Hey everyone, I've been lurking on these forums on and off for quite some time and have finally decided to make my first post. A friend and I (both 22 years old) are going to Europe for 2-3 months in mid september and I would like some input on our itinerary (or lack thereof lol)
England---london Ireland---dublin Germany---munich, berlin, and possibly cologne Sweden Denmark Prague Netherlands---amsterdam France---paris Spain---madrid, barcelona Switzerland--- for hiking Italy---rome, venice Croatia Greece
I've listed some of the cities we want to see as well. We plan to fly into london then go to ireland where we can get on the euro train and begin the long journey. I listed the countries in order and am wondering if I should change the order and also any additions or subtractions that would be good. We plan on going to oktoberfest in munich which is why I placed germany where it is. I know it needs a lot of work which is why my friend and I plan on working on the itinerary this week and why I decided to post it. Thank you guys so much and I'm sure you will be hearing a lot from me as the trip nears
Welcome to the Boards! I have a few comments to start with.
First of all, as you're going to be travelling in mid-September, it would have really been a good idea to start planning well before now. This doesn't allow much time to get the arrangements in place.
If you haven't been to Europe before, I'd highly recommend reading Europe Through The Back Door before you depart. It provides a LOT of good information on "how" to travel in Europe.
As you're planning to visit OktoberFest, you'll likely have a difficult time finding accommodations. You may have to stay in a nearby town, and take the train in to Munich.
Be sure that your trip doesn't exceed three months, or you could violate the terms of the Schengen Accord, which limits tourist in the member countries to NO MORE than 90-days. Severe fines and other penalties can result!
then go to ireland where we can get on the euro train
Could you clarify that statement? Possibly I'm misunderstanding your meaning, but you won't be getting on a "euro train" in Ireland, as it's an island. You'll need to use budget airlines from Ireland to Germany (or elsewhere on the continent).
Have you purchased your air tickets yet? My suggestion would be to use open-jaw flights, flying inbound to Dublin and outbound from your last stop. That avoids "backtracking".
Is the order you listed the cities & countries the same as you'll be travelling? It's a bit inefficient, which will add to your travel costs. I'd have to spend some time with it, but there IS a more efficient order.
Were you planning to buy P-P tickets for rail travel, or use a Railpass?
I'd suggest dropping Greece on this trip, due to the time of the year you'll be travelling. Especially on the Greek Islands, the tourist facilities start to shut down for the season about the middle to end of October. Travel in Greece at that time of year may not be what you expected.
You didn't indicate what type of budget you were working with? Some of the countries you'll be visiting are notoriously expensive (Sweden & Denmark especially), so be sure to keep that in mind when you're planning.
Are you using Guidebooks to plan your sightseeing? If so, which ones?
Hopefully the others will have some comments as well.
Haha yea i know ive come to realize that we still have a lot to do. I ordered that book on amazon in july but it isnt in stock so they havent sent it to me yet. however i do have travel guide 2011 (i think thats what its called).
As far as the Ireland thing, I meant that would be the first country that we would use the train (sorry for wording it so badly). We plan on getting the global pass for the euro rail which covers 22 countries.
Do you have any recommendations for nearby towns to stay in for oktoberfest? I know we should have booked early we just weren't positive about when and if we would be able to go until recently. We have not purchased our tickets yet but plan to by the end of the week. It does make a lot more sense flying into dublin though. The reason I though london would be good was because I was able to find a fairly cheap flight from dc
We are not sure about the budget yet because I am still saving up for the trip (which is why it will be either two or three months). It would be around $4,000 for two months or $6,000 if we did three months. I know that isnt very much, but I read somewhere that is around the amount that would be good for the minimum to have. And thank you so much for the help. I realize that we still have a lot to learn
You might also check out the country or city-specific Guidebooks on that site. Note that all of the Guidebooks are now available in E-book format, so if you have a Reader you could download one in a few minutes, at lower cost than the paper version.
One other point to note is that you can download a FREE Kindle Reader for PC or Mac, and then purchase the book electronically from Amazon.
IMO, your budget is a bit "low" for a three month trip. I'd suggest planning on the basis of about US$90 per day. With $6000 you'd have enough for a bit better than two months.
One important point to note regarding Railpasses, is that these DO NOT include the reservation fees that are compulsory on some trains. You'll have to pay separately for those. Especially in Italy, DON'T be caught on a train without the appropriate reservations or you'll be fined on the spot and it won't be cheap! As I recall the fines are about €40-50 per person! I hope you're planning to take at least one credit card.
I'll post another note if I think of any other comments.
You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.
Post by madamtrashheap on Aug 9, 2011 20:57:23 GMT -5
To add to all of Eagle's excellent advice:
Munich during Oktoberfest: you will be lucky to find accommodation anywhere close at this late stage, however try The Tent as they sometimes keep a few places open until a few weeks before the start. www.the-tent.com/
Or you could plug in the dates you're planning to be in Munich into a hotel search such as www.eurocheapo.com and see what's still available in your price range.
Otherwise areas/towns to look at in the vicinity include: Salzburg - trains are frequent and run until late Augsburg - again, frequent trains Garmisch-Partenkirchen - pretty village at the foot of the alps going into to Austria, trains are frequent enough, but won't run super late. Fussen - would be a great place if you are planning to visit the castles (Neuschwanstein, Lindau, etc), a 2hr one way train ride will be necessary daily (same for Garmisch) and the latest train back is around 9.30pm. Suburbs/outlying areas of Munich - Neufahrn, towards the airport, is on the S-bahn (fast train) line and has a few hotels, pensione, etc; or try Freising, also on the way to the airport just past Neufahrn; Herrsching (am Ammersee) which is at the end of S5 line and on the Ammer Lake; Starnberg, on the northern end of the Starnberg Lake (Starnbergersee). Munich Airport hotels - there are a few out here and transport is available.
Where you choose will depend on where you are going to as your next destination in terms of convenience. Plus how many days to you intend on spending in/around Munich to sightsee.
And worth noting - Eurorail is a type of pass, there are no trains specifically called "Euro Rail" so don't go asking where the Euro Rail train is at stations! You'll come across different types of trains (EC = Euro City, IC = Intercity, R = Regional, etc) so do a little reading that Eagle has mentioned so you know when you'll need reservations and what trains will suit you best. A good all-purpose train timetable site which might help you plan your journeys, distances, travel time, etc is the Deutsche Bahn site www.deutschebahn.com/site/bahn/de/start.html It's the German train site, but covers all destinations in Europe. Just click the English flag on the right and plug in destinations to help plan your travel.
Another note: Greece. As Eagle noted, by the end of your trip, ie November, things on the island will have all but shut down. Greece isn't warm much past the end of September, so if you were planning on visiting any of the islands to lie on a beach then you'll be disappointed. The season runs from May to September, after which things get very quiet and some (not all) businesses close down for Winter. If you are only planning on visiting the mainland, then you'll be fine as things continue as usual throughout the non-Summer months. Croatia will be a similar situation if you were looking to spend quality beach/boat time, but sightseeing can certainly still be done in the off-season.
Scandi - if you end up only having 2 months to travel, then drop Sweden and Denmark this time around as they will eat into your budget very quickly and will be getting rather chilly (even by DC standards) and wet in October. Not that weather is going to be fab everywhere else, but it may help with your route and budget to leave them out this time.
Switzerland - if you are planning to hike here, then best you place it at the start of your itinerary. Snow in the better hiking areas (ie Berner Oberland, around Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Gimmelwald) can start to creep down the valley in October, so perhaps move Switzerland closer to the start to allow for slightly more conducive conditions for hiking. Even just before or just after Octoberfest might work.
Spain - for warmth, well relatively speaking, and a bit of a relax at the end, place Spain last on your list and look at flying out of Madrid back to DC. That is, an open jaw ticket. This doesn't have to be done, but just a thought for your itinerary order.
Post by ickiskrumm on Aug 18, 2011 22:08:35 GMT -5
Hey everyone we have revised our itinerary a little bit and want to see what you guys think
Ireland sep 19-29 Germany sep 30-oct 6 Amsterdam oct 7- 10 France oct 11- 21 Switzerland oct 21- 25 Croatia Oct 25-29 Italy Oct 29- Nov 9 Spain Nov 9- 19
This is what we have come up with as a first draft. I know you guys said to do switzerland earlier but we are not sure how to work it around to get it in earlier. We are starting in ireland because I will have family there around that time and can stay for free. We will then go from dublin to munich for oktoberfest. The rest from there isn't set in stone but looked good to us. If we have time and money we will get a flight up to the UK from Spain. What do you guys think of the itinerary so far?
We plan on calling Hostelling International tomorrow to see if we can get a membership there to save some on the hostels. Has anyone dealt with them before? It seems like they have some good deals. I also have purchased europe through the back door and started looking at that as well as let's go europe.
Back to drinking with friends . We are gonna continue the planning in the a.m. Thanks again for the help
Regarding your most recent Itinerary, my first impression is that you're doing far too much "backtracking". Going from Ireland to Germany, back to Amsterdam, (France & Switzerland are good), then to Croatia, back to Italy and finally to Spain.
This is NOT efficient travel and will increase both your travel times and travel costs.
My preference would be something along these lines:
> Amsterdam (use budget flight - your only option might be RyanAir unless you fly from Belfast - if you have to travel with them, be sure to pack light or you risk getting "nicked" with overweight baggage charges)
> France (train)
> Switzerland (train)
> Germany (train)
> Croatia (train, but may depend on where you'll be in Germany)
> Italy (train or budget flight?)
> Spain (budget flight - check EasyJet for flights from Rome to either Barcelona or Madrid)
I assume you're planning to use open-jaw flights (inbound Dublin, outbound Spain)?
OK, time to get back to the drinking with friends!
You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.
Post by madamtrashheap on Aug 19, 2011 3:34:32 GMT -5
ickiskrumm, I'm going to make what I consider an obvious point: accommodation in Munich during Oktoberfest is going to be all but booked out by now, especially if you haven't looked into any yet. If you have scored some, then awesome! But from your post I get the impression you haven't. That's something I'd get on to first thing tomorrow (hangover or no hangover, consider it practice for travelling!), before you look into the Hostel membership, as that won't help at this stage. Neither will thinking you can just lock your bags in the Munich train station and spend your days sleeping where you fall - Germans are pretty tolerant, but around O'fest time, that tolerance is limited, so sleeping rough isn't an option. Do look into Munich first, you may get lucky, but be prepared to book somewhere else (as mentioned above) and travel by train to O'fest. Start here: www.eurocheapo.com and plug in Munich, then you can see what's available in your price range.
I understand the placement of Germany/Munich in your itinerary for the dates of O'fest, and I guess that has to stay as is. But the rest of Eagle's suggested itinerary might work better, esp if you go from Germany to Croatia (it all but shuts down in terms of full on nightlife after Summer is over) so get there after Germany, then maybe fly to AMS then France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain. Of course, this will depend on flights to/from Croatia, but they can be found, you'll just have to trawl a bit.
And in the spirit of Oktoberfest, I'm off to drink beer...Prost!
I forgot to address your question about Hostelling International. Yes, I've dealt with them and have a current membership. You can obtain the membership online or at one of their affiliated Hostels in your area (I don't know where you're located, so can't offer further suggestions.
Check www.hiusa.org/ for all the details (assuming you're in the U.S.?). Click the "Become a Member" link.
You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.
Post by ickiskrumm on Sept 13, 2011 21:48:44 GMT -5
hey everyone. want to give you an update on everything. firstly i want to thank you for all of your help through all of this. now for the plan. i leave tomorrow for dublin and am now doing this alone. my itinerary has changed and is now as follows
Ireland Amsterdam Germany France Switzerland Italy Spain
I will spend about a week in Ireland then fly to Amsterdam. From there I will take the train to Munich. My hostel in munich is for the nights of september 28th & 29th. Then Munich to Berlin. I just found out tonight that a friend of mine is stationed in spangdahlem germany so after Berlin I plan to go there for a few days then head to Paris. From there is where I would like some suggestions.
As of now I have it Paris Amboise Tours Nice
Then make my way from interlaken to gimmelwald. I don't plan on staying in interlaken just going through to get to gimmelwald.
Then plan on Venice Clique Terre Florence Siena Rome
Anything I should take out or add? I pretty much just plan on going until I run out of money and then just buy my flight back. I realize this may not be the most efficient way to do things but it is what it is. I will have my ipad with internet access because of a class that I am taking so I will be able to check this thread if needed. I'm thinking it will be around 45 days. Is this too much to fit in? Spain is not something that I have to do this time around but would like to if I can
Post by madamtrashheap on Sept 14, 2011 23:26:08 GMT -5
Didn't see your Post until today, ickiskrumm, so no doubt you're on your way to Dublin by now. At any rate, a few more notes for your adjust itinerary:
Amsterdam - great town, lots to see and do, just watch for pickpockets. The train to Berlin will take around 7-8hrs during the day, but there is a night train if you prefer.
Germany - great that you have a room in Munich for O'fest, have fun! Berlin is a great city, spend at least 3-4 full days there and do a walking tour or bus sightseeing tour when you first arrive to orientate yourself. The train from Munich to Berlin is easy enough to take, will be around 6hrs, and getting to Spangdahlem to visit your friend (the airbase is near the Black Forest and not far from the city Bitburg - home to a very good beer) will take a bit, including a train to Bitburg then either your friend collecting you or a train to Spiecher then 2 busses. Check with your firend on the best transport options.
France - Paris will, as has been noted, need a good 4 days just to explore, that's without day trips. From there, Amboise/Tours are only 2hrs from Paris by train (take the TGV if you can) so use one as a base and visit the other. Both are pretty and good for Chateaux visiting, but Amboise just has the edge on Tours for me. The train (TGV in parts) from here to Nice will take all day, around 8hrs, so unless you have specific reasons for visiting a chateau, wine tour, etc in the Tours region, leave it out for the sake of time as Paris-Nice TGV is only 5hrs or so.
Switzerland - Gimmelwald is a great choice, book well ahead for accommodation as it can still be busy in September and things up the mountain start to close down for winter so you may have to stay in Lauterbrunnen or even Murren instead.
To throw an idea into the mix, if you leave Tours/Amboise out, you could go Paris to Switzerland, then fly to Rome (Zurich has direct flights with a few airlines), train/bus to Siena, train Florence, train Venice, train Cinque Terre (long trip, but saves backtracking in the Florence region) then train to Nice, fly to Barcelona and fast train to Madrid.
OR - you could go the route you planned in France, then fly Nice to Zurich, train to Gimmelwald (through Interlaken), train to Venice (day train anywhere between 6-9hrs so choose wisely or take overnight train), then CT, Florence, Siena, Rome, fly to Barcelona, Madrid.
You haven't noted how much time your thinking of spending in all each of the places you've listed, but at a guess, you may find that you run out of time for some places as you want to visit many towns/cities in a broad area, so travel will eat into your time. Work out an ideal amount of time in each place you've listed (from Dublin onwards) and that will give you an idea of how many days all up you're planning on. Also, work out the must-see places on your list and that will give you some "anchors" for your trip.
Just a note about a one-way ticket, ie not booking a return flight before you leave: you will find that at immigration in Dublin airport, they will ask you what your plans are and may want to see a return ticket. If you let them know you're staying in Ireland for a week then flying to Europe and plan on flying out of Spain, that may be enough. They don't like the idea of people arriving with no visible means to get back to their home country, so if you also print out a bank statement showing the money you have access to, then that will help if you're asked to prove your ability to support your holiday. Remember, you are on holiday for 45 days, nothing else, so let them know that so they don't think you'll be looking for work without a visa.
Post by ickiskrumm on Sept 16, 2011 18:30:39 GMT -5
Thankfully I had none of those problems you listed with getting into Dublin. I'm now staying with some family in cork. Today we went to kinsale and visited the greyhound, which was a lovely little pub. Anyhow I was wondering the opinions on how I should get around Ireland once I leave my family in cork. I received my 1 month global euro pass today which covers 22 countries. I was thinking of holding off on activating it until I leave Amsterdam for Munich, making my one month period start on the 27th. Does that seem like a decent idea? I found a tour called paddy wagon which has several different options. Has anyone dealt with them? It's 170 euro for a three day tour including transportation, hostel accommodations, and a free ride to the Dublin airport. If I did this I would go to Dublin for a day or two then start the tour. Does this seem like a decent deal? Also what parts do you recommend seeing in Ireland? And how many days would be sufficient for Amsterdam? I realize this is dumb, but I still haven't booked my flight to Amsterdam.
I like your idea of going straight from paris to switzerland since Switzerland was something I was really looking forward to. Once I get to Amsterdam I would like to use my rail pass as much as possible and try not to fly a whole lot
Post by madamtrashheap on Sept 18, 2011 4:43:50 GMT -5
That's great news you made it into Ireland with no major issues at Immigration. Depends on who is on duty that day as to how things go.
Aaah the Greyhound Pub in Kinsale, know it well! As you're staying with family, perhaps ask their opinions on places which might interest you in Ireland. But if you do decide to take the Paddywagon tour, you'll enjoy it as they are fun guides and they do fun things whilst travelling around. Might be a good thing for a few days to travel with some others, never know who you'll meet and it will save you trying to organise things at the last minute. Spend 2 full days in Dublin before your tour if you can, that way you can visit the Guiness Storehouse, Kilmainhaim Gaol and do a hop-on-hop-off bus tour when you arrive to orientate yourself.
Speaking of last minute, you really should book that flight to AMS asap. Look at flights from Dublin to AMS with Aer Lingus (book now and there are some seriously cheap fares to be had, but you need to book a week in advance) or Ryanair (note what Eagle mentioned above about luggage, etc).
Time in Amsterdam will depend on what you want to see and do and if you want day trips anywhere (The Hague, etc). But if it's just Amsterdam, then 3 full days will be plenty to see things by day and by night. It makes more sense to fly to Munich from Amsterdam, then train to Berlin, but flights AMS-MUC are not cheap (check KLM) so an overnight train using your pass and making a sleeper booking prior to travel might work best. In fact it makes more sense to do Berlin then Munich, but you're bound by your accommodation booking in Munich, don't give that up! And here's another thought: if you spend more time in Ireland than you thought and find you'll only have a day in AMS before you need to be in Munich, look for flights Dublin-Munich with the above (and check BMI too), then head to Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Switzerland, Italy on your train pass. Just giving you options if you take more time in Ireland, you don't have to stick to that suggestion.
Post by ickiskrumm on Sept 25, 2011 11:19:48 GMT -5
I've decided to stay in Dublin till the 28th for a few reasons. I am loving Ireland. The people are great, the atmosphere is great, it's just a good place to be. I've decided to go right into Munich since it was cheaper doing it that way and I can hold off on activating my rail pass until I leave on the 30th. After Munich I'm still doing Berlin but have changed things after that. I have decided to do Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, then amsterdam for a few reasons. I may try to go to the uk at the end of this trip (depending on how much money I have) and ending in Amsterdam will allow me to take the train or ferry over to London. I have met some cool people from the uk and would be able to stay for free in a few places if I go. I may end up cutting out Spain this time but we shall see how things work out. Does this route seem logical? Also I just talked to someone at the mountain hostel in gimmelwald and they have three nights available for me. Is three nights enough time there?
Also the paddys tour ended up being an excellent decision. I did the three day ring of kerry and met some magnificent people along the way. We had a bus driver named mark and he was a great guy who always had a smile on his face. Well I'm off to walk around the city some more. Cheers
Post by madamtrashheap on Sept 29, 2011 20:33:32 GMT -5
Sounds like the Paddywagon tour was great - glad to hear. And by now you'll be revelling at Oktoberfest so hope you're enjoying the 6million new friends!
Good idea on activating your pass once you leave Munich for the train to Berlin, but I would have done the order of vist that you've listed a little differently as you are still backtracking at little. However, considering your plans are pretty fluid, there's no need for me to list an exact route as you'll likely stay longer in Berlin and Switzerland by the sounds of things so that will alter the time you have for Italy and AMS. If you leave Spain out this time around that will give you a good excuse to return! i see tht you have 3 nights in Gimmelwald, which means 2 full days which is a good start, and will let you have the mountain experience without costing the earth. After that, see if you want to change bases but stay in Switzerland (Lauterbrunnen, or even to somewhere on Lake Geneva) or move on to the next country. Happy travels.