Company : Contiki
Countries: Austria / Belgium / Czech Republic / France / Germany / Italy / Netherlands / Switzerland
Duration: 2 weeks to 3 weeks
Approx Costs: 1000 to 1000 £ Pound (UK)
If you've been dreaming of going to Europe but don't know exactly where to start, the European Whirl is your best option.
If you've been dreaming of going to Europe but don't know exactly where to start, the European Whirl is your best option.
Taking in the usual destinations of Paris, Rome and Amsterdam, it also ventures out east to Prague and Berlin. Both of which are currently on Europe's 'must see' list. The perfect combination of culture, relaxation and of course, good times!
1. London to Amsterdam
Meet up with your Contiki Team before we hit the road and take a ferry past the White Cliffs of Dover. Next stop: the buzzing, free-wheeling city of Amsterdam. Check out Amsterdam’s eye-opening Red Light District, where the creative and wacky come together on narrow cobbled streets, 24/7. Get some pointers on the city’s hot spots from your Trip Manager and head into town for a fun night out.
2 . Amsterdam
Cruise into the countryside and bike around like the laid back locals, past working windmills, to the world-famous cheese village of Edam. In an intro into Dutch culture, see how clogs are made at a clog maker’s house and try some of the famous Dutch Edam at a cheese farm. Free time this afternoon to experience Amsterdam’s coffee shops, museums and quirky boutiques. 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 another angle on Amsterdam at water level. Get some pointers on the city’s hot spots from your Tour Manager and head into town for a fun night out.
3.Amsterdam to Berlin
Motor down the autobahn and get ready for a dose of über-cool Berlin. With two nights in this historical hot spot, you’ve got time to find out what makes Germany’s capital one of the most cutting-edge cities in the world. It’s hard to believe that this funky town has had such a troubled past. On arrival your Trip Manager will peel back the layers of history and point out the lesser-known details of Berlin’s troubled past on an orientation tour of the city.
Today why not join a local guide for a tour? Learn about the East/West split at the Berlin Wall and check out the controversial Reichstag (German Parliament) as well as Tiergarten (one the world’s biggest parks). You'll also visit Checkpoint Charlie, where many East Berliners tried to escape to the West, and be reminded of Germany’s darker past at the Brandenburg Gate. Do as the Berliners do and grab a currywurst (a local favourite) and kick back at a Bierkeller (German beer house). Experience the world of espionage in an optional evening Eye Spy Berlin tour with our Local Guide, and enjoy a fascinating look into the Stasi (what was once the East German Secret Police). Then top off your time in Berlin with some of your new friends and explore the city’s legendary nightlife. With cool cocktail bars and some of the best techno clubs in the world, there are heaps of fun choices.
5. Berlin to Prague
Heading south, we roll on to the region of Dresden, often dubbed 'Florence of the North' because of its beauty. This town completely rebuilt itself after being flattened in World War II. Then we head over the border and into the Czech Republic to Prague. Prague is a beautiful and atmospheric city. It’s also pretty compact, so it’s best explored on foot. Get straight into Prague’s historic heart with your Trip Manager. You’ll walk together over the landmark Charles Bridge, through Hradcany Castle, the home of the original Bohemian Kings and to the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral along the way. With a night off, spend some time in the picturesque Old Town Square, where historic buildings and churches surround cafés that spill out onto the pavement. With some world-famous Czech pilsner in hand, park yourself at a table, people-watch and try out some of the traditional local dumplings.
More free time means you can get deeper into Prague’s Old Town in your own time. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a jumble of little lanes, alleys and courtyards. Slow the pace down and give yourself a chance to uncover its hidden treasures. This is also the spot to pick up some famous Bohemian glass, beads or garnet and amber jewellery. Choose a lunch cruise on the Vltava River, which runs through the heart of Prague, and take in stunning views of the city from the water. The Czech capital has a really mixed past so look out for signs of the Holy Roman Empire, the Bohemian Empire, the Nazis and the Communists. By night, Prague is loaded with all types of music, from jazz bars and hip DJs to opera. There is something for everyone, so make the most of it with the group.
7. Prague to Munich
Today we travel 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. Later 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.
8. Munich to Austrian Tyrol
Journey through the Tyrol and "The Sound of Music" country to a cute Austrian village in a region famous for adventure sports. With 1 night in Contiki’s very own Austrian Gasthof (guest inn), our resident crew will give you pointers on the best stuff to do in the region and make sure you get everything out of your time here. We always put on different theme parties for our groups at the Gasthof bar – so get dressed up for a fun night in. Your Trip Manager will tell you all about it. 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. 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.
9. Austrian Tyrol to Venice
Kick start the day and plunge into some whitewater rafting in an adrenalin-pumping optional activity on the river. Wind through the Central Austrian Alps via the Brenner Pass to Italy, the land of passion! First stop, fairy tale 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. Cap off the day with an optional gondola ride & share this amazing experience with your friends - seeing Venice from on the water is unforgettable!
11. Venice to Rome
Criss-cross the Apennine Mountains on the road to Rome. Stylish Rome oozes energy and overflows with relics from another age. Our special access coach trip 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 Florence
Next up: Umbria’s rustic hills and many vineyards. Travel past the iconic cypress trees of this olive oil producing region, to the Renaissance city of Florence. The scene-stealing Duomo Cathedral rises above the city. Get the inside track on Florence’s cultural beginnings from our Local Guide as the group explores streets crammed with artworks from masters like Michelangelo. Then, take a look into a skilful demonstration of Florentine leather making and understand this region’s traditional art. Tonight there’s a choice of a group dinner - an authentic Tuscan feast, where you’ll get to try regional dishes in the heart of Florence. Afterwards, head with the group to a local bar, order yourself a glass of Chianti wine and kick back Tuscan style.
14. Florence to Swiss Alps
Catch a glimpse of Lake Como as we move on to Switzerland and travel through the Gotthard Tunnel – the second longest in Europe. 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 Trip 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. While you’re here, you’ll get to eat a traditional Swiss fondue with the group.
15. 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.
16. Swiss Alps to Paris
With down-time on the coach, plug in your MP3, chill out to some music and chat with friends while travelling through the scenic wine producing region of Burgundy. Tonight, the group kick starts Paris with the “Paris by Night”, which shows off the French capital’s transformation into the 'City of Lights'. Lamp-lit bridges and cool little cafes 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.
Next up: Fragonard! This perfumery has an elegant interior and is a unique setting for a look into the history of perfume. It’s also a chance to pick up some French perfume at great prices. Discover the 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 or explore the endless galleries of the Louvre, where you can get up close to the famous Mona Lisa. Tonight is the last night with your friends, so make it special. Treat yourself to the full Parisian night out, starting with an optional dinner in an atmospheric restaurant. Then sign up for an authentic cabaret experience, complete with can-can girls, dinner and Champagne. But don’t stop there – afterwards hit the clubs and finish up your travels with a big Parisian night out.
18. Depart Paris
This morning after breakfast we transfer you to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (estimated arrival 10:00am) where your trip ends. Or choose to take a complimentary transfer to central London & extend your stay.
Having recently finished University & wanting to see Europe as fast and as cheap as possible, I found myself looking into options for package tours that were going to offer the best experience possible, at a reasonable price & with the less stress necessary.
After weighing up my options I booked the European Whirl tour - a high energy, fast paced tour that hit all the key areas at an affordable price in an amazing period of 18 days. Being a budget traveller I knew that this tour would met my expectations but it did even more than that, the experience I had was unreal. I visited 8 countries in total, experienced extremely different cultures and traditions through the various shows and attractions included in the tour, pushed myself to meet new people & was able to make some of the most incredible friends along the way. All whilst having no stress as all I needed to do was jump on the bus and join my (more often than not) hungover friends as we ventured through to the next destination and did it all again.
Take my advice, if you're looking for a trip that provides you with an opportunity to visit an array of countries all whilst making insane friends & memories and being stress free then this is the trip for YOU. No stress, no worries, no regrets - Contiki is the perfect adult playground on a reasonable budget.
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