The Great European Expedition
27 day tour

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A classic itinerary that takes in the full-on flavours of Italy, the mighty views of the Alps, and the rustic charms of France.

Highlights

Wine
Roman Ruins
Film Locations
UNESCO Heritage Sites
Lakes
Mountains
Beaches
Castles

Places you explore


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

Beaune - A beautiful walled town located in the heart of Burgundy’s famous vineyards.

Pisa - A legendary city with the iconic architectural duo: the spectacular Romanesque Cathedral and the famous leaning tower.

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.

Pompeii - Ponder over the everyday life of the Ancient Romans as you stroll through the city that froze in time.

Lake Como and Lake Maggiore - Prestigious villas, lush nature and charming villages. Fall in love with the beguiling beauty of the azure blue Italian lakes.

Lauterbrunnen – Stare in awe at this postcard-perfect village nestled deep in a valley of 72 waterfalls with views of Eiger.


Your journey


From Paris to the heel of Italy and back. Along the coast one way and through the Alps on the way back. This trip is one of the classic itineraries of Europe.

You venture down through olive-lined groves, deep gorges, rustic villages and chalk-board menus of France. You travel from the French Riviera to the Italian Riviera and take in pastel-coloured houses and platters of fresh seafood. You experience Italian Renaissance art in its birthplace in Florence and get as close to the Ancient Romans as possible at the archaeological site of Pompeii.

And the true cherry on top comes when you make your way back to Paris through the majestic beauty of the Swiss Alps.

Join this trip and go on one of the best routes Europe has to offer.


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 four of our tours, a free day in Nice and two free days in Rome. 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
  • 26 nights in a three-star hotel with continental breakfast
Tour exclusions
  • Entry fees to visitor attractions

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

  • 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 9

  • 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 10

  • 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 11

  • 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 12

  • 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 13

  • 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 fifteen.

Day 14

  • 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 15

  • 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 16

  • 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 17

  • 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 18

  • 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 19

  • 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 20

  • 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 twenty-two.

Day 21

  • 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 22

  • 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 23

  • 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 24

  • 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 25

  • 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 26

  • 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 27

  • 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 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.


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.

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 are travelling with more than 20kg of luggage, we are very happy to help you. Options include storing your excess luggage or a courier service to ship it to a destination of your choice.


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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