Two weeks ago, we got back from an almost-3-week trip to Europe (Germany, Austria, Italy), and have a few tips to pass on. #1 After having done a Grand Tour (4 weeks, in 2005) we've found that picking a couple of relatively-centrally-located cities to stay in for a week or more at a time works best for us, rather than having to decamp and move from city to city every two or three days. This has a number of benefits. First, it allows us to live as the natives do shopping for food every day or two, moving with the commuter flow (or not, depending on how early you get started in the morning), and just being less like a tourist. Second, it lets us take advantage (depending on the day we arrive) of week-long public transportation passes. Third, it gives us a base from which to take day trips. #2 Consider renting an apartment in each city you use as a home base. You can usually find apartments with a per-day price that's lower or much lower than a hotel would cost. In addition to having a kitchen (with or without dishwasher, microwave, coffee maker, etc.), you can get them with multiple bathrooms, bedrooms, washer/dryer, etc. In two trips, we've rented three apartments, have found the landlords extremely pleasant and easy to work with, and really liked each of them. There are many apartment rental web sites for each of the main European cities, so spend a good deal of time on your search so that you get exactly what you're looking for. NOTE: The owners of most of those we've rented wouldn't/couldn't take credit cards, so we had to use wire transfers which entail fees. I imagine this will change over time, as even small business owners begin to accept credit card payments via smart phones, PayPal, etc. Things to check for/ask about when researching apartments: How close is it to public transportation? How close is it to the city center?
As I'm just finishing the process of planning our family trip for this Sept, I definitely agree with these tips. During our 22 day stay, I have rented 3 apartments (Florence, Rome, Positano) and a house near Cortona for our home bases. Much more economical than hotels since there will be 5 of us traveling. I used a variety of websites for searches, but rented through a combination of AirBnB, HouseTrip and TripAdvisor. In each case I was able to use credit cards for the rentals. Nice features are reviews from prior renters, host profiles and lots of photos. An added bonus is the rental protections that are a part of the first two websites. One other tip I'd add is to use Google Maps. I was able to plug in addresses, get a good idea of where the apartments were relative to the sights and also to get a glimpse of the general neighborhood via street view. I'm amazed that many of the back country roads in Tuscany and Umbria have been mapped with this feature. This really helped me narrow down my selections.
Andrew, thanks for the report, but as you can see, everytime someone replies to a thread or adds their own report to the forum, your posts get knocked out of order and scattered around. To keep your post easier to follow, I would recommend copying each post, and paste it as a reply to your original thread (this one). Then, go back and delete the redundant threads. Your report will be much easier to follow that way.
What Tom said. Put all of your posts under one thread.
Agree with the others. No matter how good your tips might be they are not readable when spread over so many posts. Please consolidate them into one thread so people can benefit from what you learned.
I don't know why it matters whether they're all run together or strung out in separate posts. If people come across them, read them, and find them useful, great. If not, who cares? They're each about a different aspect of travel in Europe. If there's a next time, for this kind of thing, I'll probably take your well-meaning advice. But I'm not going to make any changes in it now.
Amen Andrew. Thanks for the contributions!
Anem Andrew, thank you for your posts, I second your google earth suggestion it has been very helpful