19 days in Europe Itinerary

19 days in Europe Itinerary

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Route & dates

19 days in Europe Itinerary

Start: Cape Town, South Africa
Fly:  9 h 30 min
1
Istanbul, Turkey
— 2 nights
Fly:  4 h 30 min
2
Sofia, Bulgaria
— 2 nights
Drive:  1 h 30 min
3
Plovdiv, Bulgaria
— 1 night
+3
Train + Subway + Foot + Fly:  8 h
4
Budapest, Hungary
— 2 nights
Fly:  4 h 15 min
5
Bologna, Italy
— 2 nights
Bus:  1 h
6
Parma, Italy
— 2 nights
Train:  45 min
7
Modena, Italy
— 1 night
Drive:  1 h 15 min
8
Ferrara, Italy
— 2 nights
Train:  1 h 15 min
9
Ravenna, Italy
— 2 nights
Drive + Fly:  27 h
End: Cape Town, South Africa

2
nights
Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul ©
A physical and cultural bridge between Europe and Asia, the transcontinental city of Istanbul serves as a living reminder of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires.
Your inner history buff will appreciate Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya) and Basilica Cistern. Your cultural itinerary includes sights like Sultan Ahmed Mosque and Suleymaniye Cami . There's much more to do: take an in-depth tour of Topkapi Palace, take a stroll through Sultanahmet District, steep yourself in history at Historic Areas of Istanbul, and explore the world behind art at Kariye Museum (The Chora Church).

For where to stay, ratings, traveler tips, and other tourist information, refer to the Istanbul online day trip planner.

Cape Town, South Africa to Istanbul is an approximately 12.5- hour flight. The time zone changes from South Africa Standard Time to Eastern European Time, which is usually a 1 hour difference. In May, daily temperatures in Istanbul can reach 25°C, while at night they dip to 15°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 8th (Sun) to allow enough time to travel to Sofia.

Things to do in Istanbul

Historic Sites Museums Shopping
Highlights from your plan
Sultan Ahmed Mosque ©
Sultan Ahmed Mosque
Basilica Cistern ©
Basilica Cistern

2
nights
Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia ©
Spend time in one of Europe's oldest cities, the vibrant Bulgarian capital of Sofia.
Start off your visit on the 9th (Mon): get a new perspective on nature at National Museum of Natural History, then admire the striking features of St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, then take an in-depth tour of Regional History Museum Pernik, and finally take in the pleasant sights at Krakra Fortress. On your second day here, take in the architecture and atmosphere at Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church, steep yourself in history at Park "Kambanite", then view the masterpieces at Sofia City Art Gallery, then contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Church of St Petka of the Saddlers, and finally admire the landmark architecture of Former Bulgarian Communist Party Headquarters.

For other places to visit, reviews, ratings, and other tourist information, go to the Sofia trip planning site.

Getting from Istanbul to Sofia by flight takes about 4.5 hours. Other options: take a bus; or drive. The time zone changes from Eastern European Time (EET) to Eastern European Time (EET), which is usually a -1 hour difference. Traveling from Istanbul in May, Sofia is slightly colder at night with lows of 11°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 10th (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to Plovdiv.

Things to do in Sofia

Historic Sites Museums Shopping

Side Trip

Pernik
Find places to stay May 8 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral ©
St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral
Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church ©
Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church
Church of St Petka of the Saddlers ©
Church of St Petka of the Saddlers

1
night
Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv ©
Though it is often seen as merely a stopover city, Plovdiv is actually a lively university town with bohemian cafes, a thriving art scene, and exciting nightlife.
On the 11th (Wed), pause for some serene contemplation at Sveta Marina church and then delve into the distant past at Plovdiv Roman Theatre.

To find reviews, traveler tips, where to stay, and more tourist information, read our Plovdiv day trip tool.

Getting from Sofia to Plovdiv by car takes about 1.5 hours. Other options: take a bus; or take a train. In May, plan for daily highs up to 28°C, and evening lows to 13°C. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 11th (Wed) to allow enough time to travel to Budapest.

Things to do in Plovdiv

Historic Sites
Highlights from your plan
Plovdiv Roman Theatre ©
Plovdiv Roman Theatre
Sveta Marina church ©
Sveta Marina church

2
nights
Budapest, Hungary

Budapest ©
You might consider the city of Budapest, divided by the Danube River into two distinctive cities--Buda and Pest--to be essentially one large World Heritage Site.
Kick off your visit on the 12th (Thu): step into the grandiose world of Buda Castle, steep yourself in history at Halaszbastya, then steep yourself in history at Matthias Church, and finally take in the views from Szechenyi Chain Bridge. On your second day here, make a trip to Shoes on the Danube Bank and then boost your wellbeing at Széchenyi Thermal Bath.

For where to stay, traveler tips, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read Budapest holiday maker website.

Getting from Plovdiv to Budapest by combination of train and flight takes about 8 hours. Other options: drive; or do a combination of train and flight. The time zone changes from Eastern European Time (EET) to Central European Time (CET), which is usually a -1 hour difference. In May in Budapest, expect temperatures between 25°C during the day and 11°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 13th (Fri) to allow time to travel to Bologna.

Things to do in Budapest

Historic Sites Spas
Find places to stay May 11 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Halaszbastya ©
Halaszbastya
Buda Castle ©
Buda Castle
Matthias Church ©
Matthias Church

2
nights
Bologna, Italy

Bologna ©
A city famous for its cuisine, Bologna is the seat of the oldest university in the world, founded in 1088.
On the 14th (Sat), delve into the distant past at Area Archeologico- Naturalistica di Monte Bibele, then pause for some serene contemplation at Chiesa di San Giacomo Maggiore, then contemplate the long history of Torre Prendiparte, and finally take in the architecture and atmosphere at Cattedrale di San Pietro. On the 15th (Sun), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: get engrossed in the history at Museo Civico Archeologico, get to know the fascinating history of Complesso Monumentale San Michele In Bosco, contemplate the long history of Piazza Maggiore, then contemplate the long history of Basilica di San Petronio, then take in the spiritual surroundings of Basilica di San Domenico, and finally take in the architecture and atmosphere at Basilica - Santuario di Santo Stefano.

To see ratings, photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, you can read our Bologna attractions planner.

Traveling by flight from Budapest to Bologna takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of shuttle and train. In May in Bologna, expect temperatures between 27°C during the day and 14°C at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 15th (Sun) so you can catch the bus to Parma.

Things to do in Bologna

Historic Sites Outdoors Museums

Side Trip

Area Archeologico- Naturalistica di Monte Bibele
Highlights from your plan
Basilica - Santuario di Santo Stefano ©
Cattedrale di San Pietro ©
Cattedrale di San Pietro
Basilica di San Petronio ©
Basilica di San Petronio

2
nights
Parma, Italy

Parma ©
Parma is famous for its prosciutto, cheese, and architecture.
Start off your visit on the 16th (Mon): pause for some serene contemplation at Chiesa Sant' Antonino Martire, then explore the historical opulence of Ruins of Castle and National Museum 'Naborre Campaninì, then steep yourself in history at Castello di Canossa, and finally take an in-depth tour of Casa natale di Arturo Toscanini. Here are some ideas for day two: steep yourself in history at Palazzo della Pilotta, pause for some serene contemplation at Chiostri di S.Giovanni Evangelista, take in the spiritual surroundings of Monastero di San Giovanni Evangelista, then step into the grandiose world of Rocca Sanvitale di Fontanellato, and finally take in the architecture and atmosphere at Abbazia di San Bernardo di Fontevivo.

For other places to visit, where to stay, ratings, and other tourist information, refer to the Parma trip builder website.

Getting from Bologna to Parma by bus takes about an hour. Other options: take a train; or drive. In May, daytime highs in Parma are 26°C, while nighttime lows are 14°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 17th (Tue) early enough to take a train to Modena.

Things to do in Parma

Historic Sites Museums

Side Trips

Canossa, Chiesa Sant' Antonino Martire, Abbazia di San Bernardo di Fontevivo, Rocca Sanvitale di Fontanellato
Highlights from your plan

1
night
Modena, Italy

Modena ©
Deemed the Capital of Engines, Modena is the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari and the headquarters of Italian sports cars.
On the 18th (Wed), explore the ancient world of Parco Archeologico Novi Ark, then appreciate the extensive heritage of Corso Canalchiaro, then get to know the fascinating history of Piazza Grande, and finally indulge in some culinary diversions at Acetaia Villa San Donnino.

To find reviews, maps, ratings, and tourist information, use the Modena sightseeing planner.

Traveling by train from Parma to Modena takes an hour. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or drive. Expect a daytime high around 27°C in May, and nighttime lows around 14°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 18th (Wed) so you can drive to Ferrara.

Things to do in Modena

Historic Sites Shopping Tours
Highlights from your plan
Piazza Grande ©
Piazza Grande
Acetaia Villa San Donnino ©
Acetaia Villa San Donnino

2
nights
Ferrara, Italy

Ferrara ©
With surrounding medieval walls and network of 15th- and 16th-century architecture, the city of Ferrara is often deemed the Heart of the Italian Renaissance.
Start off your visit on the 19th (Thu): take in the architecture and atmosphere at Ferrara Cathedral, appreciate the extensive heritage of Le Mura di Ferrara, get a taste of the local shopping with Palazzo dei Diamanti, then get to know the fascinating history of Via delle Volte, and finally step into the grandiose world of Castello Estense. Keep things going the next day: contemplate the long history of Palazzo Schifanoia (Palazzo della Gioia), pause for some serene contemplation at Chiesa di Santa Maria in Vado, then explore the different monuments and memorials at Roman Necropolis of Voghenza, and finally contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Pomposa Abbey.

To find photos, maps, ratings, and other tourist information, use the Ferrara sightseeing planner.

Traveling by car from Modena to Ferrara takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or take a shuttle. May in Ferrara sees daily highs of 27°C and lows of 14°C at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 20th (Fri) early enough to catch the train to Ravenna.

Things to do in Ferrara

Historic Sites Shopping Museums

Side Trips

Roman Necropolis of Voghenza, Pomposa Abbey
Highlights from your plan
Castello Estense ©
Castello Estense
Le Mura di Ferrara ©
Le Mura di Ferrara
Ferrara Cathedral ©
Ferrara Cathedral

2
nights
Ravenna, Italy

Ravenna ©
Famous for its wealth of original mosaics, Ravenna is a hub of artistic and cultural heritage.
Start off your visit on the 21st (Sat): pause for some serene contemplation at Basilica di San Giovanni Evangelista, pause for some serene contemplation at Basilica di San Francesco, Ravenna, examine the collection at Archiepiscopal Museum, then contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Battistero Neoniano (Battistero degli Ortodossi), then don't miss a visit to Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, and finally pause for some serene contemplation at Basilica di Sant'Agata Maggiore. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 22nd (Sun): make a trip to Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, take in the spiritual surroundings of Basilica San Vitale, see the interesting displays at Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra, contemplate the long history of Cripta Rasponi e Giardini Pensili, then pause for some serene contemplation at Basilica di Sant'Apollinare in Classe, and finally take an in-depth tour of Parco della Villa Romana di Russi (RA).

To see ratings, reviews, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our Ravenna travel route planning website.

Getting from Ferrara to Ravenna by train takes about 1.5 hours. Other options: drive; or take a bus. In May, daytime highs in Ravenna are 26°C, while nighttime lows are 17°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Sun) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Ravenna

Historic Sites Museums

Side Trips

Basilica di Sant'Apollinare in Classe, Parco della Villa Romana di Russi (RA)
Highlights from your plan
Basilica San Vitale ©
Basilica San Vitale
Basilica di Sant'Apollinare in Classe ©
Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo ©
Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo

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