Day 1: New Zealand – – London
Head to the airport and board a flight that takes you to London, the starting point for your grand adventure of Europe.
Day 2: London
Welcome to London! You will be met upon arrival for a transfer to your London hotel. You have the rest of the day to begin uncovering the wealth of sights, experiences and landmarks scattered through this incredible city. Your London Travel Card will make sure you can easily navigate the cityscape and excellent public transport network.
For those purchasing the Tour Only option, your tour starts today. Please make your own way to the hotel.
Day 3: London (B)
The day is yours to continue your independent exploration of London. You might move between the city’s most recognisable sights – Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, Globe Theatre – or immerse yourself in some of London’s more cultural experiences, such as browsing the stalls at Borough Market, sitting down to lunch in a traditional English pub, or arranging for a high tea experience at Fortnum & Masons. Alternatively, you may opt to join an optional excursion to Stonehenge and Bath.
Optional: Excursion to Stonehenge and Bath
Leave London behind for the day as you travel to Stonehenge and Bath. The mysterious Stonehenge is the first stop and you may be one of the first visitors to see the site thanks to fast-track entry tickets. Ponder the purpose of these carefully placed stones and mull over common theories as you learn about the history of this popular attraction. It is then onto Bath, a beautiful city beloved for its Georgian architecture and Roman-built temples and baths. Take in Pulteney Bridge, the Circus and Royal Crescent, and also have some free time to wander at your leisure. Ideas for things to do in Bath include the Jane Austen Visitors Centre, Bath Abbey and Alexandra Park. Return to London in the late afternoon. Additional cost applies.
Day 4: London – – Paris (B)
It is time to hop across the English Channel courtesy of the Eurostar train. Make your way to St Pancras Station and find your reserved seat on the train. Gaze out the window as you travel through the English countryside, then into the tunnel, and finally emerge in regional France. Arrive in Paris and find your own way to the hotel. Spend the rest of the day exploring the City of Lights at your leisure.
Day 5: Paris (B)
Fall for the magic of Paris on a guided tour of the French capital. This sightseeing sojourn sees you admire Paris’ best-known landmarks, such as Pantheon, Palais Garnier, Luxembourg Palace and Gardens, Musee d’Orsay, Place de la Concorde, Champs-Elysees, and Arc de Triomphe. Head to the riverbank near the Eiffel Tower to board a scenic cruise that ferries you along the waters of the world-famous Seine. This joy ride is a delightful way to see even more of Paris’ sights – Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Conciergerie – from a unique vantage point. Once you are back on terra firma, make a beeline for arguably Paris’ most iconic structure: the Eiffel Tower. Don’t worry about joining the queues at the Tower’s base though; you have skip-the-line tickets and will be taken straight up to the second storey via elevator. Take your time soaking in the 360-degree view and learning more about Gustave Eiffel’s famed build.
Day 6: Paris – – Geneva (B)
It is an early start to the day as you board a train for the journey to Geneva, Switzerland. Make your own way to the hotel upon arrival and then have the rest of the day as leisure time. As well as being an elegant lake-perched city, Geneva also doubles as the headquarters for the United Nations and Red Cross. Head out into the city to uncover its French influences, or to see some of the sights such as the Geneva Water Fountain, St. Pierre Cathedral and Jardin Anglais.
You receive an 8 day Swiss Travel Pass as part of your tour inclusions, and this pass is valid as soon as you arrive in Switzerland. It comes with a number of perks, including unlimited train, bus and boat travel, plus free admission to some museums.
Day 7: Geneva – – Montreux (B)
Today’s short train journey takes you to Montreux. This resort town is perched on the banks of Lake Geneva, tucked between the water and steep hills. Check in to your hotel upon arrival in Montreux and then perhaps visit Chateau de Chillon, an island castle located towards the eastern end of the lake.
Day 8: Montreux – – Zermatt (B)
A three-hour train journey whisks you to Zermatt. (Please note there is a train change at Visp). Located in the Valais canton, Zermatt is a popular resort destination that draws in visitors for its skiing, climbing and hiking opportunities. Upon your arrival, you’ll immediately be struck by the imposing peak of the Matterhorn that backdrops the townscape. Seek out Bahnhofstrasse, the town’s main street, in the afternoon to browse local shops and restaurants.
Day 9: Zermatt (B)
You have an entire day of free time to see Zermatt. Use your Swiss Travel Pass to nab discounted fares on the cable car to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (a local resort) or on the Gornergrat Bahn. Vantage points from both destinations offer sweeping panoramas of the landscape, neighbouring peaks and township.
Day 10: Zermatt – – St. Moritz (B)
Travel on the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. This incredibly scenic journey sees you pass over more than 300 bridges and through almost 100 tunnels. Passengers can look out to incredible scenery as the train winds through verdant valleys, parts of the Rhine Gorge and past charming mountain villages. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Oberalp Pass, the highest point of the journey, at 2033 metres above sea level.
Day 11: St. Moritz (B)
Spend the day relaxing in St. Moritz, an alpine resort that has twice hosted the Winter Olympics (1928 and 1948). St. Moritz has a glamorous reputation and is home to a great collection of boutiques, shops and restaurants. Visitors fond of active pursuits can take to one of the area’s walking trails.
Day 12: St. Moritz – – Lugano (B)
Hop aboard the Bernina Express for a rail journey that traverses glittering glaciers before crossing into the Italian-speaking Ticino region of Switzerland. As it follows this photogenic route, the train will move through 50 tunnels and over 200 bridges. It also tackles some impressive inclines and arrives at the Ospizio Bernina, railway station near Lago Bianco.
Day 13: Lugano – – Milan (B)
Have the morning to enjoy Lugano and admire its Italian-influenced architecture and cuisine. Take a stroll around the foreshore of Lake Lugano to marvel at the mountains in the backdrop, or soak up the atmosphere of Piazza della Riforma. Your train for Milan departs in the afternoon. This 90-minute journey sees you officially cross the border from Switzerland into Italy. Once in the stylish capital city of the Lombardy region you will have free time to see Milan however you wish. This destination is the epicentre of Italian fashion, style and design, plus is also home to an array of important historical and cultural sites – the Duomo di Milano, Teatro alla Scala, Sforzesco Castle and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Art-lovers will want to make a beeline to Santa Maria delle Grazie to see Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper mural.
Day 14: Milan – – Venice (B)
Make your way to the station and find your seat on the train that will take you to Venice. Travel through the beautiful countryside of the Lombardy and Veneto regions along the way, and arrive in the city dubbed ‘Queen of the Adriatic’ in the afternoon. Check in at your hotel and have the rest of the day as leisure time.
Day 15: Venice (B)
Following breakfast, be shown the most recognisable sites of Venice on a guided walking tour. You can expect to see St. Mark’s Square and the neighbouring Basilica, as well as the Doge’s Palace, Clock Tower, Campo Santa Maria Formosa and the house once belonging to Marco Polo. You will stroll through the San Marco and Rialto districts, and the day is capped off with a ride in a gondola – Venice’s iconic form of water transport. Enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. We suggest a stroll around the canal-strewn city’s labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways.
Day 16: Venice – – Florence (B)
Leave Veneto behind and travel southwards by train into the heart of Tuscany. Your destination is the Tuscan capital and the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance; Florence. The journey is expected to take about two-and-a-half hours and you have free time upon arrival in Florence.
Day 17: Florence (B)
It’s hard not to fall in love with Florence. This is a truly beautiful city with an incredible history, stunning streetscape and abundance of sights and things to do. Those unsure where to start or what to see can join the optional walking tour, or you may choose to set out on your own. Make your way to Piazzale Michelangelo for a sweeping panorama across the entire city; sample local fare and browse for foodie souvenirs at Mercato Centrale; shop for leather goods in the stalls of San Lorenzo Market; or simply wander without a plan and stumble upon hidden gems in quiet streets and alleyways.
Optional: Walking Tour of Florence
This excursion is perfect for first-time visitors to Florence. In two hours, this tour takes you to some of the city’s top attractions, including the Duomo, Palazzo and Ponte Vecchio, and Giotto’s Bell Tower. Additional cost applies.
Day 18: Florence – – Rome (B)
Say arriverderci to Florence as you board a train for the final leg of your rail tour of Switzerland and Italy. Your destination is Rome, the electric Italian capital city where ancient sites, incredible restaurants and gorgeous architecture can be found around every corner. Make your own way to the hotel upon arriving in the Eternal City and use the rest of the day to begin your exploration of Rome.
Day 19: Rome (B)
Take breakfast at your hotel and then head out into the streets of the city for a guided tour of Imperial Rome, with an included stop at the Colosseum. Find your own way to the pick-up point in central Rome and board a coach to be taken to Piazza Venezia to see the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. Walk along Piazza del Campidoglio to a spot that offers a great aspect over the Roman Forum site. It is then back onto the coach to drive by Circus Maximus and Aventine Hill. This is followed by a visit to see Michelangelo’s statue of Moses, located in the Church of St. Peter’s in Chains. Finally, the group makes its way to the legendary Colosseum. Visitors to Rome will never forget the first time they see this iconic structure, and a visit inside this ancient arena to learn about its purpose and chequered history is included in the tour. Tonight is your final evening in Italy.
Day 20: Rome – – New Zealand (B)
Make your way to the airport at the required time to board your return flight to New Zealand.
For those purchasing the Tour Only option, at the appropriate time please make your own way from the hotel to your next travel arrangements.
Day 21: New Zealand
Arrive back in New Zealand today.