EUROPEAN EXPLORER SHORT PROGRAM

EUROPEAN EXPLORER SHORT PROGRAM

EUROPEAN EXPLORER SHORT PROGRAM

EUROPEAN EXPLORER SHORT PROGRAM

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European Explorer Spring ’25

Dates 14th April to 5th May, 2025
Arrive Munich International Airport (MUC)
Depart Munich International Airport (MUC)
Locations Munich, Berlin, Austrian Alps, Verona and Northern Italy, Czech Republic
Length 21 Days
Group Size 14 Students + 3 Leaders
Fees 7,500

 

European Explorer Short Program

What’s it all About?

The European Explorer Program is the classic European backpacking expedition and features a time-honoured blend of immersive travel, culture, and light outdoor adventure with a group of like-minded peers. The program offers a hands-on study of European history, culture, and current events while boosting your independence and building invaluable travel skills as you make your way through some of our favourite regions in Europe by train. Your travels will bring you face to face with many of Europe’s ‘must see’ locations such as the Berlin Wall, Prague Castle and Charles Street, Nymphenburg Palace, and the Rialto Market in Venice, to name a few. In true Irish Gap Year fashion, we will also get off the beaten track and explore some of the lesser-known treasures that tell the story of these amazing countries, places like Czech nuclear bunkers, steampunk beach clubs in Berlin, alpine trails in small Austrian towns, river surfing lessons in Munich (yes that’s right!) and glaciers that sit high atop Europe’s roof.

Each of the cities and towns featured in the European Explorer Program are magnificent in their own right, but we like to think that the journey is the real reward. Travelling Europe by train is a classic rite of passage that is full of great people-watching, amazing scenery, and a high level of cultural immersion. Taking in the springtime scenery and watching the world pass by to the rhythm of the train will provide many blissful moments. If you are looking for a very social programme that offers a classic adventure by train, builds your travel IQ, and explores European culture and nature, this programme could be just the right fit.

European Explorer Program

Highlights

  • Luge through alpine meadows in Zell am See, Austria, high atop some of Europe’s most scenic mountains.
  • Explore Berlin’s steampunk district, full of vintage shops and record shops, as we make our way to one of Germany’s most unique beach clubs.
  • Savoring Klobása and Pilsner Urquell at Prague’s world-famous beer halls.
  • Soak up the sun and enjoy the chilled vibes of Munich’s Isar River, which flows through the cities central park.
  • Hike and cycle in the pristine Austrian Alps and surrounding countryside.
  • Stay in city centre locations in some of Europe’s best hostels.
  • Relax and enjoy the slow pace of train travel through the Italian Dolomites while taking in the rugged beauty of the snow-capped alps.
  • Meet new people from all over the world!

    Find Out More About our European Explorer Program

    The European Explorer provides students with an authentic and unique experience of some of Europe’s cultural capitals. You will discover Europe both past and present, expand your worldview, and develop your independence and confidence.

    The Cornerstones

    These Cornerstones are interwoven throughout our European Explorer Program. Find out more about our Cornerstones by clicking on each of the icons below, or by clicking under the dropdown menu titled “Grow” at the top of every page.

    Oudoor Adventure

    Immersive Travel: Europe by Train

    To us, immersive travel means travelling the way locals do every day throughout Europe, by train and tram. Immersive travel means taking the time to be present on your journey, connect with your fellow travellers, and expand your travel IQ. These journeys by rail will come to be some of your fondest memories and provide great time for conversation with fellow travellers. While passing through some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes, you will also be learning how to navigate Europe by train, providing students with real-world life skills that will last far beyond the European Explorer Programme. With the support and experience of the Irish Gap Year programme leaders, you will voyage over 2,000 kilometres by train. You will experience many of Europe’s ‘must-see’ locations (and many places you’ve never heard of!), meet interesting people from all over the world, and be absorbed in local culture. All while building your independence and travel skills along the way. Travel highlights include funiculars up steep mountainsides into the Austrian Alps, exploring Venice by ‘vaporetto, Kitzenhorn Glacier, nights out in Berlin, and of course the food in Italy! Suffice it to say, that the skills, friendships, and memories you develop on this journey will last a lifetime.

    Leadership

    Cultural Exploration: Creating Connection & On-Site Learning

    Exploring new cultures and ways of life is an essential part of a young person’s education.
    Your travels through the continent will include walking tours, visits to art galleries, museums, old-town centres and iconic places in each country we visit. We will balance the cultural visits throughout the program between ‘must-sees’ and lesser-known-gems to offer a broad perspective on all things European.
    You will also get to actively participate in each countries culture, learning experientially about the customs of each of these unique destinations. Teachable moments abound as we involve ourselves in the daily life and practices of local cultures.

      Experiencing the patchwork of cultures on the European Explorer Program will help to broaden your worldview, provide you with hands-on learning opportunities and creates a sense of connection to the people who call these countries home.

      Community Volunteering

      Experiential Learning: Hands-on & On-Site

      An experiential education of the history, culture, and current events of Europe means that you will explore and connect first-hand with places that have helped shape the modern world. On-site lectures with local historians, touring castles, temples, ruins, UNESCO Heritage sites, medieval town squares, and galleries are all examples of experiential learning opportunities that appeal to one’s genuine interest and a love of knowledge. Building new skill sets, such as independent travel, shopping and cooking, time management, proactive management of group dynamics, and other ‘adulting skills’ that you will develop throughout the programme are all examples of how the entire European Expedition Programme becomes one big experience-based classroom without walls. As educators, we understand the power that hands-on experience has and the impact that it leaves on our students. Through an experience-based education, your time spent on this programme will not only help you develop into a more independent adult but also act as a masterclass in the history, culture, and current events of Europe.

      The Journey by Rail Interactive Map

      The Journey

      The Grand Tour of Europe has been a rite of passage for young travellers for hundreds of years, and for good reason – the search for adventure, culture, enlightenment, and fun against the backdrop of European splendour has captivated our minds and hearts.

      As is customary, we will be travelling in style and comfort on the Interrail train network. Our travels will take us from Munich to Berlin, Prague to Salzburg, through the Austrian Alps, and then on to Venice and the Tyrol district of Northeast Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. At each stop on the inter-railing portion of the programme, we will meet with local guides who will share their in-depth knowledge of their region with us. This helps you to get your bearings, ask questions about current events and history, and understand more about where you will be staying. The well-travelled Irish Gap Year programme leaders will offer further knowledge and context in each location, all while ensuring that everyone is on the right train at the right time!

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      Berlin: Edgy, Creative, and Diverse

      Berlin is sometimes referred to as the ‘New York of Europe.’ Its edgy urban sprawl, forward-looking identity, and creative and diverse communities are what modern Berlin is famous for. The steampunk district exemplifies this, and we want to take you there for a nosy!
      Of course, no travel to Berlin would be complete without exploring the city's rich WWII and Cold War-era history, so expect a few of our favorite museums to be included in the cultural pick 'n' mix that is Berlin.

      Prague: Medieval Europe at Its Finest

      A thousand shades of terracotta, hundreds of spires reaching for the blue sky, colorful baroque buildings leading from one medieval town square to another, and the sound of church bells ringing out as they’ve done for hundreds of years. Prague is a bohemian fairy tale and one of Europe’s most fun cities!
      In the city of a hundred spires, we will take in the architecture, explore the beer halls and traditional cuisine, learn about the Cold War, explore Prague Castle, and check out some of the city's vibrant weekend markets.

      Salzburg and Zell Am See

      Salzburg is a magnificent UNESCO Heritage city of antiquity and grandeur nestled on the Salzach River in the Austrian Alps. Its cobblestone streets, lined with medieval and baroque buildings and surrounded by snow-capped alpine peaks, make this city look as if it’s sprung straight from a fairy tale.
      From Salzburg, it’s a short train ride to Zell am See, a traditional Austrian Alpine community that offers excellent alpine hiking, water sports on the lake, and rural Austrian culture. There are many excellent cafés, traditional beer halls, and shops in the area for us to enjoy as well.

      Munich: Germany’s Culture Capital

      Imagine for a moment—castles in the Alps, lederhosen, picturesque beer gardens, and raucous outdoor markets. Palaces, medieval churches, lush parks, and rivers steeped in history. What you are imagining is Munich, Germany’s most scenic, charming, and fun city.
      While in Munich, we’ll indulge in Bavarian culture, tour one of Europe’s most lavish palaces, and enjoy the chilled-out vibes of the natural swimming pools along the Eisbach River that runs right through the city. Awesome.

      Northern Italy: Verona, Mantua, and Lake Garda

      Lake Garda, Verona, and Mantua are hidden gems of Italy—these bastions of Veneto culture demonstrate the Northeast of Italy’s love of architecture, wine, music, cinema, theater, and, of course, food!
      While in Verona and its surroundings, we’ll base ourselves at La Machinna Fissa, one of Italy’s most unique and welcoming guesthouses, itself a true hidden gem. Here, we will learn to cook our own garden-fresh traditional Italian cuisine and enjoy the famously gregarious company of our hosts Clarke and Cici.

      What’s Included

      • All transportation and inter-rail fees
      • Entry fees and tours
      • All accommodation
      • Breakfast 7 days a week & 5 group dinners weekly
      • 2 Full-time program leaders

      What’s Not Included

      • Flights to Europe
      • Travel Insurance
      • Some lunches and 2 dinners per week

      Note: Students and leaders will eat breakfast and dinner as a group every day. Irish Gap Year leaders will arrange breakfast and restaurants for dinner.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Do you still have a question about the European Explorer program we haven’t covered yet?

      Take a look at our FAQs and if your question still hasn’t been answered, get in touch and we’d be happy to talk you through it.

      A Day in the Life on our European Explorer Program

      There’s plenty of variety in the day-to-day of our European Explorer Program, depending on whether we are traveling or in residence. Here is an example of what a travel day looks like:

      9am: Group breakfast and briefing with Program Leaders on the days travel itinerary.
      10am: Arrive to Amsterdam’s iconic Central Station and board the 10.30am train to Berlin.
      10.30am – 4.30pm: Enjoy the leisurely journey by train through the Netherlands and Western Germany, taking in the scenery and having lunch on the train before arriving to Berlin’s Central Station.
      4.30pm – 5pm: Make our way to our accommodation and check-in.
      5pm – 7pm: Briefing on the local area and exploring with Program Leaders (with a locally guided walking tour the following morning)
      7pm – 8.30pm: Group dinner
      8.30pm – 11pm: Free time in an established area of the city.
      11pm: Curfew / Back to accommodation.

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