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Trip of the month: the ideal 12-day Europe itinerary with European Discovery

Venice, Italy

8 countries, 12 days, can we do it? Yes we can, and it’s going to be smooth sailing and impeccable vibes along the way. From England to Germany to Italy and France, let yourself be whisked away on this ideal 12 day Europe itinerary and make the most of your European Discovery.

Landmarks, perfect vibes, and lots of coach karaoke, you’re guaranteed to make friends and loads of memories along the way. Prepare for plenty of laughs, smiles, and top-notch entertainment. We start in London, so head there a day or two before and check out our London pre-departure guide so you’ve got everything ready, and then all there’s left to do is sit back and enjoy this incredible itinerary.

Bring on the European Discovery!

Day 1 – London to Amsterdam

Can you feel it? It’s the spark of adventure growing into a roaring fire! It’s time to set off so wave goodbye to London (though we will be back soon) and say hello to the Netherlands. It’s just a quick ferry ride over the Channel and you’ll get to experience France’s northern-most town of Calais as we drive through on our way to fun-famed Amsterdam!

Get to know your fellow Contiki cohort and feel the early buds of friendship start to bloom – you’ll be nurturing these connections for two weeks, how sweet! Once we arrive you’ll have time to roam free and explore the city, and then we’ll reconvene for a family dinner and an evening cruise along the canal. What a way to start your trip, hey?

A group of people traveling on bikes near a canal.

Image source:Contiki

Day 2 – Amsterdam to Rhine Valley

Wakey wakey, you should seize the day and do some more exploring of vibrant Amsterdam. You’ve cruised down the canal, but why not walk, or better yet, bike along it for some morning fresh air. Discover the many coffee shops and boutiques that line the street, and bask in the soft sun. Crooked buildings and obscure museums, there’s a lot of fun to be had here, so don’t waste a drop!

Then, in the afternoon, we’ll be setting off to the Rhine Valley, entering the third country of the trip. Fairytale castles, lush landscapes, and quaint villages. Don’t let yourself be too bummed out by the vineyards we pass – there’s a local wine tasting in store for you at the end of the road. With a good buzz on you, stroll through town and along the river and take in the breath-taking beauty of it all.

Day 3 – Rhine Valley to Munich

Prepare for Bavarian culture and Gothic architecture – we’re off to Munich today! Much like the Rhine Valley you’ll be treated to stunning views and local treats (like fresh German beer). But before we set off, let’s take a detour to Lorelei rock, the legendary home of a mermaid who lures fishermen to their death. So, best not to stick around for too long, but we can take a look.

Let yourself be charmed by Munich, one of Germany’s biggest, and yet most underrated, cities. This is where the famed Oktoberfest takes place every year – and if the dates align you may be able to join in. Don’t worry if not, there’s still plenty to do. We’ll take a locally guided walking tour of the city, come face to face with an enormous clock, and then the rest of your day is free. Maybe get together with your friends and share a traditional pork knuckle. 

Contiki travellers in Munich

Image source:Contiki

Day 4 – Munich to Innsbruck

It’s been a beautiful love affair with Germany, but move on we must, and now we’re headed to Austria and the gorgeous mountains there. We’re not going under, we’re not going over, we’re going through the majestic Bavarian Alps, and if you choose to travel to Europe in winter you’ll be enchanted by twinkling snow! 

Innsbruck is an Olympic town, and you’ll be able to marvel at the ski jump where victory and glory took place. Bask in the town’s mediaeval and enjoy a traditional Tyrolean evening filled with live music and entertainment, and even yodelling! It’s a night of folklore and fun that you won’t forget any time soon.

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Day 5 – Innsbruck to Venice

Take in the last of the beautiful mountains around a hearty breakfast with your pals, and get ready to continue onwards with your 12 day European itinerary. It’s off to Venice now for a taste of Italy’s finest. More canals, get lost in a dream as you wind around the city accompanied by a Gondolier, or, even better, board a motoscafo for a ride around the lagoon.

See the rest of the city with a local guide before tucking into a traditionally Venetian dinner. By now you and your Contiki friends should have a solidified bond, and you can share some laughs and stories over the meal. What a magical place for the half-way point of your trip!

Group of 5 young travellers sit in gondola, floating down Venice canal

Image source:Contiki

Day 6 – Venice to Rome

Farewell floating city, and hello eternal city (why is it that Italian cities have such awesome names?!). Time to visit the place where all roads lead, supposedly, and what better way to start than to enjoy some refreshing gelato. 

Then it’s a tour on foot featuring the Spanish steps and the sublime Trevi Fountain so make sure to have some coins at the ready for lots of wish making. History and beauty, Rome truly is the ‘it girl’ of Italy, and you’ll have the best time just roaming the streets and getting your fill of pizza.

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Day 7 – Rome

Because it’s so special, we’re giving a full extra day in Rome – and this one is to do with as you please! Fancy a whizz around the Vatican City? Your jaw will drop in awe from the view of the Sistine Chapel and the Renaissance art and architecture which adorns this religious city.

You can also visit the iconic and historic Colosseum and the ruins of the age of Emperors to deepen your knowledge of glorious Ancient Rome. Gelato and pizza stops should punctuate your day, as well as a few Aperols in the evening as the sun sets over another successful day with Contiki.

Rome Colosseum

Image source:Contiki

Day 8 – Rome to Florence

From one historic city to the next, it’s time for Florence, and art lovers are going to fall completely head over heels in love with this romantic place. Museums on museums on museums, you’ll be able to witness some of the world’s most famous paintings and send pics to your family back home and make them beyond jealous.

Not only that, but take a stroll through Florence and stand across the Duomo Cathedral for a real ‘wow’ moment. La dolce vita is evident in every direction you look, so take advantage of it, and tonight you can really indulge with a classic Tuscan dinner. Olives, cured meats, crostini, and wines – what more could you ask for?

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Day 9 – Florence to Lucerne

Day 9 of this 12 day European itinerary and we’re off to Lucerne – a hidden gem of sweet old Switzerland. Back over and through the luscious Alps, we’ll hit this charming city just in time for a tour and a taste of Europe’s finest chocolate. Nothing like a sweet treat to get your spirits high. Check out the Wooden Chapel Bridge which is as unique as it is beautiful – perfect photo opportunity, so smile, because you’re in the iconic Swiss Alps! 

cityscape view of Florence, Italy

Image source:Contiki

Day 10 – Lucerne to Paris

Finally, we enter the last leg of our amazing 12 day European itinerary, and Paris has to make the list before we all say goodbye. Lamp-lit bridges, the shimmering Seine, coffee shops and street-side bistros, you won’t be able to stop yourself falling in love.

Take a dreamy tour with your Contiki crew and then admire the gorgeous views of the Haussmann architecture and the twinkling Eiffel Tower atop the Montparnasse Tower. It’ll feel like you’re on top of the world, and with so many happy memories tucked away in your brain and new experiences under your belt, you just might be!

Day 11 – Paris

Another free day for you to enjoy at your leisure. Might we recommend sampling every patisserie on offer? Or drifting off to the Galeries Lafayette to skim past fashionable pieces you can’t afford? Or, stick with your Contiki group and visit a French perfumery where you can learn the art of being a ‘nez’ (literally a nose) and creating delicate fragrances for the beautiful people of France.

As this is our last evening together, we ought to go out with a bang, don’t you agree? So, the Cabaret dinner and show is in order! Enjoy a traditional and gourmet meal accompanied by a show filled with flurries of red feathers and sequins, dancers, acrobats, and comedians. It’s nothing like you’ve experienced before, and so amazingly suited to the atmosphere of Paris. 

travellers at Moulin Rouge in Paris

Image source:Contiki

Day 12 – Paris to London

It’s the last day, so we’ll be returning to London and closing the book on the European Discovery. But don’t fret, you’ve still got so much of the world to see, and new friends to see it with, so why not turn your sadness into excitement and book a trip in the near future! Remember to stay in touch, and keep your memories fondly to your chest. More adventures await you.

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