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June - July 40 day trip Italy, Spain and Morocco

Hi there,

I’m starting to plan a trip for next year with total duration of 30-40 days with heavier concentration in Italy. Here’s our must go’s:

Italy - Damanhur, Rome, Vatican, Florence, Pisa, Venice, and one of the hot springs.

Morocco - Marrakech

Spain - Barcelona

We will fly into whatever destination is cheaper, so far Dublin has been the cheapest.
Would you recommend any itinerary for these destinations? We take suggestions of more destinations too!
Thank you so much!

Posted by
7263 posts

You should first post on the forum what looks like a logical itinerary order (from looking at maps) starting from Dublin to your must see towns. You gain more of an idea about geography and distances you need travel to get to one point to another and then to the modes of transportation available

Posted by
5757 posts

June and July. Italy, Spain and...Morocco. Uh-oh...

I sure hope you like very, very intense heat, because every place on your list will be brutal. I mean, like fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk brutal. Are you sure you really want to do that?

This sounds like it would be a wonderful trip in September or October. In July? Not my cup of tea (now I'm feeling like I should knock back some frosty iced tea just thinking about it...).

Be careful out there.

Posted by
21311 posts

I agree that June-July is not a good time of year for those destinations. July is particularly brutal in Marrakech, where the average high temperature is 98.2F and the record is a nearly-unbelievable 121.3. Morocco is a fascinating country, but I can't bring myself to recommend other places to go in the summer.

From the weather standpoint, the best place to go in Italy at that time of year is the Dolomites. The best place in Spain is the stretch between the Pyrenees and Galicia, in the north. Those are obviously not spots with a lot of well-know landmarks. If you want a landmark- and museum-heavy trip in the summer, I'd suggest selecting destinations that are at least north of the Alps. (Crossing your fingers would also be a good idea. Serious heat waves have been occurring in some pretty strange places.) London and Amsterdam are among the best capital cities for a summer vacation from a weather perspective.

Posted by
2 posts

Unfortunately the summer is when this trip would be possible :(
My husband and I are teachers and that's the only time of the year when we have off for a long period of time.
The logical order for this trip (what I was thinking) is:

DC/NYC > Dublin
Dublin > Barcelona
Barcelona > Marrakech
Marrakech > Florence
Florence > Pisa
Pisa > Turin (Darmanhur)
Venice
Rome
Rome > Dublin
Dublin > Home

What other destinations would you also recommend?
Thank you again!

Posted by
7263 posts

My instinct says look at starting the trip in Morocco (if you still want to go after the feedback about hot weather) and working your way north flying back out of Rome.
Use Google flights and one of the third party sites like Expedia or Priceline (as sometimes they have pretty good deals) to search open jaw flying from the East Coast direct (or connecting in Europe) to Marrakesh or Casablanca.

If you give the exact dates of your plan trip someone here can help you. It is best to get the plane ticket out of the way first .

Posted by
7991 posts

Save Morocco for a different time of year. It was delightful in late October when we went there.

Posted by
3253 posts

You should leave as early in June as possible-like 2 days after school is out(unless there's a possibility that you will have to make up weather days at the end of school). I was in Lisbon and Sevilla in late May/early June of 2017 and it was unpleasantly warm even to someone who has never lived farther north than Birmingham, AL.

Posted by
21311 posts

Casablanca is a useful gateway for flights from the US. Otherwise, it is a modern, westernized (though attractive) city and to be avoided if you don't have much time. Fes was my favorite stop on my trip to Morocco (over 20 year ago). Marrakech is also great. Meknes is a good third stop. I trust someone else will come up with a suggestion for a desert experience if that is of interest to you. If you get stuck in the Casablanca area for logistical reasons, Rabat is preferable to Casa itself. The ride over the Tizi n Test pass between Marrakech and Taroudant is very scenic. There used to be bus service, but I don't remember any of the details.

I haven't been to Turin, but it's definitely going to be on my next Italian itinerary. It gets very positive comments from the relatively few tourists who go there. Allow time to see it.

In Spain you might try to spend a few days at altitude in the Pyrenees to get a break from the heat. I haven't done that, so I can't make a specific suggestion. I can tell you that the town of Puigcerda is very colorful and a good base to the see the smaller spots in the Cerdanya Valley, but it is not a good place to go in mid-summer because the valley positively bakes. Barcelona itself can absorb a lot of time, so I'm reluctant to mention this (due to travel time), but you could go from Barcelona to the Basque Country, visiting San Sebastian (intensely touristy), Bilbao (more laid-back but with very nice medieval district) and some of the small coastal towns. But going to the Basque Country will cost you substantial time since there are no fast trains from Barcelona. You might check to see whether you can fly into Bilbao rather than Barcelona, thereby avoiding one of the 6-1/2 hour ground-transportation links you'd otherwise need. Or start your trip home from Bilbao if that is possible.

I've spent some extended periods in hot parts of Europe during recent summers. A week in a hot place is one thing; forty days is an entirely different matter. I understand that you must travel in the summer, but I'm afraid that by the second week you're going to wish you were in a different part of Europe.

Posted by
691 posts

I second the advice to start in Morocco if that is important to you, then move through Italy & Spain, ending in Dublin. This would at least allow you to hit the hottest location early in the trip. I would also investigate flying Open Jaws instead of in and out of Dublin. With all the flights in Europe you are taking, it may actually be less expensive than backtracking to Dublin (if you decide to start there).

Sandy

Posted by
21311 posts

I've belatedly realized that I failed to point out that air conditioning is not as prevalent in Europe as it is in the US. Here, anywhere you go indoors is probably air-conditioned. Not so in Europe, where a lot of small cafes, small shops and even many museums are not air conditioned. I seldom take city buses, but I doubt that they have a/c. Some indoor spaces with a/c are only borderline cooled. Tourists sometimes joke about going to a supermarket to cool off in the frozen-food section. Unfortunately, it's not really a joke.

I know you'll be sure all your lodgings are air conditioned, but also consider their location. You are likely to have days when you want to retreat to your air-conditioned room for awhile during the hottest part of the day. That will be far more convenient if you're staying near the attractions you expect to visit.

Posted by
5757 posts

Lots of good advice above, but I'll take issue with one: Fly to Europe, spend sometime there, then fly to Morocco. Fly back to Europe from Morocco and continue your trip. Here's why...

Flights from throughout Europe to/from Morocco are shockingly cheap. Flights from North America to or from Morocco are not cheap. I'm pretty sure you would save some real money by doing Morocco as a "side trip" from Europe. You will of course need to research options and confirm that.

There are two "blockbuster" cities in Morocco you shouldn't miss: Marrakech, and Fes. Each is different, both are highly worthwhile. They are easily connected by rail. It's a long train ride - most of the day (they've been talking about putting in high speed rail, I don't know if they've made any progress on actually building it) - but the trains are good (a legacy of the French).

I found that one can use Morocco as a "bridge" to get between two points in Europe. We flew from Madrid to Marrakech, went by train to Fes, then flew from Fes to Paris. Consider some variation on that. Be aware that the low cost airlines (Ryanair, Easyjet, etc.) that fly to Morocco generally do not fly the same route every day, so you would need to spend some time on skyscanner.com to figure out what city pairs have cheap flights, and on what days those flights go. You would need to ensure your travel dates align with available flights. That said, if you can get those ducks lined up, you can include both Marrakech and Fes, without doubling back, and use your Morocco side trip as a way to cheaply connect two distant cities within Europe. Requires some effort to discover all the possible options to connect, but it can work well.

As to the heat...if its the only time you will ever get to go, so be it. I'm not sure that a week or two either way is likely to make much difference in the level of heat you experience, so I wouldn't let the second-guessing of weather determine my itinerary/order...you're gonna be hot no mater what. It's the Sahara Desert, so take it seriously.

Posted by
15053 posts

First of all, I will say that I almost didn't read your thread. You posted it in the "trip reports" section, which I would have skipped except that I am going to Morocco in a couple of weeks and was curious to know what another traveler's experience was, especially in the searing heat of summer.

So my first comment is that you will probably get more information if you go to the "Destination Q&A" forums and ask your questions.

Right now it's 1.30 pm in Marrakech and 34 degrees (93F). It's cooling off! The high on Saturday was 100F. Personally I'm hoping the cooling trend will continue so that when I get there in another 3 weeks, it will be bearable during the day. From what I've learned in anticipation of this trip, Marrakech is one of the hottest parts of the country.

Barcelona on the other hand has a pretty moderate climate, though it is humid.

It's easy to visit Rome, Florence and Venice by train in a "straight" line. Pisa is a half-day trip from Florence by train. The Vatican is in the middle of Rome. Damanhur looks to be quite an outlier.

I don't understand your comment We will fly into whatever destination is cheaper, so far Dublin has been the cheapest.
Are you asking about finding good deals on flights? If so, what's your gateway airport? Your destinations are all over the place, how are you planning to get to them from Dublin?

Posted by
11292 posts

Don't make any assumptions about flight prices. You have to check for your exact dates for various destinations. Which places are cheap or expensive to reach changes constantly, and is simply not predictable.

I'll re-post my favorite example: in March 2017, I was looking at flights for May 2017 (so, according to some, too late to get good prices). I found nonstop flights from NYC to Zurich were $349 on a choice of airlines (not a typo - three hundred and forty-nine dollars all in!). I then looked at Geneva. Nonstop flights were about $1200; the cheapest one-stop was about $650 on Royal Air Maroc, with a very long layover in Casablanca (something like 10 hours); and the cheapest one-stop flights with a decent layover were about $700.

Why was Zurich so cheap? Why was Geneva so much more expensive than Zurich? Your guess is as good as mine.

Another example: my sister took her family of four to Prague this summer. Since she was traveling with children, she strongly preferred a nonstop, and from New York there was only one, on Delta, also sold by Air France as a code share. Delta and Air France were charging about $800 per person for this flight, but she was able to get it from Expedia for about $400 per person. So, they flew Delta metal, on an Air France code share, booked through Expedia. It all worked fine, and the savings were worth using a third party booking (meaning she didn't book through the airline itself, as usually recommended). However, they were thinking they could get similar prices next year to Europe - I had to gently explain that $400 per person, in the height of summer, for a flight to Europe, is not something that can be counted on!

If you do fly to Dublin, which can indeed often be a cheap flight, don't forget to add the cost of getting between Dublin and you desired destinations, as well as the cost of hotel in Dublin (hotels there were so shockingly expensive for my potential September 2018 trip that I went to London instead - it was actually cheaper!). Do investigate Royal Air Maroc - sometimes they are cheap, sometimes not.