Europe is one of the most beautiful and diverse continents in the world – and if you’re planning a culture-packed break, choosing which country to visit can seem like an impossible task.
There’s Greece, the birthplace of democracy; Italy, home of renaissance art and fabulous food; and France, with its Napoleonic history and grand city splendour. And that’s just three out of 44.
Even once you’ve chosen which country to visit, with so much compelling history, natural beauty, and extraordinary artistic and culinary diversity, how can you fit it all in?
To help you get the most from your travel experiences, we’ve partnered with Travel Department – a leading provider of guided group holidays. Winners of this year’s British Travel Awards Best Escorted Group Holiday Provider, Travel Department have a reputation for providing exceptional, personalised tours at low prices. Plus, their local guides bring each destination to life, allowing you to get a real feel for each country and its culture.
So, if you’re interested in Europe’s captivating cultural heritage, look no further. Here are seven fascinating cultural tours in Europe – all of which are currently discounted for Rest Less members.
1. Classic Tuscany, including Florence and Pisa
Tuscany is known around the world for its exceptional arts, rolling hills, sensational food, and unrivalled wine. So, if you’ve always wanted to visit Italy’s most celebrated region, why not discover its unique history, architecture, and cuisine by taking a seven-night guided tour?
You’ll be based in the historic spa town of Montecatini, where you’ll have plenty of time to explore in your own way. This might mean sipping coffee in one of the many cafes, taking a cable car up to medieval Montecatini Alto, or enjoying a natural treatment in a geothermal spa.
You’ll visit Florence – the capital of Tuscany and the birthplace of the Renaissance. Here, you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the famous gothic cathedral, Duomo, with its grand green and pink façade; the Piazza della Signoria, which is Florence’s bustling hub; and the iconic bridge that is Ponte Vecchio. You can also spend the afternoon sightseeing, shopping, or simply soaking up the charm of this spectacular city.
The tour will also stop in the lovely medieval city of Siena, where you can stroll across its striking sloping square, and explore medieval streets and imposing towers in the hilltop town of San Gimignano.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ll visit Pisa, where you can see the iconic leaning tower; and Lucca, which is the only Italian town entirely bordered by walls.
Along the way, there’ll be lots of opportunities to admire Tuscany’s breathtaking natural beauty. You can take a walk along the cypress-lined hills, snap photos of vibrant green vineyards and golden wheat fields, or simply relax in silver olive groves. And of course, you’ll feast on the very best Tuscan cuisine – and enjoy plenty of exceptional local wine too.
Discover the beauty and culture of Tuscany
2. Estoril and the Lisbon Coast
For those drawn to the history and culture of sun-soaked Portugal, you might want to explore this beautiful and beguiling country on a seven-day escorted tour. Boasting fairytale towns, cosmopolitan cities, sun-drenched beaches, a balmy climate, and mouthwatering food and drink, Portugal has it all.
Your tour will kick off in the captivating capital, Lisbon, from where you’ll head to your resort of choice. Both Estoril and Cascais are just half an hour from the city, and these lovely resort towns have everything you could possibly want – from gorgeous beaches to lively waterfronts and unique shops.
You’ll take a day trip to Lisbon, where your local guide will show you the best of this remarkable city. Highlights include touring the Belem Tower and Monument to the Discoveries, learning about Lisbon’s fascinating maritime history, and enjoying time exploring at your leisure. You can also lose yourself in the steep streets of Alfama, nibble golden custard tarts, and sip an icy Sagres while watching the world go by.
Next up is the town of Sintra, which is famous for its grand mansions, 19th-century gardens, and breathtaking natural beauty. Here, you’ll tour the most beautiful sites, including the 16th-century UNESCO-listed Sintra National Palace. Once the summer home of the Portuguese Royal family, this colourful castle looks straight out of a fairy tale.
You’ll also visit the towns of Óbidos, Alcobaça, and Nazaré. In Óbidos, you’ll take a walking tour through its cobblestone streets; in Alcobaça, you’ll tour a magnificent 12th-century monastery; and in Nazaré, a coastal town famous for its waves, you’ll enjoy a delicious lunch while admiring sensational sea views. With three days to relax, this tour is the perfect mix of relaxation and culture.
Enjoy a beach holiday and city break in Portugal
3. Discover Ancient Greece
As the home of democracy, myths and legends, whitewashed ruins, and blazing blue skies, Greece has fascinated historians, culture enthusiasts, and sun-seekers for years. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about Ancient Greece while making the most of the country’s endless coastline, this seven-night guided holiday might be for you.
You’ll begin in the capital Athens, where, with a local guide to escort you, you’ll step back 3,400 years to discover one of the world’s oldest cities. Explore the awe-inspiring Acropolis, high up on a rocky hilltop, and visit the panoramic Parthenon and Erechtheion Temple. After, enjoy free time watching the changing of the guard, savouring sweet and sticky pastries, or sipping Greek coffee.
Then, take a day trip to the famous ruins of Delphi, the site that was said to be chosen by Zeus. You’ll visit the 4th-century ruins of the Temple of Apollo, admire statues of the Charioteer of Delphi, the Naxian Sphinx, and the Statue of Antinous in the museum of Delphi, and learn about why the Ancient Greeks believed this site was the centre of the world.
You’ll then transfer to the village of Tolo, on the Peloponnese peninsula. From here you’re perfectly placed to discover Argolis, the region of Greece that’s home to Mycenae, the historic centre said to be the home of Agamemnon. You’ll also visit the ancient amphitheatre in Epidaurus, before touring the pretty streets and elegant squares in the port of Nafplio, where you’ll enjoy a delicious lunch.
The adventure isn’t over yet, however – as you’ll also take a day trip to the island of Spetses. This gorgeous island is beloved by locals, and with an expert guide to show you around, it won’t take you long to see why. Here, you can visit Venetian mansions, kick back on the beach, and buy souvenirs. With lots of time to explore at your own pace, this is a historic holiday you’ll remember forever.
Step back in time to Ancient Greece
4. Cannes and the Cote d'Azur
For a sun-kissed beach break that offers just as much glitz and glamour as culture and history, why not head to the French Riviera?
Also known as the Côte d’Azur, this stunning stretch of coastline is famous for its pristine beaches, craggy headlands, hilltop villages, and unrivalled luxury – and a seven-day escorted tour is the best way to discover its dazzling delights.
You’ll be based in beautiful Cannes, where you’ll have three days to spend as you wish. Sample local delicacies in the lively food market, enjoy a glass of wine in a waterside bar, stroll along the famous Boulevard de la Croisette, soak up the sun on the buzzing beaches – or enjoy a sumptuous dinner in one of the many fancy restaurants.
Once you’re all settled in, you’ll take a guided day trip to the tiny nation of Monaco. Your guide will first show you around opulent Monte Carlo, where you can admire supercars in the streets and visit the iconic Monte Carlo Casino. You’ll then tour the Rothschild Villa, an ornate mansion that’s packed with priceless treasures, and explore the gorgeous gardens surrounding it.
On another day, you’ll head to the medieval village of St-Paul-de-Vence, where you can tour art museums and galleries, and learn about the artists who found inspiration in this tranquil hilltop town.
After, you’ll head to Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. Here, you can visit the cathedral, admire art, and pick up exclusive fragrances to take home before moving on to the historic Antibes. In this gorgeous seaside city, you can stroll through the famous Old Town, visit the Picasso Museum, and spot superyachts in Millionaire’s Quay.
Then, after a delicious lunch, it’s on to Nice to soak up the unique culture of this part of France. You can visit the colourful flower market, stroll along Promenade des Anglais, and savour fine food and wine in the many pastel-hued cafes.
Experience the sun-soaked luxury of the French Riviera
5. Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast
Croatia’s charms are no secret – and as a result, places like Dubrovnik can sometimes feel a little overrun with tourists. So, if you want to discover the beauty and culture of this captivating country without the throngs of crowds, why not head to the Dalmatian Coast, which is the most diverse part of Croatia, and arguably the most spectacular?
During this seven-night getaway, you’ll be based in either Vodice or Biograd na Moru: two seaside towns that are known for their gorgeous beaches and enviable coastal location. You’ll have three free days to unwind and can spend long, lazy days swimming in the crystalline waters, sunbathing on sandy beaches and pebbly coves, or visiting sleepy offshore islands.
Throughout the trip, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to discover Croatia’s unique culture and history too. You’ll head to Šibenik for a guided walking tour of the Old Town, where you can learn all about its notable history, and visit the spectacular Cathedral of St. James, a three-aisled basilica which boasts its very own architectural style.
You’ll also enjoy a boat trip to some nearby islands. If you’re staying in Vodice, you’ll visit the ‘golden island’ of Zlarin, where you’ll learn what life is like for the 300 inhabitants, before moving on to tiny Krapanj. If you’re based in Biograd na Moru, you’ll visit Murter and the fishermen’s isle of Vrgada, and spot dolphins leaping from the azure waters. Both excursions include lunch and swimming.
After you’ve got your fill of sun, sea, and sand, it’s time for more culture. Guests staying in Vodice will take a walking tour of the vibrant city of Split, before heading to the medieval walled town of Trogir in the afternoon. Guests based in Biograd na Moru will visit the historic seaside town of Zadar, where you’ll step back in time on a walking tour, before having the afternoon to explore at your leisure.
Soak up the unique charm of Croatia
6. Slovenia and the Gulf of Trieste
For years, Slovenia was one of the most overlooked countries in Europe when it came to tourism – but more recently the world has been waking up to the lyrical landscape, absorbing culture, and fascinating history of this beautiful Balkan country. If you want to discover why Slovenia is so seductive, this seven-night tour might be for you.
You’ll be staying in Lucija-Portoroz, a pretty resort town on the coast, where there’ll be plenty of time to explore at your own pace – whether that means treating yourself in one of the town’s many luxurious spas, strolling along the beach, or simply relaxing by the pool. You can also take a wine tour to the village of Marezige, which is home to the oldest vineyard in Europe.
Later on, a boat trip to the historic town of Izola will offer views of white-washed bell towers and bobbing boats in the marina. As you cruise along the deep-blue waters, you can also admire sensational views of the Italian coastline, the pretty town of Piran, and the dramatic cliffs of Strunjan Natural Park – making for some beautiful photo opportunities!
On another day, you’ll pop over to neighbouring Italy, where you can enjoy a day exploring the city of Trieste, which is teeming with culture and history. You’ll take a walking tour of the old centre, visiting palaces, churches, and picturesque piazzas as you learn why this city is so important. You can also refuel in the city’s classic coffeehouses, and relax and recharge in its many excellent restaurants.
And of course, Slovenia’s most famous attraction, the breathtaking Lake Bled, is also on the itinerary. Enjoy a guided tour of Bled Island, which sits in the centre of the lake’s mesmerising blue waters, and visit the medieval Bled Castle before enjoying a lakeside lunch.
From here, the tour will continue to Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, where you’ll see the sights on a walking tour before exploring – or relaxing – at your own pace.
Discover the magic of Slovenia
7. Highlights of Andalucia
It doesn’t take long to fall in love with Andalucia, Spain’s most southerly region. Famous for its whitewashed villages, sweeping beaches, dramatic mountains, and long stretches of rugged coastline, large swathes of this part of Spain still feel virtually untouched – and during this seven-night guided tour, you’ll get to discover the very best of it.
The first few days will be spent in lovely Loja, where you can enjoy exploring the narrow streets and whitewashed plazas of this laidback coastal town. From Loja, you’re perfectly placed to visit Seville, Andalucía’s most vibrant city, which is known for flamenco, tapas, and truly captivating culture. Stroll through the city’s Jewish quarter, visit pretty Plaza Espana, and tour all the main sites.
On another day, you’ll visit the UNESCO World Heritage City of Córdoba, where you can marvel at spectacular Moorish and Roman architecture during a walking tour. You’ll also visit the traditional Andalucian town of Antequera to take a guided tour of the Old Town, visit the Dolmen de Menga (a megalithic burial mound), and enjoy plenty of free time.
You’ll then transfer to the medieval city of Granada, where you’ll spend the rest of the week. Packed with picturesque palaces, patios, and gardens, its beauty is captivating – but its history is just as impressive. On your guided city tour, you’ll get to visit the pristine Generalife Gardens and the vast UNESCO complex of La Alhambra, where you’ll learn about Granada throughout the ages.
During this holiday, you’ll also discover how two very different cultures and religions – Christianity and Islam – helped shape this part of Spain. Plus, Andalucia boasts its own cuisine and culture, and you’ll sample the very best of both.
And for those who like to go with the flow, there’ll be lots of downtime along the way to spend as you like – from admiring medieval architecture to feasting on tapas, or simply soaking up the sun.
Embrace the authenticity of Andalucia
As these seven destinations prove, Europe is a continent that’s as diverse as it is dazzling. Perhaps you’re drawn to the sparkling seas and sweeping beaches of Croatia or the Cote d’Azur – or maybe you’re fascinated by the history of Ancient Greece, or the unique culture of Southern Spain.
Whatever country draws you in, most people want to enjoy a sense of balance during their break. Making sure you see all the main sites while still having time to relax and unwind can be challenging – and that’s why it can be so beneficial to take an escorted tour.
Booking a guided group holiday with Travel Department doesn’t only mean you’ll have expert local guides to show you around. It also means that all the research and planning is done for you, allowing you to sit back, relax, and make the most of your break knowing you won’t miss out.
Escorted holidays give you the chance to meet other, like-minded people too. So while you’ll get to enjoy all the benefits of solo travel, you can also make connections, and be able to share the experience with new friends. Plus, many Travel Department guests are repeat customers – which helps to foster a sense of community spirit.
If you’re worried about cost, you might be pleased to know that tours are cost-effective, and Travel Department is currently offering Rest Less members a £75pp* discount off of any 2023 or 2024 holiday booked before 31st August 2023. You can see further details on discounts below – and to ask any questions or make a booking, simply call 0131 516 8395 and quote Rest Less.
- Save £75pp* on holidays of 8-10 nights. Use promo code: REST75
- Save £50pp* on holidays of 7 nights. Use promo code: REST50
- Save £25pp* on holidays of 6 nights or less. Use promo code: REST25
To see more tours with Travel Department, you can visit their website using the button below.