Our 2023 tours are now available to book! You can find the most up-to-date information for each tour at www.ImageTours.com
11-day Christmas Markets of Austria & Germany
14-day Paris, Tuscany & Rome
15-day Germany, Austria, Switzerland
15-day Treasures of Italy
15-day Spain & Portugal
15-day HEART OF EUROPE® Circle
16-day Heart of the British Isles
16-day World War II Memorial
16-day Capitals of Central Europe
17-day Scandinavia & Baltic Highlights
22-day HEART OF EUROPE® Grand
Rachel, our European Operations manager, recently attended a conference for the European Tour Operators Association in the UK. This was the first in person event for ETOA in 20 months! It was such a refreshing change from the countless virtual "conventions" during the last year and a half.
Everyone was so happy to be there, confident that the travel protocols necessary for them to get there were keeping them safe. The day consisted of more than 30 meetings with current and new European service providers. After not seeing or being able to work together for two tour seasons, the reunions with our partners were very joyous! Everyone seemed to be feeling very positive about getting back to European travel by spring of 2022.
Rachel also visited some of our hotel partners in Dublin, Ireland and found that they are very eager to welcome international guests, and all were very committed to health and safety measures to ensure a positive and safe experience.
Started in 1810, the annual OKTOBERFEST in Munich reminds us why the Germans have more fun. It's all about the beer --- a 16-day celebration that runs from the end of September through the first weekend in October. This festival was created to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig the First on October 12, 1810. It was brought back the following year to help promote Bavarian agriculture, although it was moved toward the end of September to provide better weather conditions.
In keeping with this agricultural tradition, visitors can sample many different regional foods at this venue. Dishes like roast chicken, sausages, pretzels, and potato pancakes can be found to whet anyone’s Bavarian appetite.
Our 2022/2023 Europe brochure is now available with 11 Europe tours for the upcoming year.
Here are the Top three Winners from our Annual Photo Contest.
We also had several Honorable Mentions.
Thank you travelers for all your wonderful photos!
FIRST PLACE - $200 Travel Certificate
"Fun at Munich's Oktoberfest" - Sent by Deborah Koziacki
SECOND PLACE - $100 Travel Certificate
"On the Norwegian Fjords" - Sent by Ken & Catherine Holmstrom
THIRD PLACE - $50 Travel Certificate
"The Dutch Lowlands" - Sent by Tim & Lorraine Ahumada
There’s nothing quite like a trip to Europe. You can experience hundreds of years of history, art, architecture, and culture all in one trip. And in the spring and fall, you can add in spring flowers or blazing branches of red and gold.
Picture yourself strolling along a Dutch windmill in the height of spring tulip season. Or exploring Vienna on a crisp, bright fall morning. There are so many reasons why we think you should plan an off-season trip to Europe, but here are a few of them.
Yes, that’s right. Traveling in the off-season has immediate rewards to your pocket, leaving you more money to spend on having fun! Outside of peak season, many airlines and hotels will have great specials saving you hundreds of dollars on the basics. You might even get discounts on the ground, like happy hours and meal specials at restaurants.
Do you think anyone goes all the way to Europe to stand in line? Obviously not, but in summer, it’s a necessity. In spring and fall—when the vast crowds are much smaller—you can expect lines to be shorter at all major attractions.
You might even experience the rare pleasure of a relatively empty flight on your way over, giving you more room to spread out. Public transport should also be less pressured, allowing you to travel in much more comfort once at your destination.
And, without the crowds, your photos are bound to turn out better. Rather than rushing from place to place, trying to find a gap to take a photo without a crowd of tourists in it, you can take your time. Your photo albums will thank you.
There are many beautiful places in the world, but Europe in spring and fall is something special. In spring, flowers bloom and birds sing, adding a riot of color to every scene. In fall, the landscape appears to blaze with the vibrant reds and golds of the fall foliage.
Experience Holland in tulip season during spring or Germany during Oktoberfest for the most incredible display of color you’ve ever laid eyes on. In Prague, fall is also one of their least rainy seasons! That means you can enjoy seeing the sights and their incredible fall leaves at the same time. Head up to Prague’s Pet?ín Hill for the best views of the city in all its fall majesty.
Our tours generally travel as a group, taking guests from place to place by motorcoach. But any road travel will subject you to traffic. In summer, there can be loads of traffic, clogging up the major sights, as well as making transfers between cities much longer. In the off-season—once all the families and kids are back at school—there’s far less traffic.
Open roads mean more time exploring and more time to enjoy the unique feel of each destination. Less traffic also puts everyone into a better mood, from the locals to the tour operators and visitors. It’s generally just nicer for everyone!
If going to the beach, watersports and all-night partying is your thing, then summer is the right time to visit. But if you’d rather take a hike or explore the cobbled streets of a village, cooler temperatures will make it a lot more comfortable.
Before and after summer, you’ll have the pleasure of exploring your destinations in much more comfort. And since the temperatures haven’t dropped that far, you can still enjoy an ice cream or a glass of white wine.
One of the key reasons we travel is to experience other cultures. In the summer, Europeans tend to flee the popular tourist spots, leaving them to the hordes of visitors. In fact, August is one of the most popular times to holiday for most Europeans, including shop and restaurant owners.
Once the crowds vanish, the locals return and you can experience a much more authentic version of these European destinations. Enjoy a walk through one of Vienna’s many parks with locals walking their dogs and enjoying the last of the day’s light. See groups of men sitting outside cafes on the street enjoying a coffee together.
After the heat of summer, the European cultural calendar explodes. No matter what you enjoy—from theater and music to food and drink festivals—there’s something happening.
Experience the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, or one of the many vinobraní (wine festivals) held in Prague in September. In Amsterdam, you can enjoy walking through the many art galleries and museums, and even take in a few shows at the Amsterdam Fringe Festival from 5-15 September. The smaller towns tend to schedule local festivals and markets in spring and fall, adding the delight of stumbling upon a special local event which will often become the highlight of your trip.
When the crowds have died down, everyone can breathe. This means that rather than trying to shuffle you along so the next in line can get in the door, you’re given a lot more attention. From the waiter at the local restaurant who shares insider information with you or the shopkeeper who helps you find just the right gift; there’s no end to the delights that less pressure brings.
Take advantage of this by chatting with your hotel concierge or the host at the restaurant. After all, the locals have a much better understanding of their city and you can learn so much by just asking.
From flying and public transport to traffic and queues, there’s just no end to the things that are easier when there are fewer people around. Head out early in the year and experience the joy of spring blooming all over the continent. Or, take advantage of the clear, crisp weather and even the odd Indian summer day, and tour Europe in the fall.
In one trip, you can experience the delights of a cheese factory, a boat ride and enjoy the medieval architecture of Maastricht. Cruise down the Rhine, and learn more about Nuremberg and Rothenburg. Enjoy the Oktoberfest atmosphere in Munich’s Hofbrauhaus and visit an Alpine village. See the city of Vienna, where the Sound of Music was set and experience beautiful Starom?stské nám?stí (Old Town Square) in Prague.
Can you picture yourself strolling down the canal yet? If you’re ready to start planning your trip to Europe, take a look at our Heart of Europe tour and make it a reality. Not quite ready? Sign up for our brochure and we’ll send it through to you free of charge. Just think of it as food for daydreams.
There are so many incredible reasons to visit Europe—there are 27 countries in the European Union alone, all remarkably different yet closely connected and easy to navigate. Is it any wonder that it’s on the bucket-list of so many? A trip to Europe is something everyone should do at least once. Escorted tours are the perfect option for your trip overseas, for a number of reasons. Here’s what you need to know about taking a guided tour of Europe.
You may think it’s much cheaper and easier to DIY your tour of Europe. But it’s not as easy as it looks and you may spend a lot of hours searching for the best hotels, attractions, flights, and restaurants—in seven different countries. An experienced travel operator works with local experts. They’re the people who know the perfect places for a great view, delicious dinner, or hidden gem. You don’t have to waste your time researching the can’t-miss attractions, mouthwatering dishes, or paging through TripAdvisor to find that one off-the-beaten-path place with the most breathtaking views.
Better still, your guide usually speaks the native language too—very helpful since the European Union has over 20 official languages! A guided tour through Europe includes accommodations, most meals, and transfers during your whole tour. It even includes tips for waiters, bagboys and other service providers —everyone except your driver and guide. It’s helpful for budgeting because you can simply book the tour and your flights, and you’re done. At the same time, it saves you both time and money because your tour operator (that’s us!) can get the best deals at restaurants, accommodations, and transfers since we travel with a group and have a personal relationship with most of the places we visit.
We’ll take care of the details so you can spend your time at destinations and not researching your next mode of transportation.
Unlike many travel destinations that lose their luster during certain times of the year, Europe is a year-round destination—its major cities are always bustling and welcoming to visitors. That being said, however, some seasons are definitely better than others, depending on your travel goals.
Summer is peak season; usually, the months of mid-June to August are busiest, but the weather is sunny and the days are long. It’s a great time to visit, but the crowds will be a bit larger.Of course, if you’re visiting southern Europe, the temperatures can get rather high—sweltering even. And many southern European cities in France and Italy practically shut down during the “holiday” month of August.
We like to schedule our guided Europe tours during “shoulder” seasons, April and May in the spring and September and October in the fall. The weather is mild, there are fewer crowds to contend with, and those in the tourism industry are happy to welcome visitors.
The winter months are the off-season in Europe and there are a few advantages to traveling then—lower airfares chief among them. But you need to be prepared for unpredictable weather, including rain, snow, drizzle, and cold...and the days are very short.
Our best packing advice? The most important items are your passport, tickets, and a credit card. Anything else can be bought at your destination! While we take care of your tickets, you should make sure to have (or update) your passport, check with your bank that you can use your card abroad (and let them know you’re going to Europe, before they block your card!), and be sure to get travel insurance.
A good outlet adaptor is key—you won’t be able to plug in your electronics and devices without one. These are inexpensive and easy to buy. Bring a power strip to make sure you can plug in all your electronics in your hotel room! It never hurts to know some key phrases like please, thank you, excuse me, how much, where is. A few words in German, Dutch, French, and Italian will go a long way on our most popular tours. Danke, dankjewel, merci, grazie!
It’s becoming easier and easier to stay online while traveling the world. WiFi hotspots are easy to find all over Europe, and you can use different WiFi messaging and communications apps to stay in touch. WhatsApp provides free texting and voice and video calls. Contact your cell phone provider about short term international data and calling plans before leaving for Europe though. If you will use your phone for photos, consider increasing your memory and taking a USB battery pack.
Packing for your guided tour of Europe really isn’t that different from any other vacation. You’ll want to pack light—a single suitcase—since most tour coaches and airlines limit you to one bag. Some other packing tips to consider:
Most of your expenses are included with an escorted tour, but be sure to bring some extra cash for souvenirs, shopping, beverages and individual meals, or if you want to join an optional excursion. As for tips—most of them are included in your tour. During independent meals, the general rule at restaurants in Europe is 5% to 10%, depending on the level of service.
Don’t forget to leave some space in your suitcase if you plan to buy keepsakes and souvenirs. Do follow the tour itinerary and listen to your tour manager for departure times; it’s hard to miss the bus if you do. Just in case, carry your passport and your accommodation address and contact information with you at all times.
Just so you know: stops are usually followed by some free time for independent sightseeing and frequent stops are planned to stretch your legs and go to the toilet.
Wondering what it actually looks like on a guided tour? Your transport will be a motor coach with heating and air conditioning, and there’s an enclosed portable toilet for emergencies. These are comfortable buses with big windows, so you won’t miss a thing while riding through stunning landscapes. Our partner hotels are typically 3 or 4-star hotels and inns with amenities such as a private bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower; free WiFi; breakfast buffet; and a tv with a few English channels. You can check the list of hotels for your tour on our website.
With a guided tour, most of your itinerary is set. You know which city you’ll be in on each day and even most of the sights and attractions you’ll see on those days. When you make a sightseeing stop, your tour manager will typically indicate points of interest while on the motor coach and/or with a walking tour, followed by 45 minutes to 2 hours for independent sightseeing, depending on the location. We also offer optional excursions that you can add to your itinerary, so you can see even more of your destination.
For example, with our 15-day Heart of Europe tour through Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, you can choose to explore Salzburg’s treasures, discover the Venetian lagoon, travel to the top of Mt. Stanserhorn in the world’s only open-top cable car in Switzerland, experience a typical Parisian evening, and take a panoramic tour of Amsterdam’s canals on top of the already planned sights and attractions.
If you want, you can also add days to your trip before or after the tour. Just let us know when you book your tour, so we can help planning your trip and find you the best hotels and flights.
You’re back at home—now what? Make sure to reach out to fellow travelers you exchanged information with. It’s so great when friendships blossom on tour. Sometimes new friends even book a future tour together! A trip like this is memorable, but it’s nice to have some physical reminders of your guided tour of Europe. Create a photo album with your favorite pictures, put together a box with some photos and souvenirs your brought home, or journal your favorite memories.
Send your favorite photos to our photo contest email address and your picture may end up in next year’s brochure or shared on the Image Tours Facebook page (follow us to see pictures our guests took on tour).
Ready to make new friends and great memories? Get in touch today to find your next guided tour in Europe.
Who says the only capital cities to visit in Europe are London, Paris, and Rome? Travel off the “beaten path” and see the capitals of Central Europe for a deep-dive into the continent’s history and culture.
These more obscure cities of the Old Continent have seen the rise of many famous figures as well as important historical events. You’ll love learning all about the unique cultures and peoples, who make Central Europe a thriving region.
Here’s a look at five capital cities and their surrounding towns that are must-sees in Central Europe:
Germany’s capital city, Berlin, is most known for its World War II history and the Berlin Wall. But since Ronald Reagan famously told “Mr. Gorbachev” to “tear down this wall,” Berlin has become a buzzing metropolis waiting to be explored.
Sightseeing highlights of Berlin include the grand Reichstag Building, magnificent Brandenburg Gate, and the site of Checkpoint Charlie, the best known Berlin Wall crossing point. Definitely stop by Kurfürstendamm Avenue, affectionately called Ku’damm, for a look at the bombed tower of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a reminder of World War II.
During your tour of the city, be sure to stop in one of the world-class restaurants for fantastic food and beverages. You can’t miss out on trying traditional German fare, like schnitzel, bratwurst, and beer.
Outside of Berlin lie towns known for their religious history. Ever heard of Martin Luther, the religious reformer? Of course you have. He nailed the 95 Theses to a chapel door in Wittenberg, which isn’t too far from Berlin. Eisenach’s Wartburg Castle was Luther’s hiding place after becoming a wanted man by the Catholic Church.
Eisenach is also the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach, and to continue with the music theme, visit Leipzig, the birthplace of Richard Wagner and last home to Bach. There, you can visit the grave of the “Toccata and Fugue” composer.
Krakow is probably one of those cities you’ve heard of, but don’t really know much about. And that’s okay! There’s no time like the present to discover Poland’s gem.
Many centuries ago, Krakow was actually a major trade centre, but after the capital was moved to Warsaw, the city deteriorated. Poland lost its control of Krakow for over a century—it remained under Austria’s rule from 1795 to 1918.
Krakow did not escape World War II. The city was under Nazi control for many years, and over 55,000 Jews were taken from the city to Auschwitz, the horrific concentration camp. After the War, Poland once again gained Krakow. The city became an industrial mecca and helped bolster the country’s economy after the fall of communism in Poland.
These days, Krakow is a vibrant city full of art, architecture, and science. If architecture is your thing, be sure to head to the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get a taste of Polish culture with a visit to salt mines just outside of Krakow, followed by a delicious dinner. Art enthusiasts should head to the National Museum for a look at famous paintings, sculptures, and more.
Budapest, known as “the Queen of the Danube,” is actually split into two parts across the River. Buda is on the west bank, and Pest is on the east bank. The sections are connected by many bridges across the Danube, creating Budapest. And between the two of them, there is so much to see and do.
In Buda, have your camera at the ready while visiting Castle Hill. The Old Town is covered with beautiful buildings and the Royal Palace is a stunning sight. Fisherman’s Bastion is arguably the most photographed spot in Buda. Its seven spectacular spires tower over the side of the Danube.
Pest, the larger section of the city, holds much of the modern-day culture. Here, the Hungarian Parliament resides. Music is a huge part of the capital’s make-up. Swing by the Vigadó (romantic concert hall) for ornate architecture and a possible performance. Pest is also home to the National Theatre, Neo-Renaissance State Opera House, and Franz Liszt Academy of Music. And for even more examples of architecture, stop by Gresham Palace for a fine example of the Art Nouveau style.
Nothing compares to a cruise down the Danube for breathtaking views of the city. With Buda on one side and Pest on the other, is there really a better way to take in Hungary’s capital?
Austria may be famous in the United States for The Sound of Music, but while visiting Vienna, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the country and its capital.
Certainly the “can’t miss” site in Vienna is St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The massive house of worship is a gorgeous and grand spectacle in the city center. Another breathtaking building is the Vienna Opera House.
Just outside of Vienna is Schonbrunn Palace. Think of it as Vienna’s version of Versaille. It was originally constructed as a hunting lodge, and then become a Habsburg summer residence. Wouldn’t that be the life?
Looking for something to do? Head to Museumsquartier for your pick of different museums. There is something for everyone here, including art museums, children’s museums, and a natural history museum.
The best way to ensure you see all you desire in Vienna (or anywhere abroad for that matter) is by booking your tour well in advance. A little planning ahead can take your trip from great to fantastic.
The final capital of Central Europe to see is Prague, the Czech Republic’s pride on the Vltava River. Despite destruction occurring all around it in World War II, Prague mostly remained intact, which adds to the city’s popularity as a travel destination in the 21st Century.
Begin your tour of Prague with Staromestské námesti, the most photographed square in the whole capital. Head next to the Old Town Hall and Church of St. Nicholas for traditional Czech architecture.
The remarkable Charles Bridge takes you across the Vltava River to Malá Strana and the Prague Castle. Visiting these historic sights transport you from reality into a fairytale, if only for a minute or two.
Don’t miss out on your opportunity to see the exceptional capitals of Central Europe, get in touch to start planning the adventure of a lifetime today.
Paris...Rome...Berlin...Vienna. When you tell your friends you’re going to Europe, those are the cities that come to mind.
But Europe is so much more than international capitals and major tourist destinations. To really know and understand the Continent, you need to explore the cities that don’t make the guidebooks. The underappreciated destinations that tell the story of Western Civilization.
If you’re planning a trip to Europe this year, don’t overlook the charms of these underrated destinations.
Back in the Middle Ages, long before Munich and Berlin were household names, Rothenburg was the place to be in Germany. Today, Rothenburg is a picture-perfect example of Germany’s influence in medieval Europe.
Beautifully preserved city squares, in-tact city walls, storybook lookout towers, half-timbered store fronts, centuries-old churches, and the idyllic Tauber Valley are just a few of Rothenburg’s charms. It’s like stepping back in history when you walk its cobblestone streets.
If you’re touring Germany, Rothenburg connects you with its glorious past.
Altstadt von Innsbruck, or Old Town, is one of the main attractions of this amazing Austrian city. You might connect it with the Olympics, but Innsbruck has been a destination in its own right for hundreds of years. Buildings in the town center date back 500 years.
Don’t miss St. James Cathedral with its gold and marble altar, the bronze statues in the Hofkirche, the elegant Imperial Palace, the Golden Roof, and the world-famous Swarovski Crystal Worlds.
Any tour of Europe that skips Verona will leave you wanting more.
Verona lives in history as the place where Juliet gave her life for love—you can even see Juliet’s balcony, her tomb, and the gate through which Romeo made his way to Mantua.
But even if you’re not a lover of romance, you’ll appreciate Verona and its magnificent Roman architecture. The Bard set “Taming of the Shrew” and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” in this underappreciated Italian town. If you love Shakespeare, you can’t miss Verona.
Whatever you’ve imagined about the beauty of Swiss villages pales in comparison to Engelberg. Surrounded by the Alps and centered on a monastery, Engelberg is everything you want from your trip to Switzerland.
To fully experience Engelberg, spend the night and, in the morning, open your window to the awe-inspiring mountain views. Visit the Cheese Factory, tour the Abbey, hike along the village paths or take a cable car to Titlis.
Bring your camera—this is a place you’ll never want to forget.
Pastel half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and a fabulous story that dates back to the 12th century Count of Champagne—Troyes is where history, romance, and sparkling wine collide.
Sip the Champagne, nibble on brioche, and don’t miss andouillette, the local sausage-wine-and-onion delicacy with origins dating back to the court of Louis II and his coronation in the Troyes cathedral.
Everyone eats cheese and baguettes in Paris...but how many people have had andouillette and Champagne in Troyes?
Antwerp is where the past and the future collide—in a beautiful way. The market square, or Grote Markt, is an homage to 16th-century Europe, and the city’s 12th-century Cathedral of Our Lady is the biggest Gothic edifice in Europe’s lowlands. In contrast, there are modern structures such as the Palace of Justice and the avant-garde Port House with its gigantic diamond-shaped monument.
Did you know two-thirds of the world’s diamonds pass through Antwerp?
If you’re looking for the ultimate European experience, don’t miss Antwerp—and do indulge in Belgian delicacies. Who doesn’t love Belgian waffles and Belgian chocolate?
If your first thought when you hear the word “Delft” is the beautiful blue-and-white pottery, you’re not alone. Delftware is a highlight of the pedestrian shopping areas.
But when you’re done dishware shopping, leave some time to explore the city’s amazing canal system, its world-renowned museums, and of course, the tulips in season. The many cafes offer opportunities to try Dutch treats such as endless adaptations of pancakes.
Delft is an unexpected joy in the heart of northern Europe.
The Rhine is famous for its wine regions, but the Rieslings of Rudesheim steal the show. Rudesheim’s grapes date back to 1st-century Romans and their knowledge of viticulture. Today, some 3 million oenophiles make their way to Rudesheim each year to sample the incredible sweet and dry wines.
Take a cable car to the hilltop Niederwald Monument or a boat ride on the Rhine River for picturesque views of the vineyards. The festive atmosphere of the charming shops, taverns, and restaurants along the Drosselgasse contribute to a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Rudesheim.
There’s something for everyone in Europe. Whether your passion is history, geography, culture, or cuisine, you’ll find something that excites you in our favorite European cities—and we’d love to help you explore.
Get in touch today to see how easy it is to picture yourself on a guided tour of Europe this year.