LAX-London-Paris-Bologna-Venice-Bologna-Rome-LAX

New to this site, so not sure if this is the right forum. I'm looking for transportation suggestions for the above itinerary with about a 12 day duration. There are 4 of us Will not sleeping over in Venice. Looks like trains might make the most sense. If I use trains, what is the best way to book? Individual tickets or some can of pass, I've never done this before. I'm not apposed to renting a car and driving but don't think that makes sense, and with the security at airports don't think there will be sufficient time saving to warrant the additional expense. The itinerary is not cast in stone so any comments are welcome, for example it was suggested we stay in Bologna and make a day trip to Venice. I know it's quite a few places in a short time Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated Thanks
Russell

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2522 posts

Not sure about the travel time from Paris to Bologna, you might want to check airfares and schedules for that leg. Train travel within Italy is relatively inexpensive, don't bother with a railpass. You can get different price ranges on tickets from Trenitalia's website (trenitalia.com), they list a base fare (same as you would pay if you buy the ticket in Italy) and a couple of cheaper options, but those will lock you in to a specific date/time/train number and give you a reserved seat. Bologna to Venice on the fast train has no stops or one stop, depending on when you leave; the non-stop takes about an hour and 45 minutes and costs 25 euro (this is an economy or super economy fare). Same info for reverse trip. Train from Bologna Centrale to Roma Termini is a little over 2 hours, cost is as low as 39 euro up to about 56 euro. I think Venice deserves more than a daytrip, especially if you want to see some of the islands (Burano, Murano, Torcello), but you can get there by train for a daytrip if you prefer. You can also buy a one-day vaporetto pass at the train station (each vaporetto ride is about 7 euro, so it might be worth it). For a different experience of cities near water, you could fly or travel by train from Paris to Milan, take the train to Como and spend a night or two on the lake.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

My simple solution is: with 4 stops, spend 3 nights in each. 1) from London to Paris take the Eurostar at Eurostar.com. Make reservations early for the best rates. 2) from Paris to Bologna book a flight using Skyscanner.com. It's usually quicker and easier to get to CDG airport than to Beauvais. Depending on your budget it may be worth paying more to get the flight you want. 3) for daytrip from Bologna to Venice take the train using Trenitalia.com for info. With your limited amount of time a daytrip to Venice makes sense. You can spend most of the day in Venice. Leave the islands for a later trip when you have more time. In a few hours you can wander all over Venice. 4) from Bologna to Rome take the train. For two train trips it won't pay to buy a pass. You may be able to save money by buying tix in advance. If you have more questions, first consult a good travel book or two (the Rick Steves books are very good), then come back to this board and ask specific questions.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

I'll add a few details to Zoe and Swan's suggestions. 1. London-Paris: Book tickets at eurostar.com up to 120 days in advance. The longer you wait, the higher the fare. Discount fare tickets are for a specific departure date and time and are non-exchangeable and non-refundable. 2. Paris-Bologna: Book super cheap tickets on either easyJet (CDG-Bologna) or Ryanair (Beauvais-Bologna). Beauvais is a 90-minute bus ride from Paris. Airport shuttle buses leave Paris three hours before each flight's scheduled departure time. 3. Bologna-Venice: On this route regional trains are only a little slower than high-speed trains. The price for a ticket on a regional train is €10.75 and tickets are good on any train. Be sure to validate (time stamp) your ticket in the box at the station. 4. Bologna-Rome: The base (standard) 2nd class fare on a high-speed train is €56.00. If you book well in advance (up to 120 days allowed) on trenitalia.com, you can get a super economy fare of €19.00. Discount fare tickets are for a specific departure date and time and are non-exchangeable and non-refundable. While it's possible to book tickets on trenitalia.com without registering on the site, things go more smoothly if you do. Before you book, be sure to notify your credit card provider that you will be making international transactions. If you don't, a computer may block your card for suspected fraudulent use. Just before you leave home, do the same with your credit card provider and your bank so your credit card and your ATM card will work while you're in Europe.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2276 posts

What is the time frame? This fall? Winter? Next summer? I'll agree with Zoe, that if you want to see Venice, you can make it happen and it is worth it. If your just trying to save money on lodging, there are options to get a small appartment for a few days for the cost of 2 hotel rooms in Bologna. If you're going to Bologna to visit friends or family or see something on your list, that is one thing, but I wouldn't do it to save money. You could stay in Padua, which has lots on interesting sights (Scrovgeni Chapel), inexpensive hotels, and is only a 30 minute and 3.50 Euro train ride from Venice. London-Paris train can be had for 44 Euro per person booking well in advance. Paris-Venice/Padua/Bologna(after Dec 7) can be had for 55 Euro per person on a Thello Sleeper 4 person compartment. Again, book well in advance. Venice/Padua/Bologna-Rome is as low as 29 Euro and I'm even seeing a "slow" train at 9 Euro.
Suggestions we got plenty.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

One more thing. Pay attention to the luggage size, weight, and number limits on budget airlines. If you exceed them, the fees you'll have to pay can cost more than your ticket. Be sure to observe the strict check-in deadline. If you don't have a boarding pass in hand when the deadline arrives, your ticket will be worthless and you'll have to buy a full fare ticket on a later flight.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Let me add to Tim's warning of budget airlines. Read their websites carefully to know all of the rules. Especially Ryanair's. If you fail to print a boarding pass prior to coming to the airport, they charge for it. If your luggage doesn't fit in the sizer and you have to check it, and haven't paid ahead of time, they charge you for it. If you smile at a gate agent prior to 10 AM and haven't pre-paid for the privilege, they charge you for it. When comparing discount airline prices, compare everything and not just the fare. Also include the cost of transport to the airport.

Posted by Russell
California
19 posts

Wow, thanks for the quick responses, in answer to the question, we are planning on going May 2013 With regards to Venice, two friends suggested we not stay there, both for budget reasons and they did not think we needed more than a day, one suggested Bologna as a nice alternative with a day trip to Venice. Just starting the process and am getting Rick Steves' Best of Europe 2013 today. Will get country specific books at a later stage I think Thanks again
Russell

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

Your friends' opinion about Venice is just that - an opinion. What do you want to see in Venice? If it's only a couple things that will take a day, fine. But if you want to go to museums and churches, take a gondola ride, etc. then you'll need more time. Read Rick Steves' books and books from a different company (DK Eyewitness, Lonely Planet) for a different viewpoint, and make a list of everything you'd like to see in every city you visit. Then you can figure out how much time you'd like/need in each place, and go from there. You may have to cut things from your list but at least you'll have done good research and you'll know what you want.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

The only things I don't get are the trips in and out of Bologna. With all the respect I have for Bologna, it really is a second or third tier city for most visitors to Italy (may the food gods never strike me down). This is a really busy cramped trip but instead of taking action to simplify and streamline, such as flying direct from Paris to Venice (cheap and fast), you consider taking a slow train and then commuting a fair distance in and out of Venice. There are three kinds of visitors to Venice - those who skim over it and find it OK, often on the way to or from a cruise; those who hate it, often only in Venice a very short time and following the hordes along the time trodden superhighways of humankind, never getting away from the crowds and finding little to interest them; and those who, taking time to get away from the crowds, explore the little alleys and churches, wander the small canals, and just take it in, preferably early in the day and later in the evening - and fall in love with Venice. I'm in the third camp - I've been to Venice many times and every time is even better. If you just dash in, look around and dash back out you are likely to wind up as a Venice hater. Stay away from the other day trippers and you have a chance.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

Russell, Could you clarify whether your trip is actually 14-days, with 12 for touring? I'm not sure you're going to have time to visit five locations in a 12 day time frame, especially as there doesn't appear to be any allowance for travel times. You may not be able to spend much time in all the places you listed, once the transportation times are included. It's good to see that you'll be using open-jaw flights (inbound London, outbound Rome). Keep in mind that flights will take two days, and you'll be jet-lagged for a day or two after arrival, so may not get as much touring done as planned. This is one way you could structure the trip..... > LONDON > EuroStar to Paris (book WELL in advance - have a look at Seat 61 website for lots of good information on how to book. Note that you MUST check-in at St. Pancras at least 30 minutes prior to departure). > PARIS > Flight to Bologna (check EasyJet for flights, as they have 1H:45M flights from CDG to BLQ - be sure to book early for the best price and be sure to note the Terms & Conditions, especially related to luggage - only ONE carry-on item is normally allowed). > Day trip to Venice - I'd suggest using the Freccia (fast) trains, as the travel time will be about 1H:30M each way. Lowest fare is currently shown at €19 PP each way. Reservations are compulsory! > Train to Rome - again, the Freccia train would be good. Travel time 2H:16M and fares currently from €39 - 56 PP. > ROME - to get from Termini to the airport, the Leonardo Express (train) is a good option. Fare €14 PP, trip 35M. BE SURE to validate the ticket so that you don't get fined! Guidebooks for each place would be a good idea. Happy travels!

Posted by Terri
Hilo
21 posts

We have a similar trip next month. After doing a LOT of research and then finding this site, we're flying from Paris to Venice, spending a night there - the hotel is quite close to the train station - then the remainder of the journey by train. We'll leave Venice to Florence and overnight there, giving us most of that day and the next to check things out and enjoy some of Florence's famous food. After that, we head to Rome for a few days. On the return, we're stopping in Bologna for a foodie tour (highly recommended by many as the best part of the trip), overnight there and then back up to Milan. You can go back to Paris from there, but you might want to make time to do one of the scenic railroads in Switzerland and return to Paris from Zurich. Thanks to some very helpful people here, we killed the idea of a rail pass and ended up saving over $600 by booking each leg separately.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

Don't forget to check Italo, the new rail company with sometimes very cheap tickets and often cheaper than Trenitalia on major routes!