- Discover Gaudí's architecture in Barcelona and Dalí's surrealism in Figueres
- Explore the dramatic Montserrat Abbey and sip cava in a Catalan vineyard
- Tour the Amalfi coast by Vespa and visit Capri, the "Isle of the Sirens"
- Hike Mount Etna and learn about the Roman Empire with a visit to Pompeii
- Immerse yourself in Naples' street food scene with a guided food tour
|Arrive in Barcelona (Spain), Guided Tapas Walking Tour
|Tour the Gaudí Masterpieces of La Sagrada Família & Park Güell
|Day Trip to Montserrat & Penedès Region Wine Tasting
|Transfer to the Costa Brava via Girona & Figueres
|Coastal Hike, Kayaking & Lagoon Dipping on the Costa Brava
|Excursion to Vic, Besalú & the Costa Brava's Medieval Towns
|Fly to Palermo (Italy), Street Food Experience
|Guided Tour of Palermo, Visit Monreale
|Day Trip to Scopello
|Drive to Cefalù, Free Afternoon to Explore
|Drive to Taormina, Free Afternoon to Explore
|Guided Mount Etna Hiking Experience
|Drive to Catania, Guided City Tour
|Day Trip to Syracuse, Ortigia & Noto
|Sicilian Cooking Class
|Fly to Naples, Transfer to the Amalfi Coast, Sunset Cruise Along the Bay
|Amalfi Coast Tour by Vespa
|Day Trip to Capri & Anacapri
|Transfer to Naples via Pompeii, Free Afternoon to Explore
|Neapolitan Street Food Experience
Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona (Spain), Guided Tapas Walking Tour
Bienvenido a España! Your trip begins in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, a region in Spain's northeast famous for its rich history, distinct architecture, and mouthwatering Catalan cuisine. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and take you to your downtown hotel. Settle in, and when you're ready, experience the city through the lens of a local with a walking tapas tour.
Meet your expert guide and spend the next three hours strolling Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, ducking into alleys filled with foodie hotspots and exploring the lesser-known tapas spots favored by locals. Feast on morsels such as esqueixada (a cod, onion, and tomato salad) and bomba Barceloneta (meat and potato croquettes topped with aioli), washed down with the local wine or beer while your guide shares tales of the city's vivid history and culture.
Day 2: Tour the Gaudí Masterpieces of La Sagrada Família & Park Güell
After breakfast, discover the city's landmarks designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. First up is the stunning La Sagrada Família, a dramatic Roman Catholic cathedral featuring an impressive mix of Gothic, Catalan-Modernism, and Art Nouveau architectural styles. Venture inside and marvel at the astonishing sky-high ceiling and the light pouring through the stained-glass windows while your guide shares anecdotes of the cathedral's fascinating history.
Afterward, continue to the UNESCO-listed Park Güell, a whimsical green space perched on a hill featuring manicured gardens, imaginative statues, and enchanting mosaic-covered stairways and benches—all in Gaudí's signature style. Stroll the walkways and take in the panoramic views over the city, then wander over to the two pavilions, a great spot to soak up the atmosphere and listen to the live music. Part ways with your guide and, after a laid-back lunch, continue exploring under your own steam with a wander down La Rambla, a pedestrian stretch filled with shops and cafés.
Day 3: Day Trip to Montserrat & Penedès Region Wine Tasting
Today, you'll venture into the Catalan lowlands to visit the region's holiest site, the 16th-century Benedictine monastery of Santa María de Montserrat. Meet your guide in town, and the drive to the monastery is around an hour. You'll see the imposing serrated peaks that frame the abbey as you reach the top. Perched atop a 4,055-foot (1,236 m) mountain, it's an incredible setting for your guided walk through the site's basilica, which features a statue of the Virgin of Montserrat (the Black Madonna) hanging from the altar.
At certain times, you may be lucky enough to catch the stirring strains of La Escolania de Montserrat, one of Europe's oldest boys' choirs, whose Gregorian chants have been performed at the abbey for centuries. Make your way over to the Museum of Montserrat, a treasure trove of archaeology and works by Caravaggio, Dalí, and Picasso, and finish your tour with a funicular ride to nearby Santa Cova, the "Holy Grotto," where you'll find a religious shrine in a mountain cave.
In the afternoon, you'll head to the cava wine hills in the Penedès Wine Region, one of Spain's most famous wine-growing areas known for its prolific, high-quality cava production. You'll visit a family-run vineyard and enjoy a tour of the estate and the cellars, and of course, get to sample several vintages of the Spanish sparkling wine. After a scenic drive through the Catalonian countryside, your guide will drop you off in Barcelona in time for dinner.
Day 4: Transfer to the Costa Brava via Girona & Figueres
Today, you'll swap Barcelona's vibrant city vibe for the dramatic cliffs and sandy beaches of the Costa Brava: a 133-mile (214 km) stretch of Mediterranean coastline that runs from the town of Blanes to the French border. The area is known for its historic art-filled towns and serene hilltop and coastal villages, filled with winding, bougainvillea-laden streets and pretty churches. En route to your accommodation, you'll visit two of these: Girona and Figueres. Stop first at Girona, a bustling city filled with museums, galleries, and medieval walls.
After a stroll through the town's cobbled lanes and a visit to the Gothic Cathedral, continue to Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí. Your first stop is the Dalí Museum, the world's largest surrealist building and a great place to immerse yourself in the artist's unique creativity. When you're ready, pause for lunch and sample the local cuisine with dishes such as mar i muntanya (Catalan chicken with shrimp) before continuing on to your accommodation on the coast.
Day 5: Coastal Hike, Kayaking & Lagoon Dipping on the Costa Brava
Spend today getting a feel for the Costa Brava's fauna, flora, rocky coves, and inviting waters with a full-day tour of the beautiful Sant Feliu de Guíxols area. Start with a short hike along the coastal path and arrive at the beach in Sant Pol de S'Agaró, a long sandy crescent opening into a natural bay. It's a well-known spot for kayaking, with plenty of secluded caves, crystal-clear cobalt waters, and marine life.
After a brief introduction, paddle out with your guide and spend a couple of hours kayaking along the coast against overhanging sandstone cliffs and the coastal landscape dotted with umbrella pines. If the sea is just too tempting, dive in for a midway snorkel or swim before returning to S'Agaro Beach. Feast on fresh seafood and authentic paella for lunch, and spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying a lazy beach day before returning to your accommodation.
Day 6: Excursion to Vic, Besalú & the Costa Brava's Medieval Towns
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of Costa Brava's medieval towns, ancient piazzas, castles, and coastal villages with a full-day tour. Your first stop is Vic, a city with a rich, storied past due to its strategic position in the Spanish Marches, which separated Frankish and Islamic forces in the Middle Ages. Admire the central Plaça Major and cross over to the Casa Comella, a 19th-century modernist palace that served as the old town hall. Explore the city's Cathedral while your guide shares tales of the area's ancient past, and stop for a leisurely lunch—the town is renowned for its gastronomy.
Afterward, hop back in the car and tour the fortified village of Santa Paul, set amid the hill volcanic landscape of Baixa Garrotxa. Soak up the medieval atmosphere in Castellfollit de la Roca, hear tales of its curious ancient legends, and finish in beautiful Besalú, one of Catalonia's best-conserved medieval towns. Stroll the charming maze of stone walls, the medieval bridge, and cobbled streets, all largely untouched since the Middle Ages. After a full day of exploring, your guide will drop you at your hotel, where the evening is yours to spend as you wish.
Day 7: Fly to Palermo (Italy), Street Food Experience
It's the next leg of your European adventure this morning as you bid adiós to Spain, transfer back to Barcelona, and catch a three-hour flight to Sicily, an island at the bottom of Italy's "boot." Your destination is Palermo, Sicily's regional capital, known for its wonderful climate, rich blend of ancient history, and famous street food. Settle in after your flight, and when you're ready, head out to explore the city's legendary cuisine with a foodie tour through the back streets.
Your local guide will steer you through the maze of the city's riotous Vucciria and Capo markets, where you'll savor delicacies such as panelle (chickpea fritters), pani câ meusa (sesame-flavored bread stuffed with fried veal and spleen), and arancini (deep-fried balls of rice stuffed with meat, vegetables, and cheese). Refresh with a glass of local Sicilian wine or a soft drink before ending the tour with delicious cannoli (deep-fried pastries filled with sweet ricotta cheese), gelato, or a refreshing granita (a semi-frozen treat made with fruit, sugar, and water).
Day 8: Guided Tour of Palermo, Visit Monreale
Start the day with a relaxed breakfast of caffè and pastries before meeting your guide for a private tour of the Sicilian capital. Alongside the 12th-century Duomo (Palermo's cathedral), you'll see sights including the Palazzo Reale and Quattro Canti (officially known as Piazza Vigliena), all wonderful examples of the city's evocative Arab-Norman architecture. Stop at Capo Market to pick up lunch—try the cazalli (pan-fried croquettes) and wander over to Piazza Marina, a great spot to relax with a cool drink and admire the views.
The afternoon is yours to relax in Palermo or head out on a tour. The nearby town of Monreale is home to the famous Cattedrale di Monreale, a 12th-century UNESCO Heritage Site considered the greatest example of Norman architecture in the world. Explore the dazzling interior, covered entirely in gold mosaics featuring scenes from the Old and New Testaments and the cathedral's ornate cloisters. Afterward, stroll through the Villa di Belvedere, a gorgeous public garden, and admire the view over the valley laden with citrus trees. Return to Palermo in the evening, in time for dinner.
Day 9: Day Trip to Scopello
The Castellammare del Golfo coast, between San Vito Lo Capo and Scopello, is home to the Zingaro Nature Reserve. It's known for its steep cliffs, tiny bays, and beautiful walking paths overlooking pristine azure waters. After breakfast, you'll head west on a guided tour of the area and drive to Scopello, a charming seaside village with plenty of hiking paths and pristine pebble beaches.
Spend a relaxing day outside the city doing as much or as little as you choose. Swim in the inviting turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea or explore the network of coastal walks, rich in fauna and home to over 40 bird species. When lunch calls, head into the village, where you'll find several excellent restaurants. Choose a spot with a sea view and dine on delicious seafood before returning to Palermo in the afternoon.
Day 10: Drive to Cefalù, Free Afternoon to Explore
Today, you'll pick up your rental car and drive an hour east to Cefalù, a historic port town with a rich history known for its 12th-century Norman-Arabic cathedral. Check into your hotel and head to the Centro Storico (Old Town) to see the city's top sights. Start at the Lavatoio Medievale, a 16th-century washhouse that funnels the clear waters of the River Cefalino into its stone basins. Stroll to the nearby Porta Pescara for great views of the coast, and walk down to the Old Harbor. You'll find plenty of excellent seafood restaurants nearby, with some of the best on Via Carlo Ortolani di Bordonaro.
After lunch, either spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the sands of Lungomare Beach or continue exploring. Don't miss the 17th-century Bastione di Capo Marchiafava, one of many old defensive fortresses along the coast with panoramic views from the top. The Duomo Basilica Cattedrale is nearby, adorned with elaborate Byzantine mosaics and featuring striking twin towers on either side of its facade. Later, head to one of the beach bars, the perfect spot to cool down and enjoy a relaxed aperitivo with sea views.
Day 11: Drive to Taormina, Free Afternoon to Explore
Continue your road trip through Sicily this morning with a three-hour drive to Taormina, a chic and popular town in the shadow of Mount Etna on the Ionian Sea. Arrive at your hotel and settle in, then head out to explore. Your first stop should be Piazza IX Aprile, the town's elegant main square, where you can admire the sea views of the Bay of Naxos and the Teatro Greco (the town's famous Greek theater) below. Lunch at one of the many restaurants on nearby Corso Umberto, where you'll find plenty of great dining options and shady courtyards to relax in.
The afternoon is yours to spend at leisure. Take a guided tour of the town's famous amphitheater and explore the ruins carved directly from the rock of Mount Taurus. Alternatively, visit the enchanting village of Castelmola: built around the ruins of a Norman castle and perched on a natural terrace, this tiny medieval town that sits above Taormina is the perfect spot to grab a gelato or a glass of wine and savor the beautiful views over the bay.
Day 12: Guided Mount Etna Hiking Experience
Europe's largest active volcano, Mount Etna, dominates the landscape around Taormina for miles. Today, you'll get an opportunity to admire its solidified lava flows and fumaroles up close with a guided tour. Make your way to the Rifugio Sapienza, the southern access point for the volcano, where you'll meet your guide and ride the cable car up 9,5000 feet (2,900 m) to Torre del Filosofo, where you'll climb aboard a Jeep for the final stretch.
Walk up to 10,990 feet (3,350 m) to get to the top, where you'll be surrounded by eruptive fractures and active vents and feel the heat of the lava beneath your feet. Spend a couple of hours hiking around the crater and pause to admire the breathtaking vistas that stretch out to the Mediterranean. You'll return to your hotel late afternoon, where the evening is yours to dine on Sicilian specialties and fresh seafood while you watch the sunset over the bay.
Day 13: Drive to Catania, Guided City Tour
Founded by Chalcidian Greeks in the eighth century, Catania, located on Sicily's east coast toward the base of Mount Etna, has a history filled with culture, art, and politics and acts as a hub for adventures on this side of the island. After breakfast, you'll make the hour's drive to the city, then drop off your rental car and check in at your hotel.
Spend the next couple of hours exploring the town with a guided tour. Admire the elegant architecture in the Piazza Duomo, the 13th-century Castello Ursino, and the ancient ruins of the Teatro Greco. Finish at the Piazza Università, the town's lively main square, filled with plenty of Baroque architecture and a great place to soak up the atmosphere, sip coffee, and people-watch.
Day 14: Day Trip to Syracuse, Ortigia & Noto
An hour's drive south of Catania lies Syracuse, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its ancient Greek history, ornate Baroque architecture, and the birthplace of mathematician Archimedes. After a private transfer from your hotel, spend the morning discovering the ruins at the Neapolis Archaeological Park and continue to Ortiga, Syracuse's historical heart connected to the city by three bridges. Visit tucked-away gems such as the 19th century Palazzo Impellizzeri, the Temple of Apollo in Piazza Pancali, or go underground to the San Giovanni Crypt and Catacombs.
Break for lunch, then hop back in the car for a 45-minute drive to Noto, an exquisite town that seals Sicily's well-earned reputation for the quality of its Baroque architecture. Spend a couple of hours exploring this city, akin to an open-air museum, and stroll Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Noto's main drag, filled with ornamented buildings, restaurants, and boutiques. Walk beneath the Porta Reale (Royal Gate) and continue to the Chiesa di Santa Chiara before finishing at Noto Cathedral, the region's Baroque limestone jewel.
Day 15: Sicilian Cooking Class
Day 16: Fly to Naples, Transfer to the Amalfi Coast, Sunset Cruise Along the Bay
This morning, you'll transfer to Catania's airport and board a short one-hour flight to Naples, in Italy's south. Your destination is the Amalfi Coast, known for its pastel-hued houses perched along dramatic cliffs, scented lemon groves, bougainvillea-clad cobblestone streets, and terraced vineyards.
Settle into your hotel, and as the sun dips, experience the peninsula's renowned beauty on a cruise around the coastline. Departing from either Positano or Sorrento, you'll set sail on the calm waters of the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea. With a glass of Prosecco or spritz in hand, sit back and relax as you cruise past the picturesque fishing villages whose twinkling lights start to appear as the sun gently sets over the horizon. You'll return to the shore in time for dinner at a local restaurant, where you can feast on local Sorrentine specialties.
Day 17: Amalfi Coast Tour by Vespa
Just south of the Gulf of Naples lies the Sorrentine Peninsula, featuring 24 miles (40 km) of Italy's famed Amalfi Coast. With a history dating back to ancient Rome, the Empire's most wealthy and powerful citizens were among the first to arrive here and build their seafront villas along this scenic stretch. Today, you'll tour this iconic coastline with an exhilarating ride on a Vespa driven by an experienced driver.
Ride along winding roads into Positano, where you'll break for an hour and explore the main pedestrian street that tumbles down from the road at the top and through charming flower-adorned alleyways. Hop back on the scooter, zip past lemon groves and vineyards, and arrive in Amalfi. You'll have plenty of time to browse the cobbled backstreets and stop for a cool drink before continuing your ride along the coast. Sit back and admire the Mediterranean views, stopping wherever takes your fancy before your guide drops you back at your hotel at the end of the tour.
Day 18: Day Trip to Capri & Anacapri
Set sail for the "Isle of Sirens" this morning and head to the port, where you'll board a ferry and cross the cobalt blue waters past the Amalfi Coast to Capri. You'll arrive at the Marina Grande harbor, where the day is yours to explore the island at your leisure. Head first to the quaint village of Anacapri perched toward the top of the island. Here, you'll see the sweeping views of the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius that prompted Emperor Tiberius to build twelve villas on the isle.
Stroll Piazza Vittoria and stop for a gelato before taking the chairlift from Anacapri to Mount Solaro. At 1,932 feet (589 m) above sea level, it's the island's highest point and offers more astonishing views across the bays and over to the Calabrian mountains. When you're ready, make your way back down and enjoy lunch overlooking the coastline. After a wander around Capri's chic Old Town, don't miss a trip to the Gardens of Augustus. These manicured Mediterranean gardens provide the world-famous shot of the dramatic Faraglioni Rocks below.
Day 19: Transfer to Naples via Pompeii, Free Afternoon to Explore
A trip to Italy's south wouldn't be complete without a visit to Naples, one of the country's most magnetic and unique cities, with its maze of narrow streets, exuberant atmosphere, culture, and chaos at every turn. This morning, you'll take a private transfer to Napoli with a detour to one of Italy's most astonishing archaeological sites. Once a thriving seaside town, the ancient city of Pompeii was buried under 13-20 feet (4-6 m) of ash and volcanic debris when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE.
Left undiscovered for 1,500 years, the ruins first came to light in the 16th century thanks to the architect Domenico Fontana. Over centuries of careful excavations, the archaeological site has revealed a city frozen in time, with many of the town's original buildings and features preserved entirely intact. Today, you'll step back 2,000 years with a guided walking tour of Pompeii's ancient streets to see the plazas, forums, villas, shops, and minutiae of daily life for Romans on the day of the eruption. Afterward, you'll continue to Naples, where your driver will drop you at your hotel.
Continue to Naples, and after checking in and refreshing at your hotel, explore the city's choreography of scooters and street life at your own pace. Start with a visit to the splendid Duomo di Napoli, a 10-minute walk from Piazza Cavour. The cathedral dates back to the 13th century and incorporates a range of Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architectural styles. Follow the main street, Via Toledo, toward the waterfront, and you'll find the Royal Palace, San Carlo Theater, and Castle Nuovo, all worth a visit, with the latter full of medieval and 19th-century paintings, sculptures, and objects.
Day 20: Neapolitan Street Food Experience
While Naples is justifiably famous for its pizza and rich history of Neapolitan cuisine, its street food encapsulates the city's soul. There's no better place to discover Napoli's cultural and culinary traditions than a walking tour through the city's food hotspots. You'll start with a walk through the lively Mercato dell Pignasecca, where you'll enjoy tasty morsels such as taralli (tiny, crunchy, and flavorsome bagels), mozzarella di bufala, and cuoppo di pesce fritti (cones of fried fish), from the enthusiastic vendors.
Continue to snack and weave your way through the back streets to see the city's key landmarks, churches, and piazzas while your local guide shares anecdotes about Naples' history, architecture, and culture. There'll be plenty of time for refreshments as you seek out old bars, learn the best places to feast on Neapolitan pizza and gain private access to places where the city's culinary masters do their work. Be sure to leave room for gelato and polish off your foodie tour with delicious sfogliatelle (sweet shell-shaped filled pastries) and espresso.
You'll part ways with your guide in the UNESCO-listed Centro Storico (Historic Center), where the rest of the evening is yours to dine at one of the city's enticing pizzerias and toast your Europe adventure. Buon appetito!
Day 21: Depart Naples
Say goodbye, or ciao, to Italy for now. Take advantage of any extra time with one last morning stroll around Naples before heading to the airport in time to catch your flight home or continue your European adventure. Safe travels!