Discover the good things in life on a classic Europe tour

Lose yourself in three of Europe's most enchanting countries. From the vibrant streets of Barcelona, travel into the heart of the picturesque Spanish Pyrenees. Discover Provencal food and world-class wines then frolic with Europe’s high rollers in the French Riviera. Feast on breathtaking sights in the cliff-top towns of the Cinque Terre, see master works of art in Florence and marvel at the leaning Torre de Pisa. Call into beautiful Siena then conclude this European adventure tour in the ancient city of Rome.

Start
Barcelona, Spain
Finish
Rome, Italy
Countries
France,
Italy,
Spain
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
214kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Gaudi's modern cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, is like no other building you've ever seen. Still under construction after over 130 years, this Gothic masterpiece embodies Barcelona's artistic and progressive heart
  • Hike in the majestic Spanish Pyrenees mountains, revelling in the fresh air, panoramic views and an exhilarating sense of freedom
  • The Provencal landscapes of southern France are some of the most idyllic in Europe. As you wander past bright lavender fields, you'll understand why this part of the world is so adored by artists
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa may be Pisa's most iconic image, but the city offers so much more. The Piazza dei Miracoli and Pisa Baptistry are masterpieces in Medieval-Italian architecture
  • There's a lot more to Florence than Renaissance art (although the art is pretty great). The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is brimming with nearly 600 years of history and stories
  • No Italian adventure would be complete without a visit to Rome. Enjoy plenty of free time to discover the ancient Colosseum, stroll through Vatican City and gaze up towards the gods inside St Peter's Basilica

Itinerary

Welcome to Barcelona, Spain. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hostel lobby or ask the reception where it will take place. 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. If you arrive early, use free time to get your bearings of Barcelona. There are plenty of galleries, cafes and historic corners to keep you busy. Gaudi's bizarre La Sagrada Familia Cathedral is not be missed. As there's not much time in Barcelona, we suggest you head to the city a few days earlier so you can get under the skin of this great city.

If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the welcome meeting. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Notes: It's worth booking an extra few days of accommodation in Barcelona, so you're able to see as much as possible while you're here. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team can help (subject to availability).
Travel north today by train and climb into the Spanish Pyrenees to the small town of Ribes de Freser (approximately two hours) which is our base for next two days. Beautifully placed Ribes de Freser, is situated at the confluence of three different rivers; Freser, Rigard and Segadell. The town is not only an important tourist centre in that part pf Pyrenees, but it’s also well known for its mineral water and milk products. Make sure you sample these today, perhaps in your free time during the day.

Balance of the day is free for you to spend as you wish. The town is a great place to relax with the views of beautiful Pyrenees mountains in the background. In the evening, perhaps head out for dinner with the group.
Today, enjoy stunning views from the cogwheel train into Nuria Valley. The line of the train connects Ribes de Freser with Queralbs, which is the highest point in the valley reachable by road. The rack railways (beside the old footpath), is the only way to reach the shrine at Nuria.

Along with cogwheel train journey, you will find time to stretch your legs on a hike in the scenic surrounds. Take to the hills for a day of hiking in the Pyrenees and be prepared for some steep ascents. Climb up through the forest to a fantastic viewpoint of the mountain peaks (weather permitting). Don't forget your camera, as the scenery is alpine and spectacular. The terrain can be quite rough around this region so please make sure you bring the sturdy trainers or light hiking boots for this.

We’ll be back in Ribes de Freser in late afternoon for yet another evening to enjoy in this picturesque scenery.
Continue your adventure across the French border today, as you take the long train journey to Carcassonne via Toulouse (approximately six hours). The stunning medieval French city of Carcassonne looks like it's straight from a classic fairytale. The town is famous for its 53 (!) watchtowers and double-walled fortifications. The first walls were built in Gallo-Roman style with later additions made in 13th and 14th centuries.

You'll have plenty of time to explore and uncover Carcassonne’s secrets. Château Comtal, a 12th-century fortress within Le Cité, which offers archaeological exhibits and a tour of the inner ramparts, is certainly an interesting option for free afternoon.
Leave Carcassonne behind today and take the train into the French region of Provence, settling in the town of Arles (approximately four hours). Once a provincial capital of ancient Rome, Arles is now famed for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh, which can be seen at the contemporary art displayed at the Foundation of his name.

On arrival, take a walk around the town and immerse yourself in the picturesque landscapes that surround you. Go on an included trip to Arles Amphitheatre in the afternoon and tour the vast arches of this ancient Roman arena.

The evening is then free to do as you wish.
Enjoy a free day in the town of Arles. There's plenty to see and do during your time here, so use your time wisely. Perhaps head to the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation and browse the permanent art exhibitions of the Post-Impressionist painter, as well as temporary exhibitions of other famous artists. Discover Gothic architecture in a walled city where the Pope once took refuge, stroll past an ancient multi-storey aqueduct and cycle among pink flamingos frolicking in sandy reed beds. The Antiques Museum, Arlaten Ethnographic Museum and Reattu Museum provide tonnes of culture to discover, or simply relax by The Rhone river and watch the world go by.
Take the train to Nice today, which should take you around four hours. The star of the Riviera and a great base from which to explore the rest of the Cote d'Azur, Nice boasts both public and private beaches, and many water sports are also available. One amongst the many options for the day is a boat trip to famous St Tropez. Please check with your Tour Leader for more details.

Your afternoon and evening are free, but try not to miss the flower and evening markets on Place Saleya.
Aside from an included lunch time picnic, the rest of your day in Nice is free to explore. There's even the option of taking a day trip to the glitzy city of Cannes, which only costs around EUR 14 by train, bus or boat. Possibly visit the cliff-top village of Eze, known as 'The Eagles Nest'. Just 10 minutes from Nice, this medieval town is a true gem. Vaulted, narrow streets are filled with art galleries, workshops and gastronomic restaurants. At the top is a ruined medieval castle commanding one of the most beautiful panoramas on the Cote d'Azur.
Enjoy included breakfast this morning and take the long train ride for around seven hours and cross the Italian border to Cinque Terre. On arrival in Cinque Terre, there won't be too much time to explore. After checking in to your hotel perhaps get your bearings of the area with a short walk or head out for dinner with the group. After that it is best to just relax and rest before the walk on famous Cinque Terre route tomorrow.
This morning venture out on the footpaths of Cinque Terre (Five Lands), a region of Italy famed for its coastline and pastel villages. The footpaths that run between the villages were once the only way to travel in the region, and take you through olive groves, vineyards and to idyllic vistas. Walking the entire network of paths can take around five hours (12 km in total) and will need a good level of fitness. Some sections of path can be difficult, as there are challenging uphill stretches, narrow paths, steep cliffs and foot bridges. Please remember to bring comfortable footwear such as trainers or light hiking shoes.

Cinque Terre path sections:
- Riomaggiore to Manarola is easy and takes 25 minutes on a paved path.
- Manarola to Corniglia is easy and takes about 50 minutes on a partly paved and partly rocky path.
- 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 and takes about two hours on a rocky path.

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 speciality in this area and makes a great start to lunch. In the late afternoon, the rest of your day is free.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to recent landslides in the area it is currently not possible to walk the full extent of 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 for these sections.
Depart Cinque Terre today and catch a train to Pisa, which normally takes between one to two hours.

There's ample time for you to visit the world-famous Leaning Tower, as well as the Duomo (Piazza dei Miracoli) and Pisa Baptistry. Please note that it's not always possible to climb the tower, although you'll have plenty of time to take pictures and explore the city. Return to the station in the afternoon and take the train to Florence (approximately two hours).

After checking in to your hotel in Florence, the rest of your evening is free to explore the city of Renaissance.
After breakfast, head out into Florence and perhaps visit the Uffizi, one of the world's oldest art galleries, or see Michelangelo's famous statue of David in the Galleria dell'Accademia. Walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which is set on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River. There are plenty of sights to see during your time in Florence.

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 be 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. Make your reservations for these museums for any time on Day 12 of this itinerary.
Leave Florence early in the morning for a day tour to Siena. Bus journey should take you around one a half hours.

Surrounded by olive groves and vineyards of chianti, Siena is one of the most idyllic cities of Tuscany. Wander the tiny alleyways and lively piazzas, and search out the unique Piazza del Campo, where the famous Palio horse race takes place (twice annually in mid-July and the end of August). Siena has an energetic and friendly student atmosphere that has endured since the 13th century, thanks to one of the oldest universities in the world being located here.

You will be back in Florence for the evening which is free to enjoy as you please.
In the morning, take the train to Rome (approximately two hours). Join your leader on an orientation walk around the city, where you see some of the iconic sights such as the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine, the Forum (centre of ancient Rome), the Victor Emmanuel Monument, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Via Dei Condotti and Piazza Venezia. 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 a panorama over the city. Use your free time to also 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).

For meals, Rome is packed full of restaurants and trattorias that cater to every taste and budget. Local specialities tend to be quite heavy, and include pastas such as carbonara (egg, cheese and bacon) and amatriciana (tomato, bacon and chilli). Eating in trattorias will give you a chance to sample some Italian wines, with house choices usually very good and affordable. Head out in the evening with the group for a final farewell dinner.

Notes: Check the Vatican website (vatican.va) for updated information on when you can visit. Tickets for the Vatican Museum can be booked online at: biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do. Alternatively, the Galleria Borghese can be booked online at: galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/einfo.htm.
Your Barcelona to Rome adventure comes to an end this morning. There are no more activities planned for today and you're free to depart the accommodation at any time.

Notes: It's worth booking an extra few days of accommodation in Rome, so you're able to see as much as possible while you're here. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team can help (subject to availability). Check the Vatican website (vatican.va) for updated information on when you can visit. Tickets for the Vatican Museum can be booked online at: biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do. Alternatively, the Galleria Borghese can be booked online at: galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/einfo.htm.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
12 breakfasts
Transport
Bus, Cog wheel railway, Metro, Public bus, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (14 nights)
Included activities
  • Cogwheel train to Nuria Valley
  • Hiking in the Pyrenees
  • Arles Amphitheatre
  • Picnic Nice
  • Cinque Terre Day Trip

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

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Barcelona to Rome , October 2015

Barcelona to Rome , September 2015

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