Cosmos

Tour: 5215 - 2013 (5215) - 2013 / 2014


Visit the Roman Forum, where Roman legions marched in triumph
Visit the Roman Forum, where Roman legions marched in triumph
Venice Canal
Venice is world-famous for its canals
Pisa at sunset
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Itinerary

Day 1Arrive in London, England

Check into your hotel. In the afternoon you may want to start exploring the lively British capital. Uniformed hosts are available to help you make the most of your stay.

Day 2London

A full day to savor our rich program of optional activities: take a panoramic tour of London’s landmarks, visit the Tower of London, or choose an excursion to Windsor Castle. Tonight maybe a leisurely cruise on the River Thames? (Breakfast)

Day 3London–Amsterdam Area, Holland

Leave London in the early morning and head through the lush English countryside to the Channel port, where you embark on your ferry for the Continent. Meet your Tour Director and board your luxury coach for the drive to the Amsterdam area. (Breakfast)

Day 4Amsterdam Area–Rhineland, Germany

Today, enjoy a canal cruise to see the town from water level, then watch the cutting and polishing of precious stones at a diamond center in Amsterdam. Later, sightseeing with a Local Guide points out the city highlights. In the afternoon, travel southward to the Rhineland area for an overnight. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 5Rhineland–Heidelberg–Lucerne, Switzerland

Drive through the scenic Rhineland this morning or, alternatively, take the optional Rhine River cruise and enjoy splendid scenery including the Lorelei rock. Next, drive into Germany’s oldest university town, Heidelberg, nicely located at the confluence of the Rivers Neckar and Rhine, for a short visit. In the afternoon, travel by way of the Autobahn into Switzerland for an overnight in Lucerne. (Breakfast)

Day 6Lucerne

One of Switzerland’s finest cities, nestled amid its snowcapped Alps, surrounded by its lake, and embellished by the clear mountain waters of the River Reuss. Your visit takes in the impressive city walls, a covered wooden bridge, ornate patrician houses lining cobblestone streets, and the Lion Monument—a masterful stone sculpture in honor of the heroic Swiss Guard of Louis XVI. A grand selection of optional activities completes the day: a cruise on the fjord-like lake or a cable-car ride to the 10,000-foot summit of Mount Titlis. (Breakfast)

Day 7Lucerne–Lugano–Verona, Italy–Venice Area

More wonderful Alpine scenery as you drive into the mountain ranges that surround the massive St. Gotthard. Once through its great tunnel, you’ll start your scenic descent into the warmer and sunnier ambiance of Canton Ticino. Stop in beautiful Lugano and take a stroll along the lakeside promenade. Then, cross into Italy and drive across the Po Valley to Verona, medieval setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. See Juliet’s house and balcony, and stroll around the picturesque market square. Tonight you are in the Venice area. (Breakfast)

Day 8Venice Area

Venice is more like a marvelous film set than a real live city, with its criss-crossing canals, gondolas and water buses, arched bridges, and palaces. The included orientation starts with a boat ride and is followed by some time at leisure and a chance to watch Venetian glassblowers fashion their delicate objects as they did centuries ago. Don’t miss out on the optional gondola trip, gliding along the picturesque canals with a local troubadour to serenade you. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 9Venice Area–Assisi–Rome

An interesting drive southward, cutting across the Po Delta, then through the gentle Umbrian hills to Assisi, where St. Francis was born in 1182. Visit the world-famous basilica with its beautiful frescoes by Giotto, then head for Rome. (Breakfast)

Day 10Rome

The “Eternal City”—a city steeped in history, vibrantly alive and exciting, and absolutely unique! Included sightseeing with a Local Guide starts in St. Peter’s Square, followed by a visit to the Roman Forum and the mighty Colosseum. (Breakfast)

Day 11Rome–Pisa–Florence

Vistas of undulating hills, rows of cypress trees, terraced vineyards, olive groves, and rural villages form the backdrop of your journey through beautiful Tuscany. Take a break in Pisa to see the Square of Miracles and the amazing Leaning Tower, then on to Florence. (Breakfast)

Day 12Florence

This Renaissance gem and city of the Medicis will keep you enthralled for a whole day. Traffic is banned in part of the historic center, so visitors can wander at leisure and admire the city’s timeless beauty in relative peace and quiet. Don’t miss out on the included walking tour with a Local Guide that features most of the city highlights. You will see Piazza Santa Croce; beautiful Piazza Signoria; Palazzo Vecchio; Loggia dei Lanzi; and, to top it all, Piazza del Duomo and its cathedral with the Giotto Campanile, and the magnificent East Door of the Baptistry, known as the “Gate of Paradise.” (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 13Florence–Italian Riviera–Èze, France–French Riviera

An early start this morning for the journey northwest with views of the Italian Riviera. Continue to France for a visit to a perfume workshop in Èze before traveling along the celebrated Côte d’Azur. An optional Monte Carlo by Night excursion with dinner is available. (Breakfast)

Day 14French Riviera–Avignon–Carcassonne

Today’s journey will take you through some of France’s loveliest scenery, sun-drenched landscapes right out of Van Gogh’s paintings, on the way through Provence. Stop for a visit in historic Avignon. Continue westwards to the impressive walled city of Carcassonne for an overnight. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 15Carcassonne–Barcelona, Spain

Enjoy a visit of this almost-untouched piece of medieval fortified architecture, still standing in all its walled glory with drawbridges, towers, battlements, watch turrets, ramparts, and even arrow-slits to repel the enemy. Later, drive by way of Perpignan across the border into Spain, to arrive in Barcelona for two overnights. (Breakfast)

Day 16Barcelona

This morning’s sightseeing with a Local Guide includes a drive around Montjuïc to see the Olympic Stadium and a panoramic view of the port and city. The drive continues to the city center to Plaza Catalunya and Paseo de Gracia to admire the greatness and eccentricity of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces in the Houses Batlló and Mila and the Sagrada Familia (entrance fee not included). (Breakfast)

Day 17Barcelona–Madrid

See more of Catalonia as you drive northwest via Saragossa through the very heart of new Castille for two overnights in Spain’s capital, Madrid. (Breakfast)

Day 18Madrid

Not only because it’s the capital of Spain, but also because it is situated 2,180 feet above sea level, the Spaniards say Madrid is the nearest thing to heaven. Enjoy the main highlights on the included sightseeing excursion. The optional trip to Toledo is most rewarding, too. The splendid setting is like a great open-air museum of Spanish history and art. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 19Madrid–Burgos–Bilbao

Climb Somosierra Pass, the boundary between Old and New Castille, before stopping in Burgos to visit the beautiful cathedral. On through Basque Country to Bilbao, now famous for four contemporary architects: Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava, Cesar Pelli, and Frank Gehry. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 20Bilbao–Bordeaux, France–Poitiers

A change of scenery as you travel into France across Gascony for an orientation of Bordeaux, the wine capital of France. Travel farther north by way of the Cognac area to Poitiers, of Black Prince fame, for an overnight. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 21Poitiers–Châteaux Country–Orleans–Paris

The autoroute L’Aquitaine will take you directly to Tours and along the Loire, passing the castles of Amboise and Chaumont. Stop in Orleans before reaching Paris in time to enjoy an optional excursion. (Breakfast)

Day 22Paris

One full day to explore the city that’s known throughout the world for its fashions, art and museums, delicious food, and joie de vivre. Included sightseeing with a local expert shows off many of the best-known Parisian sights: La Sorbonne, Arc de Triomphe, Opéra, Madeleine, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramid near the Louvre, the Invalides, and Champs Elysées. Optional excursions are also available to the Palace and Gardens of Versailles. (Breakfast)

Day 23Paris–London, England

Relax and let the countryside whiz by on the road north to the coast, where you board your Channel ferry. Through Kent, return to London for an evening arrival. (Breakfast)

Day 24London

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)

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As recommended by Budget Travel