10 Quintessential European Tours
EUROPEAN TOURS :QUINTESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN CLASSIC CITIES
Grand Tours of “The Continent” were once considered a necessary part of a young noble’s education. Get just as rich (in experience) with these favorite tours.
EXCLUSIVE COOKING LESSON AND GROCERY TOUR
When in Rome, don’t just do as the Romans do. Most importantly, EAT like one!
Let's be honest: the fine art in Italy is why we say we go, but culinary art is what we probably spend more time savoring. Foodie vacations have become all the rage, and TI's got just the tour for gourmets and travelers looking for a taste of authentic Roman life: an exclusive cooking lesson and grocery tour.
Grocery shopping becomes exciting in the bustling markets of this ancient capital, and visits to small specialty shops will put some of the world's best artisan food right under your nose. The art of pasta–making is the next thing you'll master on this tour, creating lunch from scratch and by hand in one of two possible venues: a stunning residence with views over Rome's historic rooftops or a house in Tiberina Island. A glass of wine, of course, is the perfect Italian accompaniment.
DINNER & SHOW AT THE MOULIN ROUGE
You’ve seen the movie; this evening itinerary is your chance to see the show.
You only need to see the Eiffel Tower, but you need to experience the Moulin Rouge, the City of Light's most famous entertainment venue. On this elegant 4.5–hour tour—beginning with a convenient luxury motor coach pick–up from your hotel—you'll be escorted to dinner and a dance show in high Parisian style.
Clap your hands as the Doriss Girls kick their legs, between bites of DALLOYAU House of Gastronomy cuisine, whose 300+ years of experience of creating incredible food that has literally been worthy of royals like Louis XIV, the Sun King, will have you spoiled. The Mistinguett menu themes your actual feast to the visual one on stage, and an included half bottle of red, rosé, or white wine makes dinner even more spirited.
GONDOLA & DISCOVER VENICE TOUR
Yes, it’s one of the most touristy things to do in all of Europe. But for EXCELLENT reason.
Ever since around 1094 CE (and some argue even before then), gondolas have been a charming curiosity of this city filled with curiosities. Arguably the best and definitively the most romantic way to get around this scenic destination, this tour takes groups of up to six—perfect for a star–crossed couple and all their accompanying butterflies—for a grand tour along the Grand Canal and the minor canals of the Fenice area.
Keep your cameras out for a great perspective of sights like the Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge area, as well as the Teatro la Fenice and Scala del Bovolo. Many tourists love to frame their pictures with the signature black pointed hulls of the gondolas straight ahead of them; still others are fans of selfies with their gondolier, all of whom honor the thousand–year–old profession with official uniforms, special training, and exclusive licensure to ply both waters and their craft.
SUNSET IN SIENA & CHIANTI DINNER
An afternoon under the Tuscan sun, capped by a wine estate dinner? Say no more.
This is the Tuscany people dream of, and it's all yours for an afternoon with this tour. What makes it even better is that your day covers a lot but at a leisurely pace that lets you really drink in all the flavors of the Tuscan experience. With this itinerary, you'll leave Florence—the home of the first family of art patrons, the Medicis—in the afternoon and take a scenic drive through the famed Chianti region from the comfort of a fully fitted GT coach bus. Narration by the multilingual escort makes the countryside even more colorful, especially when you disembark to stretch your legs in the medieval streets of Siena. You can take in the historic sites or take home local goods while in this town; the choice is yours so long as you meet back in time to watch the sun set from a specially chosen scenic lookout.
The last leg of the tour is at a wine estate, tucked amid the famous hills and vineyards of the region. There, you'll be served a tantalizing dinner that's true to the area; expect to have exceptional salami, bruschetta, and fine wine selected by experts.
MAGIC OF LONDON
Tally-ho to London’s most major sights with a tour, tea, and tipple, too.
Immortalized in history, legend, and literature, it's nearly impossible to cover all of what makes London a magnet city. Lucky for travelers, many have tried; this tour makes quick work of London's highlights in a comprehensive day. Taking in an overview like this makes getting around and narrowing down your list of things to see in greater depth much easier, while also treating you to special experiences.
This full–day outing takes you on a private guided tour of the Tower of London with Yeoman Warder and makes you among the first to see the Crown Jewels. The Changing of the Guard is a bonus treat when available, but a boat trip down the Thames—plus a guided fast–entry visit to St. Paul's—and a drive to see the icons of the skyline, like Westminster Abbey and the London Eye, are set highlights. Finally, the whirlwind subsides with a genteel cream tea with scones and a glass of bubbly at the Park Plaza Westminster.
VIP DUOMO TOUR AND SECRET TERRACES
A literal top to bottom experience, it unveils all of this (particular) church’s mysteries.
The spiritual world is an enigmatic one, but this tour lets you plumb into its very depths and highest heights in the cradle of the Renaissance. Everyone that visits Florence gets spectacular views of the skyline–defining Duomo, but only those who take this tour get unforgettable vistas from within it.
Walk the open–air, narrow corridors to the terraces of the roof, an exclusive experience that was closed to the public for hundreds of years. Climb the steps to the top of the famous cathedral to see the Brunelleschi cupola up close, as well as frescoes by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari, the giant clock by Paolo Uccello, the intricately patterned marble floors and mosaics…and secret works of art in the many nooks of this stunning building, including original statues currently being restored. That's not all, though—this 24–hour pass also gets you into the entire complex, including the Opera del Duomo museum, Baptistery, and the Santa Reparata Crypt, which your guide will take you through. Basically, you'll do everything except wait in line with this all–access, skip the queue outing.
ALL PARIS IN ONE DAY
See the City of Love in rom-com montage style: completely and quickly.
If it can be done in movies in minutes, why not in real life in a day? You can, with the priority access this tour allows. Take to Paris's highlights and find love at first sight. A guide takes you through the Louvre Museum to meet Mona Lisa herself, along with the "Venus de Milo." Witness the Coronation of Napoleon I, captured forever in time, then be whisked away for a VIP lunch on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, after cruising the Seine River. Two drinks are included: make it Champagne if you can!
After that, you'll be taken to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, which dates back eight entire centuries. One of the very first Gothic churches, this work of art has managed to survive the French Revolution and has been immortalized in literature and children's movies since. This is where the tour ends, but the sweeping overview on this day makes it easy to fall hard for this city and want for deeper exploration.
EXCURSION TO THE ISLANDS
There’s more to the Floating City than the sum of its parts, each of which enchant on their own.
There's no question that Venice is one of the most magnificent, unique destinations in the world. Many other global cities seek to emulate it, but the original is a queen among the storied classics. But beyond the Grand Canal, in the Northern Lagoon, there's even more to be spellbound by.
This half–day tour introduces you to some of the unique parts that make the whole so eternally beguiling. You may have heard of Murano, famous for its glassblowing, a skill so precious that the island was designed just for those artisans to keep the trade a secret. Close by is Burano, whose colorful houses paint a picture of a more residential Venice, as lovely as the lace it's known for. An added bonus is a stop at Torcello, the first human settlement in the lagoon, initially populated by refugees fleeing the wrath of Attila the Hun back in 452 CE. Together, this tour gives you a complete view of the magic of Venice.
VATICAN MUSEUM, SISTINE CHAPEL AND ST. PETER'S BASILICA
Wander from an ancient metropolis into a wholly different country: the Vatican City.
The headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, this city–state in the heart of Rome is a treasure filled with treasures. Not only has it been the home of every pope since the 1300s, the smallest country in the world has also been the home of the masterpiece painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Giotto di Bondone's Stefaneschi triptych, Rosselli's Last Supper, Da Vinci's St. Jerome in the Wilderness, and countless other priceless works.
On this 3.5–hour tour, you'll jump the lines to see it all: the Vatican Museum, Raphael's Rooms, St. Peter's Basilica, which sits atop a city of the dead, and, of course, the Sistine Chapel. Commentary from the assigned local tour guide enriches an already awe–inspiring experience. Keep an eye out for the colorfully bedecked Swiss Guard, and keep your shoulders and knees covered to make sure they're not keeping an eye on you!
WINDSOR, STONEHENGE & BATH
Royal home, mystic site, and spa town—all just a day trip from England’s capital.
There's a whole lot of hustle in London, but a breather can be just a quick ride away. Windsor eases you out of city life gently, with its bustling town of traditional shops and pubs, as this tour makes you the first set of visitors for the day to the 900–year–old historical home of William the Conqueror and current residence of the queen: Windsor Castle. Do a walk through the State Apartments or Queen Mary's Doll House and St. George's Chapel, then head out to the next impressive set of stones, Stonehenge.
A luxury coach and professional guide takes you to this famous prehistoric monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site, whose 5,000–year–old purpose remains a mystery. You can discuss your best theories over lunch in a 14th century inn in Lacock. Then, on to another destination known for its stone: Bath, a Georgian city so beautiful, the entirety of it was named a World Heritage Site. A panoramic tour still leaves time to visit the abbey and Pulteney Bridge, or have afternoon tea in the Pump Rooms, where a string quartet will be playing.