Soak up the sights of Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna and Florence
Roam around Europe on this excellent adventure that’d make Bill and Ted proud. Swoon under the Eiffel Tower, hitch a ride on a gondola in Venice, perve on Michelangelo’s David in Florence and eat ALL the food, EVERYWHERE (particularly in Bruges. And Budapest. And Rome).
- Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, United Kingdom
- Physical rating
18 , Max
- Group size
Why we love this trip
The beating heart of modern Germany, Berlin is packed with history, arts and culture. The city's poignant memorials serve not just to recognise the past, but to educate new generations into the future
Amsterdam has been developed with cyclists in mind, so hire a bike and hit the charming streets with the locals (just watch out for those canals)
Soak up the royal history of Krakow's Wawel Castle and step back in time with a stroll through its medieval main square
Enjoy a scenic walk along the banks of the River Danube in Budapest. Threaded with bridges and hemmed in by castles and historic city buildings, Europe's second longest river is also one of its most beautiful
No Italian adventure would be complete without a visit to Rome. Enjoy plenty of free time to discover the ancient Colosseum, stroll through Vatican City and gaze up towards the gods inside St Peter's Basilica
Is this trip right for you?
The primary means of transportation on this trip is by train. Train travel is a fast way to traverse long distances, allowing you to avoid traffic jams and arrive right into the city centre. European trains are comfortable and often decked out with air-conditioning and toilets. Please note that you'll have to carry your own luggage on and off the train, so make sure it doesn’t exceed our weight and size recommendations. You can find this information in the 'Packing' section of the trip notes.
This trip is for travellers who appreciate a bit of independence. You'll get plenty of free time in each location to make your own choices and do your own activities. Your leader will always be there to give you tips and suggestions.
As there are cobblestones in many European cities, it's recommended that you leave any wheelie bags/cases at home and bring a backpack instead.
As accommodation on this trip is multi-share, single travellers will share a room with (an)other traveller(s) of the same gender. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. Also, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together/apart.
Welcome to the Big Smoke! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Check with the hotel reception or the hotel noticeboard for where and when this meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you might want to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, just let the hotel reception know. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so be sure to have these ready for your leader. If you arrive early, why not board a double decker bus and see Oxford Street, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Tower Bridge, or the newest addition to the London Skyline: The Shard. If the sun's out, hit up Hampstead Heath for some people-watching or chillax with a pint in a beer garden.
There are no meals included on this day.
Rise and shine – it's an early start this morning as you head to St Pancras Station to catch the famous Eurostar Train through the tunnel to France (approximately 2 hours 40 minutes). Now you can cross the Channel Tunnel off the ol' bucket list. You'll be in France before you know it. Put on your walking shoes and explore stunning Paris. Along with many, many pigeons, Paris is of course a city of beautiful architecture, beautiful people and all the cheese you can possibly handle. You haven't lived until you've had a picnic by the Seine with a nice big chunk of Brie. And make sure you don't miss out on the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, the Centre Pompidou or the Rodin Museum. Icons like the Eiffel Tower or Sacre Coeur need no introduction.
Another day, another train. This time to the beautiful Belgian city of Bruges (approximately 3 hours 15 minutes). It's called Bruges because it has lots of bridges. It also happens to be the epitomy of European gorgeousness, with cobbled lanes, meandering canals, a chocolate museum and plenty of beer varieties to taste. It's the place to be if you like beautiful medieval buildings, piano accordion music and hot chips. The awesome Groeninge Museum is highly recommended if you're the chin-stroking, art-appreciating type or a secret nerd for the Renaissance.
Travel to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands (approximately 4 hours, depending on connections). Give your feet a break and see this city by bike. This is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, so get involved! But watch yourself when cycling alongside those dreamy canals – an estimated 25,000 people end up going in each year. Then it might be time to discover some tasty Dutch treats. Practice getting gezellig (that means friendly, cozy and/or convivial) in a cafe with a little (read: big) pilsener and a bowl of bitterballen (deep-fried balls of yum). Make sure you make time for some of these great places while you're in Amsterdam: the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, the famous Rijksmuseum and the Heineken Museum. Or, for a different look at the city, take a canal tour.
There are no meals included on this day.
All right. Here we are in Berlin, home to a seriously raucous nightlife, edgy arts scene and festivals galore. For a historical perspective, head to the fascinating Checkpoint Charlie museum located in the Mitte district (it can get a bit cramped there, but trust us, it's worth it). It's got some seriously amazing tales (and photos) of high-stakes civilian escape missions during the Berlin Wall era. Pedal through the streets on a cycling tour or maybe see the remaining fragments of the Berlin Wall. Surviving pre-World War I attractions include Schloss Charlottenburg (the Prussian queen's summer palace) and the Prussian Victory Column. The Tiergarten, Berlin's largest green space with 23 kilometres of pathways, is the perfect place to get away from the big city bustle of the surrounding streets. Do these things sooner rather than later, because it doesn't take long to get swept up in Berlin's nocturnal nightclub scene (Chalet is a great alternative to the legendary but hard-to-get-into Berghain). In the evening of Day 11, jump on your overnight train to Poland and get comfortable.
- Urban Adventures - Storyline of Berlin - EUR50
- Urban Adventures - Hidden Berlin - EUR50
- Urban Adventures - Stories From Friedrichshain: An Interactive Theatre Tour - EUR52
- Urban Adventures - Food and Art in Funky Kreuzberg - EUR63
- Jewish Museum - EUR8
- National History Museum - EUR8
- Pergamon Museum - EUR13
- River Cruise Sightseeing Tour - EUR25
- Berliner Dom - EUR7
- Berlin TV Tower - EUR13
- Checkpoint Charlie Museum - EUR13
- German History Museum - EUR8
- Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz - EUR8
- Reichstag (time slot must be booked online in advance) - Free
- Schloss Charlottenburg - EUR21
- Story of Berlin Museum - EUR12
- Topography of Terror - Free
Possibly the best-known Polish city, Krakow was the residence of Polish kings from the 11th to the 17th centuries, and its old town is a World Heritage-listed site. Which means you have some exploring to do! Take a stroll around Wawel Castle which sits on top of a hill next to the Vistula River. It provides a magnificent backdrop to Rynek Glowny, the town square. Dating back to the 13th century, the square is surrounded by awesome buildings, with the Cloth Hall as the centrepiece. There will be plenty of time to explore the city, so visit St Mary's Church, shop for amber or crafts, or just walk around with your jaw agape at all the old-world glory of the place. If you have time, venture out of town to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a deep underground network of tunnels and chambers that goes some 135 metres below. The Blessed Kinga Chapel is a highlight not to be missed, with all its fancy salt chandeliers and carvings. You might want to take a day trip to learn more about the history of World War II at Auschwitz (Oswiecim) and Birkenau concentration camps, sites where some of the worst atrocities were perpetrated (it's confronting, but important). Krakow has many cellar restaurants and pubs and a thriving cultural scene.
- Urban Adventure - Communist Krakow Adventure - EUR37
- Urban Adventure - Polish Krakow Adventure - EUR37
- Jewish Krakow Adventure - EUR39
- Urban Adventure - Home Cooked Krakow - EUR38
- Bike tour, day or night - PLN60
- Galicia Jewish Museum - PLN15
- History Museum - PLN8
- St. Mary's Basilica - PLN10
- Walking tour - PLN30
- Wawel Royal Castle - PLN25
- Wieliczka Salt Mines - PLN84
- State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, transport and guided tour from - PLN50
Next up, journey to Prague. It's kind of a lengthy trip (approximately 7 hours), so try to nab a window seat and get cosy. This city is a wonderland of architecture, with buildings from the Middle Ages all the way through to the modern avant garde. They don't call it the 'City of a Hundred Spires' for nothing. Check out the Gehry-designed Dancing Building (also called the Fred and Ginger Building) on the banks of the Vltava. Don't miss Prague Castle, because it's not only the biggest castle in the Czech Republic, but it's oh-so-pretty too. It's where you'll find the famous St Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane. A walk through the Jewish Quarter is also a must. Hip literary types can visit the resting place of Franz Kafka. Afterwards, why not take a seat at one of Prague's underground bars and sip some absinthe or Pilsener. Some of the best fun in Prague is had after the sun goes down, when the magic of the Old Town really comes alive. The city also has one of the longest-standing and most respected jazz scenes in Europe. If you should find yourself out until the early hours in a jazz club, have a wander along Charles Bridge or Old Town Square for some sweet sunrise photo-ops.
- Urban Adventure - Prague Discovery - EUR64
- Urban Adventure - Prague Beer and Czech Tapas Tour - EUR63
- Urban Adventure - Bohemian State of Mind - EUR58
- Bike tour - CZK490
- Jewish Quarter - CZK480
- Kafka Museum - CZK200
- Day Trip to Kutna Hora - CZK250
- Mucha Museum - CZK240
- Museum of Communism - CZK190
- National Museum - CZK120
- Prague Castle - CZK350
- Sedlec Ossuary - CZK90
- Church of St Barbara - CZK60
- Town Hall Clock Tower - CZK105
Depart Prague and travel by bus to the southern Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov (approximately 4 hours). This picturesque medieval town dates back to the 13th century and is straight out of a fairytale. Cesky Krumlov (pronounced 'Che-skee Krum-lov') means 'crooked meadow', which is befitting, since the town is nestled in a sharp bend of the Vltava River. It also comes complete with a castle on a hill towering over the cute little old town, which boasts a collection of beautiful old buildings and a confusion of cobbled alleyways. Check out the castle and its epic Masquerade Hall, or climb the tower for aerial views of the town. If the weather's fine and you have two or three hours up your sleeve, take a relaxing raft or canoe trip on the river that winds right through the centre of Cesky Krumlov. This is a classic summer pastime. It's also well worth visiting the Cesky Krumlov brewery for a glimpse of the brewing tradition that has existed here for hundreds of years (tours are often in English).
- Brewery tour - CZK130
- Canoe Trip - CZK700
- Guided walking tour - CZK300
- Egon Schiele Art Centrum - CZK160
- Raft/canoe trip - CZK1400
- Guided castle tour - CZK250
There are no meals included on this day.
Arrive in Vienna, where music and the golden past hangs thick in the air. Art nerds will be in heaven, with a huge selection of great museums to visit. These include the Albertina, the Leopold, Kunsthalle Wien and the Museum of Modern Art. Those with an interest in 19th- and 20th-century Austrian art should visit the Belvedere Palace, home to Gustav Klimt's famous painting, 'The Kiss'. Check out Hundertwasserhaus, or the Secession Building with its gold laurel-leaf dome. Visit Hofburg Palace, the winter retreat of Habsburg royals and now the official residence of the Austrian president. Climb the 343 steps to the top of the tower of St Stephen's Cathedral. Take a spin on the famous Prater Ferris Wheel. The options are endless! You might also like to head out to Schoenbrunn for a guided audio tour of the summer palace designed by Empress Maria Theresa herself. Here, the Gloriette Monument boasts killer views of Vienna. The palace gardens are free to all visitors but there is a charge for entrance and tours of the palace. Skip the queues by booking online at www.schoenbrunn.at.
Notes: The Spanish Riding School (Hofburg Palace) doesn't operate throughout the summer months. You will need to book tickets in advance to see the performance of the Lipizzaners. Phone +43 (0)1 505 77 66 55 or e-mail email@example.com to arrange tickets.
- Albertina Museum - EUR13
- Belvedere Gallery - EUR13
- Hofburg Palace and Sisi Museum - EUR12
- Leopold Museum - EUR13
- Prater Ferris Wheel - EUR10
- Schoenbrunn Palace - EUR14
- Spanish Riding School practice - EUR28
- St Stephen's Tower - EUR5
- Vienna Boys Choir - EUR70
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a train from Vienna to Budapest (approximately 3 hours) and explore this exotic 'Pearl of the Danube'. Since the collapse of Communism, Budapest has experienced something of a renaissance. Glamourous and glitzy shops and restaurants sit alongside old-world architecture and groomed boulevards. Riding a bicycle is one of the best ways to get around. Budapest is the perfect city to enjoy from the water. From here you'll be able to see the magnificent buildings that line the banks of the Danube River and the bridges linking Buda to Pest (who would have thought?). Take one of the tourist boat trips to see the sights or cross the Chain Bridge for a spectacular views of the Parliament Building and the Castle District. Make sure you head down to the river after dark to enjoy the floodlit spectacle. Head out to Statue Park to see all the communist monuments that were removed from the city streets after the fall of the Iron Curtain. One unmissable activity is to soak in the hot thermal baths. There are loads of these around the city centre and they range from classy and elegant to simple outdoor types. Some even have chess boards so you can exercise your brain while rejuvenating your body.
- Urban Adventures - Buda Castle Explorer - EUR44
- Urban Adventures - Bites & Sights - EUR63
- Bike Ride - HUF6000
- Great Synagogue - HUF3500
- House of Terror - HUF2000
- Hungarian National Museum - HUF1600
- Hungarian State Opera House Tour - HUF2900
- Parliament Tour - HUF5200
- Pub Crawl - HUF5000
- Thermal Bath - HUF4500
- Transport and Entry to Statue Park - HUF5000
Travel by bus to the lakeside town of Bled (approximately 8 hours). An eye-popping spot, Lake Bled is found at the edge of the Julian Alps in Slovenia. Needless to say, there are lots of outdoor activities on offer to get the blood pumping: rafting, caving, canoeing, swimming. If you are feeling active, why not hire a bike and head out to Vintgar Gorge (4 km) and walk through the natural canyon? Explore Bled Castle, perched atop the 100-metre cliff overlooking the lake. Catch a pletna (small wooden boat) over to the island in the middle of the lake to ring the wishing bell. Take a day trip to Lake Bohinj, situated within a glaciated valley in the Julian Alps. There, you can ascend Mt Vogel by cable car for awesome views of the ranges. If the weather is clear you might even see Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia. Just remember that the weather conditions on top of Mt Vogel can be a bit all over the place (it's a ski resort in the winter), so bring some layers to wear in case the gods are not smiling down on you. For a sample of Bled cuisine, look no further than the famous Bled Cake – a vanilla, custard, cream and pastry delight.
- Mountain Bike Hire - EUR15
- Pletna Boat Trip - EUR12
- Canyoning - EUR60
- Bled Castle - EUR10
- River rafting - EUR55
- Bus and cable car trip to Mt Vogel - EUR25
- Emerald River Adventure (full day) - EUR110
Board the train and brace yourself for some amazing scenery on the way to Venice (approximately 5.5 hours). Venice is one of a kind, built over a hundred small islands connected by 400 bridges (and literally sinking under the weight of all its amazing sights). As well as all those romantic canals, it has all the hallmarks of a fine old Italian city: world-class food, performance, art and architecture. Use your free time to explore – the best way to go is on foot. Take in all the famous sights, like the Grand Canal, the old-world shops of the Rialto Bridge, the Palace of the Doge (ruler of Venice), the Piazza San Marco and its golden basilica, and the Bridge of Sighs. Don't even think about leaving until you've eaten some tiramisu. This is where the dish was born, and they know how to do it right.
- Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs - EUR18
- Guggenheim Museum - EUR15
- St Mark's Campanile - EUR8
- St Mark's Basilica Treasury - EUR3
- Accademia Gallery - EUR15
- Venezia Ca' d'Oro - EUR8
- Concerto - EUR32
- Gondola Ride - EUR80
- Urban Adventures - Chicchetti of Venice - EUR80
- Venice - Cicchetti Crawl - EUR20
- Ca' Rezzonico Museum of Eighteenth Century Art - EUR10
- Glass Museum Murano - EUR10
- Museum of St Mark's Basilica - EUR5
- Scuola Grande di San Rocco - EUR11
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel on a series of trains (approximately 5 hours) to the Liguria region. La Spezia will be your base for exploring the truly epic stretch of coast known as the Cinque Terre (approximately 30 minutes' train ride away). The colourful houses built into cliff faces are an amazing feat of engineering. Those Italians aren't afraid of nothin'. You'll walk along the famous paths of the villages. Olive groves and vineyards cover the mountains that plunge into the sea, so brace yourself for some crazy, crazy views. If you're feeling energetic, walking the entire path (12 km, approximately 5 hours) will give you the best taste of the villages and countryside. You can jump on a train between any of the villages or get back to base whenever you want. After working up an appetite, you'll appreciate indulging in the foods of the Liguria region, which take advantage of the products of the Mediterranean. Pesto is a speciality, and is often served with pasta, green beans and potato, or dolloped into a classic minestrone soup. Focaccia is also a speciality, and makes a tasty start to lunch – team it up with some cheese and ham and you have a simple yet delicious picnic.
Notes: Some sections of the Cinque Terre path can be quite difficult, with challenging uphill stretches, narrow paths, steep cliffs and foot bridges. You will need to wear sturdy footwear (trainers or light hiking shoes). Due to recent landslides in the area it is currently not possible to walk the the Via dell'Amore and the coastal section between Manarola and Corniglia. There are alternative inland routes, however these are of a higher physical rating and involve steep ups and downs. It is possible to take the train or a bus for these sections.
Cinque Terre path sections:
- Riomaggiore to Manarola (the original Via dell'Amore) is currently closed until further notice. The alternative is an inland path, taking around 1 hour involving a rocky path with lots of steps.
- Manarola to Corniglia is also closed to landslides. The alternative is via the hill side village of Volastra. It takes 1 hour to reach Volastra via a series of steep staircases, and then another hour to reach Corniglia. There is an hourly bus from Manarola to Volastra in order to bypass the steps.
- Corniglia to Vernazza is medium level difficulty and takes about one and a half hours on a rocky path.
- Vernazza to Monterosso is more challenging but arguably the most scenic and takes about two hours on a rocky path.
Please also note that due to safety reasons some sections of any path can be closed at short notice.
- Day Cruise - EUR25
- Pesto Class in Levanto - EUR13
- Cinque Terre Day Trip - EUR16
Board a train bound for Florence (approximately 3.5 hours). You'll arrive around mid-afternoon. Get a feel for the heart of Tuscany – it's brimming with religious monuments and Renaissance masterpieces. No wonder a third of Europe's fat-cat artists lived here back in the day! It's best to see the main sights of the 'outdoor museum' on foot – the Pitti Palace, the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno River front, the many statues and monuments of the Piazza della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio, the 13th-century Duomo, Baptistry and Belltower and the Santa Croce Church. It's a dizzying list, but don't forget to visit the Uffizi, one of the world's oldest art galleries and a work of art in itself. And of course there's Michelangelo's super-famous statue of David in the Galleria dell'Accademia.
Notes: Florentine State Museums (Uffizi, Accademia, Pitti Palace, Medici Chapels, Bargello, Archaeological Museum, Davanzati) can all be booked in advance. Reserve tickets online at www.weekendafirenze.com. We suggest that you book in advance (your leader can be of assistance), especially for the Uffizi as this museum experiences enormous queues (up to 5 hours) all year round. The individual museums have slightly different opening times and closing days between them but the website - www.firenzemusei.it - has everything you need to know about all of them. The best day for your visit to any of the museums will be your free day in Florence.
- Uffizi Gallery - EUR16
- Accademia - EUR16
- Baptistry - EUR10
- Duomo & Campanile climb - EUR6
- Medici Chapels - EUR6
- Museo dell'Opera di S.Maria del Fiore - EUR15
- Museum Bargello - EUR4
- Palazzo Vecchio - EUR10
- Pitti Palace - Boboli Gardens, Museo Argenti, Costume Gallery, Porcellain Museum - EUR10
- Siena bus ticket - EUR24
- Urban Adventures - Florence Foodies Walk - EUR64
- Urban Adventures - Florence Markets & Delis - EUR53
- Urban Adventures - Aperitivo Time! Florence Wine Tour - EUR73
Head to Rome by train (approximately 3.5 hours). Time for some Roman around. Arrive in Italy's capital and dive head-first into all it has to offer – ancient ruins, religious monuments, designer shops, top-notch restaurants, cafes and bars. Don't miss the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine and the Forum (the centre of ancient Rome). And no visit would be complete without a trip to Vatican City and St Peter's Basilica. Entry to the Basilica is free, and there's a small charge to climb the dome so you can catch the awesome views from up there. The Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel are also well worth your time. The following day, it's time to say ciao to your new travel companions, and you're free to depart whenevs.
Notes: The Vatican Museum is closed on some days, including most Sundays. On the last Sunday of the month, it's open and free (but expect large crowds). Check the Vatican website for these dates: www.vatican.va. Tickets for the Vatican Museum can be booked online at http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do. The Galleria Borghese can also be booked online at http://www.galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/einfo.htm. The best day for your visit to the Vatican Museum will be the morning of day 31.
- Castel Sant'Angelo - EUR10
- Christian catacombs - EUR8
- Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill - EUR16
- Imperial Fora - EUR9
- Keats-Shelley Memorial House - EUR5
- Vatican museums - EUR16
- Pantheon - Free
- St Peter's dome climb - EUR6
- St Peter's Dome Climb & Elevator - EUR8
- Venezia Palace - EUR5
- Galleria Borghese - EUR15
- Urban Adventures - Ancient Rome: Archaeological Discovery Tour - EUR89
- Urban Adventures - Roman Dolce Vita - EUR63
- Urban Adventures - Trastevere: Trends and Tradition - EUR55
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Essential Trip Information
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