European Explorer

Trip Type: Discoverer
United Kingdom | 35 Days

NZD 13,711.00 /Person

A couple of weeks holidaying isn't your style. You're coming to Europe and you're here to do the whole kit & caboodle with a few days sailing aroun...

European Explorer

A couple of weeks holidaying isn't your style. You're coming to Europe and you're here to do the whole kit & caboodle with a few days sailing around the islands of Greece in between. We salute you! Albania, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland … just listing the countries on this trip is more than we have time for.

London to Paris

Welcome to the first day of the best time 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 your 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 while driving past ancient battlefields in the Valley of the Somme. Ah, we've finally arrived in the city of love! So, of course, we're starting with a gorgeous French dinner. Afterwards, you're free to do what you please. Enjoy a glass of fine wine, explore trendy fashion, or even soak in iconic sights! Finally, we'll end the night with jaw-dropping city views from the Montparnasse Tower.*Heads up, our Paris plans might shift during the Summer Olympics due to city restrictions, impacting our Illuminations Tour of the city along with other possible disruptions. We're on it, crafting alternative experiences for your safety and enjoyment. Your understanding means the world to us!

Accommodation:

Ibis Paris Porte D'Orleans Hotel (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • London
  • Dover
  • Calais
  • Paris

Paris

This morning it's straight down to business with tickets to the observation deck of the Montparnasse Tower. Then we'll make our way to the River Siene where we'll have plenty of time to lust over haute couture you can't afford, admire the Notre Dame Cathedral whilst juggling coffee and crêpes, & get artsy at the many museums of the Louvre. Just don't wear yourself out, you will probably want to get involved with VIP seats and dinner at the iconic cabaret show and dinner - make this a night to remember in the city of lights.

Accommodation:

Ibis Paris Porte D'Orleans Hotel (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Paris

Paris to Clermont-Ferrand via Chateau Chambord

Farewell French capital! We're off in search of charming countryside & legit, straight from the source vino. Welcome to Clermont-Ferrand, a university city known for its mountains, fountains and awesome statues. We'll arrive here in the late evening, and from there you're free to explore and grab some food with your fellow travellers. You won't fail to notice the mesmerising Notre-Dame of Assumption Cathedral, but make sure you get a look at this lava stone architectural wonder form up close too.

Accommodation:

B&B Clermont Ferrand Centre (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Paris
  • Chateau Chambord
  • Clermont-Ferrand

Clermont-Ferrand to Barcelona

Breathe one final gulp of mountain air, folks. Today we continue our European adventure... Well would you look at that for timing, we've pulled into Barcelona just on sangria o'clock. Fate, you've done it again! After dinner we have a night exploring the city - this will have us in the Spanish mood before we know it.

Accommodation:

Hotel Catalonia Park Putxet Barcelona (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Clermont-Ferrand
  • Barcelona

Barcelona

Sample some paella, and take an unmissable wander through the colourful gardens of Parc Güell for a look at the architecture that has helped put this city on the map. Beach lovers could head to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea - the day is yours to do with as you please. 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.

Accommodation:

Hotel Catalonia Park Putxet Barcelona (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Barcelona

Barcelona to French Riviera

Provided you haven't been lured to a full time life of Flamenco dancing, this morning we leave Barcelona with a glamorous Riviera pinned on the map. 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 will be on show as we roll into this glitzy coastal town. Rest well tonight so you're full of beans & looking fresh for our day prancing around the region tomorrow.

Accommodation:

Appart City Nice Acropolis (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Barcelona
  • French Riviera

French Riviera

Missing an opportunity to see this part of the world up close and personal would be criminal. Speaking of things you shouldn't miss, this region is famous for lavender honey, aioli & rosé wine; all 3 in one meal should be your mission.  A night in glamorous Monaco should complete your day slash life. Get dressed up - we're about to embark on the lifestyle of the rich and the 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.

Accommodation:

Appart City Nice Acropolis (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • French Riviera
  • Monaco City
  • French Riviera

French Riviera to Venice

Today we say our farewells to the French Riviera but not before a brief stop-off at a French perfumery, where you’ll learn how your favourite scents are made – and even have a go at crafting your own signature fragrance! On the road to Italy, pizza, pasta, & charming locals are about to warm us from the inside out. In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, a posse of travellers, all alike in excitement, check out the place that inspired Romeo & Juliet. We'll also check out the Roman Arena where other love stories were told.  Yes, it's as cute as you imagine. Yes, you'll feel like you're part of an Italian fairytale. Yes, you are actually hanging out in the gondola clad floating city of Venice! And tomorrow it is yours to explore. ..unless you're in need of more excitement tonight.

Accommodation:

Venice Palace (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • French Riviera
  • Verona
  • Venice

Venice

Wake up sleepy heads! 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.

Accommodation:

Venice Palace (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Venice

Venice to Florence

Farewell floating city, but Italy, we're not done with you yet, our next destination Florence is just around the corner.   Here in the capital of Tuscany, you’ll be free to drift along the River Arno, check out the Duomo Cathedral, visit the markets, sample Chianti wine… and the local gelato of course. Also on today’s agenda is a leather demonstration (it doesn’t get more Tuscan than that!) Tonight, you’ll have the chance to sign up for a delicious Tuscan dinner and visit the historic Red Garter bar (or maybe it does!)

Accommodation:

Hotel Mirage (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Venice
  • Florence

Florence to Rome

Farewell Florence - today we have the epicenter of Italy on our horizons. Pizza, piazzas … we're coming in hot.  As if we were going to leg it to Rome 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.  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.

Accommodation:

Hotel Caesar (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Florence
  • Pisa
  • Rome

Rome

This morning we're up and out early to make the most of our chance to explore this ancient city. You'll have some free time to go shopping on the Via Del Corso, check out Rome’s famous bridges, or just kick back with a grattachecca (shaved ice) or two. Afterwards, it’s your chance to tour the famous Colosseum with a local guide (don’t miss this!)

Accommodation:

Hotel Caesar (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Rome

Rome to Sorrento

One more destination is left to cement our Italian love affair. And it could be one of the European destinations you've been lusting over the most.  …the island of Capri! We'll sail over the Tyrrhenian Sea taking in the glorious waters and majestic beauty of coastal Italy. Once on Isle of Capri, you can roam the hillside town of Anacapri, sip too many cups of coffee, and marvel at how the cliffs meet the sea. "So so so so in love with Sorrento" are about the only words you'll muster up today as you sit seaside in the #InstaFamous town of beauty. Back on the mainland we will toast our time in Italy and begin discussing our fanciful ideas about what Greece has in store. And we'll do this over a dashing sunset and a Bay of Naples dinner for those who opt in.

Accommodation:

Hotel Albatross (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Rome
  • Capri
  • Sorrento

Sorrento to Adriatic Ferry

Arrivederci Italy! You've been real. And the next few days have a lot to live up to. Luckily, with Greece on the horizon, we're in pretty safe hands.  After less than an hour gazing lovingly out of our windows at the Italian countryside, it will be time for a stop. Here in the ancient city of Pompeii you will have the chance to partake in a guided walking tour taking through Roman city remains. After taking in the rugged beauty of the boot's south, we board our overnight ferry to Greece. Don't be ashamed if you need to wipe away a tear or two as we plough through the Ionian Sea watching Italy get smaller.

Accommodation:

Overnight Ferry

Locations Visited:
  • Sorrento
  • Pompeii
  • Bari
  • Overnight Adriatic Ferry

Adriatic Ferry to Athens

Bounce out of your ocean bed - we're pulling up in Greece!  The awe of Greece's mainland will begin shortly after our arrival as we catch a glimpse of Corinth Canal. This manmade passageway squeezes boats through its path, sandwiched by two steep cliffs and sitting over gloriously blue ocean. A collage of ancient wonders and modern magnificence, the allure of Athens is hard to dismiss. Choose to sample Greek food from iconic Athenian spots (with a local to spill all the insider tips!) and then make the most of the night with your friends in this ancient city.

Accommodation:

Dorian Inn (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Overnight Adriatic Ferry
  • Corinth Canal
  • Athens

Athens to Mykonos

Alright sailors it's time to hit the sea! We'll board a Greek ship and head straight for the crisp white isle of Mykonos.  Jetsetters and backpackers alike are drawn to this pristine, has-it-all island. Drift off under a beach cabana, snack on olives & tzatziki in a cute cafe, or stroll the white-washed lanes of the Old Town. Tonight you could head out for a few drinks in Little Venice, this quintisential waterside spot is famous the world over, so why not tick that off your list. Back on the boat we'll sleep knowing that you'll be waking up in Turkey.

Accommodation:

A conveniently located hotel

Locations Visited:
  • Athens
  • Mykonos

Cruising to Patmos

As you doze, we'll depart Mykonos and drift across the Aegean Sea towards our next stop - Kusadasi! Rise and shine globe trotters, our captain has kindly escorted us to Turkey! Here in the port town of Kusadasi you can rummage for treasures in the local bazaar and take a trip to Ephesus, the holiday hangout of Mark Antony and Cleopatra where our Local Guide will turn back the clock. Simply incredible, this ancient Roman town is packed full of ruins, and stories galore. Keep an eye out for the two story library, (yes, the ancient people were ahead of the times even way back when). Out of Kusadasi we drift on towards the rugged island of Patmos, quaint, known for it's seafood, we'll tell you straight up that the octopus is some of the best you'll ever try. Explore this holy hotspot with an optional excursion to Patmos’ UNESCO World Heritage sites of the 11th century Monastery of the Apocalypse and the Grotto of St. John. A must when you're in the area, dating back to 1088 as a protection from pirates! St John's Grotto is up next where part of the bible was written by St John himself. Nothing like a bit of history to keep things interesting. Back on the boat, a sundowner is calling, and maybe some of the ship nightlife before we wake up in Rhodes.

Accommodation:

A conveniently located hotel

Locations Visited:
  • Mykonos
  • Kusadasi
  • Patmos

Patmos to Rhodes

Today we take to the mixed bag of Rhodes, influenced by its edging on Europe, Africa and Asia. Shop up a storm of leather, silver, olive oil and honey or uncover Acropolis of Lindos & the walls of Rhode’s medieval town centre on an optional tour with a Local Guide. If sand, swims and sunshine are calling you then Elli Beach might be calling your name, so grab a sunbed and get horizonal and people watch.  Beaches, local wine & fresh seafood - your life is complete.

Accommodation:

A conveniently located hotel

Locations Visited:
  • Patmos
  • Rhodes

Cruising to Santorini

We say goodbye to Rhodes and all it's ancient history as we cruise to our next destination, the iconic isle of Santorini. Some may say we've saved the best 'til last, with Crete and Santorini marking our final full day. Crete is the biggest of the Greek Islands & home to the 4000 year old mythical Minoan Palace. Catch some sleep or explore it all morning with the option of exploring the Place of Knossos. As a quick 101, it's the home to the legend of the Minotaur, a half man half bull which lived in a labyrinth and was slayed by Theseus. A great way to look into days gone by, and we're talking 2000BC. With this fast and furious morning ticked, we head off to our next paradise found. Get a belt handy - you're going to need to strap that jaw up off the floor as the island of Santorini slowly becomes a reality. Those iconic blue–domed, whitewashed churches are enough to bring a tear to the eye. Set on a caldera, or old volcano, Santorini is literally towering over the landscape. And the best way to get the sheer scale of it all is by boat, and lucky for you sweet traveller, we give you the chance to do just that! Make sure your phone is on full charge, as an Instagram upload is a must tonight.

Accommodation:

A conveniently located hotel

Locations Visited:
  • Rhodes
  • Crete
  • Santorini

Santorini to Athens

Wave goodbye to the picture perfect Santorini, it's time to cruise across the Aegean to Athens and continue our adventure across the best spots in Europe.  Loaded up on sunshine, we'll rejoin the rest of the crew on the mainland as we cruise back into Athens today. We'll reconnect over a free evening tonight and swap stories of our Greek Island escapades.

Accommodation:

Dorian Inn (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Santorini
  • Athens

Athens to Meteora

Back on the coach and bound for the border, we have one more stop to complete before we say goodbye to Greece. Here in Meteora, we'll be greeted by the spectacular site of six clifftop monasteries built on gigantic natural stone pillars. You'll have the chance to take an optional guided tour of thid UNESCO World Heritage site, or use the time to explore your own way before we settle in for an included dinner and our stay here for the night.

Accommodation:

Edelweiss Hotel (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Athens
  • Meteora

Meteora to Tirana

Rolling across the border to Albania, we'll stop for sweeping views across Lake Ohrid before cruising into Tirana, the capital city. Soviet-era buildings meet modern culture, with rainbow-coloured concrete buildings, lush woodland parks, and 'Peace Bell' built with old cartridge shells. We'll begin with an orientation of Tirana and a free evening to explore the city's nightlife and hip bars.

Accommodation:

VH Premier AS Tirana Hotel (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Meteora
  • Tirana

Tirana to Dubrovnik

Obscure off the beaten track capitals one day, trusted favourite cities the next. Such is the beauty of a see it all trip! Goodbye Tirana, we have Dubrovnik on top of the deck.  We're making a stop in this coastal heaven before Dubrovnik. A 2,500 year old town famous for its beautiful beaches and its cobbled stone roads. With the temptation of the sparkling blue waters calling you, this is the perfect place for a dip in the Adriatic. A coffee maybe before we make our way to Dubrovnik? ...we make our way to Croatia. The spectacular seaside fortress town of Dubrovnik, also known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, is yours to explore for the evening - not forgetting it has an enviable party scene.

Accommodation:

Hotel Adria (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Tirana
  • Budva
  • Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

The city of Dubrovnik is so much more than just a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Game of Thrones location - not that either of those claims to fame are even mildly mediocre. After you've been guided around the city with intricate detail you'll be armed with the knowledge to pick out a waterside rock bar where you can swim and indulge 'til your heart's content.

Accommodation:

Hotel Adria (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik to Plitvice

Hitting the road for Plitviče, today we're off in search of the cascading teal pools at Plitviče Lakes. Guided by pretty wooden walkways amd surrounded by lush forest, we'll explore the 16 sparkling turquoise terraced lakes connected by cascading waterfalls that make up the UNESCO World Heritage site of Plitviče. It may be known through Croatia for its spectacular beauty, but why this place is not famous world over as one of the prettiest places in Europe, we have no idea. This evening we'll enjoy an included dinner at our accomodation on the edge of the National Park here at Plitviče.

Accommodation:

Hotel Big House Plitvika Jezera (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Dubrovnik
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice to Ljubljana

Feeling zen after all those waterfalls, we'll make our way over the border with a scenic drive from Croatia to Slovenia. Ljubljana awaits us with a curving river, outdoor cafe culture and green spaces that make it one of Europe's most liveable capitals. We'll explore with a city orientation, then this evening foodies will have the chance to opt in for a Bitemojo experience to taste the best of the city's culinary hotspots.

Accommodation:

B&B Hotel Ljubljana Park (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park
  • Ljubljana

Ljubljana to Austrian Tyrol via Lake Bled

Saying so long to Ljubljana, we'll stop to admire Lake Bled – a picture-perfect spot and European must-see to complete our visit to Slovenia.  Surrounded by thick forest and snowy mountains, Lake Bled is like something out of a fairytale. Here you can take a leisurely cruise on the famous emerald waters, visit the picturesque Bled Island, indulge in a Bled cake or take a hike up to Bled Castle. Also, if it’s warm enough, Lake Bled is an awesome place for a swim. Here in the Austrian Tyrol, you'll have the chance to stay at Contiki Haus Schöneck, a Special Stay worthy of the name, where you can socialise with fellow skiers and Contiki travellers across multiple hang-out spaces, with authentic Austrian cuisine cooked on site too. There's also local beer available at the bar (which is also on site.) When it comes to hitting the hay tonight, you'll sleep in a same-sex multi-share with up to 5 other travellers.

Accommodation:

Contiki Haus Schoneck (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Ljubljana
  • Lake Bled
  • Hopfgarten im Brixental

Austrial Tyrol

Wake up, glide 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, followed by a BBQ lunch. 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, and settle in for another included dinner tonight at Haus Schöneck.

Accommodation:

Contiki Haus Schoneck (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Hopfgarten im Brixental

Austrian Tyrol to Munich

Another day, another chance to get into the swing of things with some of the adventure activites this area is famous for. Opt for Whitewater rafting in the breathtaking Austrian Alps before we set off en route to Munich. A city famous the world over for its annual beer festival is a city we need to know about. And luckily enough, it's 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.

Accommodation:

Wyndham Garden Munich Messe (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Hopfgarten im Brixental
  • Munich

Munich to Lucerne

Although we're checking out of Munich today, this is not the last Germany has seen of us. We will reunite with this fine country after a gratifying stint in the mountains of Switzerland.  On our way we'll stop off for a sobering visit to the Dachau concentration camp memorial. You'll be able to spend some time here to learn and reflect, before we head on to Vaduz. Although just a tiny dot on the map, Liechtenstein is an economically and geographically incredible place, known for its stunning mountain castles. We'll enjoy lunch in its capital, Vaduz, before continuing our journey to Switzerland. 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.

Accommodation:

Ibis Budget Luzern City (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Munich
  • Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site
  • Vaduz
  • Lucerne

Lucerne

There's no reason why today can't be wasted strolling these beautiful streets or sitting in a coffee shop pondering mountain life. And consuming chocolate - that's perfectly acceptable too. However! Those wanting to spice up their day can take an optional river cruise, admire the Lion Monument and Wooden Chapel Bridge. Don't forget to take your excitement to the next level with an excursion to the heights of Mt. Pilatus. Spoilt for choice much?

Accommodation:

Ibis Budget Luzern City (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Lucerne

Lucerne to Rhine Valley

Rise and Shine. 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.  After the scenic journey of fairytale castles, vineyards and valleys, you'll be charmed by Germany's famous Rhine Valley before we even arrive. This back-in-time town is our wine tasting host for the evening - hello! We'll also learn how beer steins are crafted, take a river cruise, & admire a steep slate rock known as Lorelei.

Accommodation:

Hotel Montag Sankt Goar (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Lucerne
  • Sankt Goar

Rhine Valley to Amsterdam

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 squealing at windmills & going hysterical over tulip fields on our way to an actual cheese farm & clog maker's house.  Pretty canals lined with quaint crooked houses and cafes bursting with life. Amsterdam is all that and way more than what you could ever imagine.

Accommodation:

Ibis Budget Amsterdam City South (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Sankt Goar
  • Edam

Amsterdam

It's our last full day on trip & 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.

Accommodation:

Ibis Budget Amsterdam City South (or similar)

Locations Visited:
  • Amsterdam

Amsterdam to London

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. 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.

Locations Visited:
  • Amsterdam
  • Calais
  • Dover
  • London

Departure

Arrival

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Destination Details
United Kingdom | 35 Days
Trip Location
Trip Starts:
London, United Kingdom
Trip Finishes:
London, United Kingdom
Countries Visited:
England
France
Spain
Monaco
Italy
Greece
Turkey
Albania
Montenegro
Croatia
Slovenia
Austria
Germany
Liechtenstein
Switzerland
Netherlands

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