London to Paris by Eurostar.
Meet your Travel Director at 07:30 and after a warm welcome, transfer to London's St. Pancras Station to board the high-speed Eurostar. Your comfortable rail journey takes you via the Channel Tunnel to Paris where you can spend the afternoon as you please. During your time in Paris, see the impressive Eiffel Tower, the magnificent Notre-Dame Cathedral and the imposing facades of the Louvre. Discover the banks of the River Seine with its many romantic bridges. See the obelisk in the centre of the Place de la Concorde and drive along the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Later, join your Travel Director at the local restaurant Bofinger in the heart of Paris for a fabulous Welcome Dinner. (DW) Stay: Crowne Plaza Paris.
Paris, the City of Light.
Split into small groups for a more personal experience and meet your Local Expert, an avid foodie, as you head into areas where Parisians go about their daily lives. Indulge in local delicacies as you explore boutique shops such as a patisserie, boulangerie, fromagerie and chocolatier. With the afternoon free, there are countless opportunities to enjoy the lively atmosphere of this glittering city, perhaps join an Optional Experience to see the Paris cabaret? (B)
Beautiful Burgundy and Lucerne.
Journey through the Burgundy wine region and pass the Jura Mountains and crossing into Switzerland. Arrive in glorious lakeside Lucerne. There there is a variety of restaurant options for your Dine-Around Evening. Choose your dining experience from a selection of hand-picked local restaurants, each offering its own unique cuisine and ambience. (B/DW) Stay: Hotel Astoria, Lucerne.
Lucerne’s Mountains, Lake and Lion.
Embark on a spectacular journey to the summit of stunning Mount Pilatus for expansive mountain views over Lake Lucerne. Take in the pristine mountain air and witness a panorama of snow-capped peaks. Upon return to Lucerne, see the town'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. Then, take some time to stroll across the covered Chapel Bridge and see the baroque Jesuit Church. The rest of the day is at leisure to shop for delectable chocolate and glamorous Swiss watches in the traffic-free Old Town. (BB)
Liechtenstein to Innsbruck.
Start the day with a journey to the heart of the Alps to visit the Principality of Liechtenstein. Spend some time in its tiny capital, Vaduz, with its castle located on a hillside overlooking the city. Drive into Austria and continue through the Arlberg Tunnel to mountain-ringed Innsbruck. Your Travel Director will show you the 14th century houses of the old town, the impressive Imperial Palace and the delightful Golden Roof. (B) Stay: Hotel Grauer Bär, Innsbruck.
The Dolomites to Venice.
Leave Innsbruck to travel across the impressive Europa Bridge and through the Dolomites into Italy. Amongst the hills of Conegliano Veneto, stop at Carmina where meticulous viticulture and manual harvesting produce distinguishable prosecco. Savour a tasting of these sparkling wines and learn how to make the perfect Bellini. Continue through spectacular scenery to the romantic city of Venice, Queen of the Adriatic. In the evening, long after the day-trippers have returned to their mainland hotels, enjoy the quiet atmosphere of the islands with dinner at a local restaurant. (B/DW) Stay: Splendid Venice - Starhotels Collezion.
The Magic of La Serenissima.
In the morning, prepare to embrace this most romantic city. Your hotel is only steps away from St. Mark's Square, dominated by its magnificent basilica and overlooked by the great Clock Tower. Also in the square stands the immense Campanile and Doge's Palace which is connected to the ancient prisons by the Bridge of Sighs. Witness the skill of glassblowers and learn how the Venetian gondola is made on a visit to a traditional arts centre. The rest of the day is free, perhaps shop in the small arcades? (B)
Tuscany, Pisa and Florence.
Explore the nearby town of Pisa with a Local Expert and see the baptistery with its intricate marble facade, the colonnaded bell tower lurching behind the cathedral and of course the famous Leaning Tower. On return to Florence, stop at the Il Poggio organic farm for a guided walk through the vineyards and olive trees, learning about the production of olive oil and wine. On the veranda, take in beautiful views of the rolling Tuscan hills as you taste the farm's freshly produced wines and olive oil. (B/DW) Stay: UNA Hotel Vittoria, Florence.
Walk with your Local Expert to the marble-clad cathedral and baptistery, where Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise have been recreated in all their glory. The next stop is Piazza della Signoria, still the political heart of Florence and an open-air gallery of Renaissance masterpieces. Spend time gazing at statues such as Neptune and David along the front of the Palazzo Vecchio. The area around Santa Croce Basilica is famous for the quality of its luxury goods of gold and leather and there's free time to shop or continue exploring. (B)
Hilltop Orvieto and Rome.
Stop in the Umbrian hilltop town of Orvieto, located on a rock pedestal overlooking a vineyard-covered plain; its cathedral is one of Italy's most celebrated buildings. Immerse yourself in the flavours and culture of the region and learn about the secrets of Italian food culture as you join Chef Lorenzo for a fascinating live cooking demonstration. Your magical culinary experience ends with a delicious Highlight Lunch accompanied by Orvieto Classico wine. Once in Rome, perhaps start the evening with a'passeggiata'- a traditional evening stroll. (B/LW) Stay: Kolbe Hotel Rome.
Papal and Imperial Rome.
Join a Local Expert for an in-depth visit to the Vatican Museums, full of priceless art collected over the ages by the Popes. To avoid the crowds and maximise your time, Insight has arranged special VIP access to the Vatican Museums. Your Local Expert will guide you through the halls of artwork and take you behind the scenes to view the Bramante Staircase, a marvel of Renaissance architecture normally not open to the public. Next, head to the Sistine Chapel to admire Michelangelo's famous ceiling. Next door in St. Peter's Basilica, view another masterpiece by Michelangelo, the Pietà, as well as the splendid dome, completed after his death. Cross the River Tiber to see the Colosseum, still echoing with the ghostly cries of gladiatorial combat and overlook the Forum. Later, there is time for last-minute shopping or exploring at your leisure. In the evening, enjoy an elegant four-course Celebration Dinner with local wine at a Roman restaurant. As you dine, you'll be serenaded with a private performance of popular songs and arias from some of Italy's best-loved operas. (B/DW)
Your travels through Europe come to an end after breakfast. Departure transfers arrive at Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport at 07:00 and 09:30. (B)