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45 days in Europe

Hi-
I'm planning a trip for 30-45 days in Europe for 2015. Starting out in Amsterdam/Haarlem for a few then a bit in Belgium (Bruges) France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy. I have Italy pretty well mapped out -- a couple of nights in Venice, a couple in Florence then five days in the Tuscan Hills, exiting the trip in Rome. We like to stay a bit longer than 1-2 nights, avoiding a kamikaze experience, getting to know the "neighborhood." My question: In these countries above that you have visited, are there some smaller towns (e.g. Beaune) you loved and would have liked to stay in longer? I'm hoping to do 3-4 nights in each town with day trips out. We're likely to use a railpass for the trip with buses as an add-on. Thanks in advance!!! Terry

Posted by
1976 posts

Hi Terry. I see no one has responded so I'll give you what advice I can, and bump up this thread too. Do you have a full itinerary mapped out for your trip (i.e. which cities/regions you'll visit on which dates), or are you planning to wing it most days? You mention staying a couple nights in Venice and Florence - be aware that 2 nights in a city equals only one full day, so you may want to rethink your itinerary if there are a lot of things you want to see in those places. Amsterdam is compact and walkable. It's one of my favorite cities so it pains me to say this, but you can see a lot things in a 4-night (3 full days) stay. Florence - if you like art, you'll want to stay a long time! I lived there for 2 weeks and still didn't see everything I wanted. Where are you going in France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland? Paris deserves a week (7 or 8 nights) alone. Bruges you can visit in a day. At least, I was satisfied with a day trip there. In Italy I loved Ravenna and wished I'd stayed overnight instead of going there as a daytrip. I saw the inside of only one early Christian church - San Vitale. If you want to stay longer than 1-2 nights in places, you may have to revise your trip and cut out some towns or cities if not a couple of countries. You're planning to visit 7 countries in as little as 30 days (that's an average of 4.2 days per country without allowing for travel time) or up to 45 days (still only 6.4 days per country without allowing for travel time). And finally, a railpass may not be the most economical way to go. Look at the prices of point-to-point tickets for this year as examples and add up the total cost, then compare to a railpass. For longer journeys, you can buy tickets in advance to save quite a bit. I don't have too much experience with this so hopefully others will respond.

Posted by
28083 posts

Gengenbach in the northwest Black Forest. You don't even need a railpass because you get a free Konus local transit pass valid throughout the Black Forest area on regional transportation.

Posted by
17 posts

Hi Sarah, This really helps thanks so much! What I'm looking for are the less visited smaller towns those with a medieval feel, historical and with friendly neighborhoods. I've been to some larger cities - London, Paris, Dublin . . . but want to incorporate those a bit off the beaten path. I'm in the preliminary phase of planning this will be a 2015 trip. For me, so much of the fun is in the planning, so I'll end up with pages and pages! Your railway suggestion is great and I will certainly take that into consideration. As a matter of fact, I did buy a Britrail pass once upon a time and found that I did not in fact get my $$'s worth. I will check out Ravenna.

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you for the Black Forest suggestion -- that's exactly the type of information I'm looking for! Best, Terry

Posted by
4125 posts

If you want to see those small towns, better get a car (or bicycle). Most of them are not served by rail. Beaune for instance is really more of a small city. It worth seeking these out if you like that sort of thing (I do). Meanwhile the small cities (e.g. Beaune) are charming but you can exhaust their charms quickly. Wheels let you venture forth with your small city as a base. The best of Burgundy, to lean on your for-instance a third time, is not accessible by rail or bus. Long trips are fabulous and have their own rhythms. I think it's nice to mix things up with some faster-paced and slower-paced sightseeing. It's especially rewarding to spend a whole week in a rental apartment or small house someplace wonderful and bucolic and explore via day trips. We did that in Provence in the middle of a 5-week trip, but you could pick any region. It sounds as though you are temperamentally inclined that way already. Rentals typically run weekend to weekend, but are often cheaper than comparable hotels and offer more space, kitchen & laundry.

Posted by
3336 posts

Hi Terry! I'm in Switzerland right now in an area that we are in the process of discovering; the canton of Valais. The highlights of this area are the ancient vineyards, many of which are growing on the original terraces built by the Romans. They looks like a beautiful quilt that drapes over the lower levels of the mountains. The valley floor is covered with apricot orchards with a smattering of apples and pears. There are castles on hills throughout the valley. If I were to stay in a central location in the valley with good rail service, I would stay in the town of Sion. It is beautiful, walkable, and very friendly. We spent most of today walking the old town, visiting the beautiful castle ruin as well as the chapel just on the adjoining knoll. Zermatt (the Matterhorn) is located off of this valley about 25 minutes north of Sion, as well as many other beautiful small towns and villages, many with beautiful walking trails out through the terraced vineyards. It's one of the prettiest wine regions in the world that I have seen and I grew up near Napa! You can be on Lake Geneva by rail in 20 - 30 minutes. At the north-east end of Valais you have incredibly picturesque high valleys that look like something from a storybook - OLD chalets, small villages with lovely old churches, fields, and snowcapped passes. We are really enjoying it here and are surprised at the fact that we haven't heard American English once with the exception of Chateau Chillon on Lake Geneva which we visited yesterday. Just a thought since you said you were looking for something a little out of the way but still within reach of things to see and do. Enjoy your trip!
Anita

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you Adam & Anita--as a result, my eye is a bit more on Switzerland and a mixture of auto and train travel. Much appreciated! Happy travels Anita!

Posted by
15037 posts

I had 2 days in Ravenna (2 nights) and wasn't sorry. The mosaics are amazing and the town is very nice. My first time in Italy, I had a day trip in Verona and was very happy I went back for an overnight stay. I want to return to Siena for a couple of nights, a day trip from Florence left me unfulfilled. I stayed in Ghent and day-tripped to Bruges. I like Ghent better - more medieval and less touristy and hotels are considerably cheaper. On that trip I also stayed in The Hague (cheaper than Amsterdam) and day-tripped to Delft (20 minutes on the tram). It's about as easy to day-trip from there to other places in the Netherlands. Haven't been to Haarlem yet. I was in Strasbourg and Colmar for 2 days - not nearly long enough and there are lots of towns nearby to explore by car, both in France and in Germany.