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1st Europe Trip, Help Needed- Post 2 of 2

Here's what I have so far, but it seems too rushed:

Paris June 17-20
Carcassonne: June 21-22
Nice: June 22-23 (just to break up the Carcassonne-La Spezia travel time)
La Spezia/Cinque Terre: June 23-25
Rome (via lunch stop in Pisa) June 25-28
Venice: June 28-30
Gimmelwald: June 30-July 2
Munich: July 2-July 3
Fly from Munich to London
London: July 3-July 5
Fly home on the evening of July 5th.

Here's my problems/questions:

  1. The Carcassonne to Cinque Terre stretch is a long one. We don't really want to stay in Nice, but I didn't want to waste a whole day on the train, when at least we could somewhat enjoy a part of an evening in Nice.

2.We really wanted to already be in Cinque Terre on the 23rd, with no travel involved on that date because it's our anniversary.

  1. The Venice to Gimmelwald stretch is another long one. Any advice?

  2. We really wanted at least a day and a half to 2 full days in Gimmelwald.

  3. In Munich we'd like to rent a car and drive the romantic road, stay overnight in Rothenburg, then drive back to Munich the next day, return the car and then fly out to London. Is this too much in 2 days?

  4. On the website I can't seem to search without it requiring the departure time. I would like to just find out what times of day the route is available. Is it possible to search without specifying a time?

  5. We're open to flying within Europe once in a while to save time, but looking on RyanAir, Easyjet, etc. it seems the flights between places are pretty limited to big cities. Is this true?

Any advice on how to make our itinerary/trip more enjoyable we'd really appreciate!Thank you!

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you. I appreciate your link very much, however, I have spent about a month on this already. I have timetables for the places we're going and have spent hours on the website, but I've still run into problems. That is why I spent time making this post and specifying my questions. Also, we created our itinerary based on Rick Steves book and his suggested itinerary for 14 days and 21 days.

Posted by
9363 posts

As a general rule, if it seems too rushed it probably will be. And with roughly eight destinations in 18 days, you'll be spending a lot of time just getting from place to place. Everything takes longer than it looks like on paper. Remember, you also need to factor in time to find your way from the station to your hostel, unpack, repack, get back to the station, etc. You might check for listings of which budget carriers fly to which cities throughout Europe. You could possibly find some options that you aren't aware of right now. But I would strongly suggest that you consider trimming your list of destinations to give yourselves more time to enjoy them once you get there.

Posted by
11494 posts

Way too much. Eliminate some of your wish list.
You are flying in and out of London?
Yes, cheapo airlines tend to only do bigger cities, since volume is how they make money( that and huge extra fees for overweight luggage, LOL)
Look into Tuifly and Vueling air also, not just Ryanair and EasyJet. Also , some of those airlines use airports that are way out of city, for instance I think many cheapo airlines fly into Beauvais airport "in" Paris,but actually Beauvais is like 100 kms away, and if you book an early morning flight you may encounter difficulties getting to airport using public transport, which of course is less expensive option then a taxi !

Consider eliminating Carcassonne .
You are young assume you will return in a few years, try and enjoy a few less places better then just rushing about.
Pisa is not worth even a stop, unless you really want a lamp shaped like the Leaning tower, LOL

Posted by
102 posts

Krissi..this is way way too much. I'm sorry but IMHO this is going to wear you out. I've been travling to Europe by land and sea for years for weeks on end..and your itinerary wore me out reading it. I guess you need to ask yourself will I ever return to Europe? You are not on the Amazing Race!
I love Rick Steves books, but they are guides..and a reference book. Just because Rick can do it, doesnt mean it should necessarily be done. He is over 6 ft and I'm 5ft I would have to run to keep up with him walking.
I need to go study your itinerary more..but let me start with this...

Nice is nice but you don't need 2 days there unless you plan on using it for a base to visit cannes, monaco, villefranche or eze among a few cites I can think of. If you cut out Nice, head to Pisa, you could easily spend 6 hours in Pisa make sure if you want to climb the tower you have a reservation.
The train station is close but it's not around the corner,

Posted by
102 posts

part 2
do Rick's walking tour in Pisa...then head to Cinque Terre. Rome and Venice for the time allotted.

I have not been to Gimmelwald or Gernamy yet so I will let someone else jump in...

I've noticed no Florence, no Milan, no Portofino, No Tuscany which would be so much easier to combine with this trip instead of heading so far north which is causing you to lose precious days just in travel.

Keep in mind, that you are in Prime Tourist Season, it will be crowded everywhere you go and this might slow you down.

just a couple of thoughts, I remember how exciting it was to plan my 1st trip, but part of traveling is to really appreciate and experience the culture of where you go and not be so exhausted that it is a complete blur and totally unenjoyable...

Posted by
102 posts

BTW, Congratulations on your 1st anniversary...we leave on 2nd anniversary this April for Europe!
Thank god trip planning isn't as crazy as wedding planning! :) :)

If you would like I have some Venice,Cinque Terre and Pisa pictures on my website you can look at ....

it can be slow to load, so just back out and go back's a googlepages issue..

Buon Viaggio

Posted by
102 posts

I just wanted to add, that you seemed a little frustrated when you said you have been working on this for a month....

I know for me and many others we begin our trip planning many many months before leaving. It is something that takes time

For example, we leave this April 30th for Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro...we've been planning this since we returned last year, and I'm just putting on the final touches. NEXT YEAR we are doing Bulgaria, Romania and some Greece...and I actually emailed Ellen who posted on Bulgaria a couple of weeks get her input on a trip a year away...

These boards are here to help and if we make a suggestion to assist and you disagree or have tried..remember we don't know that and we are taking our time to respond to your post..

Kent was very generous in taking his time out find those links for you...while you thought you posted specific questions, you also wanted generalized help on cheaper, quicker and more enjoyable.

Posted by
13044 posts

Kent is right saying to go in one direction. But since you want to be on the Cinque Terre on the 23rd, make Rome your first stop and work your way north.

Forget Carcassone--it's not worth 4 days of travel. Go back in later years.

From Rome, go to Venice and then the Cinque Terre with perhaps a night in Florence, then Gimmelwald, Munich, Paris, London.

I get the feeling that you are trying to plan a "romantic" trip. You've done very well...Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Swiss Alps, Paris....and Rothenburg? While interesting to see, it just doesn't fit the theme. And just because Rick likes it doesn't mean you have to spend three days of your trip to see it. Remember what he says about trip planning....cut out what doesn't make sense and plan to go back. Save Germany for another trip. Spend more time in Tuscany and/or Switzerland.

And I sure hope you're planning on packing light. You're going to be spending a lot of time on trains.

Posted by
4125 posts

Krissi, I also suspect you and yours would be happier, in the end, trying to do more with fewer destinations. But of course your opinion about that is the only one that matters.

If Carcassone is important, and Nice isn't, could you fly into Toulouse and begin your trip in Carcassonne, then on to Paris? From there take a night train to Venice, then either Rome-CT-Gimmelwald etc or CT-Rome-Gimmewald (depending on how you redistribute the days, so as to be in CT on the 23rd).

There are also Paris-Rome night-train options if that would make things work.

Or, working with your original itinerary, could you get a flight from Toulouse to there to Rome or Venice? Or take a night train from Carcassonne to Venice (the NT segment probably begins in Nice).

Finally, if you are open to dropping anything (to gain more time to enjoy the very fine destinations you would have left), consider that the two most logistically awkward spots on your itinerary are Carcassonne and Munich.

Good luck!

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you so much to everyone! We have been considering taking out Carcassonne (and therefore Nice)and maybe Germany (at least on this trip) but didn't want to mention it in the first post so we could get any fresh perspectives from all of you. I think that if we take those out and change things around a little, we'll have a much better and more relaxed time! I love the suggested iteneraries and we'll look into making them work.We have to fly in and out of London to and from home however as we already have our tickets (they were a great deal for June on Northwest Airlines- only ~$680 roundtrip!) Oh, and to clear things up, I've planned many many many vacations (I'm THAT girl in my family) so I'm aware we still have a lot of planning ahead of us still. I actually LOVE planning trips (and then having fun breaking the plan once we're there.) but I've only just begun to plan the train stuff for the last month. I'm still learning to speak the language of train schedules! =) Thank you!

Posted by
1717 posts

Hi Krissi. I recommend : do not go to Carcassonne or Nice or any part of Germany in this trip. (not enough time for any of that). Plan for more days at the Alps in Switzerland, and at the Cinque Terre in Italy.
When planning my trips to Europe I read "Sightseeing Priorities" in the INTRODUCTION in each Rick Steves travel guide book for a country in Europe. But I totally ignore his suggested Itinerary. Rick's Itinerary is too fast (rushed), and not in a good direction for all travelers.

Posted by
12 posts

Congrats on your anniversary. My sister and I also tried to pack everything into one 18 day trip. We were exhausted and still didn't feel like we saw evervthing we wanted to see. You have to assume you are going to visit again. I would drop Carcassonne and Munich and add a day in Paris, Rome, Venice, and/or Cinque Terre. Hope that helps and have fun.

Posted by
56 posts


I live in Germany, so I have a couple questions before i can give you good advice....what do you want/need to see in Paris? (Paris--the highlights--can be done in 24 hours, unless you are just wanting to tour everything).

Also, driving the Romantic Road is not all that. Rothenburg is a great place, and it is easy to do in a day (the night watchman's tour is a must, if you are staying the night), the rest of it can be walked and enjoyed in a few hours. I see you are going to Italy in the summer, near the end of prepared it is hotter than he** in IT in the summer--SPEND THE EXTRA MONEY ON A HOTEL WITH A/C!!! And drink lots of water and eat lots of Gelato..

In Rome, see all the sights via the hop-on/off bus; it is the BEST way to see Rome in 24-36 hours. In Paris, take the hop on/off BOAT, it is 1/3 price and it swings by everything you'll care is a hump to the Arch de Triumph, but the rest of the stops are good. Hope this helps you out some...

Posted by
1449 posts

Krissi, I saw your comment about how you based your itinerary on Rick's book. Rick has been at it a long time, he knows where the hotels and museums are, how to work the trains, etc. Same with his guides; I've been on a RS tour and think the efficiency is easily 50% higher than what you can do; in other words, his 21 days would take you about 30.

A lot of things add up. For one, his buses are right there; when they say "leave at 8:30am" you walk to the hotel door, step on the bus, you're off and are dropped off right at the next hotel. As a traveler you need to walk to the train station (and be a little early), then find the new hotel in a new city. His guides lead you right to the sights, you need to find them on a map (and old cities are not laid out on a nice grid!) The point is, 30-45 minutes here and there, all of a sudden they have a few more hours each day to do things than you do as a traveler in some place you've never been before.

You're young, you'll be back many times. My advice is plan 3 nites per larger city, 2 for smaller ones (assuming you arrive in the afternoon). Visit just 2 or 3 countries. Go slow and enjoy!!

Posted by
13044 posts

As Mike said, never try to follow anyone's tour day by day. I'm a former tour director. We take care of everything and the punters, er, passengers, really don't have to do much. Transportation, hotels, admissions, restaurants, and more.

When traveling on your own, figure it will take you AT LEAST 50% longer to do everything.

Posted by
4 posts

I'd cut way back on your plans and destinations, maybe Italy and France. You'll get places and wish you could stay longer, we were in Florence, Milan and Sienna for 9 days and really wanted to stay each place longer, particularly Sienna.