West to East and Back Again – My Summer 2018 Travel Itinerary

Today, I want to share my summer 2018 travel itinerary.  With my departure only twenty-five days away, I’m getting ready for a seven-week Europe trip that includes a few old favorites and some new destinations.

If you’ve got any advice about the places I’ll be visiting, please let me know in the comments!

Stop #1 – Berlin, Germany

My summer 2018 travel itinerary begins in Berlin, Germany.

My Summer 2018 Travel Itinerary - Berlin

I visited Berlin last summer, but only for four days.  And, unfortunately, I got very sick during my visit (when I got home I was in and out of the emergency room five times before eventually needing minor surgery, so it was actually pretty bad!).  However, I knew that Berlin was a city that felt like home and that deserved more of my time.

So, this time I’ve picked up a number of Berlin guidebooks and made a much better plan for my time in the city.  I really regret not visiting a spa in Berlin (I’m thinking that I’ll go with Vabali over Liquidrom?), checking out the Helmut Newton photography exhibit and exploring the abandoned listening station at Teufelsberg (seriously, I think it’s in every Berlin-set spy drama I’ve ever seen!), so these are all high on my Berlin to-do list.

I will spend my first six nights in a budget hotel in Mitte, before spending the next six nights in a more design-oriented hotel nearby.  Expect some very thorough reviews after my stays!

I will be in Berlin during the World Cup, so I’m hoping that Germany makes it all the way!  The final match is on July 15th, so I’ve made sure I’ll be in the city until the 16th…

Stop #2 – Warsaw, Poland

I have previously visited Krakow, Torun and Gdansk, but my experience in Warsaw is limited to spending ten minutes on the platform at a secondary train station as I changed trains.  I decided to include it on my summer 2018 travel itinerary because… why not?

I believe I’ve given myself almost four full days in Warsaw (arriving by train in the evening on Day 1 and departing just before midnight on Day 5).  I’ve booked a dorm room at one of the big-name hostels, as I’ll probably be missing that traveler camaraderie after spending the previous two weeks in private rooms in hotels.  I haven’t really looked into what I will see and do in Warsaw, so I’d love your recommendations in the comments!

Stop #3 – Lviv, Ukraine

I’ve always had a love of Eastern Europe.  My first summer trip abroad was from Istanbul to Budapest and then back to Bucharest, and I also spent a summer traveling from Albania to Estonia.  However, I’ve spent virtually no time in Ukraine.  Many years ago I ventured into Ukraine by foot, by crossing a pedestrian footbridge from Romania’s Sighetu Marmatiei to a village in Ukraine called Solotyvno.  I spent a few hours in the village in the pouring rain, then walked back to Romania.

So, it’s Ukraine time!   To keep costs down I’ve booked an overnight bus from Warsaw to Lviv, and then one night in a nice spa hotel in the city center.  I assume I won’t sleep well on the bus, so after I catch up on my sleep in the hotel I will then spend a few nights in an inexpensive hostel.  I don’t have any specific plans for Lviv, so please send me all your suggestions in the comments!

Stop #4 – Odessa, Ukraine

When I was doing my undergraduate degree I took a class called “Cinema and Modern Art Movements”, and we watched Battleship Potemkin.  From that moment on, I knew I would eventually have to travel to Odessa.

I had always dreamed of visiting Odessa as part of a larger trip that included time in Crimea, but since Russia annexed Crimea that is now off the table.

I don’t have this part of my summer 2018 travel itinerary booked yet, as tickets for domestic sleeper trains in Ukraine go on sale forty-five days in advance.  Once I’ve got my train organized I will look into accommodation, probably opting for a hostel again.  Again, no specific plans, so please send me your tips (especially for the cleanest beaches where I can swim in the sea!).

Stop #5 – Kiev, Ukraine

I might make a stop on my way to Kiev, or I might head straight to Ukraine’s capital.  Any suggested stops along the rail line between the two cities?

Obviously, I had to book a tour of Chernobyl.  I booked my tour with ChernobylWel.com based on reviews I read online.  I chose a two-day tour so that I would have more time in the area and more opportunities to learn about life in the region before and after the nuclear disaster.

I currently have three full days booked for Kiev (not including the Chernobyl tour) and three days of unplanned time.  I might stay in the city, or I might pop down to the famous gardens of Uman for an overnight getaway.

Stop #5 – Turin, Italy

My Summer 2018 Travel Itinerary - Turin

After Kiev, I’m heading west to Turin, Italy.  I lived in Turin for two years (including during the 2006 Olympic Games) and I am absolutely dying to re-visit my former hometown.  There were a lot of things that I loved about the Italian lifestyle (and a few things that I really didn’t… hence why I moved back to Canada) and I’m truly beyond excited to get to experience them again.

To get to Turin I will fly from Kiev to Milan, and then use one of the direct buses connecting Milan’s Malpensa Airport to downtown Turin.  I booked a hotel for my first night, and then I’m spending seven nights in a studio apartment that I booked on Airbnb.  It’s going to be the first Airbnb that I booked myself (I’ve always been more into hostels and hotels) so I’m hoping that it’s a great experience.

There are so many things that I want to do in Turin that I might not be able to fit them all into my seven-day stay.  Some of the things I’m most excited about include:

  • Seeing the statues from Dario Argento’s movie “Profondo Rosso” in Piazza CLN
  • Riding the glass elevator to the top of the Cinema Museum inside the Mole Antonelliana (the building shown in my photo… from 2005!)
  • Indulging in authentic Sicilian granita at the family-owned gelateria called Siculo (I am praying they aren’t closed for their summer holiday when I visit!)
  • Losing myself in the contemporary art exhibits at Castello di Rivoli, a world-class museum inside a former Savoy palace just outside the city
  • Ordering a Campari, orange and soda then piling my plate high with bar snacks at one of Torino’s famous aperitivo bars

I’m literally beaming as I write that list… I am so excited about this part of my trip!

Stop #7 – Milan, Italy

My Summer 2018 Travel Itinerary - Milan

My summer 2018 travel itinerary ends in Milan, where I fly home out of the Malpensa Airport.  My flights this summer were free, because I signed up for an American Express credit card and received 25,000 bonus Membership Reward points (that’s a referral link – you need to use one to get the bonus points).  This is enough for a free return flight anywhere in Canada (with Aeroplan), or it was enough to top up my existing Aeroplan balance for return flights to anywhere in Western Europe.  I didn’t have quite enough points to fly home directly from Ukraine, which is why my summer 2018 travel itinerary ends in Italy.

I’m spending three nights in Milan before my flight back to Canada.  I’m staying at Ostello Bello, a hostel that I discovered in Bagan, Myanmar of all places, and absolutely loved.  It was easily one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed at, so I have to try out their Milan location as well!

I spent a few weekends in Milan when I lived in Turin, so I know a bit about the city.  I’ve seen The Last Supper (which is truly amazing… I try to avoid a lot of “touristy” attractions but that was one experience that I will remember forever) and Castello Sforzesco, and I’ve enjoyed an opera at the Scala Theatre, so this visit will be about visiting some off-the-beaten-track sights and hopefully doing a little bit of shopping (if I’ve got any money left!).

What do you think about my summer 2018 travel itinerary?  Am I moving around too much?  Spending too long in one place?  Most importantly, do you have any expert travel tips for Berlin, Warsaw, Lviv, Odessa or Kiev?  Let me know in the comments! 

A Seven-Week Europe Travel Itinerary Including Germany, Poland, Ukraine and ItalySeven-Week Europe Itinerary Including Berlin, Warsaw, Lviv, Odessa, Kiev, Turin and Milan

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