can be contacted easily by phone should you have any questions.
It is easy enough to go by train, but rather long, especially if your next destination from Amsterdam is either Italy or Spain, rather than France. Trains can get you from Amsterdam to Marseille in 8 hours, but Milan or Barcelona take 11-12 hours.
- See www.skyscanner.com for intra-European flights.
- Rick’s Train Travel Time & cost Map gives you an overview of faster train travel times in hours, as well as regular (full-price) 2nd-class fares.
- Looking Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the Deutsche Bahn train schedule link and tips for using it.
Both trains and planes tend to be cheaper when purchased in advance. Rail passes can offer some flexibility, but the faster trains in the countries you're planning to visit do require paid seat reservations and can possibly sell out on international legs.
Thanks for the suggestions I really appreciate it - keep them coming!
Weather is an unknown in the north, but there's plenty to see and do indoors on rainy days, and one of the benefits of being there in winter is the bare trees which allow you to see the architecture!
Fast trains are expensive. If you buy now, you will save big time. It's similar, though not as extreme, for budget flights. Fares only go up. Take a look now and compare prices for the same routes for next week and late February to get an idea.
My dream trip would be A'dam, Paris, Barcelona, Andalucia, and anywhere in Italy. I'd consider fitting in a week on the French riviera between Spain and Italy. I could easily spend 3 full weeks in Spain or Italy. Except for the Riviera, I don't think that's a good time for the the south of France.
If you don't want to spend any time in Amsterdam, when you compare the R/T fare there to an open-jaw fare into one end of your itinerary and out of the other, remember to add to the R/T fare the cost of flights/trains to/from AMS to get to your starting point and back from your last destination. Also consider that you're going to need a night in A'dam on arrival before going onward and a night in A'dam before your departure.
Thank you for your suggestions. We have our tickets already to Amsterdam for Feb returning the end of March. We don't have the rest of the itinerary started yet. We have traveled Spain and love Spain but decided we needed to go to Italy this time. If we train it we are looking at routing through France or Germany to Switzerland. Our list in Italy would be Venice, Rome, Florence and Almalfi Coast. Open to more suggestions.
Don't miss the tulips
I spent 10 nights on the French Riviera from mid-March this year. Weather was warm and sunny, few crowds, low seaon prices. I got a taste of the mistral in Marseille, which is why it's a good idea to avoid any place west of there in Provence. You can make your way by train between Marseille and the Italian Riviera and of course, throughout Italy.
Most of my visits to Italy have been in February, including all the places you mentioned. Weather is mild, and prices are low - expect crowds in Rome (maybe Florence on weekends). I can't imagine how much worse it is even in shoulder season.