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Map of Grand Tour Routes

Map of Europe and the Middle East, ca. 1900

Itinerary Descriptions
The British Grand Tour in the 18th Century

Eighteenth-century British Grand Tourists to Italy generally followed a standardized itinerary from London to Rome and Naples. From London, travelers crossed the English Channel to Calais, and continued across France, usually with a lengthy stop in Paris. There were two options for crossing into Italy. One could either cross the Alps or book a sea voyage from southern France to Leghorn (today’s Livorno). On their return to England, tourists often traveled through Germany and the Low Countries. European tours of this sort typically lasted a year or more. The eighteenth-century itinerary remained popular well into the nineteenth century, and was also the model for later nineteenth-century American tourism to Europe.

Visit Themes: Heyday of the Grand Tour | Time Travel and Archeology

The Picturesque Tour: Domestic Tourism in Britain

Domestic tourism was on the rise in late eighteenth century Britain, encouraged by the publication of travel guides, such as those by William Gilpin. Gilpin extolled the virtues of the British landscape, and devised picturesque itineraries for tourists to Wales, the Lake District, and Scotland. In the early nineteenth century, the Napoleonic Wars made travel to the European continent difficult and dangerous, giving a further boost to domestic tourism. Indeed, due to its great popularity, domestic “picturesque” touring was frequently satirized, as in William Combe’s poem The Tour of Doctor Syntax, in Search of the Picturesque, published in 1812 with illustrations by Thomas Rowlandson.

Visit Themes: Tourisim and the Picturesque

The Grand Tour of the Middle East, 19th Century

A modernizing infrastructure and an increase in colonial holdings created new opportunities in tourism for northern Europeans in the nineteenth century. By the 1860s, British tour operators, such as Cook’s Tours, were offering package tours to the Middle East. Travelers from Britain would generally sail to Alexandria, Egypt, by way of Gibraltar and Malta. From Alexandria, tourists would travel to Cairo, which was the starting point for Nile boat tours. Guided tours to the Holy Land left from Cairo and followed an overland route across Sinai or a sea route to Jerusalem. Tourists also visited cities such as Beirut and Damascus. Many travelers journeyed home via Constantinople (Istanbul) and Athens.

Visit Theme: The Colonial East

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