See the World with Collette Tours
6 Sep 2023
The Northern Lights
There are few more thrilling spectacles than catching the aurora borealis shimmering through the night skies. Also known as the Northern Lights, this natural phenomenon has dazzled people for millennia, generating a wealth of myths, legends and scientific theories. You can chase these notoriously elusive and ethereal lights on a Collette tour, with Iceland and Finland among the hotspots for seeing them between September and April.
You don’t waste your days twiddling your thumbs waiting for darkness - then the lights - to appear. Collette’s itineraries have you delving into the countries’ engrossing landscapes, cultures and cuisines, while encountering hardy Nordic souls full of tales, wisdom and charisma. Witnessing the aurora borealis almost comes as something of a bonus.
Whatever the season, Iceland is one of Europe’s most magical places. While the sun barely sets here in their summer, it’s the opposite in winter. But the chillier months afford a chance to marvel at the so-called “Land of Ice and Fire” under a dusting of snow. Temperatures may be hovering close to zero outside, but you’ll be nice and toasty in your Collette motorcoach as you gaze out at the otherworldly scenery, from jagged volcanoes and vast lava fields to frozen, iceberg-dotted lagoons and waterfalls, and beaches and cliff-faces lashed by the North Atlantic Ocean.
You’ll also feel the warmth when standing by the steaming, spluttering geysers of the Golden Circle touring route, when bathing in the 40C hot springs of the Blue Lagoon (a geothermal spa oozing mineral-rich waters), and when you’re relaxing in the cosy, bookish coffeehouses of Reykjavik, the vibrant Icelandic capital. A mug of hot chocolate is also just the ticket as you drift out into the city’s harbour on a starlit cruise, keeping your eyes peeled for a flash, a whisper of green, white or purple in the sky.
Finland is an enticing alternative for seeking out for the lights. Collette’s 7-day tour here (available October to April) starts and ends in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, where a local expert will offer illuminating perspectives on the city’s history and landmarks. You’ll stay in a smart hotel in Helsinki’s Design District and have an opportunity to sample neo-Nordic cuisine at the city’s restaurants.
Trolls, elves, fairies and a stark change of scenery awaits in Lapland, where you’ll immerse yourself in Finnish Sami traditions and breathe in the crisp, fresh air and wow-inducing terrain cloaked in white powder. Indulge your inner Santa Claus by leading a husky dog sled team across the stirring snowscapes, embark on a reindeer safari with a local farmer and wallow in the comforts and quirky features of your Lapland base, the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, where you can bed down in rustic log chalets that have their own private fireplace and sauna, or upgrade to a private glass igloo. Just imagine snuggling up under the blanket and waiting with keen anticipation for the Northern Lights to start dancing above.
Italy isn’t known as the Bel Paese (Beautiful Country) for nothing. Glittering Alpine lakes and peaks, jaw-dropping Mediterranean cliffs and coves, pulsating, history-packed cities and sleepy bucolic villages - not to mention moreish food and drink - make this one of the planet’s most satisfying destinations. A great way to experience Italy is on one of Collette’s escorted tours, which showcase the country’s god-given and man-made treasures while introducing you to some unforgettable Italian personalities, from passionate wine-makers who’ll share their favourite vintages to chefs who’ll conjure tantalising dishes - including hand-made pasta and tiramisus crafted with recipes that have been passed down through the generations.
Famously all roads used to lead to Rome and the Eternal City is the starting point for many of Collette’s Italy itineraries. Several tours give you a few days to peruse the city’s extraordinary collection of ancient Roman relics, including the one-and-only Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon. You’ll also get to appreciate the mighty dome and gilded interior of St Peter’s Basilica and browse the jaw-dropping art of the Vatican Museums.
Leaving Rome, ravishing landscapes and postcard-perfect pit stops stud every direction. Venturing north - on Collette’s 10-day, small-group Tuscan & Umbrian Countryside tour - the window views will constantly beguile, all verdant valleys, mountains and vineyards. You’ll stop for guided walks in hilltop medieval towns like Asissi and Spoleto, tasting trips to an olive oil mill and pecorino farm, and overnight stays in restored, centuries-old villas and palaces. This tour also includes outings to Florence and Siena, a pair brimming with Gothic and Renaissance art and architecture, plus alfresco cafes and eateries primed for people watching.
Fancy a mix of coast, city and countryside? Join the 8-day Tuscany & the Italian Riviera tour, which begins in the regal northern city of Turin, against the backdrop of the Italian Alps, and you’ll enjoy contrasting delights like Florence, the walled city of Lucca and Cinque Terre, a region laced with pastel-hued, cliff-hugging seaside villages.
Spectacular rugged coastline also graces the Rome & the Amalfi Coast tour, a 9-day adventure that threads south of Italy’s capital to the Bay of Naples, where dramatically-perched resorts like Sorrento and the storied ruins of Pompeii take the breath away. On this tour you’ll get to try local specialities like mozzarella and limoncello and wines reared on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.
Another legendary volcano, Etna, is a familiar sight on Collette’s tours of Sicily. The largest island in the whole Mediterranean, Sicily draws tourists as well as TV and movie crews, with everything from The Godfather to White Lotus shot here. Highlights of a Collette Siclian adventure include the majestic ancient Greco-Roman theatre of Taormina, the seaside charms of Cefalu and the bustling food markets of capital Palermo. One thing’s for sure, whichever Italian tour you choose, it’ll whet the appetite for the next one. With its love of La Dolce Vita (the Sweet Life), a philosophy dedicated to savouring life’s pleasures, Italy has a knack of seducing travellers back time and again.
Shades of Ireland
Whether you’re strolling through its picturesque Georgian streets and squares or sipping a pint of the black stuff at the fabled Guinness brewery, Dublin quickly has you under its spell. A fun, convivial place in which to spend a few days, Ireland’s capital is also the perfect springboard for a trip around the Emerald Isle, and on Collette’s Shades of Ireland tour, you can expect awe-inspiring scenery, absorbing myths, legends, history and culture, and a memorable cast of characters, from your trusty coach driver and tour manager to charismatic local guides and fellow travellers.
Bidding Dublin a fond farewell, Ireland’s Ancient East soon captures your affection, both the postcard-pretty city of Kilkenny, sprinkled with medieval churches, cafes and pubs, and Waterford, billed as Ireland’s oldest city, founded in AD914. Discover its rich Viking heritage, world-renowned crystal factory and giant, colourful street murals - painted by contemporary artists from Ireland and beyond.
Castles will also catch your eye throughout your travels. Some are in ruins, like the old fortress of Blarney, where you can kiss its legendary stone to attain the “gift of the gab”, before savouring the surrounding, stunning gardens, rife with bamboo, ferns and rhododendron. Other Irish castles have been impressively restored, including a “secret” one near Limerick where you can enjoy a medieval-style banquet and rollicking entertainment featuring toe-tapping Irish dance and music.
The Emerald Isle is blessed with natural beauty, and glorious, rolling green landscapes are always unfurling through the coach windows. Sometimes, such as when you’re on the Ring of Kerry touring route, there are sublime countryside vistas on one side and sparkling coast on the other. This circuit has ample charming pitstops, including Waterville, a quaint coastal town where Charlie Chaplin used to holiday.
Further up Ireland’s west coast, the Cliffs of Moher are another tour highlight. Hiking atop these breezy, majestic formations - which soar over 200 metres above the Atlantic Ocean - is an unforgettable experience. More serene is a boat trip along the lovely lakes of Killarney National Park, where you’ll call in at a little island home to wild deer who graze around the relics of a 7th century abbey.
Collette’s Shades of Ireland tour has a few different itineraries. Consider the 12-day option that ventures from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK). Crossing the (unmanned) border, you’ll stay at an Italianate lakeside resort, roam the astounding volcanic columns of Giant’s Causeway, walk the 400-year-old city walls of Derry-Londonderry and round off the tour in Belfast, the province’s vibrant capital.
After taking in the superb Titanic exhibition, which charts the story and legacy of the iconic ship built in the Belfast shipyards, there will be free time to check out the city’s galleries, gift stores, excellent restaurants and welcoming watering holes, where you can reflect on your trip and raise a toast - Slainte! (cheers!) - to the ever-enchanting Emerald Isle.
A Journey from Greek to Croatian Shores
Receive €150 Journey Experience credit per suite!