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I am planning for a Mainland European vacation from starting from London (excluding UK) in October. I have one full week + two weekends from start to finish. My main types of places of interests are around:

  1. One or two major cities (maybe Paris or Berlin or Rome?)
  2. One beach (Greece - Santorini?)

My main interests on this trip are :

  1. Travel by train (so get to see around)
  2. Enjoy major tourist attractions - well known ones - Monuments, museums, art galleries, natural beauty, etc
  3. Enjoy waterfronts - adventure sports (or may be a helicopter ride!)
  4. Eat at the best local food (but not over-priced) restaurants

Based on these preferences, what would be your suggestion of places to visit of

  1. Must see ?

  2. To avoid ?

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closed as not constructive by Marcel C., Dirty-flow, Gilles, gerrit, Mark Mayo Jun 19 '13 at 23:25

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Personally, you've given a very wide range of preferences. I've done short-ish trips from London to Italy (6 days) and Switzerland (5 days) and even Sweden + Denmark (6 days). In your plan, you will be spending a lot of time travelling, and doing a tick mark on the cities rather than relaxing. I would suggest you focus on specifically 2 countries maybe and we can give more details on those. And also, Swiss/Greece would be more expensive. –  JoseK Sep 26 '11 at 6:18
    
IMHO, you're trying to do too much on a single trip I would seriously consider picking one city in Europe, and doing it well. I love te progressive vacation, don't get me wrong, but you'll spend a lot of your vacation moving from place to place. Imagine if someone wanted to visit "the U.S." or "India" for a week. They're just too big! –  Affable Geek Feb 15 '12 at 19:35

6 Answers 6

If you're starting from London I would strongly recommend to go to Paris first. There are some reasons for this. The train connection from London to Paris is excellent. You can use the Eurostar and will be there in a little bit more than 2 hours. IMHO, Paris is the European city with the most major sights. Must-sees are la tour Eiffel, le Louvre, Sacré-Coeur, L'arc de triomphe, and a lot of other sights.

From Paris you have to choose if you want to go further to the south, seeing cities like Barcelona, or more to the east, for example Germany (Munich), and across the Alps to Italy.

But be aware, if you want to go bathing at a beach, you have to go quite far south in October for it to be warm enough.

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Avoid Greece if you are looking to travel by train. All of their international trains are cancelled as of 2011.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1999760

http://gogreece.about.com/b/2011/02/13/greece-halts-all-international-train-service.htm

The only way to enter/exit over land is by ferry and bus. With an interrail pass the ferry is free from Italy, but then you are looking at a long journey between e.g. Bari and Patra.

Since your time is fairly limited I would not recommend going too far from home, you'll spend too much time on trains in comparison to the time you'll get in cities.

So I would recommend a fairly simple trip as follows:

  1. London - Paris (Eurostar, 2 hours)
  2. 3 nights in Paris
  3. Paris - Rome (overnight train)
  4. 3 nights in Rome
  5. Rome - Venice (around 4 hours)
  6. 2 nights in Venice
  7. Venice - Munich (overnight train)
  8. 1 night in Munich
  9. Home to London

I think this would fulfil your criteria - you definitely get to see a lot of famous monuments: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Collosseum, the Pantheon, etc. You also get to visit Munich (if only briefly) which imo is one of Germany's coolest cities. And on top of that you get to spend a couple days in Venice ;)

There are beaches near Rome that might be appropriate even in October:

Ostia Antica, ehich has it's own ancient ruins and archaeological sites as well as a beach

Nettuno, 45 mins from Rome, great pizza

Anzio, also around 45 mins from Rome, has many ruins of Roman villas

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If I had only one place to visit in Europe, it would be Venice: great tourist attractions, at least if you are interested in history. No helicopter, only gondolas. And a beach at the isola di Lido.

If I had to choose a second one, it would be Tuscany. Train connects the major cities, Firenze, Pisa and Sienna in no more than two hours. Great waterfront near the isola d'Elba.

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Immo Venice is a single tourist trap. I would rather go to a big city like, Lisbon, Barcelona, Paris, London, Berlin, Prague or Moscow. But I agree it depends on your interests. –  RoflcoptrException Oct 5 '11 at 6:41

If your starting point is London, your best destination point is Rome. From there, you can travel to southern Italy to hit the beaches. That's the best place, since Greece is a mess, and not only with regard to transportation, and the former Yugoslavia is not much better off.

There are two basic routes to get to Rome: the French route, and a German route.

Taking the French route, your main stop would be Paris. Crossing the North Sea, you might first want to head for Antwerp and Brussels before heading south. The sights of Paris are legendary, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Champs Elysees, and the Etoile. Plan on spending several days there, then head east through the wine country. From there, you may want to travel down the River Rhone to northern Italy, if you prefer "water," or through Switzerland, which has the advantage of the natural beauty of the Alps.

The other route is through Germany, perhaps via Amsterdam, and then Berlin, which features old sites such as the AlexanderPlatz and the Unter den Linden Boulevard. Heading south, you might want to see the city of Dresden, known for its "china" (porcelain). You might cut across the Czech Republic and take in Prague, with its churches and monastaries, before seeing the Austrian Alps, arguably the most beautiful of the four (French, Swiss, and Italian are the other ones). The other advantage of this route is that you will be able to eat more heartily and cheaper, at least in the former East Germany.

Both routes converge in northern Italy. You'll probably want to see the art museums, plus Michaelangelo's sculpture of David in Florence. From there, it's onto Rome for the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, and the Wedding Cake monument. For some good eating and a view of 500 fountains, there is Tivoli, nearby. Then to the beaches.

Have a safe trip.

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If I would go for a Europe travel I must visit Florence great place “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. If this saying is true, you will find the city of Florence itself, a thing of beauty and joy. Florence, an Italian city, is the historical birthplace of Renaissance in Europe. Though Florence is next to Rome in the list of the cities of Italy, its architectural landmarks, picturesque galleries, palatial buildings, sprawling squares, glittering museums and sky-kissing towers are no less wonderful than the historic, artistic and culture possessions of Rome. I prefer this place love to visit there again and again.

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I have been to Venice and like the previous comment you are stuck in one place since the only form of transportation is the gondola and they are quite pricey. From there we flew to Rome and went to see the Sistine chapel and some ruins nearby. We also went to Capri Island and like you mentioned you want beach. That beach is beautiful. You have to go to Naples and ride a boat to go to the island. While you are in Napoli you must see Pompeii, it is one great experience and if you have time, you can also hike the Mt. Vesuvius. And our last stop is the Ischia Island. It is bigger than Capri but also very pretty beach.

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Gondolas are not the only mean of transportation in Venice. Do you think that the Venetians are traveling on gondolas all the time? A common means of public transport is the vaporetto. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaporetto –  PERSONA NON GRATA Jun 19 '13 at 17:57

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