Join us this summer as we adventure through Europe and get the real traveler experience in nine unique countries! Our approach is rooted in the classic European traveler strategy – hop on a train, explore cities with a wide variety of daily choices, and leave ourselves open to the spontaneous possibilities that every day brings.
Spend a month exploring some of the best cultures and sites Europe has to offer. This program has everything our 21-day Ultimate Europe program has, plus time in the Cinque Terre, the French Riviera, and Spain! This perfectly-paced itinerary will ensure you get the most out of each destination. Don’t just see these beautiful European destinations (although the views from atop St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican or the London Eye are not to be missed!). Our Ultimate Europe for Older Teens program puts a focus on experiencing activities to the max with true travel freedom! Whether that’s cooking lessons, bike tours, fun excursions or other cultural activities, our itineraries are constructed with awesome activities to keep the program exciting and bring each unique culture to life!
Experience French urban life as you browse the farmer’s market of the Cours Saleya in Nice. Savor the world-famous Mediterranean diet at our private pesto cooking classes in the Italian Riviera and our paella class in Barcelona. Hike the rugged wilderness of the Swiss Alps and make new friends from around the world at a traditional German beer hall. Don’t just glimpse the sights through a bus window; ride the modern trains from country to country, immersing yourself in the best parts of each region and living like a local, so you can be a traveler, not a tourist!
These programs are designed to nurture older teens and teach them to be more independent and savvy travelers. Because as you grow, your interests and needs do too. This trip is perfect for students in their final years of high school who want to have a global perspective before going off to college. So get ready to backpack like a pro as you watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night, sunbathe on the beaches in the French Riviera, and eat more amazing tapas than you could possibly imagine in Spain while making lasting memories with your new friends during your travels throughout some of the most amazing cities in Europe!
During this program, you will…
- Enjoy afternoon tea and scones at Kensington Palace
- Get up close with WWII history at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and Dachau Concentration Camp in Munich
- Bike through Munich like a local and experience a traditional beer hall
- Float high above the Swiss Alps on a once-in-a-lifetime paragliding adventure*
- Wander the leather markets of Florence and cross the Ponte Vecchio, gelato in hand
- Spend a day relaxing at a Tuscan estate and vineyard*
- Hike through basil fields, rainbow fishing villages, and dramatic cliffs in the Cinque Terre
- Relax on the beaches of Nice and rub elbows with the stars in Monaco’s yacht port
- Make your own paella in fun and funky Barcelona
- Float down the Seine on a twilight boat cruise and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle
*This is an optional excursion
This program is the extended version of our Europe For Older Teens: Ultimate Europe (21 Days) program.
DAY 1: DEPART FROM NEW YORK (JFK)
DAYS 2-4: LONDON
Our adventure begins traveling around London. Bright, buzzing and full of life, London is one of the most eclectic and exciting cities in the world. You’ll see all of the main sites, including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament. You will ride the London Eye for incredible city views, explore some of the greatest museums in the world, take a midnight ghost walk with the scariest guide in London, walk in the steps of the Beatles at Abbey Road, and shop at Camden Market with its urban appeal. Learn about the Tower of London’s gruesome history from a Yeoman Warder and see the Queen’s Crown Jewels. Witness the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and even see a live West End show in London’s hip theater district!
DAYS 5-7: PARIS
Bienvenue à Paris! Soak up the joie de vivre as you stroll the cobblestone streets of the Marais, Quartier Latin, and Montmartre. We’ll visit the Musée du Louvre – the world’s largest art collection and home to da Vinci’s beguiling Mona Lisa – and enjoy an afternoon of shopping along the Champs-Élysées, where boutiques from the world’s best designers line the wide boulevards. We’ll ascend to the very top of the Eiffel Tower, enjoy a twilight cruise along the Seine, and take in spectacular views of the city from atop the Arc de Triomphe. You may choose to visit the Centre Pompidou or the Musée d’Orsay, both home to sublime artistic masterpieces. Wander the ancient streets of Montmartre, once the city’s artistic center, also encompassing the infamous Moulin Rouge. The food is of course incredible, and the baguettes, escargot, crêpes, and fondue will be plentiful during our Parisian adventure!
DAYS 8-9: AMSTERDAM
Welcome to Amsterdam! Doesn’t the very name conjure up visions of wooden shoes and tulips? This is a teen traveler’s dream destination. Known for its vibrant culture of young travelers eager to explore the city’s treasures, it is a sight to behold. Amsterdam is filled with bicycles and gorgeous old buildings, which makes it ideal for exploring on foot. Our focus is on providing a safe and energetic tour of this dynamic city, 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. Feel connected to her story when you see for yourself where they huddled for years making a life for themselves under very difficult circumstances.
DAYS 10-12: MUNICH
From the Netherlands, we move on to Munich, a charming Bavarian city known for its lively restaurants and beer halls, enchanting public gardens, and fascinating history. We will pay a visit to Dachau, one of the most sobering concentration camps. Once in Munich, we’ll bike through the cobblestone streets, and visit the iconic central square of Marienplatz. On our bike tour of Munich, we’ll learn about the most famous Glockenspiel in the world, explore the medieval heart of Munich, and see the famous wave surfers in the Englischer gardens. The surfers actually ride on the natural wave in the river that cuts through the park–an awesome sight! You’ll also have an option to take a day trip to the Bavarian Alps and visit the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle, take a bike tour around the area, and swim in an Alpine lake!
DAYS 13-15: INTERLAKEN
Travelers in the know head for the green valleys and dramatic alpine terrain of Switzerland. The backpacker mecca of Interlaken, nestled in a valley between two large lakes in the mountains, is our base to explore this elegant country and culture. Outdoor sports and activities abound for those who wish to breathe in the fresh mountain air. We will hike the Alps to discover breathtaking scenery and views and spend plenty of time getting to know traditional Swiss culture and history in the nearby towns. We will take a trip out to the larger lake for a sunset cruise and barbecue. This portion of the program is filled with optional excursions so you can have a program that’s made just for you. Choose to visit one of the highest peaks in Switzerland and fly high above the Alps on a paragliding adventure!
DAYS 16-17: FLORENCE
Florence was the center of the Italian Renaissance, where greats like da Vinci, Dante and Machiavelli completed some of their most famous masterpieces. En route from Interlaken to Rome, we’ll stop here and spend a few days absorbing this city’s artistic vibes. Stand in awe of Michelangelo’s gorgeous David at the Accademia Gallery – no other sculpture will be able to compare afterward!
In addition to the art and culture, enjoy some world-class shopping, including a special invitation to one of the city’s best leather stores. Peruse the exquisite handbags and jackets and grab the perfect Italian souvenir. When we’ve had our fill of shopping and seeing the sights, we will enjoy amazing pizza dinners followed by homemade gelato at TFT’s favorite gelaterias. Finally, let’s not forget a visit to the Duomo (you can even climb to the top of the famous terracotta dome for a breathtaking view of the city!) and a sunset stroll over the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s oldest and most iconic bridge that crosses the Arno River.
DAY 18: MONTALCINO
The next stop on our journey takes us to the rolling green hills of Tuscany! There will be an optional excursion to a private vineyard just outside the town of Montalcino to experience the stunning Tuscan countryside in real Italian fashion. This day is a TFT favorite! We have an exclusive invitation to a family’s private Tuscan estate. We have been friends with the family for many years and they (along with their adorable young daughters) welcome us to their home and winery. We will receive a hands-on tasty Italian cooking lesson using freshly harvested vegetables straight from their garden! Enjoy a special tour of the winery where they produce award-winning wine and receive an introduction to this important part of Italian culture. The rest of the afternoon will be spent relaxing at their pool overlooking the rolling hills of Tuscany.
For those who choose not to go on the excursion, stroll the quaint cobblestone streets of the hill town of Montalcino. Visit its beautiful medieval church and cathedral and check out the grand fortress before heading to the nearby town of San Quirico d’Orcia for some breathtaking views of this famous region. Everyone will then hop back aboard our private bus to finish the long-anticipated journey to Rome.
DAYS 19-20: ROME
When we arrive in the Eternal City it’s like being transported back in time. Rome never ceases to amaze with its talent for fusing ancient buildings and streets right into an incredibly modern and pulsing city. From the Colosseum, where we’ll envision the bloody spectacle of gladiator competition, to the Roman Forum, which once housed the ancient city’s bustling center and main marketplace, site of Caesar’s oratories and his death, our expert guides will bring Rome’s history to life. There’s no better way to learn about the Roman Empire than with a view of the city from atop the Palatine Hill- the very place where it all began.
We’ll then fast-forward to the Renaissance, crossing the Tiber to Vatican City and marveling at the massive basilica dedicated to St. Peter. This is the largest church building in the world, and definitely the most impressive. St. Peter himself is entombed beneath its massive altar, and you can see Michelangelo’s breathtaking painting “Pietà” before staring up at the world’s most famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.
We’ll stroll down the Tiber and venture slightly off the beaten path to Trastevere, one of Rome’s hippest neighborhoods, to see the local Romans in action and indulge in some of the best food in the city, including fresh homemade pastas or pizza al taglio. Shop on the famous Via del Corso, toss a coin over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain and hang out on the Spanish Steps enjoying a classic Roman evening of people-watching in a beautiful piazza.
DAYS 21-23: CINQUE TERRE
After experiencing the spectacular Cinque Terre, we guarantee you’ll never want to leave Europe. Often referred to as the Italian Riviera, the Cinque Terre region is home to five idyllic fishing villages with pastel-colored houses perched on dramatic cliffs that plunge into the crystal-blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. We stay right in the center of one of the villages, just steps from the beach and charming shops! In Monterosso, we have established strong relationships with the locals, and you’ll be treated like family during your stay here.
The Cinque Terre boasts incredible hiking trails that connect the towns, so we will spend a day hiking, taking time to explore each beautiful village! Enjoy spectacular views of the sea and the vineyards that line the cliffs and be inspired by the natural beauty in this region. Shop in the little villages, sunbathe on beaches and rocks and enjoy a refreshing swim in the brilliant blue water. Those who choose not to hike will have the option to take the train between the villages.
While you’re here, sample local specialties like focaccia and learn how to make authentic pesto, which was invented here, in our private cooking class. We’ll dine on seafood caught that very day and kayak the crystal-clear waters of this seaside paradise. This region is made for wandering the stone streets amongst ancient walls spilling over with flowers, so you’ll have plenty of free time here as well.
DAYS 24-26: NICE > THE FRENCH RIVIERA
From the Italian Riviera to the French Riviera, compare these two countries’ famous coastlines back to back! Spend your days enjoying the Mediterranean in midsummer, relaxing on the sprawling crescent beach or prowling narrow alleyways filled with shops and restaurants in Old Nice. Visit the medieval town of Èze, tour a famous perfume factory and soak in some of the most stunning views in all of Europe. Discover why this area has inspired artists for years and why so many celebrities choose to vacation here! You’ll also have the option to take a day trip to Monaco, spotting the lifestyles of the rich and famous at the elegant Monte Carlo casino.
DAYS 27-29: BARCELONA
Last but not least, we will head to the most happening city on the Mediterranean for tapas, paella, strolling La Rambla, and good times on the beach. We’ll see Gaudi’s masterpieces, such as the breathtaking Sagrada Familia cathedral – still being built after 130 years! Sit on the longest bench in the world at the whimsical Parc Guell, full of color and mosaic statues of dragons. We’ll take a Spanish cooking class and learn to cook our own mouthwatering paella. Our Barcelona bike tour (those who opt not to bike will enjoy a walking tour instead) will whisk us through the city’s hip Gothic Quarter and down its bustling beachside boardwalk, and we’ll get swept away with the music at an authentic flamenco performance! Of course, no trip to Barcelona would be complete without catching some rays on the beach, and shopping at some of the most lively outdoor markets and trendy shops in Europe!
DAY 30: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in 11th or 12th grade and approximately 16 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. 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.
On this program we stay at centrally located hotels and high standard hostels in ensuite private rooms. For example, in London we stay in close proximity to metro stations and London King’s Cross train station, for easy access within the city and to our next destination. In Rome we stay at an elegant hotel near the central Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore, close to the city center and the main train station. Our hotel in Munich is a favorite, right in the city center with modern rooms and fast wifi – perfect for Facetiming home and telling your parents all about your adventures!
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 the program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
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 form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we 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 friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness 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 program packs in nine different countries at a comfortable pace, giving them the ultimate European adventure! Older teens love that this program is hands-on and provides much more in-depth experience than the standard sightseeing European tour. The combination of all the major sights, engaging activities like kayaking, cooking lessons, and bike tours, as well as ample free time to choose between activities in order to tailor their own incredible itinerary, means students love their Ultimate Europe adventure!
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 program engaging and exciting! Whether it’s attending an event at a leather shop in Florence, taking an Italian cooking class, or bike riding through beautiful Munich, each day is sure to leave you inspired and having a blast!
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; lunches; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
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! This program really offers a culinary odyssey through so many amazing cuisines.
In London, we’ll sample cuisine from all over the world–after all, London’s population is the most diverse in the world! We’ll also enjoy traditional British fare like fish and chips and meat pies.
Experience a wide variety of Dutch 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 authentic Swiss cheese and chocolate!
During your time in Italy, mouthwatering pizza and pasta and incredible seafood are all on the menu, with a pesto cooking class and of course plenty of delicious gelato!
The food in Spain can be a variety of styles, but one of the most amazing food traditions to ever exist remains the same throughout the whole country – tapas! Can’t decide on what to order? No problem! With tapas, you can try a little bit of everything. Tapas are small, shared dishes that accumulate to a full meals served in multiple appetizer sized plates. We will also have an opportunity to cook and eat paella, a traditional Spanish dish, in Barcelona.
In France, we’ll have many culinary delights such as crepes, pastries, gourmet food, and for those who are brave enough, escargot! We also include a cooking class so you can experience just how much work goes into making French cuisine so delicious.
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
Any US citizen that enters the UK is automatically granted a free 180-day tourist visa.
Any US citizen that enters Europe is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s 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!