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This 17-day trip covers Europe's most iconic countries, including Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France and Spain. Start in the heart of Italy, and gradually work your way west and north. Take a train to the renowned Jungfraujoch in the Swiss Alps. Wander around the world's smallest countries, Monaco and Vatican City. Even marvel at the official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein. With plenty of free time in cities like Barcelona, Paris and Rome, this trip is created for adventure. Please note this tour forms the second leg of our Ultimate Europe tour.
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.
Arrive in Rome, and make your way to our starting hotel where you will meet up with the rest of the tour group (click here for more information). Later, a local Roman guide will introduce you to the locations which make this city so beloved and famous, on an evening walking tour of the city. The Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Roman Forum and the Colosseum...just for starters! Whilst at the Trevi Fountain, toss a coin over your shoulder; legend has it, that you will return to Rome again one day. On the way back to our accommodation for the evening, you can start to plan what to do with your free days.
Today is a free day for you to experience Rome's ancient history, exquisite culture and delicious food - we offer an optional food tour and an optional excursion to the pope's summer residence. Later this afternoon you'll also have the opportunity to visit the Vatican City - the smallest country in the world! Inside the walls, you can visit the Sistine Chapel and see for yourself the famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo, as well as numerous other famous art pieces dotted around the buildings.
Another free day in the capital to explore as you wish. You can accompany your tour leader on an optional excursion to Pompeii, or visit the spectacular Colosseum, which offers an unbelievable feeling of drifting backwards in time, to when gladiators, chariots and lions dominated the arena. The Italians believe in taking it easy, so why not chill out at a trattoria with some tasty morsels, a cold beverage and some good conversation this evening.
This morning, travel through the Tuscan countryside and drink in the magical landscapes on the way. The next destination is the Tuscan capital, Florence. Upon arrival, head out for an orientation tour on foot. See the some of the most iconic attractions: the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and the replica of the statue of David. After the tour, find out more about Italian leather at a local leather shop. Tuscany is one of the leading areas in Italy in terms of leather production. Explore the city with free time over lunch, before we make our way to the Tuscan countryside where we'll stay tonight.
Before saying 'bonjour' to France you will spend some time visiting one of the most iconic landmarks of Italy - the Leaning Tower of Pisa! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the neighbouring cathedral, cemetery and baptistry, this 56m, 840 year old Bell tower draws millions of visitors from all over the globe, namely for one thing...To have their picture taken pretending to push the tower back up! So get creative, get into position - these snaps are always the most memorable. After a scenic drive through the last of the Italian countryside, you cross the border into France. Bonjour to the French Riviera! Having made it to the south of France, you will see one of the most picturesque strips of coast in the world, where the ocean laps the shore, and it’s holiday season all year around.
Today you will have the morning free to explore the French Riviera. This is the playground for the rich and famous - keep your eyes open for celebrities and stars whilst you are enjoying the sights! This afternoon we'll experience the glitz and glamour of the world-famous Principality of Monaco, a microstate on the southern coast of France. On our way we'll stop at a perfumery, where you'll learn more about the history and science behind these fragrances. On arrival in Monaco we'll walk to the Princes Palace, the official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, which offers amazing vistas from a viewpoint overlooking the super yachts in the harbour. We'll then take you to visit the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo, where you'll have some free time to try and win your fortune on the tables and slots (entrance fee not included).
Time to brush up on your Spanish greetings - you will need them this afternoon! As you depart Nice and get back on the road headed for Barcelona, you will make a stop in the UNESCO Heritage Site of Arles, famous for its historical buildings and links to such artists as Van Gogh (many of his paintings were inspired by this city). Don’t forget to check out the colourful houses and Roman Amphitheatre on this comfort stop. Barcelona is nearing, and you should be getting excited about exploring this cosmopolitan Spanish metropolis. Once you arrive, Expat Explore will acquaint you with its vibrant energy with a city coach tour, so you can decide where to start first on your free days. Keep your eyes open for the famous Sagrada Familia cathedral, and any of Gaudi’s spectacular examples of eclectic architecture. Then there is the lively La Ramblas - a pedestrian walk way down the middle of the city that is full of market stalls, cafes, restaurants and street entertainers, and is just brimming with life. The city comes alive at night, so, after dinner, head back into the heart of the action for some music and atmosphere.
Today is all yours to do with as you please! The best views of the city can be had from Park Guell, and you can take in the panoramic splendour and skyline of Barcelona. The park itself offers a very interesting design which is a product of Antoni Gaudi’s challenging architectural visualisations. Barcelona is home to many of Gaudi’s building designs and you could spend the whole day simply locating each one and recognising the signature design features. One of his most famous works is that of the unfinished Sagrada Familia - an interpretation of a gothic cathedral which is unlike any building you will have ever seen. You can’t miss it from Park Guell, or most other vantage points in the city. If you wish to participate in our optional excursion, we can organise tickets for you to see a traditional Flamenco show! The dance of passion is performed with style, flair and energy, and is a real experience not to be missed.
Hola! You have another free day in the Spanish city of Barcelona! Today you can make this your own, by continuing to explore the historical and cultural centres, indulge in some high end shopping and retail therapy, and much more. Football fans can use the extra day to visit Barcelona FC’s stadium - Camp Nou (there may even be a game on while you are here). Why not take advantage of the beaches and hit the shores? Ocean tours depart from the harbour and take you for a cruise up the coast to give you a unique perspective of the city. Barcelona is full of things to do, so there is no excuse not to get out and make the most of things. Fiesta, not siesta!
Adios, Barcelona! You have been wonderful! Heading back into France, continue through the French countryside, and get up close and personal with a 2000 year old Roman Built aqua duct, at Pont du Gard. Walking along it, you will notice that there are no nails, cement or mortar holding the arches together. The Pont du Gard has been an attraction for centuries, primarily based on its immaculate three tiered construction, which carried over 44 million gallons of water a day to the local townships. A very important historical site, UNESCO have included it in their heritage listing - and rightly so. Your final stop of the day will be in Avignon - also known affectionately as ‘The City of Popes’. It is an amazingly preserved, fortified city commune with a long history, stunning architecture and religious significance. Another UNESCO Heritage Site; and you will see many more during your tour. Enjoy an orientation walking tour of Avignon, which will show you the Papal Palace as well as other significant structures, and, after dinner, your evening is free to explore as you wish.
Today, you will head to Geneva - home of the United Nations and Red Cross headquarters, and then onto the spectacular Swiss Alpine region to fill your lungs with the freshest mountain air. After departing Avignon, we leave France behind in search of mountains and snow. On the way, we make a lunch stop in Geneva where you can wander the small city centre and marvel at Lake Geneva. There is also an Old Town to explore, and some great shopping to be had. Now you are mountain bound, and heading into the heart of the famous Jungfrau Region. We take you on a stunning mountain drive through the Swiss Alps, as we meander our way through rugged mountain faces, forests and Alpine lakes. Once in your mountain village, you can check in and then relax with a sunset view of the mountain peaks, and the grazing cows that are responsible for the wonderful milk that makes Swiss chocolate so amazing. After a hearty dinner, feel free to stroll the streets and breathe in that crisp, fresh air. Tomorrow will be a real highlight of your Europe tour.
Are you excited? Today is all about Swiss bliss! We have an optional excursion to blow your mind, which offers a guaranteed snow day! For 365 days of the year, Jungfraujoch is blessed with snow, and today you can visit the ‘Top of Europe’. The journey up the mountain is a highlight in itself, with unmatched views that will really make your Europe tour unforgettable. You will alight onto Europe’s highest railway station, and be able to view the 4000m glacier from un-obscured viewing platforms. The majestic combination of ice, snow, rock and epic views will stay with you for life - time to take a deep breath and have some fun! A snowball fight is a must, and for those artistic types, so is a snowman building competition. Snow angel anyone? Don’t forget those cameras... say “swiss cheeeese”! Alternatively, for those choosing to spend their free day exploring a local village, why not head to Interlaken, a short train ride away, and try a traditional fondue, pick up some Swiss souvenirs, or just enjoy a wander through the streets?
So long, Switzerland; you will depart the Jungfrau region, and savour the last of the Alpine views as you head once more for Germany. A lunch stop is scheduled for Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, and you will have time to eat, shop and see Vaduz Castle (the official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein) overlooking the city. We then travel on to Munich. Enjoy a local beer on us...Prost! At the end of an action packed day we'll continue on to our hotel in Bavaria.
This morning we board the coach once more as we make for Germany’s famous Rhine Valley! Relax on board a Rhine riverboat as we head to our hotel in the heart of the Rhine Valley. This is the most concentrated stretch of castles in all of Europe, and it also features vineyards, charming medieval towns and lofty cliffs. Learn the story of the castles, many of which are now in ruins since the river barons left long ago. Once the cruise is over we'll 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.
It’s time to leave the Rhine... but there is no sign of slowing down - there is still so much to see! Heading back towards the French border on the way to Paris, you will make a short stop in one of Europe’s smallest countries - Luxembourg. Known as a global financial and banking centre, during your stop you may wish to view the spectacular Renaissance architecture of the Grand Ducal Palace or have an early lunch in Luxembourg’s central square. We then make our way to Paris, and take 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!
Bonjour! Whether it's culture, cuisine or cruising the city you crave, Paris will not disappoint. A Seine River cruise to the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, perhaps? Maybe a visit to the Louvre to see famous artworks and paintings? Tickle the taste buds with some traditional French delicacies in the bohemian Spanish Quarter (affordable frogs legs and snails are on the menu, washed down with a nice local wine - divine!). Not forgetting, Paris Disneyland is always popular choice for the ‘young at heart’!
The last day of you European tour already? Don’t worry. It’s not over yet. After breakfast, savour the French countryside, one last time and prepare for your final crossing of the English Channel. Once you are back on UK soil you only have a short way to go to complete your Europe tour. This part of your journey is a great opportunity to swap contact details with all of your new-found Expat Explore travel companions, and tag each other in all of your photos before you arrive into London. We can’t wait for you to share your favourite snaps on our Facebook page, so we can see the highlights of your Europe experience! We hope you had the time of your life.
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