Europe for Older Teens: Amsterdam, Munich, Swiss Alps and Venice
$3,895 + Airfare + $375 Rail Pass
Jul 7 – Jul 19, Jul 19 – Jul 31
Session 3, Session 4
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
Amsterdam, Munich, Neuschwanstein*, Swiss Alps, Montreux, Venice
|Optional group flight there:||
Newark to Amsterdam
|Optional group flight back:||
Venice to Newark
Journey through four European countries and discover what it really means to backpack Europe with Travel for Teens! Our approach is rooted in the classic backpacker strategy – travel by rail, explore cities with a wide variety of daily choices, and leave ourselves open to the spontaneous possibilities that every day brings.
Our Older Teens trips are specially designed with older teens in mind. We are all about a hands-on approach to travel, where we go beyond the casual tourist experience, take public transportation, and learn how daily life really is in each place we visit. We provide a unique and carefully crafted itinerary that allows for more challenges and independence. We encourage teens on these trips to learn how to use a Eurail pass along with other handy travel skills so that they become confident and able to take on even more of the world in the future!
This is our original Older Teens trip and is a classic combination of some of the best cities and natural beauty in Europe. We will begin with the canals of the north in quaint Amsterdam all the way down to the canals of the south in charming Venice. In between there will be plenty of time to explore famous sites such as the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, fairytale castles and the Glockenspiel Clock, mixed in with great adventures such as hiking and canyoning in the Swiss Alps.
Join us for the ideal mix of insider knowledge, travel know-how, and fun as our groups winds its way by train through some of the best of the Continent!
On this trip you will:
- Go on an authentic euro-backpacking trip and learn how to get around Europe by rail
- Explore Amsterdam’s beautiful canals
- See priceless works of Impressionist art at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
- Visit Anne Frank’s house and learn about her family’s hardship during the Holocaust
- Walk through the notorious Red Light District
- Imagine yourself as royalty at the Royal Palace of Amsterdam
- Take in Bavarian culture in Munich, including a dinner at an authentic beer hall
- Bike through the charming streets and gardens of Munich
- Come face to face with WWII history at the Dachau concentration camp
- Visit the fairytale castle that inspired Walt Disney*
- Explore beautiful Munich landmarks like Alten Peter and the Nymphenburg Gardens
- Hit up the famous local outdoor Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland
- Tour a famous Swiss chateau on Lake Geneva from its highest towers to its spooky dungeons
- Cool off with a dip in a fresh Alpine lake surrounded by mountains
- Bike and hike through picturesque Swiss mountain villages
- Relax at a spa overlooking the Swiss Alps
- Climb, jump, slip, and slide your way through natural rock formations and waterfalls on an adrenaline pumping canyoning adventure
- Conquer a high ropes course in a popular outdoor park in Switzerland
- Feast on the best pizza and pasta of your life in Venice
- Learn about the art of glassmaking on the island of Murano
- Stroll the canals of Venice, cross the Rialto Bridge, and visit the famous St. Mark’s Square
*Neuschwanstein Castle is an optional day trip
DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM NEWARK, NJ
DAYS 2-4: AMSTERDAM
Welcome to Europe! Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, is known for its vibrant culture of young travelers eager to explore the city’s treasures. The city itself is a sight to behold, filled with bicycles and gorgeous old buildings, which make it ideal for exploring on foot. Our focus is on providing a safe and energetic tour of this dynamic place, as we tour the Vondelpark, check out the masterpieces on display at the Van Gogh Museum and even take a walking tour through the notorious Red Light District. Throughout, we’ll peer back into the origins of Dutch culture, and pause to reflect on the events of modern history as we visit the Anne Frank House, where the famous diarist and her family lived while in hiding from the Nazi forces that occupied the city.
DAYS 4-7: MUNICH
From Amsterdam we travel south to Munich, the exciting German city near the Bavarian Alps. Munich was heavily damaged by Allied bombs in WWII, but unlike most other German cities it was carefully rebuilt with the original street plans and traditional architecture. We will take a bike tour of this beautiful city and relax in the Englischer Garten (larger than Central Park!), see the famous glockenspiel in the Marienplatz (central square of the city) and even visit a traditional beer hall to taste the local weißwürste (white sausages) and pretzels. At Dachau, just outside of Munich, we’ll visit the first concentration camp that the Nazis founded in Germany and take a moment to reflect on this dark chapter in recent history.
During our time in Munich we will also have an optional excursion to the Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps. This is the fairytale castle that inspired Walt Disney and you will have the opportunity to go inside and tour its many lavish rooms and hallways, ride bikes through the alps at the foot of the castle and even go for a swim in a fresh alpine lake!
DAYS 7-11: SWISS ALPS
Fresh mountain air awaits us at our chalet in the Swiss Alps, a sunny paradise of rivers, alpine pastures, forests and glaciers. Using a mountain lodge as our base, we’ll explore the area and all of the outdoor activities on hand. We will go on an exciting mountain biking trip (for all skill levels) through some spectacular trails. We will go on a hiking adventure high up in the alps with incredible views and even stop on the way for an authentic Swiss cheese tasting with a local family who makes the cheese themselves! Another day will be spent climbing and gliding through the air on a high ropes course in an outdoor park popular with Swiss locals.
We will also go canyoning–always a group favorite! On our canyoning adventure we will climb, slip, slide and jump through natural rock formations and waterfalls!
As always, our emphasis is on safety and we will be accompanied by professional local guides as we hike, bike, and climb. All of these activities are open to all levels and we can easily accommodate anyone from beginner to advanced.
A day trip to the nearby resort town of Montreux rounds out our time in Switzerland. During our time in Montreux we will visit a famous Swiss Chateau that sits right at the edge of Lake Geneva and climb its highest towers and explore its eerie dungeons. We will go for a dip in the fresh alpine water right outside the chateau and experience stunning mountain scenery while we enjoy a refreshing swim. Afterwards we will stroll along the path that circles the lake and enjoy some great music and fun at an outdoor Jazz music festival! The festival is a local favorite and is a great opportunity for us to truly immerse ourselves in the Swiss culture!
DAYS 11-13: VENICE
From Switzerland, the iron road will carry us down to the floating city of Venice, on the Adriatic Sea. When you walk out of the train station facing the water, you’ll be amazed at your first look at the splendor of the Grand Canal, lined with Renaissance palaces and filled with passing gondolas. We’ll wander the city’s tangled streets, marvel at the colors and reflections that only Venice can offer, and visit St. Mark’s Basilica and the palace of the Doges. We will visit the island of Murano to enjoy a live glass blowing demonstration and learn about this delicate craft. You will also have the opportunity to ride a gondola and live your very own Italian dream!
The enchantment of Venice won’t wear off any time soon, and we promise you’ll go home with the memories of a lifetime and a strong case of the “travel bug”.
Who can go on this trip? What kind of teen typically goes on this trip?
We have teens join this program from all over the world! They are typically culturally curious teens who are excited about making new friends, stepping out of their comfort zone, expanding their horizons, and trying something new.
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
All of the accommodations on the Europe for Older Teens trip are safe, clean, and comfortable. In Amsterdam we stay in a spacious family-oriented hostel just a short tram ride away from the Anne Frank House, in one of the city’s up-and-coming residential neighborhoods. In Munich we are in a centrally located, clean hotel, while in Switzerland we will stay in a traditional Swiss chalet in the breathtaking Swiss Alps. All of the rooms even have private balconies overlooking the mountains! In Venice we enjoy a perfect location and a great hotel with many rooms opening right onto a beautiful piazza.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a trip.
Do most travelers go by themselves?
Yes, in fact over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that are formed along the way. If you travel by yourself, you are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new BFFs on another TFT trip the next summer!
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We just ask that if you come with a friend, you and your friend(s) are still open to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students generally like most on this program?
Students love that this is an older teen trip that caters to their age group. They appreciate the additional independence they are given and that the trip puts a focus on helping them learn to be confident travelers. They love using the Eurail pass and having the classic backpacker experience traveling Europe by rail.
What is unique about this program?
This program provides the best combination of dynamic cities and outdoor adventures. Touring and sightseeing in large cities can become overwhelming, so we include fun activities to keep the trip engaging and exciting! Whether its attending a glass blowing demonstration in Venice or going on an exciting bike tour in Munich, every city features unique and inspiring activities.
What is included?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts and dinners, chaperones and guides, trip related activities, trip related activity admissions, taxes and tips.
Not Included: (not intended to be an exhaustive list) Airfare, rail passes, lunches, visas & visa application fees, beverages other than tap water, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not trip related such as movies, clubs and the like, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the trip description such as damage to hotels, excess baggage fees and the like, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances such as transportation strikes, natural disasters and the like, personal and medical expenses.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss this trip’s flight details. You are not required to take the group flight, although there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is chaperoned by TFT staff, it offers an opportunity for the students to get to know each other before the trip starts, and we get preferred group flight prices on trips that have group contracts (ask for details). Parents are responsible for arranging for participants to get to the group flight airport. Travel For Teens staff are at the airport, greet arriving participants, and help them get to where the rest of the group has assembled. For more information about Flights, visit our Flights page.
Who are the counselors on the trip?
The Trip Director for every trip is a seasoned teen travel professional with extensive TFT experience. Trip Directors often live or have lived and worked in the destination country. Extensive knowledge of the language and culture of the destination is crucial. Our Senior Counselors are experienced, responsible and fun-loving individuals who our participants can share experiences with and look to for guidance and support. At Travel for Teens we pride ourselves on our rigorous staff application process and the professionalism of our full time and summer staff.
It is the job of the counselors to keep the trip fun and exciting, the learning and the laughter in good balance, and to oversee the safety of the participants. Minimum ratios are on average one staff member to every seven participants. Trips may also include one or two Junior Counselors, who are college students with a history of TFT travel, and one or more Counselors in Training (CIT’s) with limited responsibility. CIT’s are not counted in staff-participant ratios.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
All of our staff members attend a week long training session every May to prepare for the upcoming summer and go over safety precautions and protocols. Likewise, every counselor is CPR/First Aid certified and Trip Directors are Lifeguard certified. All staff undergo a rigorous interview process and thorough background check.
What is the average group size?
At Travel for Teens, our trips typically fall into 3 different size categories.
Small: 7-14 students where 14 is the maximum.
Medium: Average is between 14-21 students with 21 as the maximum.
Large: Trips 21-35 students. These are our largest trips.
Typically our Europe for Older Teen trips fall into the medium range, but trip sizes differ from year to year.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Most of our Europe programs are designed specifically so that participants can combine them with other trips. If you are connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the trip and help you get to your next destination where you will meet up with your new counselors and group. It is very common for people to link up two or more of our Europe for Older Teen trips!
What is the food like on this trip?
In a word – Delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
In Amsterdam we will experience its wide variety of cuisine and indulge in some of the city’s favorite specialties including sweet and decadent stroop waffles and even enjoy a tasty pancake dinner one night at one of the city’s most famous pancake houses! We will also sample some of Holland’s famous cheese and for those who dare, try a salty herring sandwich!
In Germany, we’ll have a chance to discover delicious Bavarian specialities. German cuisine is primarily based around bratwurst (sausage), schnitzel (breaded meat), and potatoes (in every form you can imagine!). Students will also get a chance to sample authentic German pretzels of course!
No trip to Switzerland would be complete without a Swiss fondue night! In addition to fondue we will enjoy other tasty swiss treats including an authentic Swiss cheese tasting with a local family who make their own cheese at a farm nestled in the Swiss Alps!
In Italy you are in a treat for some world famous Italian food! Mouthwatering pizza and pasta and incredible seafood are all on the menu during our time here. And of course we will enjoy plenty of delicious gelato!
We also love to have picnics al fresco, and do this whenever possible, which is a great way to taste some local food while sitting out in the fresh air taking in the sights and sounds of our surroundings.
As always, we are willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do I need any vaccinations for this trip?
We recommend that you check with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the areas you will be visiting. For more information, please check out the World Health Organization’s website www.who.int/en/.
How much free time do we get?
Our counselors are with the group nearly always. Everyday we will break up into smaller groups to give our participants some choices and flexibility in their itinerary. We do offer some free time to do some shopping, for example, in defined areas that we are very familiar with. Free time is always for no more than an hour at a time.
On our older teen trips you can expect a bit more freedom and we might include more opportunities to break off for exploration with a buddy (for example at lunch).
A counselor will always be nearby when participants have free time in each city.
What kind of Visa do you need for this trip?
Any US citizen that enters Europe is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa. If you are coming from somewhere outside the US, please be sure to check your country specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!
DO I HAVE TO BRING A BACKPACK?
No, the bag you bring is up to you but we strongly recommend a smaller lighter bag, preferably one with rolling wheels to make your travel a bit easier. Larger “backpacker style” backpacks are also appropriate. Please keep in mind you will be responsible for your own bags throughout the duration of the trip so packing light like a true traveler is key!
HOW WILL WE TRAVEL FROM CITY TO CITY?
In the backpacking spirit, we’ll be catching trains from Amsterdam all the way to Venice. You’ll learn how to navigate the trains and how to use public transportation systems in general in Europe. Pack light!
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