Three weeks, three countries - help me make it awesome
January 24, 2014 7:41 PM   Subscribe

I've got the (unexpected) opportunity to spend four solo weeks in Europe in March. I'd like to go to three cities and spend a week in each, book-ended with a couple of days in London at each end. But there are SO MANY cities! Help me choose - special snowflake criteria after the jump.

Special snowflake-y criteria:
+ I'd like to be reasonably leisurely about this trip - hence three cities rather than a whirlwind tour
+ I don't like tours - very much the independent traveler
+ I speak German quite well, and enough French to get by. I don't mind coping in another language but if I could avoid miming for the full three weeks, that would be good.
+ sights I might enjoy would include art galleries, anything I can photograph, museums with a particular topical focus, architecture
+ activities that I might like could include bike tours, cooking classes, language courses, and live music
+ my budget is somewhere between high-end luxury extravagance and shoe-string back-packer. I'm willing to skimp on accommodation, I'd like to eat well with the occasional fabulous meal, and I'm happy to spend on experiences rather than stuff.
+ in the past I've been to Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Northern Italy, and Spain. I'd go to any of them again, but it would also be fun to try somewhere new.
posted by Gwendoline Mary to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna, Edinburgh, Nice, Florence all seem like they would be brilliant for your purposes.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:47 PM on January 24, 2014

A couple years ago I did a trip from German through Scandinavia using a Eurail and a Scanrail pass to get around (best were overnighters!). I love train travel - don't know if that would work for you.

I basicallly zoomed though Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. In Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is pretty amazing, if you're into quant little medieval towns.

A combo of pensions and hostels, and the odd nicer hotel along the way kept costs reasonable.

Enjoy the trip - safe travels!
posted by parki at 7:52 PM on January 24, 2014

Eurail pass. My brother did that and was raving about it.
posted by azpenguin at 8:30 PM on January 24, 2014

Prague is a definite! Going on your criteria, you will adore it.

I'd go for a week in Florence after that, and then maybe finish up with Edinburgh (chill out speaking English).
posted by Salamander at 8:32 PM on January 24, 2014

I would suggest considering some locations outside of the obvious touristy cities. I enjoyed Bologna much more than Florence. Enjoyed Istanbul more than Budapest. Just a thought.
posted by kdern at 9:10 PM on January 24, 2014

Barcelona seems like it would be totally up your alley and Lisbon, Valencia and Madrid are all great too. It's not a city, but a week on Croatia's Dalmatian coast checking out islands and ruins would be relaxing and beautiful. Rome is totally worth a week (or more! Even just for the art architecture and food!).
posted by feets at 9:11 PM on January 24, 2014

You speak German and you like art, architecture, museums and taking photos? And you've been to Germany and Austria but not Switzerland? Then I think you'd like Basel. It's rather photogenic; and it's a very arty city, packed full of museums (the Tinguely museum, full of kinetic art, is hands-down the weirdest art museum I've ever visited), basilisk statues and other public art. Plus, if you run out of things to see and do, you can use it as a base to visit other parts of Switzerland, or pop over the border into France or Germany.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:22 AM on January 25, 2014

Amsterdam or Utrecht.
posted by neushoorn at 3:27 AM on January 25, 2014

My next suggestion after Basel would be Amsterdam (on preview, I see I'm thirding that). You won't be miming: you can speak in English to pretty much anyone in the Netherlands and be understood (in fact, as a foreigner, even if you speak in Dutch there's an excellent chance of a reply in English), and your German will help you puzzle out the signs and labels. If the weather's bad, Amsterdam has enough museums to keep you busy for a week (most excitingly, the Rijksmuseum, which is possibly enough to keep you busy for a week all by itself, has finally reopened after a ten-year renovation). If the weather's good, there are parks and canals and more public art. If you fancy a change of scenery you can hop on the train to The Hague (go to the Panorama Mesdag, it's wonderful!) or Utrecht or Delft or Enkhuizen. And speaking of scenery, the Keukenhof flower garden is beautiful, nearby, and open from the 20th of March. That early in the year, you'll miss the tulips, but you'll get to see plenty of other spring bulbs (crocuses, early daffodils) and avoid the biggest crowds.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:31 AM on January 25, 2014

I spent a week in Marseilles this past summer and adored it. Southern France is much easier to get around with passable French because they tend to be much more chill and willing to work things out. It's also an easy day trip to Aix-en-Provence. We found flights to/from marseille on airfrance for under 100 euros, too.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:48 AM on January 25, 2014

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