my name is aurelia minutoli, my friend lindsay and I have planned a trip to europe starting in april. we arive in amsterda april 3rd and we need some advise planning where to go from there. we planned on staying in europe for 2-3 months and have a budget of about 8000-10000, but the less we spend the better. this is our first trip travelling this far and for this long. We hope to stop in germany to see her family and do some adventuring of our own, as well as prauge italy to see my own family in the south, france spain(expecially ibiza) greece (we have a tour booked for 5 days for may 13th)england. we were wondering if someone could help us map out the most efficient rout for us, mostly using trains and ferries.
First of all, welcome to GFE! I have a few comments to start with.
It's great that you're getting an early start to the planning. For a trip of that length, it's a really good idea to have the arrangements well sorted prior to departure!
Spending 2-3 months in Europe for a first trip seems a bit "ambitious". You may find that either your travel funds are depleted before expected, or you may suffer some "travel fatigue" and want to return home a bit earlier than expected.
It would help to know where you're from, as the time frame could be a serious problem if you exceed three months in Europe. Under the terms of the Schengen Accord, those who don't live within the E.U. are limited to three months maximum under a tourist Visa. Those who overstay the limit can be subject to severe fines or other penalties.
It would also help to have further information on where your friend's relatives live in Germany? It's difficult to plan a route without a destination city. Also, how much are you budgeting for this trip? Where is your family located in the south of Italy?
You may find it helpful to read some Guidebooks in order to get more specific details on the places you'll be visiting. As this is your first trip to Europe, I'd highly recommend reading Europe Through The Back Door (if it's available in your area), as that provides lots of good information on "how" to travel well in Europe.
I'm sure the others will have lots of good information to pass along. Good luck with your planning!
You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.
Thanks for the additional information. You'll probably find it helpful to have a look at a few Guidebooks, and get a more definite idea on which places you want to visit on the trip.
Travel from Amsterdam to Hamburg is very easy by train. From there, I'd suggest stopping in Berlin for several days and then continue from there to Prague. Those are all relatively short train journeys (4-5 hours or so).
Depending on the exact route you choose, travel to Sicily may be better via budget airline. However, train might be an option too, especially if you're in Calabria at the time.
Travel methods in Calabria are not as well developed as in other parts of Italy, so you'll need to do more planning for that part of your journey. That region is not well covered by Guidebooks, but the Lonely Planet books would probably be your best source of information for Calabria. Have a look at the Rick Steves books, Let's Go, Frommer, Rough Guides or others for the other locations in Europe.
Once you have a list of cities compiled, you'll be able to plan transportation links more precisely. Hopefully MTH will see this post as I'm sure she'll have some great tips to add.
You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.
Post by madamtrashheap on Nov 26, 2011 2:23:50 GMT -5
After a long absence, I'm back! Hopefully I can add some further info to Eagle's excellent suggestions.
As you have a tour already booked in May, that's a fixed point around which you can work. April weather in Europe is typical Spring weather - some showers, some sun, cooler evenings (light jacket, nothing major required). May is the beginning of the Summer Season in Greece, but it certainly will be warmer than nothern Europe so that will be a bonus (things in Greece usually kick of May 1st, but take until June to fully "Summer up". Same goes for Ibiza, so hang off on that as long as you can.).
So from what I can make out, you fly into Amsterdam on April 3rd then it's fairly unplanned until the Greece tour.
Thus, to get you started, you could look at: Amsterdam - 4 nights (3 full days) train to Hamburg, stay Hamburg 3-4 nights (depending on family commitments. No doubt they will have places they want to show you in the city and nearby places - it's a great town, habour cruise is a must, so enjoy the north of Germany. train to Berlin - stay 4 nights minimum, there's so much to see and do in this awesome town, so 3 full days will be a good start. train to Prague via Dresden - if you're interested in museums and art, you could stay a night in Dresden (it's only 2hrs by train from Berlin) and explore, or just have a lunch stop there for a few hours before continuing to Prague by train. Prague - stay 4 nights, again lots to see and do so 3 full days is a good amount, but one more won't hurt if you plan to do a day trip to Kutna Hora. You could also take a trip overnight (or a long day trip) to Cesky Krumlov (bus is better than train on this route) for some stsunning scenery. Do a little research on both and see if they interest you, then add the extra days to Prague as required. train to Vienna (4hrs45mins on direct EC train) - stay 3 nights, 2 full days; not sure if you're into Vienna, but I think it's a good addition to your trip. You can even catch the hovercraft from Vienna to Bratislava (capital of Slovakia, cute little town) for lunch and a look around if you add another day to your stay in Vienna, but I wouldn't stay in Bratislava as is not a huge place, just a cute old town and the hovercraft is a good scenic ride. train to Salzburg - takes around 2hrs45mins, stay 1 night (will give you time on day of arrival and next morning) unless you want to do a Sound of Music tour or see other parts (the Salt Mines, etc), in which case stay 2 nights. train to Munich - from Salzburg will take 1hr30 on the fast train/EC train. Stay in Munich 4 nights which will allow for time in the city as well as a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle (and the other Ludwig castles), and half a day to visit Dachau. train to Innsbruck - back to Austria, but a more sensible route and a funky little Tirolean town to stay for a night or two. If you're into hiking or mountain biking, then look at venturing further up the Tirol to smaller villages, otherwise 1 night in Innsbruck is worth a wander around. train to Venice - this will take a little over 5hrs, so a chunk of your day, but it's worth it as the scenery is great and then you're in Venice. Stay 3 nights, so 2 full days, and try to book accommodation as far ahead as possible so you get a good deal.
From Venice, you can fly to Athens (look at direct flights with Aegean Air, otherwise you'll need to fly from Rome so you could train there first, stay a bit and then fly) to have a day or two before your tour begins, or if you find you have a few more days up your sleeve you could take the boat from Venice to Athens (Pireaus) on a 2 day cruise. If this sounds interesting, look at www.ferries.gr/greek-ferries-italy-greece.htm and book a twin cabin to sail down the Adriatic (the sail out of Venice is spectacular, stand on the port - left - side for awesome views as you start out). Greece Tour Athens fly to Rome, stay Rome 4 nights From here, you have several options, depending on where you need to be next: you could take a train to wherever you need to be in Calabria, unless your relatives meet you somewhere and drive the rest of the way as trains don't service all of the smaller towns there. Or you could fly from Rome to Sicily (Catania or Palermo, whichever suits better) and once you've visited family then take the excellent ferry from Messina to Reggio di Calabria and see the whirlpools on the Straits of Messina made famous by Ulysses's journeys in Homer's "Odyssey", and train on from there to the rest of Calabria. If you do that, you'll need to make your way back to Rome or Naples for a flight to Spain (there are boats, but check ones from Sicily as I'm not familiar with them). Spain - not sure where you're thinking of visiting other than Ibiza (stay for 3 nights, but again book accommodation well in advance and be prepared for expensive club entry and drinks), but also consider Barcelona (ferries to/from Ibiza, or cheap flights) and Madrid. Not sure where in France you're considering, but if you're just looking at Paris, then fly from Madrid or Barcelona as the train is very long. Or if you're considering the French Riviera, you can also fly from Barcelona or Madrid to Marseille and now Nice. Do this as the train is over 12hrs long and only in the day, so a waste of a day when you could be sightseeing in a city. From Nice, you can take a train to Paris, either direct, or stop at places along the way for a night or two.
A few questions/notes: 1. what are you both interested in? ie nightlife, museums, food. 2. are there any particular places/sights either of you have on your "must-see" lists? 3. transport - as Eagle has noted, you might find a combination of trains and flights (plus a few bus trips in Sicily and Calabria) will be your best best, so don't purchase any flights within Europe or any rail passes until you've set your itinerary. 4. Where in Spain and France are you considering? That will help with itinerary route.
Hopefully that gives you a skeleton itinerary to build on. Let us know when you've got your first draft and we'll go from there.
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