Tentative Itinerary: Mother/Daughter Europe Trip

Dear World Travelers: I need suggestions for places to stay or things to see – we’ll only be in each city for a couple days and we want to make sure we see the best of what each city has to offer!

Previously, I wrote about the motivations for my trip to Europe with my mom this summer. I also wrote about booking our transatlantic flights for $206 round trip, total – saving us $1746 in the process. Those were the first two big steps in the planning process.

It took a lot of discussion, and many iterations of our itinerary, but we recently came up with a tentative itinerary for Europe. We have a fixed start and end date and location, due to our transatlantic flights, but everything in between was in flux. We knew we wanted to visit Paris, Venice, and Krakow, but if you’ve ever looked at a map of Europe, those are pretty far apart for a two week trip! When I saw the notification of a 20% off sale on EasyJet and WizzAir flights over at TipsOfTravelling.com, I knew we had to make some decisions. Since we could fly in and out of Venice for what it would have cost to take a train one way, I booked our flights to and from Venice for the middle of our trip (total cost for two people + a checked bag: 200 EUR).

Now that the trip has been divided into two distinct segments (pre-Venice, post-Venice), we can start to narrow things down further by booking lodgings/tours/etc.

source: krakow-info.com

Here’s the tenative itinerary:

  • Day 1: USA to Dusseldorf / Amsterdam
  • Day 2: Amsterdam
  • Day 3: Brussels
  • Day 4: Paris
  • Day 5: Paris
  • Day 6: Paris / Venice
  • Day 7: Venice
  • Day 8 Venice / Warsaw
  • Day 9: Warsaw / Krakow
  • Day 10: Krakow / Zakopane
  • Day 11: Krakow
  • Day 12: Wroclaw
  • Day 13: Wroclaw / Berlin
  • Day 14: Berlin / Dusseldorf
  • Day 15: Dusseldorf / back to the USA

Here’s where you all come in: I need suggestions! We will be spending only a few days in each city, and it would be great to hear what others have enjoyed during their time in these cities.

  • What attractions are pure tourist traps and should be avoided?
  • Which are still worth it despite the lines?
  • What are some great, inexpensive restaurants in these cities?
  • Are there areas of these cities to avoid, or are they sufficiently safe for tourists?
  • Do you have recommendations for transportation while in each city? Obviously Paris has the Metro, but what sort of pass do we purchase?
  • And for the photography buffs: where are some great locations to get views looking down over the cities?

Please help me out with your suggestions in the comment section below – the collective knowledge of the internet is an awesome resource!

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Categories: Europe, Itinerary, Planning

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

26 replies

  1. In Brussels it’s better to avoid the Rue des Bouchers with its overpriced restaurants and Manneken Pis who is really really very small. If you want more information, you can find our email address on our blog!

    • Great suggestions, thank you! We aren’t big on overpriced restaurants – we’ll be spending most of our time in awe of the architecture, so all we need is a little sustenance to keep us on our feet! I had never even heard of Manneken Pis – what a crazy statue! Somehow I don’t think my mom would be amused (my husband on the other hand, would definitely be amused).. so we will probably skip it. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  2. Not sure if your itinerary is flexible or not, but I would recommend Brugge over Brussels. When you are in Krakow, Chata is a great local restaurant (be sure to make a reservation). I thought the best photo op of Paris was from the top of the Arc de Triomphe (at night if your camera lens can accommodate low-light shooting). Have so much fun!

    • Thanks for the suggestions! You are the second person I’ve heard suggest Brugge over Brussels. But the tentative plan is to take the train from Amsterdam first thing in the morning, spend most of the day in Brussels, and end up in Paris for the night. I wasn’t sure if we could feasibly include Brugge instead.

  3. So I know you spent a ton of time on your itinerary, but I have suggestions on that.
    I would spend more time in Paris. For me, Paris is all that it’s cracked up to be. I was there for 5 days on my first visit, and every day was packed. And I was 21 years old and had unlimited energy. I’m going to Paris with my folks this spring, and my mother reminds me regularly that we’ll need to take it easy. Remember, you can always go back. Maybe choose Amsterdam or Brussels? Both cities have great rail connections with Paris, and both deserve a multi-day visit in their own right. I know Brugge is the cool place to go, but I think Brussels is underrated.
    Wroclaw makes sense as a transportation hub, but I would cut it out completely or reduce my time there. It’s lovely, but in the end its just another old town square in Poland. (But if you have family heritage in the area, ignore that piece of advice)

    Fun stuff:
    1. Go to Versailles! Best part of my first trip to Paris. You can get there on the RER (like the NJ transit, but with more stops in Paris). The inside tour was great, but my highlight was renting a bike and riding it around the gardens.
    2. Attend the English language mass at Notre Dame cathedral. You can do the touristy thing and climb to the top too, but attending mass will enable you to experience the original purpose of this structure. It’s a plus if you grew up Christian (I grew up Catholic, and the main plus of attending services abroad is knowing what’s going on), but you don’t need to be. You can look up mass times online.
    3. I have a BA in Art History collecting dust in my closet, and I think Louvre is overrated, crowded, hard to navigate, and generally a bad experience.
    4. Loved the Musee D’Orsay (impressionism). They have the best museum cafe I’ve ever been to (google “cafe musee d’orsay” and click on images). Plan to have lunch there.
    5. How long will you be in Warsaw? If you still want palaces at that point, try the Royal Palace on the old town square, or the Lazienki Palace in the Lazienki Park. The former might be interesting to your because of the rebuilding process: it was razed to the ground during the war, and then rebuilt based on paintings and old plans. It re-opened in the mid-80’s. The latter is smaller, it’s a shorter tour, and you can hang out in the park after. If you’re done with palaces by the time you hit Warsaw, check out the Warsaw Uprising Museum. For coffee and cake, got to “A.Blikle” (A.Blikle is the 19th century founders name). It’s a 19th century cafe that’s been there since it opened – not an easy feat when you consider the war and the communist period. It’s on ulica Nowy Swiat 35 (35 Nowy Swiat street).
    6. If lost in Poland, look for someone young who doesn’t look like a hoodlum. If they’re educated, they should speak English.

    Wow. Thank God I finally have a blog. My capacity to tell people what to do on on their vacations has no limit.

    • Woohoo I love your long comments 🙂 Let’s start with the easy stuff…

      1. We’ll be visiting Wroclaw because my great-grandmother lived there. I think all of our family in the area has passed away, but it would be fun to see where my heritage lies. It will also double as a transportation hub.
      2. We will be in Paris over a weekend, so thanks for the suggestion of the english language mass at Notre Dame. My mom always gets upset if we miss mass while we’re traveling.
      3. I’ll definitely add the cafe at Musee D’orsay – those pictures are amazing! My mom has a degree in fine art, so she has already said she wants to go to the Rodin museum for sure, and the Louvre if we can fit it in – is it less crowded on specific times/days?

      Now for the less easy stuff…
      1. I would LOVE to visit Giverny if we have time. The question is do we ake a train there ourselves, or do we book a tour that covers both Giverny and Versailles in one day?
      2. We are including Brussels as somewhat of an afterthought. More of a “it’s on the way between Amsterdam and Paris, so why not” sort of stop. I do hear the chocolate is amazing though, and that is a favorite food that my mom and I have in common, so it might be worth it. I’m sort of treating this part of the trip as a “teaser”. My husband wants to go to Amsterdam one day, so I figure I’ll test the waters now and then spend a full week or more in that area when my husband has a chance to come with me.
      3. Thanks for the suggestions in Warsaw – I did want to see the royal palace. I’m not sure how long we’ll be there just yet, it will depend how much time we spend in Krakow (we want to see the salt mines, and I found a day-trip tour to Zakopane/the Tatra Mountains). But we’ll definitely be there for at least half a day on the day our flight arrives, and most of the day the next day.

      Thanks for your comment 🙂 Between this and the comment on my video, you are incredibly awesome and helpful!

      • Thanks for being gracious. I’m never sure if my advice is overbearing or helpful. If your mother has a degree in art, then I’ll have to keep trying to convince you to spend more time in Paris, especially if you want to visit Giverny. There’s just no limit to what you can see there. Paris beats the pants of Amsterdam by a factor of 20. You won’t feel like you’re missing out on Brussels after touring it for a day, and you’ll be back in Amsterdam anyway.

        1. Giverny – I haven’t been myself, but I did see the Monet Giverny “exhibit” at the NY botanical garden, so I’ll be going when I visit in May. When’s your trip? will I benefit from your trip report, or will you benefit from mine? 🙂
        2. Louvre – I need to research the specifics myself. I know that it’s open late on certain evenings, and I suspect that it will be less crowded at night. In NYC, the Met is open late on Friday and Saturdays, and it’s less crowded then even in peak season. I suspect that more locals than tourists know about the evening hours. Maybe same thing in Paris? Since your mother is really knowledgeable about art, I would figure out exactly what you want to see at the Louvre, and go with an agenda.
        3. Warsaw is another city that gets a bad rap. There are actually more major sights in Warsaw than in Krakow. International tourists tend to like Krakow because it’s a small city, and for Poles it’s nostalgia: it’s where the kings are buried, it was never razed to the ground, and it has the oldest university. That said, the old town area in Warsaw is just as big as it is in Krakow, and there’s just more stuff to do. I’m actually not encouraging you to stay in Warsaw longer… you’ll have more than enough to fill your time in Krakow. You always make choice
        4. You might want to see the Panorama Raclawicka in Wroclaw. Poles are proud of it, I think it’s kind of cheesy, but it is different. Mercifully, the website is in English.
        5. In Krakow, go to the small museum in the Sukiennice (cloth hall). It’s smack in the middle of the square. Its one hall of paintings, it won’t take long, but it’s a nice overview of art in Poland. My favorite is Szal.
        6. If you or your mom are interested in reading up on Polish art , I recommend the book “Out Looking In”. For Polish history, anything by Norman Davies is great (watch out for the page numbers! those books are long)

        • Definitely helpful! I think I will be benefitting from your trip rather than the other way around, we aren’t going until the end of June / beginning of July.

          I think we’ll end up spending more time in Krakow just so we can use it as a base for touring nearby things – Wieliczka, Auschwitz, Zakopane… Thanks for the suggestion on Sukiennice. We’ll probably stay very near to the main square, so it’ll be easy enough to get to. Also, I think we’ll be in town around the time of some sort of festival, so that will be exiting too!

          I’ll have to look into those books – it sounds like something my mom would love!

          • You’ll have a great time – don’t forget to pack warm clothes. Poland’s summers are hit or miss, and skinny jeans and a sweater are a good idea (which I always forget myself).

            And I highly recommend the Amateur traveler episodes on Krakow and Venice. I like to listen to the podcast when I’m working on exciting data entry tasks or captivating housework.

  4. Thanks! We were planning to wear a pair jeans and a sweater on the flight because we’re always cold in airplanes – good to know we’ll have a reason to wear it elsewhere!

    It figures that when I go to check out Amateur traveler, the site is down 😦 I’ll look into it though! Thanks for all of the suggestions! You’ll have plenty more opportunity to exercise your “capacity to tell people what to do” as we plan the rest of our trip! haha

  5. Visiting Europe and no UK trip? Worth another trip all on its own.

  6. How fab…a trip with your mom! I had several with mine and they are some of the best memories!
    Sorry you only have a day here in Amsterdam but it is a small city and you can see lots. There is a “free” walking tour everyday

    http://www.newamsterdamtours.com/

    You tip them at the end what you think it is worth. Their numbers are limited as to how many people they can take on each tour so you won’t be with a very big crowd. If you are only going to be here for one day I’d highly reccommend this tour and, no, I don’t work for them! It’s three hours and then time to go back and see what you want. They can point out good places to eat as well. I think you can book on line.

    Have a great time!

  7. Hi 🙂 As to Kraków and what travelbugdiaryblog has said, the gallery in Sukiennice is really worth seeing. I think that it’s a good idea to spend more time in Kraków. I would suggest skipping Zakopane. The Tatras are beautiful and you can see very nice views from Gubałówka a hill near the town but I think that a one-day trip is simply too short. As to Warsaw, the palace in Łazienki is my favourite but the Royal Palace in the Old Town is also interesting.

  8. How thrilling! I’m sure you two will have a spectacular time!

Trackbacks

  1. Mother/Daughter Europe Trip: Saving $405 on Two Nights in Amsterdam « wander one day
  2. Itinerary Planning Process: Amsterdam and Brussels « Wander One Day

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