Europe 2013 Planning mode: The Itinerary

by Oz Chinita

After deciding how long my travel to Europe would be, next problem is allotting which places to go to, and how long to spend in each city/country.

To help me decide, I first googled and asked around what places to see in France, Switzerland,and Italy. I want my starting point to be Paris, and end point is Rome. Then decide which ones are my must do’s to plot out my days in each place.

With 3 weeks leave, I assumed I’ll lose 2 whole days of that already for the flight from/to Australia, so just 20 days to work with.

Another problem is the travel time for transportation.. but I’ll worry about adjusting that into my itinerary later on, and just focus on itinerary first.

So here’s my sightseeing must do list.  The priority of this list is based on my goal to take lots of nice pictures, and see landmarks known to that place. I’ve also added notes to help me remember why I prioritized them the way I did.

For Paris: Just in Paris alone I already had a lot of sights I wanted to cover.  So I decided to just stick with Paris and do maybe 1 or 2 daytrips.. So I estimated around 4-5 days here for a relaxed exploration.  My goal with this trip is to not feel the need to go back to Paris again for a future Europe trip 🙂

Priority Place Notes
Low Eiffel Tower for me no need to go up, we can get other views.  For a view of Eiffel go to Trocadero
Med Seine River can cruise along the river (recommendations are at night for best views) Bateaux Parisiens start and finish at the Eiffel Tower. If this location is more convenient to you, you may prefer this one. Their commentary is given through what is kind of like a telephone receiver on a long cord, and you just selected the channel for the language you wanted. Vedettes du Pont Neuf start and finish at the Pont Neuf (near Saint Chapelle and just down from the Louvre). If this is more convenient, then you may want to opt for that one. The commentary was given by a tourism student in French and English.
High The Louvre Mona Lisa is here, one of the largest museums.
Med Orsay Museum The interior visually looks nice http://goparis.about.com/od/sightsattractions/tp/OrsayVisTips.htm
Med Sainte Chapelle masterpiece of Flamboyant Gothic architecture http://sainte-chapelle.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/
High Notre Dame widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world
High Arc de Triomphe see this at night as well then Head up to the roof after the sun has gone down and try to arrive at 5 minutes to the hour, because the Eiffel Tower — seen well from this spot — sparkles in a dazzling 10-minute lightshow every hour on the hour through midnight
Low Moulin Rouge famous cabaret performances
High Montmartre explore the neighborhood (beware of pickpockets) http://www.aparisguide.com/montmartre/
High Champ Elysee famous street for luxury shops/brands (where Arc de Triomphe is)
High Versailles The ideal route on busy days:
Gardens and park: 9am to noon
Trianon palaces and Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet: noon to 3pm
The interior of the Palace: from 3:30pm until closing time.
needs to be a daytrip.  Do not place this on a Monday, its closed during that time.  On Sept 1 & 3 there are 2 different shows available. Bring food as food is pricey here.
http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage
High Sacre Cour The panoramic viewpoint at the base of the Sacre Coeur Basilica in hilly Montmartre is a favorite. The best time to visit Sacré-Coeur is early morning or early evening. The dome is the highest point (wanna go!) The Basilica is open every day from 6am to 10.30pm ( for visits, the last entries are around 10.15pm)
You can climb up the dome to have a fanstastic view of Paris: 9.00am to 7pm
http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/us/index.html
Med La Madeleine another church (Roman Catholic), Neoclassical architecture
Med Luxembourg Garden near Notre Dame cathedral
Med Opera Palais Garnier also kinda near 18e. Tour duration is 90min. Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday : 11:30 am and 2:30 pm
Med Pantheon used to be a church, now a mausoleum (modeled after Pantheon in Rome).  early example of Neoclassicism
Low Centre Georges Pompidou unless we’re fans of art. But doesn’t look pretty. We can just go to the top for view of paris
Low Rue Montorgueil Neighborhood http://goparis.about.com/od/sightsattractions/p/Montorgueil.htm I think we can go here for a place to eat??
Med Marais The Marais is one of the only areas that preserves the narrow streets and architectural styles of Medieval and Renaissance-era Paris.  Can be something we pass by to browse around?
Low Latin Quarter http://goparis.about.com/od/parisneighborhoods/p/stmichelguide.htm near Notre Dame which is a plus
Low Jardin des Tuileries garden near the Louvre, can just pass by
Low (Metro Les Halles)
St-Eustache
Gothic and Renaissance decoration, considered one of Paris’s most beautiful churches
Low Montparnasse tower panoramic view of city
High Mont St. Michel day trip from Paris, small UNESCO World Heritage site located on an island just off the coast of the region of Lower Normandy in northern France. The island is best known as the site of the spectacular and well-preserved Norman Benedictine Abbey of St Michel at the peak of the rocky island, surrounded by the winding streets and convoluted architecture of the medieval town. Seems more worth it if we can rent a car and drive ourselves.. Looks nice when lit up at night

** Note: For those who have more time to see France, you can go to this link for the must see in France.  A friend told me about their experience staying in a farm in one of the small villages of France.  I reaaaally wanted to do this, but this is best done if you can rent a car 😦 So decided to just stick with Paris.

For Switzerland: For the Switzerland part of the trip, I still had to decide where in Switzerland to go.  The typical tours would go to Lucerne for 2 days before heading off to Italy.  I decided to put that in, but did a bit more research to see if there’s any other city I can go to in this country. Then I saw here (if you scroll down) the priority of sightseeing stops in Switzerland. It mentioned that if you have 3 days, to do Berner Oberland, and add Luzern with 5 days.  So I googled some more about Berner Oberland and found that this place is best for experiencing the alpine views of the country (which is my main goal for Switzerland).  And the best thing about this, Murren is not something I’ve seen in any of the tour packages to Switzerland so far.  My guess is because that place isn’t really transportation friendly, it’s not ideal for big tour groups.. but perfect for a self planned itinerary!

Priority Place Country Notes
High various sights Murren http://www.alpinetraveler.com/murren.html
High Schilthorn Murren http://www.schilthorn.ch/en/timetable-tariffs/
Med Trummelbach falls Murren http://www.alpinetraveler.com/murren.html
High Mt. Rigi Lucerne Train http://www.sbb.ch
http://www.tell-pass.ch
http://www.railaway.comBoat
http://www.lakelucerne.chGoing to Weggis is cheaper than VitznauArth Goldau by train is cheaper

For Italy: Italy is more challenging because there were a lot of well known cities that I wanted to get to.  There’s Milan, Pisa, Venice, Florence, Rome.  So again I started researching and asking people who’ve been there. But based on the people who did explore on their own, the feedback has been that Milan isn’t really that impressive, and is more known for fashion and shopping.  So based on that decided to skip this and instead insert two places that are not as popular in tour groups, but highly recommended by people who have gone there.  Cinque Terre and Siena.

Because of the number of cities I want to cover in Italy, this is where I allotted the remaining 10 days for.  3-4 days in Rome, then 2-3 days for the other cities, Cinque Terre being a daytrip, and Siena an overnight stay. List of sights below:

High various sights Venice http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/italy/venice3.htm
Med Frari church Venice pics don’t look that great, since it’s a church again we can do this if there’s enough time
High St. Mark’s Basilica Venice looks reaaally impressive, can’t take pics though 😦 might be better if we take a tour to appreciate it better
High Doge’s Palace Venice there is a secret itineraries tour or you can download free app
http://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it/en/home/
Low Correr Museum Venice not sure if worth it.. Not really a museum person
Low Torcello Island?? Venice http://www.veniceconnected.com/content/other-venice
High Musica Palazzo Venice http://www.musicapalazzo.com/home/lang/en/  highly recommended in Tripadvisor
High Murano Island Venice known for glass making
High various sights Florence http://www.fodors.com/news/story_3970.html
High Academia David Florence closed on Mondays (make reservations) http://www.florence-tickets.com/accademia-gallery-florence.html?site=webp
High Uffizi Gallery Florence closed on Mondays (make reservations a month in advance) http://en.uffizi-com.waf.it/museo_dett/27-state-museums/3175-uffizi-tickets-reservation.html
Med Church of Santa Maria Novella Florence Opening hours
Open weekdays 9 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
Fridays 11 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
Saturdays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sundays and religious holidays 1 p.m. – 5 p.m
Med Duomo Museum Florence
High Giotto’s Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto) Florence
High Siena cathedral Siena http://www.operaduomo.siena.it/
High Biblioteca Piccolomini Siena  
High Cinque Terre Cinque Terre Get the cinque terre card http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/cinque-terre-card include train travel and access to walking paths
High various sights Rome http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/italy/rome3.htm
High Colosseum/Pantheon/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum Rome http://archeoroma.beniculturali.it/en/archaeological-site/colosseum
High St. Peter’s Basilica Rome Open 7am-7pm. Need to reserve to avoid queue with audio guide (also special entrance available)? http://www.terravision.eu/rome-saint-peter-tours.html?af=27&cm=63
Med Pompeii or Herculaneum Rome day trip http://www.rome.net/herculaneum
High Vatican city and museum/ Sistine Chapel Rome need to reserve to avoid queue. There’s also night openings that we can book
http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do?action=booking&codiceLivelloVisita=17&step=1
http://voices.yahoo.com/tour-vatican-museum-sistine-chapel-after-hours-3984192.html (after hours tour)
Low Borghese gallery? Rome http://www.galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/einfo.htm
Med Ostia Antica Rome http://www.ostia-antica.org/
Low Rome shopping Rome http://www.news.com.au/travel/world/shopping-bargains-in-rome/story-e6frfqai-1226249487993

Hope this helps everyone with their own planning! If you plan to go to the same places, try researching these sights, see if it’s something you would want to do, and you can adjust your own itinerary accordingly.

Next item in my planning agenda.. Transportation travel times and costs.. Depending on this my # of days allotted might get adjusted.  (Documented in my post here).

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3 thoughts on “Europe 2013 Planning mode: The Itinerary

  1. Pingback: Europe 2013 Planning mode: The Itinerary | Home Far Away From Home

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