The essentials of a European vacation comprise gorgeous architecture, sensational history, and exquisite art that allow you to experience cultural splendor while you discover the best of France, Italy, and Greece. Enjoy 12 days of custom-tailored exploration, which reveals the layers of ancient Rome and the vistas from the Acropolis in Athens. Embrace the embellishments of royalty at Versailles and traverse the quiet streets of an island fishing village in the Venetian Lagoon. Relish stories of...
Paris – Arrive in Paris with a Fabulous Introduction to the City of Lights
Paris has a reputation for lovers and writers, romantics and travelers passionate about art. There will be tangible pleasures spread across the Left Bank of the River Seine that leads up to the shining white dome of Sacré-Coeur topping Montmartre. Your private transfer will greet you upon your arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport, and escort you to a luxurious hotel at the heart of bustling City of Lights. The scent of fresh, delectable chocolates emanates from the local confectionary before you make your way through the city on a guided tour that introduces you to the stunning monuments for which Paris is known. Notre-Dame de Paris makes a dramatic impression in the skyline of the Ile-de-la-Cité reaching nearly 230 feet tall.
The French Gothic architecture contains hidden details that add layers to the grand design. The flying buttresses created much-needed support for the heavy, soaring structure but also crafted an elaborate archway on the exterior. The foundations began in the 12th century with the entire cathedral taking nearly 200 years to complete. This accounts for the mixture of styles that guide your eye eventually to the grotesque figures of the gargoyles on the balcony. The leading theory about their stylistic aesthetic regards their ability to ward off evil spirits, however, a number of gargoyles were also crafted as rainwater drains. The interior hosts an array of spice aromas, which derives from burning frankincense and myrrh. The light filters through the three stunning Rose Windows alight with color.
Paris – Delight in a Guided Tour of the Louvre Museum’s Famous Artwork
In the morning, the light washes over the city once more to reveal the staggering beauty of the Eiffel Tower, which soars above the grassy field of the Champs de Mars. Locals and tourists wander around the lanes of the Left Bank, home to the Sorbonne University, which once attracted scholars from around Europe. After breakfast, you visit the Louvre Museum and meet your guide in front of the 20th century glass pyramid marking the gallery entrance. The Louvre was first built as a defensive fortress in the 12th century before it became a palace for the French monarchs by the 14th century. The current museum encompasses 782,910 square feet displaying 380,000 objects that range from prehistory to the 21st century.
The fantastic collection displayed across eight curatorial departments is almost overwhelming in its showcase of historical aesthetic, the evolution of art, and the combination of popular and overlooked masterpieces scattered across the galleries. You reach the painting by Georges de la Tour, known as The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds. The French masterpiece depicts four people playing cards around a table. The moment frozen in time shows a card shark about to dupe a flamboyantly dressed young man in a feathered cap. It feels as though the cheat is breaking the fourth wall as he conspires with the viewer of the painting while the servant provides a side-glance to the card shark.
Paris – Explore the Lavish Halls and Gardens of the Palace of Versailles
At breakfast, the aroma of frothy cappuccino combines with the scent of decadent chocolate, which emanates from the patisseries serving freshly baked pastries in the morning. You depart from your hotel early to reach the gates of the opulent Palace of Versailles. The former hunting chateau turned luxurious royal residence was designed to dazzle visitors and members of the French court. The idyllic setting amid the country backdrop accentuated the decorative pomp emanating from the gilded details. The palatial complex became the official seat of political power in France in 1682.
You walk through the exuberant Hall of Mirrors, and pass the 300 mirror segments that create a dramatic reflection of the light as it pours in through the windows amid gilded statues and shimmering chandeliers that lead to the royal apartments. The King’s Grand Apartments include the reception rooms named for classical deities, such as the Salon d’Hercule. The room features a painting by François Lemoyne draped across the ceiling featuring The Triumph of Hercules. The work was crafted in the 18th century and shows Hercules rising to the rank of the gods amid his father Jupiter. The gardens on the chateau contain masterworks of landscaping with perfectly trimmed shrubbery, tidy lawns, and geometric patterns that highlights how the architect could manipulate the surrounding nature. Pools, blossoming flowers, and elaborate fountains adorn the garden’s 1,976 acres.
Rome – Travel to Rome for a Tour of the City’s Classical Monuments
The streets around the Latin Quarter are quiet in the morning. The tranquility reveals the true beauty of the Panthéon, the mausoleum that hosts the tombs of France’s most prominent citizens. The 18 Corinthian columns betray the neoclassical design of the structure erected in 1790, inspired by the classical temples of ancient Greece. Figures like Emile Zola and Victor Hugo, as well as Voltaire and Rousseau are buried inside the monstrous structure. After breakfast, your private transfer will escort you to the airport for your flight to Rome.
You land at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and travel by private escort to the comforts of your hotel in the heart of the ancient city center. Rome bustles with activity blending the ancient, medieval, and contemporary history into the movement of daily life. Enthusiasts and locals refer to Rome as the Eternal City, forever changing with the rise of new generations while it showcases how the past has recycled the architecture in the form of churches utilizing marble from ancient structures. You follow your guide to the remarkable walls of the Colosseum for a half-day excursion into the Roman Republic and Empire. This tour will span the famous amphitheater and Roman Forum.
The Colosseum remains one of Rome’s most iconic structures with outer walls reaching nearly 158 feet tall and foundations dating back to the 1st century AD. In the past, the interior could hold up to 50,000 spectators. You look down into the center stage of the amphitheater to find the walls of a labyrinth that leads two-stories underground. The Hypogeum was once covered over by wood and sand hosting a series of tunnels and rooms in which gladiators trained.
Rome – Enjoy a Full Day at the Vatican Museums and Rome’s Highlights
The morning air in Rome fills with the scent of roasted coffee beans and fresh espresso. The aroma fades beneath the sweet herbaceous fragrance of fresh flowers that fill the markets and corner stalls. You reach the elaborate design of Piazza St. Peter early and meet your guide beside the historic obelisk at the center of the public square. The remarkable dome of St. Peter’s Basilica overlooks the piazza at a height of nearly 450 feet. Four rows of Doric columns create semicircular colonnades, which encircle the giant ellipses, acting as a funnel for visitors walking into the basilica.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed the colonnades deliberately to represent the arms of the church welcoming pilgrims. The obelisk was brought to the city during the reign of Caligula and represents the historical connection between Rome and Egypt. Before entering the museums, you visit the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica. The building was erected in the 17th century atop an older 4th-century church. The lavish interior contains masterworks of art and architecture ranging from Bernini’s stupendous baldachin that hovers over the papal altar to Michelangelo’s celebrated Pietà.
The renowned sculptor created the piece when he was 24 years old. He used remarkable detail to create a realistic effect that depicts Mary holding Jesus after the crucifixion. After exploring the wonders of the Vatican Museums, you discover the tremendous history on display in Rome’s open-air galleries that lead you to the famous Trevi Fountain. The 17th-century work of art has been immortalized in film, literature, and artworks. The façade hides the 1st century BC Roman aqueduct with elaborate images of Oceanus surrounded by horses, tritons, and shells.
Florence – Traverse the City and Grand Renaissance Art of the Uffizi Gallery
The early hours of the morning provide a profound quiet around the forecourt of the Pantheon, an ancient symbol for resisting the effects of time. The magnificent structure was erected in the 1st century AD over a previous temple damaged by fire. The extraordinary dome reaches 141 feet above the surrounding cobblestone streets with an interior that reflects the importance of the structure throughout the millennia. The structure has hosted iconic figures from deities to famous Italians like Victor Emanuel II, the First King of a United Italy. You travel by fast train to Florence after breakfast. Discover a city frozen in time between the medieval and Renaissance eras capped by the masterpiece of the Duomo’s dome, the largest unreinforced brick dome in the world.
The Uffizi Gallery was originally commissioned as the offices of the magistrate under the rule of Cosimo I de’ Medici in the 16th century. The inner courtyard acts as a long narrow passage with an open Doric screen that looks out to the Arno River. The museum hosts one of the world’s most impressive and important collections of Western art between the 14th and 18th centuries. The rooms are organized by artistic era as it displays contemporary artists and artwork side-by-side to reveal the evolution of the masters over time. The Portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero della Francesca in the 15th century represent an expressive movement toward realistic authenticity by not flattering the subjects and instead including the aquiline nose, wrinkles, and thin lips.
Venice – Train to Venice to Discover the Grandeur of St. Mark’s Square
The daunting figure of Dante Alighieri stands watch over the Piazza Santa Croce beside the entrance to the eponymous basilica. The interior contains artistic charms of Donatello, Bardi, Peruzzi, and Gitto, as well as the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. You will have a private escort to the train station where you board the scenic fast train bound for Venice. The fascinating city on the lagoon becomes a labyrinth of fabulous surprises beginning with the famous winding waterway of the Grand Canal.
Marble palaces, sensational churches, and marvelous bridges decorate the cobbled lanes that link the 118 separate islands to create the single cityscape divided into six sestieri. Your guide will greet you in the lobby of the luxury hotel eager to lead you through the gorgeous history of Venice at St. Mark’s Square. The bell tower was erected in the 16th century to accompany the bulbous Byzantine domes of St. Mark’s Basilica. A gilded weathervane crowns the bell tower at nearly 325 feet tall.
The religious complex broke ground in the 11th century decorated with 500 columns cast from rare marble and stone, as well as sensational gold mosaics spanning 45,639 square feet. The porch and gallery contain open vaulting, which dates back to the 16th century. The mosaics leading right to left depict stories from the Bible including the tales of Creation, Noah’s Ark, and the Tower of Babel. The interior contains huge pillars that support the five large domes. There are also 16 windows that flood the ceiling and walls with natural light, which glints against the treasured golden mosaics, gold leaf, and tiny colored glass pieces.
Venice – Relish a Day of Exploration on the Islands in the Venetian Lagoon
The Venetian Lagoon encompasses over 212 square miles with countless islands connected to the history of Venice and the Venetian Republic. Today, you will set out onto the waters of the Grand Canal early. Travel down more than two miles of winding, wide passageways to reach the lagoon’s more open waters. The Renaissance marble façade of Palazzo Corner della Ca’ Grande highlights the elaborate designs of master architects and the stately styles of aristocratic families who desired to impress their communities.
You reach the island of Burano, which houses a quaint fishing village accentuated by the vibrantly painted homes. Women historically wove lace goods while waiting for their husbands, sons, or fathers to return from the open sea each day. The Scuola dei Merletti, Lace School, hosts a small museum dedicated to the craft of lace-making, and classes for those interested in learning the fine skill of weaving together lacework. After the initial shock of the fascinating colors, Burano welcomes you with a quiet allure hidden by pea-green, hot-pink, and royal-blue houses.
A bridge spanning nearly 170 feet long connects Burano with the neighboring island of Mazzorbo. While small, settlements on the historic island date back to the 7th century AD with few treasured ruins reflecting the island’s golden age in the 13th to 14th centuries. Vineyards and orchards juxtapose the cobblestones, marble, and waterways of Venice’s main island. The fields lead to rows of private houses and a gothic villa once owned by famous Venetian resident Giacomo Casanova.
Athens – Fly to Athens to Discover the Preserved Ancient Acropolis
The past looms large in Athens. This city is a constant symbol of Western Civilization with a heritage that dates back more than 3,000 years. The cultural attractions merge with daily life as the winding 19th-century streets on the outskirts of the ancient city remain in view of the renowned Acropolis. Byzantine churches and neighborhoods with village-like ambiance accentuate the charms of the city in the shadow of the rich past. After your flight lands at Athens International Airport, your private transfer escorts you to the center of the contemporary city, which offers spectacular views to the looming image of the Parthenon.
Set out on a Greek epic with your guide as you traverse the ancient neighborhood of the Plaka en route to the top of the Acropolis. The Plaka provides a picturesque image of ancient life in Greece with cheerful plazas and houses colored with pastel paints and trimmed, blossoming bougainvillea. Local restaurants fill the air with the aromas of slow-cooked lamb, roasted vegetables, and the sweet flavors of honey-soaked baklava. You continue up the hill to the Propylaia, the entrance gate to the Acropolis that was erected in the 5th century BC. A deep portico on the west hosts Ionic columns while six Doric columns decorate the portico.
You enter the plateau and find the stoic Parthenon overlooking modern Athens. The structure was erected between the 5th and 4th centuries BC to celebrate the cult of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare, as well as the guardian of the city. Exactly 136 Doric columns supported the structure in decorative rows. The design generated a sense of harmony, which was highlighted by the optical illusion of a perfectly balanced structure from the narrowing dimensions of each column from bottom to top. Your guide points out the intricate image of the Birth of Athena from the head of Zeus located on the east end of the pediment.
Athens – Experience a Full Day of Ancient Greece Visiting Delphi
Mount Olympus may have been the home of the Gods in Ancient Greece, but Delphi acted as the center of the world as it drew pilgrims from across the far reaches of Greece eager to visit the Sanctuary of Apollo. You leave Athens early in the morning to reach the stunning village of Delphi, situated on a mountainside at 1,837 feet above sea level. The cliffs plunge to the base of Mount Parnassus and overlook the coastal plains and valley of Phocis. Traditions accounted for the construction of four temples that date back to the 6th century BC. The structures are documented by the poets Pindar and Pausanias, as well as the Homeric Hymn to Apollo.
The first temple was constructed out of olive branches and the second out of bees’ wax. Walk along the Sacred Way, a route that leads to the entrance of the Temple of Apollo. Votives once lined the walkway connecting the religious monuments to various Greek cities, which reflected both the diversity and political importance of Delphi in Ancient Greece. Many of the votive bases have survived time amid the sporadic standing columns. The Temple of Apollo retains the foundations of the original structure as well as Doric columns, which date back to the fourth century BC.
You can see the point at which the Pythia, or high priestess, would voice the words of the famous Oracle at Delphi whose messages derived from the god Apollo. A refurbished Doric temple known as the Treasury of the Athenians was initially erected in the 6th century BC with marble for the island of Paros. It was rebuilt in the early 20th century and retains copies of the fabulous frieze, the original of which is not located in the Delphi Museum.
Athens – Enjoy a Mediterranean Day Cruise to Aegina, Poros, and Hydra
The Mediterranean light washes over the neighborhood of Psiri in the morning. It reveals the antique homes and neoclassical buildings that host trendy bars and charming boutique shops. The aroma of Greek coffee emanates from picturesque taverns and the cozy cafes scattered around the narrow streets. You reach Athens’ port and board a large boat bound for the famous islands of the Aegean Sea. You step onto the quiet streets of Hydra, a gem on the Saronic Gulf free of cars and zipping scooters. Marble shapes the cobbled lanes and donkeys carry visitors around the jumble of hills, rocks, and seaside cliffs amid exquisite architecture preserved in the form of stone mansions and picturesque churches.
Lazaros Koundouriotis Historical Mansion has an ochre exterior, which stands high above the wading boats that decorate the harbor. The mansion helped move forward Greece’s struggle for independence and features remarkable 18th-century architecture with original furnishings, handcrafts, and clothing on display. On Poros, you find homes decorated with bright pastel hues and a clock tower crowning the hillside before you reach the gorgeous scenery of Aegina. You move beyond the port to find the welcoming, sleepy ambiance of a typical Greek island known for its own blend of delicious cuisine that stems for vibrant pistachio orchards, ancient and Byzantine ruins, and lively weekends consisting Athenians absconding to the nearby islands for the weekend.
More than 30 Byzantine churches punctuate the history of the rocky heights along a remote citadel hosting the refurbished ancient town of Paleohora. The town acted as the island’s capital from the 9th century to the medieval era before it was eventually abandoned in the 1820s. The town contrasts the preserved remains of the Temple of Aphaia, which stands out from the hill covered in pine trees overlooking the Saronic Gulf. The structure was erected in the 5th century BC to celebrate a local pre-Hellenistic deity. The pediments once contained sculptures that depict the stories of the Trojan War.
Athens – Depart for Home
The neighborhood of Anafiotika in Athens reflects the vibrant architecture of the Cyclidic islands that shine with small, whitewashed walls and blue trim. The neighborhood dates back to the 19th century. Many islanders fled to Greece’s largest city for work to erect the Royal Palace of King Otto, the first king of a united Greece. At breakfast, the aroma of sweet local pastries blends with the rich scent of Greek coffee. Your private transfer will greet you in the hotel lobby when you are ready, and escort you to Athens International Airport for your flight home.
- Wander the marvelous halls and galleries of the Louvre Museum in Paris for insight into the stunning artistic history of European masters
- Witness the exceptional feats of engineering undertaken by the Roman Empire when visiting while you tour the Colosseum in Rome
- Explore the cradle of Western Civilization during a guided tour of the Athenian Acropolis to view the iconic Parthenon up-close
- Follow the evolution of Western European art from the medieval period to the 19th century when visiting you visit the tremendous works in the Uffizi Gallery
- Discover the exuberant opulence of the Palace of Versailles emanating that emanates from the frescoes, royal apartments, and vast lavish gardens
- Indulge in the elaborate history of ancient Greek folklore and captivating cults on a tour of Delphi, home to the infamous Oracle of the Apollo Temple
- Enjoy the island charm of the Aegean Sea on a day cruise unveiling that unveils the soaring cliffs, azure waters, and preserved ancient history of Greece’s Islands
- Embrace the iconic images of Venice when traversing while you traverse St. Mark’s Square and the exceptional gilded mosaics enveloping that envelope the grand basilica
- View the sensational artwork on display in the Vatican Museums including the Michelangelo’s magnificent pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica
The influence of Western Europe will take your breath away as you experience the best of France, Italy, and Greece. This personalized tour blends fascinating history, remarkable culture, and comfortable luxury. Discover some of Western Europe’s highlights on this exquisite journey that begins in Paris. The capital of France is home to iconic architecture and specific heritage that embodies the greater customs of the country. Artwork, confections, architecture, and café culture standout as quintessential traditions that add to the image of glamor. The different districts of Paris feel like secluded villages, which create the greater entirety of the city.
Your stay in Paris will be the perfect balance of private and public exploration that takes you from the grandeur of Notre-Dame de Paris to the emblematic Eiffel Tower. Witness the ways artists have expressed their feelings throughout your time inside the Louvre Museum with classical to more contemporary forms of artwork. At Versailles, you wander through the opulence representative of the French kings who ruled their subjects from a distance as they created lavish apartments and divine gardens before traveling to Rome.
Then, you will journey to Rome, which offers the perfect introduction to Italy’s renowned history. This city is the cradle of Western Civilization, a commitment to artistry in all forms, and the intricate creations that continue to inspire visitors from around the world. Witness the stunning architecture of the Colosseum and scattered ruins of the Roman Forum. Wander the halls of the Vatican Museum to see works by Raphael and Michelangelo, as well as Michelangelo’s Pietà on display inside St. Peter’s Basilica. In Florence, you will discover the treasures of the city’s open-air galleries that hosts the Duomo, Piazza Signoria, and Piazza Santa Croce. Inside the Uffizi Gallery you will find masterworks by da Vinci and Botticelli before continuing to Venice.
Venice and the surrounding lagoon possess an indelible allure embodied in the various islands, canals, marble palaces, and illustrious legends of the Republic. There will be ample time to visit the gilded interior of St. Mark’s Basilica and the hidden rooms of the Doge’s Palace. Venture outside of Venice and into the lagoon to visit the charming islands of Burano, the neighboring island of Mazzorbo, and the famous island of Murano, known for a long history of artisan glass-blowers.
The final stretch of your highlights tour brings you to Athens, Greece. The city and greater Greece are renowned for having given rise to the Western World with the creation of western philosophy, art, architecture, a written language, and exploration crossing the Mediterranean Sea. View the stunning Acropolis in Athens, home to the sensational Parthenon and collection of preserved temples. Travel to Delphi, where the Oracle brought pilgrims from across the ancient world in search of advice or their futures foretold. Relish a full day cruising the Aegean Sea to discover the combination of ancient history, Byzantine charms, gorgeous beaches, and exquisite coastal hillside views on the islands of Aegina, Poros, and Hydra, whose charisma may have you wanting to stay longer than expected.
To gain more ideas for your perfect France, Italy and Greece itinerary, take a look at our France, Italy, and Greece page.
$3,187 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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