European Explorer Program: A Cultural and Personal Reflection off the beaten track in Europe

The European Explorer Program resembles the classic European back-packing expedition of old, with students traveling on the Inter-Rail train system from Amsterdam to Berlin to Salzburg and the Austrian Alps to Venice and the plains of Northern Italy.

This four-week, structured, group program focuses on cultural exploration, independence building and reflection.

From hiking in the Alps, to swimming in the Spree in Berlin, to student led meals and work exchange at an 18th Century Italian Villa – The Irish Gap Year team will guide you on this journey of self-discovery.

While on your travels you’ll survey Europe’s grandeur, history and cultural diversity as we get behind the scenes of cities that have shaped the modern era, bringing you face to face with some Europe’s most iconic places.

Each of 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.

If you are interested in a classic adventure by rail that explores European culture, connects you with locals, builds your independence, challenges you to look within and is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime, this is the program for you.

Who is this Program for?

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.

If you are interested in a classic adventure by rail that explores European culture, builds your independence, challenges you to look within and is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime, this is the program for you.

Dates for Upcoming Programs

European Explorer Program: May 14th - June 10th, 2020

Fees:  European Explorer Program

US dollars $8,000

How to Apply

To apply for our European Explorer Program you must first create an account with Irish Gap Year. It's an easy process and can be done through the link below. 

We will reach out to you via email once you've created your account and encourage interested students to begin their formal application. All applicants will undergo a Skype or phone interview with director of admissions Ryan Allen to conclude the application process. 

Upon acceptance, a 10% deposit is required to secure a place on this program.  The balance of the program fee is then due 90 days prior to the start of the program.

To start the application process and manage your registration please create an account

Click Here to create an account.

The Journey by Rail:

There’s a lot to take in as you travel in style and comfort on the European Inter-Rail train network. Here’s a glimpse into the timeless cities and towns that we’ll visit.

Amsterdam: Artistic Heritage, Progressive Culture and Cycling along the Canals

Amsterdam is known for its rich artistic heritage, progressive culture, narrow and ornate houses and elaborate canal system.

Here you’ll explore the capital city of Netherlands by the preferred local method of cycling as we visit The Rijks Museum and the Van Gough Art Museums.

In true Irish Gap Year fashion, we’ll also be venturing off the beaten track attending an underground music performance in a converted WWII nuclear bunker, explore the cities vintage shops, interview locals and take part in a ‘fishing for plastic’ tour of the cities canals by boat.

Berlin: A Cultural Pick and Mix

With historical relics and monuments all around the city, a wealth of museums and galleries and a thriving creative atmosphere, it’s easy to understand why Berlin is one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations.

You’ll have the opportunity to check out the city’s most iconic historical locations and explore the lesser known hotspots of Germany’s capital city.

The Classics:

The Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie: The physical and ideological border that defined a generation of Berliners and the only crossing point from East to West Berlin during the Cold War era.

Bradenberg Gate: Holding great cultural significance to Germans, this neoclassical architectural masterpiece represents both the division and reunification of Germany throughout the 20th Century.

The Reichstag Building: Tour Germany’s national parliament building, a historical edifice and an incredibly impressive feat of architecture as we discuss the significance that the building has held politically and socially through the ages.

Off the Beaten Track:

Refugee Voices Tour: A powerful, controversial and moving tour of Berlin’s city centre as told by Syrian refuge guides. This tour speaks of Syria's own secret police, government repression, and natives fleeing for safer destinations - drawing parallels between modern day Syria and 1940’s Germany.
Swimming Pool in the Spree: Soak in downtown Berlins best views in a totally unique and local environment, this refreshing urban swimming pool is a must visit.
Coffee in the Urban Garden: Small café’s in organic gardens in the city centre, a hip and alternative hangout for Berlin’s young people.
Prinzipal Bar: Sip in the past in this off the beaten track and difficult to find, real life 1920’s speakeasy. The Prinzipal Bar is typical of pre-war Germany and has become an underground icon of Berlin in recent years.

Salzburg: Recharging in the Austrian Alps

Salzburg is a magnificent city nestled on the Salzach River in the Austrian Alps.

It’s full of medieval and baroque buildings, surrounding by snow-capped alpine peaks, is impossibly picturesque and seems as if it’s sprung straight from a fairy tale.

The city centre (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) is one of the best preserved old town centres in all of Europe.

We’ll spend a glorious week in Salzburg recharging our batteries, enjoying home-cooked meals and staying in our own villa in the Alps.

While in this enchanting city and the surrounding countryside you’ll be exploring the nooks and crannies of the striking, 1,000 year-old Salzberg Fortress, venturing into the Old Town Centre, admiring the ornate intricacy of St. Peter’s Abby (home to Austria’s oldest library) and journeying into the Austrian and Bavarian Alps for a few days of hiking and yoga.

Venice: The Floating City

Built on over 100 small islands, Venice is home to more beautiful canals, Renaissance and Gothic Palaces, Basilicas and impressive architecture than just about any other European City.

We’ll tour the city on Gondolas, enjoy the delectable cuisine, take a photography tour of the coloured houses of Burano, and explore the Piazza San Marco which contains St. Mark’s Basilica and the Campanile bell tower overlooking the cities famous red roofs.

Venice, the city of love is sure to steal your heart and leave you wanting more time in Italy.

La Machina Fissa: Reflection, yoga and work exchange in the Northern Italian plains.

La Machina is unlike anywhere you’ve been before. This 18th Century Italian Villa nestled among national parks in the rural plains of Northern Italy is the perfect place to relax, immerse yourself in Italian culture and reflect on your incredible journey through Europe.

While here we’ll help our hosts with work projects in their gardens and around the villa, take reflective walks around the Italian country side and enjoy yoga classes. Garden fresh, traditional Italian cuisine and wine will be enjoyed in the evenings among the company of good friends.

From La Machina Fissa we’ll travel to Milan International Airport where our European Explorers will say their goodbyes.

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