Another traveling to Europe question! (Honeymoon edition)
January 28, 2015 9:24 PM   Subscribe

So we're planning to go on honeymoon for 3 weeks in May. I want to spend a week in Paris; he wants to spend a week in Germany. We are pondering a third city. Please help!

I studied abroad in Paris and loved it. My fiance wants to go to Germany, particularly a city that has good food and scenery, and we're thinking Munich. Then, we're thinking of doing a third city, perhaps Austria or Italy.

We would appreciate any suggestions for finding good deals on flights, hotels, etc. Planning to fly out in early May.

I've read past threads on this topic, and it seems like flying between cities is more time efficient than trains. But are these little flights something we should buy in advance? We're thinking of flying out of SFO, then European City #1, #2, #3, then back to SFO. Or we could possibly have Paris as our home base and just take short trips to the other cities. Is this feasible? This way, we're thinking we wouldn't have to take all of our big luggage everywhere and can just take little bags with us on the little planes.

I know I have a million questions, so if you have any resources for me to investigate this further, please share.

And then if you have any suggestions for things to do in Paris or Germany, we'd love that as well!

Thank you.
posted by madonna of the unloved to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't been to Italy, nor spent any meaningful time in Austria, but if you do end up in Munich, Prague is not far from there, and I think you should consider going there! I visited Prague a few years ago, and loved every minute of it.. spent some time in other Czech towns as well, and I would have to say that having the privilege of spending time in the Czech Republic was the #1 highlight of an amazing trip. You definitely wouldn't run out of things to do/see/taste/experience by heading in that direction during your trip, though I can't speak to your questions on whether it makes sense logistically for you with regard to flying back home etc.

Feel free to Memail me if you'd like some recommendations and whatnot if my suggestion intrigues you in any way :)
posted by wats at 9:40 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Consider Prague. It's got tons of sites packed into the core of the city, and it was a great place to visit when my wife and I went five years ago. Excellent public transport, superb examples of architecture from various periods in European history, good food, great beer and wine.
posted by demiurge at 9:47 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Marseilles or Barcelona would be my honeymoon destinations. They are both vibrant and laid back and incredibly romantic. And it's not too hot in May.

If non-cities are an option I'd go to a lesser known Greek island and relax for a week over any city.
posted by fshgrl at 9:49 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

First of all: Congrats!

We did a May trip Europe trip last year which went Frankfurt (just overnight)->Copenhagen->Dublin->Munich->Reykjavik.

The week in Copenhagen also included rental car road trips across Denmark to Flensburg in Germany, and from Malmo to Oslo (loooong day). Then 3 days in Dublin, 3 days in Munich, and 24 hours in Iceland.

With three weeks, I think you could foreseeably hit more than 3 cities, depending on whether you're get-up-and-go-see-stuff types or if you prefer a more relaxed pace.

In all of the above cities (with the exception of the first night in Frankfurt) we stayed in apartments via Air B&B. In Copenhagen, having a kitchen for breakfasts and a couple dinners saved us a lot of money; in Dublin it was in a way better location (Grand Canal Dock) than the comparable hotels, and in Munich we had a wonderful grand old apartment on a great street near the metro, good restaurants, coffee, groceries, etc. Each place but one had full laundry; as a result we came home with only the clothes on our backs as dirty laundry, which was one less thing to do coming home and gave us an excuse to stick around and be lazy on days we didn't feel like doing much.

Note that Austria is hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in May in Vienna, so you might have a hard time finding accommodations/space there if it's very close to then. The contest itself is a total cheesy blast and if it remotely interests you, I totally recommend it!

As far as attractions in Munich go, we enjoyed:

- BMW World and the BMW Museum
- Olympiapark (right near BMW world, coincidentally)
- The Glockenspiel in City Hall
- Dallmayr (yum)
- Eating an enormous pork knuckle (schweinshaxe) in a Barvarian beer hall
- Hofbräuhaus (enormous beer hall - it's insanity)

I wouldn't suggest the concentration camp in Dachau as a honeymoon destination, but if the history (depressing as it may be) interests you, it's not a long train ride from Munich.

One thing to note with Munich is that the airport is quite a ways out of the city itself and to budget your time for a 45 minute or so train ride in (on the s-bahn, though, so no biggie).

Berlin is also wonderful if you're open to other cities in Germany. Amsterdam is a worthy addition as it's beautiful (canals - you can stay on a houseboat, etc), it's small and easy to navigate and everyone speaks perfect English.

Feel free to memail me with any questions, am glad to help. Happy travels!
posted by at 10:03 PM on January 28, 2015

It's a little bit off the beaten track, but can I suggest Riga?

1. It used to be known as the Paris of the Baltic.
2. It has a famous bridge that newlyweds put a lock on to symbolise their union.
3. You can hire those rowboats, or take a ride in that little barge thing, and cruise along the canal - formerly a medieval moat - and admire the beautiful parks and maybe even spot a beaver.
4. There is a flower shop on literally every street, and in summertime, on every corner, too.
5. It has a beautiful, medieval Old Town, where you can stay in a medieval convent (actually it is a hotel).
6. It has more Art Nouveau buildings than any other European city. They are stunning.
7. Latvians are friendly and helpful, and almost uniformly speak excellent English.
posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 11:25 PM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

Consider: 1. Any town around Lago Maggiore, northern Italy (Stresa if you like to be in the thick of it, or Baveno if you don't mind a 10 minute drive to Stresa). Mostly visited by European tourists, beautifully landscaped everywhere, grand hotels and mansions facing the lake, and incredible Italian food. Very safe with families and couples taking walks after dinner. I sent my friends on honeymoon there, and they loved it, especially going for drinks on the balcony at the grand hotel in Baveno. 2. Budapest. So historical and charming, with castles, underground mazes, fancy architecture, fabulous food for very little cost - if you love cake, try the dobas torte, and weep. Their old public bathhouses are incredibly beautiful and inexpensive for a day of relaxation. 3. Slovenia - Piran. The prettiest fishing village by the sea. 4. Day tripping to Champagne to drink Champagne (Reims is bigger, Epernay is charming). 5. Berlin is sexy and stimulating. I love all the different neighbourhoods, the art, and the nightlife. Munich is more laid back. Wherever you end up in Germany, find a recommended Turkish restaurant and eat there: you will experience the best Turkish food outside of Istanbul. I would recommend booking flights on budget airlines when you get there because flights are usually very cheap, even at the last minute. Have a wonderful trip!
posted by travellingincognito at 3:08 AM on January 29, 2015

Bruges is nice, although you probably don't need a full week. I'll my Prague as well.

Salzburg and Vienna are both nice, but pretty similar to Munich.

Bust Neushwanstein Castle if you're in Munich. It's a day trip, but in an amazing setting. (Honestly, you don't even need to go into the castles, just hiking around was enjoyable)
posted by backwards guitar at 4:16 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sandwiched between the big cities of Paris and Munich, I'd visit a small relaxed countryside town. I have not been to Cinque Terre, but have heard others wax poetic about it. It's your honeymoon, so why not a little romance in a beautiful setting? And it would be different enough from both Paris and Germany that neither of you would feel like you're getting less or more of what you wanted out of the trip.

Some might say it's a very touristy place, but that might actually work in your favor as it might make traveling there and out easier.
posted by Liesl at 6:58 AM on January 29, 2015

good deals on flights, hotels, etc
Europe has lots of cheap airlines, but be aware of the luggage weight limits. Trains take less time to board and disembark and many stations are closer to the city centers than airports. You also get nice views between cities.

I'd spend the week "on the road" taking trains between towns from Paris to Munich. A northern route could include Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden and Prague. Not all of them, of course, but any that stick out as interesting to the two of you.

I also used Air BnB 3 times last year (in Europe) and was very happy with the places I stayed, especially the laundry I could do in 2 of the places.
Places for more reading: for German train tickets and plus schedules for trains outside of Germany as well. - good for tips on travel between two cities. Munich to Salzburg, for example.
posted by soelo at 7:39 AM on January 29, 2015

Best answer: Mazel-Tov! Three weeks, how fantastic!

My thought would be fly to Paris for a week. Take Eurostar to London. A week in London and then take Ryan Air to Frankfurt, and then the train to Wurtzburg, Germany. Disclaimer: My parents lived in Wurtzburg. There are beautiful chapels, cathedrals, etc. There's an adorable Christmas market (at Christmas time.) The food is crazy yummy and because it's smaller, and there's a US base there, it's going to be less expensive than a larger city and people are used to dealing with Americans. It's Bavaria! But they fly to other places in Germany, so pick a city from there.

I do recommend packing light. Make time to stop and do laundry every few days. Try to keep it to two carry-ons for each of you. There are laundromats all over Europe and traveling light means that you're more flexible and mobile. I've packed big bags for Europe and it would have been so easy to get by with just a few things! You think you need a dressy-dress and you really, really don't.

Then take the train back to the airport in Frankfurt for your flight home.

Ryan Air flights are about £25 and the Eurostar can be as cheap as €55 and it's only 2 hours and 15 minutes to London. Plus I'm personally jonesing to ride the Eurostar.

I've stayed in hostels and foyers, 5 star hotels and outright dumps. You know what you're willing to deal with. I'd check for reviews on regular hotels. I might look for places with cooking facilities because eating out in Europe is expensive. I will say that if you pick a place that provides breakfast, that you're 1/3rd of the way there. We had full English breakfast while in London and it was our big meal of the day. We'd eat something while out and about, and we'd grab Pret a Manger or an M&S sandwich before theater. That worked well for us.

Just some random thoughts!

Have a great time!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:51 AM on January 29, 2015

Congrats! For finding good deals may I suggest RailBookers if you decide to travel via rail? Trains can be wonderfully romantic. We used RailBookers for a trip a few years back and they were excellent. Told them we wanted to visit these cities during this time and needed hotels.

They set up all the trains for us and booked us in some really wonderful little hotels along the way. They asked us what sort of places we liked, we told them small hotels near public transport. Then gave us a bulk rate that we thought seemed fair and what we would have spent doing our own research on hotels and trains.

It was really nice having the train stuff all worked out. And the hotels they booked for us - we LOVED them. So wonderful to have really nice places to lay your head at the end of the day. They booked places I know I would not have becuase of cost if I'd found them online myself. But they were able to get much better deals then I would have on my own and it was so worth it. Made planning the trip super easy, made the trip much more luxurious, and I will probably use them for every trip to Europe in the future it was such a good experience.

Have a wonderful time!
posted by dog food sugar at 10:03 AM on January 29, 2015

Also came in to say Prague, with maybe a day in Karlovy Vary.
posted by vignettist at 11:23 AM on January 29, 2015

Adding Prague would be a bit language-intensive for my tastes, but I agree that you might want to go to the countryside. There are small towns like Colmar in Alsace, France, or villages like Wehlen on the Mosel River in Germany that are not heavily touristed by Americans but are loaded with restaurants, things to do, and beauty. There's something romantic about the vineyards, narrow streets and half-timbered colorfully painted houses.

Don't discount the train, either. When you take into account that you should arrive not more than 30 minutes before the train leaves, and the ability to see the countryside before being deposited right in the city center, the calculus changes a lot. The train from Trier (in the Mosel) to Paris takes only 3.5 hours, so door-to-door 4 hours, for €70 a person each way including luggage. Those RyanAir flights are cheap if you book just right and don't have luggage, but the fees (€40 to print a boarding pass at the airport!) and the out-of-the-way airports can quickly eat up your savings in time and money. With the train you'll pop up in Paris at Gare de l'Est, just fifteen minutes by metro or taxi from the city center, as opposed to Charles de Gaulle airport, which is 45-90 minutes by taxi. I recommend Capitaine Train which books trains all over Europe and has a spectacular website and app.
posted by wnissen at 1:27 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

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