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Best possible itinerary - Europe trip 17 nights


My husband and I are planning a trip to Europe for 17 nights 18 days in September. We wish to cover Rome, Florence, Venice, Interlaken, Lucerne, Zurich, Paris, Amsterdam, Germany. Can you please suggest the best possible itinerary for us as we have never been to Europe before.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

Posted by
31002 posts

Do you have plane tickets? Where are you flying in and out of?

Germany is a big country. All the other places you list are towns or cities but Germany is an entire country. Where did you have in mind?

What made you choose the places you did choose? Is there a common thread?

Each day of relocation takes a half to a whole day, including the disruption of upping sticks and getting familiar with a new place, to say nothing of the actual transportation time and confusion time.

Are you using trains or a car?

Regardless of the length of the trip, I would suggest, based on personal experience,

Rome, at least 4 nights, preferably at least 5
Florence, at least 3 nights
Venice, at least 3 or 4 nights
Interlaken, don't stay there, stay in the mountains nearby at least 3 nights, preferably 4 to be sure of seeing what you want
Lucerne, at least 2 nights
Zurich, skip it unless there is a reason you want to go there (why did you choose it?)
Paris, at least 5 nights
Amsterdam, at least 3 nights
Germany - how long is a piece of string? Where? I'd spend at least 3 nights in Munich, 4 nights in Berlin, 4 nights in Black Forest/Alsace, 2 nights Frankfurt, and you haven't hit any of the tourist areas yet.

So that's 28 nights, more than you have.

Of the places you list, what can you live without?

Posted by
7786 posts

Nigel's absolutely right. You could fly into Rome, take a train to Florence and another train to Venice. That'd leave you a few days to take in one of the other big cities--via budget European airline. I'd pick Paris first and Amsterdam second over what time you've got left--and fly home from there.

Posted by
17 posts

Dear Nigel, Thanks a lot for responding. We have booked the plane tickets, we are flying in to Rome on 8th end of day from Dubai & flying out of Amsterdam on the 26th. I agree that including Germany would not be a feasible option as we are short on the number of days. We randomly selected these places after discussing with friends and colleagues. We will be using Trains to commute from one place to the other and plan to get a rail pass in advance.
I appreciate your suggestions but unfortunately we only have 17-18 days as we got the visa for only 20 days . I would be happy to exclude Zurich and Germany and not quite sure about Lucerne as well; but I am confused on how to divide the limited days that we have in different locations. I would welcome your suggestions.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
17 posts

Dear David,

Thanks for your reply, really appreciated. We are flying in to Rome and then to Florence and Venice. Then we are thinking of going to Interlaken and
Lucerne and will exclude Zurich. From there its Paris and Amsterdam and then back to Dubai on the 26th. The issue over here is again, how to divide the 17 days in these places. Any suggestions would be welcome :)

Posted by
1172 posts

I would skip Germany all together and concentrate on the other areas.

Will you ever be back to Europe or this your one opportunity?

Reason I ask is that Nigel has some great suggestions on timelines but these outline shortened, I think if you only wanted to hit the 'must do/see" knowing that you may come back later to see the area that you really liked. e.g. it would be great to have 5 days in Paris but I think you can do the 'must see/do' in 3 days. etc. I think Interlaken is more than fine with 2 days etc.

Also depends on the pace that you are willing to go :)

Posted by
3580 posts

Choose 6 places, budget 3 nights each with maybe just two nights in Amsterdam or a Swiss city. Skip Germany this trip. If you skip Switzerland, you could fly from Venice to Paris and use those extra days there. That would be my choice. Then take a train from Paris to Amsterdam.

So it would be 3 nights in Rome, 3 in Florence, and 3 in Venice, traveling by train. Fly to Paris and relax 5 nights; take the train to Amsterdam for the last 3 nights.

I don't think rail passes would be a good idea. Train travel in Italy is relatively inexpensive. If purchased in advance, the plane to Paris and train Paris to Amsterdam would be affordable.

This trip is coming up soon. It's best to firm up your plans and get your hotels reserved right away. September is a popular travel month. I use and read the reviews before reserving. Most reservations can be made without pre-payment and can be cancelled up until a couple of days before.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
10915 posts

Since you already have tickets into Rome and out of AMS, Swan has a very good plan for you. Switzerland and Germany will have to wait for your next trip.

Posted by
17 posts

Dear Sharon, Thanks a lot for your response. We are going to skip Germany this time. We will definitely plan another trip to Europe maybe next year. Thanks a lot for your suggestions :)

Posted by
17 posts

Dear Swan,
thanks a lot for the detailed email and suggestions. So you suggest that within Italy we can travel through train; is it through Train Italia? And should we book the train from Paris to Amsterdam through Eurorail?
We were thinking that getting a pass would be a cheaper option and would involve less hassle as with that pass we will be able to travel within Italy and to Paris and Amsterdam – please suggest. We have started to book the hotels through after reading the reviews :)

Posted by
17 posts

Hi Laurel, Absolutely, Swan’s plan is very good! We will cover Switzerland and Germany in our next trip.

Posted by
17 posts

Hi All,

In terms of the voice/ data connection which would be the cheap and best option to cover all countries and do these network offer plans for European roaming.
What all documents are required to buy a new sim card. We mainly need a new connection for data as we would need internet to navigate within these locations/ countries. If we buy a sim in Italy would it provide services (data/ voice) in other countries? If yes then would it be at nominal rate or we should buy new card in each country?

Thanks :)

Posted by
10915 posts

As to your SIM question, you can buy one in Italy that will work all over Europe. The question will be if the plan has enough capacity in GB to support you. We have a plan from TIM for Euro 40/month with unlimited data in Italy, but once we leave the country I can last about a week before having to add money. (It is a prepaid plan.) Stop in at TIM or WIND and see what they are offering. Plans change all the time. You may end up buying a SIM in each country.

OTOH, do check with your current carrier. They may have a good international option. Most of our American friends come equipped with an option from their US carrier.