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This is a tour that showcases winter travel at its best! Start off in Amsterdam and get acquainted with a European winter! From frozen canals and hot waffles, to Germany's Rhine valley. Soak up the culture and sights of the celebrated city of Nuremberg. Spend Christmas in one of the continent's finest capitals - Prague. Journey between cities like Bratislava, Budapest, Vienna and Ljubljana. Explore the charms of Italy's Tuscan region. Celebrate a Christmas like no other in Switzerland! End off in the bustling and festive streets of Paris. Christmas in Europe is a bucket list-worthy experience, no doubt about it.
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.
Welcome to the Europe Jewel from Expat Explore! Leaving London behind us, we make our way to Amsterdam, crossing the channel on the way and driving through rural France and Belgium. Arriving in Amsterdam in the late afternoon, we’ll check in to our hotel before joining a complimentary Amsterdam canal cruise! Get on board and have those cameras at the ready – this is the best way to be introduced to Amsterdam, a city of beautiful 17th Century architecture, and a charm all its own. Watch the city drift past as you sail by, and listen out for tips and interesting insights into the city from your tour leader.
This morning we’ll take a look at a cheese-making demonstration, revealing how cheese has been made in the traditional way in these parts for many years. Following that, we’ll learn about that most quirky of Dutch footwear choices – the clog – and see how these traditional shoes are carved. Stopping off at the Riekermolen windmill for a photo stop, you’ll be able to appreciate the scenery that the Netherlands is famous for. If the season is right, look out for flowers in the fields! Continuing on to the Rhine Valley, we’ll board a Rhine Valley river boat and sail from St Goar to Boppard. Enjoy a drink on board as you sail, and admire the passing scenery. With the highest concentration of medieval castles in all of Europe, this is a memorable trip, especially with all the vineyards, cliff faces and medieval German towns! Later we will visit a local wine merchants for an included wine tasting - if the harvest has been good, you may even get to try eiswein (ice wine), a very sweet dessert wine that is produced in very small quantities as it can only be harvested when the temperature drops below freezing.
Today we’re off to Prague via Nuremburg, stopping in the Bavarian city for a comfort stop. Having served as a residence for German kings over many centuries, Nuremburg was an architectural marvel, and famous for its artists too. Heavily bombed during WW2, the city was painstakingly rebuilt, and today has been returned to some of its former glory – many buildings being rebuilt in the original stone. 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 courtyards. Known for its brilliant beer and abundance of art, any exploration of Prague will be a rewarding one, and this evening we'll round off the day with an included dinner.
Merry Christmas! This morning, an expert local guide will introduce you to the city and help you get your bearings on a walking tour. The rest of the day is free for you to explore as you wish. You can choose to go for a sung mass in the morning, go to the theatre, or – if there’s snow – go skating or sledging. Alternatively, take a walk in Stromovka, visit Christmas markets in the many town squares or visit the zoo! Described by some as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Central Europe, you’ll find that Prague is just as engaging as Rome, London or Amsterdam, and is at least as beautiful as Paris. Let your guard down and explore today – you never know the wonders you might find! Start off with the Charles Bridge, which joins the old and the new town, and marvel at how Prague’s dramatic history is reflected in the beauty of its churches, opera houses, concert halls and of course Prague castle. You’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy an optional Christmas meal this evening.
Moving on to the Slovakian capital, Bratislava! Located in a country dominated by mountains, vineyards, ski runs and wilderness, Bratislava is a charming city. Here you’ll find medieval castles overlooking the old town, along with more recent Socialist-era architecture. We'll then make for beautiful Budapest. With a huge number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, we start things off with a driving tour to help you get acquainted with the city. With a huge variety of architectural styles adorning this city straddles the Danube River and promises all manner of untold treasures. Featuring hundreds of thermal and mineral springs, bathing in Budapest has been in vogue since Roman times. Hungarian food, too, is experiencing something of a revival after being somewhat repressed in the Soviet era. Explore and be amazed at the bounty of Budapest!
Heading next to Vienna, we’ll have lunch in one of the city’s traditional beer halls before taking a walking tour of the city led by one of our expert local guides. 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 nightclub culture. Explore the city this afternoon and take it all in!
After leaving Vienna, we’ll take a comfort stop in Graz – Austria’s second-largest city, but also one of its liveliest. Admire the verdant parkland and Renaissance architecture, and get a glimpse of the small, fast-flowing river which gushes through the centre. Our final stop of the day is the Slovenian gem of Ljubljana, often thought of as a hidden gem of Europe. With its castles, stunning architecture and natural beauty, Ljubljana packs a punch more powerful than its small size would suggest, and we'll take an included walking tour with a local guide to soak it all in.
Venice is our next stop, a city immortalised in literature, film and art for centuries. Its timeless waterways and artistic masterpieces (more per square kilometre than anywhere else on earth) make it truly unique – this is a city that will capture your heart and imagination. Being Italian, there’s no shortage of incredible food and culture either! Your tour leader will introduce you to the city with an orientation walk, during which you'll see sights like the world famous St Marks Square, Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore this unforgettable city on your own.
Travel through the magical hills as you head for Florence, capital of the Tuscan region. Start exploring with a short orientation tour of the most iconic and historical landmarks of the city. These include the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and the replica of the statue of David. After the tour, visit a local leather factory shop to find out more about Italy’s famous leather industry. Explore the city at your leisure, and then make your way to the Tuscan countryside, where you’ll spend the night.
Departing Tuscany, we make for one of the world’s most famous buildings. This is also definitely a place where you’ll want to have your camera charged – Pisa! Learn the story behind the leaning tower, and be sure to take some photos! It’s time to cross over to the Alps. Is there a better way to enjoy the magic of Switzerland than staying in a typical Swiss Alpine town? Take in the beauty of the snow-capped mountains and the scenery around you. Tonight we'll celebrate the New Year!
The splendour of the Alps is yours today! You can make the most of your time by taking a leisurely stroll through the local villages, by crystal-clear lakes, or hitting the slopes for a spot of skiing If you’re feeling up to it. Why not take a train or cable car to higher altitudes and surround yourself with snow-capped peaks and white winter snow? If you decide to go into a local village your options are limitless! Walk through the market-stalls, indulge in the local refreshments or start celebrating the new year with some warm gluhwein.
It’s an early start today as we make our way out of the mountains and make for the city of lights and love: Paris! Arriving in the afternoon, we'll take you on a driving tour of the French capital; get your cameras ready - you’ll be seeing some of the city’s most treasured landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe! After the driving tour 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!
Today is all yours to explore as you wish. Take an optional cruise up the River Seine, head up the tower of Montparnasse for exquisite views, visit L’Opéra Garnier, the Tuileries Gardens, Place de la Concorde, Hotel de Ville, the River Seine, l’Ile de la Cite or the Louvre Museum. Get a glimpse of that most famous avenue, the Champs Elysees, overlooked by the famous Arc de Triomphe. Alternatively, why not head to the boutiques of La Marais? Or visit the graves of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison at Père Lachaise Cemetery? Those with a taste for the macabre can even descend to the infamous catacombs! Alternatively, stay above ground and explore the museums, people-watch from a roadside café, or simply stroll the city, following in the footsteps of great painters, musicians and writers.
It’s our last day already! Today we leave the mainland and cross the Channel on our way back to London. Be sure to swap details with your fellow travellers – we hope you’ve loved every minute of your Europe Jewel adventure!
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