Dreaming of how to pack Europe's top travel thrills and cultural treats into a two-week vacation? You've found it! Your Rick Steves guide will surround you with the art treasures of Paris, followed by a hearty taste of Burgundy, a hike in the majestic Swiss Alps, festive Bavaria, the romantic canals of Venice, Renaissance Florence, a countryside stay in Tuscany, the must-see sights of Rome — and chances to connect with Europeans like you never thought possible. Join us for the 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
- Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Europe come alive for you
- All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 21 group sightseeing events • 2-day Paris Museum Pass • Louvre Museum tour • Paris walking tour • Notre-Dame • Seine River cruise • Sainte-Chapelle • Wine tasting in Burgundy • Hiking orientation in the Swiss Alps • Munich walking tour • Nymphenburg Palace tour • Venice walking tour • Florence walking tour • Uffizi Gallery tour • Florence's Accademia Gallery including Michelangelo's David • Evening walk through Rome including Trevi Fountain • Colosseum tour • Forum tour • Pantheon • St. Peter's Basilica tour • Vatican Museum tour • Sistine Chapel...and more
- All group transportation from Paris to Rome
- 13 nights accommodations (all stops but one are for 2 nights) in memorable, centrally-located hotels
- All breakfasts and half your dinners
- All tips for guides and driver
- Free stuff including Rick Steves' Best of Europe and Rick Steves' Snapshot: Munich guidebooks, French-Italian-German phrase book, Europe Sightseeing Supplement, map, 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 2013
- 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
- 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 group meeting at around 3 p.m. at our hotel in Paris, followed by an orientation walk through our neighborhood. Then we'll get acquainted over dinner together, and celebrate the start of our European adventure with an evening boat cruise on the river Seine. Sleep in Paris (2 nights). Boat: 1 hr. No bus. Walking: light.
Day 2: Historic and Artistic Paris
Let's begin where Paris did, on the Ile de la Cité. Your guide will lead a walking tour to reveal the city's early history, including visits to a pair of the world's most important Gothic churches: the legendary Notre-Dame Cathedral and the exquisite Sainte-Chapelle. Then we'll take a stroll through the bohemian Latin Quarter. The rest of the day is free to visit the world's greatest collection of Impressionist art — from Monet and Degas to Cézanne and Gauguin and more — at the Orsay Museum; be inspired by Monet's incredible Water Lilies at the recently renovated Orangerie; puzzle over the whimsical water fountains and modern art at the Pompidou. With your included Paris Museum Pass, the city of lights is yours to discover. No bus. Walking: strenuous.
Day 3: Louvre Masterpieces and Burgundy
We'll spend our morning taking a guided tour through Europe's greatest museum — the Louvre — face-to-face with the works of Raphael, Delacroix and Leonardo, and timeless treasures that include Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo and hundreds more. Then we'll hop aboard our bus and roll into the French countryside, passing pastures and vineyards en route to the "profoundly French" town of Beaune in the heart of Burgundy. After an orientation walk through the town, we'll enjoy a wine tasting followed by dinner together. Sleep in Beaune (1 night). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 4: Scenic Drive to the Swiss Alps
After some free time to explore Beaune this morning, we'll leave the rolling hills of beautiful Burgundy, and climb high into the heart of the Swiss Alps. Our destination is the Berner Oberland's magnificent Lauterbrunnen Valley, flanked by towering, waterfall-laced cliffs and crowned by a trio of Switzerland's most formidable peaks: the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Tonight we'll share a hearty Swiss dinner together at our creaky old chalet in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, where we'll sleep (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 5: Spectacular Views in the Alps
The day is all yours to enjoy some of Europe's most dramatic scenery. You may want to join your guide for an optional mountain excursion that combines the local narrow-gauge railway, a gondola lift, and a spectacular Alpine walk above the tree line, surrounded by a panorama of cut-glass peaks...or ride a gondola lift up to the Schilthorn at 10,000 feet, loiter in the thin air, and hike down...or for a more restful day, just wander through the valley and walk to the thundering Trümmelbach: a unique set of waterfalls encased behind the valley walls. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).
Day 6: On to Bavaria
Today's drive is a good time to catch up on your journal, listen to music, curl up with a good book, or just sit back and enjoy views of pristine mountains and sparkling lakes. Along the way we'll find a small town to stop for lunch. Then we'll continue on to the heart of Bavaria to the people-friendly city of Munich, where after an orientation walk together, you're free to savor a traditional Bavarian feast. Sleep in Munich (2 nights). Bus: 7 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 7: Marvelous Munich
This morning we'll be joined by our local guide for a walking tour through the center of Germany's most livable city. Then we'll hop on a bus to explore more of Munich, including the Olympic Park. We'll also stop to tour the opulent Nymphenburg Palace, home to the Wittelsbach dynasty, rulers of Bavaria for 700 years. Your afternoon is free to choose some great options: be dazzled by the Deutsches Museum; rent a bike to explore the sprawling English Garden; or poke around the Marienplatz and Viktualienmarkt looking for the cuckoo clock of your dreams. This evening, feel free to join the party at the Hofbrauhaus beerhall, where you can hoist a liter-size mug of beer, and a pretzel as big as your head. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 8: Over the Alps to Venice
We'll take a scenic, all-day drive to Venice today, stopping en route for lunch together in a characteristic Italian-Tirolean village. At the edge of Venice we'll board a vaporetto boat for an "am-I-really-here?" Grand Canal ride to our hotel in the historic heart of this seductive city. Tonight we'll take an alleys-and-canals orientation stroll to St. Mark's Square. Later, your guide will organize an optional gondola ride for this romantic, uniquely Venetian experience. If the moon is out, it will hit your eye like a big pizza pie. Sleep in Venice (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 8 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 9: Seductive Venice
This morning our local guide will take us on a winding walking tour through Venice, blending historic and modern-day stories of this one-of-a-kind treasure, and giving us a local's perspective on Venice's fascinating past...and its uncertain future. The rest of your day is free to visit St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, or the Titian- and Tintoretto-packed Accademia art gallery. Better yet, get lost (remember, it's an island) exploring the alleys, cruising the canals, and "crawling" the pubs. No bus (too much water). Walking: moderate.
Day 10: Timeless Tuscany
Today we say "Ciao Venezia" as we hop back aboard our bus and drive south into Tuscany. We'll wind our way through the verdant Tuscan hills to our destination: a working family farm that also serves as our country hotel. You'll have free time this afternoon to take a scenic stroll amid the peaceful vines and olive groves, relax by the pool or taste some of our host's family-made wines before we sit down to a hearty Tuscan feast, enjoying a country-style dinner together. Sleep peacefully near Florence in Tuscany (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 11: Renaissance Florence
We'll drive to Florence this morning, and hit the ground walking with a Renaissance tour of the city's historic center — learning how Brunelleschi's cathedral dome and Ghiberti's Baptistery doors helped define this world-changing era. We'll end our walk at the Uffizi Gallery, home to masterpieces by Leonardo, Botticelli, Michelangelo and more. After some free time for lunch, we'll regroup for a visit to the Accademia Gallery, where we'll marvel at works of sculptural genius: Michelangelo's rough-hewn Prisoners and his greatest masterpiece, David. We'll return to the countryside late this afternoon with plenty of time to relax and freshen up before dinner together. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.
Day 12: A Walk Through Caesar's Rome
This morning we'll drive straight to the heart of Rome. After a quick lunch and a Roman transportation lesson, we'll spend the rest of the afternoon uncovering Ancient Rome as a local guide takes us through the monumental Colosseum, history-drenched Roman Forum, and the awe-inspiring Pantheon. Tonight we'll celebrate la dolce vita Roman-style, with an after-dinner stroll through the floodlit heart of the city, lacing together the lively campos, classy piazzas, and the splashy Trevi Fountain. Sleep in Rome (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: strenuous.
Day 13: St. Peter's and the Vatican Museum
Today we'll focus on Renaissance (Catholic) Rome. At the sprawling Vatican Museum we'll tour what seems like a limitless collection of treasures as we make our way to one of the world's most famous works of art: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Our guided tour will continue at the greatest church in Christendom, the awe-inspiring St. Peter's Basilica, home to Michelangelo's sublime Pietà. You'll have the rest of your day free to wander through this immense church, climb the dome if you're feeling energetic, and explore more of the Eternal City on your own (don't forget to taste some refreshing gelato along the way). As it's our final night together, we'll have a grand dinner to share travel memories and toast new friends. Salute! No bus. Walking: strenuous.
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
It's a breeze to reach Rome's airports by taxi or train. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!
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 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 content with the possibility of sharing bathroom facilities at one hotel during 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 Paris before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' Best of Europe guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of French, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.
Walking tours make a great introduction to any town. Check with the local TI or your guidebook. Here are a few sightseeing suggestions that we will not do as a group: go up the Eiffel Tower; walk the Champs-Elysées and climb the Arc de Triomphe; visit Montmartre, Sacré Coeur church and the Old Opera House; day trip to Versailles. Visit these museums: Cluny (medieval art), Pompidou (modern art), Marmottan (Impressionist art), Invalides (military), Rodin (sculpture) and the Jewish History museum.
Spending extra time after the tour in Rome? Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing that we do not do as a group: Borghese Gallery (reservations mandatory); Spanish Steps; Cappuccin Crypt; National Museum of Rome; Ancient Appian Way (great for biking) and catacombs.
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). It's easiest to fly into Paris and home from Rome. 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 railpass (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 a couple of items you may wish to include when packing for this tour. There is a great opportunity to hike in the Swiss Alps. While hiking boots are not necessary, we recommend bringing a pair of comfortable walking shoes with soles offering good traction. Also, if swimming interests you, we'll have a couple of opportunities to get wet, so bring along a swimsuit and perhaps a lightweight microfiber towel.
For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Tour Guide Raves
"Colleen was an outstanding guide. Everyone on our tour just loved her. She was so enthusiastic, bubbly and had a wonderful sense of humor. She made a special effort throughout the tour to make sure that she got to know each couple or person individually by sitting by them during meals or walking with them. Plus, her knowledge of history and art was unbelievable!"
— Dora in University Place, WA
"Our guide, Donald, was phenomenal. He is a dream tour guide. His overall knowledge and presentation were truly outstanding. If I had the choice, I would definitely choose Donald for another European tour."
— Denise in Emerald Park, SK
Favorite tour memories from recent alums:
"It has been said before, but in every ETBD tour you find at least one 'wow' moment per day!!! I could mention a couple: the hike in the Lauterbrunnen Valley with the group, the gondola ride in Venice while listening to the musicians, the wine tasting in Beaune with an adorable sommelier, the joy of walking in St. Peter's Basilica, having goose bumps while admiring art masterpieces in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, or simply tasting a great dish under the Tuscan shade of an old tree."
— Silvina in Pearland, TX
"My favorite moment was visiting Beaune, France and getting up early and walking through the town. I really enjoyed seeing the people of Beaune in their everyday routine - parents taking their kids to school, shop owners opening their doors and fresh food being delivered."
— Allison in Overland Park, KS
"The tour is full of 'wows' but my favorite is to wake up to the view of the amazing Alps dotted with cute little Swiss chalets and high flying slim waterfalls, all right in front of my room in Lauterbrunnen."
— Cheryl in Niagara Falls, ON
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.)
- French: Charade (1963); Amélie (2001); La Vie en Rose (2007)
- Swiss: North Face (2008); The Eiger Sanction (1974); On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
- Teutonic: Heidi (1993); Wings of Desire (1987); Schindler's List (1995)
- Italian: Roman Holiday (1953); Cinema Paradiso (1990); Life is Beautiful (1997)
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
- Paris: The Louvre, The Orsay, Versailles Palace, Historic Paris Walk
- Venice: St. Mark's Square, St. Mark's Cathedral, Friari Church, Grand Canal Cruise
- Florence: Renaissance Walk, Uffizi Gallery, Accademia & Michelangelo's David
- Rome: Pantheon, St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Roman Forum
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
- Pop/rock: George Baker Selection; Golden Earring; Andrea Bocelli; 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
- France: Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong — Nadeau and Barlow; French or Foe — Polly Platt
- Switzerland: La Place de la Concorde Suisse — John McPhee
- Germany: A New History — Hagen Schulze
- Italy: Italian Neighbors; Italian Education — Tim Parks