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5 cities in southern europe for 16 days too much?

We are taking a family vacation in August. We are planning to visit: Madrid for 3 days, Barcelona for 3 days, Nice for 3 days, Venice for two days and Rome for 4 days.
Other than Barcelona to Nice (we are flying), we are taking trains. Is this too many cities in too many days? Considering the amount of time we will be on trains and the amount of travel on my parents who are in their fifties? Also, will heat be a problem with a family from Northern USA?

Posted by
10334 posts

That is pretty ambitious for the amount of time you have and how spaced out things are. I like to look at how many nights I stay in each place. Two nights = one full day, etc. How many nights will you be in each place? That can make a difference. For example your Venice stay. Is that one night or two? Have you already booked your flight from Barcelona to Nice and your train tickets? August will be hot. Only you know your tolerance for it. And Jacob, people in their fifties are hardly over the hill. :-)

Posted by
11294 posts

I agree with Andrea. Start by laying out each night and where it will be spent, then see how many days you actually have in each place. Remember that the day of departure from the US and the day of departure from Europe do not count as sightseeing days, and that the day of arrival in Europe is often a jet-lagged haze. I'd probably cut out one city, just so you can enjoy the ones you do see. The problem with your itinerary is that there's no slack days, when you can just kick back without feeling you have to be sightseeing. You're always on the go. And yes, people in their fifties can handle any standard traveling, unless they have specific health problems or issues. The one thing that everyone in your group should do is start walking as much as possible, each day, to build up their walking stamina. Unless you are used to walking and walking and walking some more, each day, you'll all poop out very quickly in Europe - regardless of age. The places you are going will be hot to very hot. How do you handle 80-95 degree weather in Cleveland? That's how it will feel in Europe. Remember that air conditioning is much less common in Europe, and when it does exist, it's less strong. This is yet another reason to drop one city - you'll be tired from the heat and not able to see as many places in a day as in a cooler time. You may want to adopt a siesta or partial siesta plan, with activity in the morning, a rest after lunch, and then reactivate after the rest. Rome and Madrid still have lots of closed places from about 1 PM to about 4 PM, and there's a reason.

Posted by
4132 posts

This is not an "honest" itinerary in that there are 3 days of pure transit in this plan that are counted as taking zero time. More if you are also counting as full days in Madrid and Rome your arrival and departure days. So, it works for a 20-day itinerary, but a 16-day version should show less time in Nice, Venice etc. At which point I wonder, is it worth it to cram so much stuff in? Many things are logistically feasible, but be honest with yourselves to choose the best itinerary for you.

Posted by
3551 posts

No question it will be very hot august. I had many trips to France/Italy in Aug and it was oppressive. Hopefully all your hotels have excellent air cond. You will be on the go alot realize the trains from Venice to Rome usually go thru Milan so it will be a travel day and lost.
You could limit a city to slow down abit maybe Nice. Nice is a zoo in August! Very crowded and very hot. I think skipping Nice might be a gd idea this trip! You could use the 3 days easily elsewhere on your itin. and slow the pace a bit and really enjoy the other cities and surrounds well.

Posted by
23431 posts

It is too much but everyone needs one of these trips so that they will do less next time. Unless your parents are in marginal health, they will do find. Maybe better than you. That is almost an insult to suggest that someone in their 50s cannot keep up. I know a bunch of 70 years old who would handle that trip with no problem. I always plan on losing a half day plus travel time when changing locations - takes time to repack, check in and out, find the train, find the hotel, get oriented, eat a lunch, etc. Of your 16, at least 3 to 4 full days will be spent in travel and down time. That is 25% of your trip. Personally I would do either Spain or Italy and not both.

Posted by
2829 posts

" . You will be on the go alot realize the trains from Venice to Rome usually go thru Milan so it will be a travel day and lost. " False. No high-speed train between Venezia and Roma goes via Milano and it takes 3h40 to travel on faster trains (14-18 options per day) between both cities. ========================== In any case, I'd take out one of the cities and spread its days for the others. Madrid-Barcelona, Venezia-Roma should be fairly straightforward high-speed trips, taking half-day. So should be your Barcelona-Nice flight, assuming it is a direct flight without layovers. Nice-Venezia is a cumbersome trip that will likely take the best part of a day. So thinking on merely logistics, I'd take out either Nice or Venezia and spread its days in other destinations of your itinerary.

Posted by
527 posts

I too would cut Nice. It is high season and it's a lot of work for a few days. Ryanair does fly Barcelona to Venice and you are currently rushing Venice. I have flown them twice and they are restrictive but they tell you the options upfront. They are strict about online checking but they send reminders. August is hot and even where they have AC they don't cool it down to mid 60s . Plan your days around the heat visiting museums midday. P.s. I am in my fifties and walk faster than my daughters. Have fun

Posted by
837 posts

I think Andre has hit it. Train from Nice to Venice is the better part of the day. I have not been to Barcelona or Madrid so I cannot comment on their attractiveness relative to the other locations. I do like Nice, however, by being in Barcelona, you are seeing the Med coast. Venice is entirely unique. I concur with Andre's plan; fly from Barcelona to Venice and train to Rome (assuming your flights are booked as into Madrid and out of Rome). If not, you might check on the relative merits of flying out of Rome vs. Venice.

Posted by
392 posts

Everyone points out how ambitious this is very well, so I will just add: go with your gut? If you need to ask whether it's too much, then it's too much. I have been on trips where I tired myself out, and it's less fun that way.