Europe For Older Teens: Ultimate Europe (21 Days)
$7,495 + $375 Rail Pass + Airfare
Jun 30 – Jul 20
|Places we visit:||
London, Amsterdam, Munich, Neuschwanstein*, Interlaken, Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Montalcino, Cinque Terre
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
|Optional group flight there:||
New York (JFK) to London
|Optional group flight back:||
Pisa to New York (JFK)
Join us this summer as we travel around Europe and get a real traveling experience in six uniquely different 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.
This perfectly-paced itinerary will ensure that 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 our constructed with awesome activities to keep the program exciting and bring each unique culture to life!
Enjoy high tea in London, visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, take a bike tour through Munich’s flower-filled streets, breathe the fresh Alpine air in Switzerland, tour the iconic Colosseum in Rome, hike through picturesque fishing villages in the Italian Riviera, and so much more!
Savor the world-famous Mediterranean diet, sampling local delicacies from each country including private pesto cooking classes in the Cinque Terre. 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 and catch public transportation in each city, immersing yourself in the best parts of every region and living like a local, so you can be a traveler, not a tourist!
Our Older Teen programs are carefully crafted with 11th and 12th graders in mind. We understand that older teens require a different type of program, and need itineraries with more challenges and independence to help them grow and encourage even more confidence with traveling.
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. So get ready to travel like a pro as you explore Amsterdam’s maze of islands and canals on an epic evening cruise, soak in Bavarian culture at an authentic beer hall in Munich, hit up the famous local outdoor Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and eat more amazing pizza and pasta than you can begin to imagine in Italy while making lasting memories with your new friends during your travels throughout some of the most amazing cities in Europe!
On this program you will:
- Ride the London Eye for incredible views of the city
- Muggle your way through Harry Potter’s world on a behind-the-scenes tour*
- Enjoy a true Londoner experience while having tea at a famous tea shop
- Explore the world of Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre
- Hit London’s West End theatre district to enjoy a live show!
- Connect in a special way with history at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam
- See Van Gogh’s works come alive at the Van Gogh Museum
- Make your own hot chocolate and marvel at the windmills as you explore a traditional Dutch village*
- Eat a hearty Bavarian meal at a traditional German beer hall
- Bike through Munich’s many gardens and parks
- Spend a day visiting the fairytale castle that inspired Walt Disney*
- Swim in a refreshing alpine lake at the foot of a castle
- Enjoy a private barbeque dinner at sunset, cruising the turquoise lake at Interlaken
- Hike, bike, and then ride a cable car through the breathtaking Swiss Alps
- Paraglide high above the Swiss Alps on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure*
- Learn to make the world’s best Swiss chocolate at an authentic chocolate workshop
- See Michelangelo’s David and wander the leather markets of Florence
- Experience the sweet side of the Italian lifestyle on TFT’s famous gelato tour
- Visit St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums and stare in awe at the Sistine Chapel
- Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain, guaranteeing your return to Rome
- Spend a day at a privately owned Tuscan estate and vineyard*
- Hike through basil fields, rainbow fishing villages, and dramatic cliffs in the Cinque Terre
- Relax in the clear Mediterranean waters of the Italian Riviera
- Make your own pesto at a private Italian cooking class
- And much more!
*These are optional excursions
DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM NEW YORK-JFK
DAYS 2-6: 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 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 Jack the Ripper walk with the scariest guide in London, walk in the steps of the Beatles at Abbey Road, and shop at Harrod’s and Camden Market with its hip and 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, see a live West End show in London’s hip theatre district, and even have the chance to ride the Hogwarts Express at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour!
DAYS 6-8: 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 8-11: MUNICH
From Switzerland, we move on to Munich, a charming Bavarian city known for its lively restaurants and beer halls, enchanting public gardens, and fascinating history. On the way, we will stop at Dachau, one of the most sobering concentration camps. Once in Munich, we’ll bike through the cobblestoned 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 fairy tale Neuschwanstein Castle, take a bike tour around the area, and swim in an Alpine lake!
DAYS 11-15: 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 barbeque. This portion of the program is filled with optional excursions so you can have a program that’s made just for you. Choose from visiting roaring glacial waterfalls to flying high above the Alps on a paragliding adventure!
DAY 15: 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 the day 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 afterwards!
In addition to the art and culture, enjoy some world-class shopping, including a special invite 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 amazing 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.
DAYS 15-18: 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 bath 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.
DAY 18: MONTALCINO
After our time in the capital, say arrivederci to Rome as we head back north to 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 cobblestoned 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 the Cinque Terre.
DAYS 18-21: 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 between some of the towns, 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 hop on and hop off 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.
DAY 21: GROUP FLIGHT BACK TO THE USA
Wave goodbye to Italy as you complete your incredible European summer!
WHAT KIND OF TEEN TYPICALLY PARTICIPATES IN THIS PROGRAM?
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.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO JOIN?
This program is only for students who are currently in 11th and 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 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.
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 a program.
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 program 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 like the most about this program?
Students love that this program packs in six 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?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts and dinners, chaperones and guides, program related activities, program related activity admissions, taxes and tips.
Not Included (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, 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 this program’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 program starts, and we get preferred group flight prices on programs 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 LEADS THE PROGRAM?
The Trip Director for every program 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 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 program 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. Programs 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 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 programs. If you are connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and help you get to your next destination where you will meet up with your new counselors and group.
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!
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 program?
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/. After you register, we will provide you with a list of vaccinations you should consider discussing with your child’s family doctor.
How much free time do we get?
Our counselors are with the group almost 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 in defined areas that we are very familiar with, for example shopping or exploring the safe pedestrian areas of Rome, Florence, Munich and London. During these times, students will be organised into groups and given no more than an hour on their own. Additionally, a lifeguard certified counselor will be supervising the students any time they are involved in water activities.
What kind of Visa do you need for this program?
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 and 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 that you will be responsible for your own bags throughout the duration of the program, so packing light like a true traveler is key! The great thing about this program is all of the moving around we do, but the challenge of this program is also all of the moving around that we do. We promise, if you overpack, you will wish you had not! See our packing guidelines section and you should be just fine.