Road to Athens plus 3 day Greek Island Cruise
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!
Next up: Fragonard! This perfumery has an elegant interior and is a unique setting for a look into the history of perfume. It’s also a chance to pick up some French perfume at great prices. 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 city parks. 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. Wind down the day with an optional cruise on one of Europe’s most striking lakes, where stunning scenes of the Swiss Alps reflect back across the water.
Lucerne to Munich
Make sure your camera is charged - first up this morning there's a chance to take in some amazing views of the Alps, with an optional cable car ride up to the summit of Mt. Stanserhorn. Next, we 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. Then get a taste of tradition at a typical beer hall 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 Austrian Tyrol
Get off the beaten track this morning in Munich - on two wheels - with our Local Guide in a fun bike tour around the city. It’s a great way to see lots more of the sights! Later we head south, rolling on through the Tyrol’s massive mountains to a cute Austrian village in a region famous for adventure sports. With a night in an Austrian Gasthof (guest inn), there’s time to do your own thing – laze about or get out for a walk in the surrounding hills. 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 Venice
Start the day with a plunge into some whitewater rafting in an adrenalin-pumping optional activity on the river. Later on, wind through the Austrian Alps and the Brenner Pass to fairy tale Venice. Known as the “floating city”, Venice is packed with character, crammed with hidden lanes and linked by a network of canals.
Today we travel 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. Why not dine in one of the secret alleyways where the gondoliers all eat, for some fun and cheap eat, Cap off the day with an optional gondola ride & share the amazing experience with your friends - seeing Venice from on the water is unforgettable!
Venice to Florence
Wind through the Apennine Mountains and Tuscan countryside to the Renaissance city of Florence, with a stop at the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. 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 Corfu
Pass gritty Naples, see Mt Vesuvius and plunge into Pompeii’s well-preserved past in an interesting optional excursion and retrace ancient history with our expert Local Guide. Then there’s time to chill out on the coach, crossing through the rugged landscapes of southern Italy, before boarding the overnight ferry to Greece in Brindisi. Check out the amazing 360 degree views from the deck!
Corfu is all that’s great about Greek island living. You’ll immediately find yourself on “local time”, browsing the markets of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town and bargaining with the laid-back locals. Jump on board the Caique Tour optional with a bunch friends for a fun day out on the water. It will give you another angle on idyllic Corfu. Work up an appetite swimming in the secluded spots and then feast on a lunch of olives, salad, cheeses, fresh bread and dips – prepared with ingredients from the Captain's back yard. Corfu also gives you the chance to dive into action with a selection of water sports, like parasailing, banana-boating and waterskiing. Otherwise hire a car for a deeper look into Corfu and venture across the island to explore some beautiful, remote beaches.
Corfu to Athens
From Corfu, head to the mainland and travel to the impressive, man-made Corinth Canal. Athens is next, a city crammed with myth and ancient wonders, and busy with modern, urban soul. Wrap up the day on the shady slopes beneath the Acropolis with an optional dinner in the rustic district of Plaka, full of traditional tavernas spilling out onto the pavements.
For those who are keen to learn more, there’s a chance to step back in time to the birthplace of democracy. Get the run down on the Parthenon and the Acropolis from our Local Guide in this fascinating optional, as you wander around the famous columns perched above the city sprawl. With a free afternoon, keep exploring this open-air museum. You could honour the birthplace of drama by climbing around the massive Theatre of Dionysus or get the background on Ancient Greece at the National Archaeological Museum. Otherwise, experience Athens’ urban heart, take off into the streets and find a hole-in-the-wall food joint, where you can try the famous souvlaki.
Athens to Mykonos
Today, board a typical Greek ship to Mykonos and take advantage of the amazing views across the Aegean, full of rocky islands. Mykonos is famous for its blissful beaches and party culture. No matter what you’re after, chances are this island has got it! You’ll soon understand why this happening hub draws people from all walks of life, from jetsetters to backpackers. In your free time, head into Mykonos town and wander through the maze of tiny streets lined by whitewashed, cube-shaped houses. Maybe grab a table for lunch in the village and feast on fresh local specialties, like olives, feta and tzatziki dip. Chill for the afternoon with friends on the island’s world famous beaches and cool off in the azure waters. Wrap up the day with a drink at one of Mykonos’ hip bars and watch the sun go down. But don’t stop there, toast the start of the cruise back on board and hit the ship’s nightclub with the group.
Cruising to Patmos via Kusadasi
In the morning, wake up to the Turkish port town of Kusadasi. Rummage through the Grand Bazaar and go local bargaining for leather goods, jewellery or local crafts. Otherwise hook up with the group and our Local Guide for an optional excursion to ancient Ephesus, a stunningly preserved city that Mark Antony and Cleopatra once visited. Our next port of call is Patmos, with its sacred spots and wild countryside. Get the background from your Rep on why this island attracts both pilgrims and holiday makers. Explore the monasteries, traditional settlements and country churches. Get into the spirit of the island with an optional excursion that takes you to Patmos’ UNESCO World Heritage sites: the 11th century Monastery of the Apocalypse and to the Grotto of St. John – the hilltop cave where John the Apostle lived for many years.
Cruising to Santorini via Crete
Today we start the day off with a visit to the biggest of the Greek Islands, Crete. Choose an optional excursion to the Palace of Knossos where our Local Guide will tell you the story of this 4000 year old mythical Minoan Palace, where the minotaur (half-man/half-bull) was slain. Next up: Santorini. This island will make your jaw drop with its stunning natural beauty – the result of a massive volcanic eruption. From the water look up at the iconic blue–domed, whitewashed churches. Once we’re back on land, head up the cliff and the twisting stone steps, save your breath on a donkey ride or take it easy in the cable car for views of neighbouring volcanic islands. Your Rep will fill you in on Fira – dramatically perched on the edge of the crater - as the group explores its narrow streets. Get tips on the best places to pick up a piece of Santorini’s famous jewellery and where to try out the delicious local speciality, domatoktedes (fried tomato balls). Otherwise head to one of the distinctive black or red sand beaches, and soak up the breathtaking scenery. You could jump on an optional boat ride out to the active volcanic island of Nea Kamini. Cruise past lava formations and get up close to the active crater.
Arrival into Athens
Disembark after breakfast and transfer into central Athens where the tour ends once you arrive.