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

Updated January 2017
SGMT_Venice

*
You know how it is.

You’ve finally saved enough to go on a 2-week trip to Europe — yay!!!

You don’t want to go on one of those big bus tours where you’re herded around like cattle with 40-60 other tourists.

You could get a travel agency to put together a trip for you but you know it will cost you a pretty penny.

What you really want is to DIY your trip: customize your itinerary to make sure it suits your tastes AND at the same time covers all the must-sees.

But You Just. Don’t. Have. The Time.

Well, you’re in luck. ūüôā

In this article, we’re going to teach you the basics of putting together an 11-day European itinerary that will give you the best bang for your buck. We also share tips and other things we learned — sometimes the hard way — on our previous trips to Europe.

And if you want to skip all that and just get a really detailed itinerary — one that you can actually submit to the Embassy when you apply for a Schengen visa — we can give you that too. We’ve put together an 11-day itinerary (14 days in all, including transit) that has flight times, train times, daily schedules, tips, and links to where you can book everything you need to book. If that’s what you want, click HERE.

Let’s start!
*

*
Continue reading

How to Tell If A Tour is Good Value or Not


We break down¬†an $850 11-day tour of France, Switzerland, and Italy — its real costs, pros and cons¬†— and discuss the questions you have to ask before signing up for any tour.

Descent_Venice_02

*
Yesterday, a friend asked me to take a look at a tour he was considering going on later this year. I’m hardly a tour expert but, from experience, I think there are basic questions¬†we need to ask¬†before we decide to take a tour or not.

First, a few points:

  • On the road, I’ve met people who proudly say they “never do tours” and I think that’s a shame. There are good tours and bad tours, and even good tours have their pros and cons. The trick is to figure out whether a tour’s pros outweigh its cons far enough to make its price worth it.
    *
  • I usually go DIY because I have to stick to a certain budget and because when it comes to itineraries, I’m often fiercely independent to a fault. That said, I have loved many of the tours I’ve joined; there is a lot to be gained by listening to a local or an expert. A few favorites come to mind:
    • The tour with an archaeologist at the Colosseum in Rome — fascinating, plus signing up for a tour gets you through the mile-long lines much more quickly
      *
    • The Louvre tour with an art historian a/k/a how the French feel when people go to their museum only to see an Italian work of art ūüėÄ
      *
    • The tips-basis walking tour we joined in Munich, learning about the Beer Hall Putsch and the Kristallnacht and standing in a square where Hitler had marshalled his army
      *
    • Our Highlands tour with Andrew MacDonald which brought up a lot of surprising parallels between Scotland and the Philippines and touched on a lot of the things that I personally value very much, like freedom and loyalty and family
      *
      UK_05_c1

*
Now back to the topic. ūüôā

How to dissect a tour

*
Below are the basic questions that will help you decide whether a tour is good value or not:

  1. What does the tour include? What doesn’t it include?
    *
  2. How much does the tour really cost when you add the “hidden” charges?
    *
  3. What are the tour’s stops? How much time do you spend in each stop? Is the time per stop consistent with your goals for the trip?
    *
  4. What are the tour’s advantages and disadvantages?
    *
  5. Given all of the above, is the tour worth it for you?¬†If you don’t take the tour, do you have the time or resources to come up with an alternative itinerary?

*
Continue reading

Italy

heartbreak_rome_ruinsRome and Vatican City

ven1_05Venice

*
© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

7 countries in 18 days: A sample European itinerary

ams_16

What do you do if you’ve got 18 days in Europe and want to see a little bit of everything?

See a little bit of everything!

7 countries, 9 cities in 18 days. (Well, it’s actually 5 countries, 1 city-state, and 1 principality, but the latter two are¬†technically countries, and “7 countries” somehow makes it a bit easier to justify the price of the plane ticket.)

Specifically, this itinerary will take you to France (Paris and Nice), Italy (Rome and Venice), Germany (Munich), the Netherlands (Amsterdam), and Belgium (Brussels, but only for a few hours), plus the Vatican City and Monaco (also only a couple of hours). It definitely won’t let you live like a local — for that, you should spend all 18 days in only 1 or 2 places. Instead, this itinerary is more like taking the tourist bus on your first day in a new place: it lets you get a glimpse of each place of interest, and from those initial glimpses, you can decide where you would like to spend more time next time.

Here’s the 18-day itinerary I followed back in 2014:

© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

Favorite moments from the trip:

bur27

If you’ve only got 10 days in Europe, try this itinerary instead.

Happy travels!

*
7 countries in 18 days: A sample European itinerary
Created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 



Qatar Airways HQ 300x250

Europe for the Heartbroken: 7 Perfect Places for Healing from a Broken Heart (4/7)

(This may or may not be based on personal experience.)

-4-
Rome

heartbreak_rome_ruins
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

You’re in Europe! You’re on a trip you’ve always dreamed of. Perhaps you’ve already been to Paris, Amsterdam, and Munich. Or perhaps you’re still in the planning stages. You’ve built up your travel fund to a point where a Euro trip is no longer just a dream but a very real possibility. You’ve arranged for (paid!) time off. Now all that’s left to decide is where to go — yay! Exciting!

But.

You're basically the poster child for this Weird Al song.

You’re basically the poster child for this Weird Al song.

But your life is a complete mess. Your heart is drowning in grief, broken and betrayed by the one person you thought would protect it and nurture it and keep it safe. Right now, you’re going through the motions: getting out of bed, going to work. But in truth, it’s just your survival instincts keeping you afloat. You’re treading water; you’re trying — but there’s no land in sight, and it’s all you can do not to give up and go under.

What do you do?

“Go to Italy!” says NaDean of ExploringWanderer.com. “Italian men are the most flattering creatures on the planet. You can never feel ‚Äėless than‚Äô around Italian men.” In her post All the Single Ladies, she talks about how she was asked out 4 times in her 7 days in Italy and flirted with more times than she could count. Too bad she’s married!

heartbreak_rome_gotoromeSee, there’s no quick-solve cure-all for a broken heart. I wish there was, but it just doesn’t work that way. This is a clich√© and you’re probably fed up with all your friends good-intentionedly telling you this, but time really is the best healer. Until you get to the point where you realize it just doesn’t hurt that much anymore, the trick is to take it one day at a time. And if harmless flirtation with handsome Italian men doesn’t make you feel at least the teeny-tiniest better, I don’t know what will!

So go to Rome. Visit the ruins and ruminate on the fickleness of life. Indulge in Italian food. (The waiters are such flirts too!) Attend the papal audience; even if you’re not Roman Catholic or religious, the atmosphere of cheerful anticipation as the crowd waits for Pope Francis to arrive is decidedly infectious.

And if you are Roman Catholic, drop by a church — there’s one in every corner. A heartbreak is one of those things that remind you how so much in your life is actually beyond your control. Renew your faith. Ask for help. Reflect on God’s faithfulness.

heartbreak_rome_toughestbattles

Then toss a coin into the Trevi fountain and promise yourself you’ll come back under happier circumstances.

<< 3

5 >>

Munich

To be continued…

*
Europe for the Heartbroken: 7 Perfect Places for Healing from a Broken Heart (4/7)” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.¬†