Our itinerary around Europe
Bollywood has done enough to put “Europe tour” in every Indians bucket list. So after a lot of budgeting and planning, we finally decided to take this vacation in March 2018.
Planning a Europe trip by yourself is not an easy task. But after completing my first Europe trip, I would strongly suggest anyone do it yourself. All major European countries are well developed and support tourism. So if you have a moderate command over English and a sense of walking around, you can easily cover the whole of Europe on your own without any tour guide. To help you in your planning, I have already shared all my hacks and tips. I am sure you will find them useful.
Europe is huge and hence we all need to settle down with a selected number of destinations within our time limit and financial budget. After a lot of permutations and combination, we selected – Austria and Italy.
Venice had been my dream destination since I had first known about Europe. So Italy was an easy selection as Venice had to be part of my tour. Next on our list was the mighty Alps. So we had the option to choose between Switzerland and Austria. We had around 5 days left after planning the Italian leg of the tour. We would not have been able to do justice to Switzerland in 5 days. So we choose to cover the Alps from the Austrian side.
So our tour itinerary finally looked like this
Vienna, Salzburg, Venice, Florence & Rome – are the cities where we stayed. All the rest of the destinations were covered in day trips from one of these cities.
So let me tell you the highlights of the destinations we covered
The capital of Austria was the first destination of our tour. We had allotted only 1 full day in the city, just as security in-case our baggage arrives late. But the city really amazed us with its mix of modern facilities and rich history. Vienna is very easy to navigate. There are roads signs everywhere and also lots of free Wi-Fi. The city also has a very well designed public transportation system which includes buses, trams, subways and trains. This city also has heavy Turkish influence, so we could find a lot of food options which are closer to the Indian taste buds.
The gateway to the Alps was our 2nd destination. We had planned a 3(1/2) days here. This was our main destination in Austria and all our plans were made considering Salzburg. From Salzburg, we went on 3 days trips – 1) Innsbruck; 2) St Gilgen & Hallstatt; 3) Munich. Salzburg in itself is small and we were able to cover it easily in 3-4 hours. We even managed to enjoy the evening by the river.
The capital of Austria’s western state of Tyrol has long been a famous winter sports destination. Multiple winter Olympics has taken place in this beautiful city, with the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics being the latest one. Our major interest here was to visit the ice-capped Nordkette Mountains and the world famous Sarwoisky Crystal museum. We really enjoyed the whole round trip to Nordkette. The Nordkette funicular is an engineering marvel in itself. The crystal museum is around 20 Km from the city, but they have dedicated shuttle service. We were really amazed by the transportation systems that have been put in places to make these trip a breeze. We also used the Innsbruck Card here, without which it would not have been possible to cover these 2 sites in a day trip.
St Gilgen & Hallstatt
St Gilgen is the village by the Wolfgangsee (Lake Wolfgang) and Hallstatt by the Hallstattsee (Lake Hallstat). These 2 destinations were the most romantic destinations in our itinerary. The lakes are huge and peaceful. St. Gilgen actually fall on way to Hallstatt if you take the bus route. So the 2 lakes can be visited in a single day. At both locations, you have options to take a lift or funicular to the nearby mountaintop. But we wanted to enjoy the lake so we skipped it.
This was the third destination we covered from Salzburg. This was a sudden plan because we discovered the great connectivity Salzburg has with this German city. This was only possible because we were travelling on own. In a package trip, you don’t have these luxuries. We had time so we thought not to miss the opportunity to get a glimpse of one of the most advanced countries in Europe. Munich is a big city, so covering everything was not possible. We visited the Allianz Arena (Home to FC Bayern Munich), the BMW World and also managed to catch the Rathaus-Glockenspiel Clocktower show at 5 PM.
The floating city and one of the most visited destinations in Europe was our entry point to Italy. We took a night train from Salzburg which dropped us in Venice by 6 AM, giving us the whole day to explore the beautiful city. We dedicated the first day to explore all the islands – Burano, Murano & Lido. We were greatly surprised to see Lido, the modern part of Venice which has cars and public buses, which are banned in the main island.
The capital of Tuscany and the city where we stayed the longest during our visit. The central location of the city makes it ideal for planning day trip to all over Italy. From here, we covered the sea-side towns of Cinque Terre, the capital city of Emilia-Romagna – Bologna, one of the seven wonders – the leaning tower of Pisa and the historical towns of Siena and San Gimignano. The city of Florence is also wide and spread. Also, we were lucky to be in the city for Easter and experience the Scoppio del Carro.
The 5 sea-side villages, which were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1997 are one of the major attractions around Florence. It is located on the western side of the country and is close to Pisa. The bonus of the day was the 2 border towns of La Spezia and Levanto. Most people skip them but we really enjoyed our walk around these towns.
The capital of the state of Emilia-Romagna, is famous for many reasons. We could only enjoy the historical city as this was only a half day tour from Florence.
This town doesn’t need any introduction. I think everyone knows why we visited Pisa. It was another half day tour and we planned it in the second half to avoid the crowd. Pisa is very well connected to Florence and hence getting there and back wasn’t any problem. Pisa can be easily covered on foot and a round trip from station to the leaning tower would pretty much cover the whole city.
Siena & San Gimignano
The 2 Tuscan medieval towns famous for wine, gelato and architecture. The small towns are full of medieval architecture.
The historic capital of the Roman Empire is still one of the most important cities in Europe. This city is the best example of old meets new. The Vatican, Castel Sant Angelo, the Pantheon, the Colosseum all are located right in the middle of the city. Although you won’t be able to walk around all locations, but the connectivity in the city is great and is a saviour.
Naples & Sorrento
Naples & Sorrento – 2 destinations that we covered on a day trip from Rome. These places are located around the Gulf of Naples and you can also see the deadly Mt Vesuvius almost from everywhere. The area is famous for its food and drinks. Naples is considered to be the birthplace of pizzas and Sorrento is famous for its limoncello.
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