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What would you suggest for our first 10 day trip to Europe

My self of my daughter would like to go to Europe in early May 2016 and we are trying to decide what to do and where to go. We have only 10 days and of course want to see of all Europe. Any tour suggestions for our first trip to Europe? Thanks!

Posted by
1103 posts

It would be exhausting and expensive to try to see "all of Europe" in a 10 day trip. You don't say if the 10 days includes travel time, in which case you would only really have 8 days. My suggestion would be to pick one country (perhaps Italy), and build your itinerary around staying at least two nights in each location.

Posted by
1078 posts

If you could squeeze out 14 days, I'd recommend the Rick Steves Best of Europe tour. That will give you a very quick overview of several countries without you having to kill yourself with logistics. If you want to do it yourself, you definitely need to pick one or two countries that appeal to you and stick to those. Ten days is not nearly enough time to do more than a couple or three cities, really. You couldn't see "all of Europe" in ten months...

Posted by
4362 posts

Agree with Celeste -- try to arrange a 14 day window and do the RS Best of Europe tour. If that can't be done, then pick one country and concentrate on it. With only 10 days try for 3 nights in each place. You lose a lot of time going from one place to another -- much more than one would think. Perhaps Venice for 3 nights, Florence for three nights and Rome for 3 nights. RS has a tour that does basically that if you want to leave the logistics to someone else.

Posted by
13237 posts

You could also look at Rick's Heart of Italy which is 10 days but you need a couple of days on the front end for getting there before the tour starts.

You could also fly in to London (knowing that usually flying from a US or Canada location you will leave on Day 1 and arrive on Day 2), spend the nights 2 thru 5 there, take the Eurostar (train) to Paris and overnight in Paris for nights 6-9 and fly home from Paris on Day 10.

It might also help if we knew if the 10 days was actually 10 nights and where you are flying from.

Posted by
1068 posts

I think the advice about scaling back the trip (if you can't take the RS BOE tour) is a good idea. Don't know how much you have traveled but I find people usually underestimate the amount of time it actually takes to get to their destination and settle in. With 10 days I would consider picking a city (or 2) and after seeing the sights there using it as a hub for day trips. Also, if you haven't traveled much I often suggest Ireland or England..... you'll know you are abroad but it isn't quite as alien when you hear your own language (sort of.) Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
2451 posts

rsimpson, about this daughter of yours, would she be 3 or 25 or how many? Choosing where to visit should depend a lot on the special interests of both of you, such as history and art, scenery and outdoor activities, religion, food and wine, big cities or small towns, etc. I certainly agree that on a relatively short trip, you should avoid moving around so much that your trip is mostly spent in transit, checking in and out of lodging, and constantly getting oriented to new places, languages and currencies. The RS Best of Europe Tour would be great, and would allow you to taste a few cultures and wet your feet in international travel, with a lifetime of future trips in mind, without being pre-occupied with the logistics of transit, lodging, tickets and reservations for sites, etc. Other than that, choose two to three locations that are not TOO far apart, and immerse yourself in them. Italy is wonderful and diverse, but so are many other countries in both western and eastern Europe.

Posted by
544 posts

First off, I agree with everyone else that Rick's 14-day tour is exactly what you need, but since you said you only have 10 days, I'll give it a shot:

For 10 days and a first trip to Europe, I'd recommend staying in Rick's $$$ accommodations so that you have the least culture shock, get good rest and start each day with killer breakfasts. London, Amsterdam and Paris are all three relatively easy to fly to/from. The U.K. and the Netherlands have a relatively low language barrier to deal with. Here's a couple ideas for an itinerary:

Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris
Day 1 - Fly to Amsterdam
Day 2 - Arrive in Amsterdam (watch out for bikes, seriously)
Day 3 - Amsterdam
Day 4 - Day trip to outdoor museum in Enkhuizen
Day 5 - Train to Bruges, two nights
Day 6 - Bruges
Day 7 - Train to Paris
Day 8 - Paris
Day 9 - Paris
Day 10 - Home

Amsterdam to London
Day 1 - Fly to Amsterdam
Day 2 - Arrive in Amsterdam (watch out for bikes, seriously)
Day 3 - Amsterdam
Day 4 - Day trip to outdoor museum in Enkhuizen
Day 5 - Amsterdam, depart in the evening to Hoek van Holland and take overnight ferry to U.K.
Day 6 - London
Day 7 - London
Day 8 - Day trip to Windsor
Day 9 - London
Day 10 - Fly home

Posted by
2487 posts

Two destinations, three at most, is a sound advice. The rule of thumb is that every move will cost you at least half a day of your precious time. A longer stay also gives you the opportunity of day trip to something nearby.
Doing it yourself instead of using some tour gives you much more the feeling of being part of it all. All good guide books will give you information on the use of transport systems, and the way to reach attractions. The first time you'll undoubtedly be unsure, but then you see how simple it all is.
Flying into London (or another UK destination) has the huge advantage of the absence of a language barrier, although at popular destinations almost everybody you need has a good enough command of English.
But the most important question is on you and your daughter: what are you looking for? Europe is amazingly diverse, both geographically and historically. It's no problem to spend two weeks in Germany, Austria and Czechia looking for baroque churches, or wander around WWI battlefields in Belgium and northern France, but those are probably not your first priority.

Posted by
194 posts

To me, Paris is always a "must see" on any trip to Europe. I like what Pam (above) suggested. I, too, operate on the "night" system. Your first night will be your flight to Europe. 4 nights in London and 4 nights in Paris will allow you to get a feel for both cities and get to most of the big sites. These two cities have a lot of the sights that you probably have read about over the years. Hopefully the weather will be good but when you wake up in the morning, "sunny" is for outdoor activities, "cloudy, rainy" is for indoor activities (museums, churches, etc.). Also, it is imperative you make your train reservations in advance if you are going to use any of the European high speed trains (Eurostar, TGV, Thalys, etc). You can usually purchase tickets on these trains from here in the States 90 days in advance of your travel dates; the earlier you purchase, the cheaper they may be. From whatever city you leave from in Europe flying home, you must give yourself a minimum of 4 hours to get to the airport and check in. Here in the states, if you are making a connecting flight, make sure to have a layover of at least a couple of hours both ways to account for any delays and to make sure your luggage gets on your plane. 45 minutes between flights can be living dangerously in this regard.

Study the public transportation systems in whatever cities you are planing to visit. As the others have said, having more information about your plans and interests would really be helpful. You will find the folks here are willing provide a lot of useful information if you were more specific. Have a great trip!

Posted by
796 posts

I would suggest 3 options.

  1. London & Paris. Easy chunnel travel. 2 different cultures. Start in London for the English language ease.

  2. Paris and another France location or 2. Easier transportation in one country. Perhaps fly into Paris and TGV to Avignon or Nice. The Nice area has easy transportation. If you stay in Villefranche sur Mer, you would have a small town atmosphere and ease with bus and train. Fly out of Nice.

Paris is my favorite city in the world.

  1. You could do a 7 day Paris city tour and depart to a closer France site by train and fly in and out of Paris.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
4637 posts

If you never been to Europe then fly to London for 5 days, take a train to Paris and fly back from Paris. Many first time travelers make a mistake wanting to see too much and in reality they see less. You have to consider jet lag, settle down, get oriented. 10 days are certainly not too many for London and Paris for first time European travelers. By the way I understand that you want to see of all Europe, unfortunately that's not possible in 10 days. I would suggest 10 years.

Posted by
2788 posts

I second llja's post. Also, get a copy of RS "Europe thru the Back Door" and read it carefully. It is an excellent primer for newer travelers to Europe. Second, once you do settle on places to visit, get guide books for those places so that you can maximize your time and energy, as well as places to stay and eat. RS has some great guide books that can be ordered elsewhere on this web site.
I have gone to Europe for 13 of the last 14 years and have taken 13 RS tours and always get guide books for wherever I am going that year. They just contain so much information that I would never come up with by doing the research myself. On my first trip to Europe I took the RS Best of Europe tour which was a great introduction to Europe. As Rick likes to say, don't try to do too much. Just figure that you will be back some day. Happy travels.

Posted by
6103 posts

I just want to second what most of the other folks have said: count nights, not days. And it is painfully true that travelling from one city or country to another and will eat up most of a day. Think about: checking out of your hotel: getting yourself, daughter, and baggage to the train station or airport; actual travel time; getting from the destination station to your new hotel; unpacking; finding a place to eat in an unfamiliar city...

I like Charlie's suggestion of "Europe Through the Back Door." It is well worth reading. Also find Rick's "Postcards from Europe" for an earlier perspective on European travel. And all Rick's guidebooks are worth reading - well ahead of time. In fact, perusing a few of these might help you decide where you'd prefer to spend your limited time.

One more thing: all these books, including the guidebooks, Rick's and others, are available at many public libraries. That's where we get ours, at least until we're ready to commit to an itinerary. Books are pricey; check your local library. If they don't have a title you want, ask about interlibrary loan.

In terms of where to go, What is your heart's desire? What do you think of when someone mentions a trip to Europe? Rome? Paris? The Alps? If the answer is "All of the above," pick one or two, and save the others for another trip! Happy travels, and remember that planning is half the fun.

Posted by
11294 posts

As you can see, experienced travelers all have different ideas of what they would recommend for a first, 10 day trip to Europe. So, you have to decide what YOU want to see the most - and ditch everything else. Harsh but true. I only get 10 nights for my trips, so I know how hard it is to cut things. You have to be ruthless, and just keep telling yourself you will return.Accept that no matter how long your trip is, you will still miss some things - and that's OK, because you saw the things you did see.

If you need guidance, you can look at not only Rick's tours, but other tour company itineraries. You should also look at Rick's videos, available here:

And don't be afraid to be "unconventional." Places like London, Paris, and Italy are certainly many people's first choice. But for my mother, it was Berlin one year and Istanbul the next. She had a great time, largely because we went where she wanted to go, when she wanted to go there.

Posted by
6103 posts

I'm modifying a bit what I wrote earlier. On our first three pleasure trips to Europe (not for work or school) we did city tours. Our first trip was on our own, and we based in Positano and took day trips from there: Capri, Paestum, Sorrento, Salerno, Amalfi... A few years later we started doing RS tours, and we started with city tours. I would highly recommend picking one of those tours, say Paris, Rome, or London. If two of your ten days are travel days, that leaves you with eight actual sightseeing days, perfect for a "Best of ..." Rick Steves tour. Rome would be perfect: the Vatican, Pantheon, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain (is it working again?) Or Paris: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame ... And the RS city tours are highly affordable, providing great value. Take a look at the itineraries; they're hard to beat if your time is limited, or even if it isn't. Happy travels.

Posted by
58 posts

Seeing "all of Europe" in 10 days is impossible. You'd be selling it short & robbing yourself of the chance to truly enjoy anything. I would suggest picking a maximum of 2 or three countries as your focus. Hopefully, you can go back & do a similar trip as a follow-up.

One nice way to split things up might be a few days each in Ireland, England & Paris? Land in Dublin, but give yourself time to see some of the smaller, more genuine towns (Dingle, Kinsale, etc.). Visit London of course, but perhaps Cornwall or Liverpool to get a sense of other parts of England & then enjoy the sights & sounds of Paris, but depending on how old your daughter is, consider an escape to Disneyland Paris to see what the Disney experience is like abroad.

Posted by
399 posts

It can't be done in 10 days.

Pick two cities not to far away and spend four days at each. I would suggest choosing between Rome, Paris, London, Amsterdam and Berlin. On second thought, I would choose Berlin and one of the others mentioned.