Just as Rome was the foundation for modern civilisation, so too is it the ideal start for this superb journey. Spend three days in this ancient city, visiting the Vatican Museums before they are opened to the public. Then follow in the footsteps of Julius Caesar, venturing north to the Rhine Valley, where he built the first bridge to cross the Rhine River. Splendid Europe is packed with fascinating experiences and thrilling interactions with passionate locals. Meet a gondolier in Venice and learn about the age-old tradition of gondola navigation and how it’s being passed on to future generations. Marvel at the natural wonder of the subterranean Postojna Caves, created by the Pivka River. Enjoy a drink with the owner of one of the many majestic castles dotted along the Rhine River.
Welcome to the Eternal City of Rome.
Rome is one of the world’s most historic cities, filled with classic antiquities, medieval buildings, Renaissance palaces and Baroque churches. Transfers to your hotel depart Rome’s Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport at 09:30, 12:30 and 15:30. Then this historic city is yours to discover. At 17:30, join your Travel Director for a Welcome Reception and the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other over a relaxed evening of dinner and wine.(Dinner with Wine)
Exploring Papal Rome.
A Local Expert introduces the grandeur of the city, starting with the Vatican State, the richest community on the world. Visit the Vatican Museums, full of priceless treasures collected by the Popes. Insight provides special VIP, fast-tracked entry to avoid the crowds, together with behind-the-scenes access to the Bramante Staircase - a marvel of Renaissance architecture normally off-limits to the general public. Once inside the Sistine Chapel, admire Michelangelo's famous ceiling. Next door, visit St. Peter’s Basilica to admire Michelangelo's emotive 'Pieta' and see Bernini's intricately carved Papal Altar. The rest of the day is yours to shop in the trendy boutiques or relax at a sidewalk cafe. Perhaps join an Optional Experience to visit the Colosseum, the scene of many gladiatorial contests, and see the Roman Forum?(Breakfast)
Rome at Leisure.
The day is yours to enjoy Rome at your own pace. Perhaps take an optional experience to the ill-fated town of Pompeii, frozen in time when it was engulfed by an eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Alternatively, spend some time in the boutiques of the Via del Corso, the Via Nazionale or the elegant designer stores near the Spanish Steps? As night falls, why not sip on prosecco at a sidewalk cafe in Piazza Navona - the Living Room of Rome - and enjoy life's pageantry pass by?(Breakfast)
Follow the Autostrada del Sole to Venice.
Journey through peaceful Tuscan landscapes, to descend past Bologna into the fertile Valley of the River Po. Arrive at the glorious city of Venice by water taxi and sip a Bellini cocktail at sunset, long after the day-trippers have returned to their mainland hotels. In the evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.(Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
Venice and the Magic of La Serenissima.
Wake up ready to embrace this romantic city. Admire the Doge’s Palace and its adjoining Bridge of Sighs. Witness the skill of glassblowers and learn how the Venetian gondola is made on a visit to a traditional arts centre. before cruising by private launch to St. Mark's Square where St. Mark’s Basilica exudes the city’s former wealth and power.(Breakfast)
Venice to Zagreb's Twin Towers.
Depart Venice by water taxi and continue your journey, crossing Slovenia. Stop to explore the remarkable natural wonder of the Postojna Caves. Venture through a series of caverns and passages, which were hollowed out by the Pivka River over two million years. Next, travel to the Croatian capital of Zagreb. A Local Expert shows you Roosevelt Square, the attractive facades of Ban Josip Jelačić Square and the cathedral. Ride the funicular to the medieval Upper Town to see the former Presidential Palace, Stone Gate, St Mark’s Church and the Tower of Lotrščak.(Breakfast)
Zagreb to Vienna.
Follow the Drava River and cross over the Slovenian border to reach the 700-year-old university town of Maribor. Continue past Graz through Styria’s forested mountains and on to Vienna.(Breakfast)
Vienna and the Habsburgs.
In the morning, there is the option to join a private tour of Maria Theresa’s Schönbrunn Palace and formal gardens. Ready your camera for a drive around the famous Ring Road. This grand boulevard, built along the lines of the old city walls, showcases many of the capital’s architectural masterpieces, including the Opera House, magnificent Hofburg Imperial Residence and Austrian Parliament Building. Join your Local Expert for a walk through Innere Stadt, the historic core of Vienna. Visit the famous Café Central, frequented by many of the elite since 1876, including revolutionary Trotsky and psychoanalyst Freud. At this meeting place for philosophers and storytellers, enjoy delicious Viennese specialities of coffee and Sachertorte.(Morning Tea / Breakfast)
Salzburg and on to Innsbruck.
Pass the impressive Benedictine monastery of Melk before reaching the enchanting city of Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and the iconic musical 'The Sound of Music'. A Local Expert will show you the formal gardens of Mirabell Palace, including the fountains and statues where the 'Do, Re, Mi' scene was filmed. Cross Residence Square with its fountain, where Maria sings 'I Have Confidence' and see the imposing fortress, the immense cathedral and Mozart’s birthplace on the lively Getreidegasse. Perhaps join an excursion to the famous Eagle's Nest? Continue to the mountain ringed Tyrolean capital of Innsbruck to see the Golden Roof and Imperial Palace.(Breakfast)
Through Liechtenstein to Lucerne.
Journey past flower-filled meadows and picturesque chalet-style villages to the Principality of Liechtenstein. Spend some time in its tiny capital, Vaduz, then cross into Switzerland and through glorious mountains to lakeside Lucerne. On arrival, visit Lucerne'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. For your Dine-Around Evening, choose your own style of cuisine from our selection of local restaurants.(Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
Lakeside Lucerne and the Stanserhorn.
In the morning, embark on a scenic journey by funicular railway and open-top cable car to the summit of stunning Mount Stanserhorn, where you will meet a Swiss ranger and learn about the local wildlife. Take in the pristine mountain air and on a clear day you can see as far as Alsace and the Black Forest. Once you return to Lucerne, 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 fine watches and delectable chocolates.(Breakfast)
Legends along the Rhine.
Relax with a scenic drive in the Rhine Valley.(Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
Cruising the canals of Amsterdam.
Delight in a private estate viewing of one of the famous Rhineland castles and learn more about these living cultural monuments situated along the Middle Rhine over a glass of wine. Continue your travels to Amsterdam. The best way to see this remarkable city is from the water as you cruise through the canal district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire the elegant merchant houses from the 16th and 17th centuries, their facades are a reflection of when trade flourished during Amsterdam's Golden Age. Relax as you pass stunning gables, beautiful churches and the iconic Magere Brug, better known as the Skinny Bridge. In the evening, toast your adventure and newfound friends during a Celebration Dinner at a local restaurant.(Breakfast / Dinner with Wine)
Depart Amsterdam or Return London Option.
In the morning, travel to Brussels for your high-speed Eurostar train journey. On arrival, you are transferred to the Park Plaza Victoria where your trip ends.(Breakfast)