Grand Tour of Europe: London to Lisbon

17 days Multi-country
Start this whirlwind tour by seeing the sights in London, Brussels and Paris. Then, set off to explore the vibrant cultures, languages and cities the rest of western Europe has to offer as you traverse the continent from north to south. Along the way, journey through the stunning Provençal countryside to the artistic and regal Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid before taking in Lisbon, the historic Portuguese capital.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Tour group size: 18 - 35 travelers

Tour pace: You will walk for about 1 hour daily across mostly flat terrain, including paved roads and cobblestone streets, with few hills.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 15 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 5 three-course dinners with beer or wine

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • High-speed train transfers

  • Guided sightseeing and select entrance fees

Map of Tour of England, Belgium, France, Spain, and Portugal

Overnight Flight 1 night

Day 1: Travel day

Board your overnight flight to London today.

London 2 nights

Day 2: Arrival in London

  Included meals: Dinner

Welcome to England! Meet your fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of London

  Included meals: Breakfast

Take a guided tour of the regal landmarks of the English capital with a local expert leading the way.

• Pass the grand Trafalgar Square and Baroque-style St. Paul’s Cathedral, perched atop Ludgate Hill

• View icons like Big Ben, the London Eye and the Tower of London, a UNESCO World  Heritage site

• Stop by Buckingham Palace, where you may catch the Changing of the Guard

Enjoy a free afternoon in London or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Windsor Castle $99pp* Details

Led by a Blue Badge Guide, you’ll travel to Windsor for a guided tour of the world’s largest and longest inhabited castle. Founded by William the Conqueror in 1070, Windsor has been the British Royal Family’s preferred retreat for the past 900 years. Step inside the State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel, where the Knights of the Garter ceremony takes place. View the exhibit of royal treasures on display within the castle. You’ll then have time to stroll through the town of Windsor and have a look at Eton College, a prestigious prep school attended by Princes William and Harry. Please note: Windsor Castle is occasionally closed when in use by the Royal Family; a visit to Henry VIII’s Hampton Court will be substituted when necessary. Additionally, St. George’s Chapel is closed to the public on Sundays. This excursion requires advanced reservation and must be booked by 20 days prior to departure.

Must be booked 20 days before departure

Brussels 2 nights

Day 4: Transfer to Brussels

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Hop aboard the high-speed Eurostar train to be whisked beneath the English Channel as you journey to Brussels. Then, join a local guide for a tour of the unofficial capital of Europe.

• Pass by Brussels Park, the Royal Palace and the Palais de Justice, the largest court building in Brussels 

• See the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, a Gothic church dating back to the Middle Ages  

• Stroll through the city’s historic center, stopping at the Grand-Place market for a chocolate and beer tasting

Day 5: Free day in Brussels

  Included meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a free day to explore Brussels on your own or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Bruges $95pp* Details

Journey into Flanders on this full-day excursion. You’ll visit the picturesque town of Bruges, where a local guide will introduce you to the town's market, its belfry and its canals. An included boat cruise takes you through Bruges' canals and makes it easy to leave your cares behind. Please note: This excursion involves extensive walking.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $105)

Paris 2 nights

Day 6: Transfer to Paris

  Included meals: Breakfast

Board the high-speed Thalys train to Paris this morning and pass through the beautiful Belgian and French countryside on the way.

Spend a free evening in Paris or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Dinner in Paris & Seine River Cruise $115pp* Details

Take in the nighttime allure of the City of Light on a special evening excursion. The event begins with dinner at a local restaurant. After you dine, board a boat cruise along the Seine. As you coast along the river and under Paris’ bridges, you’ll behold the illuminated monuments of the city glittering alongside the riverbanks. Please note: The dress code may vary depending on the restaurant for your dinner. Your Tour Director will advise you on what to wear, but shorts and sneakers are likely to be considered inappropriate attire.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $125)

Day 7: Sightseeing tour of Paris

  Included meals: Breakfast

A guided tour introduces you to the architecture, scenery and history of the City of Light’s many neighborhoods, called arrondisements.

• Drive down the sycamore-lined Champs Élysées to view the famed Arc de Triomphe

• Pass Pont Neuf and the legendary Notre-Dame Cathedral, located on the UNESCO-recognized banks of the Seine River

• See the Eiffel Tower, the Palais Garnier opera house and Place de la Concorde, the city’s grandest square

• Marvel at the iconic architecture of the Louvre and L’Hôtel des Invalides

Spend a free afternoon to explore the city on your own or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Versailles Palace & Gardens $115pp* Details

The reign of Louis XIV, known as the “Sun King,” set new standards for decadence among the crowned heads of Europe. It took 50 years and 35,000 workers to turn Versailles, once a small hunting lodge, into the most magnificent château in all of France and the envy of royalty worldwide. On this excursion, you will see the palace in all its glory as you tour the State Apartments and the glittering Hall of Mirrors. Then, stroll through the lavish gardens to admire their fine statuary, splendid fountains and colorful flowerbeds.

Please note: The four rooms of the Queen's State Apartment are closed for renovations through 2017.

Must be booked 45 days before departure

Avignon 2 nights

Day 8: Transfer to Avignon

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Take the high-speed TGV train south to Avignon where you’ll be introduced to the historic Provençal city on a guided tour. 

• Stroll through the historic town center, which is surrounded by the city’s original medieval walls

• Step inside the magnificent Papal Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site

Day 9: Free day in Avignon

  Included meals: Breakfast

Explore Avignon on your own today or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Aix-en-Provence: Sights, Wines & Dinner $119pp* Details

On today's optional excursion, you'll get the quintessential Provençal experience. Start in Aix, located in the heart of the region, and enjoy a walking tour through the city’s beautiful wide boulevards and inside its medieval cathedral. Paul Cézanne is a local icon in Aix. During your tour, visit his studio for a glimpse into the Post-Impressionist painter's life. Then, travel to the picturesque surrounding countryside, stopping at a castle before settling in at a local winery for a tasting. End the day with a group dinner seasoned with local Provençal herbs.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $129)

Barcelona 2 nights

Day 10: Barcelona via Figueres

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Before bidding France au revoir, make a stop at the UNESCO-protected Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gardon River. Then, cross the Spanish border to the town of Figueres, the birthplace of famed artist Salvador Dalí, for free time and entrance to the Dalí Theatre-Museum. End your day by driving along the scenic Costa Brava to Barcelona.

Day 11: Sightseeing tour of Barcelona

  Included meals: Breakfast

Discover why the Catalan capital is touted for its unparalleled architectural landmarks, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

• Stop at Montjuïc, where the 1992 Olympic Games took place, and take in the panoramic views at Mirador de l’Alcalde park 

• Pass Plaça d’Espanya, one of the city’s most important squares, and stroll past the soaring Columbus Monument, dedicated to the legendary explorer

• Step inside La Sagrada Família, Gaudí’s famous masterwork-in-progress

• Drive along Passeig de Gràcia, past Gaudí’s “House of Bones”

Spend the afternoon exploring Barcelona on your own or add excursions.

Optional Excursion - Park Güell & La Pedrera $85pp* Details

Discover the magnificent works of Antoni Gaudí, the famed Spanish architect known for his bold, distinct designs. Take a guided tour of Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera, built by Gaudí between 1905 and 1910. Everything about the building is visually unique, from the wave-like stone structure and grandly designed roof to the apartment that reflects the style of the 20th- century bourgeoisie. Next, you’ll head to Park Güell, also designed by Gaudí. Your guide will lead you through the park, which contains stunning buildings, intricate stonework and colorful mosaics. At the top of the park, marvel at the brilliant views of Barcelona.

Must be booked 20 days before departure

Optional Excursion - Flamenco Dinner Show $115pp* Details

The clapping, the singing, the stamping—experience the dramatic art of flamenco dancing, one of Spain’s most celebrated traditions. Expressive and colorful, this Andalucian style of dance combines guitar playing (toque), song (cante) and rhythmic handclaps (palmas). Dinner will be served before the performance.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $125)

Madrid 2 nights

Day 12: Transfer to Madrid

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

A high-speed train brings you through the picturesque countryside to Madrid. Here, you’ll explore the Spanish capital’s beautiful architecture, lively squares and grand boulevards on a guided sightseeing tour.

• Make a photo stop at the Royal Palace, Spain’s largest royal residence 

• Pass the Temple of Debod, a reassembled temple from ancient Egypt

• View the city’s many squares, including Plaza de España, Plaza Mayor and the bustling Puerta del Sol 

• Explore the Prado, a world-class art museum that began as the private collection of the Spanish monarchy and is home to the works of Goya, Velásquez and more

Day 13: Free day in Madrid

  Included meals: Breakfast

Spend a full free day exploring Madrid or add excursions.

Optional Excursion - Toledo $79pp* Details

Discover Toledo, the cliff-top city often referred to as La Ciudad Imperial (“The Imperial City”). Upon arrival, you’ll have some free time to explore. Later in the afternoon, your guided tour begins at Toledo Cathedral, a massive, Gothic structure that houses 750 medieval stained glass windows and a treasure trove of golden artifacts. Gaze upon the cathedral’s sacristy, containing masterpieces by the likes of van Dyck, El Greco, Rubens and Titian. After exploring the labyrinth of medieval alleyways at the heart of the city, you’ll visit the Church of Santo Tomé and one of Europe’s oldest synagogues, Santa María la Blanca. Please note: This tour involves some walking over uneven terrain. Also, depending on the day of the week, the sites visited are subject to change. If the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca is closed, you’ll visit the Synagogue of El Tránsito instead.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $89)

Optional Excursion - Traditional Spanish Evening $99pp* Details

On your way to dinner, walk through the illuminated streets of Madrid, taking in the local neighborhood ambiance in the evening light. Then, enjoy conversation, camaraderie and live music at one of the oldest restaurants in the city. Between traditional Castilian courses, you’ll be entertained by tuna music, an artistic tradition with its roots in Spain’s universities.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $109)

Salamanca 1 night

Day 14: Salamanca via Ávila

  Included meals: Breakfast

Today, you’ll explore two cities protected as UNESCO World Heritage sites—the first is the medieval city of Ávila. Here, you’ll explore the romantic city walls and Ávila Cathedral. Then, continue on to Salamanca for a guided tour of the old city.

• Marvel at the Spanish Baroque architecture of Plaza Mayor, the main square

• Pass by Casa de las Conchas, La Clerecía, the University of Salamanca, Anaya Palace and the New and Old Cathedrals

Lisbon 2 nights

Day 15: Transfer to Lisbon

  Included meals: Breakfast

Cross the border into Portugal today as you make your way to Lisbon. 

Enjoy a free evening in Lisbon or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Fado Dinner & Show $85pp* Details

Fado Dinner & Show

Spend your evening at a Lisbon tavern listening to fado. Derived from the Latin word fatum—meaning “prophecy” or “fate”—fado is Portugal’s national musical treasure. Fado’s traditional theme is saudade, a word that doesn’t quite translate to English but conveys a sense of both nostalgia and longing. Dinner is included during this memorable musical evening.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $95)

Day 16: Sightseeing tour of Lisbon

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Get to know the Portuguese capital on a guided tour.

• Visit the Plaza del Marqués de Pombal and the Mouraria District

• Discover the city’s maritime heritage at the Monument to the Discoveries and the Tower of Belém, a UNESCO site

• Pass the Jerónimos Monastery, built to honor voyagers, and enter the Ajuda National Palace, the former residence of Portuguese royalty

• Take a short walking tour of the Moorish Alfama District, the city’s oldest section

Later this evening, gather with your group to toast your trip at a farewell dinner.

Day 17: Departure

  Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home or continue your tour in Porto.

Add Porto Starting from $429 pp

On your way to Porto, pay a visit to the UNESCO-recognized city of Sintra. Then, soak up the historic neighborhoods along the Douro River, discover stunning architecture and landmarks as you explore Portugal's second-largest city.

Porto 2 nights

Day 17: Porto via Sintra

  Included meals: Breakfast

On the way to Porto, stop in the UNESCO-recognized city of Sintra for a short walking tour.

• Walk through the town center, passing the Sintra National Palace

• Enter the romantic Quinta da Regaleira to explore the estate and gardens

• Take in distant views of the iconic Pena National Palace and mountain-top Castle of the Moors

Day 18: Sightseeing tour of Porto

  Included meals: Breakfast

Get to know Port like a true tripeiro (Porto resident) as you follow your local guide.

• Wander the medieval lanes of the Old-World Ribeira district, a UNESCO-recognized zone, along the picturesque Douro riverfront  

• Pass citywide icons, such as the Baroque-style Clérigos Tower, the Gothic São Francisco Church and the wrought-iron Dona Maria Pia Bridge

• Step inside the city’s famed neoclassical Stock Exchange Palace

Explore Porto on your own this afternoon or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Douro River Cruise & Port Wine Cellar $49pp* Details

Float along the beautiful Douro, the Iberian Peninsula’s third-longest river, and take in scenes of Porto’s vibrant waterfront and historic Villa Nova de Gaia, home to the region’s centuries-old Port wine warehouses. As you cruise, you’ll drift under five of the river’s most iconic Old-World bridges, passing colorful hillside villas and traditional rabelos (flat-bottomed boats) along the way. Back on shore, pay a visit to one of Porto’s most prestigious Port wine cellars: Ferriera. During the guided tour, learn the long-standing history of Port wine, as well as the ins and outs of Port production and warehousing. Then, sit down to taste three of the cellar’s world-famous labels, paired with cheese.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $59)

Day 19: Departure

  Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

How's the weather?

  • London, England
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Paris, France
  • Avignon, France
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Lisbon, Portugal
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
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  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

Passport & visa requirements

This tour includes the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal. In order to enter these countries, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.

Baggage allowance

Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs.  Contact your airline for detailed information regarding luggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other internal transfers, which may include train connections or flights. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height).  Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag. Please note that there may be times when you will have to handle your own baggage.

Clothing & packing tips

To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).

Health

There are no major health risks associated with traveling on this tour. Be sure to check with your doctor or health care provider for the latest updates and travel requirements.

Cuisine

You’ll have the opportunity to taste a wide variety of cuisines on this tour. 

In London, reasonably priced traditional fare such as Stilton cheese, steak and kidney pie, haggis and Cumberland sausages can be found at local pubs. 

In Belgian cuisine, rich sauces accompany dishes of pork, game and beef. Seafood is of a very high quality—mussels steamed in white wine are a favorite. Patisseries offer decadent pastries and cakes, while Belgian chocolate is among the very best in the world.

French cuisine is a national (and international) obsession, done with style and flair. Croissants and café au lait begin the day, followed by delicacies such as foie gras, pâté, escargot and truffles. French wines and coffee are some of the finest in the world. 

In Spain, breakfast is very light, usually consisting of only rolls and coffee. Lunch is traditionally a three-course meal, which can take much of the afternoon to consume. The most famous traditional lunch dish is paella, a savory seafood, meat, vegetable and saffron rice. Dinner is less hearty than lunch and is served late, between 9pm and midnight. For an evening snack, try tapas, small plates served at Spanish bars and cafes.

Portuguese food is fresh, hearty and delicious. Try sardinhas asadas (grilled sardines), cataplana (a shellfish stew cooked in a sealed, shell-shaped copper pan) or the national dish, bacalhau (salted codfish). Also note that a couvert, a simple plate of bread, butter and olives, is often served the minute you sit down. While it is free in many restaurants, please be aware that some will add a charge to your bill for it.

Transportation

Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead arrive in London and depart from Lisbon (or from Porto on the tour extension). All additional included transportation is by high-speed train and private motor coach. When you arrive at the airport in London and clear customs, a Go Ahead representative will meet you and escort you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival. Please reference the London transfer information that is sent to you in the final mailing.

Electricity

England uses 240 volts. All other destinations on this tour operate on the European standard 220 volts.

Time zones

The United Kingdom and Portugal operate on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is five hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST). Belgium, France and Spain are all one hour ahead of GMT and six hours ahead of EST. 

Currency

The British pound and the euro are the currencies you’ll use on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available in your destination country, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you  first arrive. We advise that you take credit cards and ATM/bank cards. Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so they don’t confuse your purchases for fraudulent charges.  

Tipping

At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/ CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.

Purchasing excursions on tour

If you have not yet purchased your optional excursions, you may be able to do so while on your tour. Your Tour Director can only accept cash (in USD only), Visa or MasterCard as payment for optional excursions. Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged. Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See the “Optional Excursions” sheet for more information.

See what our travelers say about this tour—all reviews are authentic and unedited.

Have you been on tour with us? Visit My Account to submit a review.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 9/10/2016

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: UT

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

A Great Tour

The ONLY down side was our tiny accommodations at the Kensington Close Hotel in London. After flying all night we arrived in London and needed to "camp out" in the lobby for three hours until our room was ready. The room was so small that you couldn't put your luggage down and traverse from one end to the other without dodging your partner. All other accommodations were spacious and well appointed. The tour was amazingly orchestrated with a jam-packed schedule of events that were carried out without a hitch. We added Porto at the end which, for us , was a fantastic excursion. All-in-all this was a fantastic tour led by two wonderful tour-guides. we would not hesitate to use Go Ahead Tours for our next touring adventure.

 

Dear Ernest, We are glad to learn that you feel the tour was wonderfully orchestrated and that most things went off without a hitch. We regret to learn about your experience at one of your hotels, and we will be sure to communicate your feedback to our Operations team. Thank you for your review, and we hope you will travel with us again!

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | October 19, 2016