Rick Steves has designed a two-week family adventure that makes the wonders of Europe come alive for kids — and cuts the stress for parents, too. Starting in Rome — the Eternal City — your enthusiastic Rick Steves guide will introduce your family to the countryside charms of Tuscany, Renaissance Florence, the canals of Venice, castles and forests of the German-Austrian Tirol, the majestic Swiss Alps, France's Burgundy region, and the must-see sights of the City of Light — Paris. Join us for the Family Best of Europe in 14 Days!
You'll get all this!
- A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
- Kids ages 8 through 17 are welcome — and save $200
- A full-time Rick Steves guide, tour assistant and local experts — who will make the history, art, culture — and fun! — of Europe come alive for you and your kids
- All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 20 group sightseeing events • Evening walk through Rome including Trevi Fountain • Pantheon • Colosseum tour • Forum tour • St. Peter's Basilica • Vatican Museum tour • Sistine Chapel • Florence walking tour • Uffizi Gallery tour • Florence's Accademia Gallery including Michelangelo's David • Venice orientation • South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology (Iceman) • Mountain luge ride (weather permitting) • Neuschwanstein Castle tour • Hiking orientation in the Swiss Alps • Guédelon Castle tour • Louvre Museum tour • Paris walking tour • Notre-Dame • Seine River cruise...and more
- All group transportation from Rome to Paris
- 13 nights accommodations (all stops but one are for 2 nights) in memorable, family-friendly hotels
- All breakfasts and half your dinners
- All tips for guides and driver
- Free stuff: Each household will receive Rick Steves' Europe: Italy's Cities Blu-ray + DVD Set and Europe Planning map. Each adult will receive Rick Steves' Best of Europe guidebook and Europe Sightseeing Supplement. Each tour member will receive a French-Italian-German phrase book, moneybelt and earplugs
- Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
- Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014
- 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
- Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
- Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above
Daily Activity Key
- Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
- Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
- Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.
Day 1: Welcome to Europe
We'll have a brief "Welcome to Europe" meeting around 3 p.m. at our hotel in Rome, followed by a neighborhood stroll and transportation orientation. Then we'll visit what may be the oldest standing structure you'll ever see: the 2,000-year-old Roman Pantheon. Nearby, we'll have a get-acquainted dinner together, followed by a fountain-splashed stroll through the heart of Rome — stopping to toss coins in the Trevi Fountain — and back to our hotel. Sleep in Rome (2 nights). No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 2: Majestic, Ancient Rome
Today we'll jump straight into the heart of Ancient Rome. Our local guide will tell tales of gladiators as we stand inside the Colosseum, and of Julius Caesar's rise and fall as we explore the Roman Forum. You'll then have free time to marvel at the view of Rome from atop the Victor Emmanuel Monument, sample gelato at the Piazza Navona, climb the Spanish Steps, or explore the city's colorful back streets. Later this afternoon, we'll gather for an orientation to the awe-inspiring St. Peter's Basilica — home to Michelangelo's Pietà — in time for the 5 p.m. mass (which you may watch or attend). Your evening is free. No bus. Walking: strenuous.
Day 3: Catholic Rome and Tuscany
This morning will set the stage for many masterpieces you'll see on this tour. We'll meet our local guide and tour the remarkable collection of art in the Vatican Museum including what may be the world's single greatest work of art: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Afterward, you may want to explore more of the Vatican Museum on your own or find lunch at the nearby street market. Then we'll leave the noise and stone of the city for our first, green glimpse of rural Europe: peaceful Tuscany, where we'll find our cozy countryside hotel. You can sit back and relax over a glass of Tuscan wine while the kids swim in the pool before we all sit down to a hearty Tuscan feast together. Sleep in Tuscany (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: strenuous.
Day 4: Renaissance Florence
Today we'll have a jam-packed tour of Florence's sights beginning with a "Renaissance Walk" where we'll learn what daily life was like in Florence, and how ideas and events here changed the world. At the masterpiece-packed Uffizi Gallery, we'll see how art evolved from medieval times to the Renaissance, with Botticelli, Da Vinci, Raphael and others mastering perspective and realism. After lunch and some free time to explore the local food and crafts markets, we'll meet face-to-face with a work of art that was, in its time, like nothing anyone had ever seen before: Michelangelo's David. We'll return to our rural hotel late this afternoon where you'll have time to relax, take a walk or maybe swim before dinner together. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.
Day 5: Discover Venice
Today we'll take our bus straight to Venice where we'll board a vaporetto boat for a canal ride to our hotel in Venice's historic heart. This evening we'll take an alleys-and-canals orientation stroll through the backstreets of Venice to the deservedly famous Piazza San Marco. Later tonight, your guide will help organize an optional gondola ride. If the moon is out, it will hit your eye like a big pizza pie. Sleep in Venice (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 6: Free Day in Venice
The entire day is yours. You can visit churches and museums, cruise between the different islands, or simply get lost (remember, it's an island) exploring Venice's hidden alleyways and canals. Or how about swimming and relaxing on the beach? Your guide will organize an afternoon trip to the sandy beach island of the Lido. No bus (too much water). Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).
Day 7: Over the Dolomites to Austrian Tirol
Leaving Venice, we'll say "Ciao" to Italy and take the dramatic drive toward the Brenner Pass and Austria, stopping for lunch in the Italian-Tirolean town of Bolzano. We'll also visit Bolzano's most famous resident: the 5,300-year-old, naturally-preserved remains of Ötzi the Iceman, along with a museum exhibit explaining how prehistoric Europeans lived and died. Then we'll take a scenic drive to reach our beautiful Tirolean country hotel, just outside the flower-boxed town of Reutte. We'll eat a hearty dinner together and sleep near Reutte (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 7 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 8: Neuschwanstein Castle
It's a short drive and a half-hour walk to "Mad" King Ludwig's famous Neuschwanstein Castle. We'll tour this fairy-tale palace and enjoy its panoramic views of the Tirolean countryside. After lunch, you'll barrel down the Tegelberg luge (kids and adults love this, weather permitting), and still have free time to stroll along trails, bike down country roads, or kick back and relax at our peaceful hotel before another Tirolean supper together. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: strenuous.
Day 9: Scenic Drive to the Swiss Alps
Today we'll take a scenic drive, winding our way through forests, enjoying views of craggy peaks and pristine lakes, and stopping for lunch in the cutest town we can find. Then we'll climb into the heart of the Swiss Alps and our creaky old chalet overlooking the magnificent Lauterbrunnen Valley, where we'll have dinner and sleep (2 nights) Train: ½ hr. Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 10: Free Day in the Alps
The day is all yours (kids can sleep in)! You can take a narrow-gauge railway to trailheads at the feet of the towering Eiger and Jungfrau peaks, or just wander through the meadows and play Heidi. For more Alpine thrills, you can ride a gondola lift up to the revolving-restaurant-topped Schilthorn at 10,000 feet. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).
Day 11: Beautiful Burgundy
We'll drive all day to our next home in the French countryside, passing pastures and châteaux en route to the quintessentially French region of Burgundy. Our country hotel has plenty of space for kids to play outdoor games this evening. For dinner we'll share a buffet of French specialties. Sleep in Burgundy (1 night). Train: ½ hr. Bus: 8 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 12: Medieval Marvels and the Historic Heart of Paris
This morning we'll visit the construction sight of Guédelon, a 13th-century castle being built (by people in traditional costumes using historically-accurate tools and machines) exactly as it would have been 800 years ago. Then we're off to Paris where we'll introduce you to its birthplace with a walking tour of the Ile de la Cité. Our walk will continue through the Latin Quarter before ending with a visit the gargoyle-topped Notre-Dame Cathedral. We'll cap off our first day in Paris with an evening boat cruise on the Seine. Sleep in Paris (2 nights). Boat: 1 hr. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: strenuous.
Day 13: Parisian Masterpieces
Our day begins with a guided tour of the magnificent Louvre Museum where our local guides will bring the Mona Lisa and other great works of art to life. This afternoon you're free to round out your Paris sightseeing with a climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe or Eiffel Tower, a stroll down the Champs-Elysées, or do some last minute shopping. We'll gather for our final dinner together to share travel memories and toast new friends. Salut! No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
It's a breeze to reach Paris' airports by taxi, shuttle or public transportation. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Merci et au revoir!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Family Best of Europe in 14 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...
- Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
- Be able to get up and "at 'em" in the morning, often departing around 8 a.m.
- Be content with the possibility of your family sharing bathroom facilities on this tour.
We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.
Sightseeing On Your Own
If you arrive in Rome before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' Best of Europe guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Italian, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.
Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in Rome that we do not do as a group: Explora (hands-on children's museum); Villa Borghese — park, zoo (Bioparco), bike rental, mini-train, puppet theater, fountains and a small lake with boats, Borghese Gallery (reservations mandatory); Spanish Steps; Largo Argentina Cat Shelter (for the cat lovers in your family); Cappuccin Crypt (spooky!); National Museum of Rome; Ancient Appian Way (great for biking) and catacombs; Time Elevator — history of Rome through an interactive movie attraction with special effects.
With extra time in Paris, your family may enjoy the kid-friendly Luxembourg or Tuileries gardens, or consider tackling the sprawling grounds of Versailles. As an end-of-trip reward (or if Paris is more convenient than LA or Orlando) you could take the easy train ride to Disneyland Paris.
Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.
There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaw" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). Paris and Rome are transportation hubs, making travel before or after your tour quite easy. For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."
Read Rick's Guide to Eurail Passes and decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass (or contact our Rail Department for advice at email@example.com or 425/771-8303 ext. 214).
Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.
If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See a chart with monthly rain and temperature information for this tour.
While it is important to pack light, there are some items we'd like you to consider including when packing for this tour. There are a few long bus rides on this tour, so card games and small travel games are great to keep the kids from plugging-in and tuning-out. You will have the opportunity to swim and hike (weather permitting) on this tour, and you may wish to pack a swimsuit and a lightweight microfiber towel. While hiking boots are not necessary, we recommend you bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes with soles offering good traction.
For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Tour Guide Raves
Ragen Van Sewell
"Ragen was the best guide I have ever had on a tour, bar none. He was professional, intelligent, articulate, funny, kind, and had a tremendous rapport with the young people on our tour as well as the adults. Ragen's sense of humor kept everyone laughing! His theme from "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" as our wake-up call was hilarious, Kids loved it. Overall, an outstanding young man and a marvelous tour director!"
— Thelma in Barrington, IL
"Keith was fantastic! I was so impressed with not only his knowledge and 'tactical' skills (guiding, shifting to a Plan B when a problem arose, etc.) but also with his patience and kindness. It cannot be an easy job, but he sure made it look effortless. He is a gem!"
— Dawn in Cedar Park, TX
Favorite tour memories from recent alums:
"I just want to thank the company for giving me the chance to spend an unforgettable two weeks with my granddaughter and for opening up the world to her. She now wants to be an exchange student, study languages and eventually live overseas. We were able to not just see the famous sites but to experience cultural differences, see that people are the same the world over and treasure the people we met and the experiences more than you will ever know. I plan on taking many more tours — thanks!!!"
— Maureen in Spokane, WA
"We were really SO LUCKY on our tour — we had several 'wow' moments. It was hard to leave Rome with all of its many sites. Venice was just so lovely. The Alps were breathtaking and the Trümmelbach Falls were so powerful! The night-time boat ride on the Seine was magical."
— Deborah in San Jose, CA
"For the kids, the boat trip on the Seine made their eyes sparkle. That might be the seed of another trip for us."
— George in Batavia, IL
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- Italian: Roman Holiday (1953); A Little Romance (1979); Thief Lord (2006)
- French: Hugo (2011); Madeline (1998)
- Swiss: Heidi (1995); North Face (2008); The Eiger Sanction (1974); On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
- Teutonic: Sound of Music (1965)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves' Audio Tours
- Rome: Pantheon, St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Roman Forum
- Florence: Renaissance Walk, Uffizi Gallery, Accademia & Michelangelo's David
- Venice: St. Mark's Square, St. Mark's Cathedral, Frari Church, Grand Canal Cruise
- Paris: The Louvre, The Orsay, Versailles Palace, Historic Paris Walk
Rick Steves Audio Europe™
- Classical: Wagner; Strauss; Bach; Beethoven; Brahms; Mozart
- Opera: Vivaldi's Four Seasons; Puccini's Tosca; Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci; Verdi's Rigoletto; Ezio Pinza; Andrea Bocelli
- Pop/rock: Zucchero; Jovanotti; Eros Ramazotti; Edith Piaf; Charles Aznavour; Maurice Chevalier; Charles Trenet
Rick Steves' Articles
(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)
- Rick Steves' Best of Europe
- Europe 101: History and art overview for the traveler — Rick Steves & Gene Openshaw
- Culture Shock! — Practical guides on European etiquette
- Italian: Italian Neighbors; Italian Education — Tim Park
- Swiss: La Place de la Concorde Suisse — John McPhee
- French: Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong — Nadeau and Barlow
For the Kids
- How Would You Survive in the Middle Ages? — Fiona MacDonald
- David Macaulay's series on the construction and building of historical structures are fun, informative with great pictures — Castle; Mill; Cathedral; City
- Look What Came from Italy — this is a series with other titles that include Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France
- Italian: Da Wild, Da Crazy, Da Vinci — Scieszka & McCauley
- Teutonic: Crusade in Jeans — Thea Beckman
- Swiss: A Bell for Ursli — Alois Carigiet
- French: Madeline stories — Ludwig Bemelmans