If you could go anywhere in the European region?

Here’s a friend’s travel question:

If you could go anywhere in the european region for between 7 and 14 days, where would you go? My parents are offering me one of their expiring timeshare weeks, so I can transfer it pretty much anywhere I want. on top of that, I’m thinking of using hotel points (Hilton and/or Marriott) and taking a bunch of nights elsewhere. I should be able to use my car rental points and get a free rental for a while, and i’m going to use my Delta miles for a free flight. Pretty much, my options are wide open. I just dont know what to go with. I was thinking of doing rome for 4-5 nights and then using the timeshare in the middle portion of Italy, where I can take day trips and drive around. I did this with my parents and grandparents in high school, but it’d be nice to do it on my own too.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

Here’s what I said. Feel free to offer your own advice in the comment section.

Having been to Italy for 9 weeks on my honeymoon and having taken two other trips to Europe since then, I can share a few thoughts and tell you what I would do and why.

Italy – I love Italy and want to retire there. On my honeymoon we spent 4 weeks in Rome, 4 weeks in Assisi, and 1 week in Naples and Capri. We took day trips to Venice, Florence, Perugia, and Santa Maria I think. I liked walking around and admiring the cities and I loved the food.

London – Just went for New Year. Took a day trip to Canterbury but spent 7 days doing London stuff. I feel like I got a pretty good experience even though I obviously didn’t finish London in 7 days. Still I felt like I’d seen plenty of London. I’m glad I did but I think Rome is more beautiful and has better food.

Munich – Spent a week there for a Christmas Market. It was enough time for Munich but not enough time to explore Bavaria. We did get to do day trips to Salzburg and Neuschwanstein castle which might be spelled differently. I really enjoyed the bierhaus food and drink.

Zurich – Great pedestrian only shopping streets. Crazy expensive restaurants. Food was nothing special. A week was more than enough for my wife and I.

Madrid – We didn’t like the Spanish food here but the Italian was good – just not as good as Italy. The city is pretty, but like London it just didn’t have Rome’s charm for me. We were there for about 2 weeks and did a day trip to Toledo which I found pretty forgettable.

So what would I do if I were going to Europe alone? I would pick a couple of cities, spend a week in each, and do a few day trips. I’d pick cities that had good hostels and I’d stay there to meet people. Since you said you’d be timesharing I’m not sure but I guess I would look at the individual properties and find one that had a good social scene to find people who would take day trips with me and stuff like that. I’d be especially looking for Rome, Amsterdam, and Istanbul. A week in Istanbul and a week exploring Cappadocia sounds awesome right around now.

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  1. Marion says:

    Definitely Italy! I loved Romes, also and love the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Lucca, the list goes on and on… And the food is beyond compare!

    Like you, I would love to retire in Italy.

  2. christie says:

    I’m with you both about Italy! Check out the Cinque Terre which is up north above Pisa. It is 5 small coastal towns connected by trails, boats and train.

    I would also recommend the Mosel valley area of Germany. Great wine and an awesome castle that you get to by way of an easy and beautiful hike thru the woods. It is an 800 yr old castle called Berg Eltz. Check it out!

    Have fun!

  3. Sharon says:

    I would definitely include Greece and any of the Greek Islands for the historical sites, incredible scenery from the coast to Delphi, Thessalonika,etc., and great food. I wouldn’t spend a lot of time in Athens, do some shopping and enjoy the nightlife and social scene. Then, go beyond the city and explore the rest of the country as much as you can. I lived there for a year some time ago, and much preferred it to Spain and Portugal, but the Mediterranean countries would definitely be my choice.

  4. Hannah says:

    If you’ve only been to Madrid, you haven’t really appreciated Spain or even Spanish food. I’d spend all my time in Valencia – centering around Seville. The people are so friendly and the cities are so beautiful! It’s impossible to get lost in Seville, just turn to any random person and ask “Donde esta la catedral?”

  5. Linda Bator says:

    You might want to try France, mixing up the stay between Provence and the winery regions. Fabulous food, scenery and wines galore! And if you like the Tuscan experience, you’d probably enjoy these areas for the great comparable experiences, with enough differences to make it exciting!

  6. un amico says:

    Italia … definitely.

  7. H. J. B. says:

    If they’re looking for something a bit further afield, Vienna/Budapest would be my recommendations. Vienna was convenient, lovely, and welcoming. Budapest, just 3 hours by train, was a great introduction to Eastern Europe and is an incredibly beautiful city. Budapest feels like what Prauge used to feel like. Still changing, still lots of bargains, very foreign without being too uncomfortable.

  8. Margit says:

    I’d like to suggest you visit Paris. I spent 2 weeks in March in a time share apartment with three friends. The apartment was in the 18th district, near Parc des Buttes Chaumont. It was a great neighborhood where we experienced the charm of Paris (something you can’t get at a large hotel chain..although the Marriott near the Airport was nice.)

    No need to rent a car in Paris, their transportation system is great. We purchased passes for two weeks and used the nearby Metro or bus to get around. We saw all the touristy sites, but at the same time lived like the locals. We shopped at the neighborhood grocery store, bakeries and pastry shops. I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful everyone was and how well they spoke English.

    Paris is conveniently located should you want to see other areas or countries. London is a train trip away. We took two day trips from Paris, once to Brussels and once to the Chateau region. We also took a train and then rented a car to get to the Dordogne region. We had a wonderful dinner and spent the night at a great little inn. The next day we toured one of the prehistoric caves.

    After our two weeks in Paris, we took the train and rented a car to travel to Bayeux, the D-Day beaches, Mont Saint-Michael and Saint-Malo.

    I’ve been to Rome a few times, enjoyed the food and the sites. For a slower paced, more relaxed visit, I prefer Venice and the islands (especially Burano.) The soft shelled crabs in the spring were to die for!

    I didn’t like Madrid, but I throughly enjoyed the Cost del Sol and Seville. I liked London, Amsterdam, Prague, Moscow, Gibraltar and Krakow. I loved Paris, Lisbon, Budapest, St. Petersburg and Vienna.

    So far, I’ve been to 16 countries in Europe and hope to visit more in the near future. Happy travels!

  9. ROY says:

    I went to Paris several years ago and I think it’s still the most beautiful city I’d like to visit again. It’s all about the sights there. Rome, Siciliy, pretty much anywhere in Italy can be unforgettable but I tended to stick to the southern portions. Istanbul is about history and ruins and fantastic mosques and just an interesting city to be in. Exploring any of these cities is at least a week. For food, Italy is my choice. For culture, try Paris and Istanbul is just different. Personally I loved Spain (Barcelona, Granada) but I speak spanish and I love the people and the food as well. Getting in with the locals is always my way to enjoy the experience whereever I am. I also found enjoying it with someone makes it all the more pleasurable. I would retire to Italy or Spain in a heartbeat.

  10. econruth says:

    For me, I’d want the path less tourist-traveled… Prague, Budapest, Vilnius, Tallin!

  11. Jill says:

    I’ll chime in for Italy as well. Beautiful country, wonderful food, art, history, shopping… there’s nothing they don’t have there. I’d retire there too!

  12. Charles says:

    Northern Italy. The Lake region. no doubt about it.

  13. P Minton says:

    Italy is wonderful. Florence for sure, On the other hand, Prague is a wonderful stepping stone and still a bit off the beaten track.

  14. Victor says:


  15. E Kersten says:

    I would consider what you would like to do, and work from that. That would also depend on time of year. If you would travel in winter and like skiing certainly Switzerland/Austria/Germany have great options. That wouldn’t work though for suntanning on the beach. I can certainly recommend the train systems for getting around, best in the three countries I mentioned as well as the ‘Benelux’ and Britain (you can travel whenever you like without making reservations).

    I like to find a special event to work in as well, i.e. being at Duxford England for an old airplane show or Vienna for the start of the dance ball season.

  16. M Simmons says:

    Hmmmm… Italy? Stay out of the Napoli area. There is too much going on there with the food, trash, and the Camorra. A particular favorite and the most beautiful I think is San Gimignano. It’s a castle town in Tuscano. Also, is Saturnia. It has a natural, healing water that comes from the ground and the locals have a free spot on the edge of town where the water “falls” beautifully onto rocks. Awesome. As you know, Tuscany is great, as well as their food selections. If you choose Cinqua Terra, it is only about 1-2 hours from France. There, you can go to Cannes and see the handprints of famous actors on the boardwalk by the film festival building, jaunt to Monte Carlo, and then drift through Nice. If you stay on the same track, you can be in Spain in 1-2 hours. You have now completed a multi-country tour without having to fly from place to place. Enjoy and be weary of taking drinks from strangers. Be sure to experience Lucca, above Cinqua Terra. It has mountains that are marble topped and appears to have snow all year round. Beautiful…

  17. Dean Hughson says:

    Brugges Belgium in the summer….food,wine,beautiful city.

    London is a good place year round.

    Indeed Paris is a great place to begin your Europe experiences.

    Italy–a crowd pleaser…..

  18. Cary Tamura says:

    Your choices may partly depend on when you want to travel. In the Spring (think late april) Kuekenhof in the Netherlands can’t be beat. In May, the French and Italian Riviera are jewels. In June, think Switzerland. Summer may be hot in Italy, but I wouldn’t turn down the chance to see Florence again, for art as well as food. We also love the French Dordogne River Valley for prehistoric art and foie gras. Bon Voyage.

  19. C Williams says:

    Your frequent flier miles are worth more as an upgrade to first class. You’d be surprised how cheap you can find a ticket to Europe.

  20. Emilio Omacini says:

    Italy is the greatest….but above all Taormina in Sicily. I have seen the world from US to Japan and Brasil so Australia,beautiful places but Taormina beats them all

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