Amsterdam Barcelona Cinque Terre Europe Florence Italy Netherlands Pisa Rome Spain Vatican City

How to Plan an Epic 2-Week Summer Europe Itinerary

Planning a trip to Europe this summer? We’ve got you covered with our epic 2-week summer Europe itinerary! My boyfriend, Tim, and I visited Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, Vatican City, Florence, Pisa and Cinque Terre last June and had an amazing time (and great weather!).

Although there are a ton of options when visiting Europe, we felt that this 2-week summer Europe itinerary was perfect for us, and I hope you’ll find it useful too.

Of course, you can always use this itinerary as a starting point and replace some of these destinations to better suit your schedule and interests. I previously traveled to other summer European destinations like England, France, Ireland, Iceland, Scotland and Belgium and think all of these are great options for this time of year.

So, without further adieu, let’s dive into our epic 2-week summer Europe itinerary!

Table of Contents

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    Planning Your 2-Week Summer Europe Itinerary

    Sara in Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre, an awesome addition to your 2-week summer Europe itinerary

    Where should you start and end your 2-week summer Europe itinerary?

    Tim and I live in Houston and typically use George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) for our international flights. Since we’ve encountered travel delays, missed connections, etc. in the past, we try to choose direct flights whenever possible, and there are direct flights from IAH to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), making it a great choice for port of entry into Europe.

    We chose an overnight flight from IAH, which arrived at AMS the next morning, giving us most of the day to explore. We always like to optimize our time in each destination and make the most of our vacation days, so we chose to leave on a Friday night to avoid needing to take off from work that day.

    A Broad Recommendation: Prepare for long wait times going through customs at AMS. The airport is quite popular and very busy. We waited for more than an hour before getting through.

    If you’re flying from somewhere else in the United States or another part of the world, you may consider direct flights offered from your city instead.

    We flew back to IAH on a connecting flight through Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) from Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP). This was a much less pleasant experience, given that we had some flight issues and delays, but it was the cheapest and most convenient option out of Italy, where we ended our trip.

    Our 2-Week Summer Europe Itinerary

    Sara and Tim at Park Guell in Barcelona, a must-add destination for your 2-week summer Europe itinerary

    Here’s the itinerary we researched and followed during our 2 weeks in Europe last June.

    • Day 1: Overnight flight from Houston to Amsterdam
    • Day 2: Amsterdam
    • Day 3: Amsterdam
    • Day 4: Amsterdam & evening flight to Barcelona
    • Day 5: Barcelona
    • Day 6: Barcelona
    • Day 7: Barcelona
    • Day 8: Morning flight to Rome
    • Day 9: Vatican City
    • Day 10: Rome
    • Day 11: Morning train to Florence
    • Day 12: Florence
    • Day 13: Morning train to Pisa & afternoon train to Cinque Terre
    • Day 14: Cinque Terre
    • Day 15: Cinque Terre & afternoon train to Milan
    • Day 16: Morning flight from Milan to Houston

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Damrak, a popular area in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, a great place to begin your 2-week summer Europe itinerary

    Home to notable residents such as painters Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh, philosophers John Locke and René Descartes, and Holocaust victim Anne Frank, Amsterdam is the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands and one of the best-preserved cities in all of Europe. And, it’s a great place to start your 2-week summer Europe itinerary!

    Amsterdam is often referred to as the “Venice of the North” because of its division into around 90 islands and its large network of canals, which are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Amsterdam is also one of the most multicultural cities in the world and has a long history of openness, liberalism and tolerance. It’s well known for its nightlife and is home to several world-famous nightclubs. 

    We recommend spending between 2-3 days here on your summer Europe itinerary. Here’s how we spent our 3 days in Amsterdam in June:

    Day 1 in Amsterdam:

    Day 2 in Amsterdam:

    *Note: You could consider booking the Amsterdam Classic Boat Cruise with Live Guide, Drinks and Cheese in lieu of the LOVERS Canal Cruise. Unfortunately, this cruise was no longer available for our travel dates, but hopefully you’ll have better luck! However, the LOVERS Canal Cruise is also included in I Amsterdam City Card, which made it a good option for us.

    Day 3 in Amsterdam:

    • 9:00 am: Van Gogh Museum (book your time slot in advance)
    • 11:00 am: Check out from hotel
    • 11:30 am: Store luggage at Amsterdam Central Station
    • 12:30 pm: Lunch at Piqniq
    • 2:00 pm: De Nieuwe Kerk
    • 2:45 pm: Oude Kerk
    • 3:15 pm: Pick up luggage, head to airport & fly to Barcelona

    Where to stay: De Bedstee Capsules Hotel

    If you have more time in Amsterdam, you could consider the following:

    • Take the short train ride to Haarlem
    • Rent a bike and explore Her Amsterdamse Bos
    • Visit the Catboat, a refuge for stray and abandoned cats
    • Spend a day in Zaanse Schans, an open-air museum that shows what life was like in the Netherlands in the 18th and 19th centuries

    Barcelona, Spain

    Sagrada Familia, a must-see on any visit to Barcelona, Spain

    Located on the northeastern coast of Spain, Barcelona is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia. It’s an important cultural hub, a popular tourist destination and just a short flight from Amsterdam. 

    Barcelona is home to famous architects like Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, whose works have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city is also known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics, in addition to many other international sporting events, tournaments and exhibitions.

    We recommend spending at least 3 days in Barcelona to see some of the highlights. From famous historical sights and architectural marvels to beautiful beaches and fun neighborhoods, our Barcelona summer itinerary has it all!

    Day 1 in Barcelona:

    Day 2 in Barcelona:

    Day 3 in Barcelona:

    • 9:30 am: Park Güell (book your time slot in advance & try to book the earliest time slot of the day)
    • 11:30 pm: Lunch at Bar Dakmar in Gràcia
    • 4:00 pm: Sagrada Família (book your time slot in advance)
    • 6:30 pm: Picasso Museum (book your time slot in advance; the museum is free on Thursdays after 5 pm & the first Sunday of each month!)
    • 7:30 pm: Dinner Cal Pep (get in line 30 minutes before they open)

    Where to stay: Hotel Flor Parks

    If you have more time in Barcelona, consider checking out the following:

    You may also consider taking a day trip to Girona, another Spanish city known for its medieval architecture and Roman remains, or Montserrat, a gorgeous mountain range that’s home to some of Spain’s most important religious sites.

    Rome, Italy & Vatican City

    the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, a must-visit on your 2-week summer Europe itinerary

    Just a 2-hour flight from Barcelona, in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, Rome is a city that really needs no introduction. It’s the most-visited city in Italy and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world!

    Rome’s history spans 28 centuries, and its stunning architecture, vibrant culture and mouth watering cuisine captivates the hearts of millions of travelers each year.

    Sara in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, a great addition to any Rome or summer Europe itinerary

    Located within the city of Rome, Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Steeped in centuries of history and mystery, this sacred enclave holds a treasure trove of art, culture and spirituality and also welcomes millions of visitors each year. Vatican City can easily be added to any Rome or summer Europe itinerary.

    Here are some of the most popular things to do in Rome for 3 days and how we recommend exploring the smallest country in the world while you’re there:

    Day 1 in Rome:

    Day 2 in Rome:

    Day 3 in Rome: 

    *BONUS: Head to Gianicolo for Sunset if the weather is nice. It was pouring down rain during our visit, so we didn’t get a good sunset, but we hope you do!

    Where to stay: Hotel Nardizzi Americana

    If you have more time in Rome, you may want to add the following to your itinerary:

    • Capitoline Hill: one of the seven hills on which ancient Rome was built
    • Borghese Gallery: home to one of the best collections of Renaissance and Baroque art in the world
    • Villa Borghese Gardens: a sprawling park that offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city and spectacular views of Rome
    • Baths of Caracalla: one of the biggest and most impressive ancient thermal complexes, which was built between AD 212 and 216
    • Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore: one of Rome’s four major basilicas
    • St. John in the Lateran: Rome’s oldest Basilica
    • Pyramid of Caius Cestius: a tomb that was built in the Egyptian style and covered in marble around 12 BC
    • Knights of Malta Keyhole: a unique and interesting viewpoint for St Peter’s Basilica from the top of Aventine Hill
    • Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth): a legendary marble mask that’s claimed to bite the hand of those who have lied

    *Note: I had a medical issue during our time in Rome that prevented us from doing as much as we would’ve liked. If you notice some breaks in the itinerary, that’s because we went back to the hotel to rest in between activities.

    Florence, Italy

    the Duomo in Florence, Italy, one of our favorite cities on our 2-week summer Europe itinerary

    Nestled in the heart of Tuscany in Central Italy, Florence is just around a 1.5-hour train ride from Rome. It’s known as the birthplace of the Renaissance and was once ranked by Forbes as ‘the most beautiful city in the world’.

    Whether you want to immerse yourself in the history of the Duomo, marvel at Michelangelo’s David or indulge in the city’s delicious cuisine, Florence has it all.

    We recommend spending 2 days in Florence and to avoid visiting on a Monday, since lots of activities are closed on Mondays. Here’s our 2-day guide that highlights the best things to do in Florence:

    Day 1 in Florence:

    *BONUS: If you have time, search for one of Florence’s infamous wine windows, which date back to the 1500s when nobles were allowed to sell wine without paying taxes or owning a store.

    Day 2 in Florence:

    Where to stay: Dafne’s House

    If you have more than 2 days in Florence, you may want to check out:

    • Biblioteca delle Oblate: a public library and café with awesome views of the Duomo
    • Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella: the world’s oldest pharmacy
    • Brancacci Chapel: the first great work of art of the 1400s which is often referred to as the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Early Renaissance’
    • The Bargello: a former barracks and prison that now houses a national art museum
    • Basilica di San Lorenzo: one of the oldest and largest churches in Florence
    • Cappelle Medicee: built for the Medici family in the 16th and 17th centuries, these form part of a monumental complex connected with the Basilica of San Lorenzo
    • Fontana del Porcellino: a bronze fountain of a boar that’s rumored to provide good luck if you put a coin into the boar’s jaws and promises a return visit to Florence if you rub the boar’s snout

    Pisa, Italy

    Sara in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, an easy add-on to your Florence or 2-week summer Europe itinerary

    Only a 50-minute to an hour-and-10-minute train ride from Florence, Pisa is definitely worth a quick visit, even if only to see the iconic Leaning Tower.

    Though there are other things to do in Pisa, the main attraction is the Piazza del Duomo, which includes the infamous Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as the Pisa Cathedral, Pisa Baptistery, Camposanto, Opera del Duomo Museum, and Sinopie Museum. We spent our half-day trip from Florence to Pisa exploring this incredible complex. Here’s what we did:

    • 7:00 am: Train from Florence to Pisa & store luggage
    • 9:00 am: Leaning Tower of Pisa & Piazza del Duomo
    • 12:45 pm: Lunch at Bistrot dell’Opera
    • 1:00 pm: Train to Cinque Terre & check in to Airbnb

    Pisa offers much more than just the Leaning Tower and the Piazza del Duomo. If you have more time, you may want to check out some of Pisa’s historic churches, medieval palaces, and beautiful bridges. The city is also home to the University of Pisa, which dates back to the 12th century, the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, which was founded by Napoleon in 1810, and its offshoot, the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies.

    Cinque Terre, Italy

    the harbor at Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre, where we ended our 2-week summer Europe itinerary

    An hour-and-a-half train ride north of Pisa is Cinque Terre, a group of centuries-old seaside villages, perched on the dramatic coastline of the Italian Riviera. This is where we ended our 2-week summer Europe itinerary.

    The Cinque Terre towns are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Each boasts colorful houses, steep, terraced vineyards, harbors filled with fishing boats, and trattorias serving delicious seafood specialties.

    The Cinque Terre towns, in addition to the coastline and surrounding hillsides, are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park, which was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. And, it’s possible to visit the Cinque Terre towns in 2 days (or 1 full day and 2 half days like we did!).

    Day 1 in Cinque Terre:

    • 2:30 pm: Arrive in Riomaggiore & check in to Airbnb
    • 5:00 pm: Explore Riomaggiore (Church of San Giovanni Battista, Riomaggiore Castle, Riomaggiore Harbor, etc.)
    • 6:30 pm: Dinner at Bar Centrale
    • 8:30 pm: Catch a sunset at Riomaggiore Harbor

    Day 2 in Cinque Terre:

    • 10:30 am: Hike from Riomaggiore to Manarola (Via Beccara)
    • 11:30 am: Explore Manarola (Church of San Lorenzo, Torre Campanaria, Punta Bonfiglio viewpoint, etc.)
    • 12:30 pm: Lunch at Il Porticciolo Manarola
    • 2:00 pm: Train to Corniglia & scale the Scalinata Lardarina
    • 3:00 pm: Explore Corniglia (Chiesa di San Pietro in Corniglia, Oratorio dei Disciplinati di Santa Caterina, etc.)
    • 4:00 pm: Wine tasting at Terra Rossa Winebar
    • 5:30 pm: Hike from Corniglia to Vernazza
    • 7:00 pm: Explore Vernazza & climb Doria Castle
    • 7:30 pm: Dinner & sunset at Ristorante Belforte
    • 9:15 pm: Train back to Riomaggiore

    Day 3 in Cinque Terre:

    • 9:30 am: Check out from Airbnb & store luggage
    • 10:00 am: Train to Monterosso al Mare
    • 10:30 am: Explore Monterosso al Mare (Paese Vecchio, Fegina Beach, il Gigante, Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista, etc.)
    • 12:00 pm: Train back to Riomaggiore
    • 12:45 pm: Try Fritto misto from Il Pescato Cucinato
    • 2:30 pm: Train to Milan

    Where to stay: The Rooftop House

    *Note: we didn’t do any exploring in Milan, as we got there late in the day and had an early flight the next morning. However, we stayed at the Albert Hotel and ate dinner in the Milano Centrale Railway Station, which has an awesome food court.

    Well, there you have it! We hope you found our 2-week summer Europe itinerary helpful and are blown away by all of the history, culture and exciting activities that these cities have to offer.

    2-Week Summer Europe Itinerary Add-Ons

    But wait, there’s more! If you have more time, you might want to add on one or more of these destinations to your 2-week summer Europe itinerary.

    Paris, France

    the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, a potential add-on to your 2-week summer Europe itinerary

    Paris is another city that really needs no introduction. We spent just a day on our last visit to Versailles and Paris, France, but I’ve also done a longer visit in the past. No matter how long you decide to stay, Paris is a great addition to your 2-week summer Europe itinerary.

    Normandy, France

    Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, France, another great add-on to your 2-week summer Europe itinerary

    Located in Northern France just west of Paris, Normandy is known for its charming coastal towns, lovely countryside, and yummy cheeses and ciders, and is another great addition to your 2-week summer Europe itinerary. We recommend that you spend 2 days in Normandy, France to get a feel for what this beautiful and historic region has to offer.

    Dublin, Ireland

    the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, a great country to explore during your 2-week summer Europe itinerary if you have the time!

    A tour of Ireland is another great choice when adding to your 2-week summer Europe itinerary. A few years back, I spent 4 days exploring Ireland by train and bus, using Dublin as our home base and taking several day trips to the Ring of Kerry, Northern Ireland and the Cliffs of Moher.

    Edinburgh, Scotland

    Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland, another destination we recommend adding to your 2-week summer Europe itinerary

    Last summer, a couple friends and I spent 5 days in Scotland, using Edinburgh as a home base. We explored some of the best places to visit in and around Edinburgh, like Edinburgh Castle, St Giles’ Cathedral, Holyroodhouse, Arthur’s Seat, Glencoe, Loch Ness, the Scottish Highlands, St Andrews, and more. Whether you have a day or two or up to 5 days like we did, Edinburgh is another great destination to add to your 2-week summer Europe itinerary.

    Let me know what other destinations you would add to this list in the comments below!

    XOXO Sara at Travel A-Broads

    P.S. Don’t forget to pin this post, so you can refer back later!

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    5 months ago

    I’ve been to most of the cities on your itinerary, but did it over three different trips. I loved each place we visited. The only one that I have not done yet Cinque Terre. One day!

    Last edited 5 months ago by Michelle
    Jennifer Record
    5 months ago

    WOW is this impressive! so helpful with the pacing and locations lined up nicely..must have taken you a long time to put together.. saving this for the future.

    5 months ago

    Looks like an action packed 2 weeks to some of my favorite destinations.

    5 months ago

    Great 2-week itinerary for Europe. You pack in a lot so you get to see so much during 2 weeks in Europe. Saving for the future.

    5 months ago

    Very useful to see how you planned out your itinerary! I’m visiting many of these places in Italy and I’m so glad I found this article and your blog to help me figure out where to go and in what order!