|Start Date||End Date||Offers||Brochure|
|Apr 04, 2020||May 16, 2020||Call Us||$8,525||Get Our Price||Get Quote|
|Apr 25, 2020||Jun 06, 2020||Call Us||$8,525||Get Our Price||Get Quote|
|May 16, 2020||Jun 27, 2020||Call Us||$8,525||Get Our Price||Get Quote|
|Jun 13, 2020||Jul 25, 2020||Call Us||$8,270||Get Our Price||Get Quote|
|Jul 18, 2020||Aug 29, 2020||Call Us||$8,270||Get Our Price||Get Quote|
|Aug 01, 2020||Sep 12, 2020||Call Us||$8,270||Get Our Price||Get Quote|
|Aug 29, 2020||Oct 10, 2020||Call Us||$8,270||Get Our Price||Get Quote|
|Sep 19, 2020||Oct 31, 2020||Call Us||$8,270||Get Our Price||Get Quote|
Elaborate architecture and exceptional cuisine, legendary landscapes and live history on the streets - western and central Europe is a place well worth its accolades. From the brash elegance of Madrid to the soft-hued sceneries of Avignon, the beer and bar cultures of Brussels and Berlin to the historical grandeur of Rome, this 43-day journey takes in the greatest gloats of the world's most travelled region. Check out the artistic edifices of Barcelona, cycle along the canal-lined boulevards of Amsterdam, discover Poland's hearty cuisine and get your adrenaline kicks in outdoorsy Bled. Striking the perfect balance of time for included activities and independent exploration, this is a great introduction to - or recapping of - some of the world's greatest cities.
Day 1: Madrid
Welcome to Madrid, Spain. The sassy central capital is known for its elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks, but it also pulsates with energy, and is without doubt a vibrant city. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at either 6 or 7pm, depending on common area availability. Please double check with reception to confirm the time and place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance, passport details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive on time, you may wish to arrive early. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). As there's limited time for sightseeing in Madrid, we recommend arriving a few days early. Perhaps while away the hours along the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk, for an expansive history of Western art. Start with the Museo del Prado, then discover modern Spanish masters, including Picasso and Dali, in the Museo Reina Sofia. Finish at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which displays eight centuries of European painting. After the welcome meeting, perhaps get into the mind of a Madrileño with some tapas and Rioja.
Day 2: Madrid
Today is free to discover Madrid. The city is renowned for its rich repositories of European art, while the heart of old Hapsburg Madrid is the portico-lined Plaza Mayor, and nearby is the baroque Royal Palace and Armoury. This stylish, cosmopolitan city is also well known for world-class restaurants, shopping and nightlife, so take some time to uncover these wonders. Take a break in the Real Jardin Botanico, a garden wonderland dating from the 18th century. Maybe simply people watch while you enjoy a coffee in one of the atmospheric streets and squares around the famous Plaza Mayor. You could also join an Urban Adventure to get a deeper insight into the city through its food and its markets. Sports fans, if you're lucky enough for your trip to fall on match day, you can don a white t-shirt and head to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to watch the mighty Real Madrid. At night, head out to Chueca, Plaza Dos de Mayo or Plaza Santa Ana, where the pulse of the city will lead you from bar to bar on a night out you are sure to remember.
Day 3: Cuenca
Today travel by bus to charming Cuenca (approximately 2.5 hours). The town is located literary on the edge of deep gorges created by two rivers: Jucar and Huecar. On arrival, venture out on an orientation walk around this historic World Heritage fortress city. The old part of this city is an outstanding medieval development built on steep mountainsides, with many casa colgadas (hanging houses) that are literally on the cliff edge. Like many towns in Spain, it was occupied for a period of time by the Muslim Moors who built the original fortress. Afterwards, use your free time getting to know the city. Perhaps visit the impressive 12th-century gothic Cathedral. There is also wonderful art all over the town, with a number of abstract artists making Cuenca their home in the 1960s. Evening is a great opportunity to gather together with the group and enjoy a dinner in this picturesque town, with the old city beautifully brushed with light from a series of high-powered lamps suspended half-way up the rock.
Day 4: Valencia
Take a train and head east to the coastal town of Valencia (approximately 4 hours). It's known for being the Spanish gateway to the Mediterranean, with a big port, beautiful beaches, restaurants and a beach promenade along the waterfront. The old town is set back from the seafront through, and in the centre you will find the beautiful monuments and historical buildings. Busy markets, clean beaches, spectacular mountains and a fascinating mix of old town and new town makes up the best of Valencia. Over the next couple of days, you have a lot of free time to wander around the city and see the sights. Explore the colourful stalls of the Mercado Central, and this evening perhaps head out to bar-hop and eat tapas in the Ciutat Vella (old town).
Day 5: Valencia
Take today to explore. Possibly visit the 13th-century cathedral, which houses what's claimed to be the Holy Grail, and climb the 207 steps of the Miguelete tower for the best views of the city. The Museum of the Fallas is another unique option, which contains a history of the Valencia Fire Festival in the form of giant papier mache figures. There are also many fine parks and gardens, or you may want to head to the beach of Playa de la Malvarrosa to soak up some sun. To try the paella that Valencia is famous for (rabbit and chicken), do as the locals do and head to the restaurant area of Las Arenas for a hearty and reasonably priced lunch. Valencia is also built with separate cycle paths, so it's really easy to get around. Perhaps rent a bike from one of the many bike stations dotted around the city. Cycle through the park that runs through the centre of the city to the impressively designed Museu de les Ciencies Príncipe Felipe (Arts and Science Museum). Tonight, maybe head south to Ruzafa, one of the city’s coolest areas.
Day 6: Barcelona
Today take the train up the coast to Barcelona (approximately 4 hours). Barcelona's quirky character and fabulous Catalan cuisine mixes seamlessly with a groundbreaking art scene, Gothic architecture, superb dining and a non-stop nightlife, making it a city you won't soon forget. In the afternoon, there are plenty of options to keep you busy. Wander the labyrinthine streets of the old Gothic Quarter and navigate your way through the throngs of tourists along La Rambla, Barcelona's famous tree-lined boulevard. Perhaps pay a visit to the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia or the Museum of City History to brush up on your local knowledge. Take the funicular to the top of Montjuic or Tibidabo for panoramic views of Barcelona and the harbour. The heart of Catalonia prides itself as a gastronomic centre and so this evening perhaps head out to taste the reputation for yourself. Take a tapas crawl through rustic Catalan dishes in the funky neighbourhood of El Born.
Day 7: Barcelona
Your second day here is free to partake in some of the optional activities on offer in Barcelona. In the morning perhaps head to the stalls of Santa Catarina Market, a huge trove of local produce beneath a colourful, undulating roof, and hang out with the locals. The city is famous for its architecture, from its impressive gothic main cathedral to the houses, concert halls, palaces and basilicas designed in the unique Catalan Modernista style. The master of this movement was Antonio Gaudi, who's eccentric creations are dotted all over the city. A visit to Gaudi's masterpiece, the modern basilica of La Sagrada Familia, is a must, even if it's just to see the outside. Gaudi worked on this hugely ambitious project for decades until his death, and it remains in constant construction. Perhaps check out the Neo-Gothic mansion of Guell Palace, or the wave-inspired structure of Casa Battlo. For more insight into the artist himself, head to the Gaudi House Museum inside Parc Guell. For something a little different, perhaps have a poke around the Old Santa Creu Hospital. For your final night, perhaps finish the day with a sip of red wine from a porro – a traditional glass pitcher.
Day 8: Barcelona
Today is free for you to enjoy as you please. Set out to discover more of Barcelona in detail. With great restaurants, art galleries, shopping and nightlife on offer, Barcelona is a world-class city exuding confidence and style through every pore.
Day 9: Barcelona
Perhaps use your free time today to go on a tapas tour or explore the outskirts of the city with its sleepy villages and olive groves. Unearth the city's groundbreaking art scene, Gothic architecture, amazing cuisine, Catalan identity, beach vibe and proud character. Visit the labyrinthine streets of the old Gothic Quarter, the Picasso Museum, wander the tree-lined pedestrian boulevard of La Rambla or take the funicular to the top of Montjuic or Tibidabo for panoramic views of Barcelona and the harbour. Gaudi's bizarre La Sagrada Familia Basilica is possibly the most iconic landmark, along with the Camp Nou. Both the cathedral and the football stadium provide guided tours at an additional charge.
Day 10: Avignon
Take to the fields of Provence on the train to Avignon, south-west France (approximately 5-6 hours). This journey is idyllic, so make sure you have a camera ready. With mountain hideaways and emerald vineyards, the Mediterranean coastline of Provence folds into tabletop mountains where fields of lavender and wildflower cover the landscape. On arrival into Avignon, check in to your hotel and then take a walk around this walled city that was once home to French popes for more than a century.
Day 11: Avignon
Today use your free time here wisely, as there are lots of sights and activities to keep you busy. Comb the city's impressive collection of art, visit the grand Palais des Papes (Pope's Palace) and cross the iconic bridge of Pont St-Benezet. Perhaps hire a bike to see more of this picturesque valley and head to one of the city's amazing bakeries. You can even put a baguette in your basket. In the evenings, there are many small French bistros that serve up great cuisine that's native to the region.
Day 12: Paris
Travel north on the train to France's cosmopolitan capital, Paris, which should take around three to four hours. Rich in museums, art galleries, monuments, fashion and delicious food, Paris offers a wealth of major sights and things to do. On arrival into the city, check in to the hotel and then you're free to do as you wish. Wandering around the Champs-Elysees, the student-filled Latin Quarter and the bohemian Montmartre will give you a good feel for the city. There is so much to do in Paris that it might be a good idea to make a plan before you arrive.
Day 13: Paris
The Tuileries, Plantes and Jardin du Luxembourg are all excellent places to enjoy a simple baguette with cheese on summer days, or head to a cafe to have a coffee (the French drink it black) and watch the world go by. Explore the world-famous Louvre, where you can see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Join the Thinker in his eternal contemplation at the Rodin Museum. Visit the Musee d'Orsay, home to some of the most famous Impressionist paintings. Climb the Eiffel Tower (or take the lift) for some impressive aerial views of Paris. Study the Notre Dame Cathedral with its vast rose window and menacing gargoyles. The Paris restaurant scene and nightlife is also worth sinking your teeth into. Marais is a great district for trendy bars and eateries, while Bastille is well-known for its clubs.Notes: To avoid queuing at the ticket windows of the Louvre you can buy your ticket in advance, but pre-sold tickets can't be collected at the Louvre. The ticket is valid every day except Tuesday (when the museum is closed) and certain bank holidays. Book your tickets at: louvre.fr.
Day 14: Paris
Another day in Paris? There is still plenty to discover in this European city. Perhaps start ticking more museums or cathedrals of the list – you surely couldn’t have done them all yesterday. If you think you have, try Paris’ ‘other’ museums. The Museum of Comparative Anatomy and Paleontology provides an amazing look into a the world of 19th century science with rows and rows of animal skeletons marching shoulder to shoulder against walls lined with old wood and glass cabinets. Within the Jardin des Plantes where the museum resides there is also a botanical garden, zoo and an array of other natural history museums. Feeling like Art? Paris has a selection of world class street art sport. The best spot for a graffiti-viewing urban safari is the Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement, one of the most exciting and up-and-coming areas in town. Chock-full of wonderful restaurants, artistic shops and great graffiti, the area is a great place for leisurely strolling. In the evening, on warm summer day, visit the quai along the left bank of Port St. Bernard. It comes alive with people strolling, picnicking and ballroom dancing. Sounds like a perfect place to finish of your Paris adventure.
Day 15: Luxembourg
Cross the border from France on the train into Luxembourg City, which should take just over two hours. As one of the smallest countries in the EU, Luxembourg has transformed itself into a busy, successful and historical centre with ample of natural beauty. Check in to the hotel on arrival and then head out into the city's World Heritage listed Old Town, which is perched high above the narrow valleys of the Alzette and Petrusse rivers. Stroll along the promenade of Chemin de la Corniche, said to be 'Europe's most beautiful balcony', and take it all in. The city is also full of old and modern galleries and museums to explore, such as the Musee d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg (Luxembourg City History Museum). Perhaps take a guided tour of the turreted Palais Grand-Ducal (built in 1573), which is home to the Grand Duke. In the evening, you may want to venture out with the group for a meal (at your own cost) in this sophisticated setting.
Day 16: Brussels
Leave Luxembourg behind and jump a train to Brussels, which should take you around three and a half hours. During your time in Brussels there are lots of sights to see, delicious foods to eat and culture to be discovered. It might be a good idea to start your journey at the medieval, cobblestone square of the Grand Place. This area can only be accessed on foot and is surrounded by local markets, chocolate shops and expensive cafes and restaurants. From here, wander down to the Manneken Pis (Little Man Pee), which is an iconic symbol of Belgium. If you’re interested in music, the must-see place is The Musical Instrument Museum. Three floors of musical instruments coming from each side of the world and hundreds of years of musical history in one place.An evening in Brussels wouldn't be complete without a huge portion of moules-frites (mussels and fries) and a glass of Belgian beer. If you like a night out, Ilot Sacre is a great place to find good food and fun bars. The Delirium Cafe is the ideal spot for listening to live blues deep into the night.
Day 17: Brussels
Enjoy a free day in Brussel. Discover the town further, perhaps visit mini-Europe theme park featuring miniature replicas of European monuments and judge if they are similar to the original ones. By now, you have definitely seen a handful of those in reality. Alternatively, climb inside an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times its normal size. The Atomium - a strange looking structure built in 1958 for Brussels Worlds Fair, now became a permanent part of city’s landscape. There is also an option to venture out of the city and discover Bruges or Antwerp. Jump on a train and visit one of these historical towns, either a most fairy-tale place in this part of Europe, medieval Bruge, or a port city of Antwerp, full of diamond traders, cutters and polishers. Finish off your day in Delirium Café, a cosy basement bar, tucked away on a cobblestone backstreet in the heart of Brussels. Café has an inventory of over 2000 beers.
Day 18: Amsterdam
Cross another border, as you travel into the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam (approximately three hours by bus). Best way to get your head around this city, is to do as locals do – cycle. Consider a half day tour of the city on two wheels. This will provide you with a good understanding of the layout of the city for the next couple of days. Amsterdam, a network of canals, bridges and parks is also spoilt for choice when it comes to museums. One of its best is the Rijksmuseum, whose most famous work is Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch'. Visit the Van Gogh Museum, which comprises nearly every painting, sketch, print, etching, and piece of correspondence that Vincent van Gogh ever produced, including 'Sunflowers'. After seeing the painted variety, wander through the real thing at the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market).
Day 19: Amsterdam
Another day in Amsterdam could easily be spent with history in mind. Visit Anne Frank's House, the former hiding place of Anne Frank and seven others during World War II, and the place where she wrote her now-famous diary, is today preserved as a museum. A visit here not only allows you to climb into the attic and learn about the history of those who hid there, but also challenges you to examine your views by posing modern ethical questions. Move on to De Waag (weigh house), 15th-century building on Nieuwmarkt square. As many of Amsterdam’s historic buildings have enjoyed multiple uses through the centuries, Dee Waag is no exception. Constructed first as a gate for the city's fortified walls, it was later transformed into a 'weigh house' where goods brought back by ships from overseas were weighed. In later years, it served as a guild house for local professions and has also been a museum, fire station and more. In its most recent incarnation, the Waag houses a well-received café-restaurant as well as space (the former anatomy theater) for various types of exhibits. The Waag is located in the Chinatown district of Amsterdam. Great place to go for Chinese food afterwards.
Day 20: Amsterdam
Today is your last day in Amsterdam. Why not get to know the secrets of its cuisine? Perhaps find out why Dutch don't talk much about their food, unless it’s about pancakes! Pannekoeken are a traditional Dutch treat — sometimes sweet, sometimes savoury, but always delicious! Snack on salty fries, savouring rich cheeses and sip boozy spirits. Bask in the glory of liquid sunshine – visit the best bars, breweries and beer halls of this brew-loving city. From a place where nuns used to brew ales, to the mothership of Dutch beer brewing - the original Heineken building - see, and taste, the Netherlands strong brewing history.
Day 21: Berlin
Leave Amsterdam behind and take the train into Germany for your final stop of the trip, Berlin (approximately 6.5 hours). As there's not too much free time to fully explore Berlin, it's recommended that you book an extra couple of days to give yourself more time. Our reservations team can help (subject to availability). If you're a bit daunted by the size of the city, there are countless bus tours that operate throughout Berlin and they're an ideal way to find your feet. There are many unique memorials and sites holding significance in Berlin's more recent history, which are all designed to provoke thought as well as commemorate. These include the Jewish Memorial, the empty shelves of Bebelplatz and the confronting Topography of Terror. The Reichstag, designed by British architect Norman Foster, holds a special and symbolic meaning outside of its role as the home of parliament. The great glass dome that crowns the building also offers sweeping views over Berlin. Make sure you book your visit early in the morning, as queues can snake around the building for hours on end. Wander through the Brandenburg Gate and witness the crumbling remnants of the Berlin Wall that are scattered all over the city. Checkpoint Charlie and its museum overlook the former border checkpoint dividing East and West, explaining how the city came to be divided overnight and its attempts to escape from behind the Iron Curtain. Berlin is a haven for good food, with a mix of classic German, Bavarian and Italian influences. Consider spending an evening celebrating life as the locals do - at a bar, lounge, nightclub or embracing some live music.
Day 22: Berlin
Today is free for you to enjoy as you please. Set out to discover more of Berlin in detail. Find out why locals follow the credo 'live and let live' with greater emphasis on personal freedom and a creative lifestyle than on material wealth and status symbols.
Day 23: Berlin
Morning and part of the afternoon are free, so perhaps check out the remaining fragments of the Wall scattered around the city, dropping by Checkpoint Charlie to see where the main gate between East and West Berlin used to stand. Or visit the Brandenburg Gate, the iconic Reichstag building or the powerful Holocaust Memorial. There also is some great street art in Berlin, especially around the neighbourhoods of Mitte, where our hotel is, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain (where our hotel is). In late afternoon, you'll board an overnight train for Krakow in Poland. Don’t be late!
Day 24: Krakow
Arrive into Krakow, your base for the next two nights. After arrival, follow your leader on a city orientation walk and step back in time as your wander the World Heritage-listed old town, shopping for amber jewellery or local crafts. Discover Wawel Royal Castle which sits atop a hill next to the Vistula River. Check out the 13th-century town square of Rynek Glowny and get a glimpse of the impressive St Mary's Basilica (which features an extraordinary wood-carved Gothic altarpiece). Another beautiful church is the neo-Gothic St Francis' Basilica, which boasts some of Poland's best Art Nouveau. This city is also home to the second oldest university in Central Europe, Jagiellonian Univeristy (the oldest is in Prague). It counts Copernicus and Pope John Paul II among its alumni.
Day 25: Krakow
If you can tear yourself away from Krakow on your free day, head out to the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a network of tunnels and chambers some 135 metres below the ground. This is a salt mine that has been in operation for over 700 years. The mine has a labyrinth of tunnels, pits and chambers, all hewn by hand from solid salt, with beautifully adorned chapels and underground lakes. Don't miss a look at the elaborate salt chandeliers and carvings in the Blessed Kinga Chapel. Alternatively, you might like to take a sobering day trip out to Auschwitz and Birkenau, the sites of some of the Holocaust's worst atrocities. Perhaps end the day in one of Krakow's many cellar restaurants for a plate of pierogi and a drink.
Day 26: Prague
Take a minivan trip to the town of Ostrava (approximately 2.5 hours), then board the train to Prague (approximately 3 hours). After arrival and check in to our hotel, the leader will show you the highlights of this beautiful city on an orientation walk. Prague's architecture can be traced from the Middle Ages through to the avant-garde of the Gehry-designed Dancing Building (also called the Fred and Ginger Building). Spend your free afternoon at Prague Castle, the biggest in the Czech Republic, where you'll find the famous St Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane. Wander through the old Jewish Quarter to see what remains of the city's formerly large Jewish community.
Day 27: Prague
Another day in Prague and so many possibilities. You have a free day to discover the Bohemian Prague; extravagant, political, passionate, and fueled with Czech Water. Learn how the Bohemian artists, writers, dissidents, and the Bohemian mentality shaped the nation. Don’t forget to sample some of the best Czech beers and traditional and modern Czech snacks along the way. If you feel like going for a day trip out of the city, ask your leader to help you organise a trip to Kutna Hora. See Church of Santa Barbara and Sedlec ossuary or The Church of Bones if you like, a small Roman Catholic chapel that contain the skeletons of between 40.000 and 70.000 people. Back in Prague remember that the Old Town at night is truly special. There are many great restaurants and pubs, some in old vaulted cellars. The nightlife in Prague is some of the best in Central Europe. Whether dance clubs, beer-halls or underground absinthe bars are your thing, there's something for everyone. The city also boasts one of Europe's most respected jazz scenes. If you find yourself out until the early hours in a jazz club, have a wander along Charles Bridge or the Old Town Square as the sun rises for magical photo opportunities.
Day 28: Cesky Krumlov
Depart Prague and travel by bus to Cesky Krumlov (approximately 4 hours). This picturesque medieval town dates back to the 13th century and appears to be plucked straight out of a fairytale. Wander the cobbled alleyways of the old town and admire the buildings. Great way to discover the town is with to join a tour guided by a local. You will learn about the architectural symbolism and old town mysteries from an expert. Climb up to the castle perched on a hill and check out its fabulous Masquerade Hall. Sensational views can be seen from the tower. Weather and time permitting, take a relaxing 2–3 hour rafting or canoeing trip along the river that runs right through town.
Day 29: Vienna
Take a minivan to the cosmopolitan city of Vienna. There is so much to explore here! After arrival, your leader will help you take your picks by showing you the city centre on foot. Afternoon will be free to explore the city. Art lovers will be delighted by the vast array of museums on offer, including the Albertina, the Leopold, Kunsthalle Wien and the Museum of Modern Art. Those with an interest in 19th and 20th century Austrian art should visit the Belvedere Palace, home to Gustav Klimt's painting 'The Kiss'. Check out the colourful Hundertwasserhaus or admire the dome of the Secession building. Perhaps visit Hofburg Palace, once the imposing winter retreat of Habsburg royals and now the official residence of the Austrian president. Apparently no visit to Vienna is complete without attending an opera or concert. Check what Vienna State Opera House has on offer (worth doing that in advance) and immerse yourself in the city’s immense musical pedigree.
Day 30: Vienna
Free day in Vienna will give you more time to visit places you didn’t manage to get to yesterday. Climb the tower of St Stephen's Cathedral, take a spin on the Prater Ferris Wheel or catch a dressage show at the Spanish Riding School. Head to Schoenbrunn Palace, which was designed by Empress Maria Theresa herself. The gardens are free to all visitors but there is a charge for entrance and tours of the palace. Avoid long queues by pre-booking your tickets at schoenbrunn.at. After all this sightseeing, you might like to indulge in a traditional Viennese coffee and Sacher torte, before capping off the evening with a spot of Mozart, Bach or Schubert at the opera house.Note: The Spanish Riding School doesn't operate throughout the summer months. You will need to book tickets in advance to see the performance of the Lipizzaners. Phone +43 (0)1 505 77 66 55 or e-mail [email protected] to arrange tickets.
Day 31: Budapest
Travel from Vienna to Budapest by train (approximately 3 hours). Known as the 'Pearl of the Danube', Budapest's grand architecture and boulevards evoke a bygone era. Your leader will introduce you to the city by taking you for an orientation walk. With so much to see and do, in your free time head out to Statue Park to see the communist monuments that were removed from the city after the fall of the Iron Curtain. One unmissable activity is a soak in one of the city's many hot thermal baths. The baths feature pools of varying degrees; some even have whirlpools or built-in seats where you can relax or play a game of chess. Dinner comes, best way to feats in Budapest is to grab a bowl of hearty Hungarian goulash.
Day 32: Budapest
Enjoy a free day in the Pearl of the Danube. Perhaps explore the historical Buda castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings. Forget about the bustling city and lose yourself in the history of the winding streets of Castle District, which dates back to the 13th century and soak up the atmosphere of a beloved mid-19th century local pastry shop. In the afternoon perhaps take one of the tourist boat trips along the Danube River for spectacular views of the Parliament Building, the Castle District and the bridges linking Buda to Pest. The spectacle is particularly beautiful at night.
Day 33: Bled
Take a train (approximately 8 hours) to Ljubljana, followed by a connecting bus to the town of Bled , situated at the edge of the Julian Alps. Arrive in late afternoon and follow your leader to the shore of beautiful Lake Bled, from where all of the town’s attractions can be seen and explained. For a taste of the local cuisine, some Bled cake is a must, made of vanilla, custard, cream and pastry. Alternatively, join the group for dinner (optional) to taste some Slovenian specialties.
Day 34: Bled
No better place to get active than in Bled. You have a free day to go for a lake walk (or run if you feel like!) in the morning, and perhaps enjoy a full day adventure around Triglav Massive. There are many outdoor activities available here to get the blood pumping, such as rafting, caving, canoeing and swimming. Why not hire a bike and head four kilometres out of town to Vintgar Gorge, where you can take a walk through a beautiful natural canyon. Perhaps explore Bled Castle, perched atop the cliff overlooking the lake, or catch a pletna (small wooden boat) over to the island in the middle of the lake to ring the wishing bell. Another option is to take a day trip to Lake Bohinj, situated in a glaciated valley. There, you can ascend Mt Vogel by cable car for awesome views of the ranges. If the weather is clear, you may even see out to Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia (note that the weather on top of Mt Vogel varies greatly; it's a ski resort in the winter). Check with your leader for all the options and book in advance not to miss out. If you don’t feel like going crazy, just enjoy the beauty of the place; perhaps find a quite spot near the lake and spend a day reading your book.
Day 35: Venice
Travel by train through stunning scenery to one of the world's most unique cities, Venice (approximately 5.5 hours). A city of canals, Venice is built over a hundred small islands connected by 400 bridges. Head out for an orientation walk with your tour leader. The best way to do this is by foot, taking in all the famous sights – the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, the Palace of the Doge (the ruler of Venice), the Piazza San Marco with its golden Basilica, and of course the evocative Bridge of Sighs. Wander the cobblestone streets and spacious piazzas, crossing hundreds of tiny bridges. There are shops, markets, galleries and churches around every corner. Don't miss taking a gondola trip through the romantic canals or sampling a slice of region's desert speciality, tiramisu (coffee-soaked sponge cake). Conclude the day by tasting delicious Italian food during the farewell dinner with your group, toasting to all the adventures and great memories made.
Day 36: Venice
On the final day of the trip, there are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Day 37: Venice
Today venture out and explore Venice. There are only two ways to get around this city – on foot or by boat. Some of the more popular sights include Doge's Palace, the Piazza and Basilica di San Marco and the Bridge of Sighs. Take the vaporetto (water bus) over to the island of San Giorgio to climb the bell tower for the best view of Venice. No trip here would be complete without a journey down the Grand Canal in a Venetian gondola. It's a common way for visitors to see the major canal routes from an immersive perspective. While away your day in the busy San Marco square and be sure to try the local tiramisu and Italian coffee that's on offer. There’s creativity everywhere, overflowing into the canals; see it in the venetian glass in Dorsoduro or down the streets spreading out from Campo Santo Stefano, lined with unique galleries and small boutiques. Visit the Palazzo Ducale, overflowing with paintings by Italian masters, and contrast it with the modern Guggenheim. Simply enjoy getting lost crossing the hundreds of bridges and uncovering your own slice of Venice. In the evening, perhaps join your fellow travellers for a group dinner at a local restaurant. Venice is famous for its specialities of fresh lobster and squid ink spaghetti dishes, so make sure you give one a try.
Day 38: La Spezia
This morning spend the day travelling by train to the once important naval base of La Spezia, now the gateway to the gorgeous Cinque Terre, or ‘Five lands’ in English. The name comes from the five tiny villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – whose position, wedged into a series of coves between sheer cliffs, makes it one of the highlights of the whole of Italy. The journey usually takes between five and seven hours either via Milan or via Florence (depending on the best available connection), and is a very scenic trip through the north of Italy. On arrival in La Spezia there won't be too much time to explore yet, but after checking into your hotel perhaps get your bearings of the area with a short walk around the pedestrian zone on Via del Prione to the gardens along the harbour, or head out for dinner with the group.
Day 39: La Spezia / Cinque Terre
Today it is highly recommended to venture out on the footpaths of Cinque Terre (Five Lands), a region of Italy famed for its coastline and pastel villages. The footpaths that run between the villages were once the only way to travel in the region, and take you through olive groves, vineyards and on to idyllic vistas. You can choose to walk just a few sections, which will still unveil a great amount of majestic scenery. Some sections of path can be difficult, as there are challenging uphill stretches, narrow paths, steep cliffs and foot bridges. Please remember to bring comfortable footwear such as trainers or light hiking shoes. It's also possible to take the train between any of the villages or back to the group's base in La Spezia whenever you want. After working up an appetite, take advantage of the foods of the Liguria region with a pesto class. Focaccia is also a speciality in this area and makes a great start to lunch. Upon return to La Spezia in the evening, there's no better way to recover from your day of walking with more indulgence in delicious Mediterranean food.
Day 40: Florence
Depart Cinque Terre today and catch a train to Florence (approximately 3.5 hours). On arrival, check into the hotel and go for a brief walk around the immediate area to get your bearings. Florence is one of the most culturally rich and beautiful cities in Italy, known to many as the beating heart of Tuscany. The Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello and Michelangelo all lived in Florence at the height of their creative reign. Food is a major part of the city's identity, so perhaps explore some of the culinary delicacies on offer from across Tuscany. Regional specialities are noted for their simplicity and fine flavour, and the use of high-quality olive oil, cannellini beans and fresh herbs. Meat lovers should try the bistecca alla fiorentina, a huge T-bone steak that's usually shared between two people, or ribollita, a thick delicious vegetable soup with bread, beans and greens. Panforte is the signature sweet treat.
Day 41: Florence
Head out into the centre of Florence. It's impossible to see everything in this Renaissance wonderland, however, so take your time and enjoy it. Be captivated by the culture-rich atmosphere of Florence, from family-run vineyards on the outskirts of the city to the Duomo’s magnificent marble facade. Maybe start with a visit the Galleria dell'Accademia where you can see Michelangelo's famous statue of David. Stop by the Uffizi, one of the world's oldest art galleries, or walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which is set on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River, to take in beautiful views of the city – a lovely way to while away the day. There are plenty of sights to see during your time in Florence.
Day 42: Rome
In the morning, take the train to Rome (approximately 2 hours), and remember that while here, the best attitude is ‘when in Rome’! Join your leader on an orientation walk around the city, where you see some of the iconic sights such as the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine, the Forum (centre of ancient Rome), the Victor Emmanuel Monument, the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Via Dei Condotti and Piazza Venezia. Recharge with a slice of pizza and a strong espresso at the Piazza Navona or throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain and make a wish to return to the 'Eternal City'. No visit would be complete without a trip to Vatican City and St Peter's Basilica. Entry to the Basilica is free and there's a small charge to climb the dome for a panorama over the city. Art-lovers should visit the Sistine Chapel to admire the timeless work of Michelangelo, while history buffs will enjoy a jaunt through the ancient halls of the Pantheon. Rome is packed full of restaurants and trattorias that cater to every taste and budget. Local specialities tend to be quite heavy, and include pastas such as carbonara (egg, cheese and bacon) and amatriciana (tomato, bacon and chilli). Eating in trattorias will give you a chance to sample some Italian wines, with house choices usually very good and affordable. Head out in the evening with the group for a final farewell gastronomic fling.
Day 43: Rome
Your 'Madrid to Rome' trip comes to an end on the final morning. There are no activities planned for today and you're free to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is so much to see in Rome we recommend you to stay a little longer. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Please speak to your agent at the time of booking.
It's simple: You refer your friends, family, and anyone to us and when they book you will receive an American Express gift card worth up to $200 in the mail for simply referring.Read More