DAY 1 - FLIGHT
Board your overnight flight, bound for Europe.
DAY 2 - ROME
Arrive in Rome
Welcome to Rome. After clearing customs, you’ll meet your full-time tour director and the rest of your group. Enjoy your first night in Italy; early tomorrow you’ll be heading for Tuscany, but you’ll be back in a couple of days.
DAY 3 - FLORENCE
Travel to Florence
Drive 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.
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.
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.
Get to know the other travelers in your group over tonight's included dinner.
DAY 4 - FLORENCE
Free time in Florence (day)
Top 5 free time suggestions:
1. The Uffizi Gallery – Don't miss this place; it's one of the top art museums in the world.
2. Galleria dell'Accademia – Another must-see gallery, the Accademia is home to Michelangelo’s world-famous David.
3. Giardino di Boboli – Enjoy the fresh air in this giant green park, complete with statues, caves and an island fountain.
4. Shopping around piazza Santa Croce – Those seeking real Italian leather products need look no further.
5. Palazzo Pitti – Go see this palace built by a rival family of the Medicis.
For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Florence.
Optional excursion to Pisa (extra cost)
Travel to Pisa, home of the legendary Leaning Tower, and snap some photos of the 12th-century architectural misfit. The tower has been aslant ever since the third floor was built, and legend says Galileo dropped weights from its top to test his theories of gravity. Also visit the Baptistery, known for its interesting acoustics, and Pisa Cathedral.
DAY 5 - ROME
Return to Rome
Drive back to the Italian capital. Though Rome’s heyday was a couple thousand years ago, the city today is as alive and action-packed as any European capital. Experience the coffee bars, the amazing food, and the incredible ancient sights.
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.
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.
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.
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.
DAY 6 - ROME
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.
Optional Rome Cooking Class (extra cost)
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 7 - POMPEII • NIGHT FERRY
Sightseeing tour of Pompeii (local guide)
Take a trip into the preserved past at Pompeii. Doomed by the super-hot ash from Mt. Vesuvius looming above it, Pompeii is a remarkably intact ancient Roman town. Walk the streets and see the villas, temples and bath houses.
Night ferry from Brindisi
Continue on to coastal Brindisi, where you'll board your overnight ferry bound for Greece.
DAY 8 - DELPHI
Arrive in Greece
Pull into port at Patras and drive to Delphi, home of the all-knowing Oracle. Delphi sits up on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. Look up for amazing views of the cliffs of Parnassus, then look down for even more amazing views of a plain of olive trees that stretches as far as you can see.
DAY 9 - DELPHI • ATHENS
Sightseeing tour of Delphi (local guide)
A local guide will introduce you to Delphi, site of Apollo's famed Oracle. Back in the day, Greece's military leaders would leave gifts for the Oracle in hopes of good fortune in battle. Visit the Temple of Apollo, where legend says the god communicated with mortals. Also visit the Delphi Museum, whose treasures date back to 550 B.C.
Travel to Athens
Continue to Athens, capital of Greece. Athens was named after Athena, Ancient Greece’s number one goddess. Today it's a cool mix of ancient sites and modern urban life. Its outdoor café culture and pedestrian-friendly streets make it a great walking city. Your hotel will be in nearby Glyfada, a beachside area with lots of nightlife and restaurants.
DAY 10 - ATHENS
Sightseeing tour of Athens (local guide)
Go back in time on a sightseeing tour with a local guide. See the Temple of Athena Nike, which once housed a gold statue of Athena. Pass the stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. The highlight of the tour is a walk up to the top of the Acropolis, where you’ll get to see the legendary Parthenon up close.
Introduction to Athens
Your tour director will take you to some of the other can't-miss sights of Athens. Walk through the always-busy Plaka district at the base of the Acropolis. This is a big hangout for visitors and locals, and a good place to meet up. You’ll also get to see Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus—construction on this temple began in 515 B.C.
Free time in Athens (day)
Top 5 free time suggestions:
1. National Archaeological Museum – World-famous museum chock full of important finds from Greece's archaeological sites.
2. Ancient Agora – Ancient Athens's focal point of administrative, commercial, political and social life.
3. National Gardens – Find some shade among the subtropical trees, winding paths and ornamental ponds.
4. Theatre of Dionysos – This huge theatre hosted all kinds of Greek dramas during the golden age of the 5th century B.C.
5. Monastiraki Flea Market – Browse the goods at this traditional festive market.
For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Athens.
DAY 11 - ATHENS
Optional Saronic Islands cruise (extra cost)
Head out for a day of island-hopping in the beautiful blue Saronic Gulf. Spend time on Aegina, Poros, and Hydra—these three picturesque islands are popular getaway spots for Athenians, who come for the beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and amazing seaside landscapes.
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) over a farewell drink with the group.
DAY 12 - FLIGHT
It's time to say your goodbyes. Head to the airport for your flight back home.