11 Days in Europe: Paris, Venice and Rome Sample Itinerary (and Insider Tips)

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SGMT_Venice

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A few days ago, I reviewed an 11-day 14-city European tour and concluded that it’s not a tour I would personally take or recommend. I can understand the appeal of the tour — the number of cities visited, the convenience of having someone else arrange everything — but it was just too rushed and too inflexible for my taste. Visiting 14 cities for $850 sounds like a great deal but I think, in this case, the proverbial “less is more” applies — you can actually get greater value for money if you take the time to really enjoy each of your destinations.

If it was my first time in Europe, and I had 11 days to spend, here’s what I would do instead.
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1. Pick 3 cities.

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Select the 3 cities that you most want to visit and stick to those.

Some people would actually spend all 11 days in one city but I think visiting 3 cities is a good compromise between quantity and quality. Three to four days in each city will give you the chance to get the feel of the place while allowing you to visit more than just 1 city during your trip. (Plane tickets are expensive after all and should be maximized!)

For the purpose of this article, let’s pretend we’ve chosen Paris, Venice, and Rome. You can see the full itinerary below.
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2. Book a multi-city plane ticket.

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Instead of booking, say, a Manila-Paris-Manila ticket, book Manila-Paris and Rome-Manila tickets. That way, you can go from Paris to Venice to Rome, and not have to spend time and money going back to Paris to catch your flight home.

Booking a multi-city ticket doesn’t cost that much more. For example, here’s what a Manila-Paris-Manila ticket would cost for travel dates October 23 to November 3, 2016:
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Flight_Manila-Paris-Manila

Manila – Paris – Manila

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And here’s what a Manila-Paris and Rome-Manila ticket would cost for the same travel dates:
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Flight_Manila-Paris Rome-Manila

Manila – Paris | Rome – Manila

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The price difference is less than $20 and you save so much more this way than if you had to spend for transportation from Rome back to Paris.
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Both Etihad and Qatar Airways consistently rank among the world’s best airlines. You can check flight costs for your travel dates now (clicking on the images will open the airlines’ websites in a new window):



Qatar Airways HQ 300x250


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3. Travel between cities by train.

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I’ve written about why I love traveling by train so many times before — read 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Traveling by Train on Your Next Trip Abroad — but in a nutshell: they’re quick, they’re often cheaper and nearly always more comfortable than planes, you can see the places you pass by, and train stations are infinitely less of a hassle than airports (especially if you’re from the Philippines).

Here are sample prices for Paris-Venice and Venice-Rome trains:
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Train_Paris to Venice

Paris to Venice

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Train_Venice to Rome

Venice to Rome

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Note that the 35-euro train from Paris to Venice is a sleeper train — the Thello isn’t exactly the Caledonian Sleeper in terms of comfort, but it’ll do for one night.

I used March 1 as the theoretical travel date for both journeys as bookings for October aren’t open yet. According to The Man in Seat 61, bookings for most high-speed and long-distance Italian trains usually open 120 days ahead of departure, so for end-of-October trains, you can usually book by end of June. Tickets can be bought online:


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And finally, here’s the…

Sample Itinerary: 11 Days in Europe

11 days in Europe sample itinerary

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Itinerary

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Four days in Paris
. Enough time to see the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, the Louvre, and whatever else you’re interested in. I would recommend going on the Batobus as a combination Seine river cruise and hop-on-hop-off transportation.

Paris hotels I have stayed in and can recommend:

Hotel Le Notre-Dame Saint-Michel

Grand Hotel du Loiret

Hotel Terminus Lyon

Hotel Eiffel Capitol

Timhotel Le Louvre

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Other tips for Paris:

Save on mealsThrifty eating: How to save on food while traveling

Stay safe – That Time I Almost Got Robbed in Paris

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Two and a half days in Venice
. Buy a vaporetto pass. Go see Burano if you have the time. Read more about our first time in Venice here.

Venice hotels I have stayed in and can recommend:

Hotel Il Mercante di Venezia

Hotel Riviera (in the Lido)

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Four and a half days in Rome
. See the Colosseum. Drop a coin into the Trevi Fountain. See St. Peter’s. During our last visit to Rome, we actually booked at the Hotel Luciani but they were full so they accommodated us at their sister hotel, the Hotel Ciao, which I think actually worked out better because it was just across the road from the main train station in Rome. If you’re Catholic, go to the general audience. (See: How to Get Tickets for the General Audience with Pope Francis.)
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And that’s it, really.

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If you would like to read more about the cities in this itinerary, the Wikitravel pages for Paris, Venice, and Rome are a good place to start.

If you’d like a hassle-free tour of each city, you can get on one of those hop-on-hop-off buses on your very first day and from there decide which places you would like to explore further. Most cities also have free walking tours — at the end of the tour, you give the guide whatever you feel his/her tour was worth — led by locals who know the city intimately. The tourist information centers of each city are also invaluable sources of information and advice.

The best thing about making your own itinerary — even if it’s your very first time in Europe or elsewhere — is that it makes you realize you can do it. You realize you don’t have to rely on (and pay) someone else to create a great vacation for you. This will sound silly but every time I come across a train ticket machine and figure out how to operate it, I feel such a sense of accomplishment. 😀 And the preparations you make for a trip will help you to connect better and more deeply to each place you visit — infinitely rewarding. Try it!

 


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11 Days in Europe: Paris, Venice and Rome Sample Itinerary (and Insider Tips)
© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. Contents verified as of 18 January 2016.

 

 


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17 thoughts on “11 Days in Europe: Paris, Venice and Rome Sample Itinerary (and Insider Tips)

  1. hi i am ofw from dubai,at uuwi ako discoming May firstweek 2016 tapos dalhin ko boyfriend ko dito sa dubai so dadaan kami via hongkong papabook kami ng return ticket both with hotel reservation accomodation for 4days ano po ba mostly hinahanap samin or sakin or sa boyfriend ko sa immigration?pls.advice me thanks.

    • Thank you Alison! I have just been catching up on your latest posts and love them very much. Turkey sounds wonderful and I hope Mexico is too. xx

  2. I definitely agree, more time in fewer cities would be my approach too. I think a minimum of 3 or 4 days in cities like the ones you mentioned is necessary to get any kind of feel for the place, and to get to know it. If you went to Rome for only a few hours, you’d surely leave feeling disappointed.

    • True! It takes more than a few hours to kind of tease out the spirit of the place.

      By the way, I’ve just been to you blog and I love it. I can especially relate to a lot of the things you wrote in your About page. I wish you and your husband and the life you’re building together all the best!

  3. Love this post! I agree with less is more, learned that the hard way when I went to Cebu last year. I tried to squeeze in too much and it was so exhausting. It’s so much more enjoyable to go to fewer places but actually enjoy them.

  4. I love your blog and I wish I had discovered it before my first trip to Europe.To celebrate my girlfriend’s 50th birthday, last year we went to Europe, also her first time. We also chose three cities and booked multi destination international flights. We spent three nights in Barcelona, three nights in Madrid and four nights in Lisbon. We stayed at airbnb apartments. We planned everything ourselves and the only scheduled ones were the day tours we joined in each city. Since we were not too confident in making rail transportation arrangements ahead of time, we opted to fly from one city to the next. They were only about $50 each and short in travel time. The downside was we did not see the scenery in between and still had to be at the airport at least an hour ahead of time ( not much time saved there.) Overall, it was a great adventure and no regrets with choosing only three cities.

    • The whole trip sounds lovely. I’m glad you had a great time! Any plans of going back, to explore other cities/countries maybe?

      • Hopefully. My husband would like to do a year of sabbatical in Grenoble, France next year. This would be a great opportunity to explore many places.

  5. hi just wanted to asked how long will it take to take train from paris to rome? is it much cheaper? What train company you think is good?. thanks your blog is very helpful.. planning our 1 day paris-italy 10 day vacation.

    • Hi Marie Charmaine! If you go by daytime train, it will usually take around 10 hours (including an interchange in Turin or Milan) with tickets starting at €50. If you take the overnight train, it will be longer, around 17 hours, departing Paris at around 7 PM and getting to Rome at 9 AM, but at least you will be sleeping for half of the hourney; tickets will cost around €35. Either way, you should book Advance tickets so they will be cheaper. There is usually just one train company (the national rail companies of France and Italy) operating the daytime routes; the night train is operated by Thello. Going to Rome by plane can actually be cheaper than going by train but taking the train will be less of a hassle and you will see nice scenery along the way. You can read more about going from Paris to Italy here: http://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Paris.htm#Paris-Italy. (The Seat61 website is my go-to place for any train-related information.) I hope that helps. 🙂 Enjoy your trip!

  6. Your posts are very informative..Hi i would like to ask if ever we will follow ur itinerary posted above which embassy kami mag apply french ba? Pls advise thank u in advance

    • Hi Tin! For this itinerary, no, you’ll need to apply sa Italian embassy kasi mas maraming days sa Italy (Venice + Rome). Good luck!

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