The perfect tour for those wanting to savour the best parts of Western Europe at a less than hectic pace. Travel days interspersed with free days in cities as well as a 3 sailing day mini-break on a Greek island, this is definitely the best of both worlds when it comes to culture versus relaxation.
Meet up with your Contiki team before we hit the road and take a ferry past the White Cliffs of Dover. We travel via World War I battlefields in the Valley of the Somme, to Paris. After dinner we will depart for the 'Paris by Night tour', where the French capital transforms into the "City of Lights". Lamp-lit bridges and cool little cafés give us a real taste of Paris’ romance. Your Trip Manager will fill you in on the world’s most recognised monuments, like the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. If you’re adventurous, get right into French culture and try out France’s national delicacy – escargot! You’ll also get to toast the start of your trip with French Champagne.
This town is loaded with possibilities. Discover its many bistros, museums, tree-lined avenues and diverse quartiers (neighbourhoods). Get a feel for French flair by window shopping on the Left Bank, step into the Notre Dame Cathedral or explore the endless galleries of the Louvre and get up close to the famous Mona Lisa. Try indulging in some delicious pastries and relax in one of Paris’ many green spaces. Tonight, treat yourself to a real Parisian night out, starting with an optional dinner in an atmospheric restaurant, where you can get to know your group. Then sign up for an authentic cabaret experience, complete with can-can girls and Champagne.
Southbound, we stop off at the massive 16th century Château Fontainebleau. Walk around the imperial gardens and check out the château’s imposing, regal exterior. We continue on through Burgundy’s wine country to Beaujolais’ green hills and vineyards. Our team will make you feel right at home in Contiki’s very own 16th century Château. There’s a wine tasting within the Château’s working winery, where our resident expert will teach you about Beaujolais wine as you swirl and sip on wines made in the area for centuries.
There’s loads of time to catch up on some sleep, laze about the Château or position yourself poolside. Explore the French countryside with a walk through the vineyards and picnic in the hills above the Château. In the afternoon, you can even get a feel for a real French country town by heading into nearby Theizé.
Unwind on the coach, listen to your MP3 and take in the rustic beauty of Provence, known for its pretty landscapes of lavender, sunflowers and wild herbs. We continue on the road to the rugged coast line of the stunning Côte d’Azur. Follow the beautiful sapphire waters past the movie-star glamour of Cannes (famous for its annual film festival), to the Riviera. Tonight get a taste of the high life in Monaco, the glamorous principality packed into just 1.92km² and home to the Formula 1. Get the inside story on the Royal Family and their place of residence from your Trip Manager. Try your luck at a casino later on!
In your free time live a bit of the riviera lifestyle with a visit to one of the neighbouring towns like Cannes or Nice. Try out the region’s produce like lavender honey, aioli (garlic mayonnaise) and mouth-watering rosé wine. Window shop the chic boutiques or choose a beach and catch some sun among all the bronzed bodies!
Next stop on the Riviera and home to the French perfume industry is Fragonard Perfumery. Learn about how perfume is made and some of its more surprising ingredients. It’s also a chance to pick up a bottle or 2 at great prices. Onwards to Italy, land of passion! En route to Renaissance Florence, we stop by Pisa and get up close to the famous Leaning Tower. The scene-stealing Duomo Cathedral rises above Florence, which serves up frescoes, markets and priceless art. After dinner, walk along the River Arno with your Trip Manager, take in the atmosphere and head into the heart of Florence, where you can sit back and relax Tuscan style with a glass of Chianti wine.
Jump start the day uncovering this open-air museum and its UNESCO World Heritage city centre. Our Local Guide gives you the inside track as the group learns about Florence’s cultural beginnings and explores streets crammed with artworks from masters like Michelangelo. Then take a look into a skillful demonstration of Florentine leather making and understand this region’s traditional art. With bargains and bustle, the city’s markets are a great place to hang out. Grab a gelato and enjoy this gorgeous city. Tonight, there’s a choice of a group dinner - an authentic Tuscan feast. Try regional dishes in the heart of Florence. Then keep it moving with a night out and get your groove on at Florence’s biggest club.
Travel through Tuscany’s rustic hills, past the recognisable cypress tree landscapes of this olive oil producing region, to vibrant Rome. Stylish Rome oozes energy and overflows with relics from another age. Our special access coach tour gets you right into the thriving atmosphere of this living timeline as your Trip Manager shows you the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia. Continue on foot to check out the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Honour tradition at the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin in the fountain’s waters (it’s meant to improve your chances of returning to Rome!) or maybe hang out with your new friends at the Spanish Steps, sit back with a few slices of pizza and people watch.
This morning, make the most of our Local Guide’s inside knowledge with an optional guided tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Take off into the city and absorb the atmosphere, as Vespas flash past timeworn monuments that are surrounded by fountains, pizzerias, cafés and bars. Before you hit the shops, let your Trip Manager point you in the right direction with some tips on the best buys. In your free time, live the local lifestyle by indulging in a long lunch on a paved piazza or knock back a shot of espresso at the bar, like the Romans do.
Pass gritty Naples, see Mt Vesuvius and plunge into Pompeii’s well-preserved past in an interesting optional excursion and retrace ancient history with our expert Local Guide. Then there’s time to chill out on the coach, crossing through the rugged landscapes of southern Italy, before boarding the overnight ferry to Greece. Check out the amazing 360 degree views from the deck!
Contiki’s Corfu Sailing option is the perfect summer adventure - a unique combination of a Contiki adventure with a sailing holiday, all rolled into one. It’s the perfect way to get out on the water & experience the gorgeous Greek islands on-board a traditional flotilla – the ideal way to see Greece from a different angle – a truly relaxing break. Our flotillas are simplistic & allow you to get hands on – get involved in preparing meals in true maritime fashion as you cruise the waves. With your expert on-board Skipper on each yacht to show you the ways & whys of life at sea, you & your travel buddies will learn the basics of sailing & assist with skippering the boat as well as help out mooring the boat and hoisting & lowering the sails. Each day will feature a continental breakfast & picnic style lunch on board the boat. Nights will be spent in port, so there’s plenty of time to get amongst the local nightlife & restaurants. Your itinerary over the 2 days sailing will be Corfu to Parga, Sivota & Mourtos, then back to Corfu where we will re-join the rest of the group. Each day will feature stops at stunning, remote beaches & secluded hideaways accessible only by boat – the perfect Greek sailing experience.
Soak up the last rays in Corfu today, take a dip, or follow your nose to a local spot and try some of the islands traditional dishes like Bourou-Bourou (vegetable and pasta soup), Sofrido (fried beef in white wine sauce) or for those with a sweet tooth, some sikomaitha - dig into some fried fig cakes! For historical buffs you could take to the streets, explore the Old Fort or hit shops found here before boarding the boat and cruising the Adriatic Sea to Venice overnight.
Relax and enjoy the boat today - sit with a book, hang with your mates and relax, before heading on to one of Europe's most iconic cities, packed with canals, gondolas and good times, it's got to be Venice!
Known as the “floating city”, Venice is packed with character, crammed with hidden lanes and linked by a network of canals. The group travels on our private boat through the waters of the lagoon to visit the city’s historical heart. The limestone Bridge of Sighs, the Gothic arches of the Doge’s Palace and the expanse of St Mark’s Square (pigeons and all!) show off Venice’s unique beauty and way of life. Take some time to explore the floating city and lose yourself in the backstreets. You’ll see historic monuments, hidden treasures and the Rialto market – a local favourite for food shopping. Maybe grab a table on St Mark’s Square and eat some delicious Italian food al fresco. Cap off the day with an optional gondola ride & share this amazing experience with your friends - seeing Venice from on the water is unforgettable!
Chill out on the coach as we make our way through the mighty Dolomites and cruise pass typically Austrian villages, complete with wooden chalets and green mountain fields. Next stop is the cultural hub of Vienna. Tonight, there’s a chance to experience Vienna’s musical legacy with a Mozart and Strauss concert in one of the city’s imperial palaces.
Your Trip Manager starts the day by introducing the group to the city’s historical heritage. There’s the imperial grandeur of Schönbrunn Palace, the elegantly ornate State Opera House and St. Stephen’s Cathedral – a Gothic masterpiece. Cruise down Kärntner Strasse, Vienna’s main shopping spot and buy some traditional ceramics and materials for gifts back home. There’s free time to check out the magnificent squares and majestic palaces or the city’s art galleries. Take a break in a coffee house like the locals do, chill out in Vienna’s manicured gardens or wander along the Danube River. Get schnaps savvy with a behind-the-scenes look into this local liqueuer’s production in an optional excursion to the Old Vienna Schnaps Museum.
Roll through Bohemia to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Český Krumlov. The town is all about old-world charm, cute shops, cosy cafés and winding cobblestone lanes. This afternoon, relax on the coach as we head to the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague.
Prague is a beautiful and atmospheric city. It’s also pretty compact, so it’s best explored on foot. Get straight into Prague’s historic heart with your Trip Manager. You’ll walk together over the landmark Charles Bridge, through Hradčany Castle, the home of the original Bohemian Kings and to the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral along the way. Choose a cruise on the Vltava River, which runs through the heart of Prague, and take in stunning views of the city from the water. The Czech capital has a really mixed past so look out for signs of the Holy Roman Empire, the Bohemian Empire, the Nazis and the Communists. Free time means you can get deeper into Prague’s Old Town in your own time. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a jumble of little lanes, alleys and courtyards. Slow the pace down and give yourself a chance to uncover its hidden treasures. Spend some time in the picturesque Old Town Square, where historic buildings and churches surround cafés that spill out onto the pavement. With some world-famous Czech pilsner in hand, park yourself at a table, people-watch and try out some of the traditional local dumplings. This is also the spot to pick up some famous Bohemian glass, beads or garnet and amber jewellery By night, Prague bursts with possibilities. Loaded with all types of music, from jazz bars and hip DJs to opera, there is something for everyone, so make the most of it with your friends.
This morning we travel to the home of the world-famous Oktoberfest, Munich - a city that blends traditional Bavarian culture and modern lifestyle. Explore the heart of Munich’s old town with the crew, and head to Marienplatz. It’s a central gathering spot famous for the Glockenspiel - a Gothic clock, complete with 32 dancing figures and 43 chiming bells. Later why not give an optional bike tour a go and get off the beaten track and onto Munich’s side streets with our Local Guide.
We make our way into Austria today, for a taste of the action & adventure that the area is famous for. On arrival you can opt for an adrenalin rush & get out on the water for a white water rafting adventure. Get a group of you & your buddies together & get into this fun activity – it’s a must-do while you’re here. Our professional guides will kit you out with everything you need (& give you all the instructions & safety gear you’ll need for this awesome guided experience). Later, it’s on to Hopfgarten where you’ll stay for the evening. You can also opt to get out for a scenic bike ride through the Austrian Alps for a look at the area on a different angle. Later tonight, relax with your travel buddies at our very own Gasthof bar or maybe head into the village of Hopfgarten & meet some locals.
This morning travel past the stony cliffs of Liechtenstein, into the capital, Vaduz, where you can grab some lunch and in enjoy it in the shadow of the Royal Family’s 12th century castle. Next stop: the jaw-droppingly beautiful alpine town of Lucerne. With covered wooden bridges, cobbled lanes and quaint buildings, Lucerne’s centre is perfect to explore on foot. Also to stock up on lots of genuine Swiss chocolate! Your Trip Manager can give you pointers on where to pick up the best-priced watches Switzerland is so famous for. Tonight, we head to the alpine heights of Lauterbrunnen and stay at Contiki’s very own Swiss Chalet.
It’s a change of pace amongst Switzerland’s massive Alps. Take in the amazing views from your chalet window. Opt to visit Jungfrau Mountain, head up the sheer slopes of this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site on a cog rail to Europe’s highest railway station, and step out onto the “roof” of Europe for spine-tingling views. Back at the chalet, make the most of the genuine underground 'Bomb Shelter' and party it up with friends at the bar there.
Over the border and into Germany, we head to the university town of Heidelberg. Wander around, grab a late lunch and check out its famous Baroque church. The coach follows the Rhine River, weaving through valleys dotted with castles and vineyards. Next stop - the pretty, old-world village of St. Goar, complete with fairy tale castle and the world's largest free-hanging cuckoo clock! Learn about local know-how and get savvy on the craft of beer steins. Then kick back with a glass of local wine and choose to find out more with the optional wine tasting in a candlelit underground cellar.
Cruise into the countryside and bike around like the laid back locals, past working windmills, to the world-famous cheese village of Edam. In an intro into Dutch culture, see how clogs are made and try some of the famous Dutch Edam at a cheese farm. Head into the buzzing capital of Amsterdam and check out the eye-opening Red Light District, where the creative and the wacky come together on narrow cobbled streets, 24/7.
There’s free time to experience Amsterdam’s coffee shops, museums and quirky, cool boutiques. Wander along the canals and pass gabled houses or experience Amsterdam’s multi-ethnic cuisine. This cultural melting pot dishes up loads of affordable food. With an optional evening canal cruise, there’s a chance to toast your travels with the group, unwind with a few drinks and uncover Amsterdam at water level as you drift past the city lights. For your last night on the trip, treat yourself to a feast at a rice table dinner with the group in a popular restaurant. With this fun way to eat, you’ll be served loads of dishes from colonial times. Get some pointers from your Trip Manager, dive into Amsterdam’s night action with your friends and finish up your travels with a night to remember.
This morning after breakfast we transfer you to Schiphol Airport (estimated arrival 10:00am) where your trip ends. Or choose to take a complimentary transfer to central London & extend your stay.
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Trip Name: European Contrasts plus Corfu Sailing
Duration: 29 Days
From Price: 4179
Trip Code: 160852
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