A huge variety of tours – whether standard or tailor-made – are available.

Many people have had memorable trips on tours organised by cultural institutions such as the USA's Smithsonian Institution (www.smithsonianjourneys.org), which runs tours led by experts in fields such as art.

Boat

One of the biggest advantages of a liveaboard cruise is only having to unpack once.

  • CroisiEurope (www.croisieuroperivercruises.com) Cruises along Europe's great rivers and canals.
  • Viking Cruises (www.vikingcruises.com) European river cruises and Mediterranean ocean cruises.

Bus

Bus tours vary enormously in price and corresponding comfort of nightly accommodation, from camping and hostels through to luxury hotels.

  • Globus Journeys (www.globusjourneys.com) runs budget bus tours for all ages covering Western Europe's most famous attractions.
  • Contiki (www.contiki.com) caters specifically for travellers aged 18 to 35. Expect a party atmosphere.
  • Insight Vacations (www.insightvacations.com) operates tours at the high end of the market, attracting an older clientele.

Cycling

Western Europe covers a vast area so multicountry cycling tours are rare; most tours stick to a particular country or region. The website www.biketours.com lists hundreds of options throughout Western Europe.

Train

Escorted rail tours of Western Europe are another way to discover the region. The excellent website Man in Seat 61 (www.seat61.com) recommends several options.

Great Rail (www.greatrail.com) offers a range of guided itineraries.