Ultimate Europe - XUE
26 days - 15 countries - loads of free time to explore at your own pace...this really is the Ultimate Europe coach tour! Paris, Rome, Venice, Berlin, Prague, French Riviera, Barcelona, and the Swiss Alps all have free days so you can relax and do whatever you want. On the way, you will explore places you may never thought of seeing - a 2000 year old Roman aquaduct, multiple UNESCO world heritage sites, tiny Eastern European cities, a Rhine Valley river cruise, a German concentration camp, and many other optional excursions arranged en-route. This is possibly the most ultimate month you will ever spend in Europe. Bring plenty of film for the camera, and enjoy the ride!
- Bruges & Amsterdam
- Bratislava & Vienna
- Florence & Tuscany
- Pisa & Nice
- Arles & Barcelona
- Geneva & Swiss Alps
- Liechtenstein & Munich
- Dachau & The Rhine Valley
DAY 1: London, Bruges and Amsterdam
Welcome to your 26 day tour of Europe – we call it the Ultimate Europe tour as over the next 26 days you are going to see Europe’s most popular cities, landmarks and destinations! Waving goodbye to London, we cross the English Channel and drive through France, then stop off in the ‘Venice of the North’ – Bruges. The Belgian city is a small but picturesque city, with breathtaking medieval architecture. Onwards to the Netherlands, you will notice the landscape change to windmills and waterways, as you approach the city of Amsterdam. Once everyone is checked into the hotel, we'll hop back on the coach and head into the city centre. Yourtour leader will take you on an orientation tour of the city centre, followed by an optional walking tour of the Red Light District. Afterwards, you are free to hit the cafes, bars and coffee shops! D
DAY 2: Dutch Countryside Tour
The morning begins with an entertaining demonstration, on how traditional Dutch clogs are made (by hand), followed by a lesson in local cheese making. There is time to pop some clogs on, and taste the cheesy treats - as well as sample a taste of the local liqueurs and wines, plus of course the chance to shop and get those unique souvenirs. Your next stop for the day is to the historical windmill village of Zaanse Schans. Check out these wind powered wonders, and discover how they were vital to industrial development to the Netherlands. This is a great chance to get some fabulous photos! A visit to the quaint sea side village of Volendam allows you to stretch your legs, wander the main street filled with cafes and local souvenirs or admire the views. If you have time, try the local seafood for an early lunch. Your afternoon is free to spend as you wish. Heading back into Amsterdam there are numerous museums and art galleries to choose from - why not visit the Anne Frank’s house, the Van Gough museum, take a bicycle tour or simply wander the streets and canals. B
DAY 3: Berlin
Today you continue your Europe tour into Germany. The city of Berlin has a positive energy which bursts in every direction. There is an eclectic mix of different music styles and street art - a stark opposite of the lifestyle which was reflected in times when the city was divided into East and West during the Cold War. Although there are constant reminders of the oppression suffered by the German people who were contained within the walls of the city, the modern day version is practically the opposite of this. If you have time before dinner, take a short wander to the river and check out the highly decorated, Berlin Wall. Tomorrow you will have plenty of time to explore the historical aspects of the city, but for now...kick your heels up and relish in the freedom of the night! The bars and clubs are calling your name! B,D
DAY 4: Berlin
Today, you will be introduced to Berlin on a walking tour with our local guide who will explain the amazing history of this vibrant city where you will see the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the site of Hitler’s Former Bunker, Luftwaffe HQ, 17th June Street, the Berlin Wall, the Former SS Headquarters, and Checkpoint Charlie. Visitors to Berlin are fascinated with the history surrounding the division of the city in to East and West, and significant locations which featured in news bulletins and TV footage of the day. After the walking tour you'll have the rest of the day free to explore the city. B
DAY 5: Dresden and Prague
It’s time to farewell Berlin, and Czech out Prague but not before stopping at the German city of Dresden. Virtually rebuilt from the ground up after bombing attacks in WW2 destroyed the city centre, Dresden is immaculate and stylish. The grand buildings are no reflection on the pain they suffered during the bombings, and it is a credit that this city has been so lovingly put back together. Try some of the local German food - such as Bratwurst, and have a wander around the beautifully paved streets.
Heading east to the Czech Republic, it is time to get excited about what lays ahead - Prague is an unforgettable city! The historic centre was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, and your locally guided walking tour will introduce you to many locations, which you will want to explore in more depth on your free day tomorrow. Prague has a vibrant nightlife and a stunning aspect which equally rivals it’s daytime beauty. Watch the lights dance across the river as you cross the Charles Bridge, and marvel at the castles lit against the night sky.. B,D
DAY 6: Prague.
Treat yourself to the fairy-tale magic of Prague - often aptly described as the "Jewel in the Crown" of central Europe. This ancient city has an essence which combines youthful inquisitiveness and old world wisdom. Highlights of the day might include the majestic Prague Castle, the famous Charles Bridge (you need to also see the views from the bridge at night - simply stunning...), the ‘Old Town’ and the Jewish Quarter. There is also a ‘Secret Garden’ which leads to a manmade grotto - see if you can find it! The Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square is a ‘must see’ - the intricate puppetry and show which is performed on the hour, draws hundreds of people throughout the day and night. Prague's dramatic history is reflected in the beauty of the architecture of churches, opera houses, concert halls and parks. There are numerous beer halls in which to sample a local brew, and for those who wish to put your stamp on the city, why not visit legendary Lennon wall - a tribute to John Lennon and words of peace, which is added to on a daily basis by the thousands of visitors to the city. B
DAY 7: Bratislava and Vienna
Today you will continue your tour of Eastern Europe towards the Slovakian capital of Bratislava. Located on the Danube River, the city is a melting pot of numerous nationalities and religions, and so explains the very relaxed and down to earth nature of its residents. On your approach you will see Bratislava Castle. Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia and your Tour1 tour leader will take you on a orientation tour of the city where you will see the Old Town, Primatial Palace, Michael’s Gate, the Main Square, Old Town Hall, Slovak National Theatre and Reduta.
After your Bratislavan break it’s on to the Austrian city of Vienna - boasting some of Europe’s most impressive architecture, and a cultural heritage steeped in glorious flamboyance and style. On the drive into Vienna, Austria’s capital city, you will see the Schonbrunn Palace before reaching the Inner City and one of the best vistas from Belvedere Hill. Vienna is known as the ‘City of Music’ due to its classical heritage and the prodigies that worked P1 including Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms. It’s also the home city of Sigmund Freud, the Vienna Boy’s choir, the United Nations, OPEC and Weiner Scnitzel, the city centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. Explore the centre on your guided walking tour of the city. Taking in the Golden Mile on the Ring Strasse (Parliament, City Hall, Burgtheater), then discover the courtyards and passages around the Hofburg (Imperial Castle) and St. Stephen’s Cathedral - Vienna’s geographic and historic centre. B,D
DAY 8: Ljubljana and Venice
Take your last look at Austria as you head for Slovenia, and the pint-size city of Ljubljana, where on arrival our local guide takes you on a walking tour of this fairy-tale city, the capital of Slovenia where you will see the medieval old town, Preseren Square, City Centre, the Riverfront, Dragon Bridge and Cobblers Bridge. Although not on the walking tour you may wish to see St. Nicholas Church built in the 13th century to honour St. Nicholas, patron of fishermen and boatmen and the present structure dates from 1701 and is a fine example of Baroque architecture.
Take in the stunning scenery as you head south, crossing the border into Italy. And then...Welcome to Venice! This unique city, straddles 118 islands, and known for its canals, gondolas, Venetian masks, piazzas, art, traditional glass and lace making. On arrival, your tour leader will escort you on an orientation walking tour of the city, so you can use your free time in the early evening to explore properly. Get your cameras ready for the world famous St Mark’s Square, Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge, and more! The whole of Venice is marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which indicates the level historical significance this city carries. The evening is yours to enjoy authentic Italian delights, with hundreds of fantastic local restaurants and bars to choose from. After an espresso, explore Venice the traditional way - from the canals. Relax and glide on a gondola ride. B
DAY 9: Venice
The day is yours to explore! The best way to discover Venice is just to get lost in the streets, piazzas and alleyways of the city. Don’t worry, it is easy to find your way back just look out for the Rialto and St Marks signs on the street corners. Check out St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Museum, Campanile (Elevator to the top), Doge’s Palace, Rialto Market, Scuola Grande di San Rocco and the leather goods and handmade Venetian masks that adorn the windows of the local gift shops, along with lace and stunning glass creations. Head to the islands of Murano and Burano for demonstrations of traditional glass and lace work still hand-made there today. St Mark’s Square is incredible during the day, and a water tour of the Grand Canal is a must do - especially for those wanting those classic Venetian photos! If it is a warm day, why not head for a dip with the locals at the ever popular, Lido Beach? Venice is also well known for wining and dining. There are hundreds of little cafes alongside the canals, offering a unique view of the waterways and a variety of food and wine options. (The pizza is particularly good here!) So if you prefer to sit back and watch the world go by, then Venice is the perfect place for you. Once the sun starts to sink, the piazzas fill with hundreds of people, looking to relax at the end of their day. Live music guides you through the streets and over the canals, and if you didn’t try it last night, a gondola ride is surely to be next on tonight’s agenda. B
DAY 10: Rome
Continuing on the Italian leg of our Europe tour, the vibe of Venice is suddenly substituted by the richness of Rome. After a picturesque drive through the Italian countryside, the Italian capital looms. Centuries old Rome will make you feel like you have stepped back in time! The Italian capital buzzes with activity, tradition, passion, and an energy of its own.
Rome has so much to see and do we can’t list everything here but your walking tour of Rome with our professional local guide gives you a great start for further exploration in your free time. You will see the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Arch of Septimus Severus, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona (Fountain of the Quattro Fiumi) and the Spanish steps. At the Trevi Fountain, toss a coin over your shoulder. Legend has it, that you will return to Rome again one day. On the way back to your accommodation for the evening, you can start to plan what to do with your free day. B,D
DAY 11: Rome and optional Vatican City
Most of the historical landmarks and Ancient Roman structures are located within the city centre so that makes it easier to navigate. (Rome was a much smaller place back when there were emperors and gladiators). Make sure you get an early start at the major attractions, such as the Colosseum, as the queues can get long, and Rome is a popular destination to visit. Want to visit Vatican City and witness Michelangelo’s famous painting on the roof of the Sistine Chapel? Today’s optional excursion includes a guided tour around the amazing art works in the Vatican Museums and bask in the beauty of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Tour includes queue jumping privileges for both the Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Basilica.
Your tour leader can organise fast tracked tickets for you, and once you are ahead of the queues, you have access to Vatican City - the smallest country in the world. The rest of your day is yours to explore as you wish, and this is the perfect opportunity to return to your favourite landmarks from yesterday’s walking tour, or indulge traditional Italian favourite’s pizza, pasta, vino, espresso or gelato. B
DAY 12: Rome
Time for new Rome-antics! Another free day in in the capital to explore as you wish. This is your opportunity to either catch up on what you have missed, head off on a day trip to somewhere like Pompeii, or simply enjoy a chance to catch your breath and take in the atmosphere of the city. The Italians believe in taking it easy, so why not chill out at a trattoria with some tasty morsels, a cold beverage and some good conversation. This is also the perfect opportunity, to explore the city away from the large crowds. Research some favourite locals haunts, or maybe visit the catacombs for something different. Many of our explorers actually prefer to relax and enjoy the atmosphere for the day. It is up to you. Whatever you do, take your time and don’t rush. That coin you threw in to the Trevi Fountain last night, means you will return to Rome someday to catch up on what you may miss this time around. B
DAY 13: Florence and Tuscany
Today we head straight to the birthplace of the Renaissance and the heart of the Tuscan region – Florence, famous for wine, great food, art, amazing architecture and. On arrival in Florence our local guide will show you around including the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio and Santa Croce Basilica as well as many other works of art. If you have time after the tour visit Michelangelo’s masterpiece sculpture ‘David’ at Galleria dell' Accademia, or wander along the river and check out the world famous leather markets.
Time to wind down and give yourself a break from the buzz and noise of the big cities - tonight you will head to your accommodation in the beautiful Tuscan hills, where the soft afternoon light which radiates across the land and everyone looks good in a ‘selfie’ at this time of day - is it any wonder this region attracts and inspires so many famous artists? After checking in to your accommodation in the ancient spa town of Montecatini Terme, you can enjoy your dinner before embarking on an evening stroll to relax the mind and explore the town. B
DAY 14: Pisa and Nice
Under the Tuscan morning sun, you will depart Montecatini Terme, in search of stunning coastlines, the rich and famous, and a holiday spirit. But before we get to Nice we stop at one of the most iconic landmarks of Italy - the Leaning Tower of Pisa along with the neighbouring cathedral, cemetery and baptistery in the “Field of Miracles”- the 840 year old tower draws millions of visitors from all over the globe, namely for one thing...To have their picture taken pretending to push the tower back up straight. After a scenic drive through the last of the Italian countryside, you cross the border into France. Having made it to the South of France, you will see one of the most picturesque strips of coast in the world, where the ocean laps the shore, and it’s holiday season all year around. After dinner, why not head into town to join the locals in one of the many bars and restaurants. B
DAY 15: Nice and French Riviera
Today, you can do whatever your heart desires! As the saying goes ‘It is always nice in Nice’ - so now is your chance to find out why. One thing is for sure though - this is the playground for the rich and famous. Keep your eyes open for celebrities and stars whilst you are enjoying the sights yourself! Today you also have a free optional excursion to visit Monaco - the 2nd smallest and most densely populated country in the world. If you choose to come with us, you will be taken on a scenic coastal drive from Nice in the afternoon, and have the rest of the day to explore. The city offers stunning views over an enormous private harbour, where super yachts and ships come to rest. The Grand Casino is particularly spectacular, and the castle district offers beautifully preserved architecture and views of the coast and city. In the evening, why not chill out in the ‘Old Town’ of Nice where the restaurants serve a range of tasty French cuisine and wonderfully fresh seafood. Visit a perfumery dating back to the 18th century; this traditional French perfumery is one of the oldest in the region. Perfume making is an art that dates back to antiquity and during your guided tour you will learn all about the complex processes involved in capturing and bottling these exquisite scents. The night markets offer great choices in the way of souvenirs. B
DAY 16: Arles and Barcelona
As you depart Nice and get back on the road headed for Barcelona, you will make a stop in the UNESCO Heritage Site of Arles, famous for its historical buildings and links to such artists as Van Gough - many of his paintings were inspired by this city with its colourful houses, and the impressive Roman Amphitheatre.
Our Barcelona orientation tour of this vibrant and diverse city gives you some ideas of where to explore further in your free time. You may see La Monumental Bullring, Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, Joan Miro Park, Fountain of 3 Rivers, The Venetian towers, Magic Fountain, Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village), Olympic stadium, Port of Barcelona, Christopher Colombus Column, a photo stop with views over the city and the lively La Ramblas - a pedestrian walk way down the middle of the city which is full of market stalls, cafes, restaurants, street entertainers and just brimming with life. The city comes alive at night, so after dinner, why not head back into the heart of the action for some music and atmosphere. B,D
DAY 17: Barcelona
Today is all yours to do with as you please! Barcelona offers a diversity of options in how to build your day into a lasting memory. The best views of the city can be had from Park Guell, and you can take in the panoramic splendour and skyline of Barcelona. The park itself offers a very interesting design which is a product of Anton Gaudi’s challenging architectural visualisations. Barcelona is home to many of Gaudi’s building designs and you could spend the whole day, simply locating each one and recognising the signature design features. One of his most famous works, is that of the unfinished Sagrada Familia - an interpretation of a gothic cathedral which is unlike any building you will have ever seen. You can’t miss it from Park Guell, or most other vantage points in the city. Harbour tours, La Ramblas, the ‘Old Town’, museums, art galleries and some of Europe’s best shopping - there is much to do in this incredible city. If you wish to participate in our optional excursion, we can organise tickets for you to see a traditional Flamenco show. The dance of passion is performed with style, flair and energy, and is a real experience not to be missed If you prefer to stick to more modern forms of dance, each night the city fills with tourists and locals, who are in search of music and sangrias. B
DAY 18: Barcelona.
You have another free day in the Spanish city of Barcelona! Today you can make this your own, by continuing to explore the historical and cultural centres, indulge in some high end shopping and retail therapy, and much more. Barcelona is full of things to do, so there is no excuse not to get out and make the most of things. B
DAY 19: Avignon
Heading back into France, continue through the French countryside, and the amazing 2000 year old Roman built aqueduct “Pont du Gard” crossing the Gardon River. The combined aqueduct and bridge has three tiers of arches, stands 160 ft tall, and once carried 44 million gallons of water daily to the fountains, baths and homes of the citizens of Nîmes. Walking along it, you will notice that there are no nails, cement or mortar holding the arches together. The Pont du Gard has been an attraction for centuries, primarily based on its immaculate three tiered construction. Your final stop of the day will be in Avignon - also known affectionately as ‘The City of Popes’. It is an amazingly preserved, fortified city commune with a long history, stunning architecture and religious significance. Another UNESCO Heritage Site and you will see many more during your tour. Enjoy an orientation walking tour of Avignon, which will show you the Papal Palace as well as other significant structures, and after dinner, your evening is free to explore as you wish. Check out the ancient bridge famous for "Sur le Pont d'Avignon" a French song about the Pont d'Avignon that dates back to the 15th century. B,D
DAY 20: Geneva and the Swiss Alps
Today you will head to Geneva and then onto the spectacular Swiss Alpine region to fill your lungs with the freshest mountain air. Departing Avignon, we leave France behind in search of mountains and snow. On the way, we make a lunch stop in Geneva where you can wander the small city centre and marvel at Lake Geneva. Geneva is the birthplace of the Geneva Convention and renowned for its place at the forefront of international diplomacy, it also has the largest lake in Western Europe, Lake Geneva. So maybe have lunch by the lake, or even a swim. Alternatively, you could walk towards the Old Town to climb the tower of St Peter’s Cathedral which offers gorgeous views of the city and the lake and some great shopping to be had. Now you are mountain bound, and heading into the heart of the famous Jungfrau Region. We take you on a stunning mountain drive through the Swiss Alps as we meander our way through rugged mountain faces, forests and Alpine lakes. Once in your mountain village, you can check in and then relax with a sunset view of the mountain peaks, and the cows grazing who are responsible for the wonderful milk that makes Swiss chocolate so amazing. After dinner why not stroll the streets and breathe in that crisp, fresh air. B,D
DAY 21: Swiss Alps
Jungfraujoch is covered with snow throughout the year, and today you can visit the ‘Top of Europe’. The journey up the mountain is a highlight in itself, with unmatched views which will really make your Europe tour unforgettable. You will alight onto Europe’s highest railway station, and be able to view the 4000m glacier from unobscured viewing platforms. A snowball fight is a must, and for those artistic types, a snowman building competition. Alternatively, for those choosing to spend their free day exploring a local village, why not head to Interlarken, a short train ride away, and try a traditional fondue or pick up some Swiss souvenirs. B
DAY 22: Liechtenstein and Munich
Today we visit the smallest yet richest German-speaking country and the only one to lie entirely within the Alps. So you will see fabulous mountain views and a lunch stop in the capital Vaduz where you will have time to eat, shop, and see the Vaduz Castle which overlooks the capital. The castle is a palace and official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein.
On arrival your tour leader will take you on an orientation tour of Munich, the capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria. You will see Karlsplats and Marienplatz, New Town Hall, Church of our Lady, and if you visit in the winter the traditional German Christmas markets. After your excursion, the evening takes a lighter, more sociable turn. Every year, Munich plays host to one of the most famous beer festivals in the world - Oktoberfest! To give you a taste, this evening you will dine in a traditional beer hall, enjoy a local stein on us and sample some German food and drink, including famous German sausages (vegetarian options available). B,D
DAY 23: Dachau and The Rhine Valley
Today is a contrast of German cities, history and landscapes, and the emotions which go with it. After departing your hotel, you will be on your way to visit one of the most picturesque sections of the Rhine River, but not before you have experienced Germany’s first ever concentration camp, which was operational during the Nazi occupation. Opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler, Dachau is located 16 km from Munich in a beautiful, medieval township, and was originally intended as a holding place for political prisoners and a prototype for further camps. There were many human atrocities which stain the grounds here, and the crunch of the stones beneath your feet as you wander the compound and replica buildings, act as a reminder of the fear which must have been felt by the thousands of people who were imprisoned here. The museum houses photos and documents of the camps’ history from 1933 until it was shut down in 1945, and all displays are represented in an educational, honest way, and provide a truly educational experience for those who know little about this darker time in Germany’s modern history. By now, you may be ready for a lighter end to your day, and a Rhine River cruise will certainly go a long way to lifting the spirits. The Rhine Valley is one of the most scenic stretches of riverbank in the whole of Europe. Boasting the highest concentration of medieval castles, wineries and villages, you will board you riverboat, and take in the breath-taking scenery from the deck.
We cruise down the Rhine and see the beautiful scenery and the largest concentration of gothic castles (Sterrenberg, Liebestein, Katz and Fortess Rheinfels). Opportunity to visit a cuckoo clock and beer stein-making shop. This is also where the famous ice wine is produced, be sure to buy some as a souvenir. Cruising into a stunning, gothic German village, you will check in, enjoy dinner, and have the evening free explore the town. B,D
DAY 24: Luxembourg and Paris
Today we head back towards the French border on the way to Paris, you will make a short stop in another of Europe’s smallest countries - Luxembourg. Known as a global financial and banking centre. During your stop here you may wish to view the spectacular Renaissance architecture of the Grand Ducal Palace or have an early lunch in Luxembourg’s central square, Place d’Armes, with its numerous cafes and restaurants. Luxembourg also offers excellent shopping opportunities from modern high-end fashion stores to traditional boutiques.
Onwards to the capital of France, Paris and after we have checked into our hotel we will be back out again to explore the ‘City of Lights and Love’, from the comfort of the coach on your Paris driving tour (subject to traffic) including L’Opéra Garnier, the Tuileries Gardens, Place de la Concorde, Hotel de Ville, The River Seine, l'Ile de la Cite, the Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Lovers Bridge, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Pigalle (the Red Light District) and see the Moulin Rouge. Taking in many of the architectural and historical landmarks which have made this city famous this is the perfect way to get yourself a bit more familiar with the city and help you decide how you will spend your free day tomorrow. B,D
DAY 25: Paris
Whether it's culture, cuisine or cruising the city, you crave, the French capital will not disappoint. A Seine River cruise to the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, perhaps? Maybe a visit to the Louvre to see famous artworks and paintings (make sure you get there ahead of the crowds and check for ‘free admission’ days) Montmartre favours those who savour flavour, in offering quaint, Parisian style alfresco restaurants and cafes, with a beautiful view of the city, just behind the Sacre Coeur. Tickle the taste buds with some traditional French delicacies in the bohemian Spanish Quarter (affordable frogs legs and snails are on the menu, washed down with a nice local wine - divine!) Not forgetting, Paris Disneyland is always popular choice for the ‘young at heart’! Alternatively, stroll the streets as the locals do, checking out the bookstalls, cafes, fromageries and perfumeries. Ask your tour leader for advice on where to start as there are so many options to fit into one day. For those who wish to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, it is advised to get an early start to beat the queues. B
DAY 26: London
After breakfast, savour the French countryside, one last time and prepare for your final crossing of the English Channel. Once you are back on UK soil you only have a short way to go to complete your Europe tour. This part of your journey is a great opportunity to swap contact details with all of your new found travel companions, and tag each other in all of your photos before you arrive into London where the tour ends. B
This is a Guided holiday and includes:
- 25 nights' accommodation in twin rooms.
- 25 breakfasts, 11 dinners
- 31 Experiences
- Free Wi-fi in all hotels
- Modern air conditioned coach with reclining seats and toilet.
- Services of your tour leader, who will be on hand with advice and tips.
- All taxes and fees
- Any public transport used as part of the tour (excludes free days)
- From $4499. Single supplement $1893