France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, England, Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia
London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Heidelberg, Lucerne, Vaduz, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna, Maribor, Zagreb, Postojna, Ljubljana, Venice, Assisi, Sorrento, Pompeii, Rome,...
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Europe is the home of the Roman and British Empires, the Italian and Dutch Renaissances, Spanish cuisine and French wine, long stretches of cliff-clad coastline and cobalt waters. This best of Europe tour is tailored to your tastes, ensuring the European vacation you always wanted, taking you alongside the gentle lapping water of the Grand Canal and the shimmering detailed marble of Michelangelo’s David. Gardens sprinkle large cities with emphatic greenery. Locals sit at cafes and watch their...
A British Beginning
The water of the Thames gently glistens under peal of Big Ben. The London Tower Bridge rises over the waterway with grace. The Gherkin building captures the sunlight and sparkles against the high-rises of the financial district like a Faberge Egg.
A representative from one of our top European tour operators will meet you at the airport and provide a private transfer to your comfortable hotel situated near the heart of the city. You find an elaborate sense of history around every corner. Energetic, polished main streets meet cobblestone alleyways, and cosmopolitan restaurants stand next to historic pubs. The aroma of steaming pasties drifts from traditional cafes, and you can look into charming cottage style windows to see plates of cucumber sandwiches accompanying High Tea.
You wake up to a bustling city, a place where the streets are always a buzz, where everyone feels the immediacy of a capital still considered one of the central cities at the heart of the world. The scents of the morning delight you, swirling in the aromas of a traditional English breakfast. Tea steams from your mug, and your plate is practically overflowing with eggs, sausage, bacon, beans, mushrooms, and grilled tomatoes. Your guide meets you after breakfast to take you through the historically rich streets of London, taking you from Parliament to Westminster Abbey.
The English Gothic architecture of Westminster Abbey dates back to the 16th century, but the church was founded in the 11th century. The seat is administered directly by the Crown and was never overseen by a seated bishop. The interior is tiled with pristine white and black marble. Vaulted ceilings make every step quietly echo. The Cosmati marble pavement dates back to the 13th century with intricate smaller pieces of marble inlaid into the plain stone. Cool air sweeps through the main gallery and across the quiet tombs of previous monarchs, including Henry III, and non-royal inhabitants such as Chaucer and Dickens.
Opening the Tunnel
The daylight brings the swiftness back to the streets with people pouring in and out of the tube station with purpose. The pillars of the country’s past rise all around them and you. After breakfast, you are met at the hotel and escorted to the Pancras Station for a delightful train ride to Brussels, Belgium. The cityscape opens into lush rolling hillsides. You venture under the English Channel for a brief period until the natural light spills over the European continent. The landscape is flat and fertile, brimming with manicured grass and serene rivers. You arrive in the Belgian capital to find a soft-spoken luxury, filled with contemporary sophistication and antique marvels layered across the streets.
Art-nouveau facades stand near regal mansions constructed in the 19th century. You arrive at the Grand Place to find an incomparable central square. The spires of the Gothic Hôtel de Ville, the Town Hall, have watched over the plaza since the 15th century, standing at 315 feet tall. You join the pedestrian walkway filled with charming cafes stretching 223 feet by 361 feet. Locals and visitors alike take delight in the sensual aromas of dark roast freshly brewed coffee, pearl white building facades, and the colonnade opulence encircling much of the square.
Cruising the Canal
After breakfast, you have a brief journey north to the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. The landscape remains flat, filled with farmland and small waterways extending to the horizon. When you reach the city, you find the serene canals weaving around pastel colored buildings. The city has maintained its strength and importance around the world since the 13th century. Each neighborhood effortlessly blends the urbanity of modernity with the historical significance of the capital’s past.
You step onto a boat for a deeper exploration of Amsterdam, best experienced on the canal. Houseboats bob around the Prinsengracht, one of the three main canals. Old merchant houses list at awkward angles, constantly needing correction as they sink into the water. The scent of fresh flowers lingers around the edges of the walkways from local flower vendors. The streets maintain a particular grace, occupied by countless bikes and people strolling alongside the serene water-highway. With around 90 islands and 1,500 bridges interspersed around the city you become part of the meandering beauty as opposed to just watching it pass by.
Castles Up Close
In the morning, you taste a fresh baked brioche covered in chocolate sprinkles, a local favorite around the canals, and watch early morning boaters cross the waters to work. Soon after breakfast, you meet your transfer and leave the city life behind. You cross into Germany and make your way to the university town of Heidelberg, famous for cradling the mind of Goethe, and inspiring the likes of Mark Twain. The red rooftops of Alstadt, Old Town, maintain a level of romance, having been constructed in the 17th century and were relatively untouched by the chaos of the Second World War.
You step onto a long, flat boat to witness the charming waters of the River Neckar, along with a breathtaking vista of the town at large. The glass sides of the boat provide a perfect view from every angle. You look out over the lush mountainside and see a castle of fanatical proportions, known as Schloss Heidelberg. The castle was constructed in the 13th century and has only been partially restored since the 1800s. The pink stone edifice stands out against the vibrant trees draping over the mountains. The castle overlooks Old Town with a stone bridge leading to the 16th century main entrance. From the river you can absorb the astounding history emboldened by the stunning landscape.
This morning you will make your way out of the riverside city of Heidelberg, exchanging the hillsides for mountainsides in the Alpine city of Lucerne. The lushness around the landscape is unforgettable, carpeting the entire landscape with emerald leaves.
You reach the Black Forest, known as the home of Hansel and Gretel. The aroma of evergreen trees surrounds you, with a slightly spearmint accent. The canopy creates a dark hue around the landscape. The trees stretch across hills, valley, and along rivers from Baden-Baden to the Swiss border. The town of Triberg is known to be the capital of Cuckoo Clocks and home to the original Black Forest gateau recipe. A glockenspiel greets visitors on the hour at the House of 1,000 Clocks. The melodies ping into the air with vivaciousness, from twittering birds to brass bands.
Around the Alps
Lucerne is a city lit with brilliant light sparkling off of the lake. Mount Pilatus rises over the city up to 6,982 feet above sea level, reaching almost 2,000 feet above the lower alpine base. The enchanting Old Town contains sunny, open plazas and houses painted with playful colors. Promenades line the lakefront, and the soft classical music emanates from inside local shops. Follow your guide through the streets, noticing the prominent Mount Pilatus in the background.
Chapel Bridge was built in the mid 14th century. The covered bridge was constructed with wood and has remarkable paintings decorating the roof. Forty-seven paintings remain visible, some as large as 71 inches wide and 37 inches long. The cool breeze glides around the bridge and carries in the crisp alpine aroma of the surrounding trees and freshwater. Each painting depicts a moment in Swiss history, or mythology, and glistens in the soft light of sunset.
Big Energy Small Border
Liechtenstein stands on the border of Switzerland and Austria nestled in the mountains ranges above the Rhine River. The mountain lies deep in the Alps with turreted castles reminiscent of storybooks. After breakfast, you wind through the mountainside and arrive at the edge of one of the smallest countries in the world. Liechtenstein extends over 15 miles long by just over 7 miles wide at its broadest point.
In Vaduz, you can revel in the marvelous backdrop of the Rhine River wrapping along the foothills of forested mountains. Schloss Vaduz, which means Vaduz Castle, rises above the hills providing a marvelous panorama of the city and the surrounding landscape. The forested aroma is bright and fresh. The edifice was constructed in the 12th century with a wall up to 13 feet thick. The late-Gothic façade stands out with vigor against the dramatic mountaintops.
Sounds of Music
The Salzach River trundles alongside Salzburg with a rippling current. Old Town looks like a mosaic framed by rugged mountains. A cliff-top fortress looks over the domes and spires climb above cobblestone streets. The scent of marzipan floats out of cozy shops with gilded window frames. Baroque churches hide behind small alleyways before opening into grand plazas. Locals listen to classical music with their windows open, adding an elegant soundtrack to the day, mixing with the decadent scents of coffee and strudel.
Your guide will take you to the Mirabell Gardens, located on the expansive castle grounds, and constructed in the 17th century. The Baroque décor covers the Marble Hall with stucco, marble, and frescoes. Fountains speckle the garden, each one creating a gentle trickle in the midmorning quiet. The Pegasus statue looks familiar. The winged horse stands over a small pond and was featured in the Sound of Music with Julie Andrews. You can stand at the sculpted dancer for a majestic panorama of shimmering roses against the backdrop of a rising fortress.
Finding the Classics
Vienna is a contemporary city in touch with its imperial past. Quiet cafes linger in historic cobblestone quarters, museums are as popular as trendy nightclubs, and the Opera House becomes an iridescent beacon in the center of the vibrant city. Vienna was the home to Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, along with countless others.
The Lipizzaner Stallions train as hard as ballet dancers, almost pirouetting with aplomb, performing in the courtyard of the monumental Hofburg complex. The palace reflects more than 700 years of Vienna and Austria’s history. The architectural styles of the rooms and façade range from Gothic to Renaissance, Baroque to Rococo, and span over 59 acres of land, and 2,600 rooms. The Empress Elisabeth’s apartment has Mediterranean inspired paintings and marble figures connoting the Greek Muse Polyhymnia. The walls are draped in a soft and smooth velvet color. The chandeliers provide a soft light glowing over the noble chamber.
In the morning, you wave goodbye to the classical city of Vienna and venture south, through the forested greenery of Slovenia and onto the wonder of Zagreb, Croatia. Once in Zagreb, you find Austro-Hungarian architecture interspersed with Soviet era constructions, highlighting the differences between the country’s vastly disparate government ideologies. Café culture is boisterous and popular, filled with older couples and ardent students.
Your guide takes you along the absorbing streets to medieval Upper Town, a network of alleyways and streets nestled between two hills. The Cathedral was constructed in the 13th century and maintains its Gothic styled façade. The spires stand 354 feet high. The entrance has an outward extending portal making the gateway look inviting and is decorated with detailed statues of saints. Gargoyles reach out from the stone with fierce gazes and mighty wings.
Around Saints and Canals
In the morning, you cross the border into Slovenia once again, this time settling in the fabulous capital of Ljubljana. The old city contains a pink shine around the small Ljubljanica River. The streets are paved with cobblestone, open only to pedestrians. Emerald trees line the riverbanks. Cafés set tables and chairs next to the calm waterway. The historic center feels perpetually energetic and jovial. The Triple Bridge crosses over the waterway into the celebrated local square, surrounded by bright pink stone facades.
Beside the bridge are stairways that lead down to the riverside terrace where people love to picnic, stroll, and take in the surrounding beauty of the cityscape. You follow your guide to the Baroque façade of St. Nicholas’s Cathedral, built in the 18th century. Small niches carry statues of saints and bishops. The Baroque interior is fresh with frescoes coloring the vaulted ceilings. Magnificent artistry creates a connection with any visitor, combining opulence and devotion, with the natural light filtering into the gallery.
Into the Earth
As you make your way out of Ljubljana the emerald countryside encompasses the road, removing the medieval city from view. In the southwest of Slovenia, you arrive at Postojna Cave. The cave is 79,596 feet long, filled with remarkable karsts. Your guide leads you through the cave mouth. The air is instantly cooler than outside. You can touch the limestone and feel the smooth, cold edges of the cavern. The Pivka River carved and pressed the underground tunnel over time, to a depth of 377 feet below the surrounding countryside. Your guide points out the karsts, including “Brilliant,” a stunning stalagmite that stands like a hand carved statue. Each step carries you deeper into the earth, where you can find the Cave Train, an underground double track rail system that takes you on a tour of the cavern’s depths.
Wake up in the city on the lagoon, filled with noble history constructed in marble and overlooking an endless labyrinth of water-highways. The Grand Canal reflects sensational Venetian thought, brimming with elegant walkways, the iridescence of the Basilica di San Marco, and the grandeur of Palazzo Ducale. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel ready to take you through the city’s charming streets and lavish past.
The Palazzo Ducale, in its current manifestation, was erected in the 13th century. The palace’s oldest construct looks over the lagoon and is decorated with ornate sculptures. The south colonnade maintains narrow arches on the bottom floor and graceful pillars lining the second tier. The Doge’s Apartment sits at the top of the Stairs of the Censors. A terrace garden offered private access into the basilica. The suite is gilded around the walls and ceiling. Natural light moves across the elegant paintings and reflects off of the polished marble floors. The lavish décor maintains its enthralling effect.
Visiting St. Francis
The waters of the lagoon disappear behind forest trees and rolling mountains. The greenery fades into golden plains, and the mountains shrink into hills. You arrive in the region of Umbria, home to the hillside town of Assisi, and the treasured birthplace of St. Francis. The town begins atop the hillside, overlooking the sprawling golden grasslands into the distance. On a clear day, you can see the gates of Perugia. Mount Subasio continues its ascent above the town’s streets and stronghold walls.
The cobblestone streets fork near the cathedral and lead up the foothills, lined by medieval buildings filled with contemporary shops and restaurants. The aroma of gelato adds sweetness to the fresh air. The cathedral façade stands with pristine white walls. The lower church was constructed in the 13th century and contains 28 frescoes depicting the life and times of St. Francis. The upper gallery has a chair box with 102 wooden stalls dating back to the 16th century. The nave has polished tiles and ceiling painted that resembles a spinning globe.
The golden plains of Umbria glisten in the morning light. Enjoy a breakfast of freshly baked sweet brioche accompanied by a rich, dark espresso. After breakfast, you make your way south, venturing to the sensational cliffside roadway along the Amalfi Coast. The water shines turquoise and azure. Marvelous cliffs loom over one side of the road and stunning rocky shores press against the opposite. The water splashes against the coastline and the sea air continuously brushes past. You can see local fishermen casting their nets in the water.
You stop in Positano, a picturesque seaside town that climbs up to the mountainside for a sensational view of the ocean. Each home blossoms with pink and terracotta colors and wisteria grow across the tops and sides of the buildings. Small balconies look out to the shoreline for unparalleled picture-perfect views from restaurants and cafes. You can sit in a small wine shop and have your first taste of limoncello, a liquor known for its bright, zesty, and strong flavor, made from the large lemons for which the Salerno region is known.
Inside the Blue Grotto
Off the shores of the Amalfi Coast is the famous Isle of Capri. You step onto a boat and venture across the water to the island coastline. The water spritzes into the air and splashes at your cheeks. The scent of the sea is intoxicating, filled with briny allure.
The island’s history dates back to the Paleolithic period and laid claim as the retirement home for Emperor Tiberius in 27 AD. The island maintains an unspoiled charm, where sensational villas overlook sprouting vegetable plots, and bougainvillea bloom into vivacious colors.
After exploring the elegant narrow streets of Capri Town, you venture to the secluded waters of the Blue Grotto in a wooden rowboat. The current carries you through the tiny stone portal, underneath the dangling cave mouth. The darkness quickly turns into sparkling azure light. The water laps at the cave walls echoing in the cavern. The blue reflection illuminates the entire grotto and gives you the feeling that you are suspended in the sky.
Stories of the Past
From Sorrento, and around the Bay of Naples, you can see the conical peak of Mount Vesuvius known for its disastrous effects on the city of Pompeii in 79 AD. You leave the beachside panoramas and venture into the depths of a city frozen in ash and time. The city of Pompeii maintains the integrity of its original design. Columns rise alongside the open plaza with the image of Mount Vesuvius creating an ominous backdrop.
Your guide will take you through the remnants of cobblestone streets, listening to the sensational stories of how the city was lost and found. Casa del Fauno overtook an entire city block and was Pompeii’s largest private home. A geometrically patterned marble floor continues to decorate the house, along with a famous mosaic of Alexander the Great in battle with King Darius III of Persia. The colors remain vibrant. The details of the mosaic continue to show the focus and fear in the soldier’s eyes.
Eternal City Review
Next is your visit to Rome. The city has been recreated numerous times for over two millennia, from the beginnings of the Empire to the throes of World War II. During the day, the plazas contain the lingering aroma of farmers markets and fresh brewed espresso.
Your guide meets you at the hotel after breakfast for your exceptional tour of the Eternal City. Venture to St. Peter’s Square and through the Sistine Chapel, before making your way to the marvelous edge of the Trevi Fountain. The fountain has been featured in award-winning films, most notably Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. The water streams off of the rockwork into a large clear pool. Oceanus stands at the center in opulent and regal fashion. The bas-reliefs connote the Roman aqueducts, with each niche of the fountain telling another story. The Tritons and horses create symmetrical balance, contrasting one another for a dramatic effect of light and focus. The trickling water accompanies the scent of the nearby gelateria. You can sit on the bench enjoying a fresh scoop of gelato and let the rest of the day pass by.
Light shines through the arches encircling the Colosseum. The morning crawls over the horizon and fills the Italian capital with the scent of fresh produce wafting out of the farmers’ markets. After breakfast, you venture northbound, arriving in the Renaissance city of Florence. Cobblestone streets and dark stone buildings line the historic center. The Arno River trickles alongside the cityscape, splitting the old city in two. Follow your guide to the Ponte Vecchio, the city’s oldest bridge, where gold and silver vendors have peddled their wares in those very shop stalls since the Roman’s constructed the road.
Next, your guide takes you to the celebrated Duomo, where the Baptistery holds the Gates of Paradise. The east doors were designed by Ghiberti in 1401, made from bronze and decorated with sharp reliefs. Twenty-eight panels consist of Biblical stories providing each scene with depth and movement. The story of Joseph depicts a lively image of Joseph embracing one brother while reaching for another. Look closely and you can see the various emotions Ghiberti captured on each character’s face.
Leaning with the Tower
Outside of Florence you come to the once maritime stronghold of the region that rivaled the likes of Venice but is now known as the home to the Leaning Tower. The ancient university town dates back to the 15th century, where students would travel from across Italy to study at the elite school. Today the town maintains a vivacious café and bar scene hidden underneath the shade of Romanesque buildings and Gothic churches. You find the Leaning Tower, magnificent Baptistery, and Cathedral in Piazza Dei Miracoli enclosed by immaculate walls.
The Duomo was constructed in the 11th century with marbled gray and white stripes decorating the exterior. You see the Leaning Tower close by, leaning over four degrees off due to heavy material on soft soil. Seven tiers top the 184-foot tower. The sight is awe-inspiring, with the exceptional tilt of the opulent tower in the graceful square of a historic university town.
Taking Advantage of Nice
Pristine cobalt water brushes against the pebble beaches of Nice. Cafes line the regal cobbled street of Cour Saleya, looking out on to the flower market and trendy food market. The beachside Promenade de Anglais hugs the Mediterranean.
The day is yours to plan, taking in the sights and sounds of the celebrated beachside city. The promenade was constructed in 1822, stretching the almost two and a half miles of coastline and emblazoned by the outlining colors of the water and the striking sea-blue beach chairs. Hôtel Negresco lines the walkway along with Palais de la Méditerranée. You revel in the relaxed pace of Nice. The beachside atmosphere encompasses chic lifestyle, filled with luxurious shops and the 18th century enchantment of the Old City.
Lively Van Gough
In the morning, the colors of the cobalt water drift in and out of view as you make your way to Barcelona. Stop in Arles, France, along the way to bring the iconic imagery of Van Gogh’s paintings to life. Faded red shingles top sunbaked houses. The streets encircle a Roman amphitheater. The Rhône River meanders through the cityscape underneath a sky Van Gough captured in Starry Night. The Romans overtook the town in 123 BC and their influence remains throughout the town.
The Fondation Vincent Van Gogh is themed and filled with remarkable, contemporary architecture, and thought provoking design. The foundation promotes the work and legacy of the artist and features two separate exhibitions a year. The exhibitions are based on variations of a Van Gogh theme, always including at least one painted piece by the artist himself. The rooftop terrace overlooks the city. The bookshop has a glass ceiling decorated with translucent color, each one creating a kaleidoscope of images on the walls and floors of the store.
Expressing the Gaudi
Wake up in Barcelona, with the Mediterranean sweeping across the beaches, the church spires towering over the city, and of course, the aromas for Boqueria, one of the oldest markets in Spain. The market has local seafood, fresh produce, and luscious Iberico ham.
Your guide meets you at the hotel ready to take you through the Gothic Quarter and remaining majestic streets of the cityscape. When you stand in the shadow of La Sagrada Basilica, the unique design of Gaudi’s masterwork becomes tangible. The cathedral broke ground in 1882 and has been under construction ever since. The largest spires stand at 560 feet tall. The entire structure encompasses Late Spanish Gothic, Catalan Modernism, and Art Nouveau characteristics. The façade has a particular texture that creates almost a fairytale quality. Your guide points out the details of the Nativity Façade, from the tortoise base of the column to the gilded leaf depiction of the Tree of Life. The beauty of the work embodies the uniqueness of the Catalonian city and its Bohemian streets.
Visions of the Spanish Plain
The city of Barcelona stays up into the early hours of the morning and rises in the late hours of the sunlight. The golden sunrise sparkles across the water. The markets are first to open, filling the streets with locals in search of the freshest ingredients. People begin to stroll down Las Ramblas, a walkable boulevard lined with fragrant trees and captivating city life, lined by art nouveau buildings. A circular mosaic decorates the foreground of Liceu Theater. After breakfast, your guide leads you out of the city and on your way to Madrid, the capital of Spain.
The drive takes you through the undulating rustic landscape around the countryside. Stop in Zaragoza for a touch of elegance along the River Ebro. The city revolves around vibrant life and decadent tapas, containing a rural lifestyle in an urban setting. The Aljafería was constructed in the 12th century for the Islamic rulers of the city. The Patio de Santa Isabel has delicately interwoven arches, decorated with typical geometric mastery of Islamic architecture. The upper floor contains coffered ceilings brimming with Mudéjar design, including the Throne Room, whose roof almost swirls like an optical illusion.
Embracing the Spanish Capital
Madrid is a modern city graced with historic proportions. The Gran Via holds architecture encompassing Viennese to Art Deco and Neo-Mudéjar. The street bustles with cafes at all times of the day, filling the walkway with the aromas of fresh pastries and coffee. Your guide takes you out into the city and leads you to the famous Prado Museum. The gallery was the world’s first premier art space holding over 7,000 works in its collection, with less than one-fifth of the art on display in the museum.
The galleries provide insight into the evolution of Spanish tastes and, as many art lovers would say, a tour of the Spanish soul, from Goya to Velázquez. Charles III commissioned the building in the 18th century, overtaking the meadow that once stood there. When you enter the building, the museum aroma filters through the cool air, a scent of history filled with the faintness of paint oils. Your guide points to specific paintings that span centuries, including the 15th century piece, The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch.
Absorbing the Art
North of Madrid is the capital of the Basque Region, Bilbao. The city’s past was based on heavy industry giving the town a particular ruggedness. Over the years, the ruggedness has been polished, keeping the unique culture in tact and smoothing out the exterior to showcase the beauty within.
Bilbao has become a center for European art, housed in the captivating Guggenheim Museum. The gallery opened in 1997 and has an iconic modern design. From the distance, the building looks like a collection of coiled foil reflecting the sunlight. A pond encircles the exterior and reflects the edifice. A glass atrium brings in the natural light that filters through the entire museum. Permanent exhibits decorate the ground floor with modern visions, including a piece containing refracted light coloring the sky.
Seaside to Countryside
In the morning, you can listen to small waves break against the shores of Biarritz. The resort town maintains pockets of its fishing village charm. The water splashes against the rocky coastline and fills the air with the elegant sound like bells pealing.
You can start your day with a creamy cappuccino and buttery croissant before making your way inland to the enchanting city of Bordeaux. The city has a sleepy atmosphere along its pedestrian boulevards and neoclassic architecture. Girondins Monument stands near the banks of the Garonne River. The monument was constructed around 1894. Near the monument’s base is a fountain where bronze horses rise from the rugged outcropping, ready to canter.
The morning stretches across the vineyards around the countryside. After breakfast, you venture to the station at Gare Bordeaux Saint-Jean where you board a comfortable train to Paris. The aroma of chocolate and flaky croissants fill the train car. Rolling, verdant hills pass by the window. You arrive at Gare du Nord in Paris and find the City of Lights enthralling. Nineteenth century buildings line wide-lane boulevards. Bridges crisscross over the Seine River. Houseboats drift down the water.
You venture to the Louvre for a guided tour of the magnificent museum, home to works of Michelangelo, David, and da Vinci. The gallery was established in the 18th century on the Right Bank of the Seine encompassing 652,300 square feet. The galleries encompass the expanse of human history, displaying Egyptian antiquity to Greek and Near Eastern sculptures. One of the main attractions of the museum is the Mona Lisa, situated in an extensive gallery off of the main painting hallway. A large wall stands in the center of the room. The Mona Lisa is encased in glass, looking outwards to curious visitors with her rye smile. The air is soft and cool around the museum, keeping the paintings temperate and the Venus de Milo glistening under the museum lights.
Around the City Lights
Wake up to the sounds of the bustling city filled with the artistic memories of the previous day. The sidewalks are as lively as the streets, filled with café seating, where people gather to watch the city pass them by. Nestled in the upper hills of Montmartre, behind the spires of the Sacré Coeur, is the Jardin Sauvage Saint-Vincent. The trees and grass have created a little meadow filled with a chorus of frogs resting near the pond.
Your guide takes you through the city to view the iconic images of Paris, home to the Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, and the ineffable Eiffel Tower. The tower was erected in 1889 as an entrance arch to the World’s Fair. The tower stands 1,063 feet tall at the edge of a manicured park. When standing near the monument you have a sudden sense of accomplishment and awe; you have actually arrived in Paris and are looking at one of the most recognizable structures in the world. You crane your neck to get the entire icon in view. Just as the tower once stood as the entrance to the World’s Fair, you walk through the archway with the same sense of passion, feeling inspired with every step.
Morning spreads across the city, lighting the lush garden leaves and filtering through the glass pyramid at the Louvre. Spend the morning like a Parisian, enjoying your brioche and freshly brewed coffee, noticing the city rise and pass.
After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the airport for your flight home. As the flight passes over the cityscape, you look out the window and find the Eiffel Tower rising out of the city’s skyline in the distance. You can’t think of a better place than Paris to have ended your European discovery.
- Walk alongside the iconic image of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
- Indulge in three-course dinners meant to encapsulate the traditions of each culture
- Explore Rome where you will wander through the Vatican Museum and see the brilliant colors of the Sistine Chapel
- See the Prime Minister’s House and iconic Parliament Building in London
- Cruise down the canal in Amsterdam for a unique and beautiful view of the historic buildings
- Witness the storybook style castles around the mountains of Switzerland, Germany, and Austria
- Venture through the Louvre Museum to see some of the most famous art and antiquity in the world
- Tour through some of the most remarkable opera houses in history, home to the likes of Bach and Mozart
- Stroll alongside the famous Grand Canal in Venice where you will have the city’s panorama of the Doge’s Palace and Basilica di San Marco
- Experience the charming cobblestone streets of medieval towns
- Discover the pious wonder of St. Francis and the decorative majesty of the Cathedral of Assisi
- Revel in the sensual colors of the Amalfi Coast, a coastline known for its majestic cliffs and azure water
- Experience the brilliant colors of the Blue Grotto on the historic island of Capri
- Wander through the famous ancient city frozen in ash, Pompeii
- Visit the artistic treasures of the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and the Prado in Madrid
- Relax in the distinct Catalonian pace of Barcelona set alongside the Mediterranean Sea
- Marvel at the detailed design of the towering Sagrada Familia Church
Europe can be a lifelong desired destination or a continent to revisit over and over again, with each country offering a distinctive culture, remarkable cuisine, and incomparable histories. This 31-day best of Europe tour takes you through numerous countries, highlighting the beauty and splendor encapsulated in specific cities.
Your tour of Europe begins with your arrival in London. The capital of England erupts with energy based on historic cobblestone streets and the rippling current of the River Thames. The following day your guide takes you through the city’s highlights, from the Parliament Building to Buckingham Palace.
Take the train underneath the English Channel and arrive in Brussels, Belgium. Your guide will take you on a tour to see the Gothic Town Hall, Grand Place Square, and the statue of Everard t’Serclaes, a 14th century hero. Travel the short distance to Amsterdam, Holland where you will journey around the 700-year-old capital on a canal cruise, along with visiting a Diamond Center.
Traverse the Dutch countryside, crossing the German border and arriving in Heidelberg. Indulge in the view of the Rhine Cruise alongside the medieval town, and venture to the storybook castle overlooking the riverbanks. Visit the Black Forest, known as the home of some of the most famous fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, and treasured towns known for making cuckoo clocks. Visit Rhine Falls and continue onward to Lucerne, Switzerland. Spend a full day exploring the city, from Chapel Bridge to Lion Monument, there is even time to take a cable car ride to the top of Mount Pilatus.
Next, travel through Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries in the world, before visiting the Olympic town of Innsbruck, Austria and settling in Salzburg. It is easy to discover the charms of Salzburg, from the fortress style castle overlooking the domes and spires of antique streets, to the gardens known for their role in the Sound of Music with Julie Andrews. Arrive in Vienna, the capital of Austria and follow your guide through the opulent history around the streets, including the State Opera House and the lavish Hofburg Palace.
Travel through Maribor, Slovenia to Zagreb, Croatia where you will meander through the Lower and Upper regions on a guided tour of the medieval city. Transfer to Ljubljana, Slovenia and explore the elegant cobblestone streets of Old Town, a classic representation of the medieval structures along the Ljubljanica River. From Ljubljana, you will make your way to the celebrated city of Venice, Italy stopping en route to visit the Postojna Caves. Your guide will take you through the mesmeric streets of Venice, known for its lavish marble buildings and splendid canals. Venture deeper into Italy at Assisi, home of St. Francis. Continue southward to the Amalfi Coast, winding along the picturesque coastline before arriving in Sorrento.
Spend a full day on the historic island of Capri where you can see the glowing pigment of the Blue Grotto. Traverse the Bay of Naples to enjoy a guided tour of the ancient city of Pompeii. Continue onward to Rome and have a full day to explore the Eternal City. Discover the magnificence of St. Paul’s Basilica and the artistic brilliance of the Sistine Chapel. Embrace the entirety of the ancient city’s remains on a guided tour. The Renaissance city of Florence provides insight into the stunning architecture and artistry of the Enlightenment.
The verdant greenery and vineyards drape the surrounding region of Tuscany. Your guide will take you to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. Tour through a beautifully fragrant perfume factory in Èze, France, before settling in the beachside city of Nice. Have a delightful day at your leisure in Nice to relax on the beach or stroll through the old town streets. Explore the charming town of Arles en route to Barcelona, Spain. Once in Barcelona you have a full day to indulge in the city, taking in Gaudi’s master architecture and the remarkable streets of the Gothic Quarter.
Revel in the scenery on your way to Madrid, spending time in Zaragoza to experience the rural ambiance of the urban landscape. Enjoy a full day tour of Madrid, visiting the largest palace in Europe and the stunning works displayed in the Prado Museum. Venture northbound to Bilbao, the capital of the Basque Region to see the Guggenheim Museum, and continue onward to the seaside resort city of Biarritz, France. Travel inland through the treasured French countryside arriving in Bordeaux, where you will have an orientation tour to witness the enchantment of the unique city.
Board the train to Paris, leaving behind the countryside and welcoming the wonder of the City of Lights. Spend a half day at the Louvre Museum discovering the vast collection on display. A full day in Paris allows you to take in the most iconic images of the cityscape, from the Eiffel Tower to the Champs Elysees, even Sacre Coeur atop the hills of Montmartre.
On your last day, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the airport. Your vacation may have ended, but the splendor across the continent will continue to fascinate you and the surrounding world.
$8,737 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.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
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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