Europe and UK in January/February

Old Nov 16th, 2022, 11:24 PM
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Europe and UK in January/February

Hi travellers!

Let me start by saying that unfortunately I can not change the travel time. Ideally I would love to go on this trip in better weather but January and February is the only time I have before starting a new job.

Flying in to Paris on the 29th of December and flying out of London on the 21st of February. I will be travelling with my mum. Neither of us are into drinking, active night life and we also wont be having an active trip, such as hikes as my mum wouldnt be able to do that.

Hoping to use train travel as much as possible.

I have made a rough itinerary but will remain flexible with daily activities due to the unknown weather day to day. I love natural scenary and good food!

Scotland is a must for my mum so I cant cut that out, but can be flexible with how long we spend there. London is also a must as we fly out of there and its high on my mums list. And of course Paris is a must because of flying into there. Everything else can be altered or cut out and replaced with other locations, particularly if there are amazing places for foodies.

There are many other places I would love to go such as Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Austria and Hungary but obviously not enough time for everything. So if any of those places are highly recommended above others I have chosen, your personal opinion/experience is welcomed.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Tips from good locations, day trips, mode of travel, most loved places are all very welcomed and appreciated. Thanks in advanced.

France 29/12 – 5/1 (7 nights)

Paris (7 nights)

Italy 5/1 – 14/1 (9 nights)

Rome (3 nights)

Florence (3 nights)

Venice (2 nights)

Germany 14/1 – 23/1 (9 nights)

Munich (3 nights)

Berlin (3 nights)

Cologne (3 nights)

Netherlands 23/1 - 29/1 (6 nights)

Amsterdam (3 nights)

Rotterdam (3 nights)

Belgium 29/1 – 1/2 (3 nights)

Brussels (3 nights)

Ireland 1/2 – 8/2 (7 nights)

Belfast (2 nights)

Dublin (3 nights)

Galway (3 nights)

Scotland 8/2 – 14/2 (6 nights)

Edinburgh (5 nights)

London 14/2 – 21/2 (7 nights)
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Old Nov 16th, 2022, 11:32 PM
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If you haven't already, gen up on trains at www.seat61.com
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 01:31 AM
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Good advice from Patrick, that website is gold. Have used it heaps for our trips. If it was me, I'd have more than two nights in Venice. It sounds like it's become a lot busier with tourists since we last visited but I think at the time of year you'll be there, it shouldn't be so bad. I love Venice and one day doesn't sound like much. Also I was surprised how much we enjoyed Belgium so you could add some time there. We had a few trips, staying in Brussels as well as Brugge and visited Ghent too. The architecture and food are great and we found the people welcoming.

There are some terrific museums and galleries in London, perfect if it's cold and wet outside. Most are free. Definitely make time to visit the V&A, also the Wallace Collection is much smaller and manageable but still well worth a visit. Both have nice cafes. St Martin in the Fields used to have a cafe in the crypt and also musical concerts, it's been a while since we were there but check their website.
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 04:39 AM
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Remember the days are very short and often grey this far north in the UK (part of Europe if not part of the EU). To give an image of this, assume you breakfast and leave your hotel by 9 am it will be darkening by 3pm. You will want an umbrella each, waterproof shoes, Mac etc.
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 06:39 AM
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Welcome to Fodors. I don't have time to digest the full itinerary right now but just a preliminary comment. Even though you will be traveling a generous amount of time, IMO/IME you are trying to cover too much territory. Too many 2 and 3 night stops for a few reasons.

• 2 nights nets you just 1 full day and 3 nights = 2 full days. So you'll have less time to explore/see/do things. So unless its just a stop over because of train schedules or something, which could mean a 1 night stop, I wouldn't do ANY 2 night stops and have fewer 3 nighters.

• This will be deepest winter and you are visiting some possibly very wintry locations. Nasty weather can/will disrupt travel and activities. One delayed / cancelled train and your whole itinerary could be shot out of the water.

• Your OP sounds like ypur mom may be less active/physically fit -- - this is a pretty fast paced itinerart but for a maybe older/slower person -- it is VERY fast paced.

• As mentioned, days wil be very short -- which doesn't matter that much since this is a city-centric itinerary, but do take it into consideration.

You have nice time allocations for London, Edinburgh, and Paris . . . But I'd really re-think all the rest and cut several cities . . .
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 07:04 AM
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Another vote for staying longer in one or more of your cities. In winter with weather issues it can make sense to stay one week in one place and plan a day trip or two being flexible with what day based on the weather forecast and your travel energy. With day trips you aren't also hauling your luggage so travel is easier and more flexible. So maybe rather than all of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Brussels, pick just one.
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 08:32 AM
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I've never understood why people warn about the days being short in winter. (Doesn't everybody know that already?) The daylight hours are short, but the opening hours are the same except for things like the parks in Paris, most of which close at nightfall. But seeing the cities all lit up is quite wonderful.
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by kerouac View Post
I've never understood why people warn about the days being short in winter. (Doesn't everybody know that already?) The daylight hours are short, but the opening hours are the same except for things like the parks in Paris, most of which close at nightfall. But seeing the cities all lit up is quite wonderful.
Not really -- many visitors don't realize that for instance Edinburgh is almost as far north as southern Alaska and the days are much shorter in winter than they may be back home.

Jan 1 in London sunset is 4PM . . . Jan 1 in Dallas sunset is 5:30PM.
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 09:09 AM
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everybody doesn't ;-)
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 10:49 AM
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After dark is GOOD -- that is the important thing to know! And Paris is farther north than Montréal. Not a problem.
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 01:06 PM
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If the OP is Antipodean (as I suspect), then it is not a bad idea to warn about the shortness of days. Even in winter, when it gets dark here about 5-6pm, it is not as shocking as the early darkness at about 3:30-4pm that I experienced in Helsinki on my first trip to Europe. It is just not an issue here. It does put a dampener on activities. Also as a female, I personally don't like going out at night on my own when travelling - that is a consideration for some women travellers.

To the OP: welcome, and thanks for your interesting travel plans. I am with other people who think this should be knocked into shape a little bit. You need to print up a blank calendar and on each day, write where you will be staying the night. Write in travel days also - that is really important (between cities, your trip is between cities not countries). On another list, write how you will be getting to your next destination and how many hours it will take, so you can see if you have any spare time. Between the continent and Dublin you could fly (as it's across water), but I would otherwise keep air travel to an absolute minimum. Apart from environmental concerns, air travel costs a lot of time getting into and out of airports, often more than a train journey. Many of your destinations are quite far apart; for the most part you have your destinations in a logical progression. Looking at Germany, Munich - Berlin - Cologne is not bad (although really far apart), but there is a train line that runs straight to Brussels from Cologne, and from Brussels you could go straight up to Rotterdam and Amsterdam and leave for Ireland from there (Amsterdam Schiphol is a great airport, Brussels Charleroi, where Ryanair flies from, is a pain to get to. Brussels Zaventem is better.). If you had been going to London or via London, then the Eurostar from either Brussels or Amsterdam and Rotterdam would have been possible (3hrs 52 mins between Ams and Lon), and that is a cool way to travel also.

Good luck with your arrangements, it is always exciting to see plans unfolding.

Lavandula
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by lavandula View Post
it is not a bad idea to warn about the shortness of days. Even in winter, when it gets dark here about 5-6pm, it is not as shocking as the early darkness at about 3:30-4pm that I experienced in Helsinki on my first trip to Europe. It is just not an issue here. It does put a dampener on activities.
To add to Lavandula's observations, it does not only put a damper on activities, as can wet bone chilling weather, it also makes it harder to recover from jet lag (since stark daylight helps set body rhythms better, whereas constant grey miasma peppered by pitch black confuses the body pretty bad), and since it is cold and flu season, the body is often fighting bugs - - hopefully very successfully - - but add it all up, and this time of year makes you more TIRED. But that is the advantage to long train rides this time of year - - you can just lie there.

Last edited by dfourh; Nov 19th, 2022 at 10:58 AM.
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 06:18 PM
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Thank you everyone for your input. I have adjusted somethings and planned on a 5 nights minimum in each place.
If I am travelling by train would it make more sense to go from Paris to Belgium and work my way around that way and then fly from Italy to Scotland (I looked at flight prices from Italy and Amsterdam to Scotland and its actually more expensive to fly from Amsterdam).
I am thinking of this:

Paris 7 nights
Belgium 5 nights
Netherlands 5 nights
Austria 5 nights
Venice 5 nights
Rome 5 nights
Florence 5 nights
Scotland 5 nights
London 7 nights

I have 5 extra nights and I was thinking of one of 3 options:
Option 1 - between Netherlands and Austria, perhaps in Germany
Option 2 - 5 nights elsewhere in the UK between Scotland and London
Option 3 - Add an extra night or two at some of the other places

Thank you
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 08:51 PM
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Where are thinking of staying in Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria? If it's just one city, that's fine but if you stay in two different places in the one country, then I'd add a couple of nights on to that country. I would be hesitant to add in another city/country and instead split your 5 extra nights amongst the places you already have on your list.

OR - There's such a lot to do in London, you could add 5 nights on there. It means you'd have time for a couple of lazy days if you wanted, or some day trips. Also as London is your last stop, you might be winding down and feel a bit tired and it gives you a decent break in one spot before your flight home.

For guided walks in London and also guided day trips check out https://www.walks.com/
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 09:35 PM
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Are your extra days usable as travel days? I always count them separately. That way you have 5 full days in each destination. I think you could do Belgium and the Netherlands quite well with that amount of time. Belgium is so tiny you don't need several bases, one will do pretty well. You could also find enough to do in Amsterdam alone for 5 days, it's a really interesting city.

Netherlands to Austria is quite a long way, it makes sense to break it up a bit. What about Munich?

Lavandula
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 10:06 PM
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Thank you KayF and Lavandula.

My plan is to just stay in Brussels, Amsterdam and Vienna and explore the area with day trips to places like Bruges.
The reason I have considered spending the other 5 days in Germany is to break up the trip inbetween Amsterdam and Vienna, like you suggested Lavandula.
I could go from Amsterdam to Vienna which would be 11-12 hours by train and add the other 4 days to one of the already existing cities.
Or Amsterdam to Prague 11-12 hours then Prague to Vienna 4-5 hours
Or Amsterdam to Munich 7-8 hours then Munich to Vienna 4-5 hours.

I guess I just need to decide if I want to add another city or have an extra day in some of the places.

Travel planning is fun but can be overwhelming for sure!
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 11:29 PM
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Yes, fine to do Brussels and Amsterdam as bases, Vienna is a bit harder for day trips unless you just want Bratislava. There is a lot to see in Vienna anyhow.

I would pick the Munich variant - Munich is awesome, although it tells you a lot about Bavaria and less about Germany as a whole. If you did decide to do Prague or straight to Vienna there used to be night trains. I suspect for Prague there would be no direct overnight train but perhaps there is one for Vienna. I am not expert on rail connections, look at www.seat61.com for better information. Night trains can be good because they use what is essentially underutilised time when you would normally be asleep and give you some of that time back.

Lavandula
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 11:33 PM
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Seat61 is great! I have been on it all day, what a usefull resource.

I have been to Munich before and enjoyed it, my mum hasnt been to any of these places so she will be happy with anywhere. But her must see is Scotland. I am wondering if its worth spending longer in Scotland and spend half the time in the Highlands and half the time based in Edinburgh or Glasgow. The only thing that makes me second guess that is the weather and daylight hours.
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 11:46 PM
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I haven't been to Scotland yet, but it sounds like a nice thing to do for your Mum to spend extra time there. But it's far enough north to have bleak weather. I will bow out here and let those experienced in Scotland take over.

Good luck!!!

Lavandula
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Old Nov 20th, 2022, 12:33 AM
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Highlands in January, thinks..... that is one big roll of the dice
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