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Europe Jewel - 14 Days

Start point: London (or Amsterdam)
End point: London

DAY 1: London - Amsterdam

Welcome to the Europe Jewel tour 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.



Experiences

Amsterdam Canal Cruise - Sail along Amsterdam's stunning canals at twilight and enjoy a delicious pizza as you cruise.  A perfect introduction to Amsterdam you will cruise along Amsterdam's atmospheric canals.

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Hampton by Hilton Schipol Airport
Holiday Inn Express Schipol Airport
Park Inn Plaza Amsterdam Airport
Crowne Plaza Amsterdam Schiphol
Lake land Hotel
(View photos )

Other Foods to try

Dutch Kroket, cheese, bitterballen and pastries!

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

DAY 2: Amsterdam - Rhine Valley

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. 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.



Experiences

Visit Riekermolen Windmill: a great photo stop

Cheese and clogs demonstration – see how these famous shoes are traditionally made by hand and taste some fantastic cheeses. Of course the chance to shop and get those unique souvenirs.

Cruise down the Rhine and see the beautiful scenery and the largest concentration of gothic castles (Sterrenberg, Liebestein, Katz and Fortess Rheinfels).

Rhine Valley Wine Tasting: visit a local wine merchants in one of Germany's most famous wine growing regions, and sample several types of delicious German wine. Popular varieties from the surrounding area and neighbouring regions include Riesling, Spätburgunder and Pinot Noir. The region is also well-known for eiswein (ice wine), a very sweet dessert wine made from grapes harvested in the freezing winter months.

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Rheinlust
Ibis Bonn
Hotel Weiland
InterCity Bonn
(View photos )

Other Foods to try

The Rheingau, one of Germany's distinguished wine regions, stretches along the Rhine between Lorch and Hockenheim. Try Riesling and Eiswein.

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

DAY 3: Nuremburg - Prague

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. Arriving later in Prague, you'll discover a beautiful city, boasting elaborate baroque, gothic, art nouveau and cubist architecture, and one that rewards those who explore it with quirky bars, cobbled lanes and courtyards. This evening we'll experience authentic Czech cuisine at a local restaurant.



Experiences

Visit to Nuremberg: we take a comfort stop in this historic Bavarian city. See the medieval castle and take the chance to explore the old town. For hundreds of years this was a major city in the Holy Roman Empire, and the residence for many of Germany's kings, who often chose to store their crown jewels here. After almost complete destruction during WWII, years of painstaking reconstruction have restored many of the major buildings to their former glory.

Prague dinner: experience authentic Czech cuisine at our local restaurant on your first night in Prague, the history of this restaurant dates back hundreds of years and it is a favourite place for locals as well as our Expat Explore groups. You will also have the option to try the famous Czech Beer.

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Hotel Duo
(View photos )

Other Foods to try

Try svíčková na smetaně - a typical Czech dish consisting of beef sirloin in a cream sauce, commonly served with dumplings, cream and cranberries.

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

DAY 4: Prague

This morning a local guide will take you on a walking tour of the city, introducing you to the most popular and well-known sights, including the Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, St. Vitus Cathedral and Charles Bridge. You then have the rest of the day free to explore the city. Described by some as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Central Europe, you’ll find that Prague is just as beautiful as Rome, London and Amsterdam. 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.



Experiences

Prague walking tour: this morning a local guide will take you on a  walking tour of the capital city of the Czech Republic. See the Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, Charles Bridge, Church of Our Lady before Týn, Rudolfinum (concert hall) and a view of Prague Castle.

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Hotel Duo
Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

DAY 5: Bratislava - Budapest

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 a medieval castle overlooking the old town, along with more recent Socialist-era architecture. After enjoying an included lunch, we'll 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 the city, Budapest 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!



Experiences

Driving tour of Budapest: we meet our local guide who takes you on a driving tour of this fabulous city pointing out places of interest and imparting their local knowledge and history.  You will experience amazing views from Fisherman's Bastion, drive through the city to include a stop at Heroes Square, see Budapest Parliament, St Stephen's Basilica, the State opera, Castle District and Chain Bridge, and then drive along Andrassy Avenue.


Optional Excursions

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Ibis Styles Budapest City
Ibis Budapest Centrum
Holiday Inn Budapest-Budaors
IBIS Budapest Citysouth
(View photos )

Other Foods to try

Hungarian Goulash - a soup or stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

DAY 6: Budapest - Vienna

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!



Experiences

Walking tour of Vienna: on the drive into Vienna, Austria’s capital city, you will see the Schonbrunn Palace before reaching the Inner City and one of the best vistas from Belvedere Hill. Vienna is known as the 'City of Music’ due to its classical heritage and the prodigies that worked there including Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms to name a few as your local guide on your walking tour will tell you. The tour starts at the Golden Mile on the Ring Strasse (Parliament, City Hall, Burgtheater).Then discover the courtyards and passages around the Hofburg (Imperial Castle) and St. Stephen’s Cathedral which is Vienna’s geographic and historic centre. 


Optional Excursions

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Roomz Hotel Vienna
Lenas Donau Hotel
Courtyard by Marriott Wien Schönbrunn
Jufa Hotel Wien

Other Foods to try

Schnitzel - a boneless meat, thinned with a meat tenderizer, coated with flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs, and then fried. Similar to the French dish escalope, it is typically made from chicken, beef, turkey or pork.

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

DAY 7: Graz - Ljubljana

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 capital 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. We’ll take a walking tour of the city with a local guide to soak it all in.



Experiences

Comfort stop in Graz: we take a comfort stop in this beautiful city, a UNESCO listed World Cultural Heritage Site. You have a chance to visit the old town and see the Rathaus (town hall) and Schloßberg, a hill dominating the old town with amazing views of the city. 

Walking tour of Ljubljana: your local guide will take you on a walking tour of this city, the capital of Slovenia where you will see the medieval old town, Preseren Square, City Centre, the Riverfront, Dragon Bridge and Cobblers Bridge.  In your free time you may wish to see St. Nicholas Church built in the 13th century to honour St. Nicholas, patron of fishermen and boatmen and the present structure dates from 1701 and is a fine example of Baroque architecture. 


Optional Excursions

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Hotel Park Ljubljana
M Hotel
(View photos )

Other Foods to try

Visit a "gostilna" restaurant, a traditional place to enjoy good food and wine in good company. Often serving dishes prepared to old recipes using local ingredients.

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

DAY 8: Ljubljana - Venice

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 - don't miss the opportunity to take a gondola and water taxi to explore Venice from the water.



Experiences

Orientation tour of Venice: your tour leader will take you into the heart of this unique  floating city for an orientation to help you explore and see St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Museum, Campanile, Doge’s Palace, Rialto Market and Scuola Grande di San Rocco.


Optional Excursions

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Elite Residence Hotel
NH Laguna Palace
Hotel Complex Ambasciatori & Delfino
Hotel Venezia
(View photos )

Other Foods to try

Pizza. Thin, crispy, fresh basil and delicious toppings!

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

DAY 9: Florence - Tuscany

Although we leave Venice today, ahead of us are the hills of Tuscany – marvel at the countryside as we head for Florence. On arrival we’ll get a fabulous panoramic view of the city from Piazzale Michelangelo, then take a fascinating walking tour of the city with a local guide. Learn about the history of the city and see historical landmarks dating from Roman times to the glory days of the Renaissance. After exploring, we make our way to the Tuscan countryside, where we spend the night.



Experiences

Walking Tour of Florence: the capital city of the Tuscan region of Italy and considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance.   We will take you on a walking tour with a professional local guide where you will see Florence's Baptistery, Bell Tower, Gates of Paradise, Brunelleschi's Dome, Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio.


Optional Excursions

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Hotel Massimo d'Azeglio
Hotel Meridiana Florence
(View photos )

Other Foods to try

Lampredotto is a Florence street food, consisting of the fourth stomach of the cow cooked in a broth and then served with salsa verde or/and spicy sauce.

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

DAY 10: Pisa - Swiss Alps

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 greenery around you.



Experiences

View the Leaning Tower of Pisa: your chance to see the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, or even take some iconic pictures of you ‘holding up’ the tower.

Scenic Mountain Drive: spectacular views as we drive through mountain passes and alongside lakes, breath-taking mountain vistas and scenic views of quaint Swiss towns.

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Alpenrose Hotel & Gardens
Swiss Youth Hostel Interlaken
Hotel Baren Ringgenberg
Hotel Schonbhul
Hotel City Oberland
Das Hotel Sherlock Holmes
(View photos )

Other Foods to try

Cheese fondue - dip bread and meat into a pot of delicous melted cheese.

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
DAY 11: Swiss Alps - Free day

The splendour of the Alps is yours today – don’t miss the chance to join our optional excursion up to Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe! The trip to the top is a real highlight; you might find yourself pressed up against the windows as the picture-perfect Swiss countryside rolls beneath you. Look out for quaint villages nestled in the valleys beneath snow-capped peaks and tumbling mountain waterfalls. Once we’ve reached the top, enjoy the year-round snow and breathtaking views of the surrounding glaciers and craggy mountaintops. Once you’ve had a chance to explore and capture as many photos as possible, it’s back down to lower altitudes for the rest of the afternoon. Take the chance to head into nearby Interlaken to see the lakes of the region, shop for chocolates and cuckoo clocks, or have a fondue!

Attractions to discover in your free time
Optional Excursions

DAY 12: Swiss Alps - Paris

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!



Experiences

Driving Tour of Paris: we’ll take a driving tour of this famous city when you arrive. Look out for L’Opéra Garnier, the Tuileries Gardens, Place de la Concorde, Hotel de Ville, The River Seine, l'Ile de la Cite, the Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Lovers Bridge, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Pigalle (the Red Light District) and the Moulin Rouge!

Accommodation A selection of the accommodation we stay at in this destination.

Ibis la Defense
B&B Porte Des Lilas
B&B Paris Malakof
Ibis Paris La Villette Cité des Sciences
B&B Paris Italie Porte de Choisy
B&B Hôtel Orly Chevilly
(View photos )

Other Foods to try

It's not all fine dining - visit a boulangerie (bakery) and try simple but delicious baguette, croisants and Jambon-beurre sandwiches.

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
DAY 13: Paris - Free day

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.

Attractions to discover in your free time
Optional Excursions

DAY 14: Paris - London

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!



Experiences

You arrive back in London late afternoon - by this point you will have enjoyed 14 incredible days exploring the very best of Europe!

Other Foods to try

As we depart for London, make sure you have bought all the favourite foods you have tried during your tour to bring back to friends and family!

Extra Information
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner