Make More Memories in Fewer Miles: The Beauty of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
07 May 2018 03:49 PM

Ever wanted to travel throughout multiple countries in Europe, but found the logistics too much to bear? Visiting two or more countries usually means lots of travel, which takes time and money.

But what if you could see four of Europe’s most beautiful countries in only 15 days? That’s right, you can see Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein in just over a fortnight.

And forget wasted travel days—you’ll be spending at least two nights at each of your hotels, getting to immerse yourself in the culture, and seeing many different spectacular sights along the way.

Take a look at a few of the dreamy locations you’ll be enjoying during your trip:


From the Middle Ages to World War II, history abounds in the Franconian Wine Region.

Make More Memories in Fewer Miles: The Beauty of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

You can’t visit Europe without stumbling upon historical sites, cities, and landmarks. In fact, it’s one of the things about Europe that is so special—just how much history the continent holds.

Start your European tour off in Franconia, known for its high quality wines, especially white varieties. Silvaner is a local favorite. This peachy and apricot wine is soft and smooth. Another white variety to try is Bacchus. It’s known as “wine for women” because of its highly aromatic nature—think honied florals.

But there’s more than just vineyards to see here. The city of Nuremberg lies within Franconia, known for its famous “trials” after World War II. During the war, Nuremberg was the location of the Nazi Parade grounds, which can still be visited. After the war, many Nazi leaders were tried and convicted here for their vicious crimes against humanity.

And for those looking for a lighter subject, the Toy Museum is always a delight!


Find out why “the hills are alive with The Sound of Music” while staying in Filzmoos.

Make More Memories in Fewer Miles: The Beauty of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

Interested in seeing a city most Americans don’t even know about? Austria’s Filzmoos is a spectacular secret kept by the Europeans from foreigners. And you get to stay there for three nights to truly absorb the Austrian scenery and culture.

Although it’s primarily known as a ski and hiking town, you’ll appreciate Filzmoos’ proximity to Salzburg, the setting and filming location for The Sound of Music.

Join fellow fans of the movie-musical for a tour of the famous sights from the movie, such as the gazebo for “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” Mirabell Gardens from “Do Re Mi,” and Saint Peter’s Abbey, home to the convent where Maria originally lives.

But don’t just see where The Sound of Music was filmed—live it for yourself. Okay, maybe don’t become a nun and then a nanny for seven children, but do go out into the hills and listen to the sounds of the birds flying above, the trickling of freshwater streams, trees from the nearby forests rustling, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear that “sound” Maria sang of so heavenly.


Be a full-on tourist in Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol.

Make More Memories in Fewer Miles: The Beauty of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

Who says you shouldn’t act like a tourist when traveling abroad? Forget blending in and take advantage of all Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, has to offer.

Host of two winter Olympics, Innsbruck is a winter sport mecca. But you don’t have to ski or snowboard to enjoy the wonders of this village which is bisected by a river and majestically surrounded by mountain peaks.

Innsbruck’s most famous landmark is the Golden Roof. It’s amazing how a simple roof over a balcony could be so impressive. Built in 1500, the roof is covered in 2,657 copper tiles gilded with six kilos of gold. While it was once used for royalty, these days it’s the perfect place to be a tourist.

Another sought-out sight in Innsbruck is the exquisite Imperial Church. This cathedral holds the tomb of Emperor Maximilian and 28 bronze figures of his ancestors, overlooking him. And don’t miss the intricate carvings of his life surrounding the exterior of his tomb.

Finally, Innsbruck is a great place for souvenirs. Peruse the spectacular showrooms of Swarovski Crystal, with magnificent displays meant for viewing only, as well as jewelry and miniature figurines you can purchase to take home with you. Or stop by Grassmayr for one of their famous bells. If nothing else, at least stop by to ring one!


Shout “yodel-ay-hee-hoo” from atop the Swiss Alps.

Make More Memories in Fewer Miles: The Beauty of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

You don’t have to be a mountain climber to reach the summit of the Stanserhorn. Take the world’s only open top cable car up to the mountain-top terrace and restaurant for stunning scenery and the chance to yodel to those below.

After your adventure up the mountain and back down, head a few miles further to Lucerne, known for its lovely lake.

Lucerne is spectacle to see. Amidst mountain peaks lies this pristine lake, followed by a city featuring both the old and new. Those who appreciate historical architecture and antiques will enjoy touring the well-preserved medieval Altstadt (Old Town), while those looking for more contemporary activities will want to hit the shops and restaurants.

Another can’t-miss activity is a scenic cruise on Lake Lucerne. An old-fashioned steamer will take you around the lake to see stunning views, both natural and man-made. You will not believe some of the homes on the lake’s shores. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, anyone?


Learn about Cuckoo Clocks in the Fairy Tale Setting of the Black Forest

Make More Memories in Fewer Miles: The Beauty of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

Spend a few nights in the fairy tale setting of the Black Forest, the area that inspired the Brothers Grimm in their story of Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty. There is a special magic about the Black Forest - the forested hills and rustic villages make you feel as if you have taken a journey back in time.

Triberg, home of the World’s largest Cuckoo Clock is a good place to learn more about the inner workings of these hand carved clocks. The Schwarzwald Museum provides insight into the history and culture of the Black Forest. Did you know that Germany’s highest waterfall is located in Triberg?


End your journey with fun festivities in Rudesheim.

Make More Memories in Fewer Miles: The Beauty of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

(c) Skaja Lee

Toast to the end of your trip with a glass of sekt, a sparkling white wine from the Rudesheim region of Germany. Or if sparkling wines aren’t your thing, have a glass of brandy instead, also produced throughout the region.

Escape into a German storybook in Drosselgasse, a cobbled street filled with historical buildings, shops, and restaurants. As you walk the centuries-old streets, listen for traditional music coming from the bars. The classic German culture from fairy tales and movies can’t be contained by walls.

And if the thought of fairy tales excites you, be sure to take a river cruise on the Rhine. You’ll cruise past medieval fortresses, enchanting villages, and hillside vineyards on a Rhine River Steamer, followed by a guided tour of the unique Siegfried's Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum.

End the day with a cable car ride up to the Niederwald Monument, a must-see landmark in Rudesheim, complete with beautiful views of the Rhine Valley.


Flying in and out of Frankfurt makes for efficient travel.

Make More Memories in Fewer Miles: The Beauty of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland FRANKFURT, GERMANY - MAY 21, 2011: Empty Lufthansa aircraft standing on the handling ramp expecting boarding at Frankfurt/Main airport on May 21, 2011 in Frankfurt, Germany.

Can you believe you’ve made a circle, starting from Frankfurt, down through Bavaria, on to Austria, then Liechtenstein and Switzerland, only to make it back to Germany? This way, you can fly in and out of Frankfurt, making your travel plans much more efficient.

Flying in and out of the same airport adds a sense of familiarity. You’ve already walked through these terminals at least once, so you’ll have an easier time finding your flight.

If you book your tour with a travel company, you’ll also have the guidance of your tour operator should any unforeseen needs come up.


Your European adventure awaits…

Thrilled to find out it’s super easy to see multiple European countries in one easy trip? We’d love to have you on one of our tours. Fill in a few brief questions here to get your travel plans started today.

Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
21 Feb 2018 10:02 AM
Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

Preparing for a trip to the British Isles and wishing you could leave tomorrow?

Well, even though you might have to wait a few weeks or months before you embark on your journey, you don’t have to wait to start enjoying some of the best books, music, movies, and television shows that are from or take place in the United Kingdom and beyond. After all, some of the fun of taking an overseas journey is in the anticipation and preparation.

Here are 9 pop culture experiences you should read, watch, or listen to before your trip to the British Isles:


Read some plays by William Shakespeare, who resided in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

Did you know many popular phrases were written by William Shakespeare? “Green-eyed monster,” “wild goose chase,” and “forever and a day” are just a few of the many phrases used today, originating from the playwright’s famous works.

Shakespeare hails from Stratford-Upon-Avon, a tiny town in the middle of England. You can still visit the home in which he was born as well as Anne Hathaway’s cottage—no, not the actress from Les Miserables, but Shakespeare’s wife.

Of course, reading one or more of his plays would be a phenomenal way to prepare for your trip to Jolly Ole England. But if movies are more your thing, specifically romances, try watching the Best Picture winner of 1999, Shakespeare in Love.


Masterpiece’s Victoria follows the early life of Queen Victoria and is filmed in Yorkshire.

Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

© Elliott Brown

For those missing Downton Abbey on PBS’s “Masterpiece” series, be sure to watch Victoria, which follows the early reign of Queen Victoria. Season One introduces us to a young Victoria, who becomes queen and meets her future husband, Albert.

Victoria is filmed in Yorkshire, one of the cities in which is York. Visiting York will transport you back to medieval times as you walk through The Shambles. Timber-framed buildings, some of which date back to the 14th Century, line the streets.

But the must-see of York is easily York Minster, England’s largest Gothic church. The stunning structure took 250 years to build. Stained glass windows depicting Biblical scenes are just a small part of the many ornate details decorating the magnificent cathedral.


Witness the tragic tale of Mary Queen of Scots while watching Reign.

Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

If you look back at history, so many lives and events really do look like a modern soap opera. The CW took the story of Mary Queen of Scots and created Reign, a popular historical drama, which ran for four seasons.

Mary marries the king of France, who dies shortly after their marriage. She then enters into a competition with her cousin, Elizabeth I, for the English throne. Spoiler alert — Elizabeth eventually has Mary killed.

Although Mary never became the queen of England, many still enjoy visiting her house in Jedburgh, Scotland. There, you can learn more about her tragic life and see artifacts from the time. If Mary’s story is intriguing, be sure to watch Reign before traveling to the Gaelic country.


Travel through time at Edinburgh Castle, just like Claire in Outlander.

Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

Have you heard of the time-traveling sensation, Outlander? Diana Gabaldon’s popular book series became a hit Starz series in 2014, which only increased its fandom.

Outlander follows the life of Claire, who after being a nurse during World War II, reunites with her husband, but then accidentally travels back in time to Scotland in the 1700s. She learns how to adapt to her new century, and meets an interesting cast of characters along the way.

Season three most recently aired and many episodes took place in Scotland’s capital—Edinburgh. Although the show didn’t depict the modern-day city, you’ll be glad you get to see it in the 21st Century.

Edinburgh is full of world-class restaurants, superb shopping, and historical sites, the city’s castle. Get brushed up on your Scottish history and watch Outlander before enjoying this lively capital.


Jam to The Beatles before visiting their hometown of Liverpool.

Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

Asking “What’s your favorite Beatles song?” is like asking “What’s your favorite movie?” It’s a tough question to answer. There are so many hits and deep cuts that you can’t imagine life without.

The Beatles came together in Liverpool, a coastal town in England, known for its very distinct dialect. Enjoy exploring the town and seeing many of the sights made famous by the rock n’ roll band, such as Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane.

If you’re looking for a different way to appreciate the band’s most popular songs, watch the rock musical movie Across the Universe. The movie tells an original story about Jude, who travels to America during a difficult decade in the country’s history. Using the songs by The Beatles, the audience follows Jude through love, sadness, and many friendships.


Romance abounds in movies set in Dublin.

Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

© Giuseppe Milo

You might think Paris is the most romantic city in Europe, but Dublin may just take the cake as the most romantic city in the British Isles. For instance, many romantic movies take place at or near the Irish capital.

The movie turned Broadway musical, Once, was filmed in Dublin and follows two individuals who make music and fall in love. The film’s song “Falling Slowly” won Best Song at the 80th Academy Awards.

P.S. I Love You follows a young woman whose Irish husband passes but leaves behind many tasks for his wife to complete, including a trip to his homeland. While overseas, she finds romance for the first time since becoming a widow. The movie was filmed just south of Dublin and features Oscar-winner, Hilary Swank.

If movies aren’t enough to prove that Dublin is a romantic city, maybe knowing St. Valentine is buried there will. Bring your Valentine with you to Ireland’s capital and visit some of the one thousand pubs within the city.


Travel through space and time with The Doctor in Wales.

Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

Any sci-fans looking to travel to the British Isles? Then watch the classic television show, Doctor Who, which began in the 1960s and was revamped in 2005, creating a pop culture phenomenon.

The current series of Doctor Who films in Cardiff, Wales. Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and sits on the southern coast. Take time to tour the city’s castle, which was commissioned by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century. Over the many centuries, the castle managed to survive many wars and battles. In fact, bomb shelters were built into the castle’s walls during World War II.

So even though you won’t actually go time-traveling with The Doctor, visiting historical Cardiff might just do the trick.


Two of Jane Austen’s heroine-inspired novels take place in Bath.

Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

How could you visit England and not think of Jane Austen? While she only wrote six novels in full, her stories have made a lasting impression for centuries.

Two of Austen’s novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, take place in Bath, where Jane, herself, resided for a few years’ time. During your visit, be sure to swing by the Jane Austen Centre to indulge in your favorite author’s life and stories. And don’t forget to read (or watch) at least one of her famous novels.

Bath also is home to hot springs, which the Romans found 2,000 years ago. Stop by the Roman Baths Museum to learn how the ancient people used the power of the springs in their advanced engineering.

Not too far away is the mysterious Stonehenge, a large group of stones strategically placed in a circle. How did they get there? Who put them there? Will we ever know for sure?


Visit the London locations featured in Netflix’s award-winning show, The Crown.

Fairytale, Fiction, and the Royal Family: A Pop Culture Journey Through the British Isles

“Have you watched The Crown?” seems to be the question on everyone’s lips these days. The award-winning Netflix show has stirred up a lot of popularity as it delves deep into the life of Queen Elizabeth when she first becomes queen as well as those surrounding her.

Many of London’s famous sights are featured in the show, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Parliament. Watch the first two seasons before your trip to get a sneak peak at all of the wondrous sights around the capital and get some insight into what it’s like to be a modern monarch.


Time to get watching…

Are you ready to start watching, reading, and listening to the best pop culture the British Isles have to offer? What about seeing these amazing places in person? Click here to request our brochure and start planning your vacation to the UK and Ireland today.

11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
27 Dec 2017 08:34 AM
11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

“This was the most meaningful tour I have ever been on. I wish every American had the chance to go on this tour.”

G. Brown - Moline, IL

It would be hard to miss the marks left across Europe from the effects of World War II. The war hit the continent hard, destroying much in its path. Many monuments, buildings, cultural artifacts, and of course lives were lost during this time.

While the war significantly changed the 20th century, we wouldn’t be where we are today without it. It’s important to take time to visit the places where the world was so drastically altered, and there’s no better way to see it all than with a European World War II Memorial Tour.


1. Learn about the Nuremberg Trials where they actually took place.

In 1945, the war was finally over. But the leaders of the Nazi party still needed to answer for their crimes. And so, the Nuremberg Trials took place in Germany, bringing many to justice. Nuremberg was chosen for a few reasons—its Palace of Justice remained relatively undamaged and had a large prison to keep the war criminals, and Nuremberg was an important platform for Nazi rallies; having the trials there marked the end of the Nazi era.

The trials began with the Trial of Major War Criminals, bringing 24 Nazi leaders in front of the court. Unlike most trials, there was no jury, but rather a group of judges (tribunal) who decided the Nazi leaders’ fates.

While visiting Nuremberg, stop by the Nazi Party Rally Grounds where many of the propaganda speeches took place to get an idea of the scope of these rallies. You can also visit the Palace of Justice to see exactly where the trials occured and justice prevailed.


2. Reflect on the incomprehensible at Dachau Concentration Camp.

11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

It’s unimaginable. It’s incomprehensible. And yet it happened. During the time of the concentration camps, 11 million people were killed. The world cannot and should not forget what happened at places like Dachau—and maybe visiting them will help the world never let it happen again.

Dachau Concentration Camp was the first of its kind in Germany. It opened in 1933, as a prison for political prisoners, but was soon turned into a death camp. And those who were not executed worked as slaves, suffering from malnutrition and injuries. While the prisoners consisted mainly of Jews, other groups of people including Jehovah’s Witnesses, artists, the mentally and physically disabled, and homosexuals were also held captive.

As you walk through the camp, reflect on what happened here. Think of how you can ensure the world will not abuse or kill people simply for their heritage, beliefs, disabilities, etc.


3. Don’t miss out on seeing Salzburg, filming location for The Sound of Music.

One of the most beloved movies of all time takes place during World War II—The Sound of Music. The Austrian Von Trapp family escapes from the Nazis by crossing the border into Switzerland, but not before the audience learns how to sing “Do-Re-Mi” and all about “My Favorite Things.”

Many old Hollywood films were filmed on sound stages, but The Sound of Music was greatly filmed on location in Salzburg. While visiting Austria, be sure to check out the many places like the gazebo where Liesl sings “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”

Near Salzburg is Eagle’s Nest, a hideaway mountain home of Hitler’s. It was presented to him in 1939 as a gift for his 50th birthday. An ornately decorated elevator takes guests the final 124 meters to the top of the mountain for entry. Inside you can see the remains of a red, marble fireplace. The marble was a gift from Mussolini, but Allied soldiers chipped off pieces as souvenirs after their victory.


4. See the grave of the wily Rommel, aka the “Desert Fox,” and ponder his defeat at El Alamein.

11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

Erwin Rommel played a significant role in World War II. He was a German general, forced to choose death after being suspected of a murder plot against Hitler. Rommel bit into a cyanide capsule in exchange for immunity for his family. But did he actually plan to kill Hitler? Likely no. Rommel was just another casualty thanks to the Nazi party and its leader.

He earned his nickname “Desert Fox” during his time in North Africa. Initially, Rommel was able to push back the Allies. His most famous battle there, a loss at El Alamein, turned the tide of the war for the Allies in Africa. Two months later, Rommel was back in Europe.

Visit his grave near Ulm, a German town known for its record-breaking church steeple at Ulm Minster—it’s the tallest in the world.


5. France’s eastern border with Germany created a big stage for World War II.

11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

In the Vosges Mountains lies a French town with an important history. Saverne and its liberation bolstered the French Army and other Allies towards winning the way just a year later. Pushing the Germans out of Saverne and nearby Strasbourg was not an easy fight, but it greatly helped the Allied forces and France.

Also in France is the Lorraine American Cemetery. Stop to pay your respects to the almost 11,000 fallen American heroes laid to rest there. It is the largest American World War II cemetery in Europe, covering 113.5 acres. As you walk around, be sure to check out the many monuments and memorials throughout the cemetery, paying homage to those who lost their lives for our freedoms.

Later, visit Fort Hackenberg, which is part of the Maginot Line. The Maginot Line was supposed to prevent German forces from crossing into France, but alas, it did not succeed.


6. The small country of Luxembourg was right in the middle of the war.

11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

Every American knows the name George S. Patton. He was instrumental in winning the war for the Allies and liberating Germany from the Nazis. And he is buried in Luxembourg of all places. You can see his grave when you visit the country’s American Cemetery. Before leaving Luxembourg, check out the Luxembourg National Museum of Military History in Diekirch for even more World War II history.

Belgium’s Ardennes Region holds the Mardasson Memorial, a star-shaped tribute to the soldiers who were injured or died in the Battle of the Bulge, the bloodiest battle for Americans in World War II. All 50 states are inscribed on the walls as well as 10 passages commemorating the battle. If you’ve seen “Band of Brothers,” you will be interested to see the fox holes used by Easy Company, who the show is based on.


7. Witness where World War II finally came to a close.

11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

See Reims, the city where the Second World War ended. German General Alfred Jodl signed papers ending the war in both the East and the West on May 7, 1945. With the Soviet Union and Allied Forces coming at the Nazis from both sides, there was no other option. General Jodl was tried, convicted, and subsequently hanged during the Nuremberg Trials, but later found not guilty in 1953.

Reims is famous for more than just World War II—all French royalty have had their coronations held at the Cathedral since the 9th century.


8. Find peace while exploring Caen, less than an hour from Omaha Beach.

11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

At the north of France is Caen, whose bridge played an important role in stopping the germans. The British captured Pegasus Bridge, keeping the Germans from a counter-attack after the Normandy invasion. See the bridge and think of our United Kingdom friends, who helped us out significantly.

In the spirit of friendship, head on to the Caen Peace and Memorial Museum, which recognizes all who favor peace and continue to fight for it.


9. Spend a solemn day strolling the Normandy Beaches.

11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

If you’ve ever watched the opening of Saving Private Ryan, you know the arrival to the Normandy Beaches was a gruesome day. But unless you were there, you could never truly understand what our soldiers experienced.

While you can’t travel back in time, you can travel to the beaches of D-Day: Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword. These bloody battles opened up the possibility of an Allied victory. Walking on the same sand upon which the combat took place is humbling and solemn, but it helps keep alive the memory of those who died for their fellow citizens.

Pointe du Hoc, a German fortification, is also nearby. See where the Germans set up their fortification and how the Allies captured it.


10. Holland played a big part in liberation efforts during the War.

11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

Holland’s position next to Germany made it a great location for war efforts for both sides. The Allies’ Operation Market Garden’s air and ground strikes set out to liberate Arnhem, but the ground troops never made it to the bridge, coining the battle “a bridge too far.” The bridge and other sites of this failed operation are still around today.

Nijmegen, however, was liberated by American troops during the war. Visit the Waal River bridge, where the crossing by American paratroopers was decisive in taking control of this strategic asset.


11. Finish your World War II journey in the Rhine River region of Germany.

11 Places Every American Should Visit to Discover Europe’s World War II History

Close to the end of the war, Americans captured Ludendorff Bridge, the last standing bridge on the Rhine River. That was March 7, 1945, exactly two months before the end of World War II. And so you end your time visiting the European sites of the Second World War.

Enjoy a river boat ride past enchanting castles, idyllic vineyards, and charming villages. Taste the distinctive Rhine wines and end your evening with a festive dinner before your return home. Germany is a different country today, thanks to the heroics of so many decades ago.


Remember the fallen…

If you would like to see these important places for yourself, get in touch to sign up for our World War II Memorial tour today.

European Holiday Traditions

Posted by Editor
08 Dec 2017 10:58 AM

Our 2017 Photo Contest Winners

Posted by Editor
05 Dec 2017 04:19 PM
The votes have been tallied and we now have our top three Europe Tour photos of 2017:

3RD PLACE - Canal in Venice by Linda Sartorius on the HEART OF EUROPE Circle Tour  (Advance Tour & Travel)



2ND PLACE - Eiffel Tower by Hannah Yowell on the London, Paris & Rome Tour  (Turner Coaches)



1ST PLACE - Dutch Windmill by Monah Doyle on the HEART OF EUROPE Circle Tour  (Escape World Travel)


Winners will be notified by mail shortly.  Thank you to all our travelers who sent in your photos!


9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
28 Nov 2017 05:48 PM
9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

Ever wanted to see the highlights of Europe in one trip? It’s entirely possible on a 17-day tour. By flying into one city and leaving from another, you maximize your travel efficiency. Your tour operator will be there to pick you up and drop you off at both airports, meaning you are in good hands.

Find yourself falling in love with Paris, drinking beer in Germany, and eating delicious dishes in Italy. But that’s not all—here are nine exciting European experiences for the 50+ traveler:


1. Explore the Waterways of Holland.

9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

Famed for its windmills, and its waterways, there are many other spectacles to see and delicacies to try in Holland, such as the stroopwafel which has been deemed as one of the world’s greatest cookies!

When you touch down in the capital of Amsterdam, make sure you hire a bike for the day. For every car in Amsterdam, there are four bikes. This means less traffic, less pollution, more calories burned, plus it’s great fun cruising around a new city by bike! Amsterdam is also home to the only museum in the world that you can cycle through.

The medieval, canal-lined streets of Delft is a must-see for arts and craft lovers. Home to its famous ‘Delftware’, blue earthenware ceramics, you can find endless pretty pottery to add to your collection, or maybe take home as gifts. Delft is also the birthplace of the Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer, who created some of the most beloved and well known paintings in the history of art. You might recognize him as the painter of the ‘Girl in the Pearl Earring’, but he also painted some beautiful landscapes of the city, leaving a permanent image of what Delft looked like in 1660.

If you’re an empty nester shopping in Europe, you’ll appreciate the ability to take as long as you want to find the perfect souvenir. No matter where you go in Amsterdam, Delft, or Rotterdam, be sure to stroll through the shops, even if you’re just window shopping.


2. Germany’s storybook landscapes and towns will enchant you.

9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

Germany may only be about the size of New Mexico, but its cities, culture, and castles are larger than life. Cruise along the Rhine, Germany’s second longest river, for fantastic views of enchanting villages, picturesque vineyards, and medieval fortresses.

Let the university town of Heidelberg and its castle take you back in time to the Middle Ages. Roam ancient streets, through buildings of old, to Heidelberg Castle, a massive structure overlooking the city. Take a tour of the castle and learn about its harsh history. Much of the castle was destroyed in the 17th and 18th centuries, some of which is still in disrepair today.

Ever wanted to step into a storybook? You’ll feel like you have while visiting Rothenburg, a tranquil town, which could be straight out of a fairytale. As you walk through cobblestone streets, age-old inns, and cozy shoppe fronts, you’ll think you’re in a Disney movie. But the magic of Germany doesn’t end there—head down the Romantic Road for a look at historic castles and spectacular sights.

You can’t go all the way to Germany and not have a tall glass of beer! Stop in one of Munich’s many beer gardens for a pint (or two!). You can even find certain beer halls with an Oktoberfest-feel all year round.


3. Immerse yourself in Innsbruck, Austria’s alpine wonderland.

9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Austria? Let me guess, something to do with the hills being alive…

Well there’s way more to discover in Austria’s Alps than just a singing nun, and Innsbruck is the perfect place to start. No matter the season, Innsbruck’s amazing alpine scenery will take your breath away. During the winter, it’s a skier’s paradise, as the Bergisel Ski Jump towers over the city, impressing on the skyline and providing a viewing platform with immense views of the surrounding mountains. In the summer, there are plenty of activities to enjoy such as hiking the amazing scenic trails.

White and gray mountain peaks rise against the bright blue sky. Below lies a town full of life, culture, and historical sites. Innsbruck has played host to the Winter Olympics twice, and is one of the venues for the International Four Hills Ski Jump Competition. The dining and shopping are to die for and the architecture is awe-inspiring.

Immerse yourself in Innsbruck’s Tyrolean culture with a few extra excursions, and by sampling the tasty Tyrolean cuisine. Sample the typical Austrian dinner of schnitzel, french fries, and apple strudel. A special show featuring traditional Tyrolean dancing and folk music follows dinner and is a must-see!


4. An extravagant palace in Bavaria awaits.

9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

Go on an excursion fit for a king or queen! Just across the border from Tyrol lies the Bavarian Palace, Linderhof. You’ll find extravagant gardens, and an ornate interior.

Within the palace, the Hall of Mirrors room never fails to enchant. With a mirror covering each wall, there is a new reflection everywhere you look. King Ludwig II, who built the palace, would read, by twinkling candlelight, in the Hall of Mirrors into the night.


5. Eat and drink to your heart’s content in Northern Italy.

9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

Northern Italy, bordering countries like Austria, Switzerland, and France, is not Rome. There is no hustle and bustle, but rather, a peaceful landscape of mountains, lakes, and countryside. Lake Garda, known for its subtropical climate, is Italy’s largest lake. It also is home to olive groves, citrus orchards, and oleander bushes.

It is, however, still Italy, which means you are in for some of the best food and wine of your life. Culturally, the region is divided by those in the north (culturally Germanic) and those in the south (culturally Italian), meaning you get the best of both worlds. Meals rely heavily upon fish from the nearby lakes. Alpine cheeses are also commonly served. Stewed game, knödel, and sauerkraut can also be found here.

Wine-wise, you’re looking at many whites, and some reds. Amarone, a sweet, white wine, uses grapes that have been drying for four months. It pairs well with game-birds. Barbaresco, a red, is produced with Nebbiolo grapes. It’s a dry, tannic wine, which pairs well with cheese, game, or even barbecue.


6. Ascend Mount Stanserhorn for views of spectacular Swiss scenery.

9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

Take a cable car to the top of Mount Stanserhorn for gorgeous views of Lucerne, its lake, and the surrounding mountains. No physical exertion needed! These cable cars are the only ones in the world with open-top roofs, greatly enhancing your viewing experience.

At the top, take in the panoramic sights before lunching at a mountain top restaurant. There are many paths to walk upon, leading you to new scenery worth capturing. And on that note, be sure to have your camera with you! You’ll want to remember these views for years to come.

Want to know one of the best parts of using a tour operator? They know about cool opportunities like ascending Mount Stanserhorn. Isn’t it nice to have someone looking out for you during your travels?


7. Have a glass of champagne in the Champagne region of France.

9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

Sure, it’s an iconic drink at New Year’s, but Champagne is also a beautiful region of France. Just a 45 minute train ride from Paris, Champagne is an easy day trip (although it should be more!). There are many wine houses to tour and taste samples of wine at during your stay. Each have their own history, adding to the excellence of their wines.

While it may be all about the wines for many in Champagne, it’s important to remember the region’s history. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Reims Cathedral has been the site of royal coronations for centuries. The architecture is reminiscent of Notre Dame Cathedral, but with a majestic flair. The area also experienced difficult times during World War I, but was able to recuperate and flourish in the decades since.


8. Forget blending in—be a full-on tourist in Paris!

9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

Paris just may be the most romantic city in the world. As you take a river cruise down the River Seine, you can’t help but think of some classic movie where two characters begin to fall in love upon its shores.

There are just too many amazing places to go in Paris to act like a local. Go ahead, pull out your camera at Notre Dame Cathedral! Walk along the Champs-Elysees from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Grab a crepe from a street stand or see Paris from Montmartre.

Art-lovers have to go by the Louvre, home to many famous classical works like the Mona Lisa. It is so big, you could spend hours there and still not see everything. The Musee d’Orsay features more modern art, like paintings from Impressionists Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. No matter where you visit in Paris, you are sure to fall in love with the City of Light.


9. London’s calling you, and you’re going to want to answer!

9 Top Experiences for the 50+ Traveler in the Heart of Europe

Your final stop on this European adventure is London, a historic and modern city at the same time. Go shopping at Harrod’s Department Store for floors and floors of incredible items. Head to Piccadilly Square for a view of London’s version of Times Square. Or catch a classic double-decker bus for an amazing tour of the city.

Looking to get away? Stroll through Kensington Park. Stop by the pond for a serene scene—swans swimming right off shore. At Buckingham Palace, you don’t want to miss the changing of the guard. And see the Queen’s jewels at the Tower of London, along with many other artifacts from England’s history.

The best way to ensure you see everything you want is to book your trip well in advance. You’ll get the best deals that way, and secure your spot!


Picturing your European adventure?

It’s time to get away and explore all that Europe has to offer! Ready to book? Get in touch to reserve your spot today.

Spain’s Alhambra Fortress Stands the Test of Time

Posted by Editor
28 Nov 2017 03:01 PM
For hundreds of years since the Alhambra’s inception in the 9th century, the sprawling, fortified complex in Granada, Spain has fascinated both the privileged few who lived within its walls and the travelers from around the globe who now visit this spectacular sight.


Alhambra means “Red Castle” in Arabic, but it is more than just a castle.  Located on the River Darro, the Alhambra is composed of five main sections:  The Alcazaba served as the military stronghold; the highest ranking officials of the Court lived in the Alhambra Alta, the upper village; the Nasrid Palaces housed royalty throughout the Moorish period; the Charles V Palace was built for the Christian Emperors; and the gardens of El Generalife provided royalty a peaceful place to relax.

The various structures represent the finest of Muslim architecture during Spain’s medieval period.  The Alcazaba fortress is the oldest and was built with several towers, such as the Torre de la Vela (Watch Tower).  The Alhambra is known for its intricate water system of canals and fountains, some of which can still be seen today.  The Nasrid Palaces contained multiple halls, chambers, and luxurious baths for the kings.


The construction of the Charles V Palace marked the end of the Alhambra’s Moorish period; however, the Christian Emperors did not alter any of the characteristics of the other existing parts, allowing present-day visitors to see the preserved and restored architecture in its original form.  Walking to El Generalife lends a beautiful view of the Sierra Nevada and crowns an awe-filled excursion for any sightseer.


Miguel Angel Gomez Braojos, a guide at the Alhambra who has a long line of ancestry in the area, observes “Visitors are amazed by the good condition of the buildings and other features.  With the Alhambra dating from the 9th century, travelers expect to be visiting ruins, but are delighted to find several full-standing buildings, towers and walls telling the history of this enduring site.”  While guiding a group traveling with Image Tours, Miguel Angel endearingly tells them “The Alhambra is something unique in the world, a medieval Arabian palace built by Muslims and preserved by Christians for 500 years.”


The Alhambra is a stop on our 15-day SPAIN & PORTUGAL Tour, which also features Lisbon, Seville, Costa del Sol, Cordoba, Baeza, and Madrid.  Our 2018 departures include May 10, September 6, and October 11.  To see a detailed itinerary of this tour, click HERE.

To request a free 84-page Europe Tour Brochure that includes the Spain & Portugal Tour, contact your Travel Agent or click HERE and we will have one of our partner Travel Agents send you one right away.



The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
16 Oct 2017 09:37 AM

What vacation to Europe is complete without trips to art museums, scouting out important historical landmarks, and tasting tempting treats along the way?

You’ll experience all of that and more when you travel through the heart of Holland and France, two countries with deep histories, both classic and eclectic art, and delicious dishes for every meal (especially dessert!).

Here’s the perfect itinerary for 18 days in Western Europe:


Day 1: Preparing for your Day of Departure.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

You’ve booked your tour of Western Europe—you’re so excited! But there’s still a good amount of time before you head to the Old Continent. Use these months to read up on the places you are about to visit. Maybe there’s even some movies that capture the spirit of Holland and/or France An American in Paris, anyone?).

Your next step is one of the most important: packing for your European vacation. As long as you follow a few guidelines, you’ll be in good shape.

First, make sure that your suitcase adheres to the baggage allowances set forth by your touring company as well as your airline.

Secondly, be sure to pack comfortable clothes and shoes for touring every day. You will be doing a lot of bus riding as well as walking, so you want to make sure your clothes are appropriate for both activities.

Additional funds should be brought with you for optional excursions, souvenirs, tipping, and the like. Read up on more advisories for your trip here.

And now… It’s finally here! The day you leave for your terrific trip to Europe! You have an amazing journey ahead of you through Holland and France, so be sure to get some rest on your overnight flight.


Day 2: Welcome to Holland, also known as The Netherlands!

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

It’s your first full day in Europe, and it will be well-spent in the countryside of Holland. The country is known for its tulips, dikes, canals, and windmills. Since a good portion of the land is at or below sea level, dikes and canals help control flooding that has previously devastated The Netherlands.

Your day concludes in Rotterdam, where you’ll enjoy a delicious dinner before getting some shut-eye after a long, but enjoyable, day.


Day 3: Speaking of windmills, see 19 of them in Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Today’s first attraction happens to also be a UNESCO World Heritage Site—the windmills of Kinderdijk. Built in 1740, these 19 ancient windmills have witnessed history unfold for centuries.

Continue on into Delft, known for its blue pottery, or Delftware. Be sure to grab a piece or two to bring back with you or give as a gift to loved ones back home.

A drive through The Hague takes you by Dutch Parliament and the Royal Family, but it’s not the final activity of the afternoon to look forward to.

You will experience all things “gouda” at a local dairy farm that produces gouda cheese. A traditional Dutch dinner is served here for a truly memorable evening.


Day 4: Zeeland’s Delta Works keep the island from the perils of the North Sea.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

In 1953, almost 2,000 people died in a horrendous flood from the North Sea. It was only 20 days later that a Delta commission was formed to decide how to best prevent future flooding catastrophes. And so, the Delta Works, were born. You will see them at work during your visit to Zeeland, an island off of Holland’s coast.

Your night will be spent, not in The Netherlands nor in France, but in Belgium. Dine in a cafe or restaurant along the cobbled streets of Bruges. Tomorrow, you will be in France.


Day 5: Rouen remembers Joan of Arc, Richard the Lionheart, and Claude Monet.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Your arrival in France brings you to Rouen, a city known for its history, art, and architecture. Joan of Arc was brought to the castle here in 1431, only to be later burned at the stake. There are now monuments to her in the city as well as a church in her name.

The Roman Catholic Gothic Cathedral is a fine example of gothic architecture. Here you will also find the tomb of Richard the Lionheart.

Claude Monet painted the Cathedral in more than 30 paintings during the 1890s. These paintings are on display all over the world, including Washington D.C.


Day 6: Spend a solemn day on the beaches of Normandy, honoring those who risked it all for their country.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

There may be no more memorable day on your tour than this. While it is sad to think of the lives lost in Normandy on D-Day, we will forever be grateful for their bravery in fighting for our freedom.

See Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the site where paratroopers landed in The Longest Day. Visit Utah Beach and see the bunkers there as well as the museum. The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach recognizes the heroism of those who never made it back home.

If you are interested, there is also the opportunity to see German fortifications at Pointe Du Hoc.


Day 7: Live luxuriously, like the French royals, in Loire Valley.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, French royals preferred living in the country as opposed to busy and congested Paris. The Loire Valley is an enchanting region to relax in, especially by the river.

But nothing compares to the charming chateau (more like castle), Chenonceau. This elite edifice spans the River Cher and is surrounded by gardens and forests. While it may look like you’ve stepped into a Disney fairy tale, it really is real.


Day 8: Romans planted vineyards dating back to the 2nd Century in Saint-Emilion.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Saint-Emilion produces wine from vineyards that were planted by the Romans, all the way back in the 2nd Century. The fact that these vineyards are still around today is a big deal—so much so that the area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Be sure to sample the wine from these special vineyards as well as explore the village full of Romanesque churches and ancient ruins.


Day 9: Sip renowned Bordeaux wine at one of the many vineyards in the area.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Hopefully you didn’t get your fill of wine in Saint-Emilion because, today, you’re in Bordeaux. There are some 1,810 hectares of vineyards in this region (and guess what—they’re a UNESCO site!), so wine-tasting is a must.

You can also spend your day touring museums, shopping, dining, or strolling through parks. A drive through the wine roads will open your eyes to the lush vineyards throughout Bordeaux.


Day 10: Lovely Lourdes lies amongst the Pyrenees Mountains on the border of Spain.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Not all of Southern France is on the Mediterranean—quite oppositely, France’s border with Spain lies amongst the Pyrenees Mountains. And along that border is the town of Lourdes.

Many Catholics make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, where it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. Since then, the Torchlight Marian Procession has taken place nightly to pay tribute to the apparitions.

Those participating in the procession hold candles that have a covering with the story of the apparitions inscribed upon it. Come rain or shine, the procession takes place every night.


Day 11: Visit the Grotto of Massabielle, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

In 1858, Bernadette Soubirous began having visions at the age of 14. These visions were of a white lady, who many believe to have been of the Virgin Mary. As the lady never confirmed that she was in fact Mary, she now is known as “Our Lady Lourdes.”

See the Grotto of Massabielle, where Bernadette experienced these visions. Then, tour The Sanctuary of Our Lady Lourdes and learn more about the 18 visions the young girl had.

Your journey continues east to Carcassonne, a fortified settlement built in the 12th Century. This hilltop fortress is famous for its 53 watchtowers and double walls.


Day 12: Be in awe of the ancient, but amazing, Pont du Gard aqueduct.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Looming three tiers high, stretching fifty kilometers, and made with over fifty thousand tons of stone, the Pont du Gard Aqueduct arches stoically across the Gard River. This Roman aqueduct was built in the First Century to carry water over the river to the city of Nimes. Unsurprisingly, this architectural and technical feat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After a photo opportunity, you’ll continue on to Châteauneuf-du-Pape for an afternoon of wine tasting before settling into Avignon for the night.


Day 13: Go see the inspiration for many of Van Gogh’s paintings.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

The famous Impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh, admitted himself into an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where you will visit today. The hospital gardens, Roman ruins near the property, and sur­rounding landscape became the subjects for some of Van Gogh’s paintings. Too bad his life would end only a year later.

Afterwards, explore Les Baux-de-Provence, a town carved into a mountain. With sandy colored buildings set into the rocks, it is not always certain where town and mountain meet in this intriguing town.


Day 14: Walk amongst the stars in Cannes, on the French Riviera.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Every year, the Cannes Film Festival brings celebrities from around the world to feature their new films. Chances are you won’t be visiting Cannes while the festival is occurring, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on walking amongst the stars…

The Walk of Fame (or Path of the Stars) can be found outside of the Palais des Festivals. Be sure to search out names of your favorite actors, such as Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, and Julie Andrews.

While you’re at the French Riviera, why not take a trip to Monte Carlo for some casino fun and games? Maybe luck will be on your side!


Day 15: Marvel at the village that Marc Chagall lived in and painted for the final years of his life.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Famed artist, Marc Chagall, dabbled in many different painting styles, including cubism and surrealism. He spent the last 19 years of his life in St. Paul de Vence, where he painted, but also created works of stained glass, for which he was highly praised.

See the town where he lived out the remainder of his life and was buried at the age of 97. Truly, he was one of the last great masters of modern art.


Day 16: Travel to Paris via one of Europe’s famed high-speed trains.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Over the last two weeks, you have slowly, but steadily, made your way from The Netherlands to the South of France. It’s time to take things up a notch with a high-speed train to Paris. In just five hours, you will be there.

Enjoy an independent dinner in one of Paris’ famous streetside bistros. Grab a glass of wine and sit outside below the twinkling stars (or perhaps it’s just the lights of the city!).


Day 17: Ah, Paris, the City of Light! What a finale to your trip!

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Today, be a true tourist. There is only so much daylight and so many wonderful places to see in the City of Light! Of course, you must go by the Eiffel Tower, one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. Just down the River Seine is Notre Dame Cathedral.

Walk down Champs-Élysées towards the Arc de Triomphe or go shopping in the famous Galeries Lafayette department store.

Art-lovers, spend hours strolling the halls of the Louvre for classical artwork and Musée d’Orsay for the modern pieces.

Tonight, you might catch your last glimpses of Paris in the Old Town district of Montmartre, where at the top of the hill you can overlook the entire city.

Paris really does have it all.


Day 18: Bon Voyage, Europe!

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Somehow, your trip to Holland and France is over. As you wait for your airplane to depart, be sure to buy some last minute souvenirs. Postcards are a great choice—they’re easy to pack and have a picture so that you will always remember your trip.

As your plane ascends into the clouds, take time to reflect on your trip. What was your favorite part? Did you make any new friends? Plan on reaching out to them soon after you arrive home. Journal your favorite memories so that you will be able to relive your trip over and over again.


Do you see yourself in Europe?

The rich art, history, and food defines the culture of Europe. Make sure to take part in it by clicking here to sign up for a tour.

Now Get Savings of $600-$1000 per Couple on Select Europe Tours

Posted by Editor
09 Oct 2017 04:16 PM


SPECIAL SAVINGS are available on the following Europe tours when you book the Tour & Air from Image Tours by 11/29/17:

15-day  HEART OF EUROPE Circle Tour

15-day  Germany, Austria, Switzerland Tour

16-day  Capitals of Central Europe Tour

17-day  World War II Memorial Tour

The special savings applies to all departures and varies depending on the tour, departure date, and departure city.  Our listed prices include the savings and are per person based on double occupancy.

To request a FREE Europe brochure, call your Travel Agent or click HERE.   The brochure will include exact dates and prices for each tour from over 100 U.S. departure cities.


Germany's Oktoberfest Offered in Four Europe Tours

Posted by Editor
06 Oct 2017 03:59 PM

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.


If you wish to be a part of this 208-year-old tradition, Image Tours offers the opportunity on the following tours:  HEART OF EUROPE CircleHEART OF EUROPE with London; HEART OF EUROPE Grand; and Germany, Austria, Switzerland.


Our 2018 Europe brochure is now available with 13 Europe tours for the upcoming year.

To request your free 84-page brochure, contact your Travel Agent or click HERE.








Entries Search