Leaving the bright city lights of London behind us, we cross the English Channel by ferry from Dover to Calais, travelling across the World War I battlefields where so many brave souls lost their lives. We catch a glimpse of the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge before arriving in Paris. Later, we join our Travel Director and travel companions for a Welcome Reception including dinner and drinks and an evening drive to embrace the energy of this vibrant city.
Join a Local Specialist for a drive along the Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe and view the Eiffel Tower. View Notre Dame Cathedral and enjoy a stroll through the Latin Quarter. Perhaps pay a visit to the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, stroll along the Seine admiring the exquisite work of street artists or consider attending one of the city's famous colourful cabaret shows.
Journey through France's Loire Valley stopping to see the royal château at Amboise, where King François I hosted Leonardo da Vinci. Continue south through one of France's most renowned wine regions, arriving in Bordeaux, celebrated for its centuries-old trading heritage and extraordinary architecture. Spend the evening exploring its historical centre or amble along the Garonne and watch how the 18th-century Place de la Bourse glitters across the river at night.
This morning, we delve into the heady days of la Belle Époque in the glitzy seaside resort of Biarritz, an elegant retreat for aristocrats for centuries. We continue to Pamplona, most famous for its annual Running of the Bulls Festival. Here we'll Connect With Locals over dinner at a Be My Guest experience sharing stories with new friends.
Head to the heart of Spain and its lofty capital, Madrid. Upon arrival, Dive Into Culture and enjoy an included visit to the Prado Museum and admire the incredible works of Rubens, Goya and El Greco. Spend the afternoon joining a Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour of the city's iconic and unexpected landmarks. View the Royal Palace and the Cibeles Fountain before joining your fellow travellers for dinner at your hotel.
This morning, perhaps take to the waters of Retiro Park, visit the Mercado de San Miguel to indulge in the delicious flavours of Spain, or join an Optional Experience to the imperial city of Toledo. Enjoy free time this afternoon in the city that King Charles III sought to 'beautify' so that it could justifiably claim its place as one of Europe's most gracious capitals.
Driving towards Catalonia and the shores of the Mediterranean, we pass Guadalajara and the Gorges of Jalón and Aragón en route to vibrant Barcelona, where we will spend the next two nights delving into the intoxicating charm of this cultural and artistic powerhouse.
Join a Local Specialist today and delight in the whimsical world of Gaudí, whose characteristic Art Nouveau architecture is dotted throughout the city. See his unfinished masterpiece La Sagrada Familia, before spending the rest of the day embracing the energy of Barcelona. Pay tribute to Columbus and his brave exploration of the New World, wander down to La Barceloneta for some tasty tapas treats, or ramble up Las Ramblas watching street performers entertain crowds. This evening, you could choose to witness Spanish passion, power and drama unfold at an unforgettable foot-stomping flamenco evening including a delicious Spanish buffet.
From the rugged Costa Brava to the stylish shores of the French Riviera, we travel through the South of France, stopping to Dive Into Culture during a guided visit to Fragonard Perfumery where we'll learn how fragrances are crafted. Later, we arrive in the glamorous French Riviera, home to the famous Cannes Film Festival.
Tread in the footsteps of showbiz royalty, savouring a full day at leisure in the French Riviera. Admire the irresistible backdrop of the Mediterranean and Estérel Hills or consider joining an Optional Experience to the medieval hilltop town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, renowned for its museums and galleries.
Travel along the sophisticated Cote d'Azur to the Principality of Monaco, where you'll see the Royal Palace and the cathedral where Princess Grace is buried. Cross into Italy and pass Genoa, the birthplace of Columbus, before arriving in Pisa to admire its Leaning Tower and Baptistery, the largest in Italy. This evening we arrive in the Renaissance city of Florence.
Join a Local Specialist for a guided walking tour of one of the cultural capitals of the world. Enjoy views of the marble Duomo, the Baptistery with its famous bronze doors, and the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Visit Piazza della Signoria, once the political hub of the city, and in your free time perhaps join an Optional Experience to the Tuscan hilltop town of San Gimignano, known as Italy's Medieval Manhattan. You'll have the rest of the afternoon to explore Florence your way, but you'll be tempted to head up to Piazzale Michelangelo for the best views of the cityscape as the sun begins to set over magical Florence
Italy's ‘Eternal City' beckons and we head south to Rome stopping in Passignano Sul Trasimeno to admire its beautifully preserved centre tucked within a circuit of medieval walls. Arriving in Rome you'll have an evening to explore the city your way. You could choose to spend your evening on a favourite Optional Experience, including a dinner of Italian specialties with drinks and music, followed by a drive providing a glimpse of how the locals enjoy their own city.
Join a Local Specialist to delve into the centre of Christianity - the Vatican City. Visit St. Peter's Basilica, then cross the Tiber for views of the mighty Colosseum and Circus Maximus, once home to exhilarating chariot races. The rest of the day is yours to explore the city's history and culture that span almost two millennia. Admire the Spanish Steps, shop up a storm on the Via del Corso or toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain to secure your speedy return to Rome. After an afternoon of sightseeing on your terms, you'll join your fellow travellers for a Regional Dinner at a local restaurant.
We journey across the Tuscan countryside bound for Venice. The city's canals and bridges beckon, but not before we Connect With Locals at lunch amidst the olive groves and vineyards of Tuscany for a Be My Guest experience that will linger long after you've left. Arriving in Venice, you'll have to explore Lido Island your way. Go in search of a lively piazza where a refreshing Campari Spritz awaits.
Dive Into Culture and witness the centuries-old tradition of Venetian glassmaking. Glide through the city's bustling canals by private launch, arriving at St. Mark's Square, the gateway to Venice. See St. Mark's Basilica, the ornate Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy the sights and sounds of this Byzantine treasure. Cross the Rialto bridge, enjoy a sunset over the Grand Canal or ascend the Campanile for panoramic views.
A scenic drive from Italy to Austria takes us through the Carnic Alps to the imperial capital of Vienna where we'll spend the next two nights exploring a city famous for its musical heritage and elegance. On arrival, transfer to your Stays With Stories accommodation, the palatial Parkhotel Schönbrunn, the former guest house of Emperor Franz Joseph and site of many elegant Viennese balls and a traditional coffee house. The hotel, built in the imperial style, has welcomed royalty, aristocrats and creatives, including Thomas Edison, since its establishment in 1907.
Join your Local Specialist this morning to explore the sights, including views of the famous Opera House, Stadtpark, Parliament, Imperial Boulevards and Hofburg Palace, once home to the powerful Habsburg Dynasty. Spend the rest of the day delving into Vienna's cosy coffee culture, perhaps visit the exquisite Schönbrunn Palace or discover the harmonies of the world's music capital, enjoying one of the city's many musical performances.
Leave the song of Vienna behind, bound for Prague, the Golden City of a Hundred Spires. Traversing the lush landscapes of Slovakia, we arrive in the capital, Bratislava, with its eclectic Gothic, Baroque and Art Deco architecture. There's time for an orientation with your Travel Director and lunch, perhaps an opportunity to sample the local bryndzové halušky potato dumplings. Arriving in Prague this afternoon, you'll want to get right into the heart of this fairy-tale city.
Join your Local Specialist this morning to explore the jewels of Prague's Castle District and Old Town. You'll stroll around the Old Town Square and see the 15th-century Astronomical Clock with its mesmerising Walk of the Apostles. Spend your afternoon exploring Prague your way, tracking down the city's quirky side, from its famous wall of peace to one of the world's narrowest streets at just 50cm wide. Don't forget to stop and sample a steaming street food favourite, Trdelník.
You may be tempted to stay in this enchanting city, but Munich promises its own adventures. First stop today however is the UNESCO-listed town of Regensburg with its beautifully preserved medieval centre. Spend some time getting lost in centuries of history, perhaps sampling some of the local Regensburger Wurst. Then it's time to continue to the Bavarian capital of Munich, where we'll see the Glockenspiel and Marienplatz on an orientation with our Travel Director. The afternoon is free to explore before we have dinner at our hotel.
We leave Germany for Switzerland, stopping in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. We continue to Lucerne, our home for the next two nights.
Pay tribute to the brave Swiss Guards who lost their lives defending King Louis XVI in the French Revolution and see the famous mournful Lion Monument. Walk along the wooden Chapel Bridge and marvel at its decorative ceilings. Then spend the rest of the day admiring the colourful façades of the Old Town or join an Optional Experience to one of the surrounding peaks.
View the ruins of Heidelberg Castle perched above the Neckar River and board a relaxing cruise down the mighty Rhine from St. Goar to Boppard – fantasy castles and hillside vineyards line your scenic journey. This evening, we stay at one of Trafalgar's Stays With Stories - Bellevue hotel, located close to the Rhine River.
Admire the tall twin Gothic spires of the Cologne Cathedral this morning, before crossing into the Netherlands and on to Amsterdam where we spend the next two nights. Sit under the leafy canopy at Leidseplein indulging in Dutch beer and kroketten, hire a bike and hit the city's tree-lined streets or bask in the warm glow and gezelligheid of one of the city's renowned bruin cafés.
Enjoy an orientation of Amsterdam and spend the rest of the day exploring the city on foot, by bike or tram. Consider delving into the tragic story of Anne Frank, admire the works of Van Gogh or people-watch in Vondelpark. This evening enjoy a Farewell Dinner with your travel companions on board a glass-top boat. Cruise through the city's canals looking up at the centuries-old gabled façades for which Amsterdam is so famous.
It's time to bid a fond farewell to Amsterdam as we travel to Calais, crossing the English Channel to Dover before returning to London.