The Winter Wanderer is like a leisurely stroll through Europe's top destinations. Some of the highlights of the tour include: driving along the French Riviera, exploring the Eternal City of Rome (it's never too cold for Gelato!) and sampling traditional Spanish tapas in Barcelona not to mention retracing the history of WW2 and the Cold War in Berlin and Prague. Winter in Europe is not only magical, it's less crowded and has its very own charms that go unnoticed in the heat of summer. The epitome of a winter wonderland.
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. Tonight, the group kick-starts Paris with the ‘Paris by Night Tour’, which shows off the French capital’s transformation 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 Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
This city 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 or explore the endless galleries of the Louvre, where you can get up close to the famous Mona Lisa. In your free time, try indulging in some delicious pastries and relax in one of Paris’ many cafés. Treat yourself to the full Parisian experience with a cabaret show, complete with can-can girls, dinner and Champagne. But don’t stop there – afterwards hit the clubs and finish up your time here with a big Parisian night out.
With down-time on the coach, plug in your MP3, chill out to some music and chat with friends while travelling through the scenic wine producing regions of Burgundy and Chablis. 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 that Switzerland is so famous for. For lunch, there’s a chance to eat traditional Swiss fondue at an authentic, cosy inn. Spend time with the group in this optional and make the most of a cultural experience.
Sit back & take in the Alpine vistas as we make our way through Switzerland, past Lake Geneva & back into France, to Lyon. Tonight you can head to the charming Old Town and discover France’s second largest city.
Today, we head south through the rugged and dramatic scenery of the Pyrénées mountains, over the border into Barcelona. A sizzling, festive capital any night of the week, Barcelona is all about action. In Spain fiesta time starts late, so settle in at one of Barcelona’s many outdoor squares to enjoy a glass of sangria and nibble on tapas (plate-sized snacks), before a fun night out exploring the city’s nightlife with your new friends.
First stop: Montjuic. The hilltop has full-blown vistas of the city and it’s where we stop to check out the 1992 Olympic Games complex. Afterwards, get a look into Spanish architect Gaudi’s wild imagination with his Art Nouveau masterpiece, the Sagrada Família church. Your Trip Manager walks you through the cobbled lanes of Barcelona’s oldest district, the Gothic Quarter. There’s free time to discover more of Barcelona’s creative core. Pick up some quirky buys in the side streets or hit the big label shops on Plaça de Catalunya. Take in all of Barcelona’s buzzing street life on the tree-lined La Rambla – a boulevard packed with street performers, artists, shops and stalls. Other ideas for your afternoon off include hanging out in the colourful gardens of Parc Güell. For lunch, there’s plenty of delicious local seafood to try as well as Spain’s signature dish, paella. Finish off an unforgettable time in this hot city and get into the local flavours with tonight’s optional flamenco dance show and dinner, including sangria. Afterwards, get the low down on Barcelona’s hottest spots and maybe hit the pumping clubs of Port Olympico by the water.
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. Then we hit 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 palm trees and sun-soaked shores of Nice.
In your free time live a bit of the lifestyle with a visit to the local markets. Try out the region’s produce like lavender honey, aioli (garlic mayonnaise) and mouth-watering rosé wine. Window shop the chic boutiques or spend the afternoon relaxing in one of the many cafés. Tonight get a taste of the high life in Monaco, the glamorous principality packed into just 1.92km2 and home of the Formula 1. Indulge in a bit of glitz with the group by opting for a typically French 4-course meal just a few doors down from the Royal Palace. Get the inside story on the Royal Family and their place of residence from your Trip Manager, then try your luck at a casino later on.
Onwards to Italy, land of passion! Heading 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. Tonight, there’s a choice of a group dinner - an authentic Tuscan feast. Try regional dishes in the pretty Tuscan country setting. Then keep it moving with a night out and get your groove on at Florence’s biggest club.
Jump start the day uncovering this open-air museum and its 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. 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.
This morning we leave the Italian captial and head north towards the enchanting, floating city of Venice. Criss-cross the Apennine mountains, past the city of Bologna before spending the evening a truly unique city.
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. There’s an optional walking tour where you can discover the labyrinth of interweaving lanes, waterways, palaces, piazzi and markets with our Local Guide. 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. This evening it’s all about the culture at an optional dinner and concert. Up first is a traditional Viennese meal in an old-world restaurant. Follow this up with a classical music concert with former Vienna locals, Mozart and Strauss, 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 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.
Remember one of history’s darkest moments with a sobering stop at the Mauthausen concentration camp memorial. Learn more at the museum and walk through the remaining living quarters. Afterward, it’s west 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. Then get a taste of tradition at a typical beer hall and park yourself at a long wooden table. Order yourself some hearty local food, like roasted pork knuckle, and quench your thirst with a stein of one of Germany’s 5000 brews.
Say farewell to the good times in Germany. 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 Tour 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.
More 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. This is also the spot to pick up some famous Bohemian glass, beads or garnet and amber jewellery. Choose a lunch 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. By night, Prague is 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 the group.
Heading north, we roll back into Germany and on to the region of Dresden, often dubbed 'Florence of the North' because of its beauty. This town completely rebuilt itself after being flattened in World War II. Your Trip Manager will show you Dresden’s signature buildings, like the Opera house, the domed Frauenkirche, the Royal Residence – once home to the Saxon Kings – and the Zwinger Palace, where the royals went to party! Lunchtime! Go local and hang out in a café, order some hearty German dishes with regional specialties like sour roast and potato soup. Next up: Berlin. With two nights in this historical hot spot, you’ve got time to find out what makes Germany’s capital one of the most cutting-edge cities in the world. It’s hard to believe that this funky town has had such a troubled past.
Today why not join a local guide for a tour? Learn about the East/West split at the Berlin Wall and check out the controversial Reichstag (German Parliament) as well as Tiergarten (one the world’s biggest parks). You'll also visit Checkpoint Charlie, where many East Berliners tried to escape to the West, and be reminded of Germany’s darker past at the Brandenburg Gate. With free time, get inspired by Berlin’s creative scene and check out its galleries and street art. As a world forerunner in contemporary art, Berlin’s walls are covered in cutouts and graffiti. Shopping-wise, this town has it all and is right up there defining style. Berlin is great for small boutiques, funky fashions and one-of-a-kind buys. Your Trip Manager knows Berlin’s ins and outs, so get some pointers before you splurge. Do as the Berliners do and grab a currywurst (a local favourite) and kick back at a Bierkeller (German beer house). Experience the world of espionage in an optional evening Cold War & Cold Drinks tour with our Local Guide, and enjoy a fascinating look into the Stasi (what was once the East German Secret Police). Then top off your time in Berlin with some of your new friends and explore the city’s legendary nightlife. With cool cocktail bars and some of the best techno clubs in the world, there are heaps of fun choices.
Motor down the autobahn, past Hanover, to the free-wheeling, buzzing city of Amsterdam. Check out the city’s eye-opening Red Light District, where the creative and the wacky come together on narrow cobbled streets, 24/7.
In an intro into Dutch culture, see how clogs are made and try some of the famous Dutch Edam at a cheese farm this morning. Then there’s free time to experience Amsterdam’s coffee shops, museums and quirky boutiques. Wander along the canals and past gabled houses or try out Amsterdam’s multi-ethnic cuisine. This cultural melting pot dishes up loads of affordable food. Tonight, try some of the traditional local cuisine at a restaurant in a nearby fishing village. With an optional evening canal cruise, there’s a chance to toast your travels with the group, unwind with a few drinks and uncover another angle on Amsterdam at water level. For your last night on tour, get some pointers from your Tour Manager, dive into Amsterdam’s night action with your buddies 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: Winter Wanderer
Duration: 24 Days
From Price: $4,023
Supplier Tour ID: WWHL/160779
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