28 Day Luxury European Grandeur
28 Day Trip exploring Europe in luxury, see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Château Chenonceau in Loire Valley, Prado Museum in Madrid, the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona, expore the ill-fated streets in Pompeii, enjoy a gondola serenade through Venice and cake tasting in Black Forest. A trip combining history, romance, scenery and amazing sights.
Our adventure map
Day by day
First Day Depart from London by Eurostar to Paris
After a warm welcome from your Tour Director, transfer to London's St Pancras Station to board the high-speed Eurostar. Your comfortable two hour rail journey takes you via the historic Channel Tunnel to Paris where you enjoy free time on arrival. Alternatively, join at the Paris hotel. (For reduction, see date chart). Later, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception and a pleasant evening of dinner and wine.
Second day Explore Paris, the City of Light
In the morning, sightseeing with a local expert takes you by the Île de la Cité to see Notre Dame Cathedral with its famous tale of Quasimodo. Then around the imposing façades of the Louvre and by the romantic bridges of the Seine. See the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde and drive along the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Next, venture into the 'Metro de Paris' to admire its art nouveau inspired architecture and enjoy a short journey through the Paris metropolitan area aboard its rapid transit system. Ascend to the viewing platforms of the Eiffel Tower for spectacular views of the city. The rest of the day is at leisure. Tonight, perhaps visit one of the world-famous cabaret shows?
Third Day Drive to Château de Chenonceau and on to Bordeaux
Head southwards towards Châteaux Country. Take a scenic drive along the Loire Valley to visit the enchanting “Ladies Castle” of Chenonceau, the home of Diane de Poitiers (tragic mistress of Henri II) and later of his vengeful wife Catherine of Medici. After some time to stroll in the lovely gardens, continue past Poitiers and through the Cognac area to arrive on the coastal plain. Cross the Gironde River into the bustling seaport of Bordeaux with it's unique 18th century character.
Fourth Day sample Bordeaux, then through wine country to Lourdes
Before departure, join a local expert for a guided tour of France's finest 18th Century architecture. The façades of the quayside's, the Grand Théâtre, Triangle d'Or and magnificent Esplanade des Quinconces all helped Bordeaux earn inclusion on UNESCO's World Heritage list. Then drive through the vineyards of Sauternes and Graves to Lourdes - a place of pilgrimage. Visit the miraculous grotto, drink the spring waters credited with curative powers and join the torchlit procession - a moving experience never to be forgotten.
Fifth Day go through Old Castile to Madrid
Welcome to a land of fiestas, food and Flamenco! Cross the Pyrenees and follow in the footsteps of El Cid via Burgos and over the Sierra de Guadarrama to the Spanish capital of Madrid.
Sixth Day its Madrid of the Bourbons
This morning, join a local expert for a sightseeing tour along the elegant Paseo de la Castellana, past the fountain in the Plaza de Cibeles. Drive down the Gran Via to the Cervantes Monument and Royal Palace, before crossing the Puerta del Sol. A highlight is a visit to the magnificent Prado Museum, a rose coloured palace housing works by Velázquez, Goya, Rubens and others. This afternoon, relax at a café or shop in the trendy boutiques.
Seventh Day take a train to Barcelona, City of Gaudi
Board your luxurious high-speed AVE train, the most efficient way to get around Spain. In less than three hours you're in the vibrant port of Barcelona. Join a local expert in the heart of the Gothic quarter. See the cathedral and walk through the Roman gate to tour the narrow lanes and old squares. Now drive by the Ramblas and along the Passeig de Gràcia, adorned by some of the most flamboyant Modernist buildings. Continue through the Eixample district for a visit inside Gaudi's extraordinary masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia Church. With a local expert, see the crypt where Gaudi is buried as well as the transept and central nave with its giant, tree-like pillars and spectacular vaulting.
Eighth Day enjoy some Free Time in Barcelona
The next day is at leisure for you to relax, shop or stroll along the leafy Ramblas? Why not take an optional trip to the ancient Monastery of Montserrat, dedicated to the ‘Black Madonna'?
Ninth Day follow the Mediterranean Coast to Monaco
Cross the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains this morning and follow the coastline of the Golfe du Lion through the vast vineyards of the Languedoc region, once independent of France and boasting one of the great cultures of Europe. Continue across the edge of the marshy Camargue, to the sunbaked landscapes which inspired the greatest works of Van Gogh and Cezanne. Your hotel is in the elegant Principality of Monaco.
Tenth Day Explore Monaco and the Côte d’Azur
After a restful night, unlock the secrets of the French perfume industry with a visit to a perfumery, where fragrance experts waft exclusive scents from stoppered bottles. Back in Monaco, drive along part of the Grand Prix circuit and walk through the old town. See the Royal Palace where the Grimaldi family lives, the yacht-filled harbour and cathedral, housing the tombs of the late Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. The rest of the day is free to enjoy Monaco at your leisure.
Eleventh Day drive along the Riviera to Pisa and Florence
Cross into Italy and follow the “Flower Riviera” along the Adriatic Highway through tunnels and bridges. Glimpse the world famous marble quarries of Carrara before arriving in Pisa. Once one of the most important ports on the Mediterranean, its wealthy merchants dedicated some of their wealth to building a fine cathedral and baptistry - but today it is the belltower which attracts most notice by leaning 4 metres from the perpendicular before a short drive brings you to the renaissance city of Florence. Enjoy skyline views from Piazzale Michelangelo.
Twelfth Day exploring Renaissance Florence
Next morning, join a local expert for a walking tour of the historic city centre. At the multi-coloured marble cathedral, admire Giotto's bell tower and ‘Gates of Paradise'. Visit the Piazza della Signoria, still the political heart of Florence and an open-air gallery of Renaissance sculptures - gaze at statues such as Neptune and David and see the area around Santa Croce Basilica - famous for the quality of its luxury goods and witness a demonstration of leather work. Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Montepulciano - the wines of Tuscany are famous the world over. Sample some of these robust reds and learn about their origins. This evening, don't miss the chance to try the fine Florentine cuisine.
Thirteenth Day head to Hill-Top Orvieto and the Eternal City of Rome
Travel through the Chianti hills on your way to hilltop Orvieto, a former papal stronghold, located on a rock pedestal overlooking a vineyard covered plain. Savour the distinctly medieval ambiance during your orientation tour and admire the richly decorated façade of the Cathedral in Piazza del Duomo. There's time to shop for hand painted ceramics before continuing to the “eternal city”. Rome comes alive at night, the Via Veneto - scene of the Dolce Vita, the cosmopolitan squares and beautiful fountains.
Fourteenth Day its sightseeing Papal Rome
The following morning, join a local expert in the Vatican City for a visit to St. Peter's Basilica. Admire Michelangelo's emotive ‘Pieta' and see Bernini's intricately carved Popes' Altar. Then cross the Tiber to see the Colosseum, scene of many gladiatorial contests and see the Roman Forum. The rest of the day is yours to shop in the trendy boutiques or relax at a sidewalk café.
Fifteenth Day drive to ill-fated Pompeii and on to Sorrento
Visit the Vatican Museums, full of priceless art treasures collected by the Popes. Insight has arranged special VIP entrance to avoid the crowds, together with behind-the-scenes access to the Bramante Staircase - a marvel of Renaissance architecture normally off-limits to the general public. Now into the Sistine Chapel to admire Michelangelo’s famous ceiling. Head south now, past the brooding Abbey of Monte Cassino to Pompeii, the opulent Roman town which was preserved by layers of ash from the disastrous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. A walking tour with a local expert through the cobbled streets reveals the daily life of ancient Roman civilisation. Visit the Forum and peer into ancient shops and patrician villas, decorated with colourful wall paintings. Continue to the picturesque holiday town of Sorrento, bustling with life until late at night.
Sixteenth Day visit to Capri, the Isle of Dreams
In the morning, board your cruise to Capri - the Isle of Dreams. Under the Mediterranean sun, take an open top taxi up to Capri Town, where you can explore the narrow alleyways, browse in exclusive boutiques and enjoy the views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Descend to the port by funicular railway and cruise to Sorrento. Investigate the art of ‘intarsio' or marquetry wood inlaying before a free afternoon. Perhaps take a drive along the famous Amalfi Coast with its clear blue waters and picturesque resorts?
Seventeenth Day its onto To Assisi, in search of St. Francis
Follow the Highway of the Sun north before turning into the foothills of the Apennine Mountains. Stop at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, built around the tiny chapel of the monastery founded by St. Francis himself. A chance here to see the place where Francis died and the miraculous Thornless Rose. Now ascend to the hill-town of Assisi, a perfectly preserved medieval community of cobbled streets and houses of warm pink stone. With a local expert, visit the huge Basilica of St. Francis, housing the Saint's tomb. Built in the 13th century, the frescoes by Giotto heralded a new era in Italian art.
Eighteenth Day On to Venice, Queen of the Adriatic
A delightful mountain drive takes you through the heart of the Apennines to the Po Valley. Continue through the marshes of the Venetian lagoon and across the causeway to the unique city of Venice. Tonight, take a stroll by the canals and listen to the romantic songs of the gondoliers as they drift beneath the bridges.
Nineteenth Day see Venice and the Magic of ‘La Serenissima’
Wake up ready to embrace this romantic city. Witness the skill of glass-blowers, mask makers and gondola builders on a visit to a traditional arts centre. Only minutes away by private launch is St. Mark's Square where the city's former wealth and power is evidenced by the riches of St. Mark's Basilica. Admire also the Doge's Palace and its adjoining Bridge of Sighs. A highlight is a traditional gondola serenade. Relax and enjoy the atmosphere, music and songs as you drift along the romantic canals. The afternoon is at leisure to sit a while at a canal side cafe and sip the local wine.
Twentieth Day by Mountains and Lakes on the way to Vienna
Leave the Adriatic coastline today, driving through the spectacular Italian Alps beneath towering cliffs alongside sparkling mountain streams. Cross into Austria and drive through the heart of the Carinthian Lake District alongside Lake Worth, warmest lake in Europe! Now through “unknown Austria”, traversing the quiet villages and forested mountains of Styria. Finally you arrive in Vienna, once the elegant heart of an empire which reached every corner of Europe. Tonight, maybe take the option of a delicious dinner in a historic country mansion with live music and drinks?
Twenty-First Day tour Vienna and the Habsburgs
This morning, join a local expert for a private tour of Maria Theresa's Schönbrunn Palace and formal gardens. Then get your cameras ready for a drive around the famous Ring Road. This grand boulevard, built along the lines of the old city walls, show-cases many of the capital's architectural masterpieces, including the Opera House, magnificent Hofburg Imperial Residence and Parliament building. Maybe discover hidden squares of the old city this afternoon?
Twenty-Second Day head for Salzburg, City of Mozart and on to Innsbruck
Pass the impressive Benedictine monastery of Melk, as the highway speeds you through the rich farmlands of eastern Austria, towards the lakes and mountains of the Salzkammergut. Enjoy a fine view of the Mondsee Lake before reaching the enchanting city of Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and on another musical note, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic musical "The Sound of Music". Join a local expert for a visit to the Mirabell Gardens. Here you'll see the fountains and statues where the "Do, Re, Mi" scenes were filmed and then stroll through the old town passing through Residence Square with its fountain (in the movie this was used in the scenes where Maria sings "I have confidence"). You'll also see the house where Mozart was born and the immense cathedral. Later, continue to the mountain ringed Tyrolean capital of Innsbruck to see the Golden Roof and Imperial Palace.
Twenty Third Day go through Liechtenstein to lakeside Lucerne
Follow the Inn Valley, passing flower-filled meadows and picturesque chalet-style villages, via the Arlberg Tunnel to the Principality of Liechtenstein. Spend some time in its tiny capital, Vaduz, then cross into Switzerland and through glorious mountains to lakeside Lucerne.
Twenty-Fourth Day visit Lucerne’s Lions and Dragons
In the morning, visit Lucerne's proud Lion Monument, carved into a limestone cliff and dedicated to the heroic Swiss Guards who died defending King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Take time to stroll across the covered Chapel Bridge and see the baroque Jesuit church. Later, embark on a highlight trip by cogwheel train and cable car to the summit of one of Switzerland's most famous mountains, Mount Pilatus. In medieval times, it was believed that dragons lived in these rugged clefts, but now the only amazing sights to see are over the snow-capped Jungfrau and Eiger peaks. For dinner tonight, choose your own style of cuisine from our selection of restaurants.
Twenty-Fifth Day Journey through the Black Forest and Rhineland to Mainz
After breakfast, pass through Zurich to Schaffhausen where the Rhine River thunders over the Rhine Falls with an awe-inspiring roar. Drive into Germany and deep into the Black Forest, where cuckoo clocks are made by hand. Followed by a real treat for those with a sweet tooth, witness an authentic Black Forest cake making demonstration and tasting. Delicious chocolate cake, sour cherries, jam, kirsch, topped off with whipped cream - a truly luscious Germanic delight. Then follow the Rhine Valley north past the spa resort of Baden Baden to your hotel in Mainz.
Twenty-Sixth Day glide past the Castles of the Rhine Valley to Amsterdam
Take to the water this morning for a delightful scenic cruise past fortified towns and leafy vineyards. Pass the twin strongholds of the ‘Enemy Brothers', the Cat and Mouse castles and hear the legend of the Loreley Rock. Disembark in the quaint wine village of Boppard and continue via Bonn, whose Gothic Cathedral has spires reaching 500 ft. high. Crossing into The Netherlands you immediately recognise the distinctive Dutch countryside. Arrive at friendly Amsterdam the ‘Venice of the North', a city with hundreds of tree-lined canals. Tonight, perhaps take the option of a delicious Dutch dinner with drinks served in a beautiful old restaurant, followed by a walk through the ‘Sailors Quarter'?
Twenty-Seventh Day enjoy Amsterdam and the Dutch Countryside Experience
After a restful night's sleep, your orientation of Amsterdam shows you the Mint Tower, Dam Square and Royal Palace. See a demonstration of diamonds being cut and polished before enjoying the afternoon at leisure. For your last night, drive through typical Dutch countryside to the fishing village of Monnickendam for a rousing Celebration Dinner with wine. The perfect finale to your European Journey.
Twenty-Eighth Day Depart Amsterdam
Hotel transfers arrive Schiphol Airport at 8am and 10am.
Relax on the smooth high-speed Eurostar train from London via the historic Channel Tunnel to Paris.
Enjoy a fascinating journey on the 'Métro de Paris'. Ascend to the viewing platforms of the Eiffel Tower and enjoy glorious views.
Visit the beautiful Château Chenonceau in Loire Valley, a jewel spanning the River Cher on elegant arches.
Join the emotive candlelight procession through the streets of Lourdes - an unforgettable experience!
An expert art historian shows you the highlights of the Spanish masterpieces in the Prado Museum in Madrid.
The high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona is quiet, smooth and makes the best use of your precious time in Spain.
Visit inside Gaudi's extraordinary masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona.
Côte d'Azur, The secrets of perfume making are revealed during a guided tour of a perfume laboratory.
Learn what to look for in a local vino rosso and what foods to pair it with - useful information when ordering Florentine cuisine.
Enjoy VIP fast-track entry to the Vatican Museums in Rome, Sistine Chapel and access to the Bramante Staircase.
Explore the ill-fated streets with a guide in Pompeii.
Cruise to the 'Isle of Dreams' and ride in comfort and style up to the town by open top taxi.
Find out why the Basilica of St. Francis is considered one of the crowning achievements of Europe.
Visit an artisan showroom and workshop to see master craftsmen honouring age-old Venetian crafts, Enjoy a gondola serenade through the canals.
With a local expert, enjoy a private guided tour of magnificent Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
Mount Pilatus, Embark upon a cogwheel rail journey to the summit offering spectacular panoramic views.
Delight, at a mouth watering cake making demonstration followed by a delicious tasting in Black Forest.
Watch medieval hilltop castles, sleepy villages and vineyards slip by as you enjoy a scenic cruise in Rhine Valley.
Enjoy your Dine Around evening in Lucerne
A Celebration Dinner with wine in Monnickendam
27 Buffet Breakfasts
7 three-course table d'hôte Dinners or Buffets, plus tea or coffee and 1 Celebration Dinner.
Guided Visit to Le Grand Louvre, Visit one of the world's best known art collections at the Louvre. A specialist art historian guides you through the galleries to see the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, Mona Lisa and many more works from the collection amassed over the ages by the Kings of France. The provision of personal headsets ensures you wont miss any of the clear, expert commentary.
Seine Cruise and Illuminations, The City of Light really lives up to its name when the monuments, buildings and bridges are lit up in all their glory. First a specially designed sightseeing boat takes us for an unforgettable cruise along the Seine and beneath famous bridges to appreciate the Left and Right Banks and the Islands de la Cite & St Louis. Now enjoy an illuminations tour, when the rubies & diamonds of the Champs Élysées and the Eiffel Tower are at their magnificent best.
Montmartre Village and Notre Dame, Discover the bohemian quarter of Montmartre. Walk through the historic lower area before ascending by funicular to the Place du Tertre, a favourite haunt of Toulouse Lautrec, Picasso, and Utrillo. Browse for original art or ask a local street artists to capture your likeness in minutes - a great souvenir to take home. Close by you can appreciate the view from the steps of Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Then continue to the Ile de la Cite for a guided tour of Notre Dame Cathedral. 850 years old, this masterpiece of Gothic architecture is the heart and soul of Paris!
Moulin Rouge, Why not enjoy an evening of excitement and glamour and a glass of champagne at a dazzling French cabaret show? Depending on availability it might be dinner with wine and cabaret at the world famous Moulin Rouge – the original Parisian cabaret – immortalized by the award winning film! Alternatively, enjoy dinner with wine at Nouvelle Eve, one of the most prestigious cabarets in town. Both venues guarantee a fabulous evening of exciting acts, stunning tableaux and wonderful entertainment.
Toledo Excursion, A specialist guide takes you to the unique city of Toledo, Spain's capital during the golden era, and where El Greco lived and worked. Walk through the narrow cobbled streets to visit the fine Gothic cathedral and admire the old city views along the Tagus gorge. Afterwards, visit a specialist workshop where artisans create authentic Damascene ware, an ancient art perfected by the Moors and passed down over the centuries.
Madrileno Dinner and Plaza Mayor, First it's off to Plaza Mayor, once the Main Square dating back to 1617 and dominated by the spectacular façade of the 'Casa de la Pandaria'. Now to our traditional 'Meson' to try many of the dishes that Madrid is renowned for. Drinks such as regional wine, beer and soft drinks are included but we suggest sampling some of Spain's famous 'Sangria'. All this will be accompanied by a local 'Tuna de Madrid' playing all your favourite Spanish songs on traditional instruments.
Barcelona By Night With Dinner, After a delightful dinner in a traditional Catalan restaurant, take a sparkling illuminations drive up the hill of Montjuic for spectacular panoramic views over the city and harbour twinkling below.
Montserrat and the Black Madonna, Ascend the sacred mountain of Montserrat, Catalonia's most important pilgrimage site for a thousand years. Enjoy the spectacular panoramic views before entering the dark, ornate “Basilica Real” and climbing the stairs to the mystical Black Madonna, surrounded by an altar of gold.
Catlalan Dinner and Flamenco, The food of the Catalan region is quite different from the rest of Spain. Enjoy a plentiful Catalan buffet dinner including drinks, followed by the throbbing guitars, fire and passion of Spain’s national dance – the Flamenco.
Riviera `3 Corniches` and Dinner, Take a spectacular scenic drive along the Corniche Roads of the Riviera for breathtaking views along Europe's most beautiful coast. Climb to the uppermost 'Grand Corniche', clinging to rocks between sea and sky, built by Napoleon alongside of the old Roman Road. Stop for sweeping panoramas over expensive villas and the sparkling Mediterranean. Continue to your restaurant for drinks and a delicious dinner of local specialities.
Villa Ephrusi Rothschild, A glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous. Visit the sumptuous Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild - one of the finest listed buildings on the French Riviera. The Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild sampled art works from all over the world, transforming the Villa at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat into a collector's paradise. Explore its nine wonderful gardens with musical fountains and enjoy spectacular views over the Riviera.
Jewels of the Renaissance, With our local expert enjoy priority reserved entry into the most important Renaissance museum of Florence, the ‘Accademia di Belle Arti’, Academy of Fine Arts. Amongst the masterpieces you will see are an outstanding collection of 15th and 16th Century Florentine paintings by the likes of Uccello, Ghirlandaio, and Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo’s four unfinished ‘Prisoners’. The highlight of the visit is Michelangelo’s ‘David’. Created between 1501-1504 it was once the symbol of Republican Florence and is considered by many to be the greatest sculpted masterpiece in the world.
San Gimignano Excursion, A wonderful excursion to Tuscany's most famous hill-top town! Visit San Gimignano, considered a kind of medieval Manhattan, due to its towers which dominate the skyline. Soak up the unique atmosphere of this ancient gem which has remained intact since the 14th century and today is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Tuscan Dinner and Cooking Demonstration, Florence and Tuscany are renowned for their rich gastronomic heritage. Tonight we travel into the hills near Florence to the northern-most part of the Chianti, where a local chef will introduce you to the dishes that make Tuscan cuisine famous throughout the world. A great cooking class, superb food and wine, with genuine and warm Tuscan hospitality.
Where you stay
All hotels included in your tour package are hand-picked, of an outstanding standard and far better value than if booked individually. Our valued travel partners who organise these tours also own the Red Carnation Hotel Group and where possible Red Carnation Hotels are used and please see our link for further details.
Guarantees, Bonds and Awards
- This tour is run by our outstanding travel partners who are multi-award winning Globe Best Tour operator in the world 2013, 2014 and 2015.
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- ABTA, IATA and ATOL protected
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