European Explorer: Spain, France & Italy Itinerary

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Total Trip:

14 Days
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Countries Visited:

Spain, France, Italy, Vatican City
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Places Visited:

Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, Paris, Versailles, Venice, Florence, Tuscany, Pisa, Rome
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Dream of Europe and so many of the iconic experiences are found on this first-timers tour to Spain, France, and Italy. Visit Gaudi’s Barcelona, Michelangelo’s Florence, El Greco’s Toledo, the canals of Venice. Walk along the Parisian neighborhoods, eat tapas in Madrid plazas, and learn about history in Ancient Rome and Vatican City. Handcrafted to minimize travel time and maximize time spent in legendary destinations, this luxury tour shows you the sights and immerses you in all the ambiance. 

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Customizable Itinerary

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Day 1

Madrid – Europe’s Most Relaxed Capital

Madrid doesn’t really feel like a capital city. In its pedestrianized heart, you hear chatter from al fresco cafe terraces. All around its plazas you smell coffee and cooking, not exhaust fumes. Even though evenings can be lively, it’s not a city that never sleeps, more of a city that enjoys itself and later sneaks off to bed at midnight. Of all the destinations on this vacation, Madrid is the most relaxed. Meet a guide at the airport, transfer to a central hotel, and take some time to rest and refresh. The guide takes you on a two-hour walking tour of Central Madrid, adjusting you to a European rhythm. Soak up the atmosphere and get your bearings, then the guide can suggest many potential places for a relaxed dinner.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 2

Madrid – El Greco in Toledo and Tapas in Madrid

After a leisurely breakfast, you join the guide on a trip to Toledo, a medieval city of towering spires and hilly cobbled streets. The artist El Greco is a lens from which to explore, his most majestic works found inside this old World Heritage city where he is laid to rest. Hop between the churches, admiring the fabulous mosaics and gold within. Stop for coffee on a plaza that’s half in a cathedral’s shadow. Witness how Christian, Jewish, and Islamic heritage has always lived side by side. Then return to Madrid and get yourself ready for an evening tapas tour. Hopping between small bars, you taste delicacies from all across Spain – like an octopus from Galicia and paella from Valencia – each dish a perfect size to try and share.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Barcelona – Iconic Gaudi and Barcelona Sunset

Whizzing to Barcelona on the train, you realize the isolation that Madrid enjoys, the capital city surrounded by ochre landscapes of farmland and desert shrub. You’re soon on the coast, touring the Catalan capital with a local guide, using Antoni Gaudi as the focal point. First see the cathedral, La Sagrada Familia still unfinished after a century of construction. Then discover flamboyant townhouses in an upmarket neighborhood. Now move across the city to Park Guell, where mosaic serpents juxtapose with twisted trees and city serenity. The sunset is wonderful from here as you look down on Barcelona and across to the Mediterranean. That evening there are new flavors, Catalan coastal cuisine quite different from what you will have tried in Madrid.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Barcelona – Montserrat Choir Song and Relaxing in Barcelona

Choir song rings out through an arresting monastery, just like it has done for centuries. It gives praise to the Virgin of Montserrat and provides a harmonic tranquility to a busy tour. From this World Heritage monastery, you ascend the mountain by cable car for views across Catalonia and beyond. It’s amazing how wild this place feels, barely 30 miles from Barcelona. Back by the coast in the afternoon, you have some free time to discover Barcelona. Visit the art museums, head to the beach, or walk the famous Rambla. In Barrio Gothic, you find Roman history turned to boutique shops, while at Montjuic you find a castle that looks down on the entire city. As with all nights on this tour, the choice of restaurants is superlative.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Paris – Exploring Parisian Neighborhoods

Fly to Paris this morning, and immerse yourself in local neighborhoods. The Eiffel Tower can wait. First, you must get a sense of the smells and sounds. You must taste the history and wander past street musicians. This is where Paris’s charm is most apparent, inside the neighborhoods that haven’t changed for centuries. With a local guide, you first hit Saint Germain, a place along the river where macarons were born, and you taste chocolate with a chocolatier. Ile de la Cite is like a living museum on an island in the river, flanked by Notre-Dame Cathedral and Sainte Chapelle. Out on the hills of Montmartre, you follow the story of Van Gogh and the Impressionists. When you hit the bed this evening, you’ll have a wonderful impression of what makes Paris tick.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Paris – Discovering Versailles and a French Bistro Experience

Coffee on a terrace as church bells chime in the distance. That’s a morning experience in Paris. One that’s followed by the train to Versailles and one of the grandest palaces ever built. Step behind the red rope on a behind-the-scenes tour that explores various royal apartments and rooms. Priceless art hangs from the corridors, ostentatious tastes are visible all around, and the palace’s gardens help bring you down from the glitz and glamor. Back in Paris, you enjoy a tutored French culinary experience. Pair wines with cheeses and meats from across the country, exploring regional specialties that continue to be kept secret. There are so many delicacies to try and each has its own historical story.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Paris – Free Day in Paris

This free day in Paris is left to your own imagination. In a city with so many iconic sights, it’s impossible to completely prescribe where to go. For some, it’s the Eiffel Tower and shopping on the Champs-Elysee. For others, it’s art in the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay. Those who like to wander can walk the River Seine, stopping off at cafes and bridges. Those who want to rest will find many beautiful places to relax. While this is a city with countless postcards, it’s also one of simple pleasures. A free day in Paris means exploring without a map or a plan, stopping to admire anything that is stumbled upon.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 8

Venice – A Gondola Tour of the City of Canals

Fly to Venice, and within an hour of landing, you’re on the canals with a gondolier pushing you towards a boutique hotel on the water. This is a city with two sides and today is packed with sights, although journeys on the water always provide a tranquility to the day. In the afternoon, you go sailing, wind power taking you to the Venetian islands of Burano, Torcello, and Murano. There are fishermen’s houses, famous colored glass, a cathedral of mosaics, and you have lunch overlooking the water. This evening you discover Venice on a private gondola, city lights slowly turning on as you cruise slowly down the canals. It’s from the water that Venice really comes alive and dusk is the most romantic time to be exploring.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 9

Florence – Michaelangelo and So Much More

Admire rural landscapes on the train to Florence, colors flowing past the window before the train rumbles into a city of countless domes. Florence is where you find Michelangelo’s David, gazing towards Rome. It’s where you find superb works by Raphael and others. It’s the city of Renaissance, a city that forever influenced the rest of Europe. Meet a local guide and get to know Florentine secrets, a city walking tour revealing piazzas and palazzos, proud monuments and precious artistic flourishes. This is a city that has feeling and when dusk arrives the locals head out on their evening walk. It’s a wonderful time of day to sit back and watch Italy unfold, or to join a slow amble through 16th-century streets.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 10

Florence – Day Trip to Pisa and Tuscan Vineyards

Tuscany extends before your eyes, villages clinging to hilltops as vineyards tumble across the hills. Is there a more beautiful setting anywhere in Europe? One of those hilltop establishments is Pisa, a medieval city with a leaning tower as a compass point. Visit before the tour bus crowds and get to know the real Pisa, then escape to the Chianti vineyards for lunch and an afternoon of wine tasting. Back in Florence, the evening is free, a time for drifting off beneath the church domes and continuing your immersion in a city that is mostly unchanged by tourism.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 11

Rome – Free Day In Rome

Now Rome, the oldest of Europe’s major cities, and some would say the grandest of them all. Most of Central Rome was built before vehicles, so you have a large pedestrianized area to explore at your leisure. There is the Colosseum, there is the Trevi Fountain, there are the Spanish Steps and it seems everywhere you turn there’s a place from travel dreams. The ancient part of Rome is easy to get around so this day is left free, giving you chance to make your own impressions and ideas on the past. Into the evening and you might consider Trastevere, a cobbled neighborhood with some fantastic local restaurants. To get back to the hotel you can travel by horse and carriage, a time-honored journey.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 12

Rome – Expertly Guided Tour of Vatican Museums

St Peter’s Square beckons, so many columns rising around you as the heart of the Catholic church looks down. Travel inside the Vatican City and its riches are revealed, a private tour taking you past the queues and beyond the ropes. Welcome to a world of priceless art, where Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is just the start of the treasures. Explore Raphael’s rooms, find superlative sculptures, listen to how the bells ring and sense the importance of where you are. Returning to the heart of Rome you have another leisurely evening in Italy. By now you’ll be tuned into the rhythm of the urban outdoors, where life is lived on al fresco terraces and historic lanes.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 13

Rome – Traveling Back To Ancient Rome

For this final day in Italy, you go in search of where so much began, a local historian leading your private tour through the heart of the empire. Visit the Colosseum and see how it has changed through the centuries. Travel to the coast and an old city in an evocative state of ruin. Go in search of demigods, who stand statuesque and link Rome to Athens. Go beyond the postcards and dispel the myths. Come to appreciate how the ground you walk on has given so much to the rest of the world. When you rest, enjoy espresso, pizza, perhaps a limoncello. As you dine on a piazza, you reflect on where you have been and the wonders you have encountered over these two weeks.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 14

Rome – Departure

It’s a leisurely start today before a private airport transfer and your outbound flight.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Wander through the streets of Paris and get to know its different neighborhoods
  • Discover that Gaudi is just one highlight in Barcelona
  • Sail to Venice’s islands and take a gondola ride through the City of Canals
  • Immerse yourself in Tuscany, from Chianti vineyards to Renaissance Florence
  • Relax in Madrid, a timeless and enchanting capital that’s perfect for easing you into the vacation
  • Celebrate the history with three days in Rome, from the Vatican Museums to the Colosseum and so much more
  • Spend a day in medieval Toledo, take an excursion to Versailles, enjoy a stop at Pisa, and hear the choir song in Montserrat
  • Taste the local cuisine with a tapas crawl in Madrid and a French bistro tasting experience in Paris
  • Travel between destinations is quick and efficient, either by high-speed first-class rail or direct flights
  • Expert local guides illuminate their cities, taking you beyond the famous postcards 
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Detailed Description

Dream of Europe and countless images come to mind. Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Rome’s Colosseum and St Peter’s Square in the Vatican. The canals of Venice and the domes of Florence. You will visit cobbled streets, elegant plazas, grand old palaces, and all the art museums. Europe wasn’t built in two weeks, but you can explore the grand highlights of Spain, France, and Italy in that time. That’s what this handcrafted tour has been designed to do.

You will see the sights, but there are more than just sights in these old cities. There is feeling. There is an atmosphere. There is a sense of walking through history while inhaling the smells of today. You wake up in the heart of old neighborhoods, within footsteps of grand landmarks. At a glance, there aren’t many surprises on this handcrafted route. Local experts guide you through their cities; they reveal so much more than what adorns the postcards. The route has been tailored to minimize travel time, with high-speed rail travel connecting some destinations, something that helps show you more of the country from a first-class carriage window. Direct international flights connect the countries – touch down and it’s amazing how everything changes from Spain to France to Italy.

Start in Spain and Europe’s most laid-back capital city, Madrid. Walk the cobbled streets, sip drinks on the plazas, indulge all those old European dreams. With two nights, you have time to explore slowly, and time for a half-day trip to nearby Toledo, one of the continent’s great medieval cities. Tapas is also on the program here, hopping between bars in an artistic neighborhood. Then it’s two nights in Barcelona, allowing half a day to explore Gaudi’s legacy, half a day to visit Montserrat and hear the choir song, then half a day to relax by the coast and really soak up Catalonia.

Flying to Paris, you have several nights in the City of Lights. To discover Paris, you must first explore the neighborhoods, not the monuments. Go chocolate tasting in Saint Germain, relive Impressionism in Montmartre, feel the history in Ile de la Cite, and walk along the River Seine. That’s all for your first day. The next day in Paris, you venture out to Versailles and its legendary palace, before a bistro food experience back in the city. Your third day in Paris is left free, a time to go visit those monuments you dream of.

Fly to Venice and one day is enough to get a good feel for the city. Sail to different Venetian islands during the day, then spend the evening on a gondola ride through the city. Next up it’s Florence, another city that’s quick to impress a laid-back rhythm. Discover its art – Michelangelo’s David is just the start – then relax at a piazza with an espresso in hand. Two nights means you can spend the second day exploring more of Florence, with wine tasting at Chianti vineyards and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Then it’s onwards by train to Rome and three days in the Eternal City. From art to gladiators to small, simple pleasures the Italian capital is an enigmatic place to finish this tour of classic European destinations.

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Starting Price

$3677 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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