So I am planning a 15-20 day trip to europe. I planning to land in London (a friend lives there) and from there move on to other parts. I would like to cover Barcelona, Rome, Paris and Amsterdam. Though I am not sure how I should go about planning my itinerary.
Also wanted to understand the feasibility of a road trip. My overall budget is around $2K (does not include air fare to and from India). I can stretch it if its worth it.
All ideas welcome. I would like to explore the local culture, meet people and make friends along the way.
Thank you for all your answers. I am overwhelmed !! So I have decided to make it a month long trip. Would be in May-June. I have been told May is cheaper.
It's very simple and it should be cheap. With companies like Ryan Air you can hop around to most major cities in Europe for under $100. If you love to spend money then get on a train lol! The small airlines cost a 1/3 of the trains they are cheaper than the small Asian airlines and central American ones! Trains in Europe are romantic but you may as whell neatly place your money in a paper bag, and light it on fire lol!
You've picked excellent countries. Perhaps you should try smaller cities? Instead of over-priced tourist traps, you'll get a feel for a more 'normal' life in each place AND save some cash. (I love London, but it's going to drain your cash FAST, so move on as soon as you can!) Couch surfing is a great idea. Also look for 'student specials' when searching for travel. Trains are fast but often expensive. Buses are much cheaper, but are not nearly as convenient. Have a great trip!
If you do 15 days that gives you 3 days per city. If you want to maximize money and time, taking overnight trains in place of hotels from Paris - Barcelona and Barcelona - Rome could be helpful.
If you truly want to meet local people, make friends and travel on a small budget I would recommend couch surfing. You can sign up for free on couchsurfing.org and stay for free on people's couches, or go to their events in cities around the world to meet the locals.
To work out your itinerary, I would recommend using rome2rio.com. It shows you travel options all over Europe that include flying, boats, car hire, trains, buses and "rideshare" (which is paying for a lift with a local - another way to meet new people!).
After our trip in 2010 (9 cities in 25 nights) we made a rule that we would spend at least 3 days in each destination, unless it was a stop over. In 3 days you can explore properly. Start the first day with a Sanderman's walking tour ("free" with a small tip to the guide) to learn the basic history and layout for the city. You should also speak to tour guides, hostel people and locals to see what they recommend. Over the next two days you can explore attractions and sites as you like. Public transport or walking are usually the least expensive.
Other ways to stretch your budget is sleeping overnight on transport (like buses) if you can. This will help you save on accommodation. Flights with airlines such as Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Wizz Air are very cheap (if you have a carry-on bag only). Trains can get quite expensive unless you book well in advance (3 months).
I would recommend:
From London (Free things to do in London), catch a cheap MegaBus (overnight) to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, Central Station Hostel is reasonably priced and in a great location. (Tips for exploring Amsterdam)
Catch a bus (longer but cheaper) or train to Paris (Tips for walking around and exploring Paris). We have stayed in the Vintage Hostel, which is walking distance to the main Gare du Nord train station and the cultural area of Montmartre with it's Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, the Place du Tertre, the Moulin Rouge and it's Parisian night life.
From Paris you can catch a train to Lyon in 2 hours (Tips for exploring Lyon). Lyon has amazing French food and is less busy than Paris. Stay here for a night and then catch the train to Florence in Italy in 8.5 hours (overnight?). If you have time, stay for a couple of nights in beautiful Florence before catching the train to Rome in less than 3 hours. You can do a day trip to Pisa to see the leaning tower from Florence. Florence and Rome are both beautiful and full of history and culture.
To save time (and probably money) fly to Barcelona. The train between Rome and Barcelona is 20+ hours and about £200 per person.
If you can fit more in, you could stay in Brussels for a night between Amsterdam and Paris.
I hope this helps and you have an amazing trip.
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I would suggest not flying in or out of Paris. The airports there are woefully disorganised and frustrating. We took the Thalys train between Amsterdam and Paris-so easy-approximately 4 hours of easy travel through the Dutch, Belgian and French countryside, arrival at Gare du Nord station, which is also a metro station for lines 4 and 5. The Eurostar to and from London goes from here also.
In London, you have to be aware of which airport you'll have to go to. it can be a long transit. you can avoid this by taking the Eurostar to Paris (train Under the sea!). You also have non expensive flight to Amsterdam (easyjet).
The best link Paris and Amsterdam is the train.
In all those cities you can find a apartment to rent via airbNb, abritel, which makes you in contact with "local" people.
Be very aware that if you do choose air travel within Europe, with companies like Ryanair or Whizz Air, that the fare does not include a lot of things for which you pay separately-no carry on baggage usually allowed-I have been in a situation where check in took ages with long queues and frustrated travellers because even handbags had to be checked in to the hold or pay $50 per piece carry on. Sometimes you are charged a fee just for checking in and there can be many other hidden costs. If you're on a strict travel budget, that can be a real killer-suggest you research very carefully before using the cheap airlines.
First off, I would limit myself to 3 cities. Start in London (five or six days) and Eurostar to Paris (another five or six) and finish by flying Vueling or Ryanair or Smart Wings to either Barcelona (my pick), Rome or Amsterdam for the last five days and fly home from your last city. Your hopper flight is usually around 100 bucks at most and you will save money by booking a round trip ticket to and from major cities to and from home. If you pack in more cities, you will be loading and unloading your stuff and just getting ready to go grab whatever your next mode of transportation is to move on to the next city.
Please believe me when I tell you less is more. It's much more enjoyable to land in the city and spend the first day walking around and getting your bearings. You can experience the people, the food, the culture and you usually end up getting invited to something you didn't expect or meeting people who will be friends after your trip. if you feel like you've seen enough after 3 or 4 days in a major city, you can usually take half or full day side trips out of the city that are really fun and interesting. Besides, it just gives you a different place to look forward to for the next trip.
I'd go from London to Paris in the Eurostar, and from there you could take an overnight train to Rome and then go to the other cities by plane or you could take a train from Paris to Amsterdam and a plane from there to either Rome or Barcelona.
Stay in hostels if you want to know people, they are really good in Europe, and your going to wonderful cities to make new friends, specially Amsterdam and Barcelona.
It's doable in 20 days, but you'd only have a few days in each place. Landing in London, I'd investigate cheap flights to Rome - other transport would take too much time out of your itinerary. After Rome, I'd be looking again at cheap flights to Barcelona. From there, you can basically take the train northwards - Barcelona to Paris, Paris to Amsterdam. The TGV (high-speed French trains) now cover both these routes. Booking in advance often means you can score some reasonable deals in second class (seats are reserved). If you were looking to rein in expenses and only have 15 days, I'd recommend leaving Rome out of the mix this time and concentrate on the corridor between Barcelona/Amsterdam. Again, there should be plenty of cheap flights available from/to London to start your adventure. Often when you're travelling solo you can meet people on the train, or at the stations and strike up a conversation.
I recommend taking the EuroStar (i.e. channel tunnel) to Paris from London, which is city center to city center. Then a French TGV to Barcelona, fly to Rome and from Rome to Amsterdam and then take the train to Brussels and then back to London via the EuroStar.
You need a minimum of 4 days in Paris, 3 in Barcelona, 4 in Rome and 3 in Amsterdam with the rest left over for London and travel.
I hope this helps.
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