Madrid to Berlin
Discover European class and grandeur on this journey from Madrid to Berlin. Enjoy all things arty – from Madrid’s inspiring Art Walk to Barcelona’s internationally renowned galleries and museums. Be captivated by Cuenca’s Old City, mosey round the markets of Valencia and get lost in the convoluted streets of Barcelona’s gothic quarter. Cruise through France’s canvas-perfect Provence region, stopping to admire Avignon before continuing on to Paris. Taste chocolate and beer in Belgium and Luxembourg, and perhaps learn how to pair the two, discover why Amsterdam captures the hearts of all who visit, and finish in Germany’s fascinating capital – Berlin. Steeped in history and architectural brilliance, this 3 week adventure combines sights and cultural experiences that reflect old-world Europe and define modern European culture.
Ages: 15 - 99
Accommodation: Hostel (11 nights), Hotel (10 nights)
Welcome to Madrid, the sassy central capital of Spain known for its elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 or 7 pm, depending on common area availability. Please double check with reception to confirm the time and place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance, passport details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive on time, you may wish to arrive a day or two early. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). As there's limited time for sightseeing in Madrid, arriving a little early will also give you a chance to explore more extensively. After the welcome meeting, perhaps get into the mind of a Madrileno with some tapas and Rioja.
Today is free to discover Madrid. The city is renowned for its rich repositories of European art, and the heart of Old Madrid – Hapsburg – is the portico-lined Plaza Mayor, and nearby is the baroque Royal Palace and Armoury. This stylish, cosmopolitan city is also well known for world-class restaurants, shopping and nightlife, so take some time to uncover these wonders. Take a break in the Real Jardin Botanico, a garden wonderland dating from the 18th century. Maybe simply people watch while you enjoy a coffee in one of the atmospheric streets and squares around the famous Plaza Mayor. You could also join an Urban Adventure to get a deeper insight into the city through its food and its markets. Sports fans, if you're lucky enough for your trip to fall on match day, you can don a white t-shirt and head to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to watch the mighty Real Madrid. At night, maybe follow the crowds to Chueca, Plaza Dos de Mayo or Plaza Santa Ana, where the pulse of the city will lead you from bar to bar on a night out you are sure to remember.
Today travel by train to charming Cuenca (approximately 3 hours). The town is located literary on the edge of deep gorges created by two rivers: Jucar and Huecar. On arrival, venture out on an orientation walk around this historic World Heritage-listed fortress city. The old part of this city is an outstanding medieval development built on steep mountainsides, with many casa colgadas (hanging houses) that are literally on the cliff edge. Like many towns in Spain, it was occupied for a period of time by the Muslim Moors who built the original fortress. Afterwards, use your free time getting to know the city. Perhaps visit the impressive 12th-century gothic Cathedral. There is also wonderful art all over the town, with a number of abstract artists making Cuenca their home in the 1960s. Evening is a great opportunity to gather together with the group and enjoy a dinner in this picturesque town, with the old city beautifully brushed with light from a series of high-powered lamps suspended half-way up the rock.
Take a train and head east to the coastal town of Valencia (approximately 4 hours). It's known for being the Spanish gateway to the Mediterranean, with a big port, beautiful beaches, restaurants and a beach promenade along the waterfront. The old town is set back from the seafront through, and in the centre you will find the beautiful monuments and historical buildings. Busy markets, clean beaches, spectacular mountains and a fascinating mix of old town and new town makes up the best of Valencia. Over the next couple of days, you have a lot of free time to wander around the city and see the sights. Explore the colourful stalls of the Mercado Central, and this evening perhaps head out to bar-hop and eat tapas in the Ciutat Vella (old town).
Take today to explore. Possibly visit the 13th-century cathedral, which houses what's claimed to be the Holy Grail, and climb the 207 steps of the Miguelete tower for the best views of the city. The Museum of the Fallas is another unique option, which contains a history of the Valencia Fire Festival in the form of giant papier mache figures. There are also many fine parks and gardens, or you may want to head to the beach of Playa de la Malvarrosa to soak up some sun. To try the paella that Valencia is famous for (rabbit and chicken), do as the locals do and head to the restaurant area of Las Arenas for a hearty and reasonably priced lunch. Valencia is also built with separate cycle paths, so it's really easy to get around. Perhaps rent a bike from one of the many bike stations dotted around the city. Cycle through the park that runs through the centre of the city to the impressively designed Museu de les Ciencies Príncipe Felipe (Arts and Science Museum). Tonight, maybe head south to Ruzafa, one of the city’s coolest areas.
Today take the train up the coast to Barcelona (approximately 4 hours). Barcelona's quirky character and fabulous Catalan cuisine mixes seamlessly with a groundbreaking art scene, Gothic architecture, superb dining and a non-stop nightlife. In the afternoon, there are plenty of options to keep you busy. Wander the labyrinthine streets of the old Gothic Quarter and navigate your way through the throngs of tourists along La Rambla, Barcelona's famous tree-lined boulevard. Perhaps pay a visit to the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia or the Museum of City History to brush up on your local knowledge. Take the funicular to the top of Montjuic or Tibidabo for panoramic views of Barcelona and the harbour. The heart of Catalonia prides itself as a gastronomic centre and so this evening perhaps head out to taste the reputation for yourself. Take a tapas crawl through rustic Catalan dishes in the funky neighbourhood of El Born.
Your second day in Barcelona you are free to partake in some of the optional activities on offer or relax. In the morning perhaps head to the stalls of Santa Catarina Market, a huge trove of local produce beneath a colourful, undulating roof, and hang out with the locals. The city is famous for its architecture, from its impressive gothic main cathedral to the houses, concert halls, palaces and basilicas designed in the unique Catalan Modernista style. The master of this movement was Antonio Gaudi, who's eccentric creations are dotted all over the city. A visit to Gaudi's masterpiece, the modern basilica of La Sagrada Familia, is a must, even if it's just to see the outside. Gaudi worked on this hugely ambitious project for decades until his death, and it remains in constant construction. Perhaps check out the Neo-Gothic mansion of Guell Palace, or the wave-inspired structure of Casa Battlo. For more insight into the artist himself, head to the Gaudi House Museum inside Parc Guell. For something a little different, perhaps have a poke around the Old Santa Creu Hospital. For your final night, perhaps finish the day with a sip of red wine from a porro – a traditional glass pitcher.
Today is free for you to enjoy as you please. Set out to discover more of Barcelona in detail. With great restaurants, art galleries, shopping and nightlife on offer, Barcelona is a world-class city exuding confidence and style through every pore.
Perhaps use your free time today to go on a tapas tour or explore the outskirts of the city with its sleepy villages and olive groves. Unearth the city's groundbreaking art scene, Gothic architecture, amazing cuisine, Catalan identity, beach vibe and proud character. Visit the labyrinthine streets of the old Gothic Quarter, the Picasso Museum, wander the tree-lined pedestrian boulevard of La Rambla or take the funicular to the top of Montjuic or Tibidabo for panoramic views of Barcelona and the harbour. Gaudi's bizarre La Sagrada Familia Basilica is possibly the most iconic landmark, along with the Camp Nou. Both the cathedral and the football stadium provide guided tours at an additional charge.
Take to the fields of Provence on the train to Avignon, south-west France (approximately 5-6 hours). This journey is idyllic, so make sure you have a camera ready. With mountain hideaways and emerald vineyards, the Mediterranean coastline of Provence folds into tabletop mountains where fields of lavender and wildflower cover the landscape. On arrival into Avignon, check in to your hotel and then take a walk around this walled city that was once home to French popes for more than a century.
Today use your free time here wisely, as there are lots of sights and activities to keep you busy. Comb the city's impressive collection of art, visit the grand Palais des Papes (Pope's Palace) and cross the iconic bridge of Pont St-Benezet. Perhaps hire a bike to see more of this picturesque valley and head to one of the city's amazing bakeries. You can even put a baguette in your basket. In the evenings, there are many small French bistros that serve up great cuisine that's native to the region.
Travel north on the train to France's cosmopolitan capital, Paris, which should take around three to four hours. Rich in museums, art galleries, monuments, fashion and delicious food, Paris offers a wealth of major sights and things to do. On arrival into the city, check in to the hotel and then you're free to do as you wish. Wandering around the Champs-Elysees, the student-filled Latin Quarter and the bohemian Montmartre will give you a good feel for the city. There is so much to do in Paris that it might be a good idea to make a plan before you arrive.
The Tuileries, Plantes and Jardin du Luxembourg are all excellent places to enjoy a simple baguette with cheese on summer days, or head to a cafe to have a coffee (the French drink it black) and watch the world go by. Explore the world-famous Louvre, where you can see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Join the Thinker in his eternal contemplation at the Rodin Museum. Visit the Musee d'Orsay, home to some of the most famous Impressionist paintings. Climb the Eiffel Tower (or take the lift) for some impressive aerial views of Paris. Study the Notre Dame Cathedral with its vast rose window and menacing gargoyles. The Paris restaurant scene and nightlife is also worth sinking your teeth into. Marais is a great district for trendy bars and eateries, while Bastille is well-known for its clubs.
Another day in Paris? There is still plenty to discover in this European city. Perhaps start ticking more museums or cathedrals of the list – you surely couldn’t have done them all yesterday. If you think you have, try Paris’ ‘other’ museums. The Museum of Comparative Anatomy and Paleontology provides an amazing look into a the world of 19th century science with rows and rows of animal skeletons marching shoulder to shoulder against walls lined with old wood and glass cabinets. Within the Jardin des Plantes where the museum resides there is also a botanical garden, zoo and an array of other natural history museums. Feeling like Art? Paris has a selection of world class street art sport. The best spot for a graffiti-viewing urban safari is the Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement, one of the most exciting and up-and-coming areas in town. Chock-full of wonderful restaurants, artistic shops and great graffiti, the area is a great place for leisurely strolling. In the evening, on warm summer day, visit the quai along the left bank of Port St. Bernard. It comes alive with people strolling, picnicking and ballroom dancing. Sounds like a perfect place to finish of your Paris adventure.
Cross the border from France on the train into Luxembourg City, which should take just over two hours. As one of the smallest countries in the EU, Luxembourg has transformed itself into a busy, successful and historical centre with ample of natural beauty. Check in to the hotel on arrival and then head out into the city's World Heritage-listed Old Town, which is perched high above the narrow valleys of the Alzette and Petrusse rivers. Stroll along the promenade of Chemin de la Corniche, said to be 'Europe's most beautiful balcony', and take it all in. The city is also full of old and modern galleries and museums to explore, such as the Musee d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg (Luxembourg City History Museum). Perhaps take a guided tour of the turreted Palais Grand-Ducal (built in 1573), which is home to the Grand Duke. In the evening, you may want to venture out with the group for a meal (at your own cost) in this sophisticated setting.
Leave Luxembourg behind and jump a train to Brussels, which should take you around three and a half hours. During your time in Brussels there are lots of sights to see, delicious foods to eat and culture to be discovered. It might be a good idea to start your journey at the medieval, cobblestone square of the Grand Place. This area can only be accessed on foot and is surrounded by local markets, chocolate shops and expensive cafes and restaurants. From here, wander down to the Manneken Pis (Little Man Pee), which is an iconic symbol of Belgium. If you’re interested in music, the must-see place is The Musical Instrument Museum. Three floors of musical instruments coming from each side of the world and hundreds of years of musical history in one place. An evening in Brussels wouldn't be complete without a huge portion of moules-frites (mussels and fries) and a glass of Belgian beer. If you like a night out, Ilot Sacre is a great place to find good food and fun bars. The Delirium Cafe is the ideal spot for listening to live blues deep into the night.
Enjoy a free day in Brussel. Discover the town further, perhaps visit mini-Europe theme park featuring miniature replicas of European monuments and judge if they are similar to the original ones. By now, you have definitely seen a handful of those in reality. Alternatively, climb inside an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times its normal size. The Atomium - a strange looking structure built in 1958 for Brussels Worlds Fair, now became a permanent part of city’s landscape. There is also an option to venture out of the city and discover Bruges or Antwerp. Jump on a train and visit one of these historical towns, either a most fairy-tale place in this part of Europe, medieval Bruge, or a port city of Antwerp, full of diamond traders, cutters and polishers. Finish off your day in Delirium Café, a cosy basement bar, tucked away on a cobblestone backstreet in the heart of Brussels. Café has an inventory of over 2000 beers.
Cross another border, as you travel into the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam (approximately three hours by bus). Best way to get your head around this city, is to do as locals do – cycle. Consider a half day tour of the city on two wheels. This will provide you with a good understanding of the layout of the city for the next couple of days. Amsterdam, a network of canals, bridges and parks is also spoilt for choice when it comes to museums. One of its best is the Rijksmuseum, whose most famous work is Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch'. Visit the Van Gogh Museum, which comprises nearly every painting, sketch, print, etching, and piece of correspondence that Vincent van Gogh ever produced, including 'Sunflowers'. After seeing the painted variety, wander through the real thing at the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market).
Another day in Amsterdam could easily be spent with history in mind. Visit Anne Frank's House, the former hiding place of Anne Frank and seven others during World War II, and the place where she wrote her now-famous diary, is today preserved as a museum. A visit here not only allows you to climb into the attic and learn about the history of those who hid there, but also challenges you to examine your views by posing modern ethical questions. Move on to De Waag (weigh house), 15th-century building on Nieuwmarkt square. As many of Amsterdam’s historic buildings have enjoyed multiple uses through the centuries, Dee Waag is no exception. Constructed first as a gate for the city's fortified walls, it was later transformed into a 'weigh house' where goods brought back by ships from overseas were weighed. In later years, it served as a guild house for local professions and has also been a museum, fire station and more. In its most recent incarnation, the Waag houses a well-received café-restaurant as well as space (the former anatomy theater) for various types of exhibits. The Waag is located in the Chinatown district of Amsterdam. Great place to go for Chinese food afterwards.
Today is your last day in Amsterdam. Why not get to know the secrets of its cuisine? Perhaps find out why Dutch don't talk much about their food, unless it’s about pancakes! Pannekoeken are a traditional Dutch treat – sometimes sweet, sometimes savoury, but always delicious! Snack on salty fries, savouring rich cheeses and sip boozy spirits. Bask in the glory of liquid sunshine – visit the best bars, breweries and beer halls of this brew-loving city. From a place where nuns used to brew ales, to the mothership of Dutch beer brewing – the original Heineken building – see, and taste, the Netherlands strong brewing history.
Leave Amsterdam behind and take the train into Germany for your final stop of the trip, Berlin (approximately 6.5 hours). As there's not too much free time to fully explore Berlin, it's recommended that you book an extra couple of days to give yourself more time. Our reservations team can help (subject to availability). If you're a bit daunted by the size of the city, there are countless bus tours that operate throughout Berlin and they're an ideal way to find your feet. There are many unique memorials and sites holding significance in Berlin's more recent history, which are all designed to provoke thought as well as commemorate. These include the Jewish Memorial, the empty shelves of Bebelplatz and the confronting Topography of Terror. The Reichstag, designed by British architect Norman Foster, holds a special and symbolic meaning outside of its role as the home of parliament. The great glass dome that crowns the building also offers sweeping views over Berlin. Make sure you book your visit early in the morning, as queues can snake around the building for hours on end. Wander through the Brandenburg Gate and witness the crumbling remnants of the Berlin Wall that are scattered all over the city. Checkpoint Charlie and its museum overlook the former border checkpoint dividing East and West, explaining how the city came to be divided overnight and its attempts to escape from behind the Iron Curtain. Berlin is a haven for good food, with a mix of classic German, Bavarian and Italian influences. Consider spending an evening celebrating life as the locals do - at a bar, lounge, nightclub or embracing some live music.
There are no activities planned for today and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time, provided you comply with the hotel's check-out time. If you want to stay on a little longer to get under the skin of this hip city we can assist with securing extra accommodation, just ask your travel agent or Intrepid rep at the time of booking. If you decide to stay for a while, why not explore the legendary subdistrict SO36 on an Urban Adventures tour. Notorious for its rebellious attitude and as the home of international artists, squatters and other outsiders, you'll explore this moody neighbourhood with a local on an enlightening tour. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Berlin-tours, and see below for a full list of recommended optional activities.
Calle de la Cruz 14
Phone: 0034 915 21 48 38
Phone: +49 30238866850
This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.
A single supplement is NOT available on this trip.
All Intrepid group trips in Europe are accompanied by one of our local European group leaders. ’Local’ in this context means a leader who is European or lives in Europe. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader takes care of logistics, will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
At Intrepid we also aim to support local guides in the individual cities or locations we travel to. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend an optional local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Common scams operating in Europe include ploys to get you fined on the metro without a validated ticket. Ensure that you always travel with a validated ticket (have your ticket stamped). Another common scam is used by children who distract you with a map or a newspaper and while you are attending to them, steal your valuables. You may also come across players offering you to participate in the so-called "shell game". This is a scam and you will most certainly lose your money.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, US and British citizens currently do not require a visa to enter countries visited on this trip. Other nationalities should check with the relevant embassy or consulate in their home country for up to date visa information.
Passports have to be carried, but normally you do not need to show them. Stamps are no longer issued at border crossings.
Why we love it
The Art Walk in Madrid is every art lover's dream. In one small stretch you can browse the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Reina Sofia and the Prado, one of the world's most celebrated galleriesIt's easy to be consumed by the architecture, culture and vibrant nightlife of Barcelona, but the food available for consumption is just as good. Traditional Catalan dishes such as fideua (similar to seafood paella) and botifarra amb mongetes (haricot beans served with sausage) taste a little like heaven. The wine isn't bad either
Gaudi's modern cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, is like no other building in the world. Still under construction after 130 years, this Gothic masterpiece embodies Barcelona's artistic and progressive heart
The beaches of Valencia are some of the most pristine in Europe, if not the world. Relax with a bowl of Valenciana paella at the gateway to the Mediterranean
Discover Roman, Muslim and Christian influences in the churches and plazas of Cuenca, the ideal Spanish city to explore on foot
This trip covers some of the best food destinations in Europe. Enjoy cured meats, oils and olives in Barcelona and delve deep into the complex flavours of Parisian cuisine. Indulge in late-night seafood in Brussels and get on board with Berlin’s love of marinated meat and potatoes
The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are iconic French institutions. Spend plenty of free time in Paris to see the major attractions as well the city's hidden gems
Brussels is easily explored on foot and also has a great public transport system. Venture to the outskirts of the city and back without losing big chunks of your time
The beating heart of modern Germany, Berlin is packed with history, arts and culture. The city's poignant memorials serve not just to recognise the past, but to educate new generations into the future
Amsterdam has been developed with cyclists in mind, so hire a bike and hit the charming streets with the locals (just watch out for those canals)
Is this trip right for you
This is a Basix trip. Please make yourself familiar with our Basix style of travel. Our trips are full of fun, flexibility and plenty of free time to explore each destination at your own pace. We will, however, take you on regular orientation walks, so you'll be on your feet quite a lot. While this may be tiring for some, it’s the best way to get your head around a place and to set yourself up for further discoveries.
As this is a combination of two trips, your group leader and the composition of your group may change in Barcelona.
As accommodation on this trip is twin-share, single travellers will share a room with other travellers of the same gender. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. Also, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together/apart. Rooms can be rather small, especially compared to American or Australian standards, and in most cases bathroom facilities will be shared rather than en-suite. Please note that a single supplement is not available on this trip.
Summer temperatures can be very high in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat, and drink plenty of water. Please keep in mind that many European hotel rooms are not equipped with air-conditioning. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.
The primary means of transportation on this trip is by train. Train travel is a fast way to traverse long distances, allowing you to avoid traffic jams and arrive right into the city centre. Trains are comfortable and often decked out with air-conditioning, toilets, a snack bar (or vending machine) and power points. Upon arrival into each new destination, your luggage will be transferred to the hotel by car. Please note that you'll have to carry your own luggage on and off the train. It’s recommended that you leave any wheelie bags/cases at home and bring a backpack instead, but please make sure it doesn’t exceed our weight and size recommendations. You can find this information in the 'What to Take' section of the trip notes.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. Pharmacies are well equipped in Europe and widely available, however, we recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained in some of the rural locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Food and dietary requirements
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Food in Europe is varied and differs significantly between countries and regions. Expect to sample delicious local meals in almost every location you’ll visit on this trip. However, if you do not feel like having a local delicacy, world type food is also widely available, especially in bigger cities. European diet is mostly meat based; vegetarians might find the menu selection less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and choices may be limited to soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets will find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.
European breakfasts are often basic and may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar.)
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies. The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money in Europe is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied. You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning. The safest option is to bring cash in either Euro or US dollars. When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place. Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%. Taking all that in to account, we do not advise bringing traveller’s cheques to Europe.
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: In local markets and basic restaurants and cafes - round your bill up to the nearest €1. In more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill. Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest €2-€3 per day for local guides. You may also have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest €1-€2 per day for drivers. You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €4-€5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. In total, we recommend you budget approx €5-€10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. We suggest EUR 700.00 for meals not included on this trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
What to take
On this trip you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb. Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas inside the bus or your cabin. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage during included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
On some of our trips in Europe it is possible to purchase responsibly sourced reusable water bottles. Thirty per cent of the cost of each bottle is donated to the Intrepid Foundation, specifically to the Support to Life project, which offers humanitarian assistance to Syrian Refugees in Turkey. Please ask your leader for further information regarding this initiative and the availability of the bottles.
Climate and seasonal
Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.
In contrast, weather in shoulder season can be unpredictable, and snow is not unheard of at higher altitudes. If you travel at the start or towards the end of the European season please pack accordingly with warm and/or waterproof clothes (preferably layers). The advantage of travelling during this time is that there are less tourists around.
Please note that shops, attractions, sights and businesses may be closed for up to 5 hours in the middle of the day for siesta time. This gives the locals time to escape the heat and spend time with their families, eat a large lunch or simply sleep through the most uncomfortable time of day. This means of course that people work later into the evening and dinner time can seem quite late: 9.30pm is not uncommon for family dinner time.
One of the great things about our trips is that we encourage every member of the group to spend time interacting with local people. In order to best be able to do this in Spain, we recommend that you try to do as the locals do - avoid the heat of the day, and stay out later at night.
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Europe Office can be reached on the number listed below:
Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 918 66 57
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.
In general, there are few dress restrictions in Europe. Note when visiting churches, monasteries or other religious sites modest dress is required - shorts or skimpy tops may not be permitted, for both men and women.
BASIX STYLE ACCOMMODATION
We've sourced our accommodation very carefully and picked the best possible hotels, hostels and guesthouses in line with our Intrepid Basix style of travel. In Europe our accommodation is on twin-share basis with shared bathrooms. On rare occasions in some destinations we use multi-share accommodation, which includes triple and quad rooms or even dorm rooms. Depending on rooming configuration couples or people travelling together may be separated according to gender. Nights with multi-share arrangements will be clearly noted in the day-to-day itinerary in the trip notes. Please note that service and accommodation in Europe may be different to the standards you are used to from home. Please note that our accommodation may not always have air-conditioning, and generally don't provide kettles or fridges. In some destinations rooms may be rather small.
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Throughout the trip we request that our accommodation prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means there are instances where we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival. If this happens we will store our luggage and explore our new destination, and will check in later on.
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT
Please note that on our European Basix trips we do not provide a single room supplement option. However you may ask at the time of check-in whether a single room is available. This will be at an extra cost and is payable locally directly to the accommodation.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
BOOKING MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS IN ADVANCE:
To avoid disappointment we have outlined (where applicable) some important information on some of the major museums and attractions in Europe. Some of our groups have experienced long lines of up to four hours to visit some of the major sights, while some sights are so popular they are booked out completely months in advance, making it impossible for you or your leader to arrange a visit while you are on the trip. Please note that many museums and attractions in Europe are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays. We recommend you carefully consider which sites and museums you are going to want to visit and that you do some research and make your reservations in advance where possible. If applicable we've given you information in the day-to-day itinerary which outlines which day of the trip is a suitable time to make your reservations, as well as any other information that may help with planning your visit.
Hostel (11 nights),Hotel (10 nights)