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Grand Odyssey: The Best of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy & More

Program No. 24220RJ
From the beaches of Normandy to the museums of Athens, embark on the ultimate European voyage on board the Aegean Odyssey.
46 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at

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At a Glance

Immerse yourself in the grand artworks, historic landmarks and iconic locales of Europe on this 44-night learning adventure on board the Aegean Odyssey. On an educational voyage that leads through England, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia and more, experience capital cities and quiet islands, all filled with fascinating people and places to explore. Walk along Utah Beach in Normandy to delve into the events of D-Day in WWII, and take a field trip to the idyllic Mont St. Michel. Spend multiple days in cities like Barcelona and Venice to take in all their architecture, history and artistic masterpieces, and delight in opportunities to explore Tangier, Monte Carlo and Dubrovnik. Throughout your journey, enjoy the private ambiance of the Aegean Odyssey as you attend expert-led lectures and presentations, and enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow Road Scholars.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Pay a visit to Utah Beach and Cherbourg to learn about the D-Day invasion sites of Normandy.
  • Explore the artworks and landmarks of Barcelona, including Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, Parque Guell, the Museum of Montserrat and the Picasso Museum.
  • Delight in three days to experience Venice, where you’ll explore St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and more with your expert instructor.

General Notes

We’ll have up to 350 Road Scholar participants on the ship, divided into groups of 35 for shore excursions.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
by Robert Hughes
A Longitude favorite, this big, thoroughly enjoyable cultural history of the city touches on architecture, art, religion and literature from Roman outpost to the present.
Lonely Planet Portuguese Phrasebook
by Clara De MacEdo Vitorino
A handy pocket phrasebook for Portuguese basics, covering pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.
Journey to Portugal, In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture
by Jose Saramago
Jose Saramago's richly detailed account of his journey across Portugal in 1979. He combines his vivid impressions of the Portuguese landscape and people with a dose of history, fiction and meditations.
A Traveler's Guide to D-Day and the Battle for Normandy
by Carl Shilleto, Mike Tolhurst
A compact guide to Normandy's WWII battlefields, memorials, sites and cemeteries.
Lonely Planet French Phrasebook
by Marie-Helene Girard, Anny Monet
This handy phrasebook focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.
Antonio Gaudi, Master Architect
by Juan Bassegoda Nonell
This lavish little collection of Gaudi's work captures the evolution, imagination and exuberance of one of the most influential architects of the 20th century.
Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary
by Cristina Hernandez Montero
This handy phrasebook focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.
Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
by Ross King
The story of the design and construction of the dome in the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, a tale rife with politics, cut-throat competition and mighty inspiration.
A Traveller's History of Greece
by Timothy Boatswain, Colin Nicolson
A nicely written survey from prehistory through the 1990s: wide-ranging, accessible and necessarily condensed.
Florence: The Paintings & Frescoes, 1250-1743
by Ross King & Anja Grebe
A magnificent, never-before-published collection of every painting and fresco on display in the Uffizi, the Galleria Palatina of the Pitti Palace, the Accademia, and the Duomo, and more -- nearly 2,000 works of art -- all presented in a beautiful slipcased package.
A Traveller's History of Croatia
by Benjamin Curtis
Curtis untangles with alacrity the complex history of this nation at the crossroads of Europe.
Art and Life in Renaissance Venice
by Patricia Brown
This compact volume evokes the spirit of Renaissance Venice with authoritative essays and 120 full-color illustrations.
Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum
by Paul Roberts
Drawing on sharp, full-color photographs of more than 200 objects excavated from Pompeii and Herculaneum, Roberts, a curator at the British Museum, discusses what life was like in the ancient cities. He covers everything from birth certificates to the prevalence of bakeries and taverns.
A Traveller's History of Athens
by Richard Stoneman
A brief history of Athens through the 1990's -- wide-ranging, accessible and effectively condensed. With a useful chronology and historical gazetteer, this book marches confidently through the centuries.
Culture Smart! Portugal
by Sandy Guedes de Queiroz
A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.
The Greeks, An Illustrated History
by Diane Harris Cline
This accessible photographic history of ancient Greece pays special attention to Greek innovations: great literature and architecture, war tactics, democracy, the Olympics, Socrates and much more. Cline laces the gripping story of the Greek empire with archaeological discoveries.
The World of Venice
by Jan Morris
Morris displays her talent for research, telling anecdote and well-wrought prose in this spirited portrait of a beloved city, its history and inhabitants. If you are going to read one book on Venice, we recommend this favorite.
A Taste of Croatia
by Karen Evenden
This engaging memoir of a three-year sailing odyssey includes 100 enticing recipes.
The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings
by R.W.B. Lewis
A vivid tour of the city and its riches by the fine biographer of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Lewis has written what he calls "a partial biography of Florence," beautifully interweaving the personal and the historical.
La Dolce Vita University: An Unconventional Guide to Italian Culture from A to Z
by Carla Gambescia
La Dolce Vita University (LDVU) is the perfect sampler for anyone curious about (or already in amore with) Italy and its remarkably rich cultural gifts, both past and present.
The Stones of Florence
by Mary McCarthy
Renowned for her sharp literary style, essayist and fiction writer Mary McCarthy offers a unique history of Florence, from its inception to the dominant role it came to play in the world of art, architecture, and Italian culture, that captures the brilliant Florentine spirit and revisits the legendary figures—Dante, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and others—who exemplify it so iconically. Her most cherished sights and experiences color this timeless, graceful portrait of a city that's as famous as it is alluring.
The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece
by Robert Morkot
This pictorial survey of Greek antiquity, recording its culture and expansion, features dozens of full-color maps.
Venice: A New History
by Thomas Madden
Using long-buried archival material and a wealth of newly translated documents, Madden weaves a spellbinding story of a place and its people, tracing an arc from the city’s humble origins as a lagoon refuge to its apex as a vast maritime empire and Renaissance epicenter to its rebirth as a modern tourist hub.
Dubrovnik, A History
by Robin Harris
Harris, a journalist who writes frequently on the Balkans, presents a comprehensive portrait of the historically important maritime city-state in this nicely illustrated, scholarly and readable history of Dubrovnik.
Homage to Catalonia
by George Orwell
Orwell's portrait of the Barcelona uprising and the spirit of a city at war is a classic, an observant and heartfelt report from the streets.
8 Reviews
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5 Average
(5) Review left 11/16/2022

This was a wonderful trip. Our group leader, Dionysis, was amazing and so knowledgeable. The Aegean Odyssey is not the fanciest ship we have ever been on, but she provided comfortable public spaces, more than adequate accommodations and an incredibly attentive crew (some of the friendliest I have ever come across). As always, the RS guest speakers provided us with expert instruction. My only complaint was that the vegetarian option on the excursions was often considerably less interesting than that of my meat-eating companions. Since I paid the same amount as they did, I would hope that RS would try to ensure that the local guides paid more attention to this. Otherwise, a phenomenal trip and I look forward to visiting that part of the world again.

(5) Review left 10/03/2022

The Mediterranean Grand Odyssey was an amazing trip. The ship was comfortable and the staff highly welcoming and efficient. We saw so many wonderful ports and sites, and were well-guided by local experts and our group leader. I wish I could have continued on!

(5) Review left 10/02/2022

We loved making the Aegean Odyssey our home away from home for over six weeks. The staff were all particularly kind to us and made us feel welcome aboard the ship. We learned so much about the history and culture of the Mediterrean Sea.

(5) Review left 8/01/2022

My first Road Scholar program hooked me for the future. My trip was awesome and I was well cared for. I can't say enough good about the people and places.

(5) Review left 7/12/2022

Aegean grand Odyssey. We took the trip from Athens to Tilbury. These were five sections or legs strung together for a trip of about 45 days in length. The ship can have up to 350 guests on board, so it’s considered fairly small. This allows you to get into ports that are unavailable to the the more bloated 1000 to 4000 guest ships. The ship had two lounges. A large one with a piano and bar, and a much smaller one on the top level observation deck. It also had a small bar, and a piano which was never used. The ship had a sea water pool. It was pretty cold, and seldom used. We had two classic concerts, one night at the opera, some Greek dancers, two liars club evenings, and mini trivia competitions. Every evening there was a movie in the main lecture hall, the port talks were very informative as well. All of the lectures were interesting even though there were a few that were not specifically about the mediterranean. The port calls were very well planned, all the guides were professional, warm, and friendly. We were very well looked after. We had a cabin that was on the lowest deck, in the center. No porthole, window, or deck. We slept there. The rest of the time we spent on the open decks, on the Lido deck, or in the lounges or library. I recommend not putting money into pricier cabins, although some people really like them. This small room was very efficient with lots of storage. Had I known there was another leg going to London and around the British Isles, we might’ve booked that as well. This was a fantastic “taste of the Mediterranean“ type excursion. Road Scholar rocks!!

(5) Review left 7/10/2022

This program is immensely satisfying in every possible way. Not only does it provide a great cultural overview of many countries through tours, lectures and on-board musical performances, but it provides participants with tasty, nutritious meals and pleasant accommodations and leaves ample opportunity to form new friendships with interesting people from all ove the US and Canada, as well as staff from many countries.

(5) Review left 7/10/2022

This Grand Voyage was a wonderful experience! We traveled places we had never before been, and saw sites we could not imagine. The Voyage to Antiquity lived up to its name.

(5) Review left 7/09/2022

Hurry to enroll in a fabulous program. We completed 4 segments of the Grand Odyssey & would have enjoyed more if time had permitted. Group Leader, group, itinerary, ship & field trips were all superb!

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.