First time on this site

Ok...we need some help. Thinking about doing a "drive" tour for two weeks. to be honest don't know where to start to see the most we can. Would love to fly into and out of the same place (cost). We have seen enough of Italy, some of Switzerland. Would love to include Paris (although have been before), Germany, Norway, Ireland???? Like I said not sure any of this is possible without driving ourselves to death. We are open for any suggestions, good itineraries, etc. Just need help. Thanks for anything.

Posted by Anita
Philadelphia, PA, USA
347 posts

Ok, here's my idea: Fly in and out of Paris. When you arrive, pick up your rental car and drive to Reims (champaigne country, and tour the cathedral) for a one- or two night stay. Next, drive to the WWI sites nearby and then stop for two or three nights in the Alsace area. I'd choose Colmar, because it's big enough to provide a variety of restaurants. From Colmar you can drive to the little towns in the area or take the train to Strasbourg for day trips. If you stay in Colmar, I'd strongly recommend b&b Chez Leslie because it's located in an area of town with easy access and parking. Then, drive southwest toward Beaune or Dijon for another 2 night stay. Here you have two cities to explore, wineries, and even some castles. Then, drive north for another 2 or 3 nights stay, maybe near Vezelay. This area is filled with small towns, old monasteries, and wonderful b&b's. End in Paris. If you are comfortable driving in a large city, plan to arrive in Paris on a Sunday morning when traffic is not so hectic. Return your rental car because you won't need it in Paris. If Paris driving sounds too daunting, drop off the car in one of the towns along the way that has a rail connection to Paris. All of these destinations are on good roads and will not require extensive driving. For a driving vacation, I'd suggest buying a Michelin Guide book or, if you can find them, the old Blue Guides that provide extensive, detailed information about all the random sites you'll see when you travel by car.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
13055 posts

This site works best when you can ask very specific questions with good background information. Responses are limited to 2000 characters so we can not write a guide book for you. Do not ignore open jaw tickets. We often find open jaw tickets the same price or cheaper. And almost always cheaper when the return transportation is included.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10639 posts

Germany Norway and Ireland... that wouldn't work at all for a two week driving trip. Perhaps you could stitch together northern Germany, Denmark and maybe Sweden. Norway is just too far isolated from the rest of Europe, unless you take an autoferry.

Posted by rhonda
9 posts

OK...I understand but I guess what I am asking is for a few itineraries that are doable for that amt. of time. Would just like to see several countries without being in the car 24/7. We are not the type that has to stay anywhere a LONG time. For instance we did Rome in a day pretty much. Thanks again for your help

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8458 posts

We love to help, and you will get really good information here, but we just can't work up itineraries for you, particularly since we don't know your interests, preferences, budget, etc. Ireland would be easily doable with two weeks to play with. You could do a lot in Germany, too, in that time. But you would probably be better off limiting yourself to one country, perhaps two, in that timeframe. Remember that moving from one area to another will eat up time, too. Guidebooks tend to have "sample" intineraries in them for various lengths of trips. You might start there, then ask more specific questions once you narrow it down a bit. As Frank said, don't rule out open jaw "multi-city" flights - they can save you a lot of backtracking and they aren't the same as two one-way flights.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2918 posts

Sorry Rhonda, but if you did Rome in one day, you missed Rome. It's a 1 week stop, 2 weeks if you see the suburbs. I too used to fly into Europe and drive as far as I could in 2 weeks. With gasoline @ $9.00 per gallon, I've slowed down. We prefer to stay in a central location 3-4 days outside a large city and do day trips by rental car. In 2 weeks, we'll take in 3 cities/regions. Okay, if Paris is included, I'd say fly start in Ireland and stay in the countryside. Driving a rental car through Ireland is absolutely incredible. Then, fly on a budget air carrier to London. There, I prefer to stay in the Knightsbridge area and take subways/trains to the tourist sights. The Eurostar train will have you at the Gard du Nord in Paris very promptly. Another favorite itinerary is Munich-Salzburg-Vienna and take a train to Prague. Or, Amsterdam-Cologne/Rhine River Valley-Munich-Austrian Alps. Our April trip was flight into Pisa-Florence-Tuscany agritursimo w/daytrip to Venice-Rome suburbs.
Future trip will be to Copenhagen-Stockholm-Helsinki(via boat)-Oslo/Bergen.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
4140 posts

Hi, If you're visiting mainly north Germany, then driving between Norway and Germany is possible provided that you return the car in the country you got it. There is a ferry link between Germany and Norway, ie., Kiel to Oslo. Check whether it takes on cars. Ireland is a separate story. Ordinarily, if you intend on visiting just cities, I recommend taking the train.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1673 posts

I would personally go to UK. Start in London, four or five days there with some easy day trips by train, then train or bus west maybe into Bath, two days there, then rent car, drive up to Scotland, leaving last maybe three days in Edinburgh after you drop off car and then home from there. Or could go to Ireland, say fly into Shannon, rent car, drive down west eventually ending up in Dublin. Drop car before Dublin, stay there maybe two days then low budget air to either England or Scotland, only getting car when not in cities and then home from there. Open jaw tickets are not that much more expensive when consider the time and expense of getting back to original arrival city.

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
927 posts

Part 1 My first trip to Rome we only had a day. It was fabulous and one of my all time favorite travel memories. Regarding your question: We have done several drive tours in Europe. We tend not to go to far afield (i.e. Copenhagen to Rome would be too much driving for me). Here are a few ideas to think about: Ireland- It would make a wonderful 2 week trip. (We spent 17 nights on our tour) If you want to move at a little faster pace, you could drive across North Wales and through the Cotswolds to London. France- We took 3 weeks to do a loop of France that included 4 days in Paris. However, with 2 weeks, I would have probably done Normandy, Brittany, the Loire valley, and the Dordogne (which was my favorite area) Other options would be doing just North France with Belguim and the Netherlands. My favorite 2 countries are Switzerland and Austria. (You could add Bavaria area in Germany or some of Northern Italy if you wanted to see more) However, you did indicate you had seen some of this area. When I am trying to make up my mind about where to go, I go over and take a couple of travel classes at the RS travel center. Youtube has a lot of those classes online now, and you may narrow down your ideas and watch a class or two to help you decide. I had a trip to Croatia and Slovenia all mapped out...but we went to France instead.

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
927 posts

Part 2
Once I narrow it down, I check out guidebooks from the library and read about the areas I am thinking about. After choosing my area, I then purchase the Rick Steves guidebook and start actually deciding how long I want in each area. We had a month in 2002, and I thought we would see Ireland, Wales,England and Scotland. Once I started mapping it out I realized we could only see Ireland, Northern Wales, The Cotswolds, Bath and London. Everyone travels at their own pace (I tend to travel faster than many on this board)- Your trip, you get to decide. let me know what you decide! I can't go back until 2014, so I would love hear about your plan

Posted by Adam
2923 posts

The Michelin green guides (and maps) are really great for planning road trips. To avoid driving yourself to death, do not drive too much. So, you should discuss what the optimum ratio of driving to sightseeing is. How many hours per day on average? Good road trips meander a bit and don't try to cram in too many places that are too far away.

Posted by rhonda
9 posts

Thanks to all of you for the GREAT ideas and tips. Let me be a little more clear on where we HAVE been in Europe. First of all David, we were actually in Rome for a week, stayed in an apt. in the Campo de Fiori area (great apt by the way), BUT ....while there we rented a car and went to Naples, Sorrento and Pompeii, our second trip to all of these places, went again because our kids and their spouses were with us this time. On this same trip we went to Florence and a few VERY charming little towns surrounding Florence. Also on this trip we took a Greek cruise, in and out of Venice (took the train from Rome to Venice). We were gone three weeks on that trip. On another trip we went to Paris and London. Then on another Nice, Marseilles, the Provence/ Cote d'Azur area and Lucerne, Switzerland. Another we went to Sardinia. I say all this to say we really don't want to repeat any of these with the exception of maybe Paris and that's a MAYBE. I like the idea of Austria and some countries/areas around there. My husband like the trip that Anita suggested. I love hearing the suggestions and thanks again for your help.
BTW...we even thought about a cruise to Northern Europe including St. Petersburg, Helsinki and some others. Any thoughts on that??

Posted by Julie
Frisco, Texas, US
70 posts

If cost of the flight is to be considered, I would look at the flights, and start the trip where you could get the best fare. Open jaw can be very reasonable, so don't rule it out, but just look at the options online, sometimes there is a sale on certain cities, maybe you'll get lucky. If I were planning your trip I would pick Germany/Austria/Paris or Germany/Austria/Ireland. For example: Munich for 2-3 days including castle visits, the Romantic Road 2 days, especially Rothenberg, Salzburg, Hallstatt (my favorite place in Europe, thanks to Rick Steves), Vienna (particularly if you like music and/or opera). Then take a cheap flight to Ireland or Paris with any leftover time. I'm with you, go to as many places as you can.

Posted by Galen
Dallas, United States
462 posts

Rhonda, Since you now mention Helsinki and St. Petersburg, here's an idea. You can take a St. Peter Line overnight ferry from Helsinki to St. Pete and stay up to 72 hours (2 nights) without the expense of a Russian visa. See for details or PM me for info on our trip last June. Good luck and have a great trip.