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2-Week Europe Itinerary – The Essential European Escape


Welcome to 14 days in Europe. An itinerary traversing 3 countries and covering some of the best Europe has to offer. It’s a fantastic introduction for first-timers but also ideal for well-travelled Euro-pros who want out-of-the-way places that don’t pop up on the regular tourist radar.

If you’re looking for a unique holiday in Europe with immense variety, hugely impressive sights and dreamy unknown villages, look no further.

We swim in beautiful Mediterranean waters, scale lofty Alpine peaks, dine lakeside with celebrities and explore hilltop markets. We feast on local produce, discover quirky restaurants, walk famous alpine routes and sail on iconic lakes.

With a mix of French, Italian and Swiss cultures, this Europe trip includes mountain views, hill towns, plenty of hiking and plenty of lazing on the beach.

Here is our detailed European itinerary for 2 weeks.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.

14 days in europe Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

DAY 1 – NICE

Start your 14 days in Europe by arriving in Nice – one of the best summer or winter destinations in Europe. You don’t need a car just yet, and you’re probably better without one. It’s a small city that’s best explored on foot.

Start on the Promenade des Anglais, probably the most famous stretch of seafront in France. Spend some time walking along the promenade, checking out the cool beach bars.

Next, head to Place Masséna, a recently constructed square framed by Neoclassical buildings and brightly coloured houses. A stroll down the Cours Saleya Markets in the heart of the old town with its photographic displays will get the taste buds ready for some fine French food. But before lunch, have a coffee at Hobo Coffee, then savour the atmosphere with a stroll around the old town.

After lunch,  head over to the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain. This gallery has an impressive collection of pop art works by Andy Warhol, Sol Lewitt and Yves Klein. If the art itself doesn’t impress, the building with its stunning roof terrace overlooking the city, surely will.

Next, stroll down the west side of Port Lympia. Snap away at the beautiful Venetian buildings before taking the elevator up to Le Parc de la Colline du Château for beautiful afternoon views over Nice.

DAY 2 – MONTE CARLO & VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER

This morning, take the train to Monte Carlo (25 minutes) for a quick exploration of this unique city.

In 1863, frustrated with incompetent management, Princess Caroline hired François Blanc – a French entrepreneur with a knack for running casinos – to turn her loss-making casino around. One of his first suggestions was to rename the place to make it sound more appealing to visitors. Monte Carlo was eventually chosen.

The casino is nothing short of beautiful and even if you’re no fan of gambling, having a champagne in the bar will make you feel like a movie star. After draining your daily travel budget on bubbles, take a much more affordable stroll around the harbour.

Next up, take the train to Villefranche-sur-Mer (15 minutes), one of the most charming and authentic French villages in the area. The setting is beautiful and a stroll along its streets is the best way to pick your favourite spot for lunch. There are numerous places with views in town, plus a number on the front. After lunch take to the beach for a couple of hours until the sun drops behind the hill.

Take the train back to Nice for the evening.

DAY 3 – CINQUE TERRE

Today, pick up a hire car from Nice to continue this 20-week Europe itinerary by driving to Moneglia (3 hours), a small village near the start of the Cinque Terre park.

As you get closer to Moneglia, there is a one-way tunnel which may require a bit of a wait. If you see other people getting out of their cars at a set of traffic lights, it’s your queue to jump out as well and collect your first shots of this stunning coastline.

Once at Moneglia, jump on the train to Vernazza (40 minutes) and have a quick stroll around the town. It’s one of the more picturesque towns, making in popular spot on a day trip Cinque Terre. After a bit of exploring, you’ll no doubt find your ideal spot for a drink.

Take in a sunset boat trip at around 5 pm to get a different view of this spectacular region. A number of private boat operators work from the harbour where you can head down at your leisure and pick your favourite.

After your boat trip, take the train to Monterosso (or get dropped off by boat) for an evening in this buzzing town. For a memorable dining experience try Torre Aurora which boasts spectacular views from the top of an old castle.

After dinner, take the train back to Moneglia which has a nubmer of great options for where to stay in Cinque Terre.

DAY 4 – CINQUE TERRE TRAIL

Wake up bright and early this morning to take the train from Moneglia to Monterosso, the starting point for the beautiful Cinque Terre Trail.

Purchase your trail pass from either the train station or the start of the walk, then take the path from Monterosso to Vernazza (1 hour, 30 minutes). The views are impressive, the walking easy, and the bars along the way are too enticing to miss.

As you leave Vernazza to commence the next leg to Corniglia, stop off for a drink at La Torre, a bar perched on the cliffs about 5 minutes after you leave Vernazza. It has fantastic views, cheap drinks, no-frills service and plastic chairs.

The walk from Vernazza to Corniglia should take around 1 hour and 30 minutes. To cap off a great day out-and-about in spectacular scenery, get straight on the train and go to Manarola and have a lake lunch at Nessun Dorma perched on a terrace overlooking the village.

After lunch, have a swim off the rocks at Manarola before getting back on the train to collect Riomaggiore. Walk down to the harbour to capture a shot of the colourful village from the marina.

If you are looking for more options, check out this article on how to spend 2 days in Cinque Terre.

DAY 5 – LAKE COMO

Today, leave the stunning coastline of Cinque Terre to take in an altogether different Italian experience. The cool, hip, celebrity hangout, Lake Como.

Drive from Moneglia to Torno (3 hours, 20 minutes) with a stop-off at Camogli. This quaint fishing village has some beautiful spots to explore and is perfectly located for a coffee break on the drive.

Make your way to Torno and locate Vapore for lunch. This idyllic spot right on the water is a fantastic place to sample some Italian wine and enjoy a very reasonably priced lunch.

After lunch, catch the ferry to Como and collect some of the sights on foot for the rest of the afternoon. The cathedral is particularly impressive and the square nearby is an ideal place to sit – ice cream in hand – watching the world go by.

Get the ferry back to Torno and stop for a drink at Bar Italia.

14 days in europe torno to como ferry

DAY 6 – BOAT ON LAKE COMO

This morning, drive to Bellagio and take the local ferry over to Varenna for a stroll around this beautiful, and surprisingly quiet, village. Grab a coffee at Varenna Caffé and sample one of their fantastic bruschettas for an early morning pick-me-up. After your caffeine fix, get back on the ferry and head to Tremezzo to visit the impressive Villa Carlotta.

The villa has a collection of sculptures and is beautifully set overlooking Bellagio, enhanced with their very own botanical garden. After Carlotta, check out the imposing Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Being a Lake Como stalwart for over 100 years, its art deco inspired lobby is worth a look, even if lunch was slightly disappointing.

After Varenna, take the ferry back to Bellagio and hire your own boat to explore the lake, all the details on how to do this are in our guide to hiring a boat on Lake Como.

In the evening, take some time to explore Bellagio and be sure to have an Apero Spriz on the front before heading back to Torno.

DAY 7 – ZERMATT

Today, drive to Bellinoza (1 hour, 30 minutes from Torno) and take a potter around Castelgrande. This impressive castle is one of three in tiny Bellinoza and is located high on a hill offering great views over the valley below.

Then drive over the spectacular Nufenen Pass, making your way to the cute Swiss towns of Ulrichen and Münster (1 hour, 30 minutes). At 2478 metres, Nufenen is the second highest pass in Switzerland. It’s an easy road to drive, giving you the opportunity to watch the views unfold.

Continue on the short distance to Ulrichen, then to Münster, stopping at both to have a look around these almost deserted, but packed with atmosphere, local Swiss villages. Have lunch at Hotel Croix d’Or et Poste in Münster, where they serve a diet-busting Beef Stroganoff that would easily have fed 3 of us.

Drive into Fiesch (20 minutes) and take the cable car up to Eggishorn. The last cable car leaves at 4:30 PM so make sure you have plenty of time. If you do, the views looking down on the Aletsch Glacier towards Jungfraujoch are incredible. It’s hard to imagine nature looking any better.

After Eggishorn, drive into Täsch (1 hour) where you will need to park the car, collect your belongings and take the train into car-free Zermatt – one of the best places to visit in Switzerland.

DAY 8 – MATTERHORN

Prepare yourself and your camera equipment for some of the most spectacular sights imaginable as today you take in the peaks of the European Alps, then complete an exhilarating walk to the Matterhorn basecamp.

Start early, as visibility is often better in the morning. Walk to the cable car station in Zermatt and take the aerial cable up to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, which stops at Furi, Trockener Steg, and then Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. The views are breathtaking and on a clear day, Mont Blanc is visible off in the distance. Once you’ve snapped all your shots, get the cable car back down to Schwarzsee (changing at Trockener Steg) where it’s a good idea to grab some sustenance for the next part of the day.

The walk up to Matterhorn basecamp (Hörnlihütte) is exhilarating and with an ascent of 2,300 feet, it can also be exhausting. But for a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the Matterhorn, it’s not one to miss. The walk is quite steep, making it a bit of a slog all the way, but no particular equipment is needed other than a sturdy pair of shoes and a head for heights. The walk takes around 2 hours up and 1 hour, 30 minutes down.

After a congratulatory beer at the top, and lunch at their great cafe, walk back down to Schwarzsee. From Schwarzsee, take the cable car down to Zermatt and treat yourself to another drink at Unique Hotel Poste watching the other wearing walkers file by.

DAY 9 – GORNERGRAT & GORNERGLETSCHER

When you’re surrounded by these impressive views, there’s no time to rest. So after recovering from yesterday’s walk, take the train to Gornergrat for another action-packed day in the Alps.

The first part of the day, the train up to Gornergrat is an event in itself. This cog train climbs up the mountains opening incredible views from the comfort of your seat. Sit back and relax as you chug up through the clouds, with Zermatt disappearing below you.

Once you get to Gornergrat, spend some time breathing in the crisp air, and the sight of Monte Rosa and the Gornergletscher. Head back down (by train or foot) to Rotenboden to commence the long, but very rewarding walk back down to Zermatt. It’s a beautiful, mostly downhill walk, with the Matterhorn in full splendid view in front of you the whole way.

From Rotenboden follow the Riffelsee path that passes Riffelsee lake after 5 minutes, and then another smaller lake 5 minutes further. After about 30 minutes continue downhill on the Gletschergarten path that drops steeply into the valley (rather than going around to Riffelberg). As you get toward Furi where the path splits, take the one that goes over the hanging bridge (Hängebrückenweg) for that extra bit of excitement. At Furi, follow the path to Zermatt that passes through the cute village of Zum See. Find a restaurant in this idyllic little stop and enjoy a late lunch overlooking Zermatt.

From Zum See it’s a further 30 minutes back down to Zermatt, where we suggest you enjoy a delicious tapas-style dinner, washed down with excellent local beers at Paperla Pub.

DAY 10 – LUKERBAD TO CHAMONIX

This morning, take the train back to Täsch, pick up the car, and commence the next leg of your 14-day Europe trip. From Täsch, drive to Leukerbad (1 hour, 15 minutes), an attractively set Swiss town, renowned for its thermal spas.

The drive up to Leukerbad is beautiful, with steep-sided valleys dictating your path and the leaves getting more and more autumnal the higher you get. When in Leukerbad, head to Alpentherme, a fantastic thermal spa with a huge outdoor heated pool. The views from the pool to the mountains across the other side of the valley are impressive.

After relaxing in the spa, drive to Sion (45 minutes) and enjoy a fantastic lunch at Brasserie du Grand-Pont. Their truffle risotto was absolute perfection. Wash it all down with a bottle of their superb Merlot.

If you timed this day to fall on Saturday or Sunday, head to Le Cube in nearby Varone for wine tasting in a very local, difficult-to-find winery overlooking the vineyards. If not, drive on to Chamonix (1 hour, 15 minutes) and settle into your accommodation for the next alpine leg of this trip.

DAY 11 – MONT BLANC

Get up early to take the cable car up to Aiguille du Midi and remember to take some warm clothes because regardless of the weather in Chamonix, it will be achingly cold at the top.

The razor-sharp ridges of the Alps sitting way above the cloud line make you feel like you’re in another world completely. Allow around 2 hours at the top to fully appreciate the splendour all around you. Once you’ve had your fill of this amazing place, take the cable car back to Plan de l’Aiguille to commence The Grand Balcon Nord walk to Montenvers.

This popular walk, which gave us a flashback to the Dolomites, will take around 2 hours, 15 minutes. It’s a mostly flat walk that skirts the north side of the valley. With the clouds that hover over Zermatt just below you and the high Alps just above you, it’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the grandeur of the place.

Head for Refuge du Montenvers for lunch, stopping to check out the Mer de Glace on the way. It’s a gondola ride or walk down to the glacier itself, but viewing it from high above just off the walking trail is a better option. After refuelling at Montenvers, take the train which runs regularly back to Chamonix.

DAY 12 – MOUSTIERS SAINTE MARIE

Leave the impressive scenery of the Alps behind today, to add a completely different element to this 14 days in Europe with a trip through Provence, home to some of the most unique things to do in the south of France. Set the SatNav to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie but be sure to include a stop at Veynes.

It’s about a 3-hour, 30-minute drive to Veynes. Aim to have lunch at La Sérafine, a charming restaurant just outside Veynes run by a French / Vietnamese couple.

After, head to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (2 hours). The drive through the lavender fields of Valensole, Brunet and Puimoisson sits in stark contrast to the dramatic alpine scenery you were enjoying hours earlier.

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is positioned on the border of Haute-Provence and the Alps; the Gorge du Verdon creates a natural barrier between the two. Set high on a hill, it’s one of the most beautiful French villages we’ve laid eyes on.

DAY 13 – GORGE DU VERDON

Spend today exploring the Gorge du Verdon. This 25-kilometre long, 700-metre deep gash in the landscape is a feast for the eyes from every angle. Take the D23 loop from La Palud-sur-Verdon (around 20 minutes from Moustiers) and stop off at every point that takes your fancy. After completing the D23 loop, head to Point Sublime for one of the best views of the gorge. All this should take around 3 hours with plenty of stops for photos.

There are a number of walking paths you can do around the gorge if you have the energy. Some of which are long, tough and require a good head for heights. Le Sentier du Bastidon is a 6-hour, 30-minute walk around the gorge. Le Sentier Blanc-Martel (6-hour walk) leaves from the car park at Couloir Samson.

If you’d prefer to sit with a glass of wine, enjoy spectacular views on the edge of the gorge, and dine on crepes instead, head to Rougon.

After lunch, drive to Base de l’Etoile and hire a boat to take out on the lake. Electric boats are €40 per hour, a kayak or canoe is €15 per hour, for a maximum of two hours. Last departures around 4 pm. It’s a fantastic way to take in the gorge and weather permitting, a great place for a swim.

Back in Moustiers for the evening, treat yourself to dinner at La Treille Muscate, a swish restaurant with fantastic french cooking with even better wines.

DAY 14 – HAUTE VAR VILLAGES

Wrap up your Europe trip with a tour of the villages of Haute-Var.

Completely off the agenda of regular tourists, Haute-Var is local French all the way. Markets sell fresh local produce that’s still covered in dirt and twisted the way nature intended it. Vendors sit chatting to their neighbours, slurping their coffee, while locals take a good long sniff of today’s truffle delivery.

We recommend collecting Bargemone, Tourtour then Seillans.

Seillans is beautiful. Perched on a hill overlooking the valley, the crumbling old town is full of all the nooks and crannies that make these places so interesting to stroll around.

Find your favourite dining location before you drive on to Nice to complete this 2-week Europe circuit.

MORE READING FOR EUROPE

If you’re planning a Europe trip, you might enjoy some of our other guides.

3-Day Itinerary for Paris

The best things to do in Vienna

Our guide to visiting Florence

The charms of Bologna, Italy

The best things to do in Lisbon

How to get the most out of Seville


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