You guys!!! I can’t even tell you how freakin’ excited I am right now.
A few weeks ago, Holly wrote a short preview of our summer travel plans for 2017. Apparently, you liked it because several of you asked for more details about our HUGE trip to Europe. Ask and you shall receive my friends!
As you’re reading this, we’ve likely just landed for the first leg of our journey across Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. I’ll save the real knowledge bombs and opinionated reviews for later. But if you’re following along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, here’s some of what we’ll be doing in Europe over the next 3 weeks. Enjoy!
Leg 1: Munich, Germany and Verona, Italy
Our first stop on this epic 18-day European tour is Munich, Germany. We originally planned to spend a few days here, checking out the city and stopping by Mad King Ludwig’s famous fairy tale castles. Unfortunately, after booking our flights, our anticipated train schedules (and the pricing) changed dramatically. So, we were forced to make a decision: Spend less time in Munich or pay more than twice as much to take the overnight train to Italy. Since we’re spending a fortune already, we chose Option A.
The new itinerary offers just enough time for us to check out the Glockenspiel Clock, hit a beer garden, get a good night’s sleep, and board a train to Verona, Italy. Although we’ll get to “check off” Germany on our list, we’ve already decided to come back and give the area a proper tour later on.
As I mentioned, our next stop is Verona, Italy. We actually added Verona after our plans changed. It made more sense to stop here than spend a fortune on the overnight train to Rome. Anyway, we’ll arrive early in the afternoon, check out the sites (including the Roman Arena), then board another train in the morning. Again, it’s a whirlwind tour, but at least we’ll get to see a few sites.
Leg 2: Rome, Italy
Here’s where things start to settle down a bit. With a trip this long, and especially since we’re traveling with young kids, we wanted to set up a few “home bases.” We chose Rome and Florence as our main stops in Italy, with planned excursions heading out from each. Having been to both cities before, we thought they’d be good spots to base our travels from. In theory, we think it will make everybody more comfortable. We’ll let you know how it works out. #crossingmyfingers
We arrive early in the morning on the first of our five days in Rome. After getting off the train, we’ll hop a cab to our Airbnb and drop our bags off. Then, we plan to get our bearings by walking around a bit, and we’ll probably hit the market to pick up some groceries.
Our sightseeing in Rome includes an underground tour of the Colosseum, a guided tour of the Roman Forum, and possibly a visit to the Baths of Caracalla. We’re also taking a day trip to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. For date night, Holly booked a private tour of the Vatican sites. No lines, no crowds, and no daytime heat – it should be awesome!
Of course, we’ll be soaking up the city, eating great food, and taking in more sites while we’re there. Holly built-in some work days, so my brother-in-law and I will be taking the kids through St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums that day. (Is it possible to get Vatican’ed out? I’ll let you know!)
Leg 3: Florence, Italy
I honestly love every place I’ve been in Italy. While Rome is still my favorite, Florence is definitely a close second. The art, the history, the food… it’s all breathtaking. It’s also home to Holly’s favorite church in the world, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore – better known simply as “The Duomo.” I seriously can’t wait!
Again, we’ll be using Florence as a home base, spending 4 days in an awesome condo we found a block from the Duomo. We arrive by train fairly early in the day, so we’ll drop off our bags and get reacquainted with the city. The first day, we plan to visit the Basilica of Santa Croce and possibly the Ponte Vecchio. That evening, we also have a special surprise planned for my daughter’s birthday. You’ll have to wait for our review (or follow us on social media) to find out what it is!
Florence doesn’t have a particularly good city pass available, but we do have several guided tours booked – including a trip through the Duomo complex, a visit to the Medici tombs, and tour of the Pitti Palace. The kids will join us for the Duomo tour, but we’re giving them a break while we visit the others. From Florence, we’re also making a trip to Cinque Terre, which looks absolutely stunning. Holly has another work day packed in, and I think the kids and I will probably wander through the Uffizzi Gallery that day.
Leg 4: Swiss Alps
The final leg of our trip includes a five-day journey into the Swiss Alps. We’ll take a fairly long (and expensive) train ride from Florence to our first stop – the mountain village of Grindelwald. Holly booked a two-night stay in a private hostel there. We plan to enjoy the fresh mountain air, take a cable car ride, and take the Jungfrau Railway to the “Top of Europe” at Jungraujoch. I can’t wait!
Next, we take the train down to Interlaken, pick up a rental car and head for Kandersteg. We’ll spend the morning on the alpine slide before making the two-hour drive to the Lucerne area. I’m freakin’ stoked for this stop because we’ll be staying at the famous Hotel Villa Honegg.
If you’re a hotel connoisseur, you probably recognize this hotel’s name. Even if you’re not, you’ll certainly appreciate the surroundings. This hotel features one of the most beautiful pool views in the entire world, and I can’t wait to get in and try it out. You better believe that’s going to be on Instagram!
After a two-night stay, we’ll zip up to Zurich, maybe stop in town, then hit the hay early as we prepare to fly home the next morning.
Seriously guys, this is the trip of a lifetime for us. I’m excited to see how the kids will handle it, and I’m sure we’ll learn a lot about how to travel with them along the way. And, of course, I can’t wait to share it all with you!
Again, you can follow along by checking us out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We’ll be sharing live video, plus we’ll be updating everybody with photos along the way. Once we get back, we’ll definitely be putting up some reviews here on the blog, so you’ll want to check those out as well.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks so much for reading! Until next time, happy traveling!
Have you been to these areas of Germany, Italy, or Switzerland? Do you have any favorite restaurants or spots we should see while we’re there? Let us know in the comments below!