|Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, The Netherlands|
Europe’s made up of 48 countries and each one is as radically different (and as radically awesome) as the last. This trip ticks off 11, leaving 37 for you to get to at a later date – something we fully recommend.
Accommodation: Hostal Levante or similar, Barcelona
Visit the labyrinthine streets of the old Gothic Quarter and the Picasso Museum
Wander the Rambla - the tree-lined pedestrian boulevard, or take the funicular to the top of Montjuic or Tibidabo for views of Barcelona
Spend time visiting sights, such as Gaudi's iconic La Sagrada Familia Cathedral
Spend a couple of days in the vineyards, lavender fields, mountains and ancient churches of Avignon. There are far worse things you could be doing, like falling off your bike.
Take to the fields of Provence on the train to Avignon, south-west France
Explore the surrounds of Avignon, taking in the culture and the scenery as you do so
Accommodation: Hotel Charma or similar, Paris
Gay Paris (prounounced "Gay Par-ee") is a pretty famous city, but you know all about that. Perhaps even more special than all the sights (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc) is simply sitting in a cafe and drinking coffee (or red wine) as the beautiful people stroll past.
Travel north on the train to France's cosmopolitan capital, Paris
Visit museums, art galleries and monuments, and make the most of the fashion and food
Wanter around the Champs-Elysees, the student-filled Latin Quarter and the bohemian Montmartre toget a good feel for the city
Perhaps enjoy a baguette in the Tuileries, Plantes or Luxembourg gardens
Why not head to a cafe to have a coffee - the French drink it black - and watch the world go by
Optional activities include visiting the world-famous Louvre, the Rodin Museum, the Musee d'Orsay, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral
Accommodation: Hotel Pax or similar, Luxembourg
Walk the streets of Luxembourg's old town and grab some local pastries for the road. You'll completely un-burn all the calories you've burned while walking, but you won't regret a thing. Except perhaps not coming to Luxembourg sooner.
Hop across the border on the train to Luxembourg city (approx 2hrs)
Explore Luxembourg City's UNESCO-listed Old Town
Stroll along the promenade of Chemin de la Corniche - 'Europe's most beautiful balcony' - and take it all in
Perhaps visit the Palais Grand-Ducal Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg MNHA (Musée National d'Histoire et d'Art)
Waffles and chocolates, fries and beer – Brussels is a comfort food superstar. Your day should go like this: Eat, walk, drink, eat, walk, drink, eat, walk, drink, sleep.
Dabble in the art world, discover historic battlefields, indulge in gastronomic delights or simply wander the cobbled city alleyways
Perhaps visit Grand Place Magritte Museum Manneken Pis MIM (Musical Instrument Museum)
Accommodation: Poets Hotel or similar, Amsterdam
Visit Anne Frank's house for a sobering experience. Van Gogh Museum for an inspiring experience. An open-air market for a delicious experience. Then park yourself in a cafe to digest all of the day's experiences.
Explore the many sights at your leisure
Optional activities include a half day bicycle tour of the city, visiting the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum or the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)
Why not stop by Anne Frank's House, the former hiding place of Anne Frank and seven others during World War II
Accommodation: Plus Hostel Berlin or similar, Berlin
A bit of grunge, a bit of style. Berlin's got it all figured out. Drink up the art, drink up the history, drink up some drinks and vow to return at the next available opportunity.
Spend free time getting to know Berlin
Perhaps take a bike or walking tour, visit the museums or visit the top of the Berlin TV Tower
Board an overnight train for Krakow
Accommodation: Basztowa Guestrooms or similar, Krakow
The train from Berlin drops you off in Krakow, which is a pretty unique European spot. You can visit Wawel Castle or Auschwitz while you're here, which goes some way to underline the aforementioned uniqueness.
Explore Wawel Royal Castle, which sits atop a hill next to the Vistula River
Get to know the city, by visiting St Mary's Church, shopping for amber or crafts and heading to the well-preserved old town
Perhaps visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a deep underground network of tunnels and chambers some 135 m below the surface
The Blessed Kinga Chapel is a highlight not to be missed, with its elaborate salt chandeliers and carvings
Optional day trip to learn more about the history of World War II at Auschwitz (Oswiecim) and Birkenau
Make the most of Krakow's many cellar restaurants and pubs and the thriving cultural scene
Accommodation: Private apartment, Prague
Prague's famous for hosting stag dos, which is certainly something of a testament to the nightlife, but not so much to the culture. And boy, is there culture. For starters, you can visit the resting place of Franz Kafka, perhaps the most influential author of the 20th century. "Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureauocracy," said Kafka. Boss.
Travel by train to Prague (approx 7 hrs)
Perhaps visit The 'City of a Hundred Spires' - an architecture-lover's dream, and other such buildings from the Middle Ages, as well as the likes of the Gehry-designed Dancing Building (also called the Fred and Ginger Building)
Spend time at Prague Castle, the biggest in the Czech Republic, where you'll find the famous St Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane
Wander through the Jewish Quarter to see what remains of the traditions and culture of Prague's formerly large Jewish community
Enjoy some of the many great restaurants and pubs, some in old vaulted cellars
Get amongst the nightlife in Prague, some of the best in Central Europe with dance clubs, traditional beer-halls or underground absinthe bars
Accommodation: Pension Vltavin or similar, Cesky Krumlov
Varying definitions of 'Bohemian': a native of inhabitant of Bohemia, a gypsy, a vagabond, a person with artistic or literary interests, a person who disregards conventional standards of behaviour. Cesky Krumlov is mostly the first description, but it's got the cultured backbone of many of the others.
Depart Prague and travel by bus to the southern Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov (approx 4 hrs)
Explore the castle and its Masquerade Hall, or climb the tower for aerial views of the town
Weather and time permitting, take a relaxing 2-3 hour raft/canoe trip on the river that winds right through the centre of Cesky Krumlov
Visit to the Cesky Krumlov brewery - where tours are often conducted in English - is also worthwhile
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Do Step Inn or similar, Vienna
As the capital of Austria, Vienna's got more museums and historic spots than, well, somewhere that's not quite as old and cultured. Learn the story of the Habsburg family at Hofburg and Schonbrunn. If you don't know who that family is or where those places are, Google them then come here and act all smug and clever.
Explore the vast array of art museums available including the Albertina, the Leopold, Kunsthalle Wien and the Museum of Modern Art
Check out Belvedere Palace, Hundertwasserhaus, the Secession building (with its gold laurel-leaf dome) or Hofburg Palace
Perhaps head out to Schoenbrunn for a guided audio tour of the summer palace designed by Empress Maria Theresa herself
Why not climb the 343 steps to the top of the tower of St Stephen's Cathedral
Take a spin on the famous Prater Ferris Wheel
Indulge in the great Viennese institution of coffee and Sacher torte
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Accommodation: Baross City Hotel or similar, Budapest
Since the Iron Curtain was lifted, Budapest has come into its own. Ride the oldest subway line in the world, visit the second largest synagogue in the world, stop by one of the oldest zoos in the world or go to one of the biggest music festivals in the world (August only). We like it here.
Travelling from Vienna by train (approx 3 hrs), arrive in Budapest with time to explore the Pearl of the Danube
Perhaps hire a bicycle for a great way to move between the city sights
Take a tourist boat trip to see the buildings that line the banks of the Danube River and the bridges linking Buda to Pest
Cross the Chain Bridge for a views of the Parliament Building and the Castle District
Be sure to 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
Enjoy a soak in the hot thermal baths
Accommodation: Union Travel or similar
Rafting, cycling, boating, relaxing. You can't ask much more from your time in one of Slovenia's most popular lakeside cities.
Travel by train to the lakeside town of Bled (approx 9 hrs)
Enjoy outdoor activities such as rafting, caving, canoeing and swimming
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, and perhaps ascend Mt Vogel by cable car
Accommodation: Hotel Mondial or similar, Venice
No visit to Venice is complete without a gondola ride through the waterways. In case you were wondering, "Ciao compagno, non posso fare un giro nella tua gondola?" means "Hello mate, can I have a ride in your gondola?"
Travel by train through to one of the world's most unique cities - Venice (approx 5.5 hrs).
Use your free time to explore Venice by foot
Perhaps visit 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
Wander the narrow, cobblestone streets and spacious piazzas and cross the hundreds of tiny bridges
Take in the shops, markets, galleries, churches and buildings around every corner
Be sure to take a gondola trip through the romantic canals
Accommodation: Affittacamere Anita or similar, La Spezia
The Cinque Terre looks like it was inspired by a box of crayons. It's also right on the rocky coastline of the Mediterranean. These two factors make for a pretty good couple of days.
Travel on a series of trains to the Liguria region, home to La Spezia and the Cinque Terre (approx 5 hrs)
Perhaps walk along the famous path of the Cinque Terre (12 km, approx 5 hrs in total)
You can also jump on a train between any of the villages or to get back to base whenever you want
After working up an appetite, perhaps indulge in the foods of the Liguria region
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Accommodation: Plus Hostel Florence or similar, Florence
More culture in Florence (Europe's just full of culture, isn't it!?). There are family run vineyards, the Duomo, the Medici Chapels and the Uffizi Gallery to name just a few. If you fancy a golden sunset, climb up Piazzale Michelangelo and get just that.
Board a train bound for Florence (approx 3.5 hrs)
Discover the sights of this '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
Visit the Uffizi, one of the world's oldest art galleries and a work of art itself
See Michelangelo's famous statue of David in the Galleria dell'Accademia
Explore as many of the surrounding galleries and museums as you have time for, or simply relax in a cafe and watch it all go by
Accommodation: Hotel Bolognese or similar, Rome
Gelato, pizza, the Colosseum, espresso, the Trevi Fountain, the Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon. It only takes a few minutes to discover that the rumours were true - Rome really wasn't built in a day.
Take in the designer shops, restaurants, cafes and exciting nightlife of Rome
See some of the world-famous sights such as the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine and the Forum (the centre of ancient Rome)
Take in the Vatican City and St Peter's Basilica
Don't miss out on the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
See how many icons of Rome you can tick off during your time here
Tour leader, accommodation, transport and sightseeing.
International flights, airport transfers, departure taxes, visas, insurance (compulsory on all trips), meals not listed (lunches and dinners), any optional tours or activities during free time, camera fees, excess baggage charges, tips and items of a personal nature.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
6 December 2013