Hola. Welcome to Barcelona, Spain. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting around 7 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place and confirm at what time. If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We’ll be collecting your insurance and passport details as well as next of kin contact number at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early, use free time to get your bearings of Barcelona. There are plenty of galleries, cafes and historic corners to keep you busy. In the evening of your first day, maybe go for dinner with your fellow travellers so you can get to know them.
Perhaps use your free time today to go on a tapas tour or explore the outskirts of the city with its sleepy villages and olive groves. Unearth the city’s groundbreaking art scene, Gothic architecture, amazing cuisine, Catalan identity, beach vibe and proud character. Visit the labyrinthine streets of the old Gothic Quarter, the Picasso Museum, wander the tree-lined pedestrian boulevard of La Rambla or take the funicular to the top of Montjuic or Tibidabo for panoramic views of Barcelona and the harbour. Gaudi’s bizarre La Sagrada Familia Basilica is possibly the most iconic landmark, along with the Camp Nou. Both the cathedral and the football stadium provide guided tours at an additional charge.
Take to the fields of Provence on the train to Avignon, south-west France (approximately 5-6 hours). This journey is idyllic, so make sure you have a camera ready. With mountain hideaways and emerald vineyards, the Mediterranean coastline of Provence folds into tabletop mountains where fields of lavender and wildflower cover the landscape. On arrival into Avignon, check in to your hotel and then take a walk around this walled city that was once home to French popes for more than a century.
Today use your free time here wisely, as there are lots of sights and activities to keep you busy. Comb the city’s impressive collection of art, visit the grand Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace) and cross the iconic bridge of Pont St-Benezet. Perhaps hire a bike to see more of this picturesque valley and head to one of the city’s amazing bakeries. You can even put a baguette in your basket. In the evenings, there are many small French bistros that serve up great cuisine that’s native to the region.
Travel north on the train to France’s cosmopolitan capital, Paris, which should take around three to four hours. Rich in museums, art galleries, monuments, fashion and delicious food, Paris offers a wealth of major sights and things to do. On arrival into the city, check in to the hotel and then you’re free to do as you wish. Wandering around the Champs-Elysees, the student-filled Latin Quarter and the bohemian Montmartre will give you a good feel for the city. There is so much to do in Paris that it might be a good idea to make a plan before you arrive.
The Tuileries, Plantes and Jardin du Luxembourg are all excellent places to enjoy a simple baguette with cheese on summer days, or head to a cafe to have a coffee (the French drink it black) and watch the world go by. Explore the world-famous Louvre, where you can see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Join the Thinker in his eternal contemplation at the Rodin Museum. Visit the Musee d’Orsay, home to some of the most famous Impressionist paintings. Climb the Eiffel Tower (or take the lift) for some impressive aerial views of Paris. Study the Notre Dame Cathedral with its vast rose window and menacing gargoyles. The Paris restaurant scene and nightlife is also worth sinking your teeth into. Marais is a great district for trendy bars and eateries, while Bastille is well-known for its clubs.
Another day in Paris? There is still plenty to discover in this European city. Perhaps start ticking more museums or cathedrals of the list – you surely couldn’t have done them all yesterday. If you think you have, try Paris’ ‘other’ museums. The Museum of Comparative Anatomy and Paleontology provides an amazing look into a the world of 19th century science with rows and rows of animal skeletons marching shoulder to shoulder against walls lined with old wood and glass cabinets. Within the Jardin des Plantes where the museum resides there is also a botanical garden, zoo and an array of other natural history museums. Feeling like Art? Paris has a selection of world class street art sport. The best spot for a graffiti-viewing urban safari is the Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement, one of the most exciting and up-and-coming areas in town. Chock-full of wonderful restaurants, artistic shops and great graffiti, the area is a great place for leisurely strolling. In the evening, on warm summer day, visit the quai along the left bank of Port St. Bernard. It comes alive with people strolling, picnicking and ballroom dancing. Sounds like a perfect place to finish of your Paris adventure.
Cross the border from France on the train into Luxembourg City, which should take just over two hours. As one of the smallest countries in the EU, Luxembourg has transformed itself into a busy, successful and historical centre with ample of natural beauty. Check in to the hotel on arrival and then head out into the city’s World Heritage-listed Old Town, which is perched high above the narrow valleys of the Alzette and Petrusse rivers. Stroll along the promenade of Chemin de la Corniche, said to be ‘Europe’s most beautiful balcony’, and take it all in. The city is also full of old and modern galleries and museums to explore, such as the Musee d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg (Luxembourg City History Museum). Perhaps take a guided tour of the turreted Palais Grand-Ducal (built in 1573), which is home to the Grand Duke. In the evening, you may want to venture out with the group for a meal (at your own cost) in this sophisticated setting.
Leave Luxembourg behind and jump a train to Brussels, which should take you around three and a half hours. During your time in Brussels there are lots of sights to see, delicious foods to eat and culture to be discovered. It might be a good idea to start your journey at the medieval, cobblestone square of the Grand Place. This area can only be accessed on foot and is surrounded by local markets, chocolate shops and expensive cafes and restaurants. From here, wander down to the Manneken Pis (Little Man Pee), which is an iconic symbol of Belgium. If you’re interested in music, the must-see place is The Musical Instrument Museum. Three floors of musical instruments coming from each side of the world and hundreds of years of musical history in one place. An evening in Brussels wouldn’t be complete without a huge portion of moules-frites (mussels and fries) and a glass of Belgian beer. If you like a night out, Ilot Sacre is a great place to find good food and fun bars. The Delirium Cafe is the ideal spot for listening to live blues deep into the night.
Enjoy a free day in Brussel. Discover the town further, perhaps visit mini-Europe theme park featuring miniature replicas of European monuments and judge if they are similar to the original ones. By now, you have definitely seen a handful of those in reality. Alternatively, climb inside an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times its normal size. The Atomium – a strange looking structure built in 1958 for Brussels Worlds Fair, now became a permanent part of city’s landscape. There is also an option to venture out of the city and discover Bruges or Antwerp. Jump on a train and visit one of these historical towns, either a most fairy-tale place in this part of Europe, medieval Bruge, or a port city of Antwerp, full of diamond traders, cutters and polishers. Finish off your day in Delirium Café, a cosy basement bar, tucked away on a cobblestone backstreet in the heart of Brussels. Café has an inventory of over 2000 beers.
Cross another border, as you travel into the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam (approximately three hours by bus). Best way to get your head around this city, is to do as locals do – cycle. Consider a half day tour of the city on two wheels. This will provide you with a good understanding of the layout of the city for the next couple of days. Amsterdam, a network of canals, bridges and parks is also spoilt for choice when it comes to museums. One of its best is the Rijksmuseum, whose most famous work is Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’. Visit the Van Gogh Museum, which comprises nearly every painting, sketch, print, etching, and piece of correspondence that Vincent van Gogh ever produced, including ‘Sunflowers’. After seeing the painted variety, wander through the real thing at the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market).
Another day in Amsterdam could easily be spent with history in mind. Visit Anne Frank’s House, the former hiding place of Anne Frank and seven others during World War II, and the place where she wrote her now-famous diary, is today preserved as a museum. A visit here not only allows you to climb into the attic and learn about the history of those who hid there, but also challenges you to examine your views by posing modern ethical questions. Move on to De Waag (weigh house), 15th-century building on Nieuwmarkt square. As many of Amsterdam’s historic buildings have enjoyed multiple uses through the centuries, Dee Waag is no exception. Constructed first as a gate for the city’s fortified walls, it was later transformed into a ‘weigh house’ where goods brought back by ships from overseas were weighed. In later years, it served as a guild house for local professions and has also been a museum, fire station and more. In its most recent incarnation, the Waag houses a well-received café-restaurant as well as space (the former anatomy theater) for various types of exhibits. The Waag is located in the Chinatown district of Amsterdam. Great place to go for Chinese food afterwards.
Today is your last day in Amsterdam. Why not get to know the secrets of its cuisine? Perhaps find out why Dutch don’t talk much about their food, unless it’s about pancakes! Pannekoeken are a traditional Dutch treat – sometimes sweet, sometimes savoury, but always delicious! Snack on salty fries, savouring rich cheeses and sip boozy spirits. Bask in the glory of liquid sunshine – visit the best bars, breweries and beer halls of this brew-loving city. From a place where nuns used to brew ales, to the mothership of Dutch beer brewing – the original Heineken building – see, and taste, the Netherlands strong brewing history.
Leave Amsterdam behind and take the train into Germany for your final stop of the trip, Berlin (approximately 6.5 hours). As there’s not too much free time to fully explore Berlin, it’s recommended that you book an extra couple of days to give yourself more time. Our reservations team can help (subject to availability). If you’re a bit daunted by the size of the city, there are countless bus tours that operate throughout Berlin and they’re an ideal way to find your feet. There are many unique memorials and sites holding significance in Berlin’s more recent history, which are all designed to provoke thought as well as commemorate. These include the Jewish Memorial, the empty shelves of Bebelplatz and the confronting Topography of Terror.
The Reichstag, designed by British architect Norman Foster, holds a special and symbolic meaning outside of its role as the home of parliament. The great glass dome that crowns the building also offers sweeping views over Berlin. Make sure you book your visit early in the morning, as queues can snake around the building for hours on end. Wander through the Brandenburg Gate and witness the crumbling remnants of the Berlin Wall that are scattered all over the city. Checkpoint Charlie and its museum overlook the former border checkpoint dividing East and West, explaining how the city came to be divided overnight and its attempts to escape from behind the Iron Curtain. Berlin is a haven for good food, with a mix of classic German, Bavarian and Italian influences. Consider spending an evening celebrating life as the locals do – at a bar, lounge, nightclub or embracing some live music.
There are no activities planned for today and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time, provided you comply with the hotel’s check-out time. If you want to stay on a little longer to get under the skin of this hip city we can assist with securing extra accommodation, just ask your travel agent or Intrepid rep at the time of booking. If you decide to stay for a while, why not explore the legendary subdistrict SO36 on an Urban Adventures tour. Notorious for its rebellious attitude and as the home of international artists, squatters and other outsiders, you’ll explore this moody neighbourhood with a local on an enlightening tour. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Berlin-tours, and see below for a full list of recommended optional activities.