Amsterdam wears its warmth with pride, and it is this gezelligheid you'll come to remember long after you visit this leafy Dutch city. But first, journey south from London with your Travel Director and fellow travel companions, through the Kent countryside to Dover. Here you'll board your ferry to Calais, then wind your way through the flat expanses of Belgium and the Netherlands, reaching Amsterdam this afternoon. There's time to join an Optional Experience to see the city from its picturesque waterways. Board an optional private canal cruise in a glass-topped boat and watch life in this vibrant city unfold.
It won't take long to fall in love with the Dutch capital and you'll have a full day to fall even deeper as you explore its history, culture and art. Your orientation tour will take you past gabled houses, countless canals, and a leafy plein or two. Dodge the trams and bicycles as you explore on your own later or perhaps join an Optional Experience to Volendam where the Dutch traditions of cheese and clog making take centre stage. Later, consider an optional dinner featuring Dutch specialties in a historic home.
From picture-perfect skylines to irresistible natural landscapes - your day begins in Amsterdam but ends in the beautiful Rhine Valley. On your way to the Rhineland, you'll pass Cologne with its UNESCO-listed cathedral which took over seven centuries to build. Board your river cruise in Boppard, winding your way along the Rhine with not a care in the world other than to capture on camera the medieval towns, breathtaking scenery and fairy-tale castles that line your route.
Frozen in time, the German city of Nuremberg is your first stop today where you'll have some time to admire its medieval charm before continuing to Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. Equal to Paris in the beauty stakes, but with a Bohemian flavour that pours out of every historic nook and cranny, Prague will leave you spellbound. This 'City of a Hundred Spires' was saved from bombing during World War II while the rest of Europe's capitals smouldered. You'll see first-hand why Hitler decided to spare it when you join an Optional Experience river cruise down the Vltava with the glittering skyline providing a picturesque backdrop for dinner.
Prague had a thousand years to evolve into the captivating city it is today. Your Local Specialist brings this history to life during a sightseeing tour that will include views of the UNESCO-listed Prague Castle, the Cathedral of St. Vitus and Charles Bridge, with its Baroque saints. Visit the Old Town Square with its famous 13th-century Astronomical Clock, then spend some time exploring the city on your own, perhaps returning to the Square to watch the clock's magical hourly 'Walk of the Apostles' with a toasty Tredelník in hand. Later this evening, there's an opportunity to sample some of the local cuisine and golden brews of Prague with an Optional Experience traditional dinner.
Return to Germany this morning, stopping in Regensburg at the confluence of three rivers before heading to Munich, the Bavarian capital. Your orientation tour will reveal the elegant Marienplatz, featuring the Old and New Town Halls and the Glockenspiel. Time your visit right and you may just see its story of a royal wedding, jousting knights and the dance of the coopers entertaining spectators. Then, let the battle of the brews begin at an Optional Experience to a local Bierkeller as you enjoy the rousing atmosphere with a crisp stein in hand.
A whistle-stop tour in Innsbruck this morning will showcase Emperor Maximilian's Golden Roof and the Hofburg, once home to the mighty Habsburg family. Your soul will soar as you drive through Brenner Pass bound for Venice, the 'Queen of the Adriatic'. You'll arrive just in time to join an Optional Experience private water taxi and gondola ride along the labyrinthine waterways of this island city.
Crossing the lagoon by private launch, you'll see how life is lived both on land and water in this historic Byzantine city. The Winged Lion of Venice watches over the people and pigeons in St. Mark's Square and you'll have an opportunity to view it and the imposing Doge's Palace, which the Venice ruling elite once called home. Take advantage of your time to explore the narrow alleyways, historic bridges and the canals of the city. The delicate art of glassblowing has been practiced in Venice for over 1,500 years and you'll see it first-hand during a visit to a workshop. Consider taking an optional cruise to Burano Island, the most picturesque island in the lagoon.
You won't be able to tear your eyes from the soul-stirring alpine scenery as you cross into Switzerland and drive up and over the snow-capped mountains that fringe the world-famous St. Gotthard route. Resist the urge to yodel as you pass lush pastures and Swiss chalets, making your way to Lake Lucerne in the heart of Switzerland. This is the land of cow bells, cheese, chocolate and cable cars. Soak it up before arriving at your hotel where you'll join your travel companions for dinner.
There won't be a dry eye in the house when you visit the mournful mortally wounded Lion Monument, hewn from rock to commemorate the brave Swiss Guards who lost their lives defending King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Your orientation of Lucerne will also include the medieval Chapel Bridge which has spanned the Reuss river since the 14th century. There's time this afternoon for some souvenir shopping, or perhaps to join an optional Swiss lunch and folklore show. You could choose instead to head into the Swiss countryside for an Optional Experience and ascend Mount Stanserhorn followed by a lake cruise.
The adventure continues as you travel through Basel and into France where the beauty of Burgundy is surpassed only by its excellent vintages. Admire the stunning landscapes of France's most famous wine region, arriving in Paris later with some time to explore the glittering French capital. Dive right into its history, culture and culinary delights, from the iconic Eiffel Tower to croque-monsieurs, from lazing on the banks of the Seine to museums and monuments. You could choose to join an Optional Experience cruise on the Seine, admiring the illuminated skyline at night.
Don't hold back. Today is your opportunity to dive right into the Parisian way of life, beginning with a sightseeing tour conducted by your Travel Director that will take you past some of its iconic sights, including the Champs Élysées, Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. We won't keep you from your own exploration and you'll have plenty of time to shop on its elegant boulevards, visit an art gallery or stroll along the Seine. Tonight, the ruffle of colourful Can-Can skirts will keep you entranced should you choose to join an Optional Experience to watch an original Paris cabaret.
After breakfast say farewell to your fellow travellers at the end of your holiday.