Travel

First time in Europe

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  • Mar 28th, 2018 8:49 pm
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 14, 2015
756 posts
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Edmonton

First time in Europe

First time in Europe and looking to go to the following places:

Amsterdam London Paris Venice Rome

Would doing Paris/Amsterdam and Rome on one trip an ideal plan? They're pretty far a part so I was thinking probably taking a flight instead of the train (any advice on this? a better way? night train?). Any other must see places that I might have missed that you think could be fit?

Any general tips or advice from your experiences would be great!
35 replies
Jr. Member
Dec 20, 2015
158 posts
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Vancouver, BC
I've taken a train from Amsterdam to Paris before and it was a pretty nice 3-ish hour ride. Rome is pretty far away from both cities though so you probably want to fly.

If you're going to be going that direction (North) anyways, I would recommend stopping in Belgium. Antwerp and Brussels are both great cities to explore for a first-timer.

If you're planning to visit the typical Parisian attractions, buy yourself a Paris Museum pass! Last time I went, we purchased the 2 day Paris Museum pass and visited Versailles, Louvre, D'Orsay, L'Orangerie, Rodin and Les Invalides (Napoleon's Tomb). The pass also allows you to climb the towers of Notre Dame (make sure to download the Jefile app to "line" up) Honestly, I'm not a huge museum/art person but the Palace of Versailles is truly extraordinary. Napoleon's Tomb is also very cool. One of my favourite things in Paris is the Catacombs though! (not included in the museum pass and may require lining up for a while) I would also recommend getting the Amsterdam pass if you're there for a few days.
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Oct 2, 2006
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I'm not sure how old you are, but I loved taking night trains when I was in my 20's, particularly the couchettes (called "hard sleepers" in China). There was a certain allure in arriving at the train station at night to board the train and waking up in a different city in the morning. But only with couchettes as trying to sleep on a normal seat (even if it reclines) is a pain. Although nowadays in my mid-30's, I need my Vitamin C serum and anti-wrinkle cream before bedtime, which makes night trains somewhat inconvenient.

For your itinerary, I would suggest:

London - (train) - Paris - (train) - Amsterdam - (fly) - Venice - (train) - Rome

Get an open-jaw ticket where you fly to London and fly back from Rome. There's lots of options for budget flights in Europe for Amsterdam to Venice. If you can't find a flight from Amsterdam to Venice, then try switching Amsterdam and Paris. You can now get the Eurostar between London and Amsterdam.
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Flying is too cheap right now to consider any other mode of transportation. Go to google.ca/flights and go nuts.

Of course London, Paris, Venice and Rome are all extraordinary cities and warrant a visit. That said, I visited hundreds of cities in Europe and would recommend all of them.

However, unlike when I did Europe last century, you can explore most of it today via Google Streetview. And of course there are a tone of YouTube videos on each city.

Prague was probably my favourite city in Europe. It is very pretty, but I suspect the low price of beer had something to do with my opinion.

I took a lot of buses in Europe (almost always cheaper than the train, often at more convenient times, sometimes not that much slower). Also, look for under 26 year old discounts (on museums , busses, trains...). I’m a bit of a train buff, but even I got sick of them in a hurry. After 20 minutes you get the idea (and going under the water is not particularly scenic. :) )
Toronto is a very small part of Canada
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FlyOverMyDoodle wrote: Any other must see places that I might have missed that you think could be fit?
Just like what MonctonMan has already said, there are hundreds of places in Europe that are worthwhile to visit depending on what you're into. Even places like Milan or Brussels, which are sometimes overlooked by travelers, are worthwhile. If both were in North America, they would probably beat any city for tourists.

While I find Prague beautiful, the charm does fade after your third visit. The most beautiful city for me though would be Vienna. It was even prettier the 2nd time I visited it. And despite what some may say, it wasn't really boring. It may not be as lively as London or Berlin, but it wasn't completely dead either.

We can't really give you all the must-see places as there's a lot and we really don't know what you're into. I went backpacking around Europe for 3 months after university and have lived in London for at least 5 years, and I have barely seen it all.
Member
Jan 17, 2017
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In my experience, I find alot of first time visitors try and go to too many cities in a short time period and end up on a train/bus/plane more than being in cities. To experience some of the major attractions in these large cities, you need probably at least 3 days each (maybe 2 in Venice and Amsterdam). Each time you move cities, you lose 1/2 to a full day. A sleeper train can help, but you might have to put your luggage in lockers if your hotels won't hold bags outside your checkout/checkin time.

Personally i'd stay 4-5 nights London/Paris/Rome, 3 Amsterdam, and 2 Venice.
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Aug 2, 2001
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If your time is limited, the "skip the line" passes are invaluable. As someone above mentioned - the catacombs in Paris are really cool. But what's even better is buying the skip the line pass and walking right by everyone who is waiting for hours. Many attractions have this - and if you have the money it's worth it for many of them. Tours are also very good - tripadvisor is a great place to read reviews. You learn a lot on them - and while you could try to learn ahead of time it's completely different to interact with the guide in person and learn while it's right in front of you. If there is something you are really interested in private guides are great. We have done it a couple times, including one for an entire day in London, and it's awesome.

You do not mention how many days you have in each city - London / Paris / Rome are cities with much to see, and a very wide variety of things. They are not cities I would spend 2-3 days in for a typical tourist.


Europe is very big on "free" walking tours. The guides expect a tip at the end, but there is typically little to no pressure (as it is a large group). Sandeman is a popular group: http://www.neweuropetours.eu/#


If you are considering train travel, https://www.seat61.com is the BEST resource.
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Feb 7, 2017
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We are busy planning our first trip(s) to Europe as well.

If you have not already, you need to check out Travel Writer / Guide Rick Steves ... he’s an American that specializes in educating NA Travellers about Europe... he has a regular show on the US Tv Channel PBS.

We find these shows invaluable. He also has a blog, website, travel forums ... and videos, guide books etc on line for sale... but you can just as easily find his books at major bookstores.

His video... European Travel Skills is a MUST SEE for every first timer ... it often runs on PBS during their fundraising events... and info about it can be found here https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-l ... eo/tv-show (click on TRAVEL SKILLS)

It covers the parts of Europe that you are most interested in... so you really need to see it.
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Jul 23, 2008
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I have two questions for the OP :

1) How many nights you have (2 nights in one place gives you one full day) ?
2) What is your budget ?
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Jun 1, 2006
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Isshoukenmei wrote: Last time I went, we purchased the 2 day Paris Museum pass and visited Versailles, Louvre, D'Orsay, L'Orangerie, Rodin and Les Invalides (Napoleon's Tomb)
Wow... in 2 days you visited all of those?... Astonished Face
I thought that was only possible if you were on a Chinese Tour Face With Tears Of Joy
I swear to drunk I'm not God 😝
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FlyOverMyDoodle wrote: First time in Europe and looking to go to the following places:

Amsterdam London Paris Venice Rome

Would doing Paris/Amsterdam and Rome on one trip an ideal plan? They're pretty far a part so I was thinking probably taking a flight instead of the train (any advice on this? a better way? night train?). Any other must see places that I might have missed that you think could be fit?

Any general tips or advice from your experiences would be great!
I'm not sure how many nights you are planning for each city... but it looks like it could be overwhelming.
Our first trip was Madrid + Barcelona; second trip was Paris (only); third trip was Rome+Venice+Florence; and now were are planning our 4th trip for a week in London.
We enjoy more our days by staying longer at a city, rather than running around like headless chickens
I swear to drunk I'm not God 😝
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Feb 18, 2018
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OP how long are you going for? That information is very important. I would highly recommend at least 3 days for each city to actually explore and see around rather than just be rushed. Too many people cram everything in and miss parts or can't enjoy certain parts.
[OP]
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Mar 14, 2015
756 posts
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Edmonton
Ah sorry all, thought I included how long I'd be going for.

It'd be for 3 weeks! Amount of time in each is undecided depending on what other cities we add, etc.

Will the budget airlines charge an arm for extra luggage?

@tostaky Budget is 10K
Jr. Member
Dec 20, 2015
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Vancouver, BC
roblombardi wrote: Wow... in 2 days you visited all of those?... Astonished Face
I thought that was only possible if you were on a Chinese Tour Face With Tears Of Joy
It was a backpacking trip during low-season, so yes! We woke up at 6am both days and took advantage of the Louvre's late closing time on Wednesdays (10:00pm). I guess I should mention that this itinerary would be impossible during the Summertime since lineups would be 5x as long. ;)
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Feb 18, 2018
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FlyOverMyDoodle wrote: Ah sorry all, thought I included how long I'd be going for.

It'd be for 3 weeks! Amount of time in each is undecided depending on what other cities we add, etc.

Will the budget airlines charge an arm for extra luggage?

@tostaky Budget is 10K
3 Weeks is doable for those countries, adding more could be too much. When are you planning on going? That has a big impact on prices.
Sr. Member
Jan 8, 2012
694 posts
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Williams Lake
If you want information on taking the train, I'd start here:

Your text to link here...

Flights are cheap, but the train is a great way to see the country. And they travel city-centre to city-centre (in most cases) so shorter routes can still be efficient uses of your time.

Have a great time. I've been to a few cities in Europe, and I enjoyed them all.
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FlyOverMyDoodle wrote: Ah sorry all, thought I included how long I'd be going for.

It'd be for 3 weeks! Amount of time in each is undecided depending on what other cities we add, etc.

Will the budget airlines charge an arm for extra luggage?

@tostaky Budget is 10K
Yes - budget airlines can have many fees. When I booked with Wow I even had to pay a fee to pay online.

London - Paris - Amsterdam are all doable via train very easily. If doing Eurostar travel book as early as possible for best rates. One of the biggest advantages is that the train often drops you off in city centre - airports typically exist outside the city (especially when using cheap airlines - sometimes they are a far distance from the city).

I would look at what you are interested in and go from there in terms of days, etc. Myself I would go to Brussels/Bruge before Amsterdam (if picking cities - not countries). I would even do Munich before Amsterdam. Perhaps I'm different, but Amsterdam itself didn't seem as great as the other large cities we have visited.


One oddball idea - I think $10K is more than enough to have a nice trip however on one of our trips we did something a little different. We knew we wanted to go to London, we knew we wanted to go to Berlin and said why not take advantage of this special ticket - which is 59 Euros - and we can stop at any city along the way for 48 hours for free:
https://www.seat61.com/Germany.htm
We stopped over in Brussels, Cologne, etc. and got to see some things we would not have stopped for otherwise (like the Cologne cathedral). It helped to shape our trip because there is just so much to see and do that giving yourself some parameters really helps out.
(for your specific trip I think there is a night train between Munich and Venice)
Again - the above suggestion is more of a budget based decision. But perhaps it will free up more money for other things as well as $10K is a decent budget for 3 weeks.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 14, 2015
756 posts
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Edmonton
JennyAlbt wrote: 3 Weeks is doable for those countries, adding more could be too much. When are you planning on going? That has a big impact on prices.
It will be sometime in May
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 14, 2015
756 posts
57 upvotes
Edmonton
TrevorK wrote: Yes - budget airlines can have many fees. When I booked with Wow I even had to pay a fee to pay online.

London - Paris - Amsterdam are all doable via train very easily. If doing Eurostar travel book as early as possible for best rates. One of the biggest advantages is that the train often drops you off in city centre - airports typically exist outside the city (especially when using cheap airlines - sometimes they are a far distance from the city).

I would look at what you are interested in and go from there in terms of days, etc. Myself I would go to Brussels/Bruge before Amsterdam (if picking cities - not countries). I would even do Munich before Amsterdam. Perhaps I'm different, but Amsterdam itself didn't seem as great as the other large cities we have visited.


One oddball idea - I think $10K is more than enough to have a nice trip however on one of our trips we did something a little different. We knew we wanted to go to London, we knew we wanted to go to Berlin and said why not take advantage of this special ticket - which is 59 Euros - and we can stop at any city along the way for 48 hours for free:
https://www.seat61.com/Germany.htm
We stopped over in Brussels, Cologne, etc. and got to see some things we would not have stopped for otherwise (like the Cologne cathedral). It helped to shape our trip because there is just so much to see and do that giving yourself some parameters really helps out.
(for your specific trip I think there is a night train between Munich and Venice)
Again - the above suggestion is more of a budget based decision. But perhaps it will free up more money for other things as well as $10K is a decent budget for 3 weeks.

I guess it's kind of hard to say, I enjoy the night life (not clubbing but just the street food if that exists, festivities, etc), nature/outdoors and of course want to see the museums and monuments. I guess as a first timer, I just want to soak in all the "typical" stuff but not just the touristy things that are over hyped.

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