Transcendental travel experiences should not always require mosquito nets and all-wheel drive. That said, one will have a far easier time unlocking the charms of Europe with the help of a personal concierge and some well-curated insider access. Whether one is renting a villa in Tuscany, bringing a loved one to Paris, or escaping to the Alps, traveling to Europe’s iconic destinations will be all the better with the best experts in the world, the best drivers in the world (trust us, it makes a huge difference), and a pair of guardian angels making sure everything goes to plan. 


Italy

  Rome

Rome

What We Love

  Lake Como

Lake Como

  • Getting into the Sistine Chapel before the crowds and marveling at both the ceiling and floor, getting lost in Venice, getting lost in Rome, climbing the Duomo in Florence, truffles on everything, feeling like a movie star on the Amalfi Coast—what’s not to love in a classic, scrumptious trip to the Old Country?
  • Taking the family to a villa in the less-visited island of Sicily.
  • Wine tasting and pasta eating at gorgeous vineyards in Tuscany and Umbria.
  • Stocking up on dishware painted with your favorite family crest in Sienna.

Things To See & Do

  • The Italians are infamous queue-cutters. So, when in Rome...let our expert local guides lead the way to experiencing these magnificent cultural sites with requisite efficiency. 
  • Explore the remains of the Eternal City where your guide walks one through the city’s origins in the eighth century B.C. under twin brothers Romulus and Remus.
  • In Florence, join a local art specialist for a tour of the Uffizi Gallery, originally designed to hold the uffizi (administrative offices) of the Medici Grand Duke Cosimo. Gracing its walls are masterpieces such as Caravaggio’s Medusa, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Da Vinci’s Annunciation, and Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch.
  • Soak it in on the sun-drenched and rugged shores of the Amalfi. Explore steep coastlines, olive groves, fishing villages, and swimming holes.
  • Take a day trip from the Amalfi to Capri—or spend the night on Capri and watch the island grow quiet as the day-trippers head home. 
  • For less-treaded island hopping, try the gorgeous island of Sicily.  

 

 

France

  Just a place to hang your hat  

Just a place to hang your hat  

What We Love

 Lavender fields • Photo courtesy A&K

Lavender fields • Photo courtesy A&K

  • The French cultural influence reaches far and wide. Much of the cuisine, language, design, art, and customs that we take for granted today have their roots in France. And when one visits, one can see why. The French have a lovely, intoxicating way of life that is most delightful to enjoy.
  • The wine, the gardens, the champagne, the cheese, the chateaux, the gateaux, and the cadeaux of colorful macaroons one brings home to the kids. 
  • The Louvre at night, when one can explore Napoleon's apartment in peace, or visit one of Paris' hundred little museums where one is challenged to find a crowd. 
  • Whether it is a Michelin-starred hot spot or a baguette from the local boulangerie, one eats very well.   
  • From the rolling hills of Provence to the beaches of Biarritz, from the dramatic cliffs of Normandy to the glamorous caps of Côte D'Azur, France is a many-splendored place.  

Things To See & Do

  • Discover Paris, the “City of Light,” from the river up, as you cruise the Seine and absorb the stately buildings on either bank. It's touristy, but magical nonetheless.  
  • Gain private access to Coco Chanel’s apartment. 
  • Set off for the bucolic countryside of Provence, visit Roman ruins, lavender fields, and the Pope's brief residence in Avignon, and finish with the legendary seaside cliffs and caps (or capes) of Côte d’Azur.
  • Take to France's gentle canals and rivers on a barge cruise through wine meccas such as Burgundy and the Loire Valley.

 Nice, France

Nice, France

 

Spain

What We Love

  • Beautiful, diverse, adventurous, cultured, and delicious, Spain does not leave anything on the table ... or do they put everything on the table? Either way, it is absolutely charming. 
  • The architecture: from Antoni Gaudi’s whimsical creations, to the Alhambra, one of the most intricate examples of Moorish design, to ornate royal palaces and soaring gothic cathedrals.
  • The art: viewing works by the great Spanish masters El Greco, Velázquez and Goya at the Prado Musem in Madrid.
  • Driving up the winding hills of Andalusia, through olive orchards and whitewashed villages, stopping to sample tapas and sherry.
  • Spain’s many festivals are something to behold. We recommend Semana Santa in Seville, when the orange trees blossom.
  • Late dinners and even later nights spent dancing on the beaches of Barcelona—a city after our own hearts (and stomachs). Barcelona's gastronomy is inspired by El Bullí's phenomenal influence and we know just where to book a table.

Things To See & Do

  • Trace the Camino de Santiago, a medieval-era pilgrimage route in northwestern Spain, to its endpoint: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.
  • After visiting the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, stay in the heart of the Basque country at another Gehry-inspired gem: the Hotel Marqués de Riscal. 
  • Soak up the sun (and wine) in Marbella, the beach resort town on the southern coast.
  • Let us organize a private dinner with traditional flamenco dancers and music.
  • Touch the end of Europe and the beginning of Africa at the Rock of Gibraltar while observing Europe’s only wild monkeys, the Barbary macaques.
 

Combine With:

Portugal is right there, and there are short flights to Tangiers in Morocco, which is just over the Strait of Gibraltar. 

 


Portugal

What We Love

 Photo: Etta Meyer

Photo: Etta Meyer

  • The red-tiled roofs of Lisbon, the port wine in Porto, the hilltop palace at Sintra, and the endless Atlantic Coast—Portugal is a quirky old empire with a character wholly its own.  
  • Afternoons spent sipping vinho verde at the beach in Comporta, a fishing village turned summer getaway.
  • Riding a tuk-tuk through the bohemian barrio neighborhood of Lisbon.  
  • Touring the gardens of the Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira, a private museum outside of the capitol. 

Things To See & Do

  • In Porto, stay in a luxurious 18th-century palace.
  • Learn about port wine in its birthplace; this stunning northern city is perched on a steep hillside above the River Douro.
  • Visit Cascais, on the coast just north of Lisbon. It was once a summer enclave for royals and aristocrats.
  • Step into the fairytale palace worthy of Disney’s imagination in the hilltop town of Sintra. 
  • Bask in the sun and sand in the Algarve, the southernmost part of the country, full of beautiful beachy hotels.  

 

The United Kingdom 

England

What We Love

  • Medieval castles, thousand-year-old churches, world-renowned museums, royal palaces, Parliament. The history and traditions of this tiny country have not only endured the ages—they have shaped myriad cultures and governments around the globe, not least of which, ours in the United States. 
  • Strolling the Thames on a misty evening, from London Bridge to Westminster Abbey to the Tower of London.
  • A night on the town in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities; reveling in London's relatively new status as a culinary capital. That said, it’s hard to beat the traditional fish, chips, mashed peas, and a pint. 
  • Venturing out into the countryside of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, strolling through grand estates, rolling hills, and world-famous gardens.

Things To See & Do 

 
  • Roll through London's sights and museums with efficiency and ease while accompanied by your own private guide/chauffeur.
  • Go inside Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, or Oxford with our experts.
  • Take a private tour of Winston Churchill's war cabinet rooms. Or, if flowers are more your thing, go behind the hedges at Highgrove and tour Prince Charles’ gardens.
  • When the Royals are away... peek inside Buckingham Palace in the summer.
  • Follow your literary imagination to the source by touring the estates that inspired “Pride and Prejudice” and “Downton Abbey.” 
  • Dine and stay in one of the most sophisticated metropolises ever created.


Scotland

What We Love

  Looking down at the city from Edinburgh Castle, a royal fortress that symbolizes the Scottish nation, and houses the oldest set of Crown Jewels in the British Isles. 

Looking down at the city from Edinburgh Castle, a royal fortress that symbolizes the Scottish nation, and houses the oldest set of Crown Jewels in the British Isles. 

  • Looking down at the city from Edinburgh Castle, a royal fortress that symbolizes the Scottish nation and houses the oldest set of Crown Jewels in the British Isles. 
  • Traveling to St. Andrews in the Kingdom of Fife. It is the recognized home of golf, and the medieval university, St. Andrews, is still in operation today. (It is where Prince William and Catherine Middleton met.)
  • Touring the turreted Glamis Castle in rural northern Scotland, featuring the many treasures of the Bowes-Lyon family and, like most castles in Scotland, ghosts.

Things To See & Do

  • Walk the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, which stretches down from the castle through the Old Town of Edinburgh, at the heart of which is St. Giles Cathedral. 
  • In August, witness the pomp and circumstance of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
  • Take a trip to the Isle of Skye, a rugged, mountainous island that inspired the location for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School. 
  • Explore the Highlands on the aptly named luxury train, the Belmond Royal Scotsman, rolling past pine-clad mountains and mirror-still lochs.

 


Ireland

What We Love

  • The Emerald Isle is rich with history and legends made famous in story and song.
  • Ripping through the verdant countryside by car or luxury train, visiting castles, villages, pubs, farms, and everything in between.
  • Going deep into history, from touring Celtic sites to the shipyard where the Titanic was built.
  • Listening to locals sing folk songs in the pubs in Galway. 

Things To See & Do

 
  • Stroll the cobbled walkways of Dublin’s Trinity College and marvel at its ninth-century Book of Kells.
  • Drink a Guinness ... at the Guinness Factory. 
  • Travel to Kilkenny and kiss the Blarney Stone.
  • Venture to the Cliffs of Moher, with their towering peaks and spectacular views; the cliffs have inspired myths for generations. 
  • Visit a private farm to see a sheepdog at work.
  • Listen to a seancaithe (storyteller) spin yarns at majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 


Iceland

What We Love

  Winter is cold, but a beautiful time to visit

Winter is cold, but a beautiful time to visit

  • Celtic Monks arrived in Iceland long before the first settler built his cabin in 871 in what is now Náttfaravík. With rugged mountains and crashing seas, Iceland remains one of the most untouched and visually stunning countries in the world.
  • Extreme and unique, the topography of this tiny country is filled with vast fjords, glaciers, and volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs, lava fields, and black sand beaches.
  • The Northern Lights are a true sight.
  • Spotting wild reindeer.

Things to See & Do

  • Take a literary walking tour of the capitol, Reykjavik, a UNESCO City of Literature. It is so small and walkable it should be considered a town by most standards.
  • Despite its size, Reykjavik is filled with sparkling nightlife, cafes, and restaurants featuring traditional fish and lamb dishes.
  • Try skyr, a yogurt-like dish that's been served in Iceland for more than a thousand years.
  • Journey through old whaling villages like Husavik on your way to see the Northern Lights. 
  • Try your hand at dog sledding—an unforgettable way to experience the countryside.
 

Vienna & Austria

What We Love

 The Hapsburgs knew how to throw a party

The Hapsburgs knew how to throw a party

  • From mountains to music to sachertorte (a special chocolate cake devised for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna), the Old World is alive and well in Austria.  
  • Austria is a beautiful mix of culture and natural beauty, from coffeehouses to imperial palaces, from the alpine magic of Salzburg, to the post-modern architecture in Gratz, and all the snow-dusted towns in between.
  • The hills are alive in Salzkammergut, where Maria from “The Sound of Music” would go to sing when her heart was lonely.
  • Homemade gingerbread at Christkindlmarkts throughout the country.

Things To See & Do

  • Sample fine Austrian wines at a traditional heurigin (wine tavern) dating back more than 200 years.
  • Wander the old imperial city of Vienna and, of course, take in a concert in the city of music. 
  • Venture to the small village of Mayerling in the Vienna woods and learn about the mysterious deaths of the son of Franz Joseph I and his lover.
  • Take a private, after-hours tour of Schonbrunn Palace, the sprawling former imperial summer residence.
  • Visit the Salzburg summer music festival or buy a ticket to the Life Ball in Vienna in May. It's the biggest benefit party in the world and a costumed affair like no other. 
  • Do not miss Vienna's treasured Belvedere Museum, home to Gustav Klimpt’s “The Kiss.”
  • Stroll the streets of Graz, which has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is one of the best-preserved cities in Central Europe. It also has some wonderful modern architecture. 
 

Germany

  Christmas Markets in Bamberg

Christmas Markets in Bamberg

What We Love

  • With its impossibly beautiful Alps and storybook villages, Germany is the birthplace of Beethoven, Einstein, Goethe, modern philosophy, and the Brothers Grimm.
  • Ancient, romantic hilltop castles built by kings; cobblestone streets constructed centuries before Columbus set sail.
  • All the delicious beer, wurst, strudel, and dumplings one can eat.
  • Exploring the art galleries and hopping nightlife of Berlin, the current bohemian capital of Europe. 
  • Trying to sing along in a traditional German biergarten.
 
Neuschwanstein

What To Do

  • Visit the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. 
  • Bike through the English Garden in Munich.
  • With our guides, discover the bunker where the “Monument Men” heroically rescued troves of stolen art.
  • Go hiking in the Alps.
  • Spend a day in the gorgeous town of Bamburg. 
  • Do a Christmas market cruise down the Danube. (The Germans invented Christmas.)

Switzerland

 A&K low rez

What We Love

                                          St. Moritz
  • The jagged peaks and glaciers of the Alps—best enjoyed from a ski chalet with a hot cup of glühwein and sizzling raclette.
  • The city of Lucerne: just about as close to being in a fairytale as one can get.
  • Taking a first class train through vehicle-free Zermatt.
  • Via cog rail, summit Gornergrat, 10,170 feet, to behold the views of the Gorner glacier, Matterhorn, and Monte Rosa.
  • Enjoying champagne and caviar at the world’s glitziest mountain resort, St. Moritz. Not to miss: the annual White Turf horse race on ice.

Things To See & Do

  • Stroll through Lucerne, seeing Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), an excellent example of late-Renaissance architecture.
  • Trek the alpine meadows and rocky peaks of the Mont Blan massif.
  • Take in the beautiful Lake Geneva from Chateau de Chillon, an oval-shaped 13th-century fortress full of courtyards, towers, and grand halls.
 

Combine With:

Cross into northern Italy to Lake Como. Just thirty miles north of Milan, Bellagio is the picturesque town on the shores of the serene lake rimmed by snowcapped Alps. Visit Villa Balbianello, arguably the most striking villa in the world, followed by lunch in the little-known lakeside village of Varenna, with its small cluster of houses, piazzas and a 10th-century church—the oldest on the lake.


Amsterdam & The Netherlands

What We Love

  Johannes Vermeer   Girl with a Pearl Earring  (c. 1665)

Johannes Vermeer Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665)

  • There really is something about the light and landscape here. Vermeer, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt thought so too.
  • The museums! Amsterdam has more than any other city in the world. The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum are both extraordinary, but real art lover must journey to a town called The Hague, where Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and “View of Delft” and Carel Fabritius’ “Goldfinch” call home. 
  • The “Venice of the North” has a system of canals that roll past impossibly quaint, 17th-century buildings.
  • The Holland countryside is out of a fairytale with its tiny villages and rolling fields full of flowers and windmills.

Things To See & Do

  • Strap on some comfortable shoes and allow us to arrange special access to all the popular museums so you don’t have to wait in line. The Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, and Rijksmuseum are very popular and are not to be trifled with during peak season. 
  • Visit a hidden tasting room in a 1679 liqueur distillery and learn the proper way to drink jenever.
  • Take measure of what is thought to be the world’s narrowest house, with a façade just three feet, three inches wide.
  • In Alkmaar, discover why the town’s 1573 resistance of occupying Spanish troops ultimately led to its world-famous cheese market.