Check-in to your hotel after 2pm and the remainder of the day is free to relax before meeting your fellow travellers for your Kickstart meeting this evening. Afterwards why not grab some dinner at one of the local restaurants or take a short walk to explore nearby Covent Garden
London to Brussels
Meet up with your Contiki team before we hit the road and take a ferry past the White Cliffs of Dover. Cut across France and into to Brussels, Belgium’s cool capital. With a mix of French and Flemish, some of Europe’s best brews and fantastic food, this easy-going city is a fantastic intro to Europe. Your Tour Manager will give you the background on Brussels as you check out its signature sights. See the Town Hall tucked away in the old town on a buzzing central square, the hill-top Palace of Justice and the famous statue of the Manneken Pis. In your free time, park yourself in one of the city’s many beer gardens, order some traditional Belgian waffles and taste local specialities like mussels and French fries (frites) – which are actually a Belgian invention!
Brussels to Amsterdam
Next stop: the buzzing, freewheeling city of Amsterdam. Check out Amsterdam’s eye-opening Red Light District, where the creative and wacky come together on narrow cobbled streets, 24/7. Try out Amsterdam’s multi-ethnic cuisine. This cultural melting pot dishes up loads of affordable food. With an optional evening canal cruise, you’ve got a chance to get to know the group, unwind with a few drinks and uncover Amsterdam at water level. Get some pointers on the city’s hot spots from your Tour Manager and head into town for a fun night out.
Amsterdam to Rhine Valley
Get an insight into Dutch culture this morning - see how clogs are made and try some of the famous Dutch Edam at a cheese farm. Later on, 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! Learn about local know-how and get savvy on the craft of beer steins. 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 Swiss Alps
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 Engelberg where we stay in a Swiss mountain hotel.
It’s a change of scene up among Switzerland’s massive mountains. Choose to get above it all today with an optional excursion to Mt. Titlis and travel up the sheer slopes by rotating gondola. With sweeping views over the surrounding countryside and 360 degree vistas of the Alps, don’t forget to bring your camera.
Swiss Alps to Munich
Today, travel past the stony cliffs of Liechtenstein into the capital Vaduz, where you can grab some lunch and eat it in the shadow of the Royal Family’s 12th century castle. Afterward, it’s northbound 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. Get off the beaten track on two wheels with our Local Guide in a fun bike tour around the city – it’s a great way to see lots of the sights. Get a taste of tradition at a typical beer hall in and 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.
Munich to Venice
Wind through the Bavarian Alps and over the Brenner Pass to Venice. But first, pull into Innsbruck, a down-to-earth student city. Walk around the medieval streets of the old town, grab some lunch, and check out Innsbruck’s landmark Golden Roof and Royal Palace. Make sure you catch a glimpse of the impressive Olympic Ski Jump, used in both the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. Along the pretty shores of Lake Garda, we drop into the quintessential European lake town of Sirmione, complete with vine-covered villas, Roman ruins and a castle. Next up is Venice. Known as the “floating city”, Venice is packed with character, crammed with hidden lanes and linked by a network of canals.
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 Florence
Then we wind through the Apennine Mountains and Tuscan countryside to the Renaissance city of Florence, via a visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The scene-stealing Duomo Cathedral rises above Florence, which serves up frescoes, markets and priceless art. Before 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. 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 a fantastic Tuscan country setting. Then keep it moving with a night out and get your groove on at Florence’s biggest nightclub.
Florence to French Riviera
Stick to the Italian coastline, slide by the port town of Genoa and cross over into France. Then we hit the rugged coast line of the stunning Côte d’Azur. 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. Follow the beautiful sapphire waters to the palm trees and sun-soaked shores of Nice. Tonight get a taste of the high life in Monaco, the glamourous 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.
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 choose a beach and catch some sun among all the bronzed bodies!
French Riviera to Barcelona
Driving past Cannes, unwind on the coach and take in the rustic beauty of Provence, known for its pretty landscapes of lavender, sunflowers and wild herbs. We keep heading south through the rugged and dramatic scenery of the Pyrénées mountains, over the border into Barcelona. A sizzling, festive capital any night of the week, Barcelona is all about action. In Spain fiesta time starts late, so settle in at one of the city’s many outdoor squares to enjoy a glass of sangria and nibble on tapas (plate-sized snacks) before a fun night out exploring Barcelona’s nightlife with your friends.
First stop: Montjuic. The hilltop has full-blown vistas of the city and it’s where we stop to check out the 1992 Olympic Games complex. Afterwards, get a look into Spanish architect Gaudi’s wild imagination with his Art Nouveau masterpiece, the Sagrada Família church. Your Tour Manager walks you through the cobbled lanes of Barcelona’s oldest district, the Gothic Quarter. There’s free time to discover more of Barcelona’s creative core. Pick up some quirky buys in the side streets or hit the big label shops on Plaça de Catalunya. Take in all of Barcelona’s buzzing street life on the tree-lined La Rambla – a boulevard packed with street performers, artists, shops and stalls. Other ideas for your afternoon off include hanging out in the colourful gardens of Parc Güell or kicking back with the locals on the beach and taking a swim in the Mediterranean sea. For lunch, there’s plenty of delicious local seafood to try as well as Spain’s signature dish, paella. Finish off an unforgettable time in this hot city and get into the local flavours with tonight’s optional flamenco dance show and dinner, including sangria. Afterwards, get the low down on Barcelona’s hottest spots and maybe hit the pumping clubs of Port Olympico by the water.
Barcelona to Bordeaux
En route to the world famous wine region of Bordeaux, kick start the day with a visit to medieval Carcassonne, with its breathtaking old walled city and fort. Your Tour Manager will give you the low down on the fairy tale hilltop town and show you its hidden nooks and alleyways. Then we continue on to our next stop, beautiful Bordeaux, a happening student hub. You’ll get a look into this former trading centre as your Tour Manager shows you the narrow streets and core spots of this elegant 18th century old town on a walking tour. Tonight, find a cute little bistro to stop at for dinner and try some of the region’s famous wines and cheeses.
Bordeaux to Paris
Roll through the green Loire Valley and take in the castles, manors and vineyards from the coach window as we head for the French capital. 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. Try indulging in some delicious pastries and relax in one of Paris’ many green spaces. Tonight is the last night with your friends, so make it special. 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 travels with a big Parisian night out.
Paris to London
After breakfast, there will be a transfer for you to Charles de Gaulle Airport (estimated arrival at 10:00 am) OR choose to take a complimentary transfer to central London with your Tour Manager and Driver and extend your stay.