Highlights of Europe - Insight Vacations

Highlights of Europe (Summer 2017)

Duration: 18 days Visiting: England, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Highlights
  • Optional experiences
  • Accommodation
  • Reviews
  • Dates & prices

Varied landscapes, magnificent scenery, history galore, and a treasure-trove of art and architecture... a glorious reflection of Europe at her best.

  1. Day 1

    Your Journey Begins

    Board your overnight flight to England (please ask about our great deals).

  2. Day 2

    Welcome to London!

    Check in to your hotel, then there is time to relax.

  3. Day 3

    Discovering London

    An included half day sightseeing tour of London's West End shows you all the major sights - Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. Your Tour Director is also on hand today for help and advice.

  4. Day 4

    Depart from London by Eurostar for Brussels

    Meet your Tour Director and transfer to London's St. Pancras Station to board the high-speed Eurostar. Your two-hour rail journey takes you via the historic Channel Tunnel to Brussels. Alternatively, join at the Brussels Hotel. In the afternoon, stroll through the beautiful Grand Place, with its gilded buildings and see the cheeky Manneken Pis. Later, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception and an opportunity to mingle and get to know each other over a warm evening of dinner and wine.

  5. Day 5

    Cruise past the Castles of the Rhine Valley and on to Heidelberg

    Travel into Germany and continue along the Rhine, via Bonn, to Boppard. Join a cruise, passing medieval hilltop castles and steep leafy vineyards to the village of St. Goar, near the legendary Loreley Rock. Continue on to Heidelberg to see the clifftop castle.

  6. Day 6

    Rothenburg and along the Romantic Road to Munich

    Stop in medieval Rothenburg ob der Tauber, still surrounded by its old walls and watch towers, frozen in time since the 16th century. Continue along the Romantic Road to the Bavarian capital of Munich. See the Ludwigstrasse, Marienplatz and soaring Town Hall. Stroll through Munich's open-air food market, the Viktualienmarkt, with its beer garden. At night, maybe sample a stein of beer in a local beer hall?

  7. Day 7

    Music and Mountains of Austria

    A short drive leads over the Austrian border to Salzburg, the city of Mozart and the ‘Sound of Music'. Sightseeing with a Local Expert shows you the formal gardens of Mirabell Palace which includes the fountains and statues where the 'Do, Re, Mi' scene in the film was created. Witness the imposing fortress, cathedral and Mozart's birthplace on the lively Getreidegasse before having free time for lunch. Next you will continue to Innsbruck, surrounded by the imposing peaks of the Nordkette mountains, where you will see the 14th century houses of Old Town, the impressive Imperial Palace and the delightful Golden Roof with your orientation tour.

  8. Day 8 - Relaxed Start

    Across the Dolomites to Venice

    (Relaxed Start) Drive down through the Dolomites, crossing the Italian border and descend to the romantic city of Venice. You'll be enchanted with the refined elegance of your hotel, where modern rooms are furnished in the Venetian style of the 1700s - a touch of antiquity, typical of the most prestigious mansions of Venice.

  9. Day 9

    Venice & the Magic of 'La Serenissima'

    Waking up to the sights and sounds of Venice is a thrill for even the most experienced traveller. A morning boat transfer brings you to Giudecca Island to witness the age-old skills of glassblowers. Then cruise by Palladio's San Giorgio Maggiore to St. Mark's Square. Alight to see Lord Byron's Bridge of Sighs which connects the Doge's Palace to the prisons. In the square, the bell tower comes into view, plus the beautiful mosaics of St. Mark's Basilica and the Clock Tower Moors, who have been striking the hour for over 500 years. To the tune of accompanying musicians, you are serenaded through the atmospheric canals by gondola, past water-lapped doorways and Rococo palaces. The rest of the day is free to shop in the small arcades.

  10. Day 10

    The Eternal City of Rome

    Head south over the Apennine Mountains and follow the 'Highway of the Sun' to the 'Eternal City' of Rome.

  11. Day 11

    Papal and Imperial Rome

    During your two-night stay, join a Local Expert for a private tour of the priceless art of the Vatican Museums and the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. Your VIP visit includes fast-track entry and behind-the-scenes access to the Bramante Staircase, a part of the Vatican usually closed to the public. Then explore St. Peter's Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world. Cross the River Tiber to see the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum then the afternoon is free for you to explore.

  12. Day 12

    Over the Chianti hills to Florence

    Drive to the Chianti Hills and the city of Florence. A Local Expert will accompany you to the Duomo, where the Gates of Paradise adorn the baptistery. Continue to Signoria Square, the political heart of the city, lined with fountains and statues it acts as a virtual open-air gallery of Renaissance masterpieces. Take the time to gaze at Neptune and David. Afterwards, there is time to shop.

  13. Day 13 - Relaxed Start

    Lake Maggiore

    (Relaxed Start) Journey past the capital of Lombardy, Milan, as you journey north to the beautiful Italian Lake District, a favourite retreat of the rich and famous where Alpine scenery combines with luxuriant subtropical vegetation. Relax and enjoy an afternoon at leisure at this popular resort and beautiful lake or perhaps take a cruise out to the lovely Borromean Islands?

  14. Day 14 - Relaxed Start

    The Alps and on to Lucerne

    (Relaxed Start) In the morning, cross the Swiss border and enjoy Alpine scenery all the way to Lucerne. On arrival, see what Mark Twain described as 'the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world', the emotive Lion Monument. In the evening, get together with your friends and choose from a selection of authentic local restaurants for your dining pleasure.

  15. Day 15

    Lakeside Lucerne

    In the morning, head to the town of Stans, where we embark on a spectacular journey by funicular railway and open-top cable car to the summit of the stunning Stanserhorn. On a clear day, in addition to the beautiful mountains and surrounding hills, there are views as far as Alsace and the Black Forest in Germany. Then back to Lucerne, there is free time to stroll across the Chapel Bridge to the ornate Jesuit Church or spend time shopping in the traffic-free Old Town. Perhaps venture into the countryside to meet the local farmers for a delightful horse-drawn carriage ride?

  16. Day 16

    Paris for a ‘Diner de Célébration’

    Drive to Basel before crossing the Rhine to enter France. Travel through the wine-growing Burgundy region to Paris, the vibrant ‘Ville-Lumière' (City of Light). During your time in Paris, see the imposing façades of the Louvre, the banks of the Seine with its many romantic bridges, the obelisk in the centre of the Place de la Concorde and drive along the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Enjoy a ‘Diner de Célébration' served with wine in a Parisian bistro, abundant with French ambience.

  17. Day 17

    Paris, the ‘City of Light’

    In the morning, meet your Local Expert who will take you on a walking tour of the bohemian Latin Quarter. Explore the myriad of streets situated on the left bank of the Seine, before continuing onto the Notre Dame Cathedral to see this masterpiece of French Gothic architecture. Insight ensures you leave the long queues at the Eiffel Tower behind - ascend by express elevator to the famous viewing platforms for breathtaking panoramas over the city. The afternoon is at leisure for shopping or your own pursuits.

  18. Day 18

    Au revoir Paris

    Transfers arrive at Charles de Gaulle Airport at 08:00 and 11:00, or depart for London via Gare du Nord for Eurostar option.

Highlights

 

SIGNATURE EXPERIENCES

  • Eurostar: Relax on the smooth, high-speed Eurostar train from London via the historic Channel Tunnel to Brussels.
  • Rhine Valley: Watch medieval hilltop castles and vineyards slip by as you enjoy a scenic cruise.
  • Venice: Glide along the atmospheric canals exploring the intimate and hidden parts of this unique city while musicians set the mood with traditional songs.
  • Rome: Enjoy VIP fast-track entry into the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel including privileged behind-the-scenes access to the Bramante Staircase.
  • Stanserhorn: A spectacular journey by a funicular railway and open-top cable car to the summit of the Stanserhorn for expansive mountain views.
  • Paris: Venture with a Local Expert through the Latin Quarter and see the Notre Dame Cathedral, a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture.
  • Paris: With tickets to the Eiffel Tower prearranged, ascend and enjoy spectacular views of Paris.

Additional Included Highlights

  • Brussels: Walk through the Grand Place to the Mannekin Pis.

    Heidelberg: See the red sandstone castle and explore the baroque Old Town.

    Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber: Visit Europe's finest medieval town.

  • Munich: See the Olympic Stadium, Ludwigstrasse, Marienplatz and neogothic Town Hall.
  • Salzburg: Walk through the Mirabell Gardens with a guide, see Mozart's Birthplace and the Cathedral.
  • Venice: Cruise, with commentary, to St.
  • Mark's Square.
  • See the Doges' Palace, Bridge of Sighs and St.
  • Mark's Basilica.
  • Rome: Visit St.
  • Peters Basilica in the Vatican City.
  • See the mighty Colosseum and overlook the Forum.
  • Florence: Walk with your guide to the Cathedral, see the ‘Gates of Paradise' and open-air gallery of Signoria Square.
  • Witness a traditional Florentine leather-work demonstration.
  • Lucerne: View the emotive Lion Monument.
  • See the covered Chapel Bridge and Jesuit Church.
  • Paris: See Notre Dame Cathedral, the façades of the Louvre Museum, the Place de la Concorde.
  • Drive along the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe.
  • Scenic Drives: The Dolomites, Italian Lake District and Swiss Alps.

    .

AUTHENTIC REGIONAL FLAVOURS

  • Lucerne: You are offered a selection of restaurants on your Dine-Around evening. Choose your own ambience, cuisine and drinks for an intimate culinary experience.
  • Paris: Rendezvous at a typical French bistro for a little wine and a rousing Celebration Dinner. Bon Appétit!
  • 14 Buffet Breakfasts (BB); 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 3 three-course table d'hôte Dinner (DW), 1 Dine-Around evening (DA) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD) all with wine, plus tea or coffee.

STAY AT THE BEST ADDRESSES

  • Brussels: The Marriott is located in the heart of Brussels within walking distance to the Grand Place. All guest rooms are elegantly designed and feature luxury bedding.
  • Heidelberg: The Crowne Plaza Heidelberg City Centre is in the heart of historical Heidelberg and includes its own swimming pool and sauna. Modern and well-appointed rooms.
  • Innsbruck: Hotel Innsbruck is located on the bank of the Inn River in the heart of the medieval Old Town. The panoramic spa area looks over the roofs of the Old Town and offers a variety of saunas as well as a sun terrace.
  • Paris: The Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel is located on the Left Bank of the Seine River near the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Recently renovated, all rooms feature luxurious bedding, safes, high-speed Internet access and air conditioning.

ADDITIONAL FIVE STAR SERVICES

  • An expert Insight Tour Director, at the pinnacle of their career, will guide you on your journey. Serving as your 'travelling concierge', this skilled guide will act as consummate organiser and be your 'friend in a foreign land'.
  • Enjoy the unique comfort of Insight's luxury air-conditioned 40 seat coach with extended leg room and on-board restroom. It's business class comfort.
  • A personal radio headset gives you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights, without missing any of your Local Expert's fascinating insights and commentaries.
  • Baggage handling everywhere, with seamless and prompt delivery to your door at every hotel.
  • Hotel and restaurant tips included - you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. Plus we include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
  • Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi.
  • Insight Flourishes - from time to time, your Tour Director will enchant you with local tidbits, each representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination.
  • Included airport transfers at scheduled times on arrival and departure days.

Optional experiences

Most Insight trips already include a host of bonus highlights and comprehensive sightseeing. There may also be an exciting array of Optional Experiences which will turn an already amazing experience into the trip of a lifetime! These are entirely optional and can be booked through your Travel Director/Local Representative at the commencement of your trips. Please note, many Optional Experiences are operated by independent third party suppliers, not Insight Vacations. The Optionals and pricing listed here are a guideline only and subject to change.

Accommodation

 

Marriott Brussels

Brussels (Central) - Belgium

Marriott Brussels: Marriott, Located in the heart of Brussels within walking distance to the Grand Place. All guest rooms are elegantly designed and feature luxury bedding.

Crowne Plaza Heidelberg City Centre

Heidelberg (Contemporary) - Germany

A modern hotel located in the centre of historical Heidelberg.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Munich

Munich (Central) - Germany

The Leonardo Royal Hotel, located next to Munich’s famous Olympic Park, features modern architecture and refined interiors.

Hilton Innsbruck

Innsbruck (Central) - Austria

Enjoy breathtaking views of the Tyrolean Alps from the Hilton Innsbruck, situated within the city centre of Innsbruck.

Best Western Premier Hotel Sant Elena Venice

Venice (Central) - Italy

Best Western Premier Hotel Sant'Elena, Venice

Hotel Mediterraneo Rome

Rome (Contemporary) - Italy

Hotel Londra Florence

Florence (Contemporary) - Italy

An elegant hotel situated right in the heart of Florence.

Grand Hotel Dino Baveno

Baveno (Central) - Italy

Grand Hotel Dino, Overlooking Lake Maggiore, ideally located in the hillside town of Baveno. Facilities include pools, massage rooms and Turkish baths.

Astoria Lucerne

Lucerne (Central) - Switzerland

A recently refurbished city centre hotel, just minutes from the lake. It has a lively rooftop bar with views of Lucerne as well as several restaurants and a coffee shop.

Marriott Rive Gauche Paris

Paris (Central) - France

The Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel is located on the Left Bank of the Seine River near the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Pres.

Guest Reviews & Experiences

Our guests rate us 4.5 out of 5 based on
10076 independent user reviews received during the past year.

  • 24 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Well organized efficient use of time. We spent only two days in Rome, but still saw the Pantheon, Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Bramante staircase, St Peters, Forum, Colluseum, Trevi Fountain. Our tour group had immediate acccess to places where there were long lines for individuals. The itinerary was overall very good, with even the driving routes designed to maximize our scenic enjoyment.

    Service: Well organized, efficient use of time.

  • 23 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: It was as advertised and gave us a quick tour covering as much as possible.

    Service: Well organised and a great tour Leader (Chantal) with great knowledge and advice. Very considerate to all of the group and a lot of fun and enjoyment.

  • 17 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: As we were aware and advised regularly that it was a highlight tour. It gave us the ability to see the main tourist sights that you would want to see in each city as well as some free time. Having the fantastic local tour guides e.g Ziggy in Rome, with their wealth of information and history made it interesting. Also, having the tour director sorting out the logistics so that we were able to best utilise our time helped with allowing us to see what we needed to see.

    Service: We really enjoyed the trip and having everything organised for us so we could sit back and enjoy. The extra experiences e.g. visiting the winery in Italy, going to the Italian family home for dinner were really enjoyable experiences and added an extra dimension to the tour.

  • 17 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Stopped & visited many wonderful places....getting a real feel for Europe!

    Service: Lots of good information provided ahead of time! Yes, would definitely use Insight again!

  • 15 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: One word sums it up .... Exceptional

    Service: Right down to the smallest detail, everything was organised to maximise what we saw, maximise experiences etc. on our limited timeframe. We most certainly did see what we classify as "Europes Highlights" and we both would most definitely urge friends and family to experience this wonderful form of travel.

  • 13 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: All locations were highlights.

    Service: Well planned. Tour guide Lynda was excellent. She was knowledgeable and accommodating.

  • 10 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Wanted a highlights tour and that was what it was. Optional excursions were great.

    Service: Tour director was very knowledgeable and provided historical information and fun facts. I had mobility issues and he was extremely helpful!

  • 09 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Really enjoyed quiet days Cities were n8ce to see but down time is important

    Service: It was a busy schedule . Ideally add a quiet day between Venice and Rome.

  • 09 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Itinerary was exactly as stated - in hindsight I would opt for fewer countries with more time in some locations. Staying in 9 hotels in 15 nights is hectic - and a few days of long hours on motor coach.

    Service: Everything was planned out so well and our tour director was wonderful - made us feel like family!

  • 26 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: We had to purchase separately some adventures which should have originally been included in the itinerary. For instance: Colosseum & Eiffel Tower. With extra excursions, which we purchased, our schedule became extremely demanding --- many late nights & early mornings.

    Service: Lynda gave excellent service. Made each guest feel like it was all our own personal experience.

  • 26 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: While the locations visited were good the number of nights could have been more than one in some instances. Two nights in Baveno, Italy instead of one.

    Service: Quickly and courteously answered all our questions to our satisfaction before and during the trip.

  • 26 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Busy,but we got to see a lot

    Service: My only contact with customer service was with our travel director Lynda

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