Spain, France & Italy (2012)

15 days starting at $2,740
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  • FLIGHT 1 NIGHT

  • Day 1

    Overnight flight

    Overnight flight
    Board your overnight flight, bound for Europe.
  • MADRID 3 NIGHTS

  • Day 2

    Arrive in Madrid

    Walking tour of Madrid

    Prado Museum

    Arrive in Madrid
    Welcome to Madrid, Spain's capital. Madrid is famous for its world-class art museums, its live music scene, and especially its nightlife (it seems people never sleep here). Rich in Spanish tradition, Madrid is a city that definitely knows how to have fun. After clearing customs, you’ll meet your full-time tour director and the rest of your group.

    Walking tour of Madrid
    Your tour director will walk you around Madrid. Get your bearings, learn a bit about the local history, and get a feel for the friendly vibe put out by the madrileños hanging out in the cafés, markets, and tascas. Madrid is known for its easygoing social atmosphere.

    Prado Museum
    The world-class museum is home to famous works of art collected by the Spanish monarchy. Highlights include Las Meninas by Velázquez and Goya’s controversial pair The Clothed Maja and The Naked Maja.
  • Day 3

    Sightseeing tour of Madrid (local guide)

    Royal Palace

    Welcome dinner

    Free time in Madrid (night)

    Sightseeing tour of Madrid (local guide)
    A local guide will bring Madrid into focus. Pass through the Puerta del Sol, the geographical center of the city and a popular meeting point. Head into the Plaza Mayor, the Renaissance hub that witnessed everything from bullfights to weddings to public executions. Then it's on to the Plaza de Oriente, Madrid's largest square.

    Royal Palace
    This massive palace was built by Bourbon King Phillip V and has more than 2,000 rooms. You’ll see a few of them, and you can’t help but be impressed by the marble staircase, the golden Throne Room and the priceless frescoes and chandeliers.

    Welcome dinner
    Get to know the other travelers in your group over tonight's included dinner.

    Free time in Madrid (night)
    Top 5 nightlife suggestions:
    1. Theater – Go see a first-rate performance at the Calderón or the Lope de Vega.
    2. Arguelles and Moncloa – This buzzing area of bars is popular with college students and the younger crowd.
    3. Malasaña – Check out some live music in the cafés and bars in this area near the Plaza de Dos de Mayo.
    4. Plaza Santa Ana – This lively spot is filled with tapas bars, music bars and clubs.
    5. Kapital – On the pricey side, this seven-floor dance club is worth the price of admission.

    For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Madrid.
  • Day 4

    Free time in Madrid (day)

    Optional Flamenco Evening (extra cost)

    Free time in Madrid (day)
    Top 5 free time suggestions:
    1. Bullfight – Witness the classic, if bloody, Spanish sporting tradition (not for the faint of heart).
    2. Shopping on Gran Via – This popular shopping avenue is a prime place to buy clothes, shoes, jewelry, and handcrafted goods from all over Spain.
    3. Parque del Buen Retiro – Musicians, vendors and families fill this beautiful park; you can even rent a rowboat.
    4. Museo Thyssen–Bornemisza – Check out one of the largest private art collections in the world.
    5. Alcalá de Henares – Take a half-hour train ride to this scenic university town, birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes.

    For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Madrid.

    Optional Flamenco Evening ($55 pre-booked)
    The Flamenco is a quintessential Spanish experience, something you just can't appreciate until you see it. In this completely unique art form evolved from Indian, Moorish, Arabian and gypsy influences, passionate performers tap into strong emotions through guitar playing, singing, chanting, dancing, and hand clapping. Sit back and experience the soul of Spain. One drink is included.
  • ZARAGOZA • BARCELONA 1 NIGHT

  • Day 5

    Travel via Zaragoza

    Arrive in Barcelona

    Travel via Zaragoza
    On your way to Barcelona, stop for lunch in Zaragoza, a college town with a young atmosphere, thanks to the 40,000 students at the University of Zaragoza. You'll have time to visit the Basilica del Pilar, whose central pillar was said to be a gift from the Virgin Mary to Saint James.

    Arrive in Barcelona
    Continue on to Barcelona, one of Europe’s most talked-about cities. The Catalan capital is known for its food, its fashion, its nightlife, its music, its beaches, its architecture, and on and on. Bottom line, there’s a lot happening in Barcelona.
  • BARCELONA 2 NIGHTS

  • Day 6

    Sightseeing tour of Barcelona (local guide)

    Parque Guell

    Walking tour of Barcelona

    Sightseeing tour of Barcelona (local guide)
    A local guide will introduce you to Barcelona. See the Sagrada Familia, an unfinished church designed by Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí’s architecture is all over the city, and people love its surrealist style. You’ll also go to the top of Montjuïc, where many of the 1992 Olympic events took place, for great views of the harbor below.

    Parque Guell
    Designed by Gaudí, this is probably the weirdest public park you'll ever walk through. Visit the Room of a Hundred Columns, a covered market with 84 pillars, and see the Casa-Museu, where Gaudí lived from 1906 to 1926. There are also great views up here of the city below.

    Walking tour of Barcelona
    Your tour director will lead you around town. The highlight will definitely be Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s famous boulevard that always has plenty going on. People from all over the world come to Las Ramblas to shop, eat, drink, watch street performers, and just hang out.
  • Day 7

    Free time in Barcelona (day)

    Optional Cava and Tapas (extra cost)

    Free time in Barcelona (day)
    Top 5 free time suggestions:
    1. Museu d’Historia de la Ciutat – Take an elevator down to see the excavated Roman ruins of Barcelona.
    2. Tibidabo – Ride a little cable car to the top of the city and take in the amazing views; in the summer there's an amusement park up here open late into the night.
    3. Shopping on Las Ramblas – This is the best place to find souvenirs and the hottest fashions.
    4. Sitges – A half-hour train ride away, this fashionable resort town was once just a little fishing village.
    5. Parc de la Ciutadella – Relax in the park; it includes a waterfall and a zoo with an albino gorilla.

    For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Barcelona.

    Optional Cava and Tapas ($50 pre-booked)
    Take a trip outside of Barcelona to try two delicious local specialties: cava and tapas. Cava is a sparkling white or pink wine (like champagne) produced in Spain’s Catalonia region. Learn how it’s made, and then sample a few of the local variations along with some tasty tapas, the traditional Spanish appetizers.
  • FRENCH RIVIERA 2 NIGHTS

  • Day 8

    Travel to the French Riviera

    Free time on the French Riviera (night)

    Travel to the French Riviera
    Drive into France and on to the French Riviera, stomping grounds of the rich and famous for centuries. The Riviera is made up of town after town of seaside resorts, including Cannes, Monaco (which is its own country), and Nice. Nice is the biggest, and it will be where you spend most of your time.

    Free time on the French Riviera (night)
    Top 5 nightlife suggestions:
    1. Chez Wayne – Come to the most famous bar in Nice for a jovial crowd and live music.
    2. Disco Butterfly – This club attracts a young crowd with one free drink for each student.
    3. Théâtre de Nice – Catch a play in this 900-seat theater.
    4. Arènes de Cimiez – This outdoor venue situated among ancient ruins hosts large concerts.
    5. Bar des Oiseaux – Get an off-the-beaten-path vibe at this bar offering good comedy acts and jazz music.

    For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for the French Riviera.
  • Day 9

    Walking tour of Nice

    Free time on the French Riviera (day)

    Walking tour of Nice
    Get to know Nice, the most famous resort town on the Riviera. Your tour director will show you what makes Nice so special, including the Vielle Ville (Old Town) and the Promenade des Anglais, a long walkway that winds alongside the Mediterranean beach. You’ll quickly see why this town has drawn artists, backpackers, and jetsetters since as far back as the 18th century.

    Free time on the French Riviera (day)
    Top 5 free time suggestions:
    1. The beaches – Lounge in the sun and take a dip in the Mediterranean.
    2. Antiques and brocante market – Browse or buy at this cool market in Nice's Old Port.
    3. Matisse Museum – This airy villa in Nice houses a nice collection of works by the renowned French painter.
    4. Promenade des Anglais – Walk, jog, run, or blade along Nice’s famed seaside boulevard.
    5. Cannes – Take a short train or bus ride to the resort town that hosts the famous film festival.

    For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for the French Riviera.
  • PISA • FLORENCE 1 NIGHT

  • Day 10

    Travel via Pisa

    Arrive in Florence

    Free time in Florence (night)

    Travel via Pisa
    On the way to Florence, stop in Pisa, home of the legendary Leaning Tower. Snap some photos of the 12th-century architectural misfit, and visit the cathedral and the baptistery, known for its interesting acoustics.

    Arrive in Florence
    Continue through the countryside to Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region. Florence was king during the Renaissance, and it still holds on to that artsy, fashionable, cultural vibe. Top art museums, amazing food, great nightlife—for many, Florence is Italy at its best.

    Free time in Florence (night)
    Top 5 nightlife suggestions:
    1. Santa Croce area – Hit some of the popular pubs in this central area, especially on Via dei Benci.
    2. Moyo – This trendy bar attracts a mixed crowd of students and artsy Florentines; lounge out in the back or sit at the outdoor tables.
    3. Meccano – Head here to get moving on the two dance floors, or hang out in the big outdoor garden.
    4. All'Antico Vinaio – This has been one of Florence's most popular wine bars for the last hundred years.
    5. Tenax – For a concert, check out the leading venue for new, established, and big-name international acts; enormous but easy-going, it becomes a club after hours.

    For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Florence.
  • FLORENCE 1 NIGHT

  • Day 11

    Sightseeing tour of Florence (local guide)

    Florence Duomo

    Optional wine tasting and San Gimignano (extra cost)

    Sightseeing tour of Florence (local guide)
    Cover Florence on foot with a local guide. Get a feel for the city’s Renaissance glory days at spots like the Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio (a medieval bridge; very photogenic). Continue past the gothic Basilica di Santa Croce, which houses the final resting places of many legendary Italians, including Michelangelo and Galileo.

    Florence Duomo
    Visit the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo because of its famous dome. The dome was designed in the 14th century by sculptor and architect Brunelleschi, and it’s still quite a sight.

    Optional wine tasting and San Gimignano ($75 pre-booked)
    Some of the world’s best wines come from Tuscany, and now you get to sample the local product at a scenic winery. Who knows, you might even become a connoisseur. Next head to the town of San Gimignano, aptly known as the “City of Beautiful Towers.” The small medieval walled city is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also home to Gelateria di Piazza, named one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 best food hot spots in the world. That’s some tasty gelato.
  • ASSISI • ROME 1 NIGHT

  • Day 12

    Travel via Assisi

    Arrive in Rome

    Free time in Rome (night)

    Travel via Assisi
    Travel by bus to hilltop Assisi. Visit the impressive St. Francis Basilica. Inside, you can trace St. Francis’s life through the amazing wall frescos.

    Arrive in Rome
    Continue to Rome. Though its imperial heyday was a couple thousand years ago, Rome today is as alive and action-packed as any European capital. Discover the busy coffee bars, the amazing food, and the incredible ancient sights.

    Free time in Rome (night)
    Top 5 nightlife suggestions:
    1. Campo de’ Fiori – Lots of young people gather early inside and outside the bars in this area, making it a good starting point.
    2. San Lorenzo area – Popular with students, this area is known for its reggae scene and many clubs.
    3. Big Mama – Blues lovers head to this music club in Trastavere.
    4. Testaccio – There is plenty of action on this circular street lined with bars and nightclubs.
    5. Opera – For a real cultural experience, go see an opera in the country where opera was born.

    For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Rome.
  • ROME 2 NIGHTS

  • Day 13

    Sightseeing tour of Rome (local guide)

    Roman Colosseum

    Forum Romanum

    Optional Italian Cooking Class (extra cost)

    Sightseeing tour of Rome (local guide)
    Go way back into the past with a local guide. Rome was the center of the Western world back in the day, and you can really feel the history as you go through the city and see the ruins of that ancient civilization.

    Roman Colosseum
    Your tour includes a visit to the massive Colosseum, built back in 70 A.D. The huge amphitheater held up to 50,000 people, who would gather to watch anything from bloody gladiator contests to mock sea battles.

    Forum Romanum
    The Roman Forum was the commercial, political, and religious center of Ancient Rome. Today it’s a grassy field scattered with ancient columns and other ruins. With a little imagination, you’re walking with the Romans 2,000 years ago.

    Optional Italian Cooking Class ($115 pre-booked)
    This is your chance to become a real Italian chef. Learn the basics of the regional specialties, as a local professional chef guides you through the process. You’ll start by making two kinds of pasta from scratch (anything from ravioli to cannelloni). Next the focus turns to the sauces. Don't worry if your skills in the kitchen are lacking—when you're done cooking you'll be treated to a three-course dinner prepared by the chef's team.
  • Day 14

    Visit to Vatican City

    Free time in Rome (day)

    Farewell dinner

    Visit to Vatican City
    Visit this country within a city, home to the Pope. Walk through the famed St. Peter’s Basilica, which was built on the site where the saint was martyred. Also walk through the Sistine Chapel and see Michelangelo’s famous ceiling frescos.

    Free time in Rome (day)
    Top 5 free time suggestions:
    1. Shopping on Via del Corso – Walk down the longest pedestrian street in the city for some prime shopping.
    2. Capitoline Museum – Up on a hill overlooking the Forum, this museum has some amazing ancient sculptures.
    3. Villa Borghese Park – Run, bike, or just relax in the city’s biggest park.
    4. Trastavere – Wander the old streets of this newly-popular bohemian area across the Tiber River.
    5. The beach – The Mediterranean is just 25 minutes away by metro, good for all the usual seaside activities.

    For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Rome.

    Farewell dinner
    Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.
  • FLIGHT 1 NIGHT

  • Day 15

    Fly home

    Fly home
    It's time to say your goodbyes. Head to the airport for your flight back home.
Spain, France & Italy (2012)
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  • Round-trip airfare
  • Hotels
  • Travel between cities
  • Welcome dinner
  • Breakfast daily
  • Farewell dinner
  • Full-time tour director
  • Walking tours
  • Sightseeing tours
  • Entrance to select attractions
  • Flamenco EveningThe Flamenco is a quintessential Spanish experience, something you just can't appreciate until you see it. In this completely unique art form evolved from Indian, Moorish, Arabian and gypsy influences, passionate performers tap into strong emotions through guitar playing, singing, chanting, dancing, and hand clapping. Sit back and experience the soul of Spain. One drink is included.
  • Cava and TapasTake a trip outside of Barcelona to try two delicious local specialties: cava and tapas. Cava is a sparkling white or pink wine (like champagne) produced in Spain’s Catalonia region. Learn how it’s made, and then sample a few of the local variations along with some tasty tapas, the traditional Spanish appetizers.
  • Rome Cooking ClassThis is your chance to become a real Italian chef. Learn the basics of the regional specialties, as a local professional chef guides you through the process. You’ll start by making two kinds of pasta from scratch (anything from ravioli to cannelloni). Next the focus turns to the sauces. Don’t worry if your skills in the kitchen are lacking—when you’re done cooking you’ll be treated to a three-course dinner prepared by the chef’s team.
  • Wine tasting and San GimignanoSome of the world’s best wines come from Tuscany, and now you get to sample the local product at a scenic winery. Who knows, you might even become a connoisseur. Next head to the town of San Gimignano, aptly known as the “City of Beautiful Towers.” The small medieval walled city is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also home to Gelateria di Piazza, named one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 best food hot spots in the world. That’s some tasty gelato.
SIGHTS YOU'LL SEE:

Prado Museum

Royal Palace(Madrid)

Parque Guell

Pisa Baptistery

Pisa Cathedral

Florence Duomo

St. Francis Basilica

Sistine Chapel

St. Peter's Basilica

Colosseum

Forum Romanum

CITY GUIDES

Nice Florence Rome Barcelona Madrid