Highlights of Europe
Let your sense of wanderlust run wild with this whirlwind tour around some of the continent's most iconic cities.
Discover Europe's many delights with this fourteen-day tour, where Germany showcases its fairy-tale castles and rolling vineyards in the romantic Rhine Valley, plus foodie fun at Munich's popular Viktualienmarkt. It's then onto Venice, where a cruise to St Mark's Square and fascinating trips to a traditional glassblower and gondola-builder awaits, whilst your time in Rome includes VIP fast-track access to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. Head to the Swiss mountains in Salzburg and catch the spellbinding alpine scenery from a thrilling cable car ride, before ending your adventure on a high – quite literally, atop the Eiffel Tower – in Paris.
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Duration: 14 days
Company: Insight Vacations
Tour Highlights: London, Brussels, Heidelberg, Munich, Salzburg, Venice, Rome, Vatican City, Florence, Lucerne, Paris
- Brussels: Walk through the Grand Place to the Mannekin Pis.
- Cologne: View the Gothic Cathedral. Heidelberg: See the red sandstone castle and explore the baroque Old Town.
- Heidelberg: See the red sandstone castle and explore the baroque Old Town.
- Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber: Visit Europe's finest medieval town.
- Munich: See the Olympic Stadium, Ludwigstrasse, Marienplatz and neogothic Town Hall.
- Salzburg: Walk through the Mirabell Gardens with a guide, see Mozart's Birthplace and the Cathedral.
- Venice: Cruise, with commentary, to St. Mark's Square. See the Doges' Palace, Bridge of Sighs and St. Mark's Basilica.
- Rome: Visit St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican City. See the mighty Colosseum and overlook the Forum.
- Florence: Walk with your guide to the Cathedral, see the 'Gates of Paradise' and open-air gallery of Signoria Square. Witness a traditional Florentine leather-work demonstration.
- Lucerne: View the emotive Lion Monument. See the covered Chapel Bridge and Jesuit Church.
- Paris: See Notre Dame Cathedral, the façades of the Louvre Museum, the Place de la Concorde. Drive along the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Admire the art nouveau inspired architecture on a short journey through the 'Métro de Paris'.
- Scenic Drives: Tauern Mountains, Swiss Alps, Burgundy.
- Brussels: Marriott Brussels: Marriott, Located in the heart of Brussels within walking distance to the Grand Place. All guest rooms are elegantly designed and feature luxury bedding.
- Heidelberg: Crowne Plaza Heidelberg City Centre is in the heart of historical Heidelberg and including its own swimming pool and sauna. Modern and well-appointed rooms.
- Munich: The Westin Grand Munich Hotel. A modern hotel located in the fashionable Bogenhausen district. Facilities include internet connection, satellite television, hair dryer, coffee and tea making facilities, mini-bar and safe.
- Salzburg: Castellani Park Hotel. The exclusive hotel is close to the historic city centre, only 15 minutes' walk to the Old Town. All guest rooms offer air conditioning, Sky TV and radio, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, 2 telephones, mini-bar and safe.
- Venice: Facing the Grand Canal, the Hotel Carlton on the Grand Canal is situated close to all main visitor attractions. Rooms combine 18th century Venetian style with all modern comforts.
- Rome: Kolbe Hotel. This magnificent 15th century luxury four star hotel, which was once a convent, is strategically located in the heart of Rome just steps in front of the Roman Forum, a short walk to the Coliseum and Trastevere and a few metro stops from the Spanish Steps, Trevi fountain and Piazza Navona.
- Florence: Hotel Adler Cavalieri Florence, located in the historic centre of Florence, is elegantly decorated with 19th century furnishings, Tuscan marble and wood panelling. Facilities include a Wellness centre and gym.
- Lucerne: Astoria Hotel. A recently refurbished city centre hotel, just minutes from the lake. It has a lively rooftop bar with views of Lucerne as well as several restaurants and a coffee shop.
- Paris: Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel - Located on the Left Bank of the Seine River near the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Recently renovated, all rooms feature luxurious bedding, safes, high-speed Internet access and air conditioning.
- 13 nights accommodation in first-class hotels
- Insight signature experiences
- Insight Flourishes – from time to time, your tour director will enchant you with local tidbits, each representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination
- Audio headsets for flexible sightseeing
- Expert Travel Director and separate driver
- Luxury air-conditioned coach or alternative transportation (such as rail journeys)
- London airport arrival transfer service available, and Paris airport transfer included at scheduled times on departure day.
- Complimentary wifi throughout the coach and hotels to stay connected
- All porterage and restaurant gratuities
- Tour also available for summer 2016
Depart from London by Eurostar for Brussels
Meet your Tour Director and transfer to London's St. Pancras Station to board the high-speed Eurostar. Your two-hour rail journey takes you via the historic Channel Tunnel to Brussels. Alternatively, join at the Brussels Hotel. In the afternoon, stroll through the beautiful Grand Place, with its gilded buildings and see the cheeky Mannekin Pis. Later, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception and an opportunity to mingle and get to know each other over a warm evening of dinner and wine. (Welcome Reception and Dinner)
Glide past the Castles of the Rhine Valley to Heidelberg
Travel into Germany to view the spires of Cologne Cathedral before continuing along the Rhine, via Bonn, to Boppard. Join a cruise, passing medieval hilltop castles and steep leafy vineyards to the village of St. Goar, near the legendary Loreley Rock. Continue on to Heidelberg to see the clifftop castle. (Buffet Breakfast / Dinner)
To Rothenburg and along the Romantic Road to Munich
Stop in medieval Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, still surrounded by its old walls and watch towers, frozen in time since the 16th century.
Continue along the Romantic Road to the Bavarian capital of Munich. See the Olympic Stadium, Ludwigstrasse, Marienplatz and soaring Town Hall. Stroll through Munich's open-air food market, the Viktualienmarkt, with its beer garden. Meet a local market stallholder and sample some of his delicious produce. Tonight, maybe sample a stein of beer in a local beer hall? (Buffet Breakfast)
Head to Salzburg, City of Mozart
A short drive leads over the Austrian border to Salzburg, the city of Mozart and the 'Sound of Music' and 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic musical.
Sightseeing with a Local Expert shows you the formal gardens of Mirabell Palace which includes the fountains and statues where the "Do, Re, Mi" scene in the film was created and later you'll cross Residence Square with its fountain where Maria sings "I have confidence" was filmed. You'll also witness the imposing fortress, cathedral and Mozart's birthplace on the lively Getreidegasse. (Buffet Breakfast)
Across the Tauern Mountains to Venice
Enjoy a leisurely morning in Salzburg to shop for local marzipan specialties or seek out locations from the Sound of Music. Then stunning scenery surrounds you on the drive down through the Tauern Mountains to the Carinthian Lake District. Cross the Italian border and descend to the romantic city of Venice. Your prestigious hotel occupies an old convent building in the greenest part of the city centre. (Buffet Breakfast / Dinner)
Venice & the Magic of 'La Serenissima'
Waking up to the sights and sounds of Venice is a thrill for even the most experienced traveller.
A morning boat transfer brings you to Giudecca Island to witness the age-old skills of glassblowers and gondola builders. Then cruise by Palladio's San Giorgio Maggiore to St. Mark's Square. Alight to see Lord Byron's Bridge of Sighs which connects the Doge's Palace to the prisons. In the square, the bell tower comes into view, plus the beautiful mosaics of St. Mark's Basilica and the Clock Tower Moors, who have been striking the hour for over 500 years. The rest of the day is free to shop in the small arcades. (Buffet Breakfast)
On to the Eternal City of Rome
Head south over the Apennine Mountains and follow the 'Highway of the Sun' to the 'eternal city' of Rome. (Buffet Breakfast)
Papal and Imperial Rome
During your two night stay, join a Local Expert for a private tour of the priceless art of the Vatican Museums and the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. Your VIP visit includes fast-track entry and behind-the-scenes access to the Bramante Staircase, a part of the Vatican usually closed to the public. Then explore St. Peter's Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world. Now cross the River Tiber to see the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum and see the Ancient Forum. The afternoon is free to explore. (Buffet Breakfast)
Over the Chianti hills to Florence
Drive to the Chianti Hills and the city of Florence. A Local Expert accompanies you to the Duomo, where the Gates of Paradise adorn the Baptistery. Continue to Signoria Square, the political heart of the city, lined with fountains and statues it acts as a virtual open-air gallery of Renaissance masterpieces. Take the time to gaze at Neptune and David. In the area around Santa Croce Basilica, view a demonstration of traditional leather-work. Afterwards, there is time to shop. (Buffet Breakfast)
Journey through the Alps and on to Lucerne
Journey north past the Italian Lake District to the Swiss border and enjoy Alpine scenery all the way to Lucerne. On arrival, see what Mark Twain described as "the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world", the emotive Lion Monument. (Buffet Breakfast)
Lucerne's Lakes & Lions
Embark upon a thrilling cable car ride with incredible views, to the summit of a Swiss mountain followed by a delicious mug of hot chocolate. Back in Lucerne, there is free time to stroll across the Chapel Bridge to the ornate Jesuit Church and spend time shopping in the traffic-free Old Town. Perhaps hire a bicycle and enjoy a pleasant ride beside the many lakes. In the evening, get together with your friends and choose from a selection of authentic local restaurants for your dining pleasure. (Buffet Breakfast / Dine-a-Round with a la Carte Choices)
On to Paris for a 'Diner de Célébration'
Drive to Basel before crossing the Rhine to enter France. Travel through the wine-growing Burgundy region to Paris, the vibrant 'Ville-Lumière' (City of Light). Enjoy a 'Diner de Célébration' served with wine in a Parisian bistro, oozing at the seams with French ambience. (Buffet Breakfast / Celebration Dinner)
Paris, the 'City of Light'
In the morning, sightseeing with a Local Expert takes you by Notre Dame Cathedral, the imposing façades of the Louvre and along the banks of the Seine with its many romantic bridges.
See the obelisk in the centre of the Place de la Concorde and drive along the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Next, venture into the 'Métro de Paris' to admire its Art Nouveau-inspired architecture and enjoy a short journey through the Paris metropolitan area aboard its rapid transit system. Then survey the city from the heights of the Eiffel Tower, built for the World's Exhibition of 1889. The afternoon is at leisure for shopping or your own pursuits. (Buffet Breakfast)
Au revoir Paris
Transfers arrive Charles de Gaulle Airport at 08:00 & 10:00 hours or depart for London via Gare du Nord for Eurostar option. (Buffet Breakfast)
- Lucerne: You are offered a selection of restaurants on your Dine-Around evening. Choose your own ambience, cuisine and drinks for an intimate culinary experience.
- Paris: Rendezvous at a typical French bistro for a little wine and a rousing Celebration Dinner. Bon Appétit!
- 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 13 Buffet Breakfasts (BB), 1 Dine-Around evening (DA), 2 three-course table d'hôte Dinners or Buffets, plus tea or coffee (D) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD). Departures on tour for Christmas and New Year's Eve enjoy a festive Highlight Dinner.
- Rhine Valley: Watch medieval hilltop castles and vineyards slip by as you enjoy a scenic cruise.
- Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber: Fortified by walls, picturesque and unspoiled, is a fairytale come true at any time of year.
- Munich: Mix with the locals, chefs and foodies and meet a local stallholder to sample his delicious produce at the popular Viktualienmarkt.
- Venice: On the Venetian island of Giudecca, visit a traditional Arts Centre and witness the age-old skill of glassblowers, mask makers and gondola builders.
- Rome: Enjoy VIP fast-track entry into the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel including privileged behind-the-scenes access to the Bramante Staircase.
- Swiss Mountain: On a thrilling cable car ride, enjoy stunning Swiss mountain views followed by a delicious, warming mug of hot chocolate.
- Paris: Enjoy a fascinating journey on the Art Nouveau inspired 'Métro de Paris'.
- Paris: With tickets to the Eiffel Tower prearranged, ascend and enjoy spectacular views of Paris.