Meet up with your Contiki team before we hit the road and take a ferry past the White Cliffs of Dover. We travel via World War I battlefields in the Valley of the Somme, to Paris. Tonight, the group kick-starts Paris with the ‘Tour of Illuminations', which shows off the French capital's transformation into the “City of Lights”. Lamp-lit bridges and cool little cafés give us a real taste of Paris' romance. Your Tour Manager will fill you in on the world's most-recognised monuments, like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Then get a stunning view of the entire city with included entry to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Oui, oui, Paris!
This town is loaded with possibilities. Discover its many bistros, museums, tree-lined avenues and diverse quartiers (neighbourhoods). Get a feel for French flair by window shopping on the Left Bank. Step into the Notre Dame or explore the endless galleries of the Louvre, where you can get up close to the famous Mona Lisa. In your free time, try indulging in some delicious pastries and relax in one of Paris' many cafés. Treat yourself to the full Parisian experience with a cabaret show, complete with can-can girls, dinner and Champagne. But don't stop there - afterwards hit the clubs and finish up your time here with a big Parisian night out.
With down-time on the coach, plug in your MP3, chill out to some music and chat with friends while travelling through the scenic wine producing regions of Burgundy and Chablis. Next stop: the jaw-droppingly beautiful Alpine town of Lucerne.
Get above the clouds with an optional excursion to Mt. Rigi. You can see massive mountain ranges with a bird's-eye view over this spectacular region. With covered wooden bridges, cobbled lanes and quaint buildings, Lucerne's centre is perfect to explore on foot. Also to stock up on lots of genuine Swiss chocolate! Your Tour Manager can give you pointers on where to pick up the best-priced watches that Switzerland is so famous for. Choose an optional cruise on one of Europe's most striking lakes, where stunning scenes of the Swiss Alps reflect back across the water.
Unwind on the coach as we cut through Italy and head south to the French Riviera. Next stop on the Riviera and home to the French perfume industry is Fragonard perfumery. Learn more about how perfume is made and some of its more surprising ingredients. It's also a chance to pick up a bottle or 2 at great price. Then we hit the rugged coast line of the stunning Côte d'Azur. Follow the beautiful sapphire waters to the palm trees and sun-soaked shores of Nice.
In your free time live a bit of the lifestyle with a visit to the local markets. Try out the region's produce like lavender honey, aioli (garlic mayonnaise) and mouth-watering rosé wine. Window shop the chic boutiques or spend the afternoon relaxing in one of the city's many cafés. Tonight get a taste of the high life in Monaco, the glamorous principality packed into just 1.92km2 and home of the Formula 1. Indulge in a bit of glitz with the group by opting for a typically French 4-course meal just a few doors down from the Royal Palace. Get the inside story on the Royal Family and their place of residence from your Tour Manager, then try your luck at a casino later on.
Onwards to Italy, land of passion! Heading to Renaissance Florence, we stop by Pisa and get up close to the famous Leaning Tower. The scene-stealing Duomo Cathedral rises above Florence, which serves up frescoes, markets and priceless art. Tonight, there's a choice of a group dinner - an authentic Tuscan feast. Try regional dishes in the pretty Tuscan country setting. Then keep it moving with a night out and get your groove on at Florence's biggest club.
Jump start the day uncovering this open-air museum and its city centre. Our Local Guide gives you the inside track as the group learns about Florence's cultural beginnings and explores streets crammed with artworks from masters like Michelangelo. Then take a look into a skillful demonstration of Florentine leather making and understand this region's traditional art. With bargains and bustle, the city's markets are a great place to hang out. Grab a gelato and enjoy this gorgeous city. Travel through Tuscany's rustic hills, past the recognisable cypress tree landscapes of this olive oil producing region, to vibrant Rome. Stylish Rome oozes energy and overflows with relics from another age. Our special access coach tour gets you right into the thriving atmosphere of this living timeline as your Tour Manager shows you the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia. Continue on foot to check out the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Honour tradition at the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin in the fountain's waters (it's meant to improve your chances of returning to Rome!) or maybe hang out with your new friends at the Spanish Steps, sit back and people watch.
This morning, make the most of our Local Guide's inside knowledge with an optional guided tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Then check out Rome's imperial glory by visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Take off into the city and absorb the atmosphere, as Vespas flash past timeworn monuments that are surrounded by fountains, pizzerias, cafés and bars. Before you hit the shops, let your Tour Manager point you in the right direction with some tips on the best buys. In your free time, live the local lifestyle by indulging in a long lunch on a paved piazza or knock back a shot of espresso at the bar, like the Romans do.
Criss-cross the Apennine Mountains past wildflower fields, quaint hill-top villages and the rolling hills of Umbria to Venice. During your time in this special city, you'll get a good look into the Venetian way of life.
Known as the “floating city”, Venice is packed with character, crammed with hidden lanes and linked by a network of canals. The group travels on our private boat through the waters of the lagoon to visit the city's historical heart. The limestone Bridge of Sighs, the Gothic arches of the Doge's Palace and the expanse of St. Mark's Square (pigeons and all!) show off Venice's unique beauty and way of life. Take some time to explore the floating city and lose yourself in the backstreets. There's an optional walking tour where you can discover the labyrinth of interweaving lanes, waterways, palaces, piazzi and markets with our Local Guide. You'll see historic monuments, hidden treasures and the Rialto market - a local favourite for food shopping. Maybe grab a table on St. Mark's Square and eat some delicious Italian food al fresco. Cap off the day with an optional gondola ride & share this amazing experience with your friends - seeing Venice from on the water is unforgettable!
Wind through the Bavarian Alps and Brenner Pass to a cute Austrian village in a region famous for adventure sports. Kick start your time here by plunging into some whitewater rafting in an adrenalin-pumping optional activity on the river. With two nights here, there's plenty of time for pulse-racing activities. Our resident crew will give you pointers on the best stuff to do in the region and make sure you get everything out of your time here.
This morning, fill your lungs with clean mountain air, jump on a bike and get into the region's outdoor lifestyle with a fully guided optional tour through the Tyrol's picture perfect scenery, complete with waterfalls and mountain fields. Work up an appetite - a BBQ lunch is waiting for you at the end! With time to do your own thing, laze about or get out for a walk in the surrounding hills. Catch up on some emails or postcards at the inn or take a gondola up the mountainside for more spectacular views of the area. For something different, pop into the local trout farm. For adrenaline-junkies, an optional tandem paragliding experience will give you an awesome angle on the surrounding Alpine scenery.
Remember one of history's darkest moments with a sobering stop at the Dachau concentration camp memorial. Learn more at the museum and walk through the remaining living quarters. Afterwards, travel back to the home of the world-famous Oktoberfest, Munich - a city that blends traditional Bavarian culture and modern lifestyle. Give an optional bike tour a go and get off the beaten track and onto Munich's side streets with our Local Guide. Explore the heart of Munich's old town with the crew, and head to Marienplatz. It's a central gathering spot famous for the Glockenspiel - a Gothic clock, complete with 32 dancing figures and 43 chiming bells. Then, get a taste of tradition at a typical beer hall. Park yourself at a long wooden table, order yourself some hearty local food, like roasted pork knuckle, and quench your thirst with a stein of one of Germany's 5000 brews.
Continue on to the cultural hub of Vienna. Tonight, we'll stay at the striking Eventhotel Pyramide. The hotel comes complete with spa & wellness centre, an outdoor heated pool and deluxe rooms. Get schnaps savvy with a behind-the-scenes look into this local liqueur's production in an optional excursion to the Old Vienna Schnaps Museum. This evening it's all about the culture at an optional dinner and concert. Up first is a classical music concert with former Vienna locals, Mozart and Strauss, in one of the city's imperial palaces. Follow this up with a traditional Viennese meal in an old-world restaurant.
Your Tour Manager starts the day by introducing the group to the city's historical heritage. There's the imperial grandeur of Schönbrunn Palace, the elegantly ornate State Opera House and St. Stephen's Cathedral - a Gothic masterpiece. Cruise down Kärntner Strasse, Vienna's main shopping spot, and buy some traditional ceramics or materials for gifts back home. There's free time to check out magnificent squares and majestic palaces or the city's art galleries. Take a break in a coffee house like the locals do, chill out in Vienna's manicured gardens or wander along the Danube River. This afternoon, relax on the coach as we head to the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague.
Prague is a beautiful and atmospheric city. It's also pretty compact, so it's best explored on foot. Get straight into Prague's historic heart with your Tour Manager. You'll walk together over the landmark Charles Bridge, through Hrad?any Castle, the home of the original Bohemian Kings and to the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral along the way. Choose a cruise on the Vltava River, which runs through the heart of Prague, and take in stunning views of the city from the water. The Czech capital has a really mixed past so look out for signs of the Holy Roman Empire, the Bohemian Empire, the Nazis and the Communists. Free time means you can get deeper into Prague's Old Town in your own time. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a jumble of little lanes, alleys and courtyards. Slow the pace down and give yourself a chance to uncover its hidden treasures. Spend some time in the picturesque Old Town Square, where historic buildings and churches surround cafés that spill out onto the pavement. With some world-famous Czech pilsner in hand, park yourself at a table, people-watch and try out some of the traditional local dumplings. This is also the spot to pick up some famous Bohemian glass, beads or garnet and amber jewellery By night, Prague bursts with possibilities. Loaded with all types of music, from jazz bars and hip DJs to opera, there is something for everyone, so make the most of it with your friends.
Chill out while the coach follows the Rhine River, weaving through valleys dotted with castles and vineyards. Next stop - the pretty, old-world village of St. Goar, complete with fairy tale castle and even a free-hanging cuckoo clock! With our included river cruise, drift past quaint riverside towns and magical castles and see this UNESCO World Heritage area. Get savvy with a demonstration on the local craft of beer steins. Then kick back with a glass of local wine and choose to find out more with the optional wine tasting in a candlelit underground cellar.
Head into the buzzing capital of Amsterdam to check out the city's eye-opening Red Light District, where the creative and the wacky come together on narrow cobbled streets, 24/7.
Cycle around like the laid back locals and cruise into the countryside, past working windmills, in the world-famous cheese village of Edam. Free time this afternoon to experience Amsterdam's coffee shops, museums and quirky boutiques. Wander along the canals and past gabled houses or try out Amsterdam's multi-ethnic cuisine. This cultural melting pot dishes up loads of affordable food. Tonight, try some of the traditional local cuisine at a restaurant in a nearby fishing village. With an optional evening canal cruise, there's a chance to toast your travels with the group, unwind with a few drinks and uncover another angle on Amsterdam at water level. For your last night in this city, get some pointers from your Tour Manager, dive into Amsterdam's night action with your buddies and finish up your travels with a night to remember.
This morning after breakfast we transfer you to Schiphol Airport (estimated arrival 10:00am) where your tour ends. Or choose to take a complimentary transfer to central London & extend your stay.