Spain, France, Netherlands
Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Amsterdam, Paris, and Barcelona are three world-famous European capitals that can be enjoyed entirely with ten days in Europe. With three nights in each city, you can discover the iconic sights, uncover the local neighborhoods, and take a day trip to incredibly nearby highlights. Handcrafted for first-time city lovers coming to Europe, this tour is all about the beautiful history, artistic legacy, and most authentic local scenes as you experience three very different cities and countries on your...
Amsterdam – Walking and Cycling the Charming Old City
Amsterdam is easy on the eyes as narrow canals form a spider’s web through the old city, each flanked by narrow townhouses and lanes made from cobbles. Churches jut above the skyline, their bells competing with the tinkle of bicycles. House doors open onto the water, reminders of when everyone traveled by boat. Amsterdam is not a big city, and the old city center – everything inside the grand canal – is easy to get around on foot, by bicycle, or on the water.
Land in Amsterdam and you will be transferred to your hotel that is on the water, a small boutique place kindling the romance of yesteryear travel. Your arrival day is flexible, and your guide will show you around, either on foot or by bicycle if you wish. A short boat cruise is best for gaining a city overview, and then later in the evening you will need to be on foot, the narrow streets too crowded for anything else. A handful of attractions can be visited should you wish, ranging from the Ann Frank House to the Heineken Museum. It’s best not to prescribe the itinerary too much on your first day, so your local guide will tailor a route dependent on your interests and your energy.
Amsterdam – Best of the Art and Parks
Canvases cover entire walls in the Rijksmuseum. In delicate strokes, they show the lowlands through the ages with16th-century markets, maids and royalty, battles and everyday scenes. Nowhere in the world has such a collection of Dutch and Flemish art, the galleries spanning millennia of artists. Although the Van Gogh Museum is more famous, the Rijksmuseum is a better choice if you are only going to visit one. You will spend half of today with an art historian to understand some context behind the endless walls of painting. The rest of the day is about relaxing with the locals, Vondelpark a beautiful green space that is full of energy throughout summer. Any of the numerous city squares then make for an immersive evening in the Dutch capital.
Amsterdam – Day Trip to Delft and Rotterdam
Delft and Rotterdam are near neighbors with a completely different feel. One remains old world, the church still standing after 800 years, the city hall embellished by family shields. Canals dominate in this pedestrian city, Delft a charming place to slow down and feast on Dutch history. Explore the New Church and find 400 years of the Dutch royal family in the crypt, see the place where Willem of Orange was shot, and then search for pirates beneath the stone slabs of Old Church.
Rotterdam was destroyed in World War II and has reinvented itself as a contemporary, creative city. Cubist houses stand on their corners as glass towers shimmer and gnomes stand guard to shopping streets. Visiting both cities on a day trip is an excellent insight into the country’s past and future, and with both, you will be back in Amsterdam by evening time.
Paris – Walking and Cruising the Seine to see Famous Parisian Highlights
Zoom through Belgium on the high-speed train to Paris, as it takes the same total travel time as flying when including check in and out of city transfers. Beyond just timing, train travel also offers a far more interesting experience as you sit back in first class and watch the landscape change. Your Paris hotel is in Saint-Germain, a neighborhood that has kept its Parisian flair, despite new-found popularity with visitors. Chocolate aromas drift around the streets here, indulgent and intoxicating. Chatter stems from small terraces, with voices and footsteps echoing around corners. A neighborhood like this is excellent for getting beneath the skin of Paris, especially during the evenings.
Paris would not be Paris without its icons, so set off to the famous landmarks. You will be with your guide, essential for maximizing impressions in the time you have. Gaze up at the Arc de Triomphe, stand beneath Sainte Chapelle, find yourself at Sacre Coeur, and then find the looming frame of Gustav Eiffel’s World Expo creation. Disappear beneath the ground to the city’s catacombs, where femurs and skulls peek out from the gloom. Then take a two-hour sunset cruise on the Seine, fine dining as city lights turn on, and you enjoy all the life along the riverside.
Paris – Best of the Art and Cobblestone Neighborhoods
After the famous sights, there are two essential sides to Paris. The art is justifiably famous, even if the Mona Lisa is an anticlimax. While the Louvre provides a wide-ranging introduction to European art, it is at Musee d’Orsay that you can appreciate French art, Monet and Renoir and all those lovely paintbrush swirls. These artists hung out in Montmartre, a neighborhood of small cafes and churches. Closer to the Seine, you can find charming districts where life revolves around food, people meeting at bistros or being engulfed by the smell of boulangeries. The two experiences are complementary. A morning of art and galleries help you to slow you down to the pace of Paris’s old districts, where you will find small treasures dotted all over.
Paris – Day Trip to Versailles or Champagne
A day trip from Paris has two famous destinations. Walk the vineyards of Champagne before corks pop at a world-famous winery. Sample the bubbles and dine on a fine lunch while overlooking the vines. Visit a second, smaller winery, where the low-scale production gives another perspective. A day in Champagne is relaxed and indulgent, as well as getting you a little light-headed.
Versailles, on the other hand, is glitter and formality, with an enormous palace that must be experienced to be understood, such is the scale of the palace. Versailles is a half-day excursion that is best in the morning so that you can avoid the larger crowds. It will give you more time in Paris, perhaps time for you to hit the shops.
Barcelona – Getting to Know the Heart of Catalonia
Fly to Barcelona, as there is a train but it takes all day, and feel how the atmosphere changes. A sultry air is found along the coast, the Mediterranean waters shimmering as the city bakes beneath the sun. There is something exotic about Barrio Gotic, where wine bars meet with Romanesque churches and your hotel is hidden on a small plaza. Barcelona’s central streets have a pulsing energy, yet there are many places of peace here as well, particularly a castle that hangs above port and city. Touch down and spend two hours on an orientation tour, before the rest of the day is at your leisure. Barcelona is a great city to go exploring on your own, any time of afternoon or evening. Think less about the sights and more about enjoying Catalonia’s atmosphere.
Barcelona – The Best of the Modernist Architects and More
Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia dominates Barcelona’s skyline. Even from afar you notice peculiar architectural style. Get closer this morning, and the peculiarity can be overwhelming. Little is symmetrical or follows typical form. Statuesque figures twist their faces in allegories from a century ago. Mosaics are as strange as the stained glass. Every inch of the cathedral seems to have its own design – how can this be next to that? And that is the genius of Gaudi, making such strange and seemingly disparate parts become one. Visit La Sagrada Familia as it opens, the best way to avoid crowds and have some freedom inside the cathedral.
Move next to spend your afternoon amid Catalonia’s other grand Modernist works. Casa Batllo and Casa Mila are both outrageously designed, residential houses that are among Gaudi’s formative works. Palau de la Musica Catalonia is the most enjoyable of Barcelona’s buildings to visit. Surreal and sublime, it is the finest work of Gaudi’s mentor. The domed ceiling is so detailed, you can get a neck ache from enjoying it for too long. Parc Guell is best for sunset, a public park dominated by Gaudi’s mosaics and artistic touches, with an open view towards the Mediterranean. Exploring all this also means you visit a variety of different Barcelona’s neighborhoods, architecture a focal point to really getting around the city.
Barcelona – Day Trip to Montserrat and Rural Catalonia
Harmonious song drifts out from Montserrat Monastery, as it has done every morning for centuries. Whitewashed walls help your eyes focus on a statue of the Virgin Mary, along with eye-catching sculptures around the knave. Take the cable car, and there is another view, the whole of Catalonia stretching out down below. It is silent up here, contrasting the choir song. Descend and twist further down the mountain to a small Catalonian village, where a traditional feast of food takes lunch long into the afternoon. The pace of life is slow out here, and it is easy to drift off after lunch, especially when you have been drinking Penedes wine as well. Rural Catalonia is a relaxed way to end your 10-day European trip, and you will return to the city full and content.
Barcelona – Departure
Spend the day making your own discoveries in the city before an evening airport transfer. Late hotel check-out has been arranged, so you can begin your journey home refreshed.
- Marvel at the architectural legacy left behind by Gaudi and Catalonia’s other Modernistas
- Cycle and walk the canal-side lanes of old Amsterdam, where there is so much to admire on every corner
- Spend the day in either Versailles or Champagne, feasting your senses on the history
- Explore the highlights of old Barcelona, including Barrio Gotic and Montjuic
- Uncover Amsterdam’s artistic legacy, Rembrandt and Van Gogh followed by some downtime in the city’s beautiful parks
- Get to know iconic Parisian monuments, from Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower
- Take a day trip to Montserrat and listen to its monastery’s morning choir song, before experiencing more of rural Catalonia
- Discover the famous art of Paris, visit its charming cobbled neighborhoods, and learn all about chocolate
- Embrace the old-world atmosphere of Holland’s first capital by visiting Delft, then change the pace with time in nearby Rotterdam
Bicycle bells will provide the soundtrack on the narrow canal-side lanes of Amsterdam, while aromas of chocolate and coffee guide you through local Parisian neighborhoods and the al fresco cafe culture dominates the evenings wherever you are in Barcelona. Of course, the sights are different, and it is almost impossible to juxtapose Amsterdam’s architecture with Gaudi’s cathedral or Paris’s Montmartre. But these are not just cities with sights, however famous those sights may be. These are cities with soul, and destinations that will excite each of your senses. For while the Eiffel Tower or La Sagrada Familia may initially attract you to Europe, you will soon find a piece of each city that feels instinctively like you.
Find yourself walking in small neighborhoods, and you will find places that reflect what you like with cafes, corners, shops, and small nooks where you could sit forever and watch the world in Paris. The same happens in Amsterdam and Barcelona. You cannot visit any of these cities for the first time and miss out on the iconic attractions, but spend three days in each, and you can combine legendary sights with places you will uncover just for yourself. For while these three cities are among the most visited on the planet, there is always something very personal about them.
Your three days in each city will follow a similar pattern. Spend your first day exploring the city slowly, either on foot or by bicycle, getting to know the historical central areas. The second day in each will focus on iconic cultural and artistic highlights, and then on your third day, you can include a tour to nearby destinations so that you can gain a wider appreciation of the country. Daytime exploration is privately guided and flexible, while the evenings are free for the best time to find your own favorite part of the city and watch everyone roll by. Of course, each of these major cities could deserve more time, as three days is never going to be enough to experience it all. But three destinations in ten days means your vacation is not rushed, and still includes many dozens of highlights.
Amsterdam is charming and old-world, a superb introduction to Europe. Traveling around the city is quick, and you can easily get around everything by bike or by tram. Rembrandt and Van Gogh are among the highlights, while your day trip will take you to another city of canals, Delft, Holland’s first capital. Take the high-speed train to Paris, and you will both walk and cruise the Seine for a simple way to experience the majority of the city’s most iconic attractions. The next day will be all about the local Parisian neighborhoods and the unmissable art, and then the following day, you can choose Versailles or Champagne.
Fly to Barcelona next, and its old central quarter will allow you to relax along the Mediterranean. The following day is dedicated to Gaudi and the Modernist movement, and your day trip is to Montserrat and rural Catalonian villages. Local guides will provide recommendations for the evenings, but it is really over to you. Take a walk, see a neighborhood, check out a restaurant or café, as it is on atmospheric city evenings that you are most likely to find a piece of Europe you want to pick up and take home. And the best thing about these three cities is that everyone finds their own special place, somewhere in Europe that is instinctively you. Consider learning more about our travelers’ favorite European travel activities by reading their Europe travel reviews.
$2,565 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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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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