DAY 1: London - Paris
Welcome to your 12 day Europe tour! Leaving London behind us, we make our way to Paris, crossing the English Channel and arriving in the ‘City of Lights’ in the afternoon. We'll take you on a driving tour of the French capital; get your cameras ready - you’ll be seeing some of the city’s most treasured landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe! After the driving tour we'll enjoy dinner at a restaurant in the Latin Quarter, an eclectic, bohemian and historic neighbourhood. We'll then travel back to the hotel on Paris' world famous metro system, ready to explore the city further on our free day tomorrow!
DAY 2: Paris - Free day
The wonderful thing about Paris, is that it there is so much to experience, regardless of the time of day, or season. The Seine River is the backbone of the capital, and flows through the heart of the city. The banks are peppered with book sellers and market stalls if you wish to walk. But, why not choose a cruise, and cruise your way past the grandeur of the gothic Notre Dame cathedral, to the epic Eiffel Tower? The commentary from the river boats will give you invaluable knowledge and information of the city. Famous architecture is scattered through the city, and ‘strolling’ is the best mode of transport for taking in every ounce of history. Paris Disneyland is perfect for the ‘young at heart’, and is only a short distance away. Your Expat Explore tour leader is brimming with ideas and local knowledge, so that you can get the best out of your time here. Don’t forget to find out where you can sample such French delicacies as frogs legs and snails - not your typical garden variety...
DAY 3: Burgundy - Swiss Alps
Au revoir Paris! Today we sample a taste of small town France with a lunch stop in Burgundy. In the town of Beaune you can visit the beautiful Hospices de Beaune, or try the famous wine. After lunch we take a long scenic drive across the border into Switzerland. Welcome to the Swiss Alps, your home for the next two days! You are now completely surrounded by nature’s beauty. Literally, you can turn in any direction and you will see snow-capped peaks, clear-blue lakes and perfect hiking trails. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy your time in this idyllic place.
DAY 4: Swiss Alps - Free day
The Swiss Alps has some of the highest peaks in the world! Surrounded by these peaks and glaciers you have the opportunity to feel on top of the world… Take a train or gondola to the top for magnificent mountain vistas. You have picture-perfect beauty all around you and endless photo opportunities. For those wishing to spend their free day exploring the local sights, you can feast on Swiss cheese fondue or do a spot of sightseeing. If you’re looking for keepsakes, there are great local places for shopping Swiss Army knives and watches. Or wander through the villages and breathe in that crisp, fresh, Alpine air! What more could you want on your free day?!
DAY 5: Swiss Alps - Florence - Tuscany
It's time to swap snow for gelato, as you continue your European tour through northern Italy to Florence. Once we arrive, a local guide can’t wait to show you around on a walking tour of the city. History oozes out of every pore of this artistic and cultural centre - the city is home to Michaelangelo’s ‘David’. After some free time to further explore Florence we head to our accommodation for the evening, either in Florence or the spa town of Montecatini Terme.
DAY 6: Tuscany - Pisa - Rome
Today, your Italian adventure continues! Make sure you prepare your camera for a photo opportunity of a lifetime..when we stop at the Leaning Tower of Pisa! This world famous Bell tower is immaculately presented. A world heritage UNESCO site, The Leaning Tower is visited by tourists from every corner of the globe, and is one of the most popular cultural European landmarks. We then continue on to the capital, Rome! This afternoon is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of an optional excursion to visit the Vatican City - the smallest country in the world! Inside the walls, you can visit the Sistine Chapel and see for yourself the famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo, as well as numerous other famous art pieces dotted around the buildings. On the way to our hotel your tour leader will introduce you to more of this historic city on a driving tour, to help you plan which sights you want to tick off during your free day tomorrow.
DAY 7: Rome - Free day
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but luckily you have a free one, in which to explore the city to your hearts content. The city centre boasts ancient ruins, historical landmarks, religious buildings and a buzzing atmosphere like no other. The Colosseum is spectacular, offering fabulous views of the city, and an unbelievable feeling of drifting backwards in time, to when gladiators, chariots and lions dominated the arena. For those who wish to enter, your tour leader can organise a tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum with a local guide. Later, you will also have the option of joining our 'Conquer the Capital' excursion, a fun-filled day of exploring Rome, seeing sights including the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon, and enjoying a delicious lunch and gelato tasting.
DAY 8: Rome - Venice
After roaming Rome, you shall now visit Venice on the next leg of your 12 day Europe Tour! Take note of the scenery on the way - vineyards and orchards flash in front of a majestic mountain backdrop. The diversity of the Italian landscapes will continue to impress. And then...Venice. A unique city, perched across 118 islands, and known for its canals, gondolas, Venetian masks, piazzas, art, traditional glass and lace making. Your tour leader will introduce you to the city with an orientation walk so you can use your free time in the early evening to explore. See the world famous St Marks Square, Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. The evening is yours to enjoy authentic Italian delights, with hundreds of fantastic local restaurants and bars to choose from. After an espresso, explore Venice the traditional way - from the canals. Take a gondola ride which gives you a completely different perspective and appreciation for the amazing structure of this supremely unique location.
DAY 9: Innsbruck - Munich - Bavaria
Arrivederci, Italy! Heading north toward Germany, you will encounter some of the most beautiful countryside in central Europe. The famous Brenner Pass will appear before you, and simply take your breath away, as we make our way to Austria for a comfort stop to get a taster of Innsbruck and its dramatic mountain backdrop. Arriving in Munich in the afternoon, there is plenty of time for an escorted walking tour of the city centre. With much of the city having to be restored after WW2, the modern and ancient history of Munich is fascinating, and the appreciation of the effort to rebuild the German city is gilded with respect. Munich plays host to one of the most famous beer festivals in the world - Oktoberfest! To give you a taste, this evening you will dine in a traditional beer hall, and enjoy a local beer on us! Prost!
DAY 10: Bavaria - Rhine Valley
Your German adventure continues, with you heading to one of the most picturesque sections of the famous Rhine River. Once we arrive in the Rhine Valley, relax on board a Rhine riverboat as we head to our hotel in the heart of this picturesque region. This is the most concentrated stretch of castles in all of Europe, and it also features vineyards, charming medieval towns and lofty cliffs. Learn the story of the castles, many of which are now in ruins since the river barons left long ago. Once the cruise is over we'll visit a local wine merchants for an included wine tasting - if the harvest has been good, you may even get to try eiswein (ice wine), a very sweet dessert wine that is produced in very small quantities as it can only be harvested when the temperature drops below freezing.
DAY 11: Rhine Valley - Amsterdam
This morning you will say your goodbye’s to Germany, and continue your Europe tour into the Netherlands. With your Expat Explore tour leader giving you a run down on local traditions and culture, you will be given an opportunity to indulge three of the most iconic Dutch products - cheese, clogs and windmills! A very entertaining cheese and clog making display, will have you fascinated and wanting to taste and ‘klomp’ (klompen is the Dutch word for ‘clogs’. Checking into your hotel you have a chance to freshen up, and then whisked to the centre of Amsterdam for a twilight canal cruise. Complete with pizza and ice cream, you will gain an alternative perspective of this eclectic and bohemian city whilst drifting past famous landmarks. Afterwards, why not join your Expat tour leader on a walking tour of the infamous Red Light District, and then you are free to explore the city to your hearts content. The cafes, restaurants and bars will be buzzing with activity and atmosphere.
DAY 12: Amsterdam - Bruges - London
After your Amsterdam adventure, you have one more stop before you set off for the UK. The Belgian city of Bruges, is a small but picturesque city, with breathtaking architecture and a wonderful personality. Described as the ‘Venice of the North’, take some time to stretch your legs and indulge in a spot of sight-seeing. Gastronomy is its forte, You will find plenty of chocolatiers ready to educate you on the quality of their produce. After your visit, you will then be on your way back to London, crossing the English Channel on the way. This is the perfect time to exchange contact details with new friends and travel buddies as you prepare to disembark in the capital. Make sure you upload the highlights of your 12 day Europe tour onto our Facebook page, and we look forward to having you on tour with us again soon.