The Grand Europe Tour
55 day tour

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This is it. Our grand tour of Europe. It may look like a long trip, but the time will fly by.

Highlights

Palaces
Wine
Roman Ruins
Boat Cruises
UNESCO Heritage Sites
Lakes
Mountains
Beaches

Places you explore


Plateau de Valensole - This 800km² plateau is devoted to growing blue, violet and purple-coloured fields of lavender.

La Rioja – The famously delicious wines here perfectly compliment the views of the Cantabrian Mountains.

Granada with Alhambra and Sierra Nevada Mountains - Get mesmerised by the lavish palace built by the Moors and explore the rugged mountains of the Sierra Nevada National Park.

Porto - A historic centre, charismatic locals, sumptuous food, and famous wine: no one can resist the charms of this UNESCO city

Costa Brava – ‘The Rugged Coast’ of Catalonia dotted with golden sand beaches, hidden rocky coves, and inspirational seaside towns.>

Florence – Marvel at the finest collection of Italian Renaissance art and architecture in this fine city.

Salento Peninsula – The heel of Italy will steal your heart with the turquoise bays of Torre Lapillo, Gallipoli, and Santa Maria di Leuca.

Gruyères – This little quaint Swiss village has it all: lush green fields, charming churches, a medieval castle, and legendary cheese and chocolate.


Your journey


This is your life goal.

Something you remember forever.

A two-month romp through the best of Europe.

Every moment a new taste, a different culture, a distinct accent, a novel view.

You start in Paris and journey to the South of France where you discover fields of lavender, hidden-away monasteries, and grand Medieval castles. You venture around the Iberian Peninsula where the tapas is as spicy as the flamenco dancing. And you follow a route curving along the Mediterranean Coast, through the Swiss Alps, and back to Paris.

This is our ultimate Europe trip. Are you ready?


Tour Details

Starts
08:30 - Paris
Finishes (approx.)
19:00
Paris
Luggage
You’re restricted to 20kg (44lbs) of luggage per person. This may consist of a small bag for onboard personal items and a larger suitcase or rucksack.
Discounts
  • Children between 5 and 15 (unfortunately, we don't carry children under 5 years old)
Important information
  • Pack comfortable shoes for walks up to beautiful views
  • Carry swimwear and a towel for wild swimming spots
  • Your holiday’s more fun when you protect yourself from the sun
  • This journey combines eight of our tours, two free days in Nice, two free days in Madrid, two free days in Rome and a free day in Lisbon. This means you swap your bus and guide during the journey.
Tour inclusions
  • Transport in a luxury mini-coach
  • Air conditioning as standard
  • The stories and services of an English-speaking guide and driver
  • 54 nights in a three-star hotel with continental breakfast
Tour exclusions
  • Entry fees to visitor attractions
  • A few European destinations charge tourist taxes. These funds help them keep the locations clean, safe, and beautiful. You usually pay these at the accommodation suppliers, and cost between 1€ and 5€ per night.

Itinerary

Day 1

  • Wander through the old town of Auxerre full of timber-framed medieval houses
  • Admire the flamboyant Gothic architecture of the Hospices de Beaune in the heart of Burgundy

You depart the cosmopolitan city of Paris and watch the lowlands turn into the landscapes of northern Burgundy.

Your first stop of the day is historic Auxerre. This rural town boasts one of the best restored medieval quarters in northern Europe. You’ve got time here to stretch the legs and discover the narrow lanes, lovely open squares, and half-timbered houses.

You then travel to the remote village of Vézelay. Perched on a hill in the sea of greenery, this commune clustered around a UNESCO basilica is a perfect stop for lunch.

Once you’ve tried the local specialities, you travel through the unspoiled forests of the Morvan Regional Nature Park. The scenes of lakes and rivers make you feel far away from the Parisian metropolis.

In the early evening, you arrive for your overnight stay in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy. It’s time to indulge yourself in two great French passions, food and wine.

Day 2

  • Explore the ruins of Cluny Abbey, a powerful religious centre in the Middle Ages
  • Savour some of the best Burgundy wines in a beautiful location

Bonjour! Today you travel through Burgundy to the dignified Cluny Abbey. In its heyday, this religious centre was one of the most powerful Christian capitals in medieval Europe. You’ve got time to explore the quiet cloisters of this stunning monastery and ponder over its former glory.

Then you head to Vienne, a town steeped in Gallo-Roman heritage. Its old quarters hide spectacular ruins of a Roman temple and theatre. Enjoy your lunch here and discover more of the town’s fascinating past before you continue your journey.

In the afternoon, it’s time to delve into the wine region of Côte-Rôtie to appreciate some of the best local vintages in a charming winery.

After you’ve satisfied your taste buds, you venture south to the famous Ardèche area. In the evening, you arrive in Tournon-sur-Rhône, a welcoming little town sitting upon the river Rhône. You spend two nights here.

Day 3

  • Take in the spectacular stone arch created by the torrents of the Ardèche river
  • Discover the world and art of Palaeolithic people in the replica of the Chauvet Cave

It’s time for something more majestic. It’s time to discover the rugged heart of Ardèche.
In the morning, your driver takes you along the scenic roads of a regional natural park to Aubenas, a city full of architectural treasures. But that’s just the beginning of today’s highlights.

Next, you follow the serpentine of the Ardèche river to Pont d’Arc where the water’s torrents etched an iconic natural stone arch in the limestone.

Once you’ve feasted your eyes on this natural wonder, you can choose what to do next. A little down the road, you can visit Grotte Chauvet 2; a replica of a cave decorated with prehistoric art that gives you a glimpse into the life of Palaeolithic people. Alternatively, you can enjoy more of the natural landscapes carved out by the adamant river.

You head back to Tournon-sur-Rhône in the late afternoon.

Day 4

  • Stare in wonder at the colossal Palace of the Popes in the historic centre of Avignon
  • Delve into the narrow winding streets of the honey-coloured village of Gordes

Provence has many dreamy and seductive faces. And today you’re going to discover more of this inspiring region.

First on your agenda is Avignon. You have time to explore the historic centre and the soaring Palace of the Popes. This fortress was the hub of the Roman Catholic world when the popes fled the political pressures of Rome. Grab a bite to eat, stroll through the streets, and discover the youthful vibe of the city before we move on.

In the afternoon, we head east to Sénanque Abbey nestled among the Luberon hills. If you’re searching for an iconic shot of a medieval monastery surrounded by fragrant lavender fields, you’ve come to the right place. Explore the quiet cloisters, meet the monks who still live here and continue your journey deeper into the hills.

Next, get a taste of traditional Provençal life in Gordes, one of the most beautiful villages in France. This honey-coloured hamlet clinging to the edge of a hill is a perfect place to admire the grand vistas of the Luberon valley.

After a day of savouring the charms of the region, you head to Sisteron for two nights.

Day 5

  • Peruse famously fine pottery in the atmospheric ateliers of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
  • Breathe in the inebriating scent of lavender in the fields of Valensole Plateau

Today you follow the trail of quaint villages and lavender fields as you delve into the Verdon Regional Nature Park.

The first stop is at a village that literally clings to a cliff face, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Here, there are a few of options to choose from. You can take in the spectacular views, visit ateliers selling the local pottery, or climb 262 steps leading to a beautiful chapel perched above the village.

Then you travel to the shores of the immense lake of Sainte Croix and the village of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon. The water looks tempting here, so pack your swimwear and try some water sports or bask in the sunshine.

Next, head to Valensole and the Valensole Plateau where lavender, ‘the soul of Provence’, grows. These fields of ‘blue gold’ and sunflowers are some of the most famous in the world. And they stretch as far as the eye can see. If you’ve got a soft spot for this aromatic flavour, try some of the local dishes.

Intoxicated with today’s experiences and sights, you arrive in Sisteron in the evening.

Day 6

  • Dare to look down into the great depth of Verdon Gorge
  • Set your sights on beautiful Saut du Loup Waterfalls

Impressive canyons, magnificent mountains, idyllic villages and the French Riviera. This is today’s exciting journey through Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Alpes-Maritimes.

Your first stop is the commune of Castellane, the gateway to the Verdon gorges. Stretch your legs and wander through the maze of picturesque narrow lanes. And if you’re keen on history, you can visit a place where Napoleon stopped for lunch on his return from Elba.

Next, you travel to the Point Sublime of Gorges du Verdon. Brace yourself, because this spectacular view will make your heart race. It’s the best viewing point for admiring the sheer cliffs, the vastness of the canyon, and the turquoise colour of the river Verdon.

Then, you travel onwards through the mountains, forests, and hillside vineyards until you reach Saut du Loup Waterfalls where you have a short walk. And just before you leave the mountains and plunge down to the glamorous French Riviera, you visit your last idyllic village, Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Take some photos of this hamlet that’s affectionately called the ‘city of violets’ and say au revoir! to the lush countryside.

In the early evening, you arrive in Nice.

You will say goodbye to this group here, and will join a new group on the morning of day eight.

Day 7

  • Stroll along Promenade des Anglais, the most famous stretch of coast in Nice
  • Pop in to the Cours Saleya market to try some delicious local specialities

Bonjour! Today is your free day to explore Nice La Belle, the capital of the French Riviera. This city is famous for its sparkling sea, 19th-century mansions, and glamorous promenades and boulevards.

In the morning, you could start by visiting the Vielle Ville (the Old Town), a maze of shady alleys, colourful facades, and local shops and restaurants. While you’re in the area, make sure to stroll to Cours Saleya, the lovely market which will make you crave a few more breakfasts than you usually have.

Next, you can pop into an art museum or a gallery. Among the more prominent ones, there’s the Matisse Museum with the world’s biggest collection of the impressionist’s work and Masséna Museum inside a magnificent Belle Époque mansion.

Once you’ve had your art fix, choose a café or a restaurant and try some of the unique Provençal and Niçoise flavours of the region.

In the afternoon, you can burn some of these delicious calories off as you stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais. This gorgeous stretch along the coast is framed by the azure water on the one side and lined up with the palm trees on the other.

In the evening, head to the Old Port to explore wine bars and pubs and absorb the city’s nightlife. But remember, don’t let your soirée become too crazy because you continue your tour tomorrow morning.

Day 8

  • Admire a palette of ancient architecture and leafy avenues in Aix-en-Provence
  • Go back in time and discover how Roman and Gallic culture collided in Ambrussum

You say ‘au revoir’ to glamorous Nice and head west towards Aix-en-Provence.This classy city is full of lively streets, elegant fountains and leafy squares. You can explore the winding streets and visit local cafés; or trace the life of Paul Cézanne, from the house he was born to the painter’s atelier and final resting place.

Next on the agenda is the archaeological site and museum of Ambrussum. This is where the Gallo-Romans existed 2,000 years ago. It’s located on one of the most ancient Roman routes and gives you an insight into the history of this region.

Continue south and leave the Romans behind as you delve into the heart of the Regional Natural Park of Narbonne. This peaceful area is a haven for Fontfroide Abbey which held considerable power during the Middle Ages. Enjoy the tranquillity of this place and breathe in the fresh air before you travel to the walled city of Carcassonne, your base for the night.

Day 9

  • Traverse the medieval monuments of Carcassonne
  • Delve into humanity’s prehistoric past in the Mas d’Azil Cave

Wake up, enjoy your breakfast, and start exploring this fascinating medieval city. Carcassonne has more stone towers, spiky turrets, and zigzag battlements than you can shake a sword at. So, it will come as no surprise it boasts a UNESCO title.

All this sightseeing must have worked up your appetite, so we travel to the fortified medieval town of Mirepoix for lunch. Here, you can enjoy the local specialities in the main square surrounded by timber-framed houses before we head deeper into the Midi-Pyrénées.

Next, instead of travelling up the mountains, you descend to the fascinating underground world of The Mas d’Azil Cave. The immensity of the grotto (the only one in Europe you can drive through) and the rich discoveries will leave you speechless.

In the early evening, you arrive in Lourdes, a small Pyrenean town, a spiritual centre, and your home for two nights.

Day 10

  • Explore the spiritual beauty of Lourdes, the most visited pilgrimage shrine in the Christian world
  • Chose to go to a hike to the hidden waterfall of Cirque de Gavarnie

Today, it’s up to you how you spend your time.

You can stay in the Lourdes and discover the sites at your own pace. There’s the soaring sanctuary of Notre Dame de Lourdes, a nearby castle, and a funicular ride to the top of Pic du Jer for a great view of the Pyrenees.

Alternatively, you can spend half a day in Lourdes and half a day on tour exploring the village of Gavarnie deep in the Pyrenees. It’s a perfect opportunity to wander around this little commune and try some local specialities.

And if you feel the wilderness calls you, you can spend the whole day with us in the great outdoors. Why not go on a hike to Cirque de Gavarnie? The effort is worth it, this majestic amphitheatre-like valley with tumbling waterfalls will reward you with one of the Pyrenees’ most stunning vistas.

Whichever option you choose, you spend the evening enjoying the atmosphere of Lourdes.

Day 11

  • Journey through the peaks and valleys of the Pyrenees
  • Take a swim in the Yesa Reservoir

It’s time to travel through the impressive Pyrenean mountain passes into Spain. You start your journey through this massive national park and descend into Jaca.

This Spanish town is nicknamed ‘Pearl of the Pyrenees’ and has a captivating history. It was founded by the Romans, conquered by the Moors, and taken over again by the Christians. Ponder over the bravery of the locals as you explore the city and savour your lunch.

Hopefully, you’ve got your swimwear with you, because you head to Yesa Reservoir, where you may find thermal pools for bathing. And if the water level is low, you can even have a free spa treatment when you plaster yourself with skin-softening mud.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to get out your swimming costume, you can spend your afternoon visiting the peaceful Leyre Monastery built on a mountain range overlooking the greenish and bluish shades of the reservoir.

Refreshed by the afternoon’s adventures you head to La Rioja region, the wine connoisseur’s heaven, to spend two nights in Haro.

Day 12

  • Soak up the famous wines of La Rioja region
  • Savour the flavours and picturesque Nature Parks of the Basque Country

You wake up in a hilltop town surrounded by the vineyards of La Rioja. This is a fantastic base for exploring this rich region where wine has been cultivated since Roman times.

In the morning, you venture off the beaten track to Tobera in Montes Obarenes Nature Park. You travel through mountains and forests and arrive in the picturesque hamlet with Romanesque hermitages. Here, you go for a relaxing walk to Tobera waterfall and have a comfort break in the nearby Frías. This tiny medieval city is as old as it is beautiful and is adorned with a ruined castle that will make you stare in wonder.

Next, you jump over to the Basque Country. Here you take in views of Sobrón Gorge and River Ebro, which nurtures the precious vineyards of La Rioja.

After this scenic morning, you’ve got an opportunity to uncover the culture and history of the wine of this fertile land. You’ve got a chance to call on a local bodega where you can savour the aromas and flavours of this beverage. You may also try a superb food and wine pairing to complete your experience.

If you think it’s time for your siesta, you can stay in Haro and relax for the rest of the day. But if you still want to carry on indulging in the regional delights, you can enjoy more excellent wine in another winery.

Whatever you do, spend your evening discovering gastronomic gems of Haro.

Day 13

  • Learn the terrific tales of the folk hero El Cid while aside his famous tomb
  • Appreciate ancient Roman engineering at the grand Aqueduct of Segovia

Say farewell to La Rioja and the vineyards because it’s time to travel to Burgos. This proud city, situated on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, is famous for its Gothic cathedral looming over the skyline. Marvel at this jewel of Spanish architecture and visit the tomb of Burgos’ favourite and most roguish son, El Cid.

You then travel through the vast plains of Castile and León and arrive in Segovia. This city still has the spirit of an old Spanish city and is steeped in history.

Start uncovering the city’s rich heritage by gazing in awe at the perfectly engineered Roman aqueduct now standing in the vibrant centre. Then wander the cobbled streets and get dazzled by Alcázar de Segovia. With soaring towers and turrets topped with slate witches' hats, this castle looks like straight out of a fairy tale. So much so it supposedly inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.

Drink in the last panoramas of this magnificent city and travel south where the grand metropolis of Madrid awaits you in the evening.

You will say goodbye to this group here, and will join a new group on the morning of day fifteen.

Day 14

  • Marvel at the opulence of the Royal Palace in Madrid
  • Try tapas in one of the La Latina district’s local bars

You have a free day in the golden metropolis of Madrid and can decide how you want to spend it. Packed with tapas bars, world-renowned art, and amazing architecture; this city really knows how to live.

Start your day by trying delicious pan tumaka; crusty bread rubbed with ripe tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil.

You’re really spoilt for choice here because no two districts are the same.

You can begin with the oldest part of Madrid, home to the lavish Royal Palace. It boasts a staggering 3,418 rooms decorated with the paintings by world-renowned artists.

After admiring the splendour of the Royal Family’s official residence, you can stroll around the city’s grand plazas. The portico-lined square of Plaza Mayor used to be the centre of Old Madrid. And Puerta del Sol, is where the symbol of Madrid; The Bear and the Madroño Tree resides.

Next, fuel your batteries in one of their many restaurants before an exciting afternoon. For the art lovers; there’s Prado Museum and other exhibitions lined with Spanish, Italian and Flemish masterpieces. For the nature lovers; there’s El Retiro Park, a green oasis in the heart of the city where you can row a boat.

And in the evening head to La Latina; the city’s top district for tapas, mojitos, and terraces. But don’t get carried away by the city’s energy too much, because tomorrow you join the next leg of your tour.

Day 15

  • Uncover the fusion of cultures that shaped Toledo, the former capital of Spain
  • Travel through Castilla-La Mancha, the backdrop for the Don Quixote’s adventures

You leave the heart of Spain and head south to the former capital of the country, Toledo.

Sitting atop a hill and overlooking Río Tajo, this city used to be known as the ‘city of three cultures’. To get the real feel of the place, wander through the cobbled streets and try to spot the Muslim mosques, Jewish synagogues and Gothic cathedrals. Make sure to sample the local specialities while you admire this amazing architectural ensemble.

You catch a glimpse of the iconic windmills as you travel through Castilla-La Mancha, the setting for the adventures of the literary hero Don Quixote. Next, you stop on the way through the Despeñaperros Natural Park, a river gorge that forms a dramatic gateway to Andalucía.

Córdoba, your home for the night, welcomes you with its bustling squares and delightful architecture.

Day 16

  • Get dazzled by the gems of Moorish architecture in Córdoba
  • Discover the process of olive-making and take in the views of endless olive groves

In the morning, you have free time to explore the city.

Once the heart of the western Islamic empire, Córdoba feels exotic and sophisticated.

Here, you have time to admire the countless rows of decorated arches in the serene interior of La Mezquita, the most spectacular mosque constructed by the Moors in Spain. Or wander through the lush gardens of Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos, the ‘Castle of the Christian Kings’. Whatever you choose, soak up the unique atmosphere of this city shaped by various cultures.

Next, you travel through the rolling hills blanketed with the silvery-grey-green leaves of olive trees. It’s a sign you’ve entered the oil-producing province of Jaén. You have a chance to visit an ecological olive oil plantation to find out more about the secrets of the trade and enjoy some lunch.

You continue south and stop at Fortaleza de la Mota, a ruined hilltop fortress before you arrive in Granada early evening, where you stay for two nights.

Day 17

  • Set your sights on the dramatic slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • Become entranced by the ornamentation of the Alhambra Palace

You wake up in the city adorned with the most sensual palace of Europe, Alhambra.

The day is yours, so you can decide how you want to spend your time in this dazzling location.

In the morning, you may contrast the bustling city with the peaceful mountain scenery of the dramatic and rugged Sierra Nevada National Park. This is a half day option through the landscape of sheer-sided gorges and torrential rivers. To learn more about this land, you visit a botanical garden where you can discover plants that are native to the region. You’ll be back in Granada by lunchtime to try some local delicacies which are a mixture of Arabic influences and native traditions. And the rest of the day is yours to enjoy.

Alternatively, you can spend the whole day discovering the fusion of the Arabic and Christian heritage of Granada. From the Great Bazaar to the Granada Cathedral, this city will carry you away with its energy.

And then there’s the pearl of Moorish architecture, Alhambra, with its arabesques, stylish arches, graceful columns, and exotic gardens. When you look at it, you feel like you’ve been transported to the world from the tales of 1,001 Nights. Originally a fortress and then a palace, this UNESCO heritage site will seize your imagination and haunt you with its beauty.

You spend tonight in Granada. Use this time to discover tapas restaurants and more of the culinary delights.

Day 18

  • Stare in awe at the steep walls of El Chorro Gorge
  • Discover the charm of Ronda, the most stunning of the pueblo blancos

Today is all about exploring the other faces of Andalucía; the beautiful wilderness and iconic pueblos blancos.

Your adventure takes you west through Malaga’s ‘Lake District’. It’s home to three stunning turquoise lakes, pine forests, and the spectacular El Chorro gorge. Simply looking at the sheer walls and rough rocks of the chasm can give you goose bumps. Here, you have time to enjoy a walk and take in views of the lake and the spectacular canyon.

The landscape of Andalucía wouldn’t be complete without the picturesque white towns known as pueblos blancos. And the most spectacular of them is Ronda, your next highlight and an ideal place for lunch. Precariously clinging to a steep cliff of the El Tajo gorge, this commune will capture your imagination with its literary connections and history full of outlaws.

Then, you leave the rural part of the region and travel past Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. It’s your last chance to spot other pueblos blancos glittering in the distance before you arrive in Seville in the early evening.

Day 19

  • Marvel at the allure of the palace of Real Alcázar in Seville
  • Soak up the grandeur as you stroll through the Plaza de España

Seville signifies the essence of Spain. This city will seduce you with its rich Moorish heritage, the orange trees, tapas and passionate flamenco.

Today it’s up to you to decide how to spend the day. Start the morning with a typical Spanish breakfast and then get your teeth into Seville.

You’re really spoilt for choice here. Lose yourself in one of the 80 chapels in the enormous Seville Cathedral or take in views of the city from La Giralda, the bell-tower which used to be a minaret.

Then, delve into the exotic gardens of the palace of Real Alcázar and marvel at its dream patios, opulent domes and intricate carvings.

Finish your afternoon with a stroll through the shaded arches of the grand Plaza de España and get ready to discover the night pulse of Seville. Warning: with the hypnotic Flamenco performances, delicious tapas and buzzing bars, this city can keep you entertained till the small hours.

Day 20

  • Soak up the sun in a little town of Isla Cristina on Costa de la Luz
  • Wander through Tavira, one of the most charming towns of the Algarve

Say farewell to Seville and enjoy the last glimpses of the Andalusian countryside as you travel west towards Costa de la Luz. It translates into ‘the coast of light’, this refers to the bright sunlight and golden sandy beaches.

Hopefully, you’ve got your swimwear because you head to a little town called Isla Cristina where you’ll have time to enjoy a beach. Alternatively, you can stroll through the area’s sand dunes and pine woods or have a bite in a local fish eatery and tapas bar.

Next, you cross the Portuguese border and stop at Tavira in the Algarve. Set on the River Gilão, this town exhumes an irresistible charm and makes you want to discover its hidden corners. Wander through the cobblestone streets, cross an old Roman bridge and try Portuguese cuisine for the first time.

Take in the last views of the Algarve and journey north where the laid-back and charming Lisbon awaits you in the evening.

You will say goodbye to this group here, and will join a new group on the morning of day twenty-two.

Day 21

  • Catch a ride on the iconic 28 tram in the Alfama district
  • Get mesmerised by soul-stirring fado music

Bom dia! You have a free day to explore Lisbon; a European capital boasting a wonderful waterfront location, a balmy climate, and loads of charm.

This inspiring and lively place was shaped by four cultures, colonial riches, a catastrophic earthquake, and a period of restoration.

Start the day delving into the oldest part of the city; the Alfama district. Here, you can visit the iconic São Jorge Castle, an ancient Moorish fortification that rises up from a hill; explore the cobbled alleyways; and stop at one of the many stunning miradouros (viewpoints) to drink in the coastal panoramas. In this area you can also learn the history of the haunting and melancholic Fado music in the Fado Museum before you savour delicious Portuguese specialities.

If Lisbon’s hilly terrain is a bit too much to brace after a delicious meal, jump on the legendary yellow 28 tram and travel through the city’s exciting districts.

In the afternoon, head to the charming district of Belém. It used to be the docs and shipyards’ district. And it was here Vasco da Gama sailed on his voyage to reach India. Stroll along the promenade, cast your eyes on the mighty Tagus River, and admire the Belém Tower.

Continue your walk to the Monument to the Discoveries and ponder over the Portuguese Age of Discoveries and what impact it had on the world as you know it. And if you want some peace, pop into the shady cloisters of Jerónimos Monastery located nearby. This stunning religious building was erected to commemorate the return of Vasco da Gama from India and is where his body is buried.

After a whole day of discovering the delights of Lisbon, spend your evening enjoying delectable food and wine accompanied by Fado music in the Alfama or Bairro Alto district. And don’t forget that tomorrow is the next leg of your tour.

Day 22

  • Marvel at the Moorish architecture in the town of Óbidos
  • Learn about the thinkers of the past in one of the oldest universities in the world in Coimbra

You say ‘bom dia’ to your guide and fellow travellers, leave the coastal capital city of Lisbon, and travel the short distance to Óbidos.

This quaint walled town has wealth of wonders for you to discover. You can study the sturdy walls of their Moorish Castle; amble through the little cobbled shopping lane; or combine two of your favourite guilty pleasures in a drink of Ginjinha d’Óbidos, a sweet liqueur served in a chocolate cup.

Back on the road, you venture further north to Coimbra. This former Portuguese capital is famous for being the home of one of the oldest universities in the world. You have time here to explore the town’s churches and history and eat some of the delicious local food for lunch.

After you’ve soaked up the history, it’s time to head to Aveiro. You feel like you’ve been teleported into Venice in this town that’s lined with canals and art-nouveau architecture.

Your final stop of the day is in Porto, your home for the next two nights. It’s been a busy day, but hopefully you’re not too tired to walk to a sunset spot in this many-tiered town.

Day 23

  • Peruse through shops and restaurants of Porto’s cobbled lanes
  • Discover the quintessential flavours of famous port wines in the lush Douro Valley

Today, you have an important decision to make.

Do you lounge around and take in the cathedrals, cellars, and cuisine of beautiful Porto? Or do you hop on the mini-coach with us and venture through the Douro Valley?

Lucky for you, there’s no wrong option.

If you come with us, your day begins with a boat cruise down the Douro Valley. This is a chance to ogle at the wine producing hills of the region from a new angle. Once you’re back on dry land, you travel to a local quinta. Here, you can go on a guided tour of a winery and taste different styles of the famous Porto wine.

You travel back to Porto in the late afternoon to continue indulging in the wines and flavours of the city in your own style. And if you’re a fan of live music, don’t miss out on a performance of Fado, Portugal’s emotionally stirring traditional music.

Day 24

  • Rejuvenate your senses in the natural landscapes of Portugal’s peaceful national park
  • Cross the border into Northern Spain

Your last few days have been packed with bustling towns and boozy flavours. So now it’s time to refresh your senses with a taste of the great outdoors.

You head to the Peneda-Gerês National Park, the only national park in Portugal. You spend the whole morning here enjoying views of lakes, mountains, and waterfalls before travelling to the tiny town of Soajo.

This town not only boasts beautiful views, it’s also one of the most rustic villages you’ll have ever laid your eyes upon. You have time here to take look at their famous 17th-century granite granaries and grab lunch here.

And now, it’s over the border and into Spain. You arrive in Santiago de Compostela with enough time to admire the huge cathedral that’s famously built over the remains of St. James, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Day 25

  • Explore the architecture, atmosphere, and history of Santiago de Compostela
  • Journey to Cape Finisterre, the furthermost edge of ancient Europe

Today, you can relax and enjoy the sights of Santiago de Compostela at your own pace or come on an adventure with us to the Costa da Morte, ‘Coast of Death’.

And no, this isn’t a shoreline infested with pirates and cannibals, it’s a place that was once notorious for shipwrecks.

If you join our trip to the coastline, you start the day by going to Carnota Bay. Here, you can clamber over a timber boardwalk and say hello to crystal clear blue seas and a lovely white 7km stretch of sand.

After you’ve enjoyed the beach, we travel to the ‘End of the World’ at Cape Finisterre. Ancient civilisations believed this was the end of the earth. You have time here to admire the lighthouse and look out over the wild Atlantic Ocean.

Your next stop is in Muxía. This lovely, historic harbour town is the perfect spot to sample the fresh seafood that this region is famous for and watch the ships set off to sea.

You arrive back in Santiago de Compostela in the early evening.

Day 26

  • Roam upon the ramparts of the ancient Romans in Lugo
  • Survey the other-worldly landscapes that were created by the Roman gold excavating technique, ruina montium (wrecking of mountains)

Your first stop of the day is in Lugo. This town has a lot to be proud of. They have the only fully intact Roman city walls in the world, a stunning cathedral, and oodles of charm. You have free time here to choose what you visit.

You continue to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Romans and travel to Las Médulas. Strange red pinnacles and holes in the mountains make this landscape look and feel otherworldly. The Romans created what you see before you by boring into the earth in their quest for gold.

You explore this area, have your lunch, and make the journey to one of the best viewpoints in the area, Mirador de Orellán.

From here, you travel to Salamanca for your overnight stay. This mesmerising city is adorned with the riches of the Spanish Golden Age.

Day 27

  • Admire the artistic achievements of the Spanish Golden Age in Salamanca
  • Become envious of the lifestyle of kings in the palace of El Escorial

You have time in the morning to explore the cathedral, university, and pretty plazas of Salamanca before we head off. Or you can enjoy a lie-in if you decided to enjoy the famous nightlife a little too much the night before.

Your first stop is in Ávila. Orson Welles once said this was the place he would most like to settle down in. And you can see why; the huge medieval walls and gothic churches are cinematic and steeped in stories. You have time here for lunch and a walk around town.

You travel further east to El Escorial. This is one of the most remarkable historical buildings in all of Spain. The huge structure was built by king Philip II and has functioned as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university, school and hospital.

After you’ve learned about the riches of Spain, we take you to Madrid.

You will say goodbye to this group here, and will join a new group on the morning of day twenty-nine.

Day 28

  • Tour the epic Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the home of Real Madrid
  • Stroll along Gran Via, the grand boulevard lined with belle-époque facades

You’re back in Madrid for another free day. You can spend your time recharging your batteries in your hotel or get out and take advantage of the abundance of things to see and do.

If you’re a sports fan or simply enjoy epic architecture, you should check out Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. This is the home of the Real Madrid C.F, one of the most successful football clubs in history. You can tour the stadium, ogle at their trophy chest, and find out what it’s like to step onto one of the world’s grandest stages.

If you prefer to investigate the vaults of time, Madrid has an excellent archaeological museum that boasts artefacts from ancient civilisations from around the world.

Or if you’ve simply lost a few pieces of clothing on your journey, you can go for a shopping spree in Gran Via, one of the city’s bustling shopping districts.

Back at your hotel, it’s time to rest before the next part of your tour.

Day 29

  • Marvel at the ‘hanging houses’ of Cuenca
  • Savour one of the most delicious Spanish wines in Requena

You leave the grand metropolis of Madrid and head east through the landscapes of Castile-La Mancha.

Your first stop of the day is Cuenca, a medieval town perched upon cliffs overlooking a river canyon. This unusually well-preserved city is famous for its ‘hanging houses’. Feeling curious? Then wander around the old town and try to spot these architectural marvels. With their balconies jutting out over the gorge, these houses appear to defy gravity.

Next, you leave the Cuenca’s mind-boggling engineering behind and continue east to the Utiel-Requena region. This undulating plain surrounded by mountains is home to countless vineyards. And its wine making tradition goes back to the 7th century BC. Get your taste buds ready because you have a chance to taste wine and have lunch in a local vineyard near Requena.

After savouring local specialities and tipples, you continue the adventure towards the Mediterranean coast. You stop for a photo of Sagunto Castle, a hill-top fortress that’s history spans over four civilisations.

In the evening, you arrive in Peñíscola, nicknamed the City in the Sea. Spend the evening strolling along the promenades and probing into the secrets of its old town.

Day 30

  • Step back in time and explore the Roman Amphitheatre in Tarragona
  • Experience the serenity of the mountain of Montserrat and its monastery

Today, you continue exploring the coast of Spain and head to Tarragona on the Costa Dorada.

Here, you have enough time to discover the city’s rich history and heritage. And you’re spoilt for choice. If you’re a history buff, visit some of Roman archaeological sites like the Tarragona Amphitheatre, Praetorium, and Roman Circus. Or if it’s atmospheric photos you’re after, head to the old town or the city’s golden beaches.

Now it’s time to contrast the beaches of Costa Dorada with the serrated peaks of Montserrat. This majestic mountain with strangely shaped crags is home to a Benedictine Monastery and one of Spain’s most venerated statues of the Madonna and Child. Enjoy your lunch here, contemplate the life of monks and hermits, and admire the magnificent cathedral or follow the footpaths.

Full of nature and spiritual delights, you travel through the green hills and mountains and arrive in Girona in the evening. This medieval city will be your home for two nights.

Day 31

  • Soak up the beauty and history of the Cap Roig Botanical Gardens
  • Laze around Begur’s beautiful beaches or discover its medieval old town
  • Stare in wonder at the surrealist art of Salvador Dalí in Figueres

There’s more to Costa Brava than the beaches, and today is all about discovering different faces of this fascinating region.

You start off with a visit to the lush Cap Roig Botanical Gardens perched on a cliff near Palafrugell. This is a truly special place where nature, art, culture and history come together. Wander through the romantic paths, breathe in the smell of over 1,000 plant species, and admire sculptures from renowned artists.

After you’ve taken in all the beauty of Cap Roig, you head to Begur, one of the most stunning spots on the Costa Brava. You’re free to choose how you spend your time here. Roam the medieval streets, enjoy your lunch, and visit a striking 11th-century castle with panoramic views of the area. Or, head to one of the nearby dreamy little coves and spend some time on the beach.

In the afternoon, you embark on a surreal journey as you discover Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí. Known for his eccentricity and grand visions, the surrealist genius converted an old theatre into a museum showcasing his most spectacular sculptures and painting. And he did it in a very flamboyant style. From a rooftop decorated with giant eggs to an interactive way of experiencing his work, this wonderfully bizarre place will give you an insight into the life and art of Salvador Dalí.

After a day full of artistic and natural experiences, you return to Girona in the early evening. Spend the evening wandering through the beautiful walled medieval old town and the Jewish Quarter or explore the Game of Thrones locations.

Day 32

  • Discover the seaside village of Collioure, an inspiration for some of the greatest artists
  • Travel to the traditional, remote village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert

Picturesque towns, colourful harbours and stunning vistas. This is the route along the Mediterranean Coast you take today as you leave Spain.

Your first stop of the day is the romantic seaside village of Collioure. This little slice of Mediterranean paradise will steal your heart with its pastel houses, bobbing boats, and beautiful beaches. And you won’t be the first to fall under its spell. Matisse, Derain and Picasso all loved this location.

Next, you travel north through the Regional Natural Park of Narbonne to Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. Nestled in the remote area of the Séranne Mountains, this UNESCO heritage site is an oasis of serenity. Enjoy a walk through the cobbled streets and visit the abbey that witnessed more than a thousand years of history.

Then, you travel through the rolling countryside and arrive in Nîmes, where you spend two nights. The evening is yours to uncover this fascinating city full of Roman remains.

Day 33

  • Enjoy an optional cruise through the stunning Regional Park of Camargue
  • Follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh in Arles
  • Rub your eyes in disbelief at the perfection of Pont du Gard, the Roman aqueduct

In the morning, it’s time to explore the Regional Park of Camargue. This is where the Petit Rhône and Grand Rhône meet the Mediterranean to create an unforgettable sanctuary to flora and fauna. The vast wetland encompasses land, salty lagoons, marshland and beaches. And did we mention it’s roamed by black bulls, white horses and pink flamingos?

You’ve got the option to explore the heart of the park on a typical paddle boat. Guided by the captain’s commentary, you observe interesting wildlife and lush vegetation. Keep your camera ready because you’ll meet a herdsman and his bulls and horses.

Alternatively, you can spend some time in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a little town almost completely surrounded by water with numerous beaches and dunes. Here, you can explore its charming centre, discover its legendary origins, or bask in the sunshine on the beach.

Then, you leave the magical park and head to Arles. This city has it all; fascinating history, Roman treasures, shady squares and rich art heritage. You’ll have time to discover some of the Roman remains or follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh. And remember, lunch in one of the picturesque cafes is a must while exploring this place.

Next, you head to Pont du Gard to admire a masterpiece of Roman engineering, a three-tiered aqueduct built almost two thousand years ago. Ponder over the engineers’ precision and walk across the tiers of this UNESCO site before you head back to Nîmes in the early evening.

Day 34

  • Take a walk through the rugged landscapes of Calanques National Park
  • Succumb to the charms of the picturesque village of Cassis

Say au revoir to Nîmes and its history and head to the stunning Calanques National Park on the Mediterranean coast. This gorgeous stretch of land is dotted with fjord-like inlets carved into the white limestone, which will make you feel miles away from civilisation. Get your sturdy boots on and have a ramble through the pine-clad gullies, breathe in the sea breeze, and marvel at the azure waters of the coves.

Feeling rejuvenated by the visit to this coastal heaven, you head to Cassis, a fishing village on the French Riviera. Hidden away from the glamour of the rich and famous, Cassis is as charming as it is authentic. Enjoy your lunch here and try some local lavender ice cream.

With all this newly discovered joie de vivre, you continue your leisurely ramble along the coast towards the glamorous French Riviera. Feast your eyes on the stunning vistas at your photo stops and enjoy Mediterranean vibe before you arrive in Nice la Belle in the evening.

You will say goodbye to this group here, and will join a new group on the morning of day thirty-six.

Day 35

  • Admire the best views of Nice and the coast from Parc de la Colline du Château
  • Feel joie de vivre when you sit back and relax on the promenade

Nice is one of those places.

You can wander all over the city and see spectacular vistas and wonderful museums, or you can have just as good a time sitting on the promenade and watching people stroll by in their rainbow fashions.

Today is your second free day in Nice.

If you’re a bundle of energy and want to see everything you can on your trip, you could start your day by walking up to Parc de la Colline du Château. This park on a hill enjoys grand views overlooking the French riviera and a host of tranquil waterfalls.

You could then walk to Nice Cathedral. If you feel like you’ve overdosed on religious architecture on your trip already, don’t worry; because this building looks like nothing you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s lavishly ornate and bathed in a gorgeous golden hue.

Before it’s time for dinner, make sure you visit one of the art galleries and check out the promenade one last time.

Day 36

  • Savour local Italian specialities in Recco by the Paradise Gulf
  • Spend the evening in the stunning pastel-hued villages of Cinque Terre

You leave the bustling streets of Nice and head east along the French Riviera. This area of the coast is also called the Côte d'Azur and it’s as stunning as it is famous. It’s where the greatest artists came for inspiration, and the rich and famous come to soak up the sun.

You cross the border and continue your journey along the Italian coast. Your first stop of the day is the charming seaside town of Porto Maurizio where you can get some refreshments. Take a photo of the pastel-coloured houses rising over the harbour like a pop-up book and continue your journey to Recco.

It’s time to have lunch and try a local focaccia with cheese. This little town, located on the aptly named Golfo Paradiso (Paradise Gulf), is the gastronomic capital of the area, so make sure to try as many culinary specialities as possible.

In the afternoon, you arrive in La Spezia, check in to your hotel, and get ready to uncover the gems of the Ligurian coast; Cinque Terre. Perched to the side of the cliffs and strung like colourful beads, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are yours to explore for the rest of the day. Just jump on the Cinque Terre train and decide where you want to go first. If it’s beaches and a seafront promenade you’re after, head to Monterosso. The wine lovers should explore Manarola which is surrounded by vines and offers some great local wine. And if you want to visit the hamlets with the great views and a dramatic location, travel to Riomaggiore, Vernazza and Corniglia.

After an afternoon and an evening exploring the Cinque Terre villages, you get on the train back to La Spezia, your base for the night.

Day 37

  • Pose for that classic photo with the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • Fall in love with Lucca’s main Piazza and cobbled streets

Buongiorno! Today is all about discovering the architectural wonders of Northern Italy.

You leave La Spezia in the morning and travel to Pisa where you can explore the city for a couple of hours and have lunch. Once a maritime power competing with Genoa and Venice, this city is now famous worldwide for an architectural project which went horribly wrong. Tilting or not, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has beautiful, elaborate Romanesque architecture and a fascinating history. But remember, the Tower is just one component of a spectacular architectural ensemble. You should not overlook the Duomo, the Baptistery and the Camposanto, which are part of Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles).

Next on the list of our Italian delights is Lucca, known as the city of a hundred churches. Originally founded by the Etruscans, then a Roman colony, the city has gained its wealth through the silk trade. And you can see this prosperity in the abundance of graceful buildings and pretty piazzas. You have time to wander around shady promenades or along the Renaissance city walls before you continue your journey further.

All these impressive architectural gems of the day were just a warm-up. Prepare yourself for a real feast for the eyes as you travel to Florence, your base for the next two nights.

Day 38

  • Marvel at Florence’s Renaissance masterpieces in the city’s grand galleries
  • Stare in awe at the ornate details of Florence Cathedral

You have a free day in the ‘Birthplace of the Renaissance’ and can decide how you want to spend it.

You can start by following the paths of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Dante and Galileo - stare in awe at the Duomo, the city’s majestic Cathedral that dominates the skyline; see The Birth of Venus and some of the most celebrated treasures at the Uffizi Gallery; and visit Galleria dell’Accademia, to admire Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David.

Man does not live by art alone, so don’t forget to try some of the local specialities. The culinary delights like handmade pasta, pizza, bread, pastries, wine and gelato will help you to regain your strength.

In the afternoon, you could ponder over the Medici’s power and secrets as you explore Palazzo Pitti. The grand palace of this influential family is home to some of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance and the secret Vasari Corridor.

For a perfect end of the day, visit Boboli Gardens peppered with statues, fountains, ponds and hidden mazes. It’s your second night in Florence so spend the evening soaking up the atmosphere as you explore the bustling squares or excellent restaurants and bars.

Day 39

  • Explore San Gimignano, the city of soaring towers in Tuscany
  • Enjoy your lunch at Siena’s unique Piazza del Campo

It’s time to wave Florence goodbye and set off to discover the spectacular medieval hill-towns of Tuscany.

As you travel over the green Tuscan hills, you notice the 14 towers of San Gimignano soaring like a medieval Manhattan. Originally set up by the Etruscans, the settlement was named after San Gimignano, the bishop of Modena, who is said to have rescued it from Attila the Hun. You have a chance to explore this unique town, walk around the well-preserved fortified old centre, and ponder over the noble families who got caught up in a race for building the highest tower house.

You continue south to Siena, the highlight of the day. This gorgeous red-brick city celebrates Gothic architecture like no one else. The place’s essence centres around the unique shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. It’s here where the bi-annual horse Palio is hosted. And it’s also where James Bond madly chases his enemy in ‘Quantum of Solace’. Savour your lunch on the Piazza, watch as the world go by, and enjoy the atmosphere.

Next, you travel along the country roads, past cypress trees and olive groves to arrive in Chianciano Terme in the early evening. This hill-top town in the rural Tuscany is your home for two nights.

Day 40

  • Savour local cheese and wine as you travel through the lyrical landscapes of Tuscany
  • Stare in wonder at the revolutionary vision of urban space in Pienza

Curvy backroads lined by cypress trees, vineyards, olive groves, and old romantic villages.

This is the dreamy Tuscan region of Val d’Orcia where time seems to slow down. This area boasts unspoiled beauty and is steeped in history and culture. No wonder it has been declared a UNESCO heritage site.

Start the day with a leisurely drive through the rolling green hills to Bagno Vignoni. This extraordinary ancient site grew around a basin renowned for its curative waters. The Etruscans, Romans, pilgrims of the Via Francigena, and even the Medici appreciated the hot sulphurous waters here. Today, you can admire this ancient spa and can choose to take the waters at the hot springs bellow the village. So, remember to bring your swimwear and a towel for a quick dip.

Rejuvenated after your therapeutic bath, you continue the journey through the green and ochre hills dotted with chapels. This land, its culture, and identity are inextricably connected with wine production. So, it’s time for you to try some of the best wines in the world in a local winery. You can visit the historic wine cellars, discover the secrets of ageing wine, and savour the legendary Brunello di Montalcino.

Next, you travel to the medieval walled city of Montalcino surrounded by scenic vineyards. With its famous wine heritage and stunning location, it’s a perfect place for lunch. Your adventure takes you to Pienza after your delicious meal and possibly a few too many glasses of Brunello.

This jewel of a city is known as the ‘Ideal City’ and is a fruit of the Renaissance vision of Pope Pius II. Call it vain or forward thinking, but in the 15th century the Pope set about transforming his birthplace. And the results are so stunning that UNESCO designated Pienza as a world heritage site. Wander around the Piazza Pio II and marvel at the magnificent ensemble of the church, papal palace, town hall and accompanying buildings.

You finish your afternoon off with a visit to an organic cheese farm where you have a guided tour and discover more about rural life in Tuscany. Learn about cheese production, savour some local specials accompanied by a glass of wine, and enjoy a remarkable view of Val d’Orcia.

After experiencing and savouring the best of rural Tuscany, you arrive in Chianciano Terme in the early evening for your second night.

Day 41

  • Lose yourself in a maze of streets, alcoves and cellars in Sorano
  • Admire the raw shapes and the dramatic location of the ancient city of Pitigliano

You leave Chianciano Terme and Tuscany in the morning and travel south to the Maremma region to discover Sorano. Literally carved out of tuff rock and built on a fortress, this hilltop city feels like a time capsule. It dates back to the Etruscan era and is a fascinating ensemble of towers, alcoves and cellars perched above the Lente river and gorge. Delve into the maze of small streets and alleys and marvel at the city gates and the impressive fortified medieval castle towering over the city.

You continue to another dramatic hilltop city, Pitigliano, where you can enjoy your lunch. The city rises from the outcrop of the volcanic tufa rocks and is surrounded by gorges on three sides. With its rows of jumbled houses and cobblestone streets, it looks like something out of an old fairy-tale. Pitigliano became known as ‘Little Jerusalem’ because it turned to be a safe haven for persecuted Jews. You can still discover their rich heritage in the local cuisine and enchanting synagogues.

In the afternoon, you get off the beaten path and travel through a patchwork of green fields towards the Bolsena Lake. It’s the largest volcanic lake in Italy and its deep waters sustain a thriving fishing community in the local area. You stop to take some pictures and continue along the edge of the lake to Capodimonte. Here, you have time to enjoy the sun and relax on the beach, or you can soak up the atmosphere, roam the town, and admire the castle and many of the town’s beautiful churches.

You continue your leisurely ramble south along the west coast of Italy taking photo stops along the way.

You can say ‘Ciao Roma’ as you arrive in the gateway to Rome in the evening.

You will say goodbye to this group here and will join a new group on the morning of day fourty-three.

Day 42

  • Ponder over the past glory of Ancient Rome in the Colosseum
  • Marvel at Michelangelo’s stunning frescoes in the Sistine Chapel

Haunting ruins, awe-inspiring art and vibrant street life. This is Rome, the Eternal City.

You have a free day to discover the delights of the city. You could start by visiting the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon and icons of Rome’s heyday as the caput mundi (capital of the world).

Once you’ve had a glimpse into the past, focus on the current culinary scene and grab an alfresco table on one of many elegant piazzas. Sit down, relax, and get your taste buds ready for the local delicacies.

In the afternoon, head to the Vatican City, the seat of the Catholic Church. Here you’ll be greeted by the largest church in the world: St. Peter’s Basilica. This beautifully designed sanctuary is the work of some of the Europe’s finest artists. Visit the opulent interior and climb the soaring dome for breath-taking vistas.

Then, you could head to the legendary Vatican Museums boasting one of the world’s greatest art collections. But the Sistine Chapel is the star here. This space is covered in famous Renaissance frescoes, including Michelangelo’s representation of scenes from the Old Testament.

Once you’ve had your fill of masterpieces, it’s time to unwind with a tasty gelato by the dazzling Trevi Fountain. Toss a coin into the water to make sure you’ll return here and start getting excited for the next part of your tour.

Day 43

  • Travel through the green wilderness of the Abruzzo region
  • Discover the natural wonders of the Majella National Park

You leave Rome and get off the beaten track as you journey east to the Abruzzo region. With the Apennine mountains to the north and forests to the south, this green and wild region makes you feel like you’re miles away from civilisation.

You have a comfort stop in Celano, a lovely little town framed by the Sirente mountain and famous for the grand Piccolomini Castle.

Next, you travel past hill-top villages and silent valleys into the Majella National Park. The name means ‘The Mother of Mountains’. The legend says Maya, the Goddess of the Earth was unable to save her dying son, so she died of deep sorrow and turned into the mountain here.

You stop for lunch around Bolognano. This charming village in the Orta Valley has preserved its medieval character and will surprise you with its cuisine. After lunch, you have a chance to admire the beauty of the national park. From the Orfento gorge to a waterfall near the village, your guide will choose an itinerary to suit your interests.

You stop for refreshments in Caramanico Terme at the foot of Majella. This village is known for its thermal springs and beautiful Gothic and Romanesque churches.

You travel south-east and watch as the diverse landscape of Abruzzo change from mountains to flat and sandy coastline as you arrive in the early evening to Lesina, your home for the night.

Day 44

  • Stare in awe at the Apulia’s unique cylindrical, whitewashed buildings called trulli
  • Stroll through the streets of the picturesque seaside town of Polignano a Mare

You wake up in the stunning region of Apulia and head south to Trani.

Known as the ‘Pearl of Apulia’, this historic stone-built port and fishing village exudes sophistication. Walk along the promenade in the marina or stroll through the historic centre and admire the medieval churches, cathedral, and historic Jewish quarter.

You travel to Polignano a Mare, a small, idyllic seaside town perched on the edge of cliffs. Enjoy your lunch surrounded by sun-bleached stone buildings and enjoy the Adriatic breeze. You should also try to catch the sight of the beach in the centre of the town. Its spectacular location paired with crystal clear emerald waters is a recipe for a perfect photo.

Just when you thought your day couldn’t get any better, your adventure takes you to Alberobello. With over 1,500 small and rounded white houses, this town looks like it was inhabited by gnomes. These beehive-shaped buildings are called trulli and are so unique to Apulia that they were awarded UNESCO status. Take your time to meander around the narrow streets and marvel at the impossibly photogenic nooks.

Feeling that La Vita è Bella, you leave Alberobello and ramble south to the heel of Italy, where Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’ and your base for two nights awaits. You arrive in the late afternoon, so you’ll have time to spend your evening exploring hidden piazzas and alleys.

Day 45

  • Marvel at the Baroque architecture of Lecce, ‘the Florence of the South’
  • Feast your eyes on the crystal-clear waters of the beaches of Torre Lapillo
  • Enjoy the stunning vistas of the southernmost part of Italy’s heel

Buongiorno! Wake up and start the day with some pasticciotto, the gorgeous breakfast pastry. Enjoy your free time in the morning by strolling through Lecce’s old town and admiring its unique architecture. The city’s Baroque style is so unique it got the name of its own, ‘Lecce Baroque’. Also, while you explore the city, keep your eyes peeled for any cherubs and gremlins.

Next, contrast the splendour of Lecce with the laid-back seaside towns of the Salento Peninsula. You leave at noon and travel through the ochre-coloured fields and olive groves to Torre Lapillo.

This peaceful town is surrounded by beaches, so have your swimwear at the ready. Some time ago, these beaches have appeared on lists of the most beautiful unknown beaches in the world. And when you see the emerald green water and fine white sand, you’ll know why. After a refreshing dip in the water, try some of the fresh local seafood and have a look at the 16th-century Tower of St Thomas.

You continue your journey along the coast via Gallipoli to Santa Maria di Leuca. Located on the southernmost tip of Italy’s heel, the little town sits between two seas. It’s steeped in history and the legends of its origin are influenced by various cultures. You have some time here, so visit the Sanctuary of Santa Maria de Finibus Terrae (“at the End of the Land” from Latin). According to the tradition, the sanctuary was converted from a pagan temple by Saint Peter who landed here.

Cast your eyes for the last time at the magnificent vistas of the coast and journey inland to Lecce, where you arrive in the early evening.

Day 46

  • Step back in time as you explore the ancient cave dwellings in Matera
  • Travel off the beaten track to the remote village of Castelmezzano

You leave Lecce and head to the UNESCO site of Matera. This city is so perfectly adapted to the terrain that it blends in with its rocky surroundings on a cliff edge. It’s a higgledy-piggledy jumble of sassi, the ancient cave dwellings, houses and churches. And it may have been continuously inhabited for 9,000 years.

Spend your time uncovering the rich history of this place and visit ancient churches with paintings on stone cave walls. You can also check out what the 18th-century dwellings were like and stumble upon locations used in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. And before you leave this captivating place, relish some of the local dishes which haven’t changed for centuries.

Your adventure takes you off the beaten track again as you journey into the heart of the Lucanian Dolomites and the village of Castelmezzano. One of the highest villages in the Basilicata region, it’s located on a narrow ledge that drops away into a dramatic gorge. But Castelmezzano wasn’t built here just for the stunning vistas. Find out about its rich history as you explore the village or go for a hike to see the ruins of the castle which gave the village its name. Alternatively, you can take a nature walk along the Path of the Seven Stones, a trail celebrating an ancient path connecting Castelmezzano with a nearby village Pietrapertosa.

After a busy day, you travel through the hills and mountains of Basilicata towards the west coast of Italy, where you spend two nights in Castellammare di Stabia.

Day 47

  • Explore the ruins of Pompeii, the ancient city frozen in time
  • Fall madly in love with the colours and scents of the glamorous Amalfi Coast

You set off in the morning with a mission to discover the many faces of the region of Campania; the ancient, the new, the tragic and the euphoric.

Your first stop of the day is Pompeii. In 79 AD the nearby Vesuvius erupted and buried the Roman city under a layer of pumice stone. There was no time to flee, so the city and its people were tragically frozen in the volcanic ash. Ponder over this phenomenon as you explore the archaeological site. You have three hours to uncover this city, so take a look at the millennia-old buildings and get a glimpse into the way the Ancient Romans lived. After your time travelling in Pompeii, you head to the glamourous Amalfi Coast to celebrate the new and the beautiful. Pastel-coloured houses and villas, chic boutiques, gourmet restaurants; this is La Dolce Vita at its finest. Add mountains plunging into the sea, verdant woodland, and sheer crags and you’ll understand why this Italian heaven boasts the UNESCO status.

You stop in Positano, which looks like a colourful multi-tiered cake dramatically clinging to a sea-cliff. Find a restaurant to enjoy your lunch and drink in the magnificent views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Then peruse the local boutiques, visit picturesque Santa Maria church, and take amazing photos as you meander through the pastel-coloured streets. Alternatively, walk down the steps to the beach for a swim and some sun.

Reinvigorated after your visit to Positano, you ramble along the dazzling Amalfi Coast and stop for photos on the way. In the late afternoon, you arrive back in Castellammare di Stabia where you can enjoy the rest of your afternoon and watch the sunset with a drink in your hand.

Day 48

  • Feel the thrill of walking along the crater of the infamous Mount Vesuvius
  • Discover the beauty and history of the famous Montecassino Abbey

Today it’s time for something more dramatic. In the morning, you travel north to face Mount Vesuvius.

In the ancient times, this mountain was considered to be divine and had connections to the power of Jupiter – god of sky and lightning. Legends say that the giants used to inhabit the volcano, which explained the loud noises and rumbling.

But it was in 79AD when Mount Vesuvius acquired its evil reputation. A violent explosion buried Pompeii in pumice, destroyed a couple of other towns, and pushed the coastline back several kilometres.

Scary as this sounds, the titan is dormant now. So put on your sturdy boots because you can hike up to its crater. You arrive in Vesuvius National Park and walk up the path of the Gran Cono. Feel the thrill as you walk along the crater of this legendary menace, discover its biodiversity and admire unforgettable panoramic views.

After this exciting start of the day, you travel up north and have lunch en route to the Montecassino Abbey.

Sitting atop of the mountain above the town of Cassino, it’s a sight to behold. Destroyed numerous times, it always returns in its stunning form. In the past, a working monastery and a pilgrimage site, this place was a centre of art, culture, and learning. It was also the scene for a decisive battle near the end of the World War II. You’ve got time to stroll through the cloisters of the monastery, admire fabulous frescoes and mosaics, and contemplate the turbulent history and violence of war.

Breathe in the mountain air and cast your eyes on the lovely landscape before you travel north and arrive in romantic Rome in the evening.

You will say goodbye to this group here and will join a new group on the morning of day fifty.

Day 49

  • Admire the awe-inspiring works of some of the greatest Italian artists at Galleria Borghese
  • Explore the labyrinth of streets in the charming medieval neighbourhood of Trastevere

So, you’re back in Rome.

You’ve already seen Michelangelo’s masterpiece in St Peter’s Basilica, experienced the might of the Roman Empire at the Colosseum, and amazed yourself with the quantity of pizzas you can eat within a day.

All this leaves you wondering - what should you do today?

Well, don’t worry, because you could live one-hundred-and-one lives in Rome and still find things you’d never seen before.

You could start your day by exploring Galleria Borghese and its surrounding gardens. This collection contains works by Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian as well as antiques that are over 900 years old.

After these artistic delights, you can relax in the nearby gardens with a picnic of Italian treats.

Then, your next attraction could be the Basilica Papale Di Santa Maria. This is an ancient religious building packed with beautiful architectural details and fascinating Christian art.

It’s been a busy day, and you’ve still not scratched the surface of this grand city. So perhaps you should simply spend the rest of the evening absorbing the local culture in the Trastevere area. This part of town is full of espresso bars, cobbled lanes, and fantastic restaurants for you to unwind in.

Day 50

  • Visit Bagno di Romagna known for its hot springs
  • Spend an evening in Bologna and stroll through its famous porticoes

You leave the dazzling capital of Italy and head north towards the region of Umbria. You stop on the way as you travel through a land of forests and valleys dotted with pretty hill-towns.

In the early afternoon, you arrive in charming Città di Castello where you have lunch. This small town with a medieval centre dates back to Roman times. And is rich in history, art plus is the place to try delicious truffles.

Next, you travel to Bagno di Romagna, a little town in the Apennines. Located on the doorstep of the Casentinesi Forest National Park and boasting hot springs, this small mountain community is an oasis of slow-life. Stroll through this charming hamlet; pop into its little palace, churches, and monasteries; or, depending on the group’s interests, head to the nearby national park to see Alferello Waterfall.

You then travel through the green countryside of the Emilia-Romagna region as you head to Bologna, where you spend the night. You arrive here in the late afternoon, so make sure to explore this city which boasts Europe’s oldest university; a beautiful network of porticoed, medieval streets; and some fine restaurants.

Day 51

  • Get captivated by the views of Lake Como framed by the Alps
  • Marvel at the stunning architecture of the unique Villa del Balbianello

Today, you travel through Lombardy, Italy’s wealthiest region with a host of magnificent lakes.

Your adventure first takes you to Lake Como, the most stunning lake in the region. Framed by the Rhaetian Alps, this Italian slice of heaven’s crystal-clear waters seduced the most famous writers of the 18th and 19th centuries.

You arrive in Lenno, a town on the west bank of the lake, where you have the whole afternoon to yourself. Stroll along the shores of the town, drink in the magnificent views, and absorb its relaxed atmosphere. Don’t forget to find a restaurant or café to savour the unique flavours of the region before you continue to explore the area.

Your day by Lake Como wouldn’t be complete without visiting a splendid villa, so make sure to see Villa del Balbianello. This 18th-century mansion is as magnificent as it is famous. The interior is filled with artwork, and the terraced gardens and vistas will take your breath away. And when you visit this place, you’ll feel like a movie star because this was used as a set from Star Wars Episode II and James Bond’s Casino Royale.

Full of natural and architectural delights, you continue to Lugano in the late afternoon, where you spend two nights.

Day 52

  • Admire the harmonious blend of lakes and the mountains in Locarno
  • Explore stunning Stresa and the beautiful Borromean Islands

Breathe in the fresh mountain air as you leave Lugano and continue to explore the stunning lakes on the border of Italy and Switzerland.

You have a comfort break in Locarno, an Italian-speaking resort city in Switzerland on Lake Maggiore. With 2,300 hours of sunshine a year, numerous palm trees, and an air of elegance, this city is hard to leave.

Next, you jump over to Italy again and travel along Lake Maggiore to Stresa. You’ll be entertained for the whole afternoon by this town’s belle époque villas, lovely promenade, and cobbled streets. You can also take a boat to the magnificent Borromean Islands to uncover their artistic, historical and natural delights. Or, if you crave for striking vistas, get the cable car ride to the summit of Mount Mottarone that rises nearby.

After an exciting afternoon, you swap the lake for mountains and head to Varese to enjoy its pretty old town and grand art nouveau villas.

In the evening, you return to Lugano for your second night.

Day 53

  • Fall in love with Lauterbrunnen, one of the most quintessential Alpine villages
  • Stare in wonder at the Staubbach Falls, Europe’s highest free-falling waterfall

Today, you delve into the mountainous heart of Switzerland where the soaring Alps are intertwined with green meadows, glittering lakes and cute villages.

Your first short stop is in Altdorf, a little town with a famous monument to William Tell. Hear the story of the legendary folk hero who symbolized the struggle for political and individual freedom.

Then, you travel through some of the most scenic roads of the country, where every turn looks like a postcard photo. But just when you thought that the landscape can’t get any more magnificent, you arrive in Lauterbrunnen.

This little village is the epitome of the alpine paradise. It’s located in an immense U-shaped valley framed by sheer mountain crags. It offers great views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, some of the most well-known mountains in the area, and it’s decorated with a staggering 72 waterfalls.

You have almost the whole afternoon to explore this quintessential Swiss village. Start from admiring the chalet-style houses and eating some Swiss specialities. Then, stare in awe at Staubbach Falls, Europe’s highest free-falling waterfall located right at the end of the main street. If you still crave more, you can go slightly off the beaten track and visit Trümmelbach waterfalls, a series of 10 glacier waterfalls.

After you’ve soaked up the peace and beauty of the rural landscapes, you head to Lausanne, your home for two nights and an ideal place for an evening stroll along Lake Geneva.

Day 54

  • Savour the quintessential flavours of Gruyères
  • Try celebrity-spotting in glamorous Gstaad
  • Visit the iconic Chillon Castle on Lake Geneva

Man does not live on landscapes alone, so today you’ve got a chance to savour the famous culinary heritage of Switzerland.

You head to the medieval town of Gruyères full of cobbled streets and quaint houses decorated with flowers. But you didn’t come here to admire the charms of the village. You came to try that nutty, semi-hard cheese the world raves about. And the best place to do this is at the local cheese factory, La Maison du Gruyère, where you can learn the history and production secrets of this delicious cheese.

Alternatively, if you have a sweet tooth, visit Maison Cailler; a chocolate factory with a series of interactive, multi-sensorial experiences and chocolate tasting. Just remember to leave some space for other specialities like fondue and marvellous meringues with double cream.

After trying some of the gastronomic highlights, you get back on the road and venture through the unspoiled landscapes of a regional nature park to Gstaad for lunch. It might be a timber-lined village surrounded by mountains and pastures, but it’s popular with celebrities and exudes the glitz and glamour.

From here, you travel back to the shores of Lake Geneva to visit another Swiss icon, the 13th-century Chillon Castle which boasts a spectacular location. You arrive back in Lausanne early in the evening.

Day 55

  • Stroll leisurely through charming Dole, the City of Art and History
  • Discover the quintessential flavours of famous Chablis wines in their birthplace

You leave lovely Lausanne, travel through the brooding scenery of the Jura Mountains, and head into France. You’re now in the rural landscapes of the Franche-Comté region known for its beautiful nature.

Your first stop of the day is Dole, a charming town set in the stunning countryside of the Doubs valley. It boasts the status of ‘A City of Art and History’ thanks to its wonderful historical area, medieval streets, and interesting museums. To get the real flavour of this place, stroll along the town’s narrow streets, canals and bridges and taste some of the local cheeses.

Back on the road, you head to Chablis, the home to the region’s famous dry white wines. This picturesque walled town will enchant you with its medieval timber-framed houses. Savour your lunch and go wine tasting in a nearby winery to discover some of the best Chablis. Or if you like wine trivia, peruse the impressive collection of 8,000 items in the Corkscrew and Vineyard Museum.

In the late afternoon, say au revoir to the medieval town and journey to Paris through the lush landscapes of Burgundy.

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Accommodation

Where does this tour stay overnight?

You stay one night in Beaune, two nights in Tournon-sur-Rhône, two nights in Sisteron, two nights in Nice, one night in Carcassonne, two nights in Lourdes, two nights in Haro, two nights in Madrid, one night in Córdoba, two nights in Granada, two nights in Seville, two nights in Lisbon, two nights in Porto, two nights in Santiago de Compostela, one night in Salamanca, two nights in Madrid, one night in Peñíscola, two nights in Girona, two nights in Nîmes, two nights in Nice, one night in La Spezia, two nights in Florence, two nights in Chianciano Terme, two nights in Rome, one night in Lesina, two nights in Lecce, two nights in Castellammare di Stabia, two nights in Rome, one night in Bologna, two nights in Lugano, and two nights in Lausanne.


To get more information about your accommodation, please contact our friendly team 3 weeks prior to departure.


How does the accommodation work?

A good night’s sleep is often needed for a good day of travel.

So, we’ve hand-picked three to four-star hotels in remote coastal villages, bustling towns, and mountain valleys.

Your accommodation is included in the tour price; and when you book your trip, you can choose whether you want double rooms, twin rooms, or single rooms.

In Paris, Nice, Madrid, Lisbon, and Rome, you stay at a hotel by the airport. These have excellent transport connections all across the city and let us avoid contributing to central traffic congestion.


Are there any extra accommodation costs?

The price you see is for all your tour's accommodation and for the tour itself. This figure is based on shared accommodation. When you're booking your tour and select a single room, an additional single room supplement will be added to the price.


FAQs

Do I need a visa to take this tour?

You may need a Schengen Visa to travel throughout Europe. Check the official tourism website of the country you’re visiting for up-to-date and reliable information. Travel between countries is easy because there are no passport checks at the borders.


Do you offer hotel pickups in the departure cities?

Europe's historic city centres are full of narrow streets and winding roads. So, to speed up your departure and avoid contributing to congestion issues, we only start our trips from the airport hotel specified in your departure information.

Our friendly team will send you more information about your departure location closer to your departure date.


When should I get to the departure point?

Arrive at the hotel lobby 15 minutes before your departure time. Unfortunately, we’re unable to wait for you if you’re late due to vehicle restrictions. But depending on your situation, we may be able to help you catch up with your tour.


What are your cancellation policies?

We have a cancellation period of 42 days for our Europe tours. If you cancel your trip before this period, we give you a full refund minus a 10% admin charge. If you cancel inside this timeframe, you’re liable for the cost of the tour package.

We understand how disappointing it is when you have to cancel a trip with us, so please contact our friendly team who will try their best to resell your ticket and refund you.

Click here to view full terms and conditions.


What is a guaranteed departure?

It's simple: you book, you go. This means we'll never cancel your tour because of a minimum numbers policy.


Can I pre-book a specific seat?

Due to logistical reasons, we're unable to let you pre-book a seat on the bus. But our comfortable mini-coaches have huge windows, So you always get a good view.


Are there toilets on the bus?

We like to keep our coaches small, nimble, and odour free. This means we have no on-board toilet facilities, but you frequently stop in local towns and villages for comfort breaks.


Are the tours suitable for people with mobility issues?

Most people can comfortably enjoy our tours, but it's worth bearing in mind that we often include optional short walks in scenic locations. Please also be aware that many of the old European towns are built on steep hills with cobbled lanes, and you may have to carry your own luggage at times.

So that we can ensure you're comfortable travelling with us, please let us know about any special requirements or needs at the time of booking. If you have any more questions, simply email tours@rabbies.com .


Do you take children on your tours?

Unfortunately, we’re unable to have children under the age of five on our Europe tours.

You can ask us about the tours we recommend for younger children. And if your child is less than 1.35m tall, you should let us know, so we can provide them with a suitable booster seat.


How much time do I get off the bus?

We want you to enjoy your trip to Europe. And we believe the best way to do this is to get you off the mini-coach and out exploring. So, we give you plenty of stops to take photos, go walking, and explore ancient ruins.


Why do you exclude visitor attractions?

We exclude visitor attractions in your tour price because it lets you travel your way. It means you can pamper yourself with a luxury lunch or skip an attraction whenever you feel like it.


Do we need to bring our own lunch?

You don't need to pack or bring along food on the mini-coach. We stop in small European towns, villages, and rural eateries where you can choose whatever meal pleases both your taste buds and your budget.


What should I do if I have too much luggage?

It’s more enjoyable to travel with light luggage. You can take less by cleaning clothes along the way. Most hotels provide affordable laundry service.

But if you're travelling with more than 20kg, don't worry! There are left luggage facilities close to all our departure points, and courier companies who could ship your excess luggage on to your chosen destination. Our team are happy to help if you need any suggestions or recommendations.


Should I tip the driver and the guide?

Let's be honest, our drivers and guides would never refuse a cheeky bonus. But it's up to you, and the amount is entirely at your discretion.


What about travel insurance?

We highly recommend you take out travel insurance, so you can enjoy a stress-free journey.


What is ABTOT?

You're protected by ABTOT when you choose to let us book your accommodation on a multi-day tour. This means you can claim back anything you've paid us if we run into any issues. Read our terms and conditions for more information.

Our packages are covered by the Package Travel Regulations. For full details of your key rights please click here.


I have more questions, who can help me?

If you have any more questions, call us on +44(0)131 226 3133, email tours@rabbies.com, or check out our full FAQs.

4 reasons to choose Rabbie's

Travel the local way on small group tours of 16 people or fewer

You'll have a guaranteed experience, or your money back

Guaranteed departures: you book, you go

Our eco-friendly tours support local communities

BTA_2017.png Green Tourism Award Scottish Thistle Awards Winner 2015/2016 TC_2018_WHITE_LL_R-112x105.png queens-award.png Scottish Tourist Board 5 Stars
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