Get a glimpse of Europe’s finest destination on a ten-night tour by train. Explore Parisian lanes, Venetian canals, Swiss mountains, and Vatican art. Then, experience Renaissance Florence, Shakespeare’s Verona, the Louvre, the Colosseum and an Ice Palace. There are so much to discover and so many new experiences as you hop through France, Switzerland, and Italy. Handcrafted to get as much as possible into ten nights, it will be an evocative introduction to the best of Europe.
Paris – Drifting Down the Seine and French Bistro Experience
Begin your vacation when you land in Paris, the City of Lights and innumerable icons. While the Eiffel Tower stands high and the Champs-Elysees awaits you, there is so much more to this city than the postcards. Almost every street is a charm, especially in the heart of Paris. Small cafes are located in cobbled back-lanes and church spires peek above townhouses. Musicians play on bridges as locals take picnics to the River Seine. After you land, you will be transferred to a hotel in the Latin Quarter. This afternoon is free and there are so many sites to enjoy around the hotel. Just take a stroll and soak up the local style.
In the late afternoon, the guide takes you to a Parisian bistro. Fine foods come from all over France to be sold here including cured meats, a complete array of cheeses, truffles, olive oils, pâtés, and wines to wash it all down. You will tour the country’s food without ever leaving your stool, then walk it off by heading to the River Seine. As dusk draws near, board a boat for a three-hour cruise up and down the waterway. Pass the grand architecture then watch it transform, with beautiful illuminations found on most of the icons, such as the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, and Louvre Pyramid. Tonight you’ll understand why Paris is called the City of Lights.
Paris – Customizable Highlights of Paris Private Tour
Today will be free for you to explore the iconic sites of Paris at your leisure, be it the Musee d’Orsay, Louvre Museum, Palace of Versailles, or other famous attractions. Each neighborhood is different as well, so you can see the differences between the lively area of Saint-Germain and the more eclectic streets of Montmartre. The guide will customize today’s itinerary based on your interests and energy levels. You may visit anywhere within Paris or its surroundings, even out to Champagne and the famous wine farms.
Lucerne – A Stunning Train Journey Into the Alps
The journey to Lucerne is sublime. First, you will cross the French countryside of rolling wheat-fields and farmhouse-studded valleys, and the train slows as it passes through small towns and villages. Then, venture up into the mountains as you rise toward the Swiss border with a quick change of trains in Zurich. Traveling in Switzerland will be even more delightful. The alpine peaks surround you in all directions as the valleys narrow and you approach Lucerne. Disembark in the old town and a guide will transfer you to the hotel. Enjoy a relaxed five-hour train journey followed by an afternoon in the old city.
Find a lion carved into a rock, a winding bridge lined with art, and a medieval core that seems to be hidden from the world. Lucerne will feel very calm after your time in Paris and you’ll quickly appreciate the Swiss style. Despite the country’s reputation for banks and the high economy, Switzerland is where life moves slowly with its mountain air and the humbling scale of the Alps. Take your time along the river, walk the ancient cobbles, and sit down for cheese fondue, the quintessential dish to try in this part of the world.
Lucerne – A Day in the Mountains and Glaciers
This morning you’ll ride the world’s first revolving gondola, with 360-degree panoramic views as you travel above 10,000 feet. Below you, glaciers stretch out, all icy white and imposing. Mountains cluster, their rugged peaks intense with detail. In an ice grotto, you gaze upon strange alpine creations. On a chairlift, you ride over a glacier and look down on crevasses and ice-falls. This area around Mount Titlis is glacier paradise, and there’s something about the snow that doesn’t seem real, especially considering you were crossing sun-baked French countryside only yesterday. Spend a day in the high Alps then return to Lucerne, where cafes provide a place to warm up with a mug of mulled wine.
Lucerne – The Top of Europe at Jungfraujoch
Today you will travel even higher, to Jungfraujoch, the Top of Europe. While it is not quite the very top, it will feel that way when you disembark at Europe’s highest railway station. Step out into an ethereal world of snow and ice, with three of the continent’s largest mountains forming a ring around you. The Ice Palace is ephemeral, sculpted new every year, and its ice glistens a soft blue as if from a fairytale. From here you look across at Europe’s longest glacier, toward the snow-dappled peaks of Switzerland’s neighbors. Like yesterday, you will be deep in the Alps, discovering a land that seems cut off from the manmade world. Switzerland has made these high alpine regions accessible and that’s one of the country’s highlights, notably the incredible cogwheel train.
Venice – Venice From the Water
After a 20-minute transfer out of Lucerne, you will board a direct train to Venice. Sit back and complete your journey through the Alps as the train meanders through Switzerland, zigzags to a high altitude, and then rolls down into Italy. The colors of this new country are shown through the window. Lakes roll past, valleys are dotted with sheep and cows, and church spires dominate stone villages. Then, as you roll toward Milan you will enter Italy’s industrial heart. The scenery is less impressive but there are plenty of interesting city scenes to observe. From Milan, the train zooms east across bucolic landscapes to the sparkling blue of Mediterranean waters.
Today you will travel from the mountains to the Mediterranean in one day. Venture into Venice as you travel on a gondola down the Grand Canal. Pass beneath famous bridges and admire the shimmering reflections. Gaze across at medieval palaces then travel down secluded waterways, where you admire the special quality of this city on the water. A gondola ride is a perfect introduction to Venice and it will take you straight to your hotel. Disembark into the hotel and the rest of the day will be at your leisure. You can explore the Venetian islands on foot and the gondolier is available to transfer you anywhere you wish to go.
Venice – Venetian Islands and Venice on the Land
Venice is an archipelago, an assortment of central islands connected by bridges, plus a series of other islands reached by sailboat. The city’s industry was based on the outlying islands, especially the world-famous glassblowing found on Murano. Sail to Murano this morning and get a private tour of a glass factory before you cruise to nearby Burano and its colorful fishing houses. A magnificent cathedral is the highlight of Torcello, along with a waterfront restaurant for a languid lunch with wine. Spend the afternoon back in the heart of the Venetian Republic where a local guide will show you St. Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace, and other famous places.
Florence – Romantic Balconies and Renaissance History
Hop on the train and within the hour you’ll be in Verona, the fair city that Shakespeare wrote so eloquently about. Imagine you are Romeo and gaze up at Juliet’s tiny 14th-century balcony. Then, imagine a Roman time in the vast first-century amphitheater, as its numerous archways provide a glimpse of what you’re going to discover tomorrow. Verona evolved over the centuries and a walking tour will connect contrasting eras, illustrating how architecture and styles changed. You can tour Verona in a couple of hours, but it’s worth staying for lunch on Piazza delle Erbe, and discussing Shakespeare’s creation with the guide.
Pick up your luggage from the train stain storage and continue today’s journey as another short ride takes you to Florence. The architecture here is distinct from anything you saw in Verona as much of it is an emblem of the early Renaissance style that was formed in the city. Admire the golden domes and walk across grand squares before you choose whether to visit Galleria dell’Accademia or the Uffizi Gallery. The former museum houses Michelangelo’s David while the latter has the world’s greatest variety of Renaissance art. Although you only have one night in Florence it’s relatively easy to get a good feel for the city, in particular the harmony of its architectural style. It’s also a great city to eat local as the Florentine steak is the legendary dish.
Rome – The Heart of an Ancient Empire
Florence to Rome will be the grandest train journey on your tour. Weave out of the city into Tuscany, where the landscape is carpeted with vines and olive groves. Small stone towns punctuate the farms, and a church dome can easily be spotted from afar. The train will slow as you travel through some of these towns, providing a glimpse at rural Tuscan life. You’ll travel in a first-class carriage, a very comfortable and relaxing way to see more of the country. Your tour is based in cities, but by traveling on the railway, you will gain impressions of rural France, wild Switzerland, and unspoiled Italy.
Arrive on the water once more and travel into the old empire. Walk past the Roman Forum where cracked columns stand to attention and ruined temples are suggestive of yesteryear. The Colosseum awaits, dramatic in both scale and detail. Over 50,000 could be seated here, and you can sense the drama, especially when you step over the rope to access the third tier, an area usually closed to the public. After the Colosseum, there will be many other famous sites to take in as the guide leads you across piazzas to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and other postcard icons.
Rome – Vatican City Museums and Local Rome
There are no other European squares like St. Peter’s, the majestic entranceway to the Vatican City. Wander past all the columns and enter the basilica, the magnificent church, and Catholic centerpiece. Statues impose, gold leaf shimmers, the domes are spellbinding, and this is just the start of today’s art. Continue into the Vatican Museums, where Raphael’s Rooms and the Sistine Chapel are just two of the sublime religious works of art. You can easily spend the whole morning and half the afternoon here, taking in the frescoes, sculptures, murals, Michelangelo works, and early Christian canvases. Later today you will travel across the Tiber River to Trastevere, where Rome is more local and authentic. There will be fewer tourists, better quality food, and some great memories of offbeat Rome to take home with you.
Rome – Departure
After ten nights in Europe, you will depart from Rome after taking the opportunity for a final early morning stroll around the old city.
- Drift down the canals of Venice on a private gondola tour
- Travel to the roof of Europe and the icy Swiss world of Jungfraujoch
- Explore the heart of Paris and surround yourself with the city’s icons.
- Travel back into the time of empire with a day in Ancient Rome
- Take multiple train journeys through the Alps and a revolving gondola above the snow
- Wander through Florence, the enchanting city of Renaissance
- Sample fine French foods with a Parisian bistro experience
- Gaze upon Raphael’s Rooms and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel as a part of a day in the Vatican City
- Cruise on the River Seine beneath the Eiffel Tower
- Discover the medieval grandeur of Verona
- Travel between destinations on Europe’s excellent railway network, comfortable journeys that reveal a continent’s landscapes
There are so many sides to Europe and this ten-night tour will combine the best of every angle. Appreciate the serenity of Switzerland’s snowy mountains. Smell the aromas of a quaint Parisian cafe. Relax on a gondola ride through Venice and a walk beneath Juliet’s balcony in Verona. Architectural styles will baffle you, as you take in Gothic to baroque to the Renaissance buildings in just a few days. Wonders evoke the grandeur of past empires, and the Colosseum is just one example. The food will be as exquisite as it is varied, from Swiss fondue to Florentine steak, French pastries to Roman fine dining. This route will also minimize travel time with carefully designed train rides and transfers.
Traveling by rail is the best way to see Europe quickly. You go from city center to city center and disembark a short distance away from your hotel. Your first-class carriage will be more than just comfortable. Drinks and food are served on board as you zoom on the fast service between major cities. Sit back and watch Europe unfold through the window as you travel through French valleys and up into the Swiss Alps. Then, twist up into the snow and back down to the colors of the coast before you cross Tuscany through the suburbs of Rome. Traveling by rail is both a sightseeing experience and a time to rest and relax. This way, when you disembark you’ll always be ready to go out and discover.
This handcrafted tour starts in Paris. A private guide customizes the experience to your interests, as they incorporate the famous places you want to see. You’ll cruise on the River Seine and enjoy dining at a high-quality French bistro, as well as snacking on the daily coffee and croissants. Then, travel to Lucerne, an old-world base for exploring the Swiss Alps. You will stand on top of Europe and feast on the landscapes while experiencing all things that are famously Swiss. Take the train to Venice for a private gondola ride before you stop in Verona on the route to Florence. Your journey will end in Rome, where ancient empire and the Vatican City provide some focus to the adventure.
As you travel by train through three countries, you’ll experience continental diversity. Everywhere has such a distinctive style, not just the food and language but the atmosphere and mannerisms. Local guides will greet you in each city, and escort you from the train to the hotel before showing you around their home. Their knowledge will help you go beyond the beaten path, particularly with places to dine. Location is central to the choice of hotels, as you will be close to the station but also within walking distance of the most interesting part of the city. While ten nights is only an introduction to the region, it will feel like you’ve had six weeks of experiences in that time.
$3,471 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
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- 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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