European vacation help, please!

Ok, so we’ve got a wonderful problem that I need help with…

We have enough airline points to go anywhere we want in Europe next November, but we can’t decide where to go (just us grownups, no kids this time!).

We have both been to the UK and love it, and would be happy to go again, but there must be some other places to see! We have also been to Barcelona, Rome & Florence together, and my husband has been to several places in Germany.

I am looking for cool ideas for a trip, no holds barred. We are planning to travel fairly light, with mostly spur-of-the-moment accomodations like B&Bs, and we are open to both rail and car rental. We will have about 12 days on the ground, plus 1-2 on each end to travel to and from the west coast.

So what should we see, and where should we go? France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland? Somewhere new and different?

Where are your favorite spots?

Ohhh, envy is radiating from my every pore!

I guess it all depends on what you want.

The French coast is really nice, I’ve been to the Bay of Arcachon and it is fantastic. But it will be of course, expensive.

I have heard many amazing things about Prague. It is supposed to be quite cheap to be a tourist there.

Munich is beautiful, and the people there were very friendly. Ahhh, the biergartens! And the rococo church!

I have also heard great things about Cicily, but you might get island fever after a couple of days.

Hmmm. November. Sounds chilly. Better stick to Cicily and the French Riviera. :slight_smile:

Wow, such a “predicament.” Be nice to go somewhere new.

Well, maybe you could fly into Paris, loop south, head east through the Cote d’Azur, follow the coast through Monaco, maybe fly home from Nice.

Or fly into Nice, hang around the coast a bit, head up to the Cinque Terre, then fly home from Milan.

Or fly into Vienna and do an Eastern Europe loop, head down into Slovenia, Croatia, Czech Republic and/or Hungary?

Or maybe you could fly into Lisbon, loop around and fly out of Madrid?

If you went back to the UK, maybe you could fly fly into Scotland, spend a few days, and drive south, flying out of London?

Happy planning!

What a wonderful pickle to be in.

Millions of choices, but how about flying to Switzerland, seeing the scenery and then taking the train to Italy to Brendisi…from there, a ship to Greece. A day or two in Athens and then off to a Greek Isle.

If you need a personal guide and have enough extra miles, may I humbly put my name in the hat?

Definately consider the eastern Europe tack…there’s more demand for the tourist dollar, so you’re far less likely to be treated like ‘one of the tour’…there’s easily as much history as in France or England…and the scenery is stunning. And it should be easy to get about by a combination of hire car and train - probably more of the latter.

Thanks for all the replies so far. I’m posting here because I want real advice, not some travel website’s paid advertisements!

I love hearing about where other people have gone, what you would do again, what you would skip…

Yeah, I know it’s a quality problem. I am blessed that way! :wink:

You don’t say what type of trip you’d like so I’ll just throw in a road trip through western France, right down to the southern coast (staying in Chateau’s s, mainly) in some of the most beautiful, unspoilt country you’ll ever, ever see, or a ferry-hopping holiday on various Greek Islands; still quite warm with enough ferries to stay mobile.

Both are unplanned adventures, just different styles.

London Calling
Am hoping to do the western France trip in the not-too-distant future.

One trip I’ve done that I would do again is Italy-Greece. We flew into Milan, took train to Venice, then ferry to Greece. Later we flew into (and home from) Rome.
But we had two and a half weeks for that trip.
I think Venice would be very atmospheric in November, but I am not sure that I personally would want to ferry around the Greek islands at that time of year, seas could be a bit rough.

Mrs. Z and I went to Frace two years ago. We spent several days in Paris and then, over a weekend we rented a car and drove out to western France. Mostly, we drove through the Lorie Valley stopping and checking out several chateaux.
We stayed here.

This was fantastic. We were actually there in early November and the rates were really reasonable considering that you sleep in a room fit for royalty. Oh and the Viscount and Viscountess were quite charming and were very helpful in planning day trips around the area to various other castles and medival cities. At the end of the day we had brandy with them in the sitting room and discussed the day. At the time we were the only guests so we got a lot of attention. The area was beautiful at that time of year and driving around on the small hyways was fun and suprisingly easy.

Last summer, we hired a car in Vilnius, Lithuania, and drove up through the Baltics (Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia), dropping the car off in Talinn and finally taking a ferry to Helsinki. Nothing particularly exciting happened, but it was one of the most easy-going trips I have undertaken. Prices were moderatley cheap (though rising) and the people very friendly.
Highly recommended

Someone mentioned Venice in November…went there in May of last year and enjoyed it, though I think 2 days is about enough. However, in the winter, the place floods mightily and everyone has to walk around town on planks suspended above the waters. I saw a whole documentary about it. It gets worse each year, as Venice continues to sink.

When we went there, the owner of the B&B we stayed at showed us his hip-waders, which apparently everyone has and uses in the colder months. eek!

I was in Venice this November (first week) and the water was not up, you could walk everywhere normally. Supposedly the water had been high (alt’acqua) the previous week.

It didn’t really thrill me, Venice has become a museum of itself. Not much “there” there, if you know what I mean. It was cool to look around but the whole city is in the business of separating tourists from their Euros.

How about flying into Frankfurt, take the train to Prague, train to Krakow, train to Bratislava, hydrofoil down the Danube to Budapest, then overnight train to Italy to fly home?

That’s kind of a reverse itinerary from what I did a couple years back. If your husband speaks a little German it is very useful in Eastern Europe, though more and more people know English.

Some really good advice so far.

How about the Nordic countries?

I’d avoid Portugal for the month of June, as the european Football championships are on, and it will be prime tourist rip off season.

Depends. What do you like to do? History? Museums? Beaches? People-watching? Are you going for cheap? Interesting? Challenging? Different than what everyone else does? What kind of traveler are, you, i.e. do you want to stay in nice places, or do you not really care?

I’ll second the recommendations of Portugal and Estonia, among places Americans tend to travel to less often. Haven’t been to Poland, the Czech Republic, or Hungary yet, but my friends all raved about Budapest. And my friend who’s been to Croatia a couple of times has always brought back stunning photos.

When I feel like visiting Europe again, I will bring my bicycle and tour through Denmark and the Netherlands, where it is very flat and gorgeous. That my wife and I have family there is an added bonus.

Or if I have money, I will rent a motorcycle and hit the Mediterranean coast near Provence (which I zipped around in September in a Megane, but a bike would have been way more fun, if harder on the pocketbook).

If you’re going in the spring, head north to Norway. You won’t believe how bright and warm the people, and the landscape, can be.

Anzio!!! Anzio, Italy! JUST GO THERE.

I have to second (or third or fourth, or whatever) Eastern Europe. The Czech Republic is amazing, beautiful, and cheap, and in my experience not too cold in winter. If you’ve been to Britain, France, and Italy, the Eastern countries will offer much more varied culture and experience - no sense going back to see what you’ve already seen!

As an added bunus, Prague is one of the most well-preserved European cities (having avoided being bombed to oblivion in WWI & II), so if you’re into history, it’s fabulous. The transit system there is great too, so you can save a few days car rental if you want.

OMG, where do I start? Trust the Dopers to give such great ideas!

Zebra, that place looks awesome! I am checking it out for rates & availability!

And thanks for all the info on eastern Europe. Hubby does have some German language, but we hadn’t thought that seriously about that trip. But we will now!

Eva Luna, we are looking towards a casual, one-bag-with-backpack-straps each kind of trip. We have stayed in some very nice places, but it isn’t a requirement on this trip. We were thinking about just rolling into a town and finding lodging, which is easier in the off-season. We adore history & museums, but don’t drink or drug anymore, so for example, Amsterdam usually loses out even with it’s museums! :wink:

I am getting so excited about this!

I loved France, especially once you get out of Paris (which is beautiful and a definite-visit, but after a few days, I was ready to get out of the city). The Loire Valley & environs were fabulous.

The husband and I recently went on a driving tour from Frankfurt, along the Rhine, through Bavaria (picking up Rothenburg, Munchen & Fussen), down to Salzburg, across to Vienna then trained up to Prague (the car rental wouldn’t let us take the car into the Czech Republic, which we wouldn’t have tried to do, anyway). The car gave us a lot of flexibility and the added bonus of saving us from having to carry our packs everywhere.

Prague is beautiful – stay in the Old Town if you go.

I’ll second Venice: it really is a wonder. Plus, for about €40 return, one can cross the Adriatic to the beautiful Croatian coast in a couple of hours in a hydrofoil. (Croatia is not yet part of the EU and so you feel extremely rich!)

I’ll also second the Greek islands further to the south. Nowhere in the world have I seen water so clear and calm or white stone villages so picturesque, with optional day trips to some of the oldest civilisational landmarks in the world. Santorini and Samos are particularly recommended (Crete, Rhodes and Kos, while beautiful and historical themselves, do have busy intensive-tourism resorts which are best avoided).

For cities, I love Bucharest (again, Hungary is not EU: you’re rich) and Munich (train ride to the Alps and Schloss Neuchwonstein, the original “Disney” castle, although not authentic like the ones here in Wales!)