— travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams —

travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams



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. 🙂

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!


1. Pick 3 cities.

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

Some people would, if possible, want to visit 11 cities in 11 days. Others would want to spend all 11 days in one city. However, 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.

2. Book a multi-city plane ticket.

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 and you actually save money this way, compared to if you had to spend for transportation from Rome back to Paris.


3. Travel between cities by train.

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).

Note that the train from Paris to Venice specified in the itinerary below is a sleeper train. Sleeper trains such as the Thello aren’t exactly the most comfortable places to sleep in, but it’ll do for one night.

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 mid-September trains, you can usually book by mid-May.

And finally, here’s the…

Sample Itinerary: 11 Days in Europe

11 days in Europe sample itinerary


Four days in Paris
. Enough time to see the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, the Louvre, and whatever else you’re interested in.

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.

Four and a half days in Rome
. See the Colosseum. Drop a coin into the Trevi Fountain. See St. Peter’s. If you’re Catholic, go to the general audience. See: How to Get Tickets for the General Audience with Pope Francis.

  • 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.

And that’s it, really.

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!

11 Days in Europe: Comprehensive Itinerary

But if you really don’t have the time to make an itinerary from scratch, don’t worry — we’ve got just what you need.


This is our Comprehensive 11-Day European Itinerary — 14 days in all, including transit — for the ultimate European trip to Paris, Venice, and Rome. This sample itinerary is so detailed, you can actually submit it to the embassy for your Schengen visa application with just a few minor tweaks (in MS Word). It’s got practically everything:

  • Flight details, including airline, flight number, ETD, ETA, and a link to where you can book such a flight
  • Train details, including the station you will depart from and arrive at, ETD, ETA, plus a link to where you can book the train ticket
  • A daily schedule that will show you where to go and what to do — it’s like a mini travel guide book, except that it’s in Microsoft Word format for easy editing, printing, and submission to the embassy
    • The itinerary covers the main attractions in each city AND it specifically sets aside some time for you to do something you’re personally interested in, whether it’s a day trip to Versailles or horseback riding down the Appian Way in Rome
  • Tips and practical information — there’s a Remarks column that contains information you will need to visit the places listed in the itinerary, including links to where you can book tickets for each attraction
  • PLUS! A budget column with amounts allocated for each integral item in the itinerary — very important to help you prove your financial capability for the trip

Price for this Itinerary: PHP 99

(That’s less than the cost of the taxi ride to the travel agency!)


To obtain a copy of this Comprehensive 11-Day European Itinerary, just:

Send PHP 99 to any of the following accounts:

Note: For those who choose to send through PayPal, please send a total amount of PHP 119.25. This is because PayPal charges a transaction fee of PHP15 plus 4.4% of the amount sent, so in order for me to receive PHP 99, you will have to send PHP 119.25. Thank you.

For BPI app users, you can also send me a payment using this QR code. (Just click on the link to access the image file, then save it to your device).


Let me know that you’ve already sent the payment.
After I’ve confirmed that I’ve received your payment, I will send you the Comprehensive 11-Day European Itinerary by email. Unless there’s an emergency — like the internet going completely crazy — I can send the files to your email within 24 hours after I receive confirmation of your payment.

Please make sure you follow these instructions, otherwise we will be unable to send you the documents. Thank you! 🙂



Just some requisite legal stuff:
By purchasing this itinerary, you acknowledge and agree that SmallTown Girls, Midnight Trains and its administrator(s) have made all efforts to ensure that the information contained herein is accurate as of the time of its creation but that, of course, details such as prices and transportation routes may change over time, and such changes may not be reflected right away in the itinerary. You also acknowledge and agree that if you submit this itinerary for your visa application, SmallTown Girls, Midnight Trains and its administrator(s) naturally cannot guarantee that your visa application will be approved, as we are not connected in any way with the embassy or consulate of any country and have no power or influence over their decisions. Moreover, you acknowledge and agree that you are purchasing this itinerary on an “as is, where is” basis; that this itinerary is only intended to guide you in arranging your trip; and that it remains your sole responsibility to make sure that all your travel arrangements are in order. Therefore, you agree that SmallTown Girls, Midnight Trains and its administrator(s) have absolutely no liability for any outcome, event, or situation that arises in relation to this itinerary. I do hope that’s clear. 🙂


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.



31 Responses

  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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

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

      1. 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.

    1. 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: (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

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

    1. Hi Des! I just sent a copy of the Comprehensive 11-Day European Itinerary to your email. Thanks and have a wonderful trip! 🙂

  7. How long is the validity of the Schengen visa? We’re planning to travel in May but we want to book the plane tickets and accommodations as early as now. However, I read some where that it’s discouraged to book flights and accommodations if visa is not yet approved. Please advise.

    1. Hi Des! Most embassies discourage you from paying for flights and accommodations ahead of time just in case your visa application gets denied. However, if you’re fairly confident that you’ll get a visa based on your finances, ties to the Philippines, and travel history, you can go ahead and purchase tickets as early as now. Actually, that’s what I do — I usually buy plane tickets when they’re on sale, and of course if I wait till I get a visa, the sale will probably be over by then. So I just buy them and like pray really hard that I get a visa. 😀 I do know KLM will refund your tickets if your visa application gets denied so you might want to consider that option. As for accommodations, you can always book those that will let you cancel (if necessary) for free — I personally use to find hotels with free cancellation. Good luck! 🙂

  8. Hi, I plan to travel around July or August of this year. Is that a good time to travel? The countries I’d like to visit are Italy, France (Paris), Venice and Spain. In which order I don’t know as it is my first time in Europe. I will be traveling for 1 month, maybe 3 weeks. Would you have an itinerary for that? Could you help me. If I apply for a visa I would have to apply within 90 days prior to travel date right? Hope to hear from you soon.

    1. Hi Wingwing!

      July and August are going to be very hot in those places. And also, because that’s the summer school break for many countries, there will be a lot of tourists. So I would say that if that’s the only time you can go, then go; but if you have another option, try to avoid the crowds and the heat of those months.

      It’s really up to you which order you would want to visit those 3 countries in (Venice is in Italy, by the way). I suggest you look at your travel dates, then Google the calendar of events for France, Italy, and Spain on those dates — see if there’s any event you’re particularly interested in, then plan your schedule to make sure that you’re in the right place at the right time for that event. Also, I’ve observed that airplane prices tend to be cheaper for Paris than for most other European cities, so if cost is a consideration, you can make Paris you entry and/or exit point.

      Yes, visa application is 90 days prior to ETD at the earliest. You can get more info here:

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a ready-made itinerary 3- to 4-week itinerary for those countries yet. If you want, you can use the 11-day France/Italy itinerary described in this article, maybe slightly extend your stays in Paris/Venice/Rome, or add another French/Italian city such as Florence or the Provence region, then all you have to plan from scratch is the Spain leg of the trip.

      Anyway, I hope you enjoy your trip! Spending 3-4 weeks in those countries sounds perfect! xx 🙂

    1. Hi Jenny! Gosh, that depends on sooooooo many things. For example, if you plan ahead, you can get plane tickets for less. And hotel room prices depend on the season. But for the sample itinerary mentioned in this article, the cost is PHP 99,000.

  9. HI Gaya, I sent you a message on your facebook messenger. Was asking if there are other payment options aside from the ones you listed (paypal, cebuana and bpi).

    1. Hi J! I’m afraid that’s it — just BPI, PayPal, or Cebuana Lhuiller. Thanks for reaching out to me here. (As a matter of privacy, I don’t respond to private messages on Facebook or Instagram.)

    1. Hi Kim. I was notified of your payment for the Schengen visa pack; however, I do not have a PayPal account for the email address you used. If you want to use PayPal, could you please thoroughly re-read the Schengen visa pack article and follow the instructions for PayPal? Thanks.

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