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Good city for 2-3 months in Europe?
Old 10-01-2014, 12:10 PM   #1
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Good city for 2-3 months in Europe?

I would like to take an extended vacation in Europe, preferably spending two to three months in a rented apartment in one city. I am looking for suggestions as to what cities would be good for what I want to do.

Here's what I am looking for:

1. A descent sized city. It does not have to be a Paris, London or Berlin, a mid-sized city would be OK. Small towns would probably not work for me for that length of time.

2. A good public transportation system. I do not want to rent a car except to drive out of the city for a day trip.

3. Good rail and air transportation to other regions of Europe. The city will be a base for taking trips to other cities and countries in Europe.

4. Reasonable cost. It does not have to be the cheapest city on the continent, but it should not be top dollar area. I am assuming that I will NOT be renting an apartment in the most expensive center of town neighborhoods.

I would appreciate your suggestions and hearing about your experiences doing this.
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Old 10-01-2014, 12:22 PM   #2
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That sounds like a great idea. With a modest apartment as a base, you could travel widely with a carry-on. As far as location and transport networks are concerned, Frankfurt must be high on the list. I confess I have no knowledge of the rental market there.
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Old 10-01-2014, 12:37 PM   #3
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Europe is pretty big. Which part of the continent would you want to visit?
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Old 10-01-2014, 12:40 PM   #4
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Europe is pretty big. Which part of the continent would you want to visit?
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Old 10-01-2014, 12:44 PM   #5
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Europe is pretty big. Which part of the continent would you want to visit?
Probably the area from Warsaw to Paris, and Sicily up to Copenhagen. Obviously, I won't see all of it.
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Old 10-01-2014, 12:47 PM   #6
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Some of the cities in the south of Spain in the Andalucia region might fit the bill (Granada, Seville, Malaga for example). Costs are lower than most of western Europe. Weather is pretty decent year round depending on what you're looking for. Transport network might be a little iffy as I think major rail connections require you to go north before going east or west (but there are buses for E/W travel in the south of Spain). Local transit, taxis and restaurants appear to be a lot less expensive than elsewhere in France, UK, Germany.

Portugal also offers rather low prices (thanks, recession!).

I've been following Bucking the Trend, a blog of a family with two 9 year olds that's spending a year abroad in Granada. They just arrived this summer and have a few posts so far. I think their three bedroom house in the historic district is $1300 US, and he mentioned there are plenty of cheaper places to stay if you don't have to be in the middle of things or in the historic district. The Bucking the Trend family is doing exactly what you're doing - using Granada as a home base and hitting up Ireland, UK, and I think other places while they are in Europe.

We thought about spending this past summer in Granada or elsewhere in Andalucia but chickened out (we have 3 kids including a 2 year old!). A summer in Europe doing what you're suggesting (hopping around here and there) will probably be in our future at some point.
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Old 10-01-2014, 12:47 PM   #7
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Probably the area from Warsaw to Paris, and Sicily up to Copenhagen. Obviously, I won't see all of it.
Then I vote for Munich.
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Old 10-01-2014, 12:48 PM   #8
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I adored Munich. I don't know about rental prices, but it definitely fits the bill for all your other requirements, and is pretty central. Great trains to places, easy to get to the airport on public transport. Great sized city, lots to do, but easy enough to master.

The people in southern Germany are awesome, you can make friends at any beer garden, but they'll gladly yell at you if you stand on the left side of the escalator.

It feels like a city you could live in, but still has a great selection of touristy things to do.

I'd love to do this myself in the future, so keep us posted on your decision.
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Old 10-01-2014, 12:49 PM   #9
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Consider Budapest. Food was excellent and cheap, don't know about rentals. Public transportation was good (surface train/trolley and subway) - get written Hungarian directions if you plan on a cab, our driver did not speak English, but got us there since we had a pamphlet with the location in Magyar. You can get to lots of attractions by walking.

There are boats on the Danube, and a large train station, but we didn't use them so can't comment on how well that works for getting to other areas of Europe. IIRC, Pest is a stop on The Orient Express, so it might be easy to get further east/south to places like Turkey.

I soooo want to do this when we downsize our house and before we move into a new place. And then maybe a few months in various US locations. So please report back.

-ERD50
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Old 10-01-2014, 12:55 PM   #10
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Which time of the year?
If not in wintertime, think about the german towns Düsseldorf, Aachen, Cologne or Freiburg.
All of these are interesting cities with universities, international communities and english speaking locals.
All have easy public transport via railway system to the Netherlands, Belgium or France. Even UK is close via tunnel.
Düsseldorf + Cologne have airports with low cost airlines.
Freiburg has great climate (for Germany) and easy access to the alpine regions of Switzerland and France.
Most german towns have a reasonably good public transport system.

Frankfurt and Munich are expensive, expecially for housing.

What are you looking for in a town?
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:06 PM   #11
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My first thought was Pisa - but I'm a bit of an italianophile. (Is that a word?)
I agree with Malaga or Sevilla in Spain. Budapest gives you access by rail to Austria/Czech/etc and is VERY inexpensive.

Sicily leaves you a bit landlocked - but Marsala has good air service via Ryanair. But I don't think it has good train service. There are trains that run from Catania and Palermo to Messina - then get loaded on ferries across the ferry to the tip of the boot. Since your goal is to travel - I would make Sicily one of your destinations, not your base.

Have you looked at Barcelona? Good train access to Paris and points north, ferry access to Genoa, etc. Not that pricey for vacation rentals.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:14 PM   #12
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I am going to do this same thing for sure once I can get DW to pack it in. First on my list is Amsterdam but then it will be Prague or Kiev (though Budapest would be a decent alternative).
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:16 PM   #13
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...ferry access to Genoa...
Home to Genitalians...
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:19 PM   #14
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Lviv, Ukraine
Tallinn, Estonia
Plzen, Czech Republic
Tbilisi, Georgia
Places where they like Americans and the beer is good.
I could spend a year in each place, E-Z.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:21 PM   #15
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I'll be following this thread. We're planning 8-9 weeks in Europe next summer... but plan to travel around in 1 week increments. Like you - using public transport and not renting a car (accept perhaps when we visit family in Sicily since they're in a smaller town.)
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:24 PM   #16
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Heading to Tallinn next summer but not for nearly long enough. A colleague has a cottage not far from the Baltic in Lithuania and my maternal GF was Lithuanian so we may try to spend some time there as well.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:26 PM   #17
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What languages do you speak?

This might help:

Eurail Map of Train Routes in Europe | Eurail.com

Also, look up route maps for discount airlines such as Ryanair. I can't open their site on my iPad, so can't send a link.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:29 PM   #18
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I've been thinking of doing this too.

You can stay up to 3 months without a visa but there are several factors, such as whether you want to base in a location that has a lot of things going on so you'd spend most of the time there and taking short trips all over or you just want a convenient location but expect to spend most of the time elsewhere.

When you walk around, you see a lot of real estate agencies listing rentals (as well as properties for sale) on the windows of the offices. Or you watch House Hunters International and see some very affordable apts. in smaller cities.

However, how many of those apts. with rents below 1000€ are available for just a couple of months? And of those, how many have at least basic furnishings like beds, couches, TVs, kitchens with appliances and some basic dinnerware?

And further, regular rentals may require establishing utility service, TV and Internet for the short term under your name, which may require setting up local bank accounts.

So a better option may be to opt for a vacation rental, which would be furnished and would have utilities. But these would be more costly.

I've searched around Nice, France and there are properties listed there but they are mostly in the off tourist months, so say October or November to the end of March.

There are more options when you look at Paris, but of course, housing is going to be more expensive there (not to mention getting to the airport is kind of costly).


Andalusia is great and I love Granada. Summers there are suppose to be brutal though. I don't know what kind of flights are available to other parts of Europe from airports in Seville, Granada and other points though.

I'm really looking forward to the information posted here. Definitely want to do this, though maybe not next year, as I've already booked a 2-week trip to Italy to use up my Delta SkyMiles.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:34 PM   #19
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Lviv, Ukraine
Tallinn, Estonia
Plzen, Czech Republic
Tbilisi, Georgia
Places where they like Americans and the beer is good.
I could spend a year in each place, E-Z.
These are also places I can afford.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:36 PM   #20
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By the way, Ukraine and Georgia have generous visitor policies for Americans. Not Schengen countries. A Yankee could stay in Europe indefinitely between the two.
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