Rick Steves' Family Europe: Amsterdam to Rome Tour, Day by Day
Our Amsterdam-to-Rome family tour makes the wonders of Europe come alive for kids — and cuts the stress for parents, too. Your enthusiastic Rick Steves guide will introduce your family to Amsterdam's Golden Age, Germany's Rhine Valley and Romantic Road, the castles and forests of Austria's Tirol, the canals of Venice, the countryside charms of Tuscany, and the Eternal City of Rome. And on this tour, kids ages 8 through 17 get a $200 discount! Here's a fun sneak peek at what it's like to discover Europe together on a Family Europe: Amsterdam to Rome in 14 Days tour. Let's go!
Days 1 & 2: Welcome to Amsterdam
Our adventure begins in the canal-laced city of Amsterdam. We'll get together for a quick introduction meeting at our hotel at 3 p.m. Soon after, we'll head outdoors for a "Golden Age" walking tour of Amsterdam's historic streets, lined with teetering, gable-topped houses overlooking centuries-old canals. Tonight we'll get to know each other during dinner together, and learn how to take a sleek, efficient tram ride back to our hotel.
The next morning we'll enjoy an eye-opening tour through one of the world's greatest collections of paintings — the Rijksmuseum, including masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer. After time for reflection and lunch on your own, we'll rendezvous and hop aboard a canal boat for a floating sightseeing tour of the city. Afterward, you'll be free for the rest of the afternoon to visit the Anne Frank House (reserve in advance), Van Gogh Museum, stroll or bike through Vondelpark, or make more discoveries on your own.
Day 3: To Arnhem and Germany
We'll meet our coach and driver this morning and make the short drive to Arnhem's amazing open-air museum. As we wander around the perfectly restored farm houses, gardens, shops, and working windmills, we'll get a hands-on experience of what life was like for people here in centuries past. We'll gather for a traditional lunch of Dutch pancakes before heading south into Germany and the Rhine River Valley. There we'll get nestled into our very quaint, very old hotel, and have dinner together.
Days 4 & 5: Rhine Castles and Rothenburg
This morning we'll sleep in a bit before heading to the nearby village of St. Goar and Rheinfels Castle — a mighty fortress that towers over the banks of the Rhine. A guided tour will show us that castle life was not all fairy tails and knights in shining armor. You'll have time to explore the village and perhaps enjoy a tasty picnic lunch in a park by the river. Then it's all aboard! We'll hop on a boat and cruise past miles of vineyards, villages, and more castles (including one that pokes out of the river). Back at our "home village," your evening will be free for more wandering and dinner on your own.
The next morning we'll pack up and head for the jewel of medieval Germany, the perfectly preserved walled town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This is an ideal place to explore, on your own, whatever interests you — from the pointy towers of the town's walkable wall to the creepy Crime and Punishment Museum to acres of cute shops and half-timbered photo ops. After a break for dinner on your own, we'll tag along on this evening's very entertaining Night Watchman's tour.
Days 6 & 7: Munich & Neuschwanstein Castle
This morning's destination is the easy-going city of Munich. We'll get oriented at the Viktualienmarkt — an outdoor farmers' market, beer garden, and park, all rolled into one. You'll have time to assemble a lunch and share a picnic table, then wander through the city's pedestrian-friendly center. This afternoon we'll drive into the Bavarian countryside, stopping to learn why Germany's fanciest Rococo-style church, the Wieskirche, sits in the middle of a cow pasture. Winding our way into the foothills of the Alps, we'll cross the border into Austria and arrive at our Tirolean guest house in time for a hearty dinner together.
Our next day begins with a short drive and a hilly forest hike up to Germany's most famous castle (the one that inspired Disney): Neuschwanstein. We'll have a guided tour of the castle's furnished rooms, followed by free time to hike a bit farther up to Mary's Bridge over the Pöllat Gorge for that photo of a lifetime. Back at the bus after lunch, we'll drive to a nearby luge course where (weather permitting) you'll have a chance to go barreling down a mountain on a tiny sled with wheels. We'll arrive back at the hotel afterward with more time to stroll in the woods, or just relax, before dinner together.
Days 8 & 9: Italy's Incomparable Venice
We'll take a scenic, all-day drive to Venice today, stopping en route for lunch at the Italian-Tirolean town of Bolzano. You'll have time to explore this vibrant town and put together the perfect picnic browsing Bolzano's colorful street market. Then we'll make a beeline for the Adriatic Sea, where we'll trade our bus for a boat and get a ship's-eye-view of Venice, before we go ashore on the family-friendly beach island of the Lido. This evening we'll have an orientation to our island-away-from-home, and dinner together.
Venice is a quick, 15-minute vaporetto ride from the Lido. We'll cruise there after breakfast for a walking tour through the heart of Venice. You'll learn about the amazing history of this unique, maze-like city of canals, walkways, and slowly sinking palaces. We'll also visit a local mask-making workshop to learn about the tradition of Venetian masks. After an impressive look at the gold-lined interior of St. Mark's Basilica, the afternoon is all yours. You might tour the Doge's Palace — or simply get lost (remember it's an island) exploring Venice's alleyways. Stay in Venice for dinner and a gondola ride on your own, or head back to the Lido early to bake on a sunny beach and take a dip in the Adriatic.
Days 10 & 11: Hill Towns & Towers in Tuscany
Today we say "ciao Venezia" as we hop back aboard our bus and drive deep into the heart of Italy. On the way, we'll make a stop for some exploring and lunch on your own. Then we'll continue on our way through the Tuscan hills to our cozy countryside hotel, nestled among the trees and vineyards. The grownups will have time to sit back and relax over a glass of the local wine. The kids will have a ball swimming and goofing around in the pool. When our stomachs begin to rumble we'll gather together for tonight's feast.
The next morning we'll take our bus and time-travel to the hill town of San Gimignano, famous for its many medieval towers. We'll visit a fascinating museum and ceramics workshop where artists have painstakingly created a scale model of the town — complete with all 72 towers — as it was 600 years ago. You'll have free time for lunch and to climb a tower on your own and marvel at how unchanged this town has remained. A few hours later, back at our country hotel, the afternoon is yours for taking it easy, Tuscany-style. Before dinner tonight, our chef will give us a hands-on demonstration of how Italians turn dough into pasta.
Days 12 & 13: Eternal Rome
This morning we'll visit the 16th-century Gardens of Bomarzo, filled with larger-than-life sculptures and monstrous statues, where fantasy and reality meet. Then we'll press on to our final destination, the Eternal City of Rome. We'll check into our hotel in the city's center and take a little time to catch our breath. Then we'll use Rome's public transportation system to reach the most impressive building from ancient Roman times: the perfectly domed, 2,000-year-old Pantheon. After a post-Pantheon break for dinner on your own, we'll rendezvous for a stroll together through the floodlit heart of the city, lacing together lively pedestrian lanes, classy piazzas, and splashy fountains.
The next day we'll be transported back to the days of emperors, slaves, and gladiators. We'll tour Rome's famous Colosseum and the nearby Roman Forum, where you'll trip over the same stones as the Caesars did 20 centuries before you (history class will never be the same)! We'll set you free for lunch and the entire afternoon. This is an ideal time to take a taxi to St. Peter's Basilica or the Sistine Chapel (the chapel is part of the Vatican Museums; make reservations in advance). This evening we'll gather together for our final dinner on the tour, and toast our great adventure together.
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. It's a breeze to reach Rome's airports by taxi or public transportation. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!