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Whirlwind tour of Europe: August or September?

Trying to decide which month is better for a vacation to western europe. It would be a grand itinerary - UK, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France. Are the crowds really all that much worse in August? Is the weather already turning too much in September? We'd like a summery feel to it, but if September is still plenty warm everywhere and the costs/crowds are that much less, would September be better?

Posted by
683 posts

You are much more likely to feel "summery" in September in southern climes like Italy(Rome or south) and Spain and the Mediterranean coast of France. Paris thins out of Parisians in August (vacations) but is still filled w tourists. Cut out 3 counties and spend more time in each remaining one. You will get more out of your time there,feel more relaxed,see more.

Posted by
60 posts

What about something like Aug 23 - Sep 8th, is that a good compromise?

Posted by
216 posts

Late August is better than any other time that month, but September would be preferable. Weather still is pleasant and the crowds thin markedly in most tourist centers. Don't expect post-season hotel rates, though. Travelers and students returning to their residences may make for some crowded trains on major routes, so plan with this in mind.

Posted by
20 posts

Definitely September. I was up in the Alps (Interlaken area) in mid-October and even then it was pleasant (60s). Even better the leaves were turning. September will be beautiful almost everywhere. And Europeans are back from their vacations as well.

Posted by
9363 posts

Into September is definitely better. And I'm not even going to approach the topic of your desire to do six countries in two weeks.

Posted by
60 posts

Saying 'six countries in two weeks' makes it sound so much worse than it is! Actually the reason I'm doing a self-made tour is that the hectic schedule of the european discovery--type tours is just too much - and you spend SO much time on the coach.

My current itinerary looks a bit like this:
d1 fly london,
d2 london
d3 london
d4 london-brussels early, day brussels
d5 amsterdam
d6 amsterdam
d7 explore area, maybe pop over to Germany for a while, then take a night train from Amst to Zurich/Bern
d8 zurich, bern, or lucerne
d9 zurich, bern, or lucerne
10 head off to south switz/north italy, perhaps?
d11 to venice, venice
d12 to florence for the day, night in florence or rome
d13 rome
d14 rome, night train to paris - Artesia
d15 paris
d16 paris etc
d17 leave

I may even be able to squeeze an extra day in there somewhere to either spend more time in the switzerland/venice transition, spend more time checking out Germany, or spend an extra day in Paris.

Posted by
60 posts


Thank you for your comments - I actually saw the itinerary planning one when I was reading through these forums earlier.

I get the impression you think my itinerary is too aggressive; do you really think so? I've dialed it way back from my initial plans - I am very much a see-everything go-everywhere type; my idea of a vacation doesn't include much lounging about. I've scaled it back for the sake of my wife, who gets exasperated with me. :) My itinerary really boils down to:

London 3 days | Amsterdam/Netherlands 3 days | Switzerland 3 days | Venice 1 day | Florence 1 day | Rome 2 days | Paris 2 or 3 days

It killed me to cut out Austria and Germany since those are the places I personally have the most affinity for; however, I've already been to all of these places (albeit briefly) so this is a 'European Introduction' for my DW.

Posted by
60 posts

I'm still nailing down the process of going from North of the Alps down through and over to Venice. I'm leaning towards a scenic train like the William Tell to take me from Lucerne down to the Ticino area and perhaps spending the night there before taking the last leg over to Venice.

Posted by
60 posts

Do you think that would be all that bad? I had d10 being the train trip and that night in Lugano or around there. From there to Venice in the morning on d11 is 4 hours on the train after a quick changeover in Milan. If I get a 9 or 10 departure, I'm in Venice by 2 at the latest and can check in and then spend the rest of the day and evening in Venice. I may be shortchanging Venice a bit, but I wasn't terribly impressed with the place the first time around (don't flame me!).

I appreciate your sentiment but we are a young couple and this will probably be our last chance to see Europe for the next ten years or so. :) We figure there's plenty of time to relax later on... And maybe by the next time we make it the dollar will be back on top!