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14 Day Itinerary Help: London, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid

I know! Are we crazy?!?! We’re traveling with a 12 and 10 year old. Here’s my thought, and please feel free to provide feedback:

London (optional): 3 nights
Paris (must see): 4 nights
Barcelona (must see): 4 nights
Madrid (optional): 3 nights

We are going December 2020 for the Christmas and New Year holidays. My thought is that we will be in Paris at Christmas. I’m open to suggestions.

Posted by
8416 posts

Are we crazy?!?

Well, since you have the wits to ask the question, I would say not. However, at the end of the 14 nights you outline a different answer may be applicable

With kids and the time of year I say "pick 3" ( maximum)

Posted by
1244 posts

You are nuts.
Winter offers short days of sunshine and more opportunity for challenging weather leading to additional travel stress.
Madrid is high elevation (brrrr), is one of the largest cities in Europe with a relatively small old town predominately offering world class art museums. Pass.
Barcelona offers a huge menu of a variety of interesting opportunities for all ages. Go and stay five nights minimum.
Paris is my least favorite destination so I would only stay four nights.
London is fascinating also offering a huge menu of interesting opportunities for all ages. Go and stay five nights.
Keep in mind you will lose a day in transition between one city to the next so.......
Don't be a Sargent Schultz and fail to comprehend the impact upon the enjoyment of the journey by traveling too much. Be a hero and stay out of the "travel stalag"!

Posted by
503 posts

I've spend several Christmas's and New Years in Europe and my short answer is "yes"! In addition to what the other posters have mentioned, here is something else to consider. Since you listed nights I will assume that this includes your travel day - so you have 13 days (minus 2 for Christmas and New Years when virtually everything is closed) - so a total of 11 days for 4 cities. Since each change will take anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 of a day, that's another 1 1/2 to 2 full days not available for seeing what you came to Europe to see. Is it doable? Yes. Is it a good idea - no - not unless you want to see a lot of train stations, airports, buses and taxis.

So, that's the bad news... the good news is you can craft a lovely trip by focussing on 2 or 3 of those locations - since you listed both Paris and Barcelona as "must sees" either do Paris/ Barcelona or Paris/Barcelona/Madrid and leave London for another trip.
Option 1:
Paris for 6 days, Madrid for 3 and the remaining 4 for Barcelona. Depending upon how you structure it, fly from Paris to either Madrid or Barcelona and fly out of the city you end your trip with.

Option 2: Spend more time in Paris and spend the remaining days in Barcelona.

Both options would work nicely so it will really come down to what you actually want to see and do in both - once you've figured that out, determining how many days and whether you will include Madrid will be an easy decision.

Both options wou

Posted by
7080 posts

I am currently in Spain. I left Chicago the day after xmas landing in Paris. This is my sixth straight year doing this around the same time. The days are shorter but the cities are decorated in holiday lights. The weather could be chilly to some, it depends on what you are use to.
I am traveling with a 16 and a 21 year old who had never been. It can be rough kids physically and depending on the level of maturity and interests.

Posted by
14777 posts

I see you planned a similar trip to Italy (sans kids?) for December 2018. Did you stick to the plan and have short stays in several places? How did that go?

Barcelona and Paris both have a lot to offer and day trips too. Especially for kids, I think Barcelona will be more interesting. From Paris to Barcelona you can spend 6.5 hours on a comfortable train or you can save a couple hours by flying 2 hours (you'll need extra time to/from airports, plus lead time at the Paris airport, plus wait time in Barcelona if you are checking bags). Either way you use most of a day in travel. You'll use another 1/2 day to change locations for each additional place you go to.

Unlike moving around a single country like Italy, you'll have multiple languages to interpret, and with London another currency to figure out. Moving 4 people usually takes longer than moving 2. Remember, you will never move faster than whoever is slowest at any given time (sleepy head, window-shopper, picture-taker. . . ). Added time if you're 4 people in a room with one bathroom . . .

It's our nature to want to pack in as much as possible. That doesn't have to mean lots of different cities, it can mean lots of different experiences in fewer places.

Posted by
5221 posts

I'm not a psychiatrist but....

Paris and Barcelona would be an excellent trip, beautiful cities linked by train (an adventure in itself). Two similar languages, one currency. Fly into one and home from the other ("multi city"). Yes it will be cold, but they're big cities with lots to do inside if the weather's too bad.

London would be OK too, if you think a week in each city is too long. But I agree with the previous poster about Madrid -- much colder, and the main indoor attractions are art museums. Your kids might not thank you for those at this age.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks to all for your wisdom and for taking the time to reply. We’ve decided to narrow down our itinerary significantly, to allow for more day trips, soaking in the culture, and relaxation.