Essential Europe

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Essential Europe

from £1,270
Duration: 12 days
Countries: Austria, France, Germany, Holy See (Vatican City), Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland
Essential Europe is a package of the best bits a short tour of Europe can offer as we take in some of the finest landscapes and most fabulous city destinations on the continent.

Essential Europe

From the vibrancy of Amsterdam to the ancient splendour of Rome; the traditional beer halls of Munich to the majesty of the Swiss Alps and much more in between, this short Europe tour is the highlights package of all the region has to offer!


Day 1: London, UK to Amsterdam, Netherlands

Leave London for dust, join 881,000 bicycles and get local on a walking tour of the vibrant capital and see the Dam Square, Royal Palace and National Monument. Top it off with a dinner cruise on the canal. #imonaboat. Then: check out what's beyond the red lights and mayo-dipped fries.

Included today:
-Canal dinner cruise
-Guided tour of Amsterdam

Meals: Dinner.

Did you know:
-The city is built on stilts, much like most of Venice, but lays claim to having more canals than Venice. Stick that in your gondola and smoke it!
-Amsterdam residents slug down an average of 3.2 cups of coffee every single day, putting them just behind Finland in coffee consumption per capita.
-Every year, 12-15,000 bikes are pulled out of Amsterdam's canals. Scrap metal, anyone?

Day 2: Amsterdam to Rhine Valley, Germany

Travel day: Amsterdam to Rhine Valley, Germany.

Medieval castles, vineyards and the mighty Rhine River are all up next today. Breathe in as we weave our way through narrow cobblestone streets and tunnels to and give Queen B a run for her money with your own 12th-century castle quarters.

Besides its obvious appeals (fairytale views over the Rhine, anyone?) half of Germany's wine comes from here. Shame not to try some.

Included today:
-Wine tasting in the Rhine Valley

Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Day 3: Rhine Valley to Munich

Travel day: Rhine Valley to Munich.

It's time to get to know the city where beer is officially considered a food. Your Trip Leader will clue you up on the Bavarian capital on a walking tour. Slide on your Lederhosen and have a royal Happy Hour experience (none of that craft beer nonsense here) at the 426-year-old Hofbräuhaus - the recipes here were passed down from Wilhelm V, the Duke of Bavaria. Oans, zwoa, g'suffa (one, two, down the hatch)!

Included today:
-Walking tour of Munich

Meals: Breakfast.

Did you know:
-In 1632 a Swedish king planned to burn Munich to the ground but instead took a few hostages and 600,000 barrels of Hofbräuhaus. Yep, this is beer so good it stops cities being annihilated.
-The longest word published in the German language is Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft (79 letters). Spelling bee, anyone?
-Since 1516 the German Beer Purity Law has ensured that only water, barley and hops be used when making beer. #keepingitreal

Day 4: Munich to Austrian Alps, Austria

Travel day: Venice to Austrian Alps, Austria.

Prepare your retinas for the scenery playing outside the coach windows and yodel around the mountain as we make our way to the Alps. So much more than schnitty, strudel and The Sound of Music, this day should have been sponsored by GoPro.

Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Optional Activities:
-Tandem paragliding
-Bike tour
-Group photo

Did you know:
-62% of Austria's total land area is covered by the Austrian Alps. The rest is just covered with ridiculous beauty.
-A 5,300-year-old mummified man was discovered in the Alps in 1991 and scientists have since discovered 19 Tyrolean men alive today to descend from the iceman.

Day 5: Austrian Alps to Venice, Italy

Travel day: Austrian Alps to Venice, Italy.

100+ slowly sinking islands won't explore themselves. Get your bearings on a walking tour, then get hopelessly lost. Your GPS won't save you here. Soak up St Mark's Square (then get far, far away if you don't want to drop $40 on a coffee) before a quintessential gondola ride on the Grand Canal. Corny smooching not included.

Included today:
-Gondola ride
-Guided tour of Venice

Meals: Breakfast.

Optional activities:
-Design your own group t-shirt

Did you know:
-Venice is sinking at the rate of 1-2 millimetres a year, five times faster than originally estimated. All the more reason to cross it off your bucket list.
-The Medico della peste (the one with the long beak) is one of the most recognisable Venetian masks but it was born out of practicality - doctors wore them with perfume in the end to block the scent and prevent the spread of disease while treating Plague victims.
-The narrowest street in Venice (Calle Varisco) is only 53cm at chest level. Breathe in!

Day 6: Venice to Rome

Travel Day: Venice to Rome.

Travel down the boot and make like Caesar (the emperor, not the salad) and work up a colossus hunger as you pass by the Pantheon, throw your two cents in the Trevi Fountain, sit on the Spanish Steps and visit ancient history's version of the Hunger Games set at the Colosseum. Tonight, you're in Disneyland for foodies. Have fun.

Included today:
-Guided tour of Rome
-Leather demonstration

Meals: Breakfast.

Did you know:
-Wishful thinkers throw about €3,000 into the Trevi Fountain every day so it's illegal to remove coins from it. Not that it stopped the notorious Mr. d'Artagnan. He stole from the fountain for 34 years before he was caught in 2002.
-Real Italians never drink cappuccinos after 10am.
-In Italian, 'fiasco' is a bottle. In English, it's a big fail. We don't get it either.

Day 7: Rome

Create the ultimate Roman Holiday in one day with a whirlwind of Vespas, espresso, two-cheek kisses and pizza the way it's supposed to taste. Count your blessings on an optional tour of the Vatican City to see how Michelangelo messed around and created the High Renaissance, then play eye spy with two-and-a-half millennia's worth of history.

Shop til you drop on Via Condotti, head to Capitoline Hill for sick views of the Roman Forum and Colosseum or just kick back in Piazza Navona for some dolce far niente (delicious idleness). Your Topdeck chef will feed you tonight.

Included today:
-Free day

Meals: Breakfast.

Optional activities:
-Vatican City tour

Day 8: Rome to Florence

Travel Day: Rome to Florence.

Make your food baby sing as we roll into the land of hearty Tuscan cuisine and birthplace of gelato: Florence. Whip around Santa Maria del Fiore before tucking into amore on a plate. Then the evening is yours to stroll along the real-life watercolour of the Arno River, wishing you were a painter.

Included today:
-Tour of Florence with local guide
-Leather demonstration

Meals: Breakfast.

Did you know:
-One third of the world's art treasures reside in Florence. Maybe get an extra SD card.
-Florence was the first city in Europe to have paved streets. Cobblestones get tiresome after a while.
-After seeing the exquisite beauty of Florence and its art, French author Henri Standahl suffered from dizziness, heart palpitations and panic attacks. It's a medical condition now known as Stendhalismo and was diagnosed as recently as 1982.

Day 9: Florence to Lucerne, Switzerland

Travel Day: Florence to Lucerne, Switzerland.

Prepare for more #epicviews as we head to the Lucerne to check out one of the sexiest lakes in Europe. Check out the famous Lion Monument, Chapel Bridge, Glacier Gardens and Hofkirche on a guided tour.

Included today:
-Guided tour of Lucerne

Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Day 10: Lucerne to Paris, France

Travel Day: Lucerne to Paris, France.

Pinch yourself and instagram your first selfie during the guided night tour of the City of Lights. Home to Coco Chanel, the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa, Paris has more than deserved its reputation as the European capital for all things culture, fashion and food. And you're about to find out why.

Included today:
-City lights tour of Paris

Meals: Breakfast.

Did you know:
-When the mummy of Ramesses II was flown to Paris in 1974, he had to be issued with a passport stating his occupation as “King (deceased)”.
-The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the US from France. She's totally French.
-The Paris municipal government has banned Tom Cruise from ever becoming an honorary citizen of the city. #staystrong.

Day 11: Paris

This morning: free time en Francais. From the Louvre and Musée d'Orsay to the l'Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysées, you'll be sure to make a solid dent in your bucket list. Then: hop on an optional bike tour of Paris or roam the streets on your own before our gourmet picnic at the Eiffel Tower. End your day with an optional Seine River cruise or a #throwback bohemian cabaret show.

Included today:
-Free day
-Gourmet picnic by the Eiffel Tower

Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Optional activities:
-Paris bike tour
-Seine River cruise
-Traditional cabaret show in the Latin Quarter

Day 12: Paris to London, UK

Travel day: Paris to London, UK.

Stuff your backpacks with macarons for the ride home. Then it's back on the carriage to ol' Blighty to start planning your next adventure. Facebook friends?

Included today:
-English Channel ferry crossing

Meals: Breakfast.

Interested in this; ready to enquire?

Find out more by filling out the form below and clicking send. StudentUniverse should then be in touch shortly to help with your enquiry.


Further Details

More information about this gap year opportunity...

Price details:

from £1,270


Call 0333 333 9952 to enquire or book


Paris ‘City Lights’ Tour
Paris gourmet picnic beside the Eiffel Tower
Leather demonstration in Florence
Local guide in Florence
Gondola ride in Venice
Wine tasting in the Rhine Valley
Canal dinner cruise in Amsterdam

More Inclusions

11 breakfasts, 5 dinners
11 nights hotel accommodation (twin or double)
English Channel ferry crossings
Modern air-conditioned coach
Guided tours of all major cities
Awesome Trip Leader + Driver

Group Size

Average 35, maximum 48


This tour is suitable for people aged 18-39

About StudentUniverse

StudentUniverse has been supplying the best flight, hotel and tours deals to students around the world for years now and we’re delighted to be the preferred travel partner of and to make your travel experience even more amazing.

We have a great team of travel gurus that understand what a gap year is all about just waiting to help you, and since we are part of the Flight Centre Travel Group we are able to offer the best flights, gap year packages, hostels, tours, volunteer placements and insurance - the works. This is not your average travel agency, it’s the ultimate backpacker travel agency.

If you’d like to get in touch to chat about your travels, even if you’re in the preliminary stages and you’d just like some advice, give us a call on 0333 333 9923 or submit an enquiry to StudentUniverse – we’d love to hear from you.

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Find out more by filling out the form below and clicking send. StudentUniverse should then be in touch shortly to help with your enquiry.

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Please note: We can only support call-back requests during office hours, which are: Monday to Friday: 9am to 6pm  |  Saturday: 10am to 5pm.

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