15-Day London, Paris, Rome Itinerary by JetSetting Fools

15-Day London, Paris, Rome Itinerary

When my mom and sister revealed their zealous plans for their 15-day London, Paris, Rome Itinerary, I was skeptical that they would be able to pull it off. Unlike me, who wants to travel to eternity, Dianne and Tracy approached their trip as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the cities. It would be Tracy’s (my sister) first trip to Europe and Dianne’s (my mom) second trip (although, it would be her first time to London and Rome). They packed their 15-Day London, Paris, Rome Itinerary to the brim…and then heaped on a bit more for good measure.

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I was intrigued, not only by the sightseeing they were able to accomplish with their 15-day London, Paris, Rome Itinerary, but also by how efficiently they were able to do so. For the first-time traveler to Europe or for the traveler who only anticipates ever going once, it’s an ideal itinerary that succinctly hits all the major sights and then some.

Their diligent planning included detailed documentation – and now they are sharing their pre-trip preparation, experiences abroad, post-trip thoughts and a detailed account of their 15-Day London, Paris, Rome Itinerary Day-by-Day (including links!).

Pre-Trip Preparation

How did you decide where to go and how much time to spend in each place?

Our vacation was nearly three years in the making. A year and a half prior to the trip, we started checking out travel books from the library. Tracy read them cover-to-cover. Eight months out, we began researching flights. Five months prior to departure, we were booking accommodations.

We discussed our itinerary at length. We were constrained by Tracy’s limited time off work, but were determined to fit as much as we possibly could into our trip. We focused on the must-see cities and best-known sights. We originally included Florence and Venice in our list, but we felt the time we would have to spend actually traveling between the cities was too much. We settled on Europe’s Big Three: London, Paris and Rome – with five nights in each city.

 

What luggage did you carry? Were you happy with what you packed?

We each had one large checked roller bag and a carry-on backpack, which served as a daypack as we explored the cities. We knew our 15-Day London, Paris, Rome Itinerary was ambitious and wanted to make sure we were as prepared as possible, so we ended up bringing things that we didn’t use. We packed too many shirts and warmer clothes (as we traveled in the autumn) and a lot of just-in-case medications, but we are still glad we had them with us and wouldn’t have left anything behind.

 

Did you buy or use any specific travel gadgets or guides?

We purchased adapters and a converter. The adapters were essential, but the converter did not work properly and it turned out we didn’t really need one. We always used our money belts and bra stashes and were glad we purchased them for our trip. Since we are not seasoned travelers, it made us feel more safe to have our money and important documents with us at all times and concealed beneath our clothing. The guide book we used was Rick Steves’ Best of Europe. We tore out and carried only the information we needed for the cities we were visiting.

 

Of the entire trip, what were you most looking forward to?

We were really intent on checking off all the sights on our list. It might end up being my (Dianne’s) last trip and Tracy’s only trip to Europe. We didn’t want to miss a single sight that appealed to us.

 

Experiences Abroad by City

London

15-Day London Paris Rome Itinerary London Parliament Big Ben City View from London Eye

London – View of Parliament and Big Ben from London Eye

 

What sights did you see?

The British Museum, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Tower of London, The Monument, Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, Thames River Cruise, Greenwich (Royal Observatory and Maritime Museum), Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, Soho, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliament (and viewed sessions), 10 Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, Covent Garden, Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park (including the Princess Diana Memorial), Wellington Arch, Westminster Cathedral and the National Library.

We did not see the Natural History Museum or walk Abbey Road. We could not visit The Sky Garden because, while it is free to enter, prior reservations are required and we hadn’t made them.

What was the food like?

We ate a variety of food in London, from high tea to street food. We most enjoyed the food in Chinatown. Our high tea experience (which included sandwiches, sweets and a prosecco finish) was one of our most memorable dining experiences.

 

Where did you stay?

We stayed at the European Hotel for its close proximity to King’s Cross Station (which provided access to the entire city and even the Chunnel to Paris). The hotel offered a complimentary traditional English breakfast that included a lot of protein, which was a nice way to start the day. The rooms were much smaller than we had anticipated…and the bathroom was shockingly small, but sufficient. Also, the electricity and wifi were unreliable.

 

Any recommendations for London?

The best way to see a lot of the city in an economical way is to purchase a weekly National Train paper pass. It allows visitors to use 2-for-1 vouchers for all the major sights – as well as transportation on the Tube and buses.

 

What were your highlights of London?

The Tower of London (with the Beefeater’s Tour), Kensington Palace and high tea.

 

Paris

15-Day London Paris Rome Itinerary Paris City View from Tower of Notre Dame

Paris – City View from Tower of Notre Dame

 

What sights did you see?

Musee du Louvre, Tuileries Garden, Love Locks Bridge, Musee d’Orsay, Musee de l’Orangerie, Place de la Concorde, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Versailles Chateau and Gardens (including the Grand and Petit Trianons of Marie-Antoinette’s Estate), Moulin Rouge (including a show), Notre Dame Cathedral and Tower, Sainte Chapelle, Conciergerie, The Latin Quarter, The Pantheon, Luxembourg Gardens, St. Sulpice Church, Seine River Tour, Trocadero Gardens, Eiffel Tower, Parc du Champs de Mars, Hotel des Invalides (Tomb of Napoleon), Musee Rodin, Montmartre, Sacre-Coeur, Pigalle (red light district) and Saint-Martin Canal.

What was the food like?

We ate quick food on-the-go a lot in Paris. Our favorite place to grab breakfast and lunch was at Paul, a bakery which has multiple locations. We had street crepes a few times and especially liked the Nutella crepes at Montmartre. The Saint-Martin Canal neighborhood offered a wide variety of quaint cafes and restaurants. Our two favorite meals in the area were a savory buckwheat crepe at Lulu’s Creperies and a wild boar and chestnut stew at La Patache.

 

Where did you stay?

We stayed in a charming flat in an old building on the Saint-Martin Canal, which we found through Airbnb. {Create an Airbnb account and save money on your first stay!} It was nice to have the extra space and a washer/dryer (as we needed to do laundry by then!). It was well-situated in a residential neighborhood, but close to Gare de l’Est where we could access the Metro.

 

Any recommendations for Paris?

We highly recommend the Paris Museum Pass (not to be confused with the Paris Pass). It offers entry into all the major sights in and around Paris at a reasonable cost. With the pass, we could enter certain sights to see just the highlights and not feel like we had to stay to get our money’s worth. The best value for transportation around Paris is the weekly (calendar week only Monday through Sunday) Navigo Pass, which was good for the Metro, buses and trains (even the train to Versailles and the airport!).

 

What were your highlights of Paris?

Sainte Chappelle, Conciergerie, Musee Rodin, and the Tower of Notre Dame.

 

Rome

15-Day London Paris Rome Itinerary Rome Roman Forum City View

Rome – Roman Forum viewed from Capitoline Hill

 

What sights did you see?

Piazza del Popolo, Villa Borghese Gardens, Villa Medici, Circus Maximus, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Piazza Venezia, Victor Emmanuel and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Basilica and Square, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. John Lateran, Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs), Capitoline Museum, Bocca della Verita, Trastevere neighborhood, Piazza Santa Maria, Basilica di Santa Maria, Tiber Island, the Old Jewish neighborhood, Campo dei Fiori, Piazza Navona.

We did not make it to Ostia Antica nor Ostia di Lido (the beach on the Mediterranean).

What was the food like?

Hello Gelato! We ate gelato every day, because when in Rome… We also ate a lot of pizza, both at sidewalk cafes and where they scissor-cut the slices and sell them by weight. Our best meal was at a little family-run restaurant in the Trastevere neighborhood. The chef used family recipes that had been handed-down through several generations.

 

Where did you stay?

We stayed in a small B&B in a very safe neighborhood, Salario, on the north side of the city. It was recently renovated and spacious. However, due to our delayed flight and unclear directions to the B&B, our late arrival (after midnight) resulted in a deplorable welcome from the host. Unfortunately, encounters like that are carried throughout the rest of the stay and sadly gave us a negative impression of Romans in general.

 

Any recommendations for Rome?

What we would NOT recommend is the OMNIA Pass. We thought it would speed up our sightseeing by eliminating standing in long lines, but it never worked out that way. It was expensive ($109), included things we didn’t use and although it promised front-of-line entry, required longer waiting times than those with regular entry tickets. Alternatively, we could have purchased the combo pass to the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill (Cost: $13.50) from the shortest ticket lines at the Palatine Hill entrance on Via di San Gregorio and then we could skip the ticket line at the Colosseum. In addition, we could have bought our ticket to the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, online (Cost: $22) and skipped the lines there, too. (The OMNIA Pass could possibly be to an advantage in the high season, though).

 

What were your highlights of Rome?

St. Peter’s Basilica and the many ruins throughout the city, although the most impressive were those at the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and the Colosseum. We really enjoyed the time we spent walking through the neighborhoods and piazzas.

 

Post-Trip Thoughts

How much did you spend? Did you have a budget? Did you stick to it?

The total cost of our trip was $2550 each, just $50 more than we had budgeted. That amount includes everything we spent during our vacation – the flight and all transportation abroad, accommodations, food, drink, tours, passes, entertainment, souvenirs…everything!

We researched and carefully determined how to do our trip on a budget without missing any of the sights we wanted to see. For hardcore sightseers, like us, we found the city passes to the sights and public transportation passes to be quite beneficial financially. We also were able to find entertainment deals on major websites (like Viator and Get Your Guide). We weren’t on a mission to spend as little as possible, but we were budget conscious and feel that the price we paid was well-worth the trip.

It should be noted that we found majorly discounted airline tickets from Toronto rather than from our home city in the United States. Therefore, we tacked on a mini-vacation to Canada on each end of our European trip, which is also included in the total cost of the trip (which, all-inclusive, was still less than if we had paid the more expensive airfare from our home city).

 

What exceeded your expectations?

We were pleasantly surprised that everything went pretty much according to plan, but perhaps that is because we were so diligent in our planning. The specific sights that exceeded our expectations (although, not necessarily top-of-the-list things to do) are:

London – The British Library, the National Gallery, House of Commons session, high tea

Paris – Sainte Chapelle, Musee Rodin, Conciergerie

Rome – Palatine Hill, Capitoline Museum

 

What were your biggest disappointments?

London – Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. We spent too much time there and even though we arrived an hour and half before the event, we were unable to get close enough to really see. While standing in the sea of people, we felt like prime targets for pickpockets!

Paris – The interior of Versailles Chateau. It was over-crowded with a lot of people elbowing their way through. The rooms everyone was pushing to see were pretty, but not all that impressive to us for the hassle involved in seeing them. However, the Mesdames section, the gardens and the Trianons were worth seeing.

Rome – The Sistine Chapel. After spending several hours in the Vatican Museum, we were underwhelmed by the time we got to the Sistine Chapel. The small area was packed and a booming voice coming from speakers reminded guests that pictures were not allowed (although many blatantly disregarded the message and took photos anyway, which we thought was quite rude). We were expecting to be wowed, but instead felt like cattle being corralled. It wasn’t the experience we were anticipating.

 

What did you find difficult about traveling?

The language barrier in Paris and Rome made communication in those cities trying, especially as we were there for such a short time and had a full itinerary planned. Rome was also an extremely difficult city to get around in using public transportation. The buses were always crowded and the Metro stations were few and far between. It would have been better if we had stayed closer to the sights or near a Metro station.

 

What was easier than you thought it would be?

The lines to get into the sights were not as long as we had anticipated. Of course, it helped that we were traveling in the shoulder season (mid-October).

 

What would you have done differently?

We would have planned our travel between cities for early morning as it would have made getting acquainted with the new city much easier. More specifically, we would not again plan to arrive to a city after dark. Also, it would have been extremely beneficial to have been able to use our mobile phones. We should have purchased an international data plan for our time abroad so that we could have used them when we really needed to.

Additionally, we wish we had planned more time to simply walk the neighborhoods, relax in the parks and piazzas and enjoy people-watching from the cafes.

 

15-Day London, Paris, Rome Itinerary Day-by-Day:

Note: Prices indicated are in U.S. dollars; entry fees and tickets indicate the cost per person, accommodations indicate the total cost of the lodging. If cost is not listed, it is a public, outdoor space or a sight viewed only from the outside.

Day 1

Arrive in London mid-morning.

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

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Day 6

Mid-morning Chunnel to Paris ($60); arrive mid-afternoon, purchase public transportation pass (Navigo Decouverte weekly pass: $29, includes activation fee, 3cm x 2.5cm passport-type photo required), purchase Paris Museum Pass (4-day pass, $70) and check into Airbnb apartment ($462 for 5 nights) in the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood. {Click here to create an Airbnb profile and save money on your first stay!}

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Train to airport; flight to Rome ($79); check in to B&B Espresso ($343 for 5 nights) in the Salario neighborhood.

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

  • St. Peter’s Basilica (Free, audio guide included with the OMNIA Pass, did not climb the cupola) – Highlights: high altar, hidden relics, La Pieta
  • St. Peter’s SquareHighlights: 140 statues of saints that line the square
  • Vatican Museums (Entry included with the OMNIA Pass) – Highlights: Egyptian artifacts, art by the masters
  • Sistine Chapel – (Entry included with the OMNIA Pass)
  • Lunch at a sidewalk café
  • St. John Lateran Church (San Giovanni in Laterano) (Free, cloister admission included with OMNIA Pass) – Highlights: Bishop Seat of Rome presided over by the Pope, cloister garden
  • Holy Stairs (also known as Scala Sancta) (Free) – Highlights: climbing the same stairs (relocated from Jerusalem) that Jesus climbed (on our knees)
  • Dinner on the go

Day 15

Day 16

Bus to Airport

 


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2 thoughts on “15-Day London, Paris, Rome Itinerary

  1. Interesting comments, especially since I just did a post on Rome. Sometimes we forget as full-time travellers what a big deal a 2 week vacation is to most people – even though it wasn’t that long ago that we were in the same boat. We’ve maybe become more blasé about travelling but I remember how meticulously we would plan our trips when they were as charged as the one above.

    I’m sure Diane and Tracy needed a vacation from their vacation! Yikes, I’M tired reading that list.

    As I say, having just been to Rome I find their comments interesting and many of their points consistent with ours.

    Sounds like they mostly had a great time.

    Frank (bbqboy)

    • That’s an excellent point, Frank. As full-time, slow travelers, it can be difficult to see (and plan!) for certain cities/sights/attractions in the same way as a 2-weeks-of-time-off-per-year vacationer. I’ve always like to wing it on my vacations, but that being said, I also went very prepared.
      They enjoyed their trip, saw what they wanted to see and were ready to go home after the end of the two weeks. We joined them for the Rome portion of their trip…and I needed a vacation afterwards! haha!

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