When you have a friend in Delhi who is planning a Euro trip and has asked you to help with an itinerary while you have another friend in Mumbai who is just back after spending three weeks in the most exotic European countries, you simply take information from one and pass it on to another. I decided to write this blog while collecting information from one and making an itinerary for another.
The moment you think of exploring European countries, you must do two important things!
First, you must look into the procedure for applying Schengen visa & get your documents sorted accordingly and second, you must start reading about the Rail Europe – a one stop destination for European Rail Travel. I always insist on reading because it helps you to decide a convenient package depending on the number of cities or countries you are visiting and the number of days you are spending. For example, if you are going to Italy, you can always look into the most traveled routes like Rome to Florence (with fast and frequent service) and Venice (beautiful views).
Once you have zeroed on the countries or country, you must look into the other train options. If you want to spend your vacation experiencing only one European country, Eurail One Country Pass should be bought without fail.
Last but not the least, check the local rail network. Almost every country in Europe has a convenient rail network and it makes traveling from one place to another absolutely hassle-free. Look for the offers of the local train pass. Buy the 1,2,3,4,5 day or weekly pass when you reach your dreamy destination. Overall Europe has some amazing train routes.
ROAM IN ROME
In the words of my friend, ‘2 or 3 days is very less for Rome’. But if you do not have more time, below are some helpful points.
- If you are reaching in the morning, head to Vatican city.
- Vatican city will take almost 3/4th of the day. Book a guided tour to skip the line online.
- The remaining half of the day or the evening should be used for visiting Spanish Steps. If you have time, you may go to ‘The Trevi Fountain’ which is at a walking distance of about 1.5 km from Spanish steps.
- One may go for the cart ride experience at Spanish steps.
- Keep the day 2 for Colosseum (Coliseum) and Roman Forum and Palatine hill.
- There are lots and lots of food joints everywhere. One can eat or pickup the food of preference.
- Piazza del Popolo is an urban square in Rome where lots of history can be explored. Check for its metro station and get down.
- A former Roman temple, now a church- Pantheon should be on your must see list. It is connected through metro, hence it is convenient to reach.
- One must try the roadside roasted cashew nuts.
- MAXMARA is the most visited store in entire Italy. Go for it.
FALL IN LOVE WITH FLORENCE
Florence has 72 art gallery and museums to visit. Calculate the number of days you will have to dedicate if you are a history buff. There is no way to avoid falling in love with Florence.
- Take a train from Rome to Florence.
- The moment you reach the station of Florence. Cross the road. Check the visitor and tourism center. Pick up a map. Put your luggage in the locker room and head straight to Pisa. Local metro is the preferred way.
- So basically if you are reaching Florence early morning, dedicate a bigger chunk of the first day for the leaning tower of Pisa. It must be done on priority.
- In the evening, one must go to the rose garden on hill top, very close to the Piazzale Michelangelo.
- Climb the Duomo, 463 steps it takes to experience an extraordinary view of the city of Florence.
- The climb is worth it. Good sports shoes is an essential.
- Around the Piazza del Duomo, check out Baptistery and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo too.
- Day 2 must be dedicated for uffizi gallery, a prominent art museum. A guided tour makes the experience worth the visit. It will take 4-5 hours to cover this. Camera is allowed in the museum.
- A visit to Academia is a must. Close to the Academia Gallery, one may visit the hidden treasure of Florence: the Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno.
- If you have an affinity for Leonardo the Vinci, they do visit this cute little place called Vinci, a small town at a distance of 45 km from Florence. One gets to know about his life and why he was known as Leonardo the Vinci. It takes about 45 mins by bus to reach Vinci. One will find the original creations of Leonardo and all its drawings well preserved.
Things to remember!
- Leaning tower of Pisa
- Devine David, the most handsome sculpture on earth
- Another very important sculpture made by Michelangelo is rape of Sabine at Galleria dell’Accademia
Ufitzi is special as it is the preservation of Florentine culture and their very own art pieces. Ufitzi has sections of all artists…Leonardo the Vinci ….Michelangelo… Botticelli.
- The famous duomo and Tower which will consume around 2 hrs time and is a must visit. The entry at church is free but Tower and staircase at duomo will cost an entry fee of Rs 20 Euro each.
- Places are easily accessible and one can walk from one place to another.
- Do check out the water canals of Florence. It is a long walk but very refreshing and different experience. The road promises with food joints, treats shops and art studios.
- Lots to shop in Florence but be ensured that it is made in Italy.
WANDER IN VENICE
Venice needs time. 2 days in Italy is tough to be okay with. But when you don’t have must time, you just pick the best and utilize every minute.
- You cannot miss the dream canals of Venice. Remember, we have all been in love with the iconic gondola rides in Venice.
- Morano (it is only a few minutes from central Venice by public waterbus) and Borano are the two most famous islands and they are the most visited ones too . Everyone goes there. They are colorful and cute.
- Morano is famous for world class glass work. It is full of glass articles. Morano’s glassmakers are special because they were the only people who knew to make glass mirrors.
- There cannot be a day in Venice without indulging its signature Gelato.
- Do climb the bell tower of the San Giorgio Maggiore church.
- The sunset in Venice is magical. Don’t miss it.
- Rialto bridge, Santa Mark’s basilica, piaaza San Marko and Marko polo are main attractions of Venice.
- Gondola ride is a must and the most expensive thing that will happen to you.
- Don’t miss taking a 2-3 days ferry pass. This way you can do all your trips via ferry and keep discovering new places.
- The Gondola ride is expensive and touristy. You do have an option to miss it by choosing to take a boat tour with a guide who can acquaint you with the history of Venice!
- Ditch the map and try getting lost in the picturesque canals and streets.
I have not been to the above three cities and all the above suggestions are based on my friend’s experience.
In the metro in Paris!
PARTY IN PARIS
I have been to Paris and I remember how I was awestruck when I had seen Eiffel Tower for the first time. No doubt, it makes for one of the wonders of the world. Another attractive thing about Paris is the absolutely well-connected train network. The city also houses my favorite museum i.e. Louvre, the best in the French city.
Things you must know about Paris!
- Take a map and study the rail network. Almost every attraction is accessible by public transport.
- The character of the city is defined by Eiffel tower and Siene river. With no second thoughts, head to Eiffel first.
- Notre Dame Cathedral is the epicenter of Paris. You must visit this which is famous for being one of the first Gothic cathedrals.
- Moulin Rouge– most famous cabaret.
- The catacombs which is more than bones repository.
- A 19th-century architectural masterpiece, the Palais Garnier Opera House
Day 1- Louvre in the day, Eiffel in the evening.
Day 2 – Notre–Dame Cathedral, A boat excursion in Siene river, Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile and The Avenue des Champs–Élysées in the evening.
Day 3- Disneyland for the whole day
Day 4 – Luxembourg garden, Catacombs and Pantheon
Hope this itinerary is useful. It was prepared with the help of my friend Laxmi Shukla. Check her post on ‘Amalfi Coast’.