Company : Contiki
Countries: Austria / Belgium / France / Italy / Netherlands / Spain / Switzerland
Duration: 3 weeks to 4 weeks
Approx Costs: 1500 to 2000 £ Pound (UK)
To Barcelona and beyond! The European Escapade takes you through the best of Western Europe, allowing time to really experience what each city has to offer.
To Barcelona and beyond! The European Escapade takes you through the best of Western Europe, allowing time to really experience what each city has to offer.
Highlights include strolling La Rambla in Barcelona, re-discovering the might of the Roman Emperors in Rome and gazing up at the Swiss Alps from your bedroom window in Switzerland. What better way to spend a month in Europe?
Meet up with your team before we hit the road and take a ferry past the White Cliffs of Dover. We travel via World War I battlefields in the Valley of the Somme, to Paris. After dinner we will depart for the 'Paris by Night tour', where the French capital transforms into the "City of Lights". Lamp-lit bridges and cool little cafés give us a real taste of Paris’ romance. Your Trip Manager will fill you in on the world’s most recognised monuments, like the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. If you’re adventurous, get right into French culture and try out France’s national delicacy – escargot! You’ll also get to toast the start of your trip with French Champagne.
This town is loaded with possibilities. Discover its many bistros, museums, tree-lined avenues and diverse quartiers (neighbourhoods). Get a feel for French flair by window shopping on the Left Bank, step into the Notre Dame Cathedral or explore the endless galleries of the Louvre and get up close to the famous Mona Lisa. Try indulging in some delicious pastries and relax in one of Paris’ many green spaces. Tonight, treat yourself to a real Parisian night out, starting with an optional dinner in an atmospheric restaurant, where you can get to know your group. Then sign up for an authentic cabaret experience, complete with can-can girls and Champagne.
3 PARIS TO BEAUJOLAIS WINE REGION
Southbound, we stop off at the massive 16th century Château Fontainebleau. Walk around the imperial gardens and check out the château’s imposing, regal exterior. We continue on through Burgundy’s wine country to Beaujolais’ green hills and vineyards. Our team will make you feel right at home in Contiki’s very own 16th century Château. There’s a wine tasting within the Château’s working winery, where our resident expert will teach you about Beaujolais wine as you swirl and sip on wines made in the area for centuries.
4 BEAUJOLAIS WINE REGION
There’s loads of time to catch up on some sleep, laze about the Château or position yourself poolside. Explore the French countryside with a walk through the vineyards and picnic in the hills above the Château. In the afternoon, you can even get a feel for a real French country town by heading into nearby Theizé.
5 BEAUJOLAIS WINE REGION TO BARCELONA
Today, we head south through the rugged and dramatic scenery of the Pyrénées mountains, over the border into Barcelona. A sizzling, festive capital any night of the week, Barcelona is all about action. In Spain fiesta time starts late, so settle in at one of Barcelona’s many outdoor squares to enjoy a glass of sangria and nibble on tapas (plate-sized snacks), before a fun night out exploring the city’s nightlife with your new friends.
First stop: Montjuic. The hilltop has full-blown vistas of the city and it’s where we stop to check out the 1992 Olympic Games complex. Afterwards, get a look into Spanish architect Gaudi’s wild imagination with his Art Nouveau masterpiece, the Sagrada Família church. Your Trip Manager walks you through the cobbled lanes of Barcelona’s oldest district, the Gothic Quarter. There’s free time to discover more of Barcelona’s creative core. Pick up some quirky buys in the side streets or hit the big label shops on Plaça de Catalunya. Take in all of Barcelona’s buzzing street life on the tree-lined La Rambla – a boulevard packed with street performers, artists, shops and stalls. Other ideas for your afternoon off include hanging out in the colourful gardens of Parc Güell or kicking back with the locals on the beach and taking a swim in the Mediterranean sea. For lunch, there’s plenty of delicious local seafood to try as well as Spain’s signature dish, paella. Wrap up your time in this hot city with an optional flamenco dance show for a closer look into Spanish culture. Get some tips on regional food from your Trip Manager and head to one of the excellent local restaurants to try out the flavours of Catalan cuisine, like crema catalana (caramalised custard), cargos a la llauna (cooked snails) and the fantastic Rioja wine! Afterward, hit the pumping clubs of Port Olympico, by the water.
7 BARCELONA TO FRENCH RIVIERA
Unwind on the coach and take in the rustic beauty of Provence, known for its pretty landscapes of lavender, sunflowers and wild herbs. A stop for lunch in Arles means a look at the ancient Roman Arena and at a typical provincial French town. It’s back on the road to the rugged coast line of the stunning Côte d’Azur. Follow the beautiful sapphire waters past the movie-star glamour of Cannes (famous for its annual film festival), to Antibes.
8 FRENCH RIVIERA
Next stop on the Riviera and home to the French perfume industry is Fragonard perfumery. Learn about how perfume is made and some of its more surprising ingredients. It’s also a chance to pick up a bottle or 2 at great prices. In your free time live a bit of the lifestyle with a visit to the local markets. Try out the region’s produce like lavender honey, aioli (garlic mayonnaise) and mouth-watering rosé wine. Window shop the chic boutiques or choose a beach and catch some sun among all the bronzed bodies! Tonight get a taste of the high life in Monaco, the glamorous principality packed into just 1.92km² and home to the Formula 1. Get the inside story on the royal family and their place of residence from your Trip Manager. Try your luck at a casino later on!
9 FRENCH RIVIERA TO FLORENCE
Onwards to Italy, land of passion! Heading to Renaissance Florence, we stop by Pisa and get up close to the famous Leaning Tower. The scene-stealing Duomo Cathedral rises above Florence, which serves up frescoes, markets and priceless art. After dinner, walk along the River Arno with your Trip Manager, take in the atmosphere and head into the heart of Florence, where you can sit back and relax Tuscan style with a glass of Chianti wine.
Jump start the day uncovering this open-air museum and its UNESCO World Heritage city centre. Our Local Guide gives you the inside track as the group learns about Florence’s cultural beginnings and explores streets crammed with artworks from masters like Michelangelo. Then take a look into a skillful demonstration of Florentine leather making and understand this region’s traditional art. With bargains and bustle, the city’s markets are a great place to hang out. Grab a gelato and enjoy this gorgeous city. Tonight, there’s a choice of a group dinner - an authentic Tuscan feast. Try regional dishes in the heart of Florence. Then keep it moving with a night out and get your groove on at Florence’s biggest club.
11 FLORENCE TO ROME
Travel through Tuscany’s rustic hills, past the recognisable cypress tree landscapes of this olive oil producing region, to vibrant Rome. Stylish Rome oozes energy and overflows with relics from another age. Our special access coach tour gets you right into the thriving atmosphere of this living timeline as your Trip Manager shows you the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia. Continue on foot to check out the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Honour tradition at the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin in the fountain’s waters (it’s meant to improve your chances of returning to Rome!) or maybe hang out with your new friends at the Spanish Steps, sit back with a few slices of pizza and people watch.
This morning, make the most of our Local Guide’s inside knowledge with an optional guided tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Take off into the city and absorb the atmosphere, as Vespas flash past timeworn monuments that are surrounded by fountains, pizzerias, cafés and bars. Before you hit the shops, let your Trip Manager point you in the right direction with some tips on the best buys. In your free time, live the local lifestyle by indulging in a long lunch on a paved piazza or knock back a shot of espresso at the bar, like the Romans do.
13 ROME TO VENICE
Say ‘arriverderci’ to Rome, and take in the stunning views en route to the famous canals & gondolas of Venice.
Known as the “floating city”, Venice is packed with character, crammed with hidden lanes and linked by a network of canals. The group travels on our private boat through the waters of the lagoon to visit the city’s historical heart. The limestone Bridge of Sighs, the Gothic arches of the Doge’s Palace and the expanse of St Mark’s Square (pigeons and all!) show off Venice’s unique beauty and way of life. Take some time to explore the floating city and lose yourself in the backstreets. There’s an optional walking tour where you can discover the labyrinth of interweaving lanes, waterways, palaces, piazzi and markets with our Local Guide. You’ll see historic monuments, hidden treasures and the Rialto market – a local favourite for food shopping. Maybe grab a table on St Mark’s Square and eat some delicious Italian food al fresco. Cap off the day with an optional gondola ride & share this amazing experience with your friends - seeing Venice from on the water is unforgettable!
15 VENICE TO VIENNA
Chill out on the coach as we make our way through the mighty Dolomites and cruise pass typically Austrian villages, complete with wooden chalets and green mountain fields. Next stop is the cultural hub of Vienna. Tonight, there’s a chance to experience Vienna’s musical legacy with a Mozart and Strauss concert in one of the city’s imperial palaces.
Your Trip Manager starts the day by introducing the group to the city’s historical heritage. There’s the imperial grandeur of Schönbrunn Palace, the elegantly ornate State Opera House and St. Stephen’s Cathedral – a Gothic masterpiece. Cruise down Kärntner Strasse, Vienna’s main shopping spot and buy some traditional ceramics and materials for gifts back home. There’s free time to check out the magnificent squares and majestic palaces or the city’s art galleries. Take a break in a coffee house like the locals do, chill out in Vienna’s manicured gardens or wander along the Danube River. Get schnaps savvy with a behind-the-scenes look into this local liqueuer’s production in an optional excursion to the Old Vienna Schnaps Museum.
17 VIENNA TO MUNICH
It's on to the home of the world-famous Oktoberfest, Munich - a city that blends traditional Bavarian culture and modern lifestyle. Explore the heart of Munich’s old town with the crew, and head to Marienplatz. It’s a central gathering spot famous for the Glockenspiel - a Gothic clock, complete with 32 dancing figures and 43 chiming bells. Remember one of history’s darkest moments with a sobering stop at the Mathausen concentration camp memorial. Learn more about the history & walk through the remaining living quarters as you learn about the horrific experiences of the inmates once housed here. Then why not give an optional bike tour a go and get off the beaten track and onto Munich’s side streets with our Local Guide.
18 MUNICH TO AUSTRIAN TYROL
Roll on through the Tyrol’s massive mountains to a cute Austrian village in a region famous for adventure sports. Plunge into some whitewater rafting in an adrenalin-pumping optional activity on the river, or head down the bobbhan (bobsled) track (yep, just like the movie Cool Runnings) for some epic good times! With 2 nights in Contiki’s very own Austrian Gasthof (guest inn), there’s plenty of time for pulse-racing activities. Our resident team of on-site experts will give you pointers on the best stuff to do in the region and make sure you get everything out of your time here.
19 AUSTRIAN TYROL
This morning, fill your lungs with clean mountain air, jump on a bike and get into the region’s outdoor lifestyle with a fully guided optional tour through the Tyrol’s picture perfect scenery, complete with waterfalls and mountain fields. Work up an appetite – a BBQ lunch is waiting for you at the end! With time to do your own thing, laze about or get out for a walk in the surrounding hills. Catch up on some emails or postcards at the inn or take a gondola up the mountainside for more spectacular views of the area. For something different, pop into the local trout farm. For adrenaline-junkies, an optional tandem paragliding experience will give you an awesome angle on the surrounding Alpine scenery.
20 AUSTRIAN TYROL TO SWISS ALPS
This morning travel past the stony cliffs of Liechtenstein, into the capital, Vaduz, where you can grab some lunch and in enjoy it in the shadow of the Royal Family’s 12th century castle. Next stop: the jaw-droppingly beautiful alpine town of Lucerne. With covered wooden bridges, cobbled lanes and quaint buildings, Lucerne’s centre is perfect to explore on foot. Also to stock up on lots of genuine Swiss chocolate! Your Tour Manager can give you pointers on where to pick up the best-priced watches Switzerland is so famous for. Tonight, we head to the alpine heights of Lauterbrunnen and stay at Contiki’s very own Swiss Chalet.
21 SWISS ALPS
It’s a change of pace amongst Switzerland’s massive Alps. Take in the amazing views from your chalet window. Opt to visit Jungfrau Mountain, head up the sheer slopes of this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site on a cog rail to Europe’s highest railway station, and step out onto the “roof” of Europe for spine-tingling views. Back at the chalet, make the most of the genuine underground 'Bomb Shelter' and party it up with friends at the bar there.
22 SWISS ALPS TO RHINE VALLEY
Over the border and into Germany, we head to the university town of Heidelberg. Wander around, grab a late lunch and check out its famous Baroque church. The coach follows the Rhine River, weaving through valleys dotted with castles and vineyards. Next stop - the pretty, old-world village of St. Goar, complete with fairy tale castle and the world's largest free-hanging cuckoo clock! Learn about local know-how and get savvy on the craft of beer steins. Then kick back with a glass of local wine and choose to find out more with the optional wine tasting in a candlelit underground cellar.
23 RHINE VALLEY TO AMSTERDAM
In an intro into Dutch culture, see how clogs are made and try some of the famous Dutch Edam at a cheese farm. Cruise into the countryside and bike around like the laid back locals, past working windmills, to the world-famous cheese village of Edam. Head into the buzzing capital of Amsterdam and check out the eye-opening Red Light District, where the creative and the wacky come together on narrow cobbled streets, 24/7.
There’s free time to experience Amsterdam’s coffee shops, museums and quirky, cool boutiques. Wander along the canals and pass gabled houses or experience Amsterdam’s multi-ethnic cuisine. This cultural melting pot dishes up loads of affordable food. With an optional evening canal cruise, there’s a chance to toast your travels with the group, unwind with a few drinks and uncover Amsterdam at water level as you drift past the city lights. For your last night on the trip, treat yourself to a feast at a rice table dinner with the group in a popular restaurant. With this fun way to eat, you’ll be served loads of dishes from colonial times. Get some pointers from your Trip Manager, dive into Amsterdam’s night action with your friends and finish up your travels with a night to remember.
25 DEPART AMSTERDAM
This morning after breakfast we transfer you to Schiphol Airport (estimated arrival 10:00am) where your trip ends. Or choose to take a complimentary transfer to central London & extend your stay.
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