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Top 10 Tour Ideas for Europe

10th November 2023

Avoid the hassles of car hire and airports by going by train, ship or with one of our recommended tour partners.


1. On Track in Switzerland

Criss-crossing Switzerland on the aptly-named Panoramic Trains is the best type of scenic tour as they hum smoothly past the bluest of blue lakes, spectacular alpine peaks, waterfalls, pristine meadows with chalets complete with flowers spilling from balconies and cows with clanging cow bells. You won’t be able to take your eyes off the vistas out the large windows of the Glacier Express, the Golden Pass Express, the Gotthard Panorama Express, the Bernina Express or the Lucerne-Interlaken Express, all easily accessed through one single ticket – the Swiss Travel Pass. Venture forth by train, bus, boat or mountain railway with passes from three to 15 days, with access to more than 500 museums included.


2. Elegance on the rails

For a longer rail journey, where you can clatter through the night in timeless luxury after feasting on a gourmet meal in an exquisite dining car, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express offers overnight stays from one night between cities such as Amsterdam to Venice, Paris to Prague, London to Florence or Budapest to Vienna to the five-night immersion between Paris and Istanbul – an experience to truly savour. Arguably the most famous luxury train on Earth, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is lavish, indulgent and sumptuous, with the ornate Art Deco style of the storied carriages almost as beautiful as the scenery out the windows. From December this year, winter trains will operate, opening up the slopes of the Savoie.


3. Luxury afloat

When thinking about cruising in the Mediterranean, Silversea has unparalleled destination knowledge, with small ships that can access ports – big and small. Delve into the cultures of the Med in an authentic way, and in Silversea’s all-inclusive luxury, with the highest staff-to-guest ratio at sea. Sailing with Silversea really is sailing in style.

Silversea’s new flagship, Silver Nova, now cruising, carries up to 728 guests and features the much-vaunted and very popular Sea and Land Taste (S.A.L.T.) programme, an immersive culinary concept that enables guests to travel deeper through a range of destination-based gastronomic experiences. Silver Nova’s sister ship Silver Ray, launching in 2024, will offer Mediterranean cruises in 2024 from seven to 22 days, with the latter itinerary visiting 18 ports in seven countries from Lisbon to Civitavecchia.


4. Take the Back-Roads

Experiencing the roads less travelled within the UK and Europe with Back-Roads Touring is all about a journey of discovery with a small group. With a maximum of 18 people, the whole experience will be more personal, with travel in a luxurious mini-coach that can zip around on … the back-roads and through city streets. With tours an average length of 10 days, you can choose a region-focused itinerary, in Tuscany or Bordeaux for instance, to allow a deeper dive into places you might have skipped through on an earlier visit. We love that you can combine tours, to fill in even more gaps in your European Adventure songbook, to truly embrace the flavours, breathe in the beauty and delve into some hidden gems. Back-Roads’ award-winning Europe Tour Leaders play a major role in delivering the ‘Back-Roads Difference’ for guests. They live and breathe the brand essence and do an exceptional job at delivering a unique experience, bringing each destination to life.


5. Down the Douro with Tauck

For almost a century, Tauck has been looking after guests on land, river and sea journeys across seven continents. To add to their award-winning river cruise options on the Rhine, the Danube, The Rhône, Seine, Saône, the Maas and the Moselle, Tauck has launched a number of cruises on the Douro in Portugal. The Douro – known as the River of Gold – opens up a world of fine food and wine along with colourful culture and history. Discovering the region is best done slowly, so you can really drink in the many flavours and sights along the river. Choose from three different cruises from eight to 12 days. Your exquisite floating home will be the Ms Andorinha, carrying a maximum of 84 guests in spacious cabins and suites. We love that guests will have that exclusive Tauck access to cultural excursions and experiences, with the outstanding Travel Directors and local guides at the helm.


6. A European feast with Bunnik Tours

Bunnik Tours is an Australian-owned, smallgroup tour company curating itineraries that are enriched with multiple special experiences to captivate guests and take travel from enjoyable to unforgettable. On the Italian Discovery tour, take to the woods in search of the Langhe region’s famous truffles with a trifulau (truffle hunter) and their trained canine. Savour local experiences in Sicily trying pastries in Erice, visiting a local cheese manufacturer and dining at a picturesque Sicilian winery. In Spain, discover Andalusia's essence at an olive oil mill, sample Sherry, Spain’s most famous wine and enjoy a tapas dinner. The range of destinations is impressive, with tours that cater for the first timer, such as the Italian Discovery itinerary, and those who have travelled extensively in Europe, and are looking for the less explored. One such tour is the 22-day Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan itinerary.


7. The rivers of Avalon

Avalon Waterways, founded in 2004, offers cruises throughout Europe’s waterways including special interest cruises covering garden and nature, cuisine, beer, wine, history, a storyteller series, photography and festive Christmas cruises. With Avalon Choice it means you can cruise your way, whether it be wine tasting, kayaking, exploring on a bike or taking in a classical concert. With its 16th ship set to join the stylish fleet next year, Avalon has a 3:1 guest-to-crew ratio with most ships averaging just 150 guests. What sets it apart in the accommodation stakes is the boutique hotel-inspired Panorama Suites with the industry’s only open-air balconies and the widest opening windows in cruising.


8. Touring in style with Insight Vacations

There is touring, and there is the Art of Touring in Style with Insight Vacations. Premium tours for curious travellers, the choice is vast, with all the sights and insights, in comfort and style. Explore in small groups in customised coaches with extra leg room, stay in hand-picked four and five-star hotels, cherish VIP access to places like the Vatican Museums, Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens, and savour carefully curated Insight Experiences. Even more impressive is that 98 per cent of Insight Vacations tours are 'Make Travel Matter' Experiences, that connect you with people, the planet and wildlife and promote the values of sustainable tourism. Witness the ancient skill of glassblowing, now practised by precious few masters. Watch artisans create delicate works of art using rare traditional practices, visit a small family-run farm on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius and sit down for a farm-to-table lunch. And visit a flamenco school that is keeping this Spanish tradition alive.


9. Uniworld … boutique beauty

Uniworld has a five-star mission to provide guests with all the elements of an unforgettable experience, through their outstanding service, the most all-inclusive amenities, and one of a kind ships with inviting spaces, exquisite antiques, custom fabrics and original works of art. And no two suites are alike. Visiting historic cities and tourist hotspots on a shore excursion from your Uniworld European river cruise is a delicious inclusion. Exclusive access to those attractions is icing on the cake. Uncover the enchanted beauty and breathtaking history in Italy. Follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin through southern France, stroll through Arles, tour Avignon’s Palace of the Popes, kayak on tranquil Gardon River, hike the vineyards on the Rhone or pedal into Lyon. And on the Danube and Rhine glide through Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria. And just remember … no request is too large, and no detail too small on a Uniworld cruise.


10. Luxury Gold

Indulge in the exceptional on your next European sojourn, with Luxury Gold’s elevated itineraries in Europe. In England, imagine being welcomed by Her Grace, The Duchess of Northumberland, for a private tour of Alnwick Castle Gardens, that she has restored to their 18th century glory over two decades. Enjoy a private viewing of magnificent Castle Howard, near York, and tour the Tower of London after-hours, with an inside look at the Ceremony of the Keys, the oldest practiced military ceremony in the world. Indulge in magnificent stays, receiving the full royal treatment at the Rubens At The Palace Hotel, located opposite Buckingham Palace, and in York, enjoy timeless luxury at the five-star Grand Hotel. Spain, Portugal, Italy, Central Europe, France, Switzerland, Croatia, Ireland, and more. Visit your favourites, go beyond into unknown destinations, enjoy concierge services, exceptional dining, curated experiences and magnificent stays. For the new golden age of travel, think Luxury Gold. Elegance, elevated.


Travel Associates advisor to design your dream one of a kind European itinerary. »