Europe for Older Teens: Florence, Cinque Terre, Switzerland and Paris
$3,895 + Airfare + $375 Rail Pass
Jul 8 – Jul 20, Jul 20 – Aug 1
Session 3, Session 4
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
|Places we visit:||
Florence, Cinque Terre, Interlaken, Paris, Versailles*
|Optional group flight there:||
New York (JFK) to Florence
|Optional group flight back:||
Paris to New York (JFK)
Adventure through Europe with us and get the real backpacking experience as we navigate our way from Italy through Switzerland to Paris! Our approach is rooted in the classic backpacker strategy – get a railpass, 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. They are all about a hands-on approach to travel where we go beyond the casual tourist experience, take public transportation, and learn how life really is in each place we visit. They 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 one of our most popular Older Teens trips and combines a great mixture of classic European cities, mountain adventure, and mediterranean beaches. Those looking to discover a nice mix of European cultures will love experiencing the best Italy, Switzerland and France has to offer. We will begin in the buzzing student city of Florence which is popular with both travelers and locals! In Florence we will experience the masterpieces of the Renaissance, incredible cuisine, delightful cobblestone streets, and the city’s laidback charm. After Florence we will head to the seaside and enjoy the beauty of the Cinque Terre. This is a lesser known tourist destination and one that should not be missed! After enjoying the ocean and incredible hiking trails we will head to Switzerland for some mountain adventure’s in the classic backpacker haven of Interlaken. After feeling refreshed from the mountain air and scenery we will be ready to hit up our final destination: the city of light, the one and only Paris!
On this trip you will:
- Go on an authentic Euro-backpacking trip and learn how to get around Europe with a rail pass
- Stare in awe at Michelangelo’s David in Florence and wander the magnificent halls of the Uffizi Gallery
- Catch sunset over Florence from the best viewpoint in the city
- Stroll across the famous Ponte Vecchio and experience Florence lit up at night
- Dance the night away at a hip club in Florence
- Taste heaven on our inimitable Gelato Tour and visit a homemade chocolate shop in Florence where your taste buds will thank you forever
- Enjoy a private invitation to a famous local leather shop for an aperitivo and an introduction to the Italian leather market
- Stay in the heart of the Cinque Terre and hike between five tiny fishing villages
- Relax on a pristine beach in the Italian Riviera and swim in the mediterranean
- Take a sunset cruise through Interlaken
- Paddleboard and relax on the shores of an alpine lake
- Hike, bike, and ride a cable car through the breathtaking Swiss Alps
- Have the opportunity to fly above the Swiss Alps on a paragliding adventure*
- Go to the most visited museum in the world, the Louvre, and see works like the Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, and so many more
- Visit the most iconic Parisian sites such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, the Luxembourg Gardens and the Champs Elysées
- Enjoy fondue in the Latin Quarter, escargot at a classic bistro, and crepes along the Seine
- Take a bike ride through Paris’s off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods and learn about its hundreds of years of history
- Explore the Royal Palace of Versailles, learn about the Sun King’s lavish parties, and stroll through Marie Antoinette’s stunning gardens*
- See where Van Gogh and Picasso hung out in Paris’s hippest neighborhood, Montmartre
- Have a fancy final dinner followed by Paris’s best ice cream
*This is an optional excursion.
DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM NEW YORK-JFK
DAYS 2-4: FLORENCE
Welcome to Europe! We’ll kick off this trip of a lifetime in Florence. Here, in the center of the Italian Renaissance, artists such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, as well as writers like 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 we’ll tour the Uffizi, the world’s best collection of Italian Renaissance art, marveling at paintings by Botticelli, Caravaggio, and others. Art and culture are not all that is in store for us in Florence, however; we’ll also enjoy an amazing pizza dinner, challenge ourselves to complete a tasty nighttime tour of some of the best handmade gelato places in the city, and spend a night clubbing at one of our favorite dance spots. We will also enjoy a private invite to an Italian aperitivo (a beverage and buffet snacks set up before dinner) at a famous local leather shop for an introduction to the leather market. No trip to Florence would be complete without a visit to the Duomo, the magnificent Gothic style basilica. 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 4-6: THE CINQUE TERRE
We leave Florence for the Cinque Terre, which is one of Italy’s hidden gems! Often referred to as the Italian Riviera, this 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 (Monterosso) just steps from the beach! We do not stay outside the towns in La Spezia which is not technically part of the Cinque Terre. Instead, we are right in the middle of everything and able to walk just a few steps to the beach or charming shops. In Monterosso we have established strong relationships with the locals from some of the service projects we have done there in the past, and you will see you are treated like family during your stay here!
The Cinque Terre is known for its spectacular hiking trails that connect the towns and we will have the opportunity to hike them for ourselves! On the hike we will enjoy spectacular views of the sea and the vineyards that line the cliffs and be inspired by the natural beauty in this region. During our time here we will also sampling local specialties like pesto and focaccia. We’ll dine on fresh seafood and relax on the beach in our seaside paradise.
DAYS 6-9: THE SWISS ALPS
Backpackers in the know head for the green valleys and dramatic alpine mountains of Switzerland. We’ll hop on the train in the Cinque Terre for our next destination, the breathtaking Swiss Alps. 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 go on a hike in 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 Barbeque and the opportunity to relax on the shores of its fresh alpine water. We will also have optional excursions to visit some famous glacier waterfalls inside a mountain, and to fly high above the Alps while paragliding!
DAYS 9-13: PARIS
In Paris we’ll experience the best of French culture as we marvel at priceless masterpieces and stunning architecture, stroll along the quintessential Parisian boulevards, and eat our way through the different arrondissements, or neighborhoods. You’ll see Quasimodo’s home at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, where famous artists used to live and be inspired in Montmartre, and shop til you drop on the Champs Elysees. You’ll have the chance to visit the Palace of Versailles and learn about the rise and fall of the French Monarchy, as well as walk through Marie Antoinette’s gardens. Take a bike ride through Paris’ hidden alleyways with our local guide and learn interesting aspects of the city’s long history. Explore the Luxembourg Gardens or Pere Lachaise Cemetery, take in the best of Impressionist art at the Musée d’Orsay, and take a sunset river cruise down the Seine. Try some of your favorite recipes at authentic restaurants, such as crepes, fondue, and omelettes, or maybe taste something new–escargot anyone? We will even take a French cooking lesson and learn how to make some famous French desserts! Finally, let’s not forget the experience of a lifetime going all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower!
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 Florence we stay in a great 3-star hotel right by the Duomo. In the Cinque Terre we are in beautiful, clean hotel in the center of town just steps from a private beach. In Switzerland we will stay in a hip backpackers villa right in the center of town where you will see paragliders flying through the valley outside your window every day. In Paris we stay in a gorgeous 14th century mansion right in the heart of the Marais neighborhood, next to the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
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 it’s attending an event at a leather shop in Florence, taking a French cooking class or hiking the trails of the Cinque Terre each day is sure to leave you inspired and having a blast!
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 and 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?
Group size is important! A smaller group size provides unique opportunities that a large group cannot accommodate. Think of your favorite local restaurant; could it easily accommodate a group of 50 teens? Probably not! Our group sizes average between 14 to 21 students, which means that we are able to comfortably use local transport, enjoy local restaurants, and have a more authentic experience overall! A smaller group size also eliminates the likelihood of cliques, meaning that our groups all tend to bond as a cohesive unit. We guarantee that you’ll have enough people to meet some new best friends, but not so many that you feel like “just a number” or lost in a crowd.
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 Paris, we’ll have many culinary delights such as crepes, pastries, gourmet food, and for those who are brave enough, escargot!
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!
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. 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 Florence all the way to Paris. 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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