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Best way to build Europe Itinerary for teens?

Hello - we are headed to Europe this summer with our two teen boys. We want to visit Holland, they want to go to Cinque Terre and that part of Italy. Any ideas/recommendations on building an itinerary for a 10+ day trip using Rick's recommendations? Where to fly in/ out. Sights that would please parents and teens? How to get from one place to another? I wish there was some kind of BUILDER TOOL that could help. Thank you in advance!

Posted by
3984 posts

I like your 10+ day possibility as I think you’ll need more days to connect these two far flung places even if you involve a flight. It seems like you’d have time to visit about 3 places in your 10+ days, two of them already requested. Your best approach for airfare is to fly into your first destination airport, Amsterdam or somewhere in Italy and fly out of the other with a multi city ticket for the two long flights. The trick becomes where is the one other place you have time for, Switzerland? Paris?, etc and do you do train or a one way flight to get you to your third destination.

Another idea is to just do 2 destinations in your two far flung locations and do day trips from there using Amsterdam or Haarlem to see other places in the Netherlands by efficient trains then flying to Italy and using Lucca as a hub to do day trips to other fantastic locations in Tuscany. Lots to consider. If you haven’t purchased 4 airline tickets for this summer you may be in for some decision making with the high price of summer international air travel. Search Google flights for your large home airport to Europe to see if there are any good prices in the 2 parts of Europe you have on your list.

Posted by
4560 posts

I would do one or the other, but for maximum efficiency, you could fly into AMS and out of Pisa (or vice versa). Check Genoa too, just for kicks. Once you have flights nailed down it should be easy because it is not a lot of time to fill in either palce.
Maybe a bike tour in the Netherlands could sweeten the pot for some outdoor-loving kids? Or, you could give in and enjoy Italy, but doing both eats into limited time.
PS Ask the mod to move this to the General Europe page--this is the trip report page. You'll get more eyes that way.

PSS Use the Skyscanner website to check flights in between AMS and Genoa or Pisa. Google Maps is a really useful travel tool that people often do not think to use! It can give you a sense of distances, locations of airports and train stations--it's basically the primary tool I use when planning.

Posted by
870 posts

Another good site to help you determine distances and transportation options is: https://www.rome2rio.com/
I would not just use Rick's recommendations to build a trip. Some of our favorite places during our travels are not in any of his books. Check out other guidebooks and websites.

Posted by
5026 posts

Have you taken in account the summer heat in Europe? Last year it was awful. How do your kids react when hot and exhausted? What are their interests? What are your interests ? Is the ten days nights on the ground? Are you seasoned travellers? Perhaps you would consider more northern locations? We need more specifics , as every family is different, before we can offer detailed help. Safe travels!

Posted by
3984 posts

Piggybacking on Pat’s thoughts. If your teens and family have an interest in WWII history and coastal exploring, you could combine two more northern, potentially cooler areas of Europe, the Netherlands and Normandy/ Brittany, FR.

Maybe a Flight into Amsterdam and out of Paris, or vise versa would be possible. Even a RT flight into either city isn’t a nightmare with good train connections between Amsterdam and some key northern France locations.

Posted by
11392 posts

a 10+ day trip

Knowing how much the "+" is would help folks provide a feasible itinerary.

"teens" 13/14 18/19 ? What/why did they choose CT?

Posted by
8208 posts

Most first time travelers would want to see more large cities than visiting Amsterdam and the tiny C/T. They're also not in close proximity to each other.

Most Italian travelers would want to go to Rome, Florence & Venice on their first trip. I would suggest you fly into Rome and fly from Venice to Amsterdam on the budget airline, EasyJet.

And try to grab another day or two if possible.

Posted by
2354 posts

First, identify how much time you actually have. Does the 10 days include your travel days to and from Europe? If so, you really only have 7 days on the ground. And you will lose a day traveling between Italy and Holland. So you’re down to 6 days to split between two locations.

Next, what appeals to you about Holland? What appeals to them about Cinque Terre? Would 2-3 days at each location be enough to satisfy? Is this your/their first trip to Europe?

Posted by
15993 posts

Hi and welcome to the forum!

I wish there was some kind of BUILDER TOOL that could help.
Sights that would please parents and teens?

There is no 'tool' that can do this as everyone's interests, regardless of age, are different so there is no standard plan for "sights that would please parents and teens." For instance, I was a lover of museums from a young age. Some adults enjoy hiking, like my husband and I do, and dislike museums. As well, we both enjoy history and architecture. Other folks do not. There's no "one size fits all" for adults and teens. BTW, my first encounter with Europe many years ago was at age 18, and without my parents.

We want to visit Holland

Why? What, more specifically, do you want to see and do there? Unless referencing a specific 2 provinces in the western part of the country, the whole of it is the Kingdom of the Netherlands and offers umpty places to go and things to do so you need to be selective.

They want to go to Cinque Terre and that part of Italy.

Again, why? What specifically do they want to do/see there? What does "that part" of Italy mean? Do they understand that the CT will be MOBBED with tourists during the summer? It's also rather late at this point to book accommodations; it's a popular location of small villages with limited places to stay, and very few of them are hotels.

So what you can you tell us about your family's interests, and why they've chosen the Netherlands/Holland and CT?

Posted by
302 posts

My now- adult "children" really were the builder tool- and now with Google maps/street view there are so many more online resources than we had about 20 years ago. As already said, each/both of their interests is already built into the "planner" and tied for #1 with what you and your husband want (Holland). For example, for us, one was an advanced art student during middle and high school and seeing pieces she'd studied in Florence meshed well with hiking the CT trail. Another time, the other's idol was Anne Frank- seeing that bookcase for the first time brought us all to tears. Are they bikers? That could work with Holland.
Me, I would make, if you haven't already, a specific ranked list of everybody's top favorites- they can all help. I also use Trip Advisor a lot. Then you can start looking at hotels and feasible options to link them. We really enjoyed using the trains since it was a novel experience as Americans- maybe even an overnight
Safe travels!

Posted by
295 posts

I took my teen son (17) on a European tour this past fall (and my teen girls to Italy last spring). We had 23 days on the ground and we went to London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Southern Italy, Rome, Girona and Barcelona. We spent 3.5 days in Amsterdam and it was plenty. I could have stayed and dove deeper into WW2 history and more, but for him it was the right amount of time. We took a flight out of Maastricht due to major issues at Schiphol, but it was a loooooong day! You will definitely lose a full day to travel, but I think 10-12 days will do the trick if you stay primarily in 2-3 areas.

I don't know what cities/areas you are thinking of in the Holland provinces, but I'll just give you our reccomendations for Amsterdam since that's where we were. A canal cruise with a guide is a great idea and I strongly recommend you go on your first or second day as the captains often have loads of advice about what's happening and which sites are great to visit. My son did enjoy the Van Gogh museum. It's not as overwhelming as something like the Louvre or Uffizzi and the chronological exhibits make it more of a story, plus the building is cool.

He liked the Lego store there which has lego recreations of Van Gogh works and a windmill and such.

He generally just enjoyed walking and trying Stroopwafels, Van Stapele cookies, frites and surprisingly Jian Bing from a stand was our favorite thing we ate there!

The trams are a fun change of pace for Americans and they run every few minutes at most stations and are affordable and easy to use. The same tickets can be used for the bus and google was very reliable for indicating timetables there. (A little less so in italy.)

I personally would not stay in Cinque Terre with a teen in the summer unless they enjoy crowds and don't mind waiting in lines for thing and you have a very roomy budget. (Some kids do like to be where the action is, but it would try the patience of most of the teens I know... and I have four teens of my own.). There's not a whole lot to do in Cinque Terre save hiking and shopping, and the trails will be packed that time of year. If you do end up going, I'd book a coast cruise ahead of time so that you at least have a chance to get away from the crowds and have some fresh breezes while you see the view. Likewise, I wouldn't go anywhere on the Amalfi Coast with a teen that time of year.

If part of your Cinque Terre motivation is hiking and beauty, I'd consider somewhere like Lago di Tovel or, if you want that pretty historic vibe, Lago d'Orta. If you want to really "feel" like you are in Italy and not be as secluded, Treviso is gorgeous or somewhere like Modena or Padua will have everything a tourist needs while still feeling authentic (the food will be considerably better than Cinque Terre, IMO). All three of those locations will be less stuffed with visitors and provide an easy base for day trips to Venice, Milan, Verona, Bologna, Parma, etc if you want that. (I agree with Mona about Lucca too.)

In Italy, use the train as much as possible. Italy can be chaotic in some ways, but the trains are surprisingly punctual. Use the bus if it's the most efficient way to get there. (I'd rather have 4h on a train than 3 on a bus, but I'd never do 6h switching trains if a bus can get me there in 3, if you catch my drift.)

Posted by
295 posts

Oh I forgot-- BUILDER TOOL. We like the Tripit App and upgraded to the free premium trial right before we left for our trip, but it wasn't necessary. Without the upgrade, you can load in trip details and it automatically integrates hotels, flights, train tickets and most tours. You can manually add any notes or additional activities. It will automatically send you updates if there are flight or train changes.

We've paired that with google mymaps. We create a map (say, Amsterdam) then we load the main sites we will plan to see, our hotel, the airport, etc. We color code "places" (sites, museums, hotel) as one color. We then add in any restaurants we may be interested in. (Must-eats are neon pink, options are burgundy). The most helpful part of this is that you can pull up mymaps anywhere you are and see what on your list is closest. It's really hard to remember every place you have on your "maybe" list, and keeping them in this way helps us to evaluate, very quickly, what's nearby without scrolling for places to eat that we know nothing about or wandering which place to see next if we are done early somewhere or something was unexpectedly closed.

Sometimes we pull it up and realize 2 or 3 places we wanted to see (smaller sites without tickets and such) might be on the way to our next big thing and we can easily stroll by.

Posted by
4994 posts

Other than indicating an interest in the Cinque Terre, how involved are the boys in the planning? If you've not already done so, get them really involved. The more you have them involved in the planning process, they less likely there will be any unhappy campers. Not that teen boys are ever recalcitrant.