Buffet breakfasts daily; 8 dinners, including a dinner at a local restaurant in Florence
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
ARRIVE IN LONDON, ENGLAND. Check into your hotel. In the afternoon, you may want to start exploring the lively British capital. Uniformed hosts are available to help you make the most of your stay.
LONDON. A full day to savor our rich program of optional activities: take a panoramic tour of London’s landmarks, visit the Tower of London, or choose an excursion to Windsor Castle. Tonight, how about a leisurely cruise on the Thames River?
LONDON–AMSTERDAM AREA, HOLLAND. Transfer to the railway station and board the EUROSTAR TRAIN to Brussels with your Tour Director. From here, travel on your luxury coach to the Amsterdam area.
AMSTERDAM AREA–RHINELAND, GERMANY. Today, enjoy a CANAL CRUISE to see the city from water level, then watch the cutting and polishing of precious stones at a DIAMOND CENTER in Amsterdam. Later, sightseeing with a Local Guide points out the city highlights. In the afternoon, travel southward to the Rhineland area.
RHINELAND–HEIDELBERG–LUCERNE AREA, SWITZERLAND. Drive through the scenic Rhineland or, alternatively, take the optional Rhine River cruise and enjoy splendid scenery, including the Lorelei rock. Continue into Germany’s oldest university town, Heidelberg, nicely located at the confluence of the Neckar and Rhine Rivers, for a short visit. Carry on to Switzerland for two overnights in the Lucerne area.
LUCERNE. One of Switzerland’s finest cities, Lucerne is nestled amid its snowcapped Alps, surrounded by its lake, and graced by the clear mountain waters of the Reuss River. Your visit takes in the impressive city walls, CHAPEL BRIDGE, ornate patrician houses lining cobblestone streets, and the LION MONUMENT—a masterful stone sculpture in honor of the heroic Swiss Guard of Louis XVI. A grand selection of optional activities completes the day: a cruise on the fjord-like lake or a cable-car ride to the 10,000-foot summit of Mount Titlis.
LUCERNE AREA–LUGANO–VERONA, ITALY–VENICE AREA. More wonderful alpine scenery as you drive into the mountain ranges that surround massive St. Gotthard into the warmer and sunnier ambiance of Canton Ticino. Stop in beautiful Lugano and take a stroll along the lakeside promenade. Then, cross into Italy and drive across the Po Valley to Verona, medieval setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. See Juliet’s house and balcony, and stroll around the picturesque market square. Tonight, you are in the Venice area.
VENICE. Venice is more like a marvelous film set than a real-life city, with its criss-crossing canals, gondolas and water buses, arched bridges, and palaces. The included orientation starts with a BOAT RIDE to St. Mark’s Square and is followed by some time at leisure and a chance to visit a GLASSBLOWING WORKSHOP. Don’t miss out on the optional gondola trip, gliding along the picturesque canals with a local troubadour to serenade you.
VENICE AREA–ASSISI–ROME. An interesting drive southward through the gentle Umbrian hills to Assisi, where St. Francis was born in 1182. Visit the world-famous BASILICA with its beautiful frescoes by Giotto, then head for Rome.
ROME. The “Eternal City” is steeped in history, vibrantly alive and exciting, and absolutely unique! Included sightseeing with a Local Guide starts with St. Peter’s Square and Basilica. Other highlights are the iconic Colosseum, the largest amphitheater ever built; the Roman Forum; Piazza Venezia, and Campidoglio. An optional visit is available to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, world famous for Michelangelo’s impressive fresco of The Last Judgment.
ROME–PISA–FLORENCE. Vistas of rolling hills, rows of cypress trees, terraced vineyards, olive groves, and rural villages form the backdrop of your journey through beautiful Tuscany. Take a break in Pisa to see the SQUARE OF MIRACLES and the amazing Leaning Tower, then on to Florence.
FLORENCE. This Renaissance gem and city of the Medicis will keep you enthralled for a whole day. Vehicles are banned in part of the historic center, so visitors can wander at leisure and admire the city’s timeless beauty. Don’t miss out on the included walking tour with a Local Guide that features most of the city highlights. You will see Piazza Santa Croce; beautiful Piazza Signoria; Palazzo Vecchio; Loggia dei Lanzi; and, to top it all, Piazza del Duomo and its cathedral with the Giotto Campanile, and the magnificent East Door of the Baptistry, known as the “Gate of Paradise.” Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
FLORENCE–ITALIAN RIVIERA–ÈZE, FRANCE–FRENCH RIVIERA. Journey northwest, with views of the Italian Riviera. Continue to France for a visit to a PERFUME WORKSHOP in Èze before traveling along the celebrated Côte d’Azur. An optional Monte Carlo by Night excursion with dinner is available.
FRENCH RIVIERA–AVIGNON–CARCASSONNE. Today’s journey will take you through some of France’s loveliest scenery, sun-drenched landscapes right out of Van Gogh’s paintings, on the way through Provence. Stop for a visit in historic Avignon. Continue westwards to the impressive walled city of Carcassonne.
CARCASSONNE–BARCELONA, SPAIN. Enjoy a visit of this almost-untouched piece of medieval fortified architecture, still standing in all its walled glory with drawbridges, towers, battlements, watch turrets, ramparts, and even arrow-slits to repel the enemy. Later, cross the border into Spain and arrive in Barcelona.
BARCELONA. This morning’s sightseeing with a Local Guide includes a drive around Montjuïc to see the Olympic Stadium and a panoramic view of the port and city. The drive continues to the city center to Plaza Catalunya and Paseo de Gracia to admire the greatness and eccentricity of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces in the Houses Batlló and Mila and the Sagrada Familia (entrance fees not included).
BARCELONA–MADRID. See more of Catalonia as you drive northwest via Saragossa through the very heart of New Castile for two overnights in Spain’s capital, Madrid.
MADRID. Not only because it’s the capital of Spain, but also because it is situated 2,180 feet above sea level, the Spaniards say Madrid is the nearest thing to Heaven. Enjoy the main highlights on the included sightseeing excursion. The optional trip to Toledo is rewarding, too. The splendid setting is like a great open-air museum of Spanish history and art.
MADRID–BURGOS–BILBAO. Climb Somosierra Pass, the boundary between Old and New Castile, before stopping in Burgos to visit the beautiful gothic cathedral. On through Basque Country to Bilbao, now famous for four contemporary architects: Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava, Cesar Pelli, and Frank Gehry.
BILBAO–BORDEAUX, FRANCE–POITIERS. A change of scenery as you travel into France across Gascony for an orientation of Bordeaux, the wine capital of France. On through the Cognac area to Poitiers, of Black Prince fame.
POITIERS–CHÂTEAUX COUNTRY–AMBOISE–PARIS. Leave the “Town of a Hundred Bell Towers” for a scenic journey along the Loire. Stop in Amboise and see its castle before reaching Paris in time to enjoy an optional excursion.
PARIS. One full day to explore the city that’s known throughout the world for its fashions, art and museums, delicious food, and joie de vivre. Included sightseeing with a local expert shows off many of the best-known Parisian sights. Optional excursions are also available to the Palace and Gardens of Versailles.
PARIS. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.