My husband will be going to Tunisia (maybe) in March or April and when he completes his work there we are wanting to meet up with him for a vacation in Europe. We will only have a week and I know next to nothing about Europe. I have always wanted to visit Switzerland, but my husband and son would rather see Italy or any other country. Anyway, if anyone knows how to travel in Europe without spending a fortune and could give me some good ideas for a vacation I would really appreciate it.
If we go to Italy, I would love to see the Sistine Chapel, the Michelangelo sculptures, and other Renaissance artists. If Switzerland can be worked in there that would be even better!
I've done a little bit of searching on-line, but since I know very little it's overwhelming.
Thanks so much for your help.
A week is a very short time. Don't try to do too much, or you'll end up seeing nothing.
I went to Germany about 10 years ago with my grandma. We did a bus tour through Switzerland, Italy, and France. That may be something to look into as well.
The first time we went to Germany we went and visited alot of towns and things in the area. Everything is alot closer there than it is here. It takes us a over half a day to get across Texas, but in the same time frame you could can be halfway through another country there.
I went to Italy last Spring and if I had to recommend a place to visit for a week it would be Venice. There is so much to do and see there for free. Get a water bus pass and use them to go everywhere. Visit the islands of Murano (hand blown glass) and Burano (hand made lace and textiles) for their goods as well as for the brightly painted architecture. I easily could have spent a week just walking all the neighborhoods.
If you were looking more coastal then I would highly recommend the sea side town of Santa Margherita. It is near Portifino (take the ferry to get there and you get a wonderful mini cruise too!), the Cinque Terra (look it up online, gorgeous) as well as being about 2 hours from Pisa (which is SOOOOO much more than just the leaning tower and totally stunning!). If you'd like to see photos please PM me with your email address and I'll send you an invite to my Kodak Gallery collection.
Well I'm going to burst your bubble, it's not going to be cheap. The exchange rate for 1 euro is about $1.55. It varies, but that's about the average right now. I got lucky as this was a gift, so I didn't have to spend too much.
You best best is to pick one place and stay there the entire week.
I just went on a European tour for the holidays. We flew into London, then went to Paris, Switzerland, then to Florence, Venice and Rome.
This was my first trip to Europe ever....but surprisingly, Paris was personally my least favorite. I mean don't get me wrong, I really liked it, but Switzerland in winter was even more amazing....and Italy was excellent! We were in Rome Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and went to the Vatican on Christmas Eve..at night. That was such a spiritually moving experience.
We did a bus tour so we also met some amazing people, and it was awesome to hear how we were all brought together on the trip, on Christmas. Then we all went to midnight mass together at one of the Basilica's. I'm not Catholic, but it was very moving to be there at such a significant time. My friends were teasing me about being the lady that jumped on the Pope, lol.
I think you all would love Italy as a first trip for the art, culture, food, and just the time frame that you have to work with. We did about three days in each city, and flew out of Rome.
Even though you didn't mention it, I loved Spain. Barcelona was awesome. I didn't care for Venice and I thought I really would. I would love to go to Switzerland during Christmas. So jealous Cakeforte.
Ugh I really wanted to go to Spain but they didn't offer it in any of the packages and we wanted to do a "sampler" type of trip. I want to go there next!
I would say Italy should be your only place you go. I would do a guided tour though. I rented a car and gas this summer...OMG! Expensive. If you do decide to rent a car I have a GPS for Europe that you could use. I think for Italy you have to get an international drivers license. You can get them at AAA.
Cheap...HAH! Nothing is cheap over there.
They do have cruises that go through the south of Italy and Greece around that time that were cheap, but it was through the military.
I went to Italy for 1 week about 15 years ago. I went to Rome first then Florence then Venice. Rome was great but we were so busy running around I didn't get to see as much as I would have liked. Tried cramming too much in too quick. Florence was good and I did a little slower pace and seemed to get more accomplished. I enjoyed Venice also.
I'm really into Art and History so that was one of my main focuses on the trip. I'd love to go back......got room in a suit case. I promise not too eat much.
You could spend an entire week in one city like Rome or Florence or Sienna and not see everything!
I lived in Switzerland, and have been back, and we just went to the Czech Republic in September.
You could....go to Italy, then take a day trip to the Lugano area of Switzerland (it's a beautiful drive and a realllllly long tunnel- pretty cool.) Alps and palm trees, great markets around march/April. Cool boat tours too that cross a lake from country to country- there's a cool island somewhere....
Or vice versa. Switzerland, then take the train down to Italy-Ticino.
Both are nice that time of year, cool breezes, still snow in the mountains, around 70's in the day, but cooler at night.
Places off the beaten path will be cheaper, restraunts tucked in down an side street...
Souveniors are all priced the same regardless of store- same for items you might want to buy (chocolate in CH, etc) and tax is included.
Hotels that are more "family run" will be cheaper, but you can get good deals on Orbitz.
If you can- avoid changing US dollars to Euro- go for the local currency, CHF or lira. You'll get a better rate. You may also get a better rate using your bank card then changing cash. We did. You get the best bank rate at the time of transaction. So even with a 1% bank fee for converting, it came out cheaper than when we changed cash (especially at the tourist spots) And the smaller, off the beaten paths places will use more local currency than Euro anyway.
Uhhhhhhhhh, so much info...... if you want specifics on places, sights, feel free to email or PM me. I still have lots of friends over there and can ask them questions if I can't.
Both countries have a lot to offer, and can easily fill the whole week (crap I lived there for 3 years and didn't get it all in!!!)
Get an overnight flight- so that you land around 8am local time. Bring an iPod and good eye cover. Eat the dinner, then sleep the whole way. Eat breakfast in the airport, not on the plane- less salts and preservatives and it gets you walking and feeling like you're up. No coffee/soda starting 2-3 days prior to leaving, drink juice and water all the way up until around day 2. Go shopping after you check into your hotel, eat a small lunch, and an early dinner. Then go to bed. You'll be tired that first day, but jet lag goes away faster (water hydrates you, the walking and the sun keep you awake and trick your body into having energy) Then you get to see more and you'll enjoy it more and not look like crap in the photos.
let me know specifics and I'll see what I can do.
Switzerland is wonderful - I live right along the border to Basel but in Germany - it's just not a country you want to go to if you don't want to spend money. It's expensive. Still highly recommended! I don't know the Italian or French-speaking areas very well but if you have any questions about the German-speaking parts, let me know.
One thing I have read is that there are some nice and decently-priced youth hostels in the mountains (and many other locations). Actually, if you want to travel cheaply, check out the youth hostels and maybe become a member of the youth hostel association (you get a discount - not sure how much). There are some great ones all over Europe (sometimes in renovated castles, etc) and they're usually not only for young people anymore. Spend your money on sightseeing, food, etc.! And since they're usually for backpackers, they also tend to be easily reached via public transport.
We go to Europe every year and rent a small car (I will never do a bus tour again) and travel around in different countries. (With a bus tour you are at the whim of the guide, you go where they take you for the time they allot. You may not want to spend 3 hours in a church but may want more time in a different location but too bad, no choice) I would suggest Tuscany in Italy. Pick a location as your base and visit different areas from there. You can see Pisa, Florence, Cinque Terra, Portofino, Assisi, Perugia etc all from a base location in Tuscany. We spend 2 weeks but 1 week will allow you to see most of this area. We are leaving for Spain and Portugal in a month and we are renting a car and driving around both countries. Can't wait, I did all my planning online. Try Trip advisor for hotel suggestions and good luck.
Sugarflowers.... are you military? Do you have USAA?? They will insure you overseas to drive a rental car (in moast countries- pretty sure Italy and CH are on the list) and they offer vacation emergency health insurance.
If you don't have uSAA, check with your company and see if they offer extension/emergency insurance for European travel.