Full buffet breakfast daily; 6 three-course dinners), including dinners at a local restaurant in Paris and Florence
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
ARRIVE IN PARIS, FRANCE. Welcome to Paris! At 5 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions and leave the hotel for a [LF] welcome dinner at a local restaurant, followed by an orientation drive for a first impression of this magnificent city.
PARIS. In the morning, an optional excursion is available to the lavish Palace and Gardens of Versailles. Later, guided sightseeing features Paris’ main highlights, such as the Arc de Triomphe, Opéra, Champs-Elysées, and a relaxing SEINE CRUISE with spectacular views of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. Tonight, you may wish to join the optional dinner and show at the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret as a proper au revoir, Paris.
PARIS–LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND. Enjoy a scenic drive past Fontainebleau Forest and into Burgundy, with views of impressive castles and vineyards on your way to the Swiss Alps. In picturesque Lucerne, follow your Tour Director for a pleasant walk and admire Thorwaldsen’s impressive LION MONUMENT, dedicated to the Swiss Guards who protected the Royal House of France during the French Revolution, walk along ornate patrician houses of the walled Old Town, then cross the famous covered CHAPEL BRIDGE to the Jesuit Church, the first large baroque church built in Switzerland on the north side of the Alps.
LUCERNE–LUGANO. Morning at leisure. Why not climb Mount Pilatus? Later, admire the towering majesty of the Swiss Alps and St. Gotthard on the way to subtropical Lugano in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. To truly appreciate splendid Lake Lugano, an optional boat cruise, followed by dinner at a traditional “grotto” restaurant is available.
LUGANO–PISA, ITALY–FLORENCE. Pass the commercial capital of Milan and turn towards the Mediterranean Sea. Arrive in Pisa, and marvel at its amazing Leaning Tower. In nearby Florence, there is time to explore the many gold and leather shops on Piazza Santa Croce before joining [LF] dinner with Tuscan specialties and wine at Finisterrae restaurant.
FLORENCE–ROME. Meet your Local Guide, and visit the ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS with Michelangelo’s celebrated David. Continue your walking tour through the historic center and stand in awe in front of the magnificent cathedral, admire Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry’s heavy bronze “Gates of Paradise,” and sculpture-studded SIGNORIA SQUARE. Continue to Rome, the “Eternal City.”
ROME. Guided sightseeing starts with a visit to the VATICAN MUSEUMS and SISTINE CHAPEL with Michelangelo’s ceiling paintings and The Last Judgment, followed by monumental ST. PETER’S SQUARE and BASILICA to admire Michelangelo’s Pietà. Then, enjoy views of other major sites as you drive to the Roman Forum to visit the amazing COLOSSEUM, where gladiators once fought. For those who wish to see it all, an optional walking tour with a Local Guide is available to further explore famous sites, like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and more.
ROME–FERRARA–VENICE. In Ferrara, walk through impressive Este Castle to the marble cathedral and browse through the attractive little shops. Tonight, in Venice, why not try out local specialties at one of the city’s fine restaurants?
VENICE. Enter Venice in style by PRIVATE BOAT. Highlights of your walking tour with a Local Guide are ST. MARK’S SQUARE and its basilica, lavish DOGES’ PALACE and the famous BRIDGE OF SIGHS. Also watch a skilled GLASSBLOWER fashion delicate objects in an age-old traditional manner. Afternoon at leisure, to wander through the narrow streets with their numerous shops and later, you may wish to join an optional gondola serenade.
VENICE–INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA–MUNICH, GERMANY. Cross spectacular Brenner Pass and head through the Tyrolean Alps to Innsbruck, where a pleasant stroll through quaint medieval lanes takes you to Emperor Maximilian’s GOLDEN ROOF. Continue to Munich, Germany’s “Secret Capital,” and visit MARIENPLATZ with its Old and New Town Halls. Highlight is a visit to the famous [LF] HOFBRÄUHAUS, dating back to 1589. Free time for dinner before going to your hotel.
MUNICH–ROTHENBURG–RHINELAND. Enter the Swabian Jura with its lush hills and arrive in picturesque Rothenburg for a walk through this walled town. Time to join the locals at one of the many restaurants and to shop for Christmas ornaments, for which the town is famous.
RHINELAND–AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND. Admire castle-crested hills and terraced vineyards during a scenic and relaxing RHINE CRUISE, followed by a comfortable drive to Amsterdam, capital of Holland.
AMSTERDAM. Meet your Local Guide and hear about the fascinating history of the 700-year-old capital during a leisurely CANAL CRUISE. Admire the patrician mansions and the gabled façades, the “Golden Bend,” the most prestigious part of the Herengracht and a monument to the Golden Age, the Stopera, Amsterdam’s proud concert hall, the Hermitage, a branch museum of the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, and much more. Also visit a major DIAMOND CENTER. For those who wish to experience Dutch life in the countryside, an optional excursion is available to picture-book Volendam, a fishing village at the former Zuiderzee, including visits to a working windmill, a clogmaker, a cheese farm, plus dinner.
AMSTERDAM. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.