European Vista (Winter 2013/14)
Depart for Europe
Jet off to the trip of a lifetime awaiting you in Europe!
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 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. 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.
Paris to Lucerne
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. Pilatus. 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.
Lucerne to French Riviera
Unwind on the coach as we cut through Italy and head south to the French Riviera. 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. 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.
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 many cafés.
French Riviera to Florence
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. We stop off at Pisa’s famous Leaning Tower, before driving through the Tuscan countryside to the Renaissance city of Florence. 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. 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 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
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!
Venice to Munich
Today, 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. Then why not head off with some friends for a taste of tradition to a typical beer hall and park yourselves at a long wooden table? You could feast on hearty local food, like roasted pork knuckle, and quench your thirst with a stein of one of Germany’s 5000 brews.
Munich to Vienna
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. 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. 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 and materials for gifts back home. There’s free time to check out the magnificent squares and majestic palaces or the city’s art galleries. Take a break in a coffee house like the locals do or wander along the Danube River. Get schnaps savvy with a behind-the-scenes look into this local liqueuer’s production in an optional excursion to the Old Vienna Schnaps Museum.
Vienna to Prague
Roll through Bohemia as we head to the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, "The City of a Thousand Spires." 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 Hradcany Castle, the home of the original Bohemian Kings and to the gothic St Vitus Cathedral, along the way. 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.
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.
Prague to Rhine Valley
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-standing 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 included wine tasting in a candlelit underground cellar.
Rhine Valley to Amsterdam
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.
In an intro into Dutch culture, see how clogs are made and try some of the famous Dutch Edam at a cheese farm. There’s free time this afternoon to experience Amsterdam’s coffee shops, museums and quirky, cool boutiques. Wander along the canals and past gabled houses or experience Amsterdam’s multi-ethnic cuisine. 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 get to know the group, unwind with a few drinks and uncover Amsterdam at water level as you drift past the city lights. Get some pointers on the city’s hot spots from your Tour Manager and head into town for a fun night out.
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.