- Visit Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard
- Soar high above the city on the famous London Eye
- Take a train underneath the English Channel on your way to Paris
- Head to the very top of the Eiffel Tower and enjoy the best views
- Tour the Louvre, the largest museum in the world
|Day 1||Arrive in London||London|
|Day 2||Buckingham Palace & Changing of the Guard||London|
|Day 3||Tower of London Tour||London|
|Day 4||The London Eye||London|
|Day 5||London Free Day||London|
|Day 6||London to Paris by Train||Paris|
|Day 7||Explore Paris, Optional Macaron Class||Paris|
|Day 8||Eiffel Tower Experience||Paris|
|Day 9||Mysteries of the Louvre||Paris|
Day 1: Arrive in London
Welcome to London! Upon your arrival, a personal driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. After check-in, take the remainder of the afternoon to relax. Should you choose to go out and stretch your legs after the long flight, you'll find a wealth of treasures right at your doorstep.
London is a great global city that attracts over 20 million visitors each year. They come to experience its rich culture, historic legacy, fine museums, awe-inspiring architecture, and international cuisine. Plus, there are all those fun pubs. You can enjoy all of it and more on a walking tour outside your hotel.
Instantly recognizable landmarks and highlights of this beguiling city include the 11th-century Tower of London, Gothic Westminster Abbey, iconic Big Ben, and the Tower Bridge. There are many modern architectural marvels, too, such as the Shard, the Gherkin, and the Tate Modern, a gallery that showcases contemporary art from around the world. This is all aside from the many famous neighborhoods, historic quarters, and charming enclaves that comprise the city, each of which is worth visiting.
The choice of where to go and what to do is up to you. This is a mostly flexible itinerary that leaves ample room for you to discover London and Paris at your own pace. However, certain famous tours and optional activities are available to ensure you don't miss any major highlights.
Day 2: Buckingham Palace & Changing of the Guard
In the morning, head out on your own to one of the most famous residences in the world: Buckingham Palace. This 2-hour, small-group walking tour (eight people max.) begins at iconic Trafalgar Square, where the famous National Gallery art museum sits. The tour mostly follows the Mall, a road that connects Trafalgar to the palace. To arrive at the meeting point, it is recommended you take the tube (subway), as riding London's underground is a memorable experience in its own right.
Upon arrival, you'll meet up with your group and guide and get ready for the tour, which focuses on the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony. Typically, this occurs every other day and involves the Queen's Guard handing over responsibility for protecting the palace to the New Guard. Once the walking tour is underway, your guide will detail the five regiments who guard the Queen and the history of the ceremony.
First, your guide will lead you to Horse Guards Palace, where the Calvary on Guard includes many impressive steeds that are also part of the ceremony. Then head up to the stately Admiralty Arch and the Duke of York Monument, where bronze statues memorialize George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. Next, you'll continue to St. James Palace, which dates to 1531 and is the most senior royal residence in the country. Here you'll witness the inspection of the soldiers of the New Guard.
Then the action starts as your group follows the New Guard on their march to Buckingham Palace accompanied by a full military band. Watch this unforgettable spectacle unfold away from the crowds swarming the palace forecourt. After, you'll follow the Old Guard troops to Wellington Barracks, where their day ends and where you'll finish the tour. You can then spend the rest of the day however you like, content in knowing that you've just participated in one of the world's most famous ceremonies.
Day 3: Tower of London Tour
Today you'll have the freedom to choose what time you'd like to tour the famous Tower of London. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located on the River Thames and has been an integral part of British history since the 11th century. Built in 1078 by William the Conqueror, this fortress comprises various sections, including St. Thomas's Tower, Traitors' Gate, and the White Tower.
Over the centuries, the Tower of London has served as a castle, a royal palace, a prison, and a place of execution. Inside it is home to all kinds of historic artifacts. The star exhibit, of course, is the Crown Jewels, a collection of royal ceremonial objects that feature 23,578 gemstones and which are a symbolic part of the Royal Monarchy. They've been used in coronations since 1066 and are still used in royal ceremonies today.
There are other unique attractions. For example, head to the South Lawn and look for the tower ravens, a group of ravens who call this property home. For superstitious reasons, the castle has maintained groups of these birds since the 17th century, when King Charles II was warned that the tower and crown would fall if the ravens ever left.
You can also stroll across Tower Green to see where many famous executions took place. These include three queens in the 16th century alone, two of whom were the wives of Henry VIII. You'll also get a skip-the-line entrance pass on this tour, so you head right in without waiting. After the tour, spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
Day 4: The London Eye
After enjoying a leisurely morning, make your way to the South Bank area along the River Thames. This is where you'll find the London Eye, an observation wheel that stands an impressive 443 feet (135 m). You'll ascend to the very top on a ride that offers stunning panoramic views. You'll get a fast-track ticket to skip the line as an added bonus.
The experience begins when you step into your capsule and rise above the water, soaring over Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. As you reach the ride's apex, you'll see all of London sprawled out below you. From this sky-high vantage point, you can spot all of the city's famous landmarks, like Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Tower of London. On a clear day, you can even see 25 miles (40 km) past the city to Windsor Castle. Another option is to come later in the day and enjoy a romantic sunset ride over the city.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: London Free Day
Today you can explore London at your own pace on a self-guided tour. Perhaps hop on the London transport and ride a double-decker bus around the city. Visit famous neighborhoods and enclaves like Camden, Covent Garden, the West End, Soho, Notting Hill, Southwark, and Piccadilly Circus. And don't worry if you get a little lost—that's all part of the fun.
Of course, you'll have a map complete with our top recommendations and insider tips to make sure you get the most out of the day.
Day 6: London to Paris by Train
In the morning, your driver will transfer you to the train station where you'll embark on a 2-hour journey from one amazing capital city to another: Paris. This is no ordinary train trip, either, as the route passes through the Chunnel (Channel Tunnel). As its name suggests, this 31-mile (50-km) tunnel runs underneath the English Channel and connects Britain with France. It is the longest continuous underwater tunnel in the world. Upon arrival in Paris, a driver will be waiting to transfer you from the station to your hotel, where you can check in and unpack.
Later in the afternoon, make your way to a meeting point in one of the swankiest parts of town: Saint-Germain-des-Pres. From here, you'll embark on a delicious 2-hour foodie tour of Paris. This is a small-group walking tour (seven people max.) where you'll sink your teeth into the most decadent treats the City of Light has to offer.
Your fearless leader on this safari of sweets is a pro foodie who will introduce you to a delicious whirlwind of cakes, tarts, meringues, chocolates, etc. Your guide will also offer insight and history regarding each of the eight different treats you'll sample. Some of these desserts may be familiar to you, but we promise there will be some sweet surprises along the way.
Day 7: Explore Paris, Optional Macaron Class
The day is yours to explore Paris at your own pace. You can head anywhere, and everywhere your heart desires. Visit the 19th-century Sacré-Cœur Basilica, located at the summit of the artistic Montmartre neighborhood. Take a boat ride down the Seine and get lost on the bohemian streets of the Latin Quarter. Stroll across Pont Neuf and visit Notre Dame Cathedral. The options are endless.
Opt for a macaron baking class if you find yourself with some free time and would like to enjoy a particularly unique and delicious activity. As many with a sweet tooth are well aware, macarons are possibly the most famous pastry in Paris. These meringue-based sandwich cookies come in various flavors, including chocolate, caramel, pistachio, almond, hazelnut, raspberry, and countless more.
During a small group class (eight people max.), a professional chef will show you the tricks and secrets to mastering this notoriously complex confection. By the end of this hands-on experience, you'll have all the knowledge necessary to recreate these tasty morsels back home.
Day 8: Eiffel Tower Experience
Today you have a date with the world-famous "Iron Lady," more commonly known as the Eiffel Tower. Nowadays, it's hard to imagine Paris without the famous spire gracing the city's skyline, but that wasn't always the case. Renowned architect Gustave Eiffel only constructed this elegant, 1,063-foot (324-m) tower as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World's Fair. Luckily, the ensuing popularity of his art nouveau masterpiece assured its survival.
There's no guide required on this tour, as your entrance ticket will give you full access to the tower. Head up to the first floor and marvel at the glass flooring. Go to the second floor and look out over the observation deck, where you'll have clear views of famous landmarks like the Louvre, Grand Palais, Notre Dame, and others. There are also many shopping and dining options on this floor, including a Michelin-starred restaurant, the Jules Verne.
For the most incredible views of the city, ride the glass elevator up to the summit, the top level of the Eiffel Tower. Here you'll stand an impressive 906 feet (276 m) off the ground, and on a clear day, you can see for miles in every direction. Top tip: the views from the observation deck are best enjoyed with a glass of bubbly, which you can order right from the summit bar, conveniently named Champagne.
Day 9: Mysteries of the Louvre
This is another free day to immerse yourself in the romance of Paris. One optional activity is to visit the largest museum in the world: the Louvre. Once a royal palace, today it houses some of the most famous works of art in history.
Many may not know that within the walls of this celebrated repository are centuries of secrets. Some contain clues and keys to vile crimes and mysterious masterpieces lost to time. For example, what's really behind Mona Lisa's famous smile? What secrets do the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace hide? On a 2-hour tour, your knowledgeable guide will reveal these secrets and many more. It's a fun twist on the typical museum tour in which you can enjoy the Louvre's most celebrated works of art from a new perspective.
You'll also visit the Department of Egyptian Antiquities, which occupies two floors of the museum. Learn about Champollion, who cracked the mysterious hieroglyphic code, and Tutankhamen, the boy pharaoh who died suddenly at a young age and for unknown reasons. You'll also hear about the ancient curse of Tutankhamen's tomb, which is said to bring bad luck and death to those who disturb its remains. This curse supposedly even befell Lord Carnarvon, who died five months after he entered the tomb in 1922.
Day 10: Depart
Parting is such sweet sorrow, particularly when you have to say goodbye to Paris. In the morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Au revoir!
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