Uncover the best of Italy, Switzerland and France

Put your finger on the pulse of Europe's beating heart on this memorable tour through Italy, Switzerland and France. From ancient wonders on the bustling streets of Rome, to high fashion in Milan, traditional folklore in the Swiss Alps and champagne tours in Reims - this trip truly captures the spoils of Europe. Travel through the charming hillside villages of the Cinque Terre, get close to nature amid the grandeur of Lucerne and fall in love with romantic Paris - each day brings a fascinating new discovery.

Start
Rome, Italy
Finish
Paris, France
Countries
France,
Italy,
Switzerland
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSP
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
299kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Walk along Cinque Terre's rocky coastal pathways, calling into the sleepy pastel villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore and Vernazza
  • Wander around Rome's famous landmarks including the Colosseum, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Basilica and much more. This is a city where you'll be able to tick a lot off your bucket list
  • Taste authentic French cuisine in Dijon and visit one of its famous wineries to sample the local tipple
  • Be romanced by Paris, the City of Love. The Eiffel Tower and Champs-Elysees are unforgettable when lit up at night
  • Be awed by the picture-perfect setting of Interlaken, with the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps as a backdrop

Itinerary

Buongiorno! Welcome to Italy. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting which usually takes place at around 7:00pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when exactly it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Crowded with ancient ruins and religious monuments, Rome still pulses to the beat of modern life and is packed with designer shops, restaurants, cafes and exciting nightlife. There are so many things to do in Rome, we recommend you arrive a few days early to see the all sights. No visit would be complete without a trip to Vatican City and St Peter's Basilica. Entry to the Basilica is free, and there's a small charge to climb the dome for the ultimate breathtaking panorama over bella Roma. Also make the time to visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museum is closed on some days, including most Sundays. On the last Sunday of the month, it's open and free (but expect large crowds). Check the Vatican website for these dates: www.vatican.va

Notes: Tickets for the Vatican Museum can be booked online at http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do Alternatively, the Galleria Borghese can be booked online at http://www.galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/einfo.htm
Enjoy some free time in Rome to see the must-see sights such as the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine, the Forum (centre of ancient Rome), the Victor Emmanuel Monument, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps, Via Condotti or Piazza Venezia. If you wish, your group leader will be available for an orientation walk taking in some of the best-known sights of Rome.

In the afternoon board a train for Lucca (approx 3 to 4 hours). Lucca is one of Tuscany's real hidden gems, with centuries-old buildings, beautiful churches, charming piazzas and narrow streets within the city ramparts.
This morning pick up a bike and set off on a cycling tour following Lucca's old city ramparts which surround the entire city. It is possible to circle the whole city without once getting off the walls. It's then off into the beautiful Tuscan countryside along the scenic Serchio River, through villages and along quiet gravel paths (4 km round the walls and 14 km by the river, approx 3 hrs).

Our base in Lucca provides us with the perfect opportunity for an outing to the nearby city of Pisa (approx 30 mins by local train), where you'll have the chance to visit the world-famous Duomo, Baptistry and of course, the gravity-defying Leaning Tower.

Notes: The bike ride may take place today or on day4 or 5, depending on the weather forecast. Your leader will advise closer to the date.
Take a day trip into Florence by local train (approx 1.5 hrs), which allows you to view the many wonderful sights in this beautiful 'outdoor museum'. Florence, the cultural heart of Tuscany, bursts with religious treasures and Renaissance masterpieces. It's been said that during the second millennium, a third of Europe's most important artists lived in Florence. The minds and talents of the Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello and Michelangelo all flourished here. See the Pitti Palace, the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno River, the many statues and monuments of the Piazza della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio, the 13th-century Duomo, the Baptistry and the Gates of Paradise, Giotto's Belltower, and Michelangelo's David. There will be free time to take in the many fine museums and artistic treasures such as the Medici Chapels, and the Uffizi, as well as time to shop in the many markets and chic boutiques.

Note: Florentine State Museums (Uffizi, Accademia, Pitti Palace, Medici Chapels, Bargello, Archaeological Museum, Davanzati) can all be booked in advance. Reserve tickets by phone on (+39) 055 294883 from Monday to Friday 8.30am-6.30pm, Saturday 8.30am-12.30pm. You can also book online at www.weekendafirenze.com. We suggest that you book in advance (your leader can nbe of assistance) especially for the Uffizi as this museum experiences enormous queues (up to 5 hours) all year round. The individual museums have slightly different opening times and closing days between them but the website - www.firenzemusei.it - has everything you need to know about all of them. We arrive into Florence in the late morning, so the best time for your visit to any of the museums will be in the afternoon of day 4. IMPORTANT: Please note that if you choose to pre-book your ticket for day 4 you may miss out on the bike ride in Lucca should this take place on day 4 due to adverse weather conditions on day 3.
Today is a free day in Lucca to take in all the sights that this city has to offer. Perhaps check out the former Roman amphitheater - To be found off Via Fillungo. The remains of the amphitheater are gone, however the medieval houses now standing in its place follow the outline where the spectator stands once were. There are many outdoor cafes where you can sit down and see the world go by and do a spot of people watching. Make sure you also check out the 14th century Duomo di San Martino, containing Ilaria del Carretto's sarcophagus, and climb one of the city's towers, such as pretty Torre Guinigi, visible from afar with trees growing on it's roof.
Travel by train, bound for La Spezia (approx 3 hrs), the gateeway to the Cinque Terre, or Five Lands in English. After lunch explore the city or perhaps head out by ferry to the pretty seaside town of Portovenere, known for its colourful houses straddling the waterfront. Return to La Spezia or opt to take another ferry to Lerici, another small village across the Bay of Poets dominated by its castle, for dinner.
This morning embark on a walk along the famous path of the Cinque Terre. Olive groves and vineyards cover the mountains that plunge into the sea - the vistas here are breathtaking. If you're feeling energetic, walking the entire path (12 km, approx 5 hrs) will give you the best taste of the villages and countryside. Please note that some sections of the Cinque Terre path can be quite difficult with challenging uphill stretches, narrow paths, steep cliffs and foot bridges. Appropriate footwear (trainers or light hiking shoes) are required for this day.

It's also possible to take the train between any of the villages or back to the group's base whenever you want. After working up an appetite, take advantage of the foods of the Liguria region with a pesto class. Focaccia is also a specialty in this area and makes a great start to lunch. In the late afternoon return to La Spezia, where the rest of your day is then free.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to recent landslides in the area it is currently not possible to walk the the Via dell'Amore and the coastal section between Manarola and Corniglia. There are alternative inland routes, however these are of a higher physical rating and involve steep ups and downs. It is possible to take the train or a bus for these sections.

Cinque Terre path sections:
- Riomaggiore to Manarola (the original Via dell'Amore) is currently closed until further notice. The alternative is an inland path, taking around 1 hour involving a rocky path with lots of steps.
- Manarola to Corniglia is also closed to landslides. The alternative is via the hill side village of Volastra. It takes 1 hour to reach Volastra via a series of steep staircases, and then another hour to reach Corniglia. There is an hourly bus from Manarola to Volastra in order to bypass the steps.
- Corniglia to Vernazza is medium level difficulty and takes about one and a half hours on a rocky path.
- Vernazza to Monterosso is more challenging but arguably the most scenic and takes about two hours on a rocky path.

Please also note that due to safety reasons some sections of any path can be closed at short notice.
Travel by train to Milan (approx 3 hrs). Italy's most prosperous and fashionable city, Milan is the place for stylish shopping and cafes - Milanese specialities! While in Milan many visitors will want to take a visit to Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper, or just explore the city's historic centre and visit the magnificent Duomo (cathedral) with its stunning Gothic terrace.

In the afternoon leave Milan by train for our next destination, Stresa (approx 1.5 hrs). Charming 19th-century Stresa is a town that boasts all the amenities of both a traditional seaside resort and a winter ski resort. The Italian lakeland scenery is beautiful with blue waters, soaring mountains, woodlands, exotic gardens, Victorian-style resort towns, historic hamlets, traditional Italian fishing villages and reminders of a bygone era in every direction.

Note: Your leader can't assist with tickets to see the Last Supper. These tickets are limited and generally sell out extremely quickly and up to six months in advance. If you expressly want to see the Last Supper you need to make arrangements in advance. Day 8 of this trip between 1pm and 3pm is the most suitable time. Note that the viewing is 15 minutes and in order not to lose the reservation, visitors must arrive 15 minutes before the time allocated for the visit. For information and reservations call +39 02 92 800 360. Online bookings may be available at these sites: www.cenacolovinciano.org or http://www.vivaticket.it/index.php?. Some websites will only sell a ticket in conjunction with an additional product such as a guide book or another museum entry.
Today board a local ferry for a scenic trip on Lake Maggiore to the beautiful Borromeo Isles. Visit the romantic palatial residence built in the 17th century by Charles III in stunning Lombard-Baroque style, and wander through its wonderful hanging gardens. Try cooling yourself, as the original inhabitants did, in the ornately decorated caves. You can lunch on the islands in one of the traditional fishing villages and if there's time to spare, visit the markets and churches in one of the lakeside hamlets. Ride the cable car up to the top of Mount Mottarone, the winter ski centre, from where there are wonderful views of the Lakes Region, the Swiss Alps and the Monte Rosa Massif. Evenings in Stresa are best spent strolling the quaint streets of the town, people-watching from the pavement cafes or enjoying Italian food at one of the many lakeside restaurants.
Take a spectacular train journey to Lucerne in Switzerland (approx 6 hrs). Explore the medieval city of Lucerne, located on the edge of a mountain-locked lake with plenty to do and see. This historic old town is famous for 15th century frescoed houses and covered wooden bridges - one festooned with visions of death.
Today is a free day to explore the area around Lucerne. Catch the cog wheel railway to the top of nearby Mount Pilatus and take the cable car back down, or visit the excellent Transport Museum. Alternatively, you might just want to relax and enjoy the mountain vista from a lake cruise or stroll on one of the many lakeside paths.
A train journey through villages and spectacular alpine scenery brings us to the Bernese Oberland and the town of Interlaken (approx 4 hrs). Upon arrival travel to nearby Lauterbrunnen and enjoy a walk through characteristic Swiss countryside to view the magnificent Trummelbach Falls. There's plenty of time to to wander the beautiful walking paths of the Lauterbrunnen Valley and to visit nearby villages where you can enjoy excellent traditional Swiss cheesecake and hot chocolate. Otherwise, sample some traditional Swiss food at one of the local restaurants - fondue and rosti are specialities.
Interlaken and the Bernese Oberland region offer a multitude of activities to take part in during your free time. Why not indulge in a nine o'clock champagne breakfast with 'James Bond' at Piz Gloria, the world's highest revolving restaurant on the peak of the Schilthorn. With views to the Black Forest in Germany and the Italian Alps on a clear day, it's a spectacular spot, but at 3,000 metres you have to start climbing early! If this sounds way too challenging, there are three eye-popping cable cars that can get you there in under an hour and you'll also have an opportunity to visit the major ski resort villages on the way down.
On your second free day in this spectacular Alpine setting, you might want to take the funicular railway on an awesome mountain ride up the side of the mighty Eiger, above the glaciers, to the Jungfraujoch and 'the roof of Europe'. Here, at almost 3,500 metres, you can indulge in a few light-headed snowball fights, walk through a carved ice palace or ski, all while taking in the kind of mountain views that few ever get to see - weather permitting of course!

Alternatively, mountain bikes can be hired locally and there are plenty of trails, and there are numerous hikes in the area with other funicular railway or cable car connections, and a host of other physical activities. Just ask your group leader about all the options to choose from.

Notes: The use of the Jungfrau railway has been known to cause some minor acclimatisation troubles for some travellers, as the difference in altitude between the railway stations of Interlaken and Jungfraujoch is almost 3 km! Take this into account before making the trip.
Take the train to Bern (approx 1 hr). Switzerland's attractive capital is an inviting place to spend a few hours. Wander through the medieval old town on cobblestone streets or picnic by the Aare River. Visit the 15th century Gothic cathedral, with 12m high stained glass windows or survey the domain of a genius at Einstein's house.

Later today cross the border by train into France and onwards to Dijon (approx 4 hrs). Burgundy is one of France's richest provinces - historically, culturally, gastronomically and economically. Dijon's delightful city centre boasts numerous medieval and renaissance buildings and a warren of narrow little streets. Despite its long history, Dijon has a youthful feel about it due to its large and well-known university.
Today, take a day trip to the delightful town of Beaune. Beaune is located in the wine region of the Cote d'Or, an area that produces some of the best wines in France and is made up of the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits, where vineyards stretch as far as the eye can see. The best Burgundy wines are grown here in the golden-red soil, hence the name Cote d'Or (Land of Gold). Cycle through the vineyards, with beautiful views of the gentle rolling hills that make up this idyllic landscape. In the evening, back in Dijon, indulge in some wine tasting, relax at one of the many enticing pavement cafes or simply stroll the charming streets.
Travel north by train to the Champagne region (approx 4 hrs). Set in an agricultural region famous around the world for its sparkling wines, which have been produced here since the days of Dom Perignon, Reims is home to some of the best known 'Grandes Marques' in Champagne and plays an important part in the production of the sparkling wine. It also boasts a historical side - the kings of France were crowned in the city's elaborate gothic Notre Dame Cathedral.
After a free morning in Reims, embark on a tour around the caves of Pommery to learn about champagne-making and the remarkable businesswoman this brand is named after.
Travel by train to Paris (approx 1 hr). Rich in museums, art galleries, monuments, fashion and fabulous food, Paris offers a wealth of major sights and hidden treasures to discover.
You have a free day to be swept off your feet by the city. Explore the world-famous Louvre, where you can see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Join the Thinker in his eternal contemplation at the Rodin Museum. Visit the Musee d'Orsay, home to some of the most famous Impressionist paintings. Climb the Eiffel Tower (or take the lift) for some impressive aerial views of Paris. See the Notre Dame Cathedral with its vast Rose Window and menacing gargoyles. Wandering around the Champs-Elysees, the student-filled Latin Quarter and the bohemian Montmartre will give you a good feel for the city. The Tuileries, Plantes and Luxembourg gardens are all excellent places to enjoy a simple baguette with cheese on summer days, or head to a cafe to have a coffee - the French drink it black - and watch the world go by.

Regroup in the evening to enjoy a last dinner together in this romantic city (not included). Afterwards, consider hitting a jazz bar or simply taking a walk to take in more of this enchanting city.

Notes: To avoid queuing at Louvre's ticket windows, you can buy your ticket in advance, but pre-sold tickets can't be collected at the Louvre. The ticket is valid every day except Tuesday (when the museum is closed) and certain bank holidays. Book on this website: www.louvre.fr.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is so much to see in this magnificent city you may want to consider extending your stay here. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you, subject to availability. Please enquire at the time of booking.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
10 breakfasts
Transport
Train, Public bus, Ferry, Bicycle, Tram, Metro
Accommodation
Guesthouse (3 nights), Hotel (13 nights), Private apartment (4 nights)
Included activities
  • Rome Orientation walk
  • Lucca Bicycle Tour
  • Pisa Half Day Trip
  • Florence Day Trip
  • Cinque Terre Day Trip
  • Milan Duomo Roof Visit
  • Lake Maggiore Cruise
  • Trummelbach Falls
  • Beaune Day Trip
  • Bicycle Excursion around Beaune
  • Champagne Caves Tour Reims

Dates

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Reviews

Our Rome to Paris trips score an average of 4.86 out of 5 based on 28 reviews in the last year.

Rome to Paris , October 2015

Rome to Paris , September 2015

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