A brief interlude with the British capital this morning sees us meet our Travel Director before travelling to London's St. Pancras International where we will board the Eurostar™ for a high-speed train journey to Brussels and a luxury coach journey to Amsterdam. Enjoy an orientation of this historic Dutch city before joining your fellow travellers and Travel Director for a Welcome Reception dinner cruise on its canals.
Driving through the lush landscapes of The Netherlands and Germany, we arrive in Boppard where we board a cruise along the Rhine to St. Goar, passing vineyard-clad hills and medieval castles perched above riverside towns. Arriving in the Baroque city of Heidelberg, we explore its iconic and unexpected highlights before travelling to our Rhineland hotel.
Crossing the Swabian Alps on the edge of the Black Forest, we arrive in the Bavarian capital of Munich. Our orientation takes us past the Hofbrauhaus, reputedly the most famous Beerhall in the world, and the neo-Gothic Town Hall which dominates the Marienplatz. We cross the Austrian border next, arriving in Innsbruck, the capital of the Alps. Admire the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture of the Old Town, including Emperor Maximilian's famous Golden Roof with its ornate façade and consider an evening of traditional Tyrolean entertainment.
Journey through the emerald-green landscape along the Brenner Pass into Italy and across the Dolomite Mountains to Venice. We cruise the beautiful Venetian lagoon by private launch to the gateway of Venice, St. Mark's Square. View the ornate Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs, so named for the sound made by condemned prisoners as they took one last longing look at their beautiful city before meeting their fate. Then, Dive Into Culture and witness the centuries-old craft of Venetian glassblowing before spending the afternoon at leisure to soak up the romantic atmosphere. Get lost in Venice, cross bridges and discover hidden campi where locals share their daily stories over a glass of Venetian Spritz.
Travel south across the Veneto Plain, passing Bologna and the dramatic Apennine Mountains as well as the green and golden fields of Lazio before reaching Rome, the 'Eternal City'. En route, we Connect With Locals over lunch at a Be My Guest experience and enjoy true Tuscan hospitality with a local family on their private estate in the Chianti countryside.
Our first stop today sees us discover the divine beauty of the Vatican City. We'll visit St. Peter's Basilica with a Local Specialist to view Michelangelo's Renaissance masterpiece, the Pietà. We continue to Ancient Rome to view the iconic Colosseum and Circus Maximus, once the site of exhilarating chariot races centuries ago. The afternoon is yours to explore the city on your terms. Sit on the Spanish Steps savouring a tasty gelato, shop up a storm on the trendy Via Corso or perhaps join an Optional Experience to see the magnificent frescoed ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
From Rome, we travel north through the rolling countryside of Tuscany and along the Arno valley to the 'Cradle of the Renaissance', Florence. Delve into the rich Medici heritage of this beautiful medieval city with your Local Specialist. Visit what was once the political hub of the city, Piazza della Signoria, with its impressive sculptures and stunning palazzi. View the imposing Duomo, crowned by Brunelleschi’s dome, and the Baptistery, renowned for its sculptured bronze doors.
Drive via the scenic Italian Lakes District, across the Alps into beautiful Switzerland, where we'll spend the next two nights in the medieval lakeside city of Lucerne. Tonight, why not consider an optional Swiss Folklore Show?
This morning, view the mournful, mortally wounded lion hewn from rock to commemorate the Swiss Guards who lost their lives defending Louis XVI. Walk along the flower-lined 14th-century covered Chapel Bridge, crossing the river Reuss. Or join an exciting Optional Experience to one of the surrounding peaks for breathtaking views of the Swiss countryside. We have some time later to discover the best Swiss chocolates in town.
Crossing the border into France this morning, we travel past the picturesque vineyards and country towns of Burgundy en route to the 'City of Lights'. Spend some time this evening strolling along the Seine and grand boulevards in search of a cosy bistro for fine French cuisine or consider an Optional Experience to a colourful Parisian cabaret.
Join a Local Specialist today for a sightseeing tour of this romantic city. View the sophisticated Champs Élysées, Place de la Concorde, the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe, honouring those who fought for France, and Notre Dame Cathedral, then enjoy a stroll through the Latin Quarter. Our European Whirl almost at its end, we spend the evening with fellow travellers and our Travel Director, enjoying a Farewell Dinner in a local bistro.
Travel past poignant World War I battlefields to the coast and board a cross-channel ferry to Dover, where we are greeted by the famous white cliffs. We continue by local coach to London where our amazing adventure ends.