Hi everyone. So I'm planning to take my honeymoon in Europe, my soon to be husband and I have decided that we want to be in Ireland, France, Italy and United Kingdom. I am planning on getting Eurorail tickets to get us around and the oyster card for London. My question is, once I am in these countries how do I get around. We are planning on going right after christmas through the new year. I really don't want to rent a car. Is this possible to get around Ireland without a car? Or really anywhere else? I know Paris has a subway system, so do I have to buy the Paris version of an oystercard to use different subways? Thanks for the help. Megan
It was a few years ago, but I did a 30 day loop through England, Ireland, and Scotland and never used a car. I had a 10 day BritRail pass; I don't think the Britrail pass is really much of a savings over advanced purchase, but it does give you more flexibility. My pass was good for any 10 days travel within a 30 day window (or something like that). The trains were excellent in England and pretty good in Scotland, but in Ireland I mainly used buses, and only rode the train when crossing from Galway to Dublin. But the Irish bus system was pretty extensive (not sure if it has been reduced because of the austerity measures or not), and I was able to get almost everywhere I wanted to go on the bus. Even some pretty small and rural villages have bus service although it may be a very limited schedule (2 buses per day, the morning bus and the evening bus; or not every day). Another thing I did was take some half-day bus tours, that visited areas I was interested in but where the public bus schedule didn't work for me. If you're willing to do a little walking, and aren't on a restrictive schedule, you should do fine without a car. I also did a trip to England and France back in May. I rode the train to the south of England, a bus across to Poole, then a ferry to Cherbourg, the train to Paris, and the Metro to my hotel! (not all in one day!) Very easy! Its my understanding that the Metro passes in Paris aren't really a very good deal, and that its easier just to get individual tickets, or buy a book of 10 tickets for a 10% savings.
What a great place to honeymoon! We'll keep our fingers crossed for good weather. "I am planning on getting Eurorail tickets to get us around" The Eurailpass isn't good in the UK. It does cover ferries from Ireland, but only partially - you still have to pay 70% of the ferry passage over to the UK or France - and to France, you can plan on an 18-hour ferry trip from Ireland just to reach the coast. If you're going to Paris or London, wouldn't a short flight be better? Of course. And Ryanair flies DUB - London Stansted in about one hour, sometimes for around 30 Euros. You shouldn't choose a railpass unless you're sure that a railpass is the best way to get between the specific cities/towns you will visit. A Eurailpass is very likely a big mistake for the trip you've proposed. "My question is, once I am in these countries how do I get around." By train, in most cases. A railpass can be helpful, not just between countries but within them. But it depends on your destinations whether railpasses or plain old tickets are best. In Ireland and the UK, where train tickets are expensive, buses are often a good idea. How much time do you have, and what cities do you plan to visit? You need to be clear about this to get some good advice.
Megan, that is excellent advice from Russ! And yes, you will do fine without a car. My husband and I get around very well in Europe and usually elect not to rent a car. It's easy to combine trains, busses, subways, walking, etc. to get where you are going. More detailed info about your trip will help the savvy travelers on this board give you some really helpful specifics! Others, I think since Megan has said this is her first trip to Europe, we should avoid the usual "old timer" acronyms... even easy ones, like DUB. Just a suggestion.
Megan, I see that you are from Texas, and thus possibly believe that long distances are not a problem. Ireland, Britain, France, and Italy are not as close as they appear. They'll all take a day of travel and orientation between them, no matter how you travel. How long is your trip, and do you want to lose 4 days of it just to travel from one place to another? Have you read "Europe Through the Back Door" yet? It's a good resource for a first time traveler. You can also keep reading back in time on this helpline for a lot of good advice. Please feel free to ask more questions here.
The train lines in Ireland are pretty sparse. Buses go to far more places.
How long is this trip- sounds like a lot of ground to cover.
Trains only connect the bigger cities in Ireland. Consider buses, or renting a car. There is so much to see in the open country and small villages if Ireland; a car gets you into those places more efficiently. You just need to get adjusted to driving on the left, which isn't as daunting as one may think. However, keep in mind that in winter, the weather will not be favorable in most of those places, and the daylight hours will be short. It could be cold, rainy, snowy, foggy, or any combination of those. Italy and the Mediterranean coast would have milder weather, but it can be chilly even there. OTOH, there are lots of great indoor things to see in the cities to keep you out of the cold. Just the museums and art galleries in London and Paris will keep you busy for quite a while. As for your proposed itinerary, unless you have a lot of time to travel (e.g., a month or more), you will be spreading yourselves too thin, scurrying from one country to the next. Ireland to Italy is a lot of ground to cover and you'll barely scratch the surface of any of those places. Consider concentrating on a smaller area, and save the other destinations for another trip. It will give you something to look forward to on the next vacation.
Since it's your first trip, you would be best off starting in Ireland and the UK, then moving on to countries where you don't know the language. Even speaking English, the culture is different enough for a first time traveler in Ireland or UK, and just getting the hang of traveling takes some doing. I suspect that you would be happier concentrating on just a country or two on this first trip. Or if you really must do all, fly into, say, London and out of Rome (or whatever your farthest point will be) so you don't have to backtrack.
For emphasis I'll repeat some of the things others have said. In Ireland it's best to have a car to see the glorious countryside and coastal areas. Second is the bus. Train service is too limited. If you can commit to specific departure dates and times, booking point-to-point train tickets well in advance (usually up to 90 days) will be cheaper than a railpass, either BritRail or Eurail. Flying on discount airlines can be cheap as well as fast. See the search engine www.skyscanner.com. What cities do you plan to visit and how many days do you have for this trip? Central Paris is very walkable. Unless you're going to be there for five or more days, buying ten-ticket carnets as needed and sharing the tickets probably will be your best choice. For all your ticket and pass choices, with links to detailed explanations of each one, go here.
For getting between individual cities in France or Italy, your best bet for train schedules is the German Rail website. Just put in the towns you want to go between and the approximate time. Right now you can't put in a date for "right after Christmas" because the European railroads haven't uploaded their new schedules. Just put in the same day of the week before Dec 11. The schedule shouldn't change much if at all.
A while back, my wife decided she might want to go to Ireland. I began planning a trip. We made up a desired itinerary and found bus connections to everywhere on it. After getting quotes for car rentals I quickly determined that renting a car, with CDW, would cost a lot more money ($955-$1145) than buses (~$360).
megan, If you haven't already, I would highly recommend that you read Europe Through The Back Door ASAP, as that will answer a lot of your questions. In order to maximize your touring time and avoiding problems, careful Itinerary planning is essential! Just to clarify, you can certainly buy Railpasses but tickets are usually purchased from the individual rail networks in each country. Using a Railpass is not necessarily the most cost effective solution, but it's difficult to offer much advice on that point without knowing more about your Itinerary. Note that Railpasses do NOT include the reservation fees that are compulsory on some trains. Travel in Europe at that time of year can be "challenging" depending on the weather. Last year was a bit brutal at times, and for that reason it would be a good idea to build some flexibility into your Itinerary. Regarding the Oystercard, there's a good description in the England or London Guidebooks of the various transit passes in London, and which are better for various situations. You might be able to find a copy of the book in your local Library. Depending on how often you plan on travelling by Metro in Paris, your best bet is probably a Carnet of 10 tickets. Have a look at This Website or the appropriate Guidebooks for further information. I would advise against renting a car for any part of your trip, especially as this is your first trip to Europe and driving at that time of year can be "problematic" (especially if you're not used to winter driving condtions). Could you provide a bit more information on your Itinerary? Cheers!
Hi everyone, Thanks for all the help. I will be in Europe for 14 days give or take. I was thinking about using the Eurostar to get from London to Paris, I was reading that it would only take a couple of hours. Since we will be going during the winter I don't really want to rent a car because of snow and ice. Do you suggest to stay in centrally located hotels so that we can walk to most places? Thanks again. Megan
OK. London, then Paris. 14 days. Eurostar to Paris is a good idea - nice and quick. But you're going to need at least 3-4 days in each of London and Paris. That's half your time. What other places will you visit? Are you going elsewhere in England - Bath, Cotswold villages, Stratford? - or elsewhere in France - maybe Normandy/D-day beaches? If so, that's about all you'll have time for in 14 days. Or do you really plan to go to Italy AND Ireland? One or the other, maybe, would make more sense on top of London and Paris, but not both. In a week you could probably fly into Venice (2-3 nights) or Rome 4-5 nights), travel by train between the two, then fly home from there. If Ireland, fly there from Paris; a week there might include a few days in Dublin and maybe a couple in Galway, the Dingle Peninsula, or Doolin, then fly home from Ireland. So on top of the Eurostar, you'll probably have one flight plus a few train trips. Sounds like a railpass would be overkill. But you'll need to post a more specific itinerary to find out what's best.
14 days means you no more then 3 countries to me,, I think your list is too long and will be complicated by too much moving around. The Eurostar is 2.5 hours from city center to city center, very convenient . The best rates are purchased far in advance ,, and travel on slower days, tues, wed and thurs.. I would book that quickly. I would consider flying into one city(say Dublin) and home from another to save on back tracking.
Don't count your arrival or departure day,, so that leaves you say 12 days, that is four days in three places,, keeping in mind you will spend time in the actual travel between them too. I would skip using a train to get from main cities to other main cities, fly to Rome,, from Paris for instance, look at budget airlines( I used Vueling and it was fine) but keep in mind they charge for luggage and are strict strict about weight,, so travel light. I would elimanate Italy or Ireland.
Megan, As the others have pointed out, 14-days is in reality only 12-days of travel, so I really doubt that you're going to be able to visit four countries in such a short time frame. Under the circumstances, I'd suggest focusing on two or perhaps three countries. With the potential for extreme weather at that time of year, limiting your trip to France and Italy would likely be the best idea. Some additional information would be helpful. For example, have you already bought air tickets, and if so which cities will you be flying to? As the others have mentioned, using open-jaw flights would be the most efficient method, as that avoids "backtracking" which costs both time and money. Cheers!
Thanks again everyone for all the great information. We are still planning on going to about 5 different countries, I know that everyone says that I will be spreading myself to thin, but I have been looking at this trip for 2 years now and I feel that we will be hitting up everything that we really want to do in the days that I have set out. Megan
Megan, don't forget to schedule at least one or two "rest days" into your itinerary. Being on the go for 14 days in a row is exhausting. Be ready to give up sights on your list, and just remember you will return! We visited London 3 years ago for the first time, and had a blast for 10 days there. This year, last month, we visited again and were able to visit some sights we had to drop from our list due to just being too dang tired! Like Greenwich, which we had planned to visit last time at 2pm, and am glad we waited until we could spend more time there! Rick always says, plan on returning! And he is right. Once you visit Europe, you will want to come back. We've spent a total of 19 nights in London so far over 2 trips, and still feel we want another week there at least! There is so much to see, so much history, and the city is so alive and energized, it is intoxicating! Don't forget it gets COLD in the UK around Christmas, not to mention fewer hours of daylight. I saw snow in London there last year. Come prepared for it!
"Thanks again everyone for all the great information. We are still planning on going to about 5 different countries, I know that everyone says that I will be spreading myself to thin, but I have been looking at this trip for 2 years now and I feel that we will be hitting up everything that we really want to do in the days that I have set out." The "great information" that the seasoned travelers here have provided indicates that it's unreasonable to visit the 4 countries you first named in just 2 weeks. Now you're doing 5 countries? HOW? You haven't shared your secret travel formula, but I guess you've found an answer to your question - how do I get around? - and don't require any further input. Best wishes.
megan congratulations on your upcoming nuptials and I hope you have a bonzer honeymoon. You've had good advice, and I see your points. Whatever happens be sure to enjoy your honeymoon. There are all sorts of opportunities for all sorts of romantic things. The other poster was correct - the low light and marginal weather at that time of the year, as well as some attractions being shut, will perhaps slow you down a little. A bit of free advice? I would have a chat with your hubby every couple of days or so and see how you both feel about how the time has gone and if you both think the plan is working. You may find that good weather one place can make up for bad weather somewhere else. Happy planning, and bon chance.
It's been hinted at by other posters, but I'll state more explicitly. In the colder months, NW Europe has greatly reduced visibility. The sun rises late, sets early, and mornings are often foggy and overcast. This means that if you intend to explore the countryside much, you may only have 4 hours, at most, of good visibility. Those postcard views of countryside that you traveled so far to see will be obscured behind gray haze. What does this mean for your trip? Not much if you stay mostly in cities. But you may find the rural areas disappointing. And readdressing another point. You have allotted 14 days, but as others have noted, you really only have 12 days to explore. 5 countries, that equals 2.4 days per country. Now consider that you would have to change locations at least 4 times. Each move sucks up far more time than quoted by train timetables. Consider that from the departure point you will have to pack, check out of the hotel, go to the trainstation, then repeat everything in reverse order once you arrive at the next destination. Even if the actual train ride lasts only 2-3 hours (and going from France to Italy will take far longer), it realistically will be closer 5-6 hours total, before you are completely settled in your next location. The better part of the day is gone. So, 12 total days in Europe, changing locations 4 times, gives you 8 full non-travel days. 8 days spread among 5 locations? Average of 1.6 non-travel days at each location. If I had suggested something like that for a honeymoon, my wife would likely have asked, "Um, when are we going to have time for... um, you know..."
Since you and your soon-to-be husband have your hearts set on visiting Ireland, England, France, and Italy in 14 days, you won't have much time for day trips. If you do decide to spend a day outside a city, you can easily get to nearby sights by either train or bus. For example, you can take a bus tour that goes from Dublin to the Wicklow Mountains and back. You can take the RER (suburban train) from Paris to Versailles and back. However, with your limited time I suggest that you stick to cities and skip day trips. Give yourselves some time to explore a bit on foot and to stop in at a cafe for coffee whenever you want to sit and relax for a while. Book open jaw (multi-city) plane tickets and fly home-Dublin and Rome-home. Fly to Dublin. Fly from Dublin to London on a budget airline. Take the Eurostar from London to Paris. Fly from Paris to Rome on a budget airline. Fly home. To get the cheapest fares, book now! As I said in my previous post, use skyscanner.com to find which budget airlines fly your routes. Book directly on each airline's site. Book your Eurostar tickets at eurostar.com.
I'd missed that another country had snuck in. I remembered Ireland, UK, France and Italy. What other country? Maybe instead of countries a list of cities would help us help.
Megan mentioned '5' countries on 10:28 PM yesterday. She didn't name the one she had added.
Megan, As Ken and Nigel have suggested, you might want to post your planned itinerary in order to get more specific suggestions on the best way to get between points, and advice from the experienced travelers on how long that travel actually takes. Remember too, that "stuff"both bad and goodhappens on a trip and that can change your plans. My husband and I recently returned from 3 weeks in England and there were a number of things we didn't get to do for one reason or another. I fell down one day and that slowed up walking for a day or two. Our friends got unexpected tickets for the 4 of us to see a show in London which meant a later than expected night and a later start the next day. Leave a little slack in your schedule, and be sure to discuss what you're willing to cut out if all doesn't go to plan. Also, make sure your honeymoon doesn't just become a march across Europe checking off all the things you want to see. Enjoy the moments and being there with your new hubby. Make sure you have time for coffee in a cafe and a pint in a pub, or whatever you would find relaxing. Hope you have a truly wonderful time.
Megan, NOt sure if it has been posted already, but Eurail pass can be convenient, but be sure you keep a close eye on it, especially in areas like Rome. I was there last year and as many precautions as I took against the pickpocters mine was stolen on the train. I had to buy all my tickets as I went after that because you cannot get a refund until after you are back in the states (if you have travel insurance on them) and I had to file a police report in Italy and send it to Eurail. They were not sympathtic or helpful. We are going back in December and we are trying to decide if we want to buy Eurail pass (which is probably more expensive over all) but all you have to do is worry about reservations on the certain trains after that rather than buying tickets time and again. We are going to Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland.
and as many precautions as I took against the pickpocters mine was stolen on the train Tina K, sorry to hear about your loss. As we discuss pickpocket thwarting and moneybelts here on the helpline frequently can you say what happened, what precautions, how they got past your defences, please? We need to help others to learn. Thanks...
Nigel, Good reminder for me. You are right. I will do that. Thanks.
So many 1st timers make the newbie mistake of trying to cram too many countries into a not so lengthy timeframe. I don't know if you are attempting 5 countries in 14 days like you mention in a later response to your original post which lists only 4, but even 4 is going to be a blur unless all you plan to do is visit 1 main city per country. To do the primary tourist cities of Dublin, London, Paris and Rome, you really need a full 2 days for Dublin and 4 days for each of the others to scratch the surface of all there is to see for a 1st time visitor. There really is no time to fit in any of the rest of the country unless you start subtracting days from these cities that are jammed with so much more to see. As already mentioned, you'll be eating up the better part of a day just switching locations by the time you check out of 1 hotel, get your train (or plane), find and check into the next hotel, and get your bearings on how to get around by public transit to go to all the sights. Being from Texas, you are likely not used to getting around via subways or city buses so it may take you a little longer to feel comfortable. Yes, stay as central as you can afford. With the exception of Dublin (pretty compact and walkable), the other cities are very large and while you can see a good number of sights that are central, there's always a few that aren't, so you'll need to use public transit at times. I'd recommend dropping 1 country and use the extra time to relax with your husband. It's a honeymoon, it's not The Amazing Race.
10 days since we saw megan. megan, are you still out there?