Discover Europe’s most fascinating countries on a deeper level, hear about the stories and legends – from Greek and Roman mythology to Icelandic folklore – and get inside the mindset of formidable civilisations and leaders who left an indelible mark on mighty nations.
On a cultural trip with Exodus, you’ll leave a place with a new understanding of how rich and complex histories have shaped modern-day European countries into the places known and loved today — and enjoy history’s satisfying results in today’s European food, wine, traditions, music, and art.
Travel with like-minded individuals who are equally intrigued by European history and culture to understand how past events have shaped today’s attitudes, cuisine, and beliefs and stand in the exact spots where history’s good, bad, and ugly moments happened.
With the expertise of Exodus’ experienced tour leaders, you’ll step off the tourist trails (but not at the expense of seeing must-see sights too) and delve into the culture of a nation like never before. On our group tours, you’ll understand the influences of civilisations that came and went — and the legacies and awe-inspiring architecture they left behind. We’ve collected 5 of our favourite cultural trips below, to inspire your next adventure.
Trace the ancient influences of Sicily
The enduringly popular Italian island of Sicily is a place that’s very much of the here and now. But today’s famously delicious food, picturesque towns, and exquisite architecture are all shaped by centuries of myriad influences, including Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, and Spanish civilisations.
An immersive Treasures of Sicily tour takes you on a nine-day loop around the island to trace the cultural influences for yourself under the expert guidance of an Exodus tour leader. You’ll follow an ancient Roman road, visit Syracuse’s powerful ancient Greek city-state and witness Sicily’s baroque heritage amid the glorious honey-hued stone buildings in Noto and the hilltop town of Ragusa Ibla.
The flavours of Sicily are an essential part of its modern-day culture. You can taste cheese and wine in a cellar near Mount Etna, almond biscuits in Erice, delicious street food in Palermo, and sweet treats in the sought-after town of Taormina, crowned by a magnificent Greek theatre.
Experience local Icelandic life amid its geological marvels
On our ten-day trip to Iceland, you’ll see the extraordinary scenery this country is rightly famous for, including Geysir, Thingvellir, and Gullfoss. But your experience on our Iceland Explorer trip will take you far deeper into Iceland’s culture and to lesser-known but equally striking areas.
Watch how the locals live amid this geological wonderland, bathing with Icelanders in the thermal waters in Akureyri and learning about ancient cod fishing techniques on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Hear the ancient legends and intriguing mythology of this wild and mysterious country, including the Kolugljufur canyon, said to be named after a giantess that lived there. Open your mind to different points of view, such as how New Age followers believe Snaefellsnes to be one of the Earth’s seven energy centres.
Take a scenic circuit around Turkey
Turkey is a nation shaped by a long and complex history, and a 15-day Highlights of Turkey trip reveals more about how its traditions and customs are influenced by its past. On an adventurous journey, visit ancient cities steeped in myth and legend, including Troy, Pergamon, and Ephesus.
Along a route that takes you to important archaeological and historical sites, you’ll visit Cappadocia, a region in Turkey renowned for its unusual rock formations and ancient cave dwellings. You can see one of the fascinating underground cities, Derinkuyu or Kaymakli. The Phrygians are believed to have formed these ancient cities to protect their inhabitants from wars and conflicts.
The trip concludes in Istanbul – the perfect representation of how Turkey’s history has shaped today’s culture. Indulge in a traditional hammam – a bathing ritual that’s very much part of current life in Istanbul – and explore the streets with cafes and markets alongside the Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome, where Byzantine emperors watched chariot races with thousands of spectators.
Piece together Bosnia’s complex history
Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro combine rich cultural variety, impressive and often underrated natural beauty, and a long, thought-provoking, and sobering history. Take a scenic circuit of these Balkan countries and feel a world away from other explorers as you hop from city to highland villages, riverside towns, and dramatic canyons.
Music, dance, and cuisine are essential aspects of Bosnian culture, with traditional folk music and dance still popular today. You’ll get a flavour of these arts and traditions on an 11-day Bosnia & Beyond trip. In Lukomir, the highest village in Bosnia, a traditional way of life still exists, where customary dress, turbans, and fez are worn, and the village homes indicate a simpler life.
The architecture in Bosnia is also influenced by its Ottoman past, with mosques and other Islamic structures dotting the landscape, including at Blagaj, where a sultan issued a decree to commence building a magnificent Ottoman dwelling dedicated to the Dervish cults.
Discover the wine-making history and cultural heritage of Portugal
Glorious and colourful Porto is a magnificent gateway to the Douro Valley, Portugal’s beautiful wine region. Before leaving Porto on our Highlights of Portugal trip, taste the local Port in one of the city’s historic cellars, and hear more about the long history of this famous export. When you journey to the Douro Valley, take the chance to taste the exemplary wine using methods developed over centuries of wine production at an 18th-century estate perched above the Douro River.
More cultural highlights follow on a journey south to Lisbon, with visits to Coimbra and Batalha, where a 1385 battle secured Portuguese independence from Castile, with a monastery commemorating the victory.
Your journey eventually brings you to Lisbon with a culture deeply rooted in its history and traditions. One of the most distinctive features of Lisbon’s culture is its Fado music, which originated in the city in the 19th century, so we would recommend visiting one of the cities local venues while you’re there. Fado music is emotional and melancholic, with soulful vocals and expressive guitar accompaniment, and is said to capture the essence of Portuguese culture and history through haunting melodies and poetic lyrics.
If you’re keen on booking a cultural adventure in Europe, why not take a look at our departures throughout 2023 and 2024 here.