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Experience the highlights of western, central & eastern Europe over 22 incredible days. From pubs to mountains, bustling city centres to scenic lakes, and all the best bits in between, this tour is stacked with incredible experiences. Starting off in the UK, cross the English channel to mainland Europe. Be charmed by the French lifestyle. Journey through the Black Forest in Germany and see the Rhine Falls. Set foot in one of the smallest countries in Europe - Luxembourg. Lay eyes on the incredible beauty of the Swiss Alps. Eat real Italian food in the heart of Tuscany. Explore the east of Europe to encounter destinations like Budapest, Hungary and Zagreb in Croatia. This is the perfect tour to quench your wanderlust, with whole free days in Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Vienna and Berlin!
We use a variety of hotels in each destination, so you may stay in a hotel different to that listed here. Hotels are selected closer to departure date; you will receive a confirmed list one week prior to your departure date.
Meet your Expat Explore tour leader at the starting hotel. This afternoon, we’ll head out to the Royal Borough of Greenwich. As part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site it’s a must-see with many historical buildings and gardens. Your tour leader will walk you through Greenwich park to a traditional British pub where we’ll enjoy an included welcome dinner. We’ll then wander through the historic Greenwich docklands, past the Old Royal Naval College and the famous Cutty Sark ship. After a short boat ride past the financial district’s skyscrapers, we’ll jump aboard the Emirates Air Line, a cable car across the river Thames which offers panoramic views of the east London skyline.
Departing London, you will cross the English Channel and travel to 'The City of Lights and Love' - Paris! Your experienced tour leader will introduce you to all the key Parisian sites on a relaxing coach tour of the city. Keep an eye out for such iconic landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and Notre Dame - take a mental note of what you wish to explore more further on your free day. This evening we'll enjoy dinner at a restaurant in the Latin Quarter, an eclectic, bohemian and historic neighbourhood. We'll then travel back to the hotel on Paris' world famous metro system, ready to explore the city further on our free day tomorrow!
Enjoy a full free day to explore the French capital to your heart’s content! The Seine River is the backbone of the capital, and flows through the heart of the city. Why not choose a cruise, and sail past the grandeur of the gothic Notre Dame cathedral, to the epic Eiffel Tower? Paris Disneyland is perfect for the ‘young at heart’, and is only a short distance away. Your Expat Explore tour leader is brimming with ideas and local knowledge, so that you can get the best out of your time here.
This morning we’ll depart Paris and head east to our first stop in the champagne region, where we’ll enjoy a tasting of one of France’s most famous and highly prized exports - champagne! We’ll then continue our journey on to Luxembourg, where you’ll have some free time to explore the capital of one of Europe’s smallest countries; Luxembourg City features a charming Unesco-listed centre with plenty of restaurants and cafés. Our final destination of the day is Heidelberg, Germany’s oldest university town which is renowned for its Altstadt (old town), ruined Renaissance hilltop castle and romantic riverside cityscape. Your tour leader will take you on an orientation tour of the city centre and give you some free time to explore the old town, before we meet back up for dinner.
This morning we head into the heart of Germany’s Schwarzwald (Black Forest), home of delicious Black Forest gâteau, cuckoo clocks and Hansel and Gretel! For those travellers wishing to buy an authentic German cuckoo clock, we’ll make a quick stop at a local family business in the heart of the forest. Arriving on the shores of Lake Titisee, you’ll have some free time to explore the spa town of Titisee and grab some lunch. We’ll then cross into Switzerland and stop off at the stunning Rhine Falls, the largest plain waterfall in Europe. You’ll have some time to explore, with the option to take a boat ride on the falls. On arrival in Lucerne your tour leader will give you a quick orientation tour to introduce you to the city, before we travel on to our accommodation.
Today you’ll have a free day to enjoy the Lucerne region. Renowned as one of Switzerland's most beautiful cities, Lucerne is one place you'll definitely want to have your camera at the ready for! All the ingredients for the quintessentially picturesque Swiss experience are here - a cobalt lake and well-preserved old-town complete with waterfront promenades, covered bridges and perfect plazas is surrounded by the natural skyscrapers of the Swiss Alps. It's really no wonder that Goethe, Queen Victoria and Wagner savoured the stunning views that Lucerne has to offer. There's charm and grace around every corner, but it's not all about history - there's certainly enough of a pulse here to keep things current, with carnivals, concerts and exhibitions aplenty.
Four countries in one day! Our first stop is the Alpine principality of Liechtenstein, the sixth-smallest nation in the world. Stopping in the capital Vaduz, we'll have some time to stroll around and enjoy the scenery. We’ll then visit Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th Century German hilltop castle built by Ludwig II of Bavaria, and the inspiration for the famous Disneyland castle. Entrance to the castle is included in the tour package price. Our final destination of the day is Innsbruck, Austria. Home to Austria's third-largest student population, there's no shortage of vibrant bars and beer gardens to enjoy.
This morning we head south into Italy. One of the most visited destinations in the world, Italy serves up centuries of incredible history, rich culture and, of course, fantastic food! As we make our way to Siena we'll stop in Modena, where you'll enjoy a tasting of balsamic vinegar. Arriving in Siena this afternoon, your tour leader will take you on a short orientation tour of the historic city centre, and you'll then have some free time to take photos and explore.
Today we’ll explore the undoubted highlights of Tuscany: Pisa and Florence! Now over 800 years old, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a classic sight in Italy and well worth a photo! Upon arrival in Florence, take an orientation walking tour of the city with your tour leader to see all the iconic sights, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and the replica of the statue of David. After the tour, step into the world of Italian leather crafting as you visit a local leather factory and shop. Learn more about famous handmade Florentine leather products. Spend some free time over lunch to explore before returning to Siena where you’ll spend the night.
There is more of Italy to see - we’re off to the capital, Rome! This European metropolis buzzes with activity, tradition, passion, and an energy of its own. Our local Roman tour guide will introduce you to the city and its many historic sights, including the Spanish Steps, Pantheon and Piazza Navona, and then later this evening we'll enjoy an included dinner.
Rome boasts ancient ruins, historical landmarks, religious buildings and a buzz like no other, and you’ve got a full free day to explore! The Colosseum and Roman Forum is a popular choice. Those wishing to enter will not only be rewarded with fabulous views of the city, but also an unbelievable feeling of drifting backwards in time, to when gladiators, chariots and lions dominated the arena. Your Expat Explore tour leader can organise a tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum with a local guide. This afternoon you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Vatican City - the smallest country in the world! You’ll jump the queues and be taken round by an expert guide, and once inside the walls you can explore St Peter’s Basilica and see Michelangelo’s artwork in the Sistine Chapel. One of the best areas for sampling authentic Roman food is in Trastevere where restaurants, favoured by the locals, serve original and classic dishes you may not find elsewhere. Enjoy!
Leaving the churches and basilicas behind, today we head to the canals of Venice! On arrival we’ll take an orientation walking tour with your Expat Explore tour leader, who will show you the sights including the Rialto Bridge and St Marks Square. You’ll also have the option to explore Venice the traditional way - from the canals on a gondola ride, which gives you a completely different perspective and appreciation for the amazing structure of this unique destination.
Our first destination of the day is a comfort stop in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana. Often thought of as a hidden gem of Europe, its castles, stunning architecture and natural beauty mean it packs a punch more powerful than its small size would suggest. We then drive on to Zagreb; Croatia’s capital offers an interesting mix of Hapsburg and Communist architecture. We'll check into the hotel and have some time to freshen up before the included dinner this evening.
Today we’ll cross into Hungary and head for the capital, Budapest. Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, it straddles the historic Danube River and boasts numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites - its natural geo-thermal springs are a highlight. Enjoy a driving tour of the city, and then use your free time this evening to explore, or join our optional excursion to the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath, one of the most famous icons of the city and Europe’s largest medicinal bath.
Moving on to the Slovakian capital, Bratislava! Located in a country dominated by mountains, vineyards, ski runs and wilderness, Bratislava is a charming city. Your tour leader will take you on an orientation tour to see some of the main sights, including a photostop at Bratislava Castle, which overlooks the city. Early afternoon we’ll make our way to Vienna, where a local guide will take us on a walking and driving tour of the Austrian capital. As a centre for art and culture in Europe for centuries, Vienna was host to some of the world’s leading musical minds at one time or another – including luminaries like Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. But along with its classical heritage, magnificent concert halls, palaces and museums, Vienna is also a modern city, with a vibrant café, restaurant and nightlife culture.
Enjoy a free day to explore Vienna! Awash with imperial splendour, Vienna was once the centre of the powerful Habsburg monarchy, which dominated central Europe from the 16th-18th centuries. History fans should check out the incredible palaces of the era - Schönbrunn Palace and the Belvedere.
Today we’re off to the Czech Republic! Prague is a beautiful city, boasting elaborate baroque, gothic, art nouveau and cubist architecture, and rewarding those who explore it with quirky bars, cobbled lanes and secluded courtyards. Known for its brilliant beer and abundance of history, any exploration of Prague will be a rewarding one. A local guide will take us on a walking tour and introduce us to the must-see sights including the Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, St. Vitus Cathedral and the Charles Bridge, before you have a free afternoon to explore more at your own pace.
Our first destination today is a lunch stop in the German city of Dresden. Virtually rebuilt from the ground up after bombing attacks in WW2 destroyed the city centre, Dresden is immaculate and stylish. Try some of the local German food - such as Bratwurst, and have a wander around the beautifully paved streets. We’ll then carry on to the capital of Germany, Berlin. Your tour leader will introduce you to the city on a driving orientation tour - stopping off to see such poignant locations as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Checkpoint Charlie.
Enjoy a free day to further explore the history of the German capital. The Berlin Wall stands as a sombre reminder of the controls imposed on Berlin during and after WW2, however the bright street art that adorns it today seems to give it a peaceful purpose. Berlin also offers numerous free museums and galleries to visit, which all contribute to the understanding of this city's modern history.
This morning, we’ll say our goodbyes to Germany as we journey on to the Netherlands, where you will notice the landscape change to windmills and waterways, as you approach the city of Amsterdam. This evening we’ll enjoy a canal cruise, which includes dinner and is accompanied by interesting commentary about the cities development and history. After seeing the bridges and city from the waterside, you'll have some free time to hit the cafés, bars and coffee shops!
You have a full free day to experience the delights of Amsterdam! There are numerous museums and art galleries to choose from - why not visit Anne Frank’s house, the Van Gogh museum, take a bicycle tour or simply wander the streets and canals? Alternatively, you can join your Expat Explore tour leader on a Dutch countryside tour optional excursion and experience three icons of the Netherlands - cheese, clogs and windmills!
After your Amsterdam adventure, you have one more stop before you set off for the UK. The Belgian city of Bruges is small but picturesque, with breathtaking architecture and a wonderful personality. Described as the ‘Venice of the North’, take some time to stretch your legs and indulge in a spot of sightseeing. After your visit, you will then be on your way back to London, crossing the English Channel on the way. This is the perfect time to exchange contact details with new friends and travel buddies as you prepare to disembark in the capital. Make sure you upload the highlights of your Best of Europe tour onto our Facebook page, and we look forward to having you on tour with us again soon.
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