London to Paris
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. After dinner we will depart for the 'Paris by Night tour', where the French capital transforms 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 Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. If you’re adventurous, get right into French culture when you arrive at a Parisian café with the opportunity to try out France’s national delicacy – escargot! You’ll also get to toast the start of your tour with French Champagne.
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 Cathedral or explore the endless galleries of the Louvre and get up close to the famous Mona Lisa. Try indulging in some delicious pastries and relax in one of Paris’ many green spaces. Tonight, treat yourself to a real Parisian night out, starting with an optional dinner in an atmospheric restaurant, where you can get to know your group. Then sign up for an authentic cabaret experience, complete with can-can girls and Champagne.
Paris to Beaujolais Wine Region
Southbound, we stop off at the massive 16th century Château Fontainebleau. Walk around the imperial gardens and check out the château’s imposing, regal exterior. We continue on through Burgundy’s wine country to Beaujolais’ green hills and vineyards. Our team will make you feel right at home in Contiki’s very own 16th century Château. There’s a wine tasting within the Château’s working winery, where our resident expert will teach you about Beaujolais wine as you swirl and sip on wines made in the area for centuries.
Beaujolais Wine Region
There’s loads of time to catch up on some sleep, laze about the Château or position yourself poolside. Explore the French countryside with a walk through the vineyards and picnic in the hills above the Château. In the afternoon, you can even get a feel for a real French country town by heading into nearby Theizé.
Beaujolais Wine Region to French Riviera
Unwind on the coach, listen to your MP3 and take in the rustic beauty of Provence, known for its pretty landscapes of lavender, sunflowers and wild herbs. We continues on the road to the rugged coast line of the stunning Côte d’Azur. Follow the beautiful sapphire waters past the movie-star glamour of Cannes (famous for its annual film festival), to Antibes. Tonight get a taste of the high life in Monaco, the glamourous principality packed into just 1.92km2 and home to the Formula 1. Get the inside story on the Royal Family and their place of residence from your Tour Manager. Try your luck at a casino later on!
French Riviera to Florence
Next stop on the Riviera and home to the French perfume industry is Fragonard Perfumery. Learn 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 prices. Onwards to Italy, land of passion! En route 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. After dinner, walk along the River Arno with your Tour Manager, take in the atmosphere and head into the heart of Florence, where you can sit back and relax Tuscan style with a glass of Chianti wine.
Jump start the day uncovering this open-air museum and its UNESCO World Heritage 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. Tonight, there’s a choice of a group dinner - an authentic Tuscan feast. Try regional dishes in the heart of Florence. Then keep it moving with a night out and get your groove on at Florence’s biggest club.
Florence to Rome
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 with a few slices of pizza 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.
Rome to Venice
Say ‘arriverderci’ to Rome, and take in the stunning views en route to the famous canals & gondolas of Venice.
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!
Venice to Austrian Tyrol
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 in Contiki’s very own Austrian Gasthof (guest inn), 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.
Austrian Tyrol to Munich
This morning there’s a chance to visit the Swarovski Crystal World Museum and pick up some of their world-famous crystal. Then we 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. 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. Why not give an optional bike tour a go and get off the beaten track and onto Munich’s side streets with our Local Guide.
Munich to Swiss Alps
Today, travel past the stony cliffs of Liechtenstein, into the capital, Vaduz, where you can grab some lunch and in enjoy it in the shadow of the Royal Family’s 12th century castle. Next stop: the jaw-droppingly beautiful alpine town of Lucerne. 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 Switzerland is so famous for. Tonight, we head to the alpine heights of Lauterbrunnen and stay at Contiki’s very own Swiss Chalet.
It’s a change of pace amongst Switzerland’s massive Alps. Take in the amazing views from your chalet window. Opt to visit Jungfrau Mountain, head up the sheer slopes of this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site on a cog rail to Europe’s highest railway station, and step out onto the “roof” of Europe for spine-tingling views. Back at the chalet, make the most of the genuine underground 'Bomb Shelter' and party it up with friends at the bar there.
Swiss Alps to Rhine Valley
Over the border and into Germany, we head to the university town of Heidelberg. Wander around, grab a late lunch and check out its famous Baroque church. 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! Learn about local know-how and get savvy on the 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.
Rhine Valley to Amsterdam
In an intro into Dutch culture, see how clogs are made and try some of the famous Dutch Edam at a cheese farm. Cruise into the countryside and bike around like the laid back locals, past working windmills, to the world-famous cheese village of Edam. Head into the buzzing capital of Amsterdam and check out the eye-opening Red Light District, where the creative and the wacky come together on narrow cobbled streets, 24/7.
There’s free time to experience Amsterdam’s coffee shops, museums and quirky, cool boutiques. Wander along the canals and pass gabled houses or experience Amsterdam’s multi-ethnic cuisine. This cultural melting pot dishes up loads of affordable food. With an optional evening canal cruise, there’s a chance to toast your travels with the group, unwind with a few drinks and uncover Amsterdam at water level as you drift past the city lights. For your last night on tour, treat yourself to a feast at a rice table dinner with the group in a popular restaurant. With this fun way to eat, you’ll be served loads of dishes from colonial times. Get some pointers from your Tour Manager, dive into Amsterdam’s night action with your friends 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.