Two week holidays are for the time poor, and that ain't you. 45 days will jive you through an entire Europe guidebook. From Serbia to Switzerland, Istanbul to Amsterdam, you're about to cover some serious ground. With included ferries and enough activities to take your breath away, this is nothing short of a trip of a lifetime. And it's all topped off with a Greek Island gallivant.
Wrap your taste buds around an abundance of scrumptious cuisines. As well as favourites like hearty Italian pasta and Spanish paella, you'll also sample unique offerings like Serbian sour chicken soup and Greek delights like saganaki and moussaka. Breakfast is on us every day, as well as 1 picnic lunch and 21 dinners.
London to Paris
Welcome to the first day of the best trip of your life - we're calling it early! After a few pleasantries in London we'll get the show on the road with Paris in our sights.A few hours in and your jaws are on the floor already. These chalk cliffs that edge the English coastline are known as the White Cliffs of Dover, the first of many natural beauties we'll see on our trip.After we ferry across the English Channel for France we'll arrive in Calais, where we will take in the history of World War I battlefields in the Valley of the Somme.Kicking off night one, we arrive in none other than the lust-worthy Paris! It's straight down to business with a tour of the city lit up by the lights of night.
Croissant in one hand, cappuccino in the other - this should be your signature look for the next few days. See Louis the XIV's favourite Palace of Versailles, then head back to Paris to window shop with wishful eyes, admire old world art works, & take in the iconic sites, you have plenty of time to fall head over heels for the city of love.
Miss the Mona Lisa yesterday? Didn't get a chance to stroll the Seine river and watch artists brushing ballerinas on easels? Keen to pack a cheese picnic and sit near Montmartre for a new view on the city. Luckily for you Paris is still your oyster (or snail) - we're in no great hurry to move on from this bliss.
Paris to Beaujolais Wine Region
Just before you get too comfortable in that beret and striped shirt combo, we're dragging you away in search of vineyards and châteaus.Southbound, we roll on through Burgundy’s wine country to Beaujolais’ green hills and vineyards.
Beaujolais Wine Region
Pinch yourself, this is another day at the Château & another chance to live your best French countryside life with a full day here in Beaujolais. Rise & shine with optional sunrise yoga on the sprawling lawn of the Château's gardens, relax in the courtyard with a coffee & croissant, or loll about poolside in our castle-like setting. Our highlight today is a picnic in the picturesque gardens. Cue panoramic views & red wine.
Beaujolais Wine Region to Barcelona
Bye-bye Beaujolais! And hello Barcelona. The Pyrénées mountains will keep our eyes satisfied today as we roll across the border for Spain's most lively city. Each day as sweet as the last.Well would you look at that for timing, we've pulled into Barcelona just on sangria o'clock. Fate, you've done it again! Tapas and a night exploring the city should have us in the Spanish mood before we know it.
Cobbled lanes of the Gothic Quarter, Montjuic hilltop vistas, & wild Spanish architecture will season our day to perfection. There's plenty of free time to roam free or take a dip in the Mediterranean sea, just don't tire yourself out - chances are you'll want to partake in the evening of Flamenco fun.
Barcelona to The Riviera via Arles
As smitten as we are by Barcelona, we have more of Europe to conquer. Much, much more...After a dreamy drive across the border into France through landscapes of lavender, sunflowers and wild herbs, we'll arrive at our lunch break town of Arles. Here we will get a peek at an ancient Roman Arena and at a typical provincial French town.You're not a real celebrity until you've frolicked on the French Riviera, and who are we to keep you off the A-List? Sapphire waters & endless glamour as we roll through this glitzy coastline.
French Riviera including Moncao
You're not a real celebrity until you've frolicked on the French Riviera. And who we are to keep you off the A-list? Sapphire waters & endless glamour will be on your 'Must See' list for the day.This evening we add even more glamour to your life with a visit to Monaco. Don a fancy necklace and pop a plum in your mouth - we're about to embark on the lifestyle of the rich and famous.After a night on the blackjack table it's back to the coast and to bed, the next part of the adventure starts tomorrow.
French Riviera to Venice
Fragonard Perfumery in the French Riviera, now there's a place to check in on Facebook! And stock up on perfume, obviously. Especially given the greatly discounted prices and authenticity of buying in France. Today we say our farewells to the French Riviera and take our first jaunt into Italy. Pizza, pasta, & charming locals are just around the corner.The floating city of gondolas, canals and pretty bridges - what a splendid way to commence our Italian love affair. Rest up tonight, you'll want to be alert for tomorrow's magical agenda.
Wake-up sleeping beauties! Venice is yours for the entirety of this glorious Italian day. We'll be jumping aboard our own private boat and hitting the canals en route to the historical heart of the city. A guided walking tour and a gondola ride are up for grabs, or you can always choose to get lost on your own and see where the maze takes you.
Venice to Florence via Pisa
Venice we love you, but we need to see a bit more of this boot to satisfy our hungry wanderlust ways.As if we were going to leg it from Venice to Florence without a sneaky side trip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Depriving you of the chance to perfect the holding-up-the-tower shot would be down right criminal.For those of you not familiar with the whole Florence deal, we have two words for you: it's heaven. Potter along the River Arno, be totally Tuscan with a drop of Chianti wine, and take in the beauty of the city and its protruding Duomo Cathedral.
Today is a perfect balance of guided wisdom and free time to roam. We'll uncover the beautiful art of traditional leather & explore streets bursting with heritage. Take to the local markets, down some gelato & make yourself known for the evening of optional festivities.
Florence to Rome
Farewell Florence - today we have the epicenter of Italy on our horizons. Pizza, piazzas...we're coming in hot.When in Rome...take an optional guided tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Religious or not, the Vatican's Italian Renaissance church will send shivers down your spine.After our drift through the rustic Tuscan hillsides of cypress trees and glowing fields, we'll be back city side in the Italian capital of Rome. The Trevi Fountain, Pantheon & Piazza Navona are just some of the icons we'll be casting our eyes upon before the sun sets.
When in Rome... This is the day to learn a thing or two about the Colosseum & do a bit of your own exploring. Espressos and people watching should be high priority, as well as stuffing yourself to the brim with pasta, gelato and caprese salad all washed down with a glass of red at a local trattoria.
Rome to Overnight Adriatic Ferry via Pompeii and Bari
The majestic site of Mt. Vesuvius will interlude our trip from Rome to Bari, our ferry port for today's border leap into Greece.Once a totally vibing hang-out of the Romans, Pompeii is now an archaeological site showing remains of what was destroyed by a mountain eruption in the year...wait for it...79AD. The saying "step back in time" is about to take on a whole new meaning.Let your feet walk their last few steps on Italian soil before we hit the seas for an overnight ferry ride en route to Greece.
Overnight Adriatic Ferry to Corfu
The best version of island time? Greek island time. And you'll settle straight into it on the dream scene of Corfu. A heritage listed old town, water sports aplenty & the option to hit the seas again on a cruise - this is a what your first day in Greece will look like.
Another day, another chance to get salty & eat a smorgasbord of feta, olives and grapevines stuffed with delectable rice. Our time in Corfu is a great way for everyone to try a bit of Greek dancing - why not give it a go at our Ionian Dinner?
Corfu to Athens via Corinth Canal
Before we lose all sense of reality and morph into sea-soaked island dwellers, we're making tracks to Athens for a dose of city meets history.The awe of Greece's mainland will begin shortly after our arrival as we catch a glimpse of Corinth Canal. This man-made passageway squeezes boats through it's path, sandwiched by two steep cliffs and sitting over gloriously blue ocean.A collage of ancient wonders & modern magnificence, the allure of Athens is hard to resist. We'll jump straight in with a sightseeing tour of Athens. Our Local Guide will escort us through the history of the city visiting the Parthenon & Acropolis, followed by a visit to the first & original 'modern' (read: 1896) Olympic stadium.
Athens to Ios
This morning is ours to soak up the last few hours of Athens, before we swap ancient history for island life on Ios.Sweet mother of sunshine we're going to the Greek Islands! And Ios, no less. A little less developed than its brothers and sisters, you'll be overawed by its rugged beauty from the time we begin our approach. Relax this eve as we've got 3 whole nights up our sleeves to explore.
Don’t underestimate the power of this village. When the sun sets, this place really comes to life. As such, we suggest a day out on the water getting salty on a boat trip, or a full day of pool hangs and beach time so you're all sun-kissed and feeling floaty by the time the night rolls in.
Another day, another chance to soak up the Greek sun and frolic in the sand without a care in the world. Get some adrenaline in with some watersports, or if you haven't done so already, go explore the pretty town and down a hearty meal at a local cafe. You're going to need the fuel if you want to hang out in the party scene of Hora until the break of dawn.
Ios to Santorini
Just as you're beginning to lose track of time and forget that a world exists beyond Ios, we'll head off. One more day getting in the groove of things and you'll wind up being that kid who came to Ios and decided to never leave.Thousands of years ago a volcano erupted - one of the largest eruptions in the recorded history of the Earth - and made what we now know as the island of Santorini. Only it didn't have its iconic blue-domed churches back then, those came a little further down the track. That's all for your history lesson, now the day is yours to potter & pout while taking happy snaps. And "happy" today will be an absolute understatement.
Rise and shine, Greek Island travellers! The island of Santorini will not explore itself. Take a swim at Perissa Beach, eat the local specialty of fried tomato balls known as domatokeftedes, and roam the streets of Fira. Just remember to plan your day around the excursion to the iconic sunset of Oia - this is not an optional you're going to want to miss.
The beautiful thing about having two full days on the one island is you have time to both relax and explore. Whatever you didn't do yesterday is still up for grabs today. If you feel like you've crammed it all in already, just head to the black or red sand beaches and spend another glorious day ocean-side. Ain't life grand?
Santorini to Athens
Wipe those sad looks off your faces! Life doesn't end when you leave the Greek Islands. In fact we have many, many more places to look forward to. Turkey, Austria and Germany just to name a few.Oh hey Athens, it feels like forever since we last hung out! And same goes for our Contiki posse. Enjoy this reunion night then it's back on the road tomorrow - the good times never stop.
Athens to Kavala via Thermopylae
By now you should be well and truly acquainted with all things Athens and ready to embark on our next venture. This time tomorrow we'll be on a whole new continent.Before arrival in our final destination in this fine country we'll see Greece’s highest peak, Mt Olympus, and the grounds of Thermopylae, where an ancient battle of 300 vs. thousands proved size really doesn't count.The coastal town of Kavala is our nest for the evening. Down your last Greek salad, cheers the country over a glass of ouzo and sleep well in preparation for our next few days in Turkey.
Kavala to Canakkale via Troy
From the comfort of our ferry as it crosses the Dardanelles, get your pout out and blow your final kiss in the direction of Greece. We'll be carving up the seas making our way to...ASIA! Ah, the traveller's life.This afternoon we discover that "Troy" means more than just a Hollywood blockbuster; so much more. Our Local Guide will unravel the historical layers of a ten year war & what is now a mythical excavation site.Continent crossed - squeal!! There aren't likely to be many times in your life that you'll do that at sea level. Welcome to Asia & just as importantly, welcome to Turkey.
Canakkale to Istanbul via Gallipoli
So long Canakkale, we're off to the only city in the world split over two continents, incredible Istanbul.Though a few days of fun times and city frolics are ahead of us, we will start our Turkish explorations on a sobering note by visiting the battlegrounds of Gallipoli.Unlike anywhere else on earth, Istanbul is set to capture your heart and imagination. Rest up tonight and the city is yours from sunrise.
The Blue Mosque with its interior of 20,000 handmade tiles; lively spice markets; bazaars bursting at the sides with silver & jewels. Istanbul is one place we'll really have to drag you away from. Our Local Guide will show you the hotspots, and you're always free to get lost and uncover some secrets of your own. Just be sure to find your way back if you're keen for the traditional Turkish evening with dinner and a show.
A city like this needs more than a day on our calendar. Take in the sites you missed yesterday or if you're all explored out, go unwind at a "hammam" spa for a Turkish bath. Then drink endless tea and eat your body weight in baklava and you've had the full Turkey experience.
Istanbul to Sofia
With Istanbul firmly imprinted in our hearts and minds, we can leave Turkey in search of Bulgaria's capital to see what all the fuss is about.Once a sleepy spot on the European map, Sofia is experiencing its own mini renaissance. The pretty streets, quirky galleries and hip locals are almost enough to distract you from the astounding Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Sofia to Belgrade
Sofia you were short and sweet, sometimes we gotta roll that way if we're going to see 17 countries in 45-days. Next stop: the capital of Serbia.Belgrade is a city of quirks and contradictions. One minute you'll be walking past an old communist building thinking the place is rather drab, the next minute you'll be sitting by an extravagant church sipping coffee with locals chatting philosophy hoping you never have to leave.
Belgrade to Budapest
Though Belgrade will have well and truly warmed on you, perhaps so much so you feel a little toasted, the show must go on. Hiya Hungary!Fun fact #1: Buda and Pest are two different cities separated by a river, together they make Budapest. Fun fact #2: You're going to be head over heels with both of them by the time we scoot outta here. Down goulash and cabbage rolls on tonight's optional cruise to get into the Hungarian spirit of things.
Throw yourself into the sightseeing this morning with the church of St. Matthias, the Royal Palace and the Chain Bridge. That way you'll really earn an afternoon soaking in the cities famous outdoor thermal pools set amongst Art Nouveau architecture. Blissed out in Budapest - there's an insta caption for you.
Budapest to Vienna
Under normal circumstances we'd all be devastated to be leaving Budapest. But with Austria on the horizon, it's smiles all round. Giddy up!Many can't shake the Austrian association of singing on sprawling mountains and conservative blue dresses, which makes the sophisticated city of Vienna a very pleasant surprise. A palace, a cathedral, an opera house and a...SCHNAPS MUSEUM!! Will all welcome us into the arms of Austria.
Vienna to Austrian Tyrol
From the bustling city to the open countryside. We’ll leave Vienna this morning in search of hills that are alive with the sound of music.2-nights at Contiki’s very own Austrian Gasthof (guest house) are coming right up. Tyrol will prove a haven for both adrenaline junkies and those in need of a bit of R&R after all the globe trotting we've been doing.
Wake up, peel open your curtains, and take in the magnificence of your view...and your life in general. If you're feeling lively you can jump onto a bike tour through green mountains and waterfalls. If you're feeling really lively you can go tandem paragliding. Not so lively? Stroll around and take in the incredible setting; drink endless hot chocolate, go up a mountain in a gondola, carry on sighing with happiness.
Austrian Tyrol to Munich
Polish off your stay in Austria with an optional whitewater rafting adventure - that should get the adrenaline pumping and excitement high for our impending visit to Germany.A city famous the world over for its annual beer festival is a city we need to know about. And luckily enough, its Bavarian culture is a year round attraction. You can explore the side streets of Munich on an optional bike tour, or go it on your own and see what you stumble upon.
Munich to Swiss Alps via Liechtenstein and Lucerne
Goodbye Munich, hello mountains.We'll make a well earned pit stop in the capital of the tiny country of the Principality of Liechtenstein - famous for being landlocked by not one but two countries, now there's a fact we bet you never thought you would learn.Swans float under wooden bridges, snowcapped mountains stand regally behind us, & chocolate tastes like heaven on earth. You're in the Swiss Alps & you cannot wipe the smile off your face. Eeek!!!Arrive in this picture perfect setting ready for two nights at our Chalet-style accomodation. This place comes to life as the sun sets, so tonight we'll have a chance to check out the local nightlife and foodie scene.
Open the window of your room & drink in the incredible view - if you can find words or photos that do it justice, we applaud you! Feel free to explore this classic European adventure town.
Swiss Alps to Rhine Valley via Heidelberg
Out with the altitude, into Germany for a brand new day and a brand new country. Once we've crossed the border out of Switzerland we will be coasting into beer and wine territory in the castle dotted landscapes of the Rhine Valley.We keep the suspense with a stop off in Heidelberg and its medieval vibes which are matched only by its student vibes before we're back on the road and the alpine air.After the scenic journey of fairytale castles, vineyards and valleys, you'll be charmed before we even arrive in Germany's famous Rhine Valley. This back-in-time town is our wine tasting host for the evening. Squeal!!!
Rhine Valley to Amsterdam via Edam
This morning we'll drag you all away from Germany kicking and screaming that you want to stay forever. Only to see you equally infatuated with another dot on the European map hours later...You know the cheese, and now you're going to know the place that pioneered it. We'll cycle into the countryside to see windmills & picturesque Dutch houses on our way to an actual cheese farm & clog maker's house. Flashing red lights, pretty canals, crooked buildings, cafes bursting with pizza + chocolate + French fries. Amsterdam is all that and way too many bags of chips.
It's our last full day on tour & our last night to party up a storm with the squad. Use the day to explore quirky museums & sample the endless array of cuisines this city has on offer.
Get your tissues ready, it's time to say goodbye to your new Contiki family. We'll escort you to Schiphol Airport by about 10am.For those not leaving us until London, we'll travel south through Belgium - cross another country off your list.This afternoon we cross from France to England and then back to London-town, where you'll be left to start dreaming up your next big adventure.