The Ultimate European Spring Itinerary!

Unless I want a really warm beach vacation, I’ll never travel to Italy during the summertime. Between the crowds, heat, and smell (you know the smell I’m talking about!), it is just not an enjoyable experience. However, traveling to Italy in the springtime. Now that’s a totally different story!

A few years ago, during my undergraduate years, I studied abroad in Germany for 6 months. During a break in the semester, my cousin came over from the USA and we did our “Epic EuroTrip.” We started in Nice and followed along the coast until we hit Pisa, Italy before going inland. It was seriously one of the best trips and the best part (besides being with my cousin!)? The lack of tourists and the amazing weather!

So whether you’re trying to plan your spring break or just want to get away for about 12 days, this spring itinerary is perfect for you! I’ve included all the places we went. However, I’ve made notes on how you can make it longer or shorter :) Enjoy and happy traveling!

1. NICE, FRANCE

Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner
Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With WagnerFlying into beautiful Nice, France your first view is the blueness of the Mediterranean Sea! Although the beaches aren’t really open and the water definitely isn’t warm enough, it was still great walking along the shoreline. I mean, how could you not absolutely LOVE the views?!

If you want to make your trip a bit longer, fly into Marseille, spend a day there, and then take a train to Nice!

2. MONACO

Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner
Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner
Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With WagnerOne of the smallest countries in the world, Monaco just smells of wealth. I mean, the trees that line the streets have oranges on them. ORANGES! Seriously people, coming to Monaco is a totally out-of-this-world experience. My cousin and I only stayed for a day (those prices!!!) but we loved walking along the harbor of this country. Instead of going inside the Monte Carlo Casino, we grabbed breakfast (for like $35…yikes) right next door to the Monte Carlo and watched all the luxurious cars pull up.

3. GENOA, ITALY

Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With WagnerThis city was definitely a pleasant surprise. I had heard that it was more of a dumpy port city. What I wasn’t expecting was the abundance of history and friendliness of everyone (our B&B host was CONVINCED that my cousin and I were dating and not actually cousins…haha!). The birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Genoa was named the 2004 European Capital of Culture. Definitely stop by this adorable city!

If you want to make your trip a bit longer, stop in Portofino before heading to Cinque Terre

4. CINQUE TERRE, ITALY

Unfortunately, my cousin and I visited Cinque Terre less than 6 months after the horrific floods and mudslides that destroyed 2 of the 5 villages. We had no idea of the devastation before we arrived and ended up only spending an afternoon here. While we were there, all the hiking routes were closed for safety reasons and a lot of the shops still weren’t open. However, I know that all the towns are back up and running 100% so you should definitely stop by this UNESCO World Heritage Site!

5. PISA, ITALY

Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner
Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With WagnerYes, this city is overly touristy but you have to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa! I recommend finding food off the beaten path…don’t go to the restaurants right next to the Leaning Tower or else you’ll end up spending an arm and a leg!

6. FLORENCE, ITALY

Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner
Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner
Florence was the only town in which we ran into a lot of tourists! Obviously, being one of the most famous cities in the world for art and architecture, it was expected. My cousin and I made the big mistake of not booking museum or church tickets in advance (do it! Even if you think it is low season!) so we ended up just walking by the Duomo and seeing a replica of David. We learned our lesson :)

If you want to make your trip a bit longer, take a day trip to Siena (a bit further south) and stop in Bologna on the way to Venice!

7. VENICE, ITALY

Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner
Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With WagnerUltimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner
Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner
Probably my favorite city in the entire world, Venice is just stunning, gorgeous, and every other positive adjective :) I mentioned before in my post on Venice but I had two totally different experiences in Venice. I loved it during the springtime and hated it in summer (too humid, hot, sticky, touristy, and smelly). If you want a more authentic experience, definitely visit Venice during the low season! Don’t worry if you get lost in Venice. You’re supposed to get lost and discover something new :)

8. ZAGREB, CROATIA

Ultimate Spring Itinerary via Wayfaring With Wagner
I definitely recommend only going to Zagreb if you have the extra time because it takes a full day worth of travel! However, now that it is part of the EU, it is a lot easier to get in and out of the country. I love the history of Zagreb and the influence of so many different histories, cultures, etc. Bonus, if you visit Zagreb in the next few months, you can visit me!

If you want to make your trip a bit shorter, skip Zagreb and head to Trieste, Italy instead.

TIPS:

+ Invest in a Eurail pass for Italy. Details can be found here. You save a lot of money, time, and hassle trying to figure out which tickets to buy. Order your EuroRail online a few weeks before you leave. I did the 4 Day Italy pass…and they forgot to stamp 2 out of the 4 days so I had 2 extra days left (which I used to go to Naples to visit family!)

+ Bring layers! The weather was cardigan weather when I was there but depending on the time of day I was in short sleeves (in the afternoon) or a heavier sweater in the early morning/late night.

+ Go in the springtime! By going in the spring (the earlier the better), you’re still in low season at most places which = cheaper prices for lodging!

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  • Oh, this sounds like such a great trip! As of recently, my European trips have only been for a few days at a time. However, in high school I did an extended three week trip through Germany, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland. Aren’t trips like this the best? You really were able to explore so many different places! This is a great itinerary for anyone looking to do some extensive travel in these areas.

    • Thanks for the sweet words Samantha! It was really a great trip and I was so lucky to do it with my cousin as well. Plus, the weather was perfect. I really lucked out :)

  • Fantastic itinerary!!! Loved Nice and Monaco and we hope to be hitting up Venice, Florence and Cinque Terre in early May!! I will have to go back and read your posts!! And on another note…are you really moving to Croatia??? We are going to try and make it down this summer yay!!!

    • Yes! Provided my security clearance comes through (I was already interviewed for it…just waiting now!), I will be moving there for three months in March! If you get there before June, we should meet up!!! I’ll also be in Bulgaria from June to August and then maybe permanently in the UK from September 2015 to September 2016!

  • I used to have the biggest Blair Waldorf style obsession! :D She inspired me to wear hairbands on a regular basis back in High School! ;) These days, I’m digging Serena’s style a lot more, though, so it’s funny to see how my style has changed! And the color of the sea is just so insane: Staring out into the German winter right now, I find it kind of hard to believe that color like this actually exists in the real world! :)

    • hahahah oh my goodness, Serena always annoyed me so much!!! Team Blair all the way!!! Every morning I look up at the grey sky of Germany and cross my fingers for warm weather! haha

  • This is a great list! I’ve been to all of these places (except Zagreb) and can say from experience that they’re all amazing! But of course, I’ve only been in the summer so the heat is DEFINITELY intense! But since I’m from Louisiana, it wasn’t all that different from being home haha. Now you’re making me want a beach vacation!

    • Hi Abby! Thanks so much for the kind words :) I feel like everyone needs to do the typical “euro trip.” They’re so much fun and honestly, I think traveling by train is the best way to travel in Europe. Pretty cheap (ish), less hassle, scenic, etc! Jordan xoxoxo

  • Amazing! I want to go to all of these places! You are so right though; skipping the summer and going a bit during the offseason (but still when it’s warm) is the key to an awesome vacation!

    • Well, if you ever come visit wherever I’m living (which is going to change a lot in the next 6 months!), you always have a place to stay :) xoxoxo

    • Zagreb is so awesome! I highly recommend anywhere in Croatia actually. Everyone is so nice and friendly…plus the country has the most interesting history!

  • I’m actually planning on making a trip very similar to this one in April! Starting in Nice, then to Cinque Terre – Florence, Venice… possibly more if there’s time. How long was this trip overall? How much time would you suggest?

    • Hey Marianne, this trip was 12 days long and we definitely went city-hopping. I wish I had a few extra days so I could have stayed in some of the places more than 1 day (Nice and Cinque Terre could have used extra days!). I gave 2/3 days to Florence, Venice, and Zagreb! Shoot me an email and I’ll send you the detailed itinerary/answer any other questions you might have! :)

  • this is a great itinerary, thanks for sharing it.. the first picture in ‘Croatia’ has two drawings(?) on it and the one on the right looks like hamburgs logo!

    stopping over via travel tuesday link up!

    • oh ya! I didn’t even realize it! The roof of that church is tiled so it is absolutely gorgeous!!! I really want to go to Hamburg one day so I’ll have to look at your blog for tips!

    • Yes! I definitely need to go back to Florence and do all the touristy things I skipped the first time! And Croatia is amazing!!! If you can get there, go!!!

  • Great itinerary! I did quite a bit those during my visit to Europe in October of last year. I hit Nice, Milan, Pisa, Florence, Venice and back to Milan for a flight back to London. It was probably the most amazing experience of my life. I loved Nice and just hanging out by the beach and seeing the water and the amazing view. But Venice still has my heart and I love it so much.

    • Venice is definitely my favorite city in Italy and a photographer’s paradise :) I got some of my best photos ever there! I haven’t hit Milan yet but that’s on my list of places to do. Did you like it? I’ve heard mixed things about Milan!

  • OMG that water in Nice! To die for! This sounds like a trip of a lifetime! Awesome you got to do it with your cousin!

    • Yes! And what made it even more special is that he had recently left the Marines as an Officer after doing multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan :) So this was his major trip to himself! xo