Italy, Spain and France…Europe’s most popular travel destinations are hits for a reason, and on this program you’ll get to discover them all for yourself! Witness ancient history come to life while you explore the ruins in Rome. You’ll live the laid-back Italian lifestyle while wandering the cobblestoned streets in Florence, and experience Tuscany like an Italian while visiting a traditional Tuscan village. Soak up the Spanish sun while going for a dip in the Mediterranean and enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of Barcelona. Finally, you’ll immerse yourself in the magic of the City of Light: navigate the quaint streets and boutiques like a true Parisian. Bike through Paris and Barcelona, take a guided tour of the Musée du Louvre, and have the best pizza and pasta of your life! This program is a perfect introduction to Europe for any teen who’s looking to gain a global perspective. Four of Europe’s most dynamic cities are just waiting for you to explore their secrets, all while learning how to be a savvy traveler. Join us to discover the best Europe has to offer!
During this program, you will…
- Walk in the steps of the ancients and learn how the gladiators fought at the Colosseum
- Explore the trendy Roman neighborhood of Trastevere and eat the best pizza of your life
- Climb to the top of the Duomo for incredible vistas of Florence
- Go for a spin on an exciting bike tour around downtown Barcelona
- Learn how to make authentic Spanish tapas and paella in our private cooking class
- Soak up the sun and sand as you swim in the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea
- Stroll the magical Hall of Mirrors and see where Marie Antoinette lived lavishly at the Palace of Versailles*
- Cruise down the River Seine at twilight and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle
*This is an optional excursion
DAY 1: DEPART FROM NEW YORK (JFK)
DAYS 2-4: ROME
Welcome to Europe and benvenuti a Roma! We’ll begin this trip of a lifetime in the Eternal City, where a long and mighty history awaits us. As the city streets buzz with antiquity around every corner, you’ll be in awe as we transport ourselves thousands of years back in time while exploring the most important monuments and structures. At the Colosseum we’ll envision the bloody spectacle of gladiator competition, and history will come alive in the Roman Forum, which once housed the ancient city’s bustling center and main marketplace. 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 marvel at the massive basilica dedicated to St. Peter. We’ll lose ourselves in the Vatican’s extensive collection of artistic masterpieces from the ancient world to the present day, culminating with a look at Michelangelo’s elaborate ceiling frescoes 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 pizzas and pasta al taglio. We’ll shop on the famous Via del Corso, toss a coin over our shoulders into the Trevi Fountain, and hang out on the Spanish Steps where we’ll enjoy a classic Roman night of people-watching and simply relaxing in the summer air on a beautiful piazza.
DAYS 5-6: MONTALCINO > FLORENCE
Arrivederci Roma! After our time in the Eternal City, we’ll head to the hilltop town of Montalcino to experience the stunning Tuscan countryside. For those who opt for the excursion, we’ll spend the day at a gorgeous estate touring the winery, hanging out by the pool, and preparing a delicious Italian meal at our private cooking class. What makes this day really special are our hosts, a lovely local family who own the vineyard and who will teach us how to make fresh, mouthwatering Tuscan cuisine. Those who choose not to participate in the excursion will explore the town of Montalcino, strolling through the quaint cobblestone streets with gelato in hand.
In the afternoon we’ll arrive in Florence. Here, in the center of the Italian Renaissance, artists and writers such as Michelangelo, da Vinci, Dante, and Machiavelli completed some of their most famous masterpieces. We’ll stand in awe of Michelangelo’s gorgeous David at the Accademia Gallery and tour the Uffizi Galleries, the world’s best collection of Italian Renaissance art, marveling at paintings by Botticelli, Caravaggio, and others. However, art and culture are not all that is in store for us in Florence. We’ll also enjoy an amazing pizza dinner and challenge ourselves to complete a tasty nighttime tour of some of the best handmade gelato places in the city. No one’s visit to Florence would be complete without a visit to the Duomo, the magnificent basilica at its very heart. We’ll climb to the top of the famous terracotta dome for a breathtaking view of the city. And don’t forget a sunset stroll over the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s oldest and most iconic bridge that crosses the Arno River. Before you know it, you will truly understand the meaning of la bella vita!
DAYS 7-9: BARCELONA
Next we’ll hop on a quick flight towards one of the most happening cities in the Mediterranean for good times on the beach, tapas and paella, and an unforgettable stroll on La Rambla. We’ll see Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces, such as the breathtaking Sagrada Familia Basilica – still being built after 130 years! We’ll visit the whimsical and playful Parc Guell, full of color and dreamlike structures, and take a Spanish cooking class where we’ll learn how to cook our own mouthwatering paella. Our Barcelona bike tour will whisk us through the city’s hip neighborhoods and down its bustling beachside boardwalk. We’ll also be enchanted by the music and dance at a traditional flamenco show. 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!
DAYS 10-12: PARIS
Our final destination is Paris, the renowned City of Light. We’ll visit the 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 climb the Eiffel Tower, enjoy a sunset cruise along the Seine, and take in spectacular views of the city from atop the Arc de Triomphe. You can also choose to visit the Centre Pompidou or the Musée d’Orsay, both home to sublime artistic masterpieces. Wander the winding streets of Montmartre, once the city’s artistic center and home to the famed Moulin Rouge. Finally, you can choose to visit the Sun King’s palace at Versailles, the site of so many of history’s most important moments, and an impressive sight to behold! The baguettes, escargot, and fondue will be plentiful as we wrap up this program of a lifetime and fall in love with Paris!
DAY 13: 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 only for students who are currently in 9th and 10th grade and approximately 14-16 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.
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. In Florence we stay a short distance from the Duomo. In Barcelona we stay in the heart of the Gothic Quarter in the most centrally located area of the city. In Paris, we stay in a modern modern three-star hotel just steps from the Opera House in the 9th Arrondissement.
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 they are able to explore four major European cities in three of the most visited countries in the world. This program allows them to discover the similarities and differences of the unique cultures in Italy, Spain, and France.
What is unique about this program?
From an exclusive invitation to a Tuscan villa and winery tour, to a hands-on learning experience at a paella cooking class in Barcelona, and TFT’s years of experience leading teens in Paris, this program provides unique insider access to all four cities.
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 the cost (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, lunches, visas and visa application fees, beverages other than filtered water at meals, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not program related, such as movies, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as personal and medical expenses.
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!
Italian food is all about fresh, simple ingredients. We’ll sample the best of the “three Ps”- pizza, pasta, and panini! Indulging in these Italian specialities for the first time is a life changing experience, and we will be there to document every minute of it as you fall in love with the fresh mozzarella, warm Italian bread, mouth watering prosciutto, and homemade pasta. Don’t forget about gelato! After your time in Italy, no dessert will ever be the same.
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 in Barcelona, another traditional Spanish dish.
In France, we’ll enjoy classic French café fare, including the world-famous croissants, French bread, and a classic fondue dinner. And for the brave, escargot of course!
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 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!
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do.
Eat, stay, and travel like a local. Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we were awarded top youth travel organization in 2017.
"Thanks so much for the great pics & updates! Looks like all are having a good time!"
"Great pictures! Love it!"
"Amazing last round of pics! The kids look like they are really enjoying the bike rides and river tour. I’ve never seen my son smile so much."