Spend a week living at historic Oxford University and sample life as a student at Merton College. Study with renowned Oxford tutors and delve into one of our fascinating courses.

Starting at: $4,995 Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Merton College, Oxford University  Welcome reception at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  Oxford tutors (July 2018). Credit: Wade Jennings  Smithsonian Journeys travelers during lecture break. Credit: Wade Jennings  The dining experience at Merton College, with High Table. Credit: Wade Jennings  Conversation over dinner. Credit: Wade Jennings  The dining experience at Merton. Credit: Wade Jennings  Introduction to Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  Smithsonian Journeys travelers at a lecture. Credit: Wade Jennings  Merton College Library  Interior of the Merton College chapel. Credit: Wade Jennings  The chapel at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  The quadrangle at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  Smithsonian Journeys travelers at Oxford. Credit: Wade Jennings  Smithsonian Journeys travelers during a lecture break. Credit: Wade Jennings  Smithsonian Journeys traveler at Merton. Credit: Wade Jennings  Enjoying a few moments at a local pub. Credit: Wade Jennings  Lecture break at Merton. Credit: Wade Jennings  Housing at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  Garden walkway at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  The gardens at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  An evening walk near Merton. Credit: Wade Jennings  Skyline of the medieval town of Oxford  On excursion at the Birmingham Museum. Credit: Wade Jennings  Interactive exhibit at the Staffordshire Hoard. Credit: Wade Jennings  Treasures of the Staffordshire Hoard. Credit: Wade Jennings  The beautiful Oxford skyline  The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford  Bridge of Sighs landmark, Oxford University  View near Oxford's Main Street  Loch along the Thames River, Oxford  Sculptural detail found in Oxford

Smithsonian at Oxford

8 days from $4,995

Spend a week living at historic Oxford University and sample life as a student at Merton College. Study with renowned Oxford tutors and delve into one of our fascinating courses.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details


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The Smithsonian at Oxford provides an accessible educational experience, nicely balanced with opportunities to visit nearby sites of interest. The Smithsonian at Oxford also provides an opportunity to experience true student life again.

- Christopher B.

Living and studying in a centuries old setting that famous people have lived is just...awesome!!

- Philip P.

The warm reception we received at Merton College made us feel that we really were Oxford students -- a very special sense of belonging.

- Lyn G.

I love Shakespeare; I love to study and to study Shakespeare at Oxford and to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform is a dream come true!

- Blanche M.


See All Journeys Dispatches ››


* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

Merton College

Oxford, England

Merton College is a vibrant and diverse intellectual community that has been at the forefront of education and research at Oxford University since 1264. Nobel Prize winners and other cultural and scientific icons, such as T.S. Eliot and J.R.R Tolkien, adorn the list of eminent Mertonians. The living experience at this historic college includes delicious food, beautiful gardens, historic architecture, and fine accommodation. All rooms have a private bathroom, with one or two single beds, a wardrobe, a bedside table, a chest of drawers, and a desk. All bedrooms include WiFi internet access, telephones, tea-and-coffee-making facilities, but no air conditioning or hair-dryers. Bedding is changed weekly, and the College Lodge is staffed 24-hours a day and open for inquiries from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. For more information about Merton College, please click here to visit their website. 

Number of nights: 6

Activity Level

Activity Level 2: Moderate

Expectations: Week-long stay featuring one destination. Light pace with daily activities of four to six hours, but also features independent time for personal interests. Most activities are based at Merton College and are within walking distance. Included day excursion beyond Oxford is by motor coach and may be a full day depending on the course selection and entails walking tours of up to three miles. Throughout the program, walking may be over uneven pavement and cobblestones, and may entail some stairs without handrails and absence of elevators. Note that Merton College does not have elevators and some travelers may need to ascend several flights of stairs in order to reach their rooms. Please reference information in the Accommodations tab for important information. 

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with longer days of touring (both walking tours and coach time).

Tour Extension

London Post-Program Option:

Day 1 — Ham House, London

At the conclusion of our main program in Oxford, transfer to London. En-route visit Ham House, a stately 17th-century house before checking into the Millennium Bailey’s Hotel. Tonight, gather for dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 2 – The Queen’s Gallery, Royal Mews, and Kenwood House

After breakfast, enjoy a visit to The Queen’s Gallery. Then, stroll through the Royal Mews, one of the finest working stables in existence, and responsible for all road travel arrangements for The Queen. In the afternoon, visit Kenwood House, a beautiful villa belonging to Lord Mansfield, for a guided tour. Spend the rest of the evening at leisure. Millennium Bailey’s Hotel (B)

Day 3 – Kenwood House, Spencer House, and The Wallace Collection

This morning, visit Kew Palace and Gardens for a guided tour. Discover the opulent Spencer House, a fine example of an aristocratic 18th-century townhouse.  Then, explore The Wallace Collection on a guided tour, and delve into the history of decorative arts, while admiring pieces dating back as far as the 15th century and as recently as the 18th century. Tonight, gather for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Millennium Bailey’s Hotel (B,D)

Day 4 – Depart

After breakfast transfer to London and Heathrow Airport for individual flights back to the U.S. (B)

July 2019 Courses of Study

Spend your mornings learning from an expert from Oxford's Merton College. For July 2019, choose from five featured course subjects: The Archaeology of Britain, The Age of Winston Churchill, Medieval Castles, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire, and The Legendary History of the British Isles. Please select your course at time of booking to ensure your choice!  Space is limited for each course.  (Information on experts can be found on the Enrichment tab.)

Classes will be interspersed with excursions, including a visit to Pembroke College, which was attended by James Smithson—the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution. Each course will also feature an additional special excursion tailored to its theme.

The Archaeology of Britain

In the 5th century, Britain ceased to be part of the Roman Empire and witnessed profound transformations, including the end of urban life, substantial migration from the Continent, a complete political restructuring, and abrupt discontinuity in processes of production and exchange: a situation many would call “systems collapse.” Learn about the events of the next half millennium and the rise of many complex developments, including the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, trading sites, towns, churches, and monasteries, punctuated by Viking raids culminating in the establishment of the Danelaw.

Field Trip: Visit the Staffordshire Hoard in Birmingham, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found.

The Age of Winston Churchill

Study Winston Churchill’s political career from 1900 to 1955 and gain an understanding of the profound political and social changes that took place in Britain over his lifetime. He was considered by many contemporaries to be a figure trapped by history as much as he was steeped in it. His influence continues, not just through the way he shaped events as a war leader and peacetime politician, and in the example he gave of a certain political style, but in his voluminous writing about Victorian times and great events in his own lifetime, the First and Second World Wars.

Field Trip: This class features a field trip to Chartwell, Churchill’s country house and home for over four decades.

Medieval Castles

Castles were the great powerhouses of the Middle Ages. They were the centers of conquest and oppression, the seats of government, and the luxurious homes of the ruling classes. This course will examine the castles of medieval England and Wales, from their arrival with the Normans in the 11th century to their evolution into country houses in the 15th century. Explore their architectural development, the balance between fortification and domesticity, and consider ways to both attack and defend a castle. Sources include the standing remains of these once-proud buildings and the written evidence of poets, chroniclers, and clerks, as well as delicate imagery taken from medieval illuminated manuscripts. Together, they form an exciting picture of power in the Middle Ages.

Field Trip: Visit Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, first built by the Normans and the site of key events in England’s history.

The Rise and Fall of the British Empire

This course puts the rise and fall of the British Empire in the context of global history with a special focus on America’s impact. Discuss key developments in both the imperial homeland and the colonies. Examine formal and informal aspects of the empire, and contrast the image projected by the empire with reality.

Field Trip: Participants in this course will travel to Dashwood House in West Wycombe, built in the 18th century as a pleasure palace for Sir Francis Dashwood.

The Legendary History of the British Isles

All three of the major British language groups, the English, Welsh, and Gaelic speakers have their own rich traditions of legendary history. King Arthur, the best known legendary figure, is first found in Welsh literature but was adopted throughout European literature. We will look at some of the stories of Arthur and Merlin, but also at the strange Welsh Mabinogion stories, and at the deeds of the Irish hero Cuchulain and the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf. We will ask ourselves how we should interpret these texts today, and look at what they tell us about the original tellers and listeners, where they might have come from and to what extent they allow us to have a window on the past.

Field trip: The excursion for this course will focus on local Oxford legends. Visit Binsey Church with its holy well said to have been created in answer to the prayers to St. Frideswide (the patron saint of Oxford), and the ruins of Godstow Abbey where Rosamund Clifford—known in legend as the Fair Rosamund—was buried. 

September 2019 Courses of Study

Spend your mornings learning from an expert from Oxford's Merton College. For September 2019, choose from two featured course subjects: The Vikings and The Development of Politics and Society in Victorian England. Please select your course at the time of booking to ensure your choice! Space is limited for each course. (Information on experts can be found on the Enrichment tab.)

Classes will be interspersed with excursions, including a visit to Pembroke College, which was attended by James Smithson—the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution. Each course will also feature an additional special excursion tailored to its theme.

The Vikings

Ravagers, despoilers, pagans, heathens - the Vikings are usually regarded as bloodthirsty pirates, whose impact on Europe was one of fear and terror. As they plundered the British Isles and the North Atlantic, these pagan invaders were seen by their Christian victims as a visitation from God. Yet the Vikings were also traders, settlers and farmers with a highly developed artistic culture and legal system. Their network of trade routes stretching from Greenland to Byzantium and their settlements resulted in the creation of the Duchy of Normandy in France, and the foundation of the new Kingdom of Russia in Kiev and Novgorod as well as the development of Irish towns including Cork, Dublin and Limerick. This course will use recent findings from archaeology together with documentary records, to examine the Viking world and to give a balanced view of this fascinating period.

Field Trip: Visit the earthwork defenses and street layout of an Anglo-Saxon town created as part of King Alfred’s defenses against the Vikings.

The Development of Politics and Society in Victorian England

The Georgian era was steeped in controversy from the very start with its dazzling displays of marked excess, from royal corruption to the fear of the mob. By the time of Victoria’s death in 1901, a remarkable transformation had apparently taken place, with Britain a model of polite respectability and global influence. The nature of that transformation will form the basis of this course as we seek to explore how the Victorian culture was made through an investigation of those evolving themes which helped make and shape Victorian England.

Field Trip: Visit the former home of the celebrated and controversial Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli– and a great favorite of Queen Victoria herself.



The Smithsonian at Oxford provides an accessible educational experience, nicely balanced with opportunities to visit nearby sites of interest. The Smithsonian at Oxford also provides an opportunity to experience true student life again.

- Christopher B.

Living and studying in a centuries old setting that famous people have lived is just...awesome!!

- Philip P.

The warm reception we received at Merton College made us feel that we really were Oxford students -- a very special sense of belonging.

- Lyn G.

I love Shakespeare; I love to study and to study Shakespeare at Oxford and to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform is a dream come true!

- Blanche M.
Reading List

Before your tour you will receive a reading list specific to the course you have chosen.

Below are a few books about Oxford which you can also read to prepare you for your visit.

Looking for Class: Days and Nights at Oxford and Cambridge
By: Bruce Feiler
An irresistible, entertaining peek into the privileged realm of Wordsworth and Wodehouse, Chelsea Clinton and Hugh Grant, Looking for Class offers a hilarious account of one man's year at Oxford and Cambridge -- the garden parties and formal balls, the high-minded debates and drinking Olympics. From rowing in an exclusive regatta to learning lessons in love from a Rhodes Scholar, Bruce Feiler's enlightening, eye-popping adventure will forever change your view of the British upper class, a world romanticized but rarely seen.
Oxford: A Cultural Guide (Interlink Cultural Guides)
By: Martin Garrett
ENTERTAININGLY- WRITTEN AND CONCISE GUIDE TO OXFORD AND ITS ENVIRONSOxford started as an Anglo-Saxon border outpost, with a bridge replacing the "oxen ford" from which it takes its name. It became a center for trade and religion and developed one of the oldest universities in Europe from the late twelfth century. Since the Middle Ages its individual colleges have gone on building-chapels, halls, accommodation, libraries-in an extraordinary variety of styles from Gothic to Brutalist. Oxford also has many churches, a Covered Market, an extraordinary museum of Natural History in soaring iron, glass and stone, and a flamboyant neo-Jacobean Town Hall.In such a place, suggested W.B. Yeats, "one almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking." Nevertheless, Oxford has become a busy modern city. For much of the twentieth century the car industry, established in Cowley by William Morris (Lord Nuffield), dominated local life. Today there are cinemas, theaters, innumerable restaurants, shopping centers, an ice-rink, business and technology centers, close links to London by bus and train. Amidst the expanding city Oxford University retains its academic excellence, its student exuberance and its physical beauty. And it has been joined by a notably successful second university, Oxford Brookes.Martin Garrett discusses the literature Oxford has generated: from Chaucer to Lewis Carroll, Wilde, Evelyn Waugh, Barbara Pym, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and Iris Murdoch. There are also chapters on architecture, on religion, on theater, film and art-including Oxford's great museum of art and history the Ashmolean-and on leisure pursuits (punting and rowing, gardens, student pranks, city fairs and carnival). A chapter on commerce focuses on Victorian shops, Cornmarket and the Morris Motor Works, while a brief social history includes the former Oxford Castle and a gallery of dons as rulers-visionary or ignorant, charismatic or dull.Garrett looks at social change, especially the transformation in the position of Oxford women, and considers the city's darker side of crime. A final chapter explores its rich surroundings: the countryside where Matthew Arnold's "black-winged swallows haunt the glittering Thames," the baroque grandeur of Blenheim Palace, the ancient windswept Ridgeway and White Horse.
A Traveller's History of Oxford
By: Richard Tames
A Traveller's History of Oxford gives the reader a clear account of Oxford's earliest beginnings from Roman times, its Anglo-Saxon past, its importance in medieval England, the founding of the different colleges, its status as Royalist capital during the Civil War and after this crisis, and its recovery and continuing growth right up to the twenty-first century. The book also looks closely at the story behind the beautiful buildings and discusses Oxford's gifts to the world both in the alumni, which include five kings, 25 British Prime Ministers, 36 Nobel Prize winners, and 85 archbishops, and in the world of ideas: the legends of King Arthur, the English Bible, Anglicanism, the Royal Society, Methodism, Pre-Raphaelites, Alice and Wonderland, Aestheticism, OED, Inspector Morse, ...The list is endless. It also has practical information, illustrated with maps, on exploring the town and a Chronology of Events.
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
By: Simon Winchester
The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary -- and literary history. The compilation of the OED began in 1857, it was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
Last Bus to Woodstock (Inspector Morse)
By: Colin Dexter
"[Morse is] the most prickly, conceited, and genuinely brilliant detective since Hercule Poirot." --The New York Times Book Review"YOU DON'T REALLY KNOW MORSE UNTIL YOU'VE READ HIM. . . . Viewers who have enjoyed British actor John Thaw as Morse in the PBS Mystery! Anthology series should welcome the deeper character development in Dexter's novels." --Chicago Sun-TimesBeautiful Sylvia Kaye and another young woman had been seen hitching a ride not long before Sylvia's bludgeoned body is found outside a pub in Woodstock, near Oxford. Morse is sure the other hitchhiker can tell him much of what he needs to know. But his confidence is shaken by the cool inscrutability of the girl he's certain was Sylvia's companion on that ill-fated September evening. Shrewd as Morse is, he's also distracted by the complex scenarios that the murder set in motion among Sylvia's girlfriends and their Oxford playmates. To grasp the painful truth, and act upon it, requires from Morse the last atom of his professional discipline."Few novelists write books as intelligent and deliciously frightening as those by Colin Dexter. . . . What Mr. Dexter does so well, so brilliantly, is weave a thick, cerebral story chock-full of literary references and clever red herrings."--The Washington Times"A MASTERFUL CRIME WRITER WHOM FEW OTHERS MATCH." --Publishers Weekly
Brideshead Revisited
By: Evelyn Waugh
Waugh tells the story of the Marchmain family. Aristocratic, beautiful and charming, the Marchmains are indeed a symbol of England and her decline in this novel of the upper class of the 1920s and the abdication of responsibility in the 1930s.
24x36 World Wall Map by Smithsonian Journeys - Tan Oceans Special Edition (24x36 Paper Folded)
By: Smithsonian Journeys
Swiftmaps is proud to partner with Smithsonian Journeys to bring a new and exciting World Map series to the American marketplace. Featuring eye-catching bold and vivid colors complemented with rich vintage tan ocean tones that will make this the perfect reference piece --- sure to stand-out and highlight any home or business wall. The precise detail and digital accuracy shows color-matching visual shaded 3D relief and other physical features without sacrificing the maps readability. Now printed on high-quality 80 lb. paper and professionally FOLDED in a compact 8x10 inch size. FEATURES: 1) Africa centered allowing viewers to see continents complete and intact 2) Clearly labeled country and city names for easy location 3) Latitude and longitude indications 4) Shaded relief of ocean and land topography 4) Desirable Miller Projection. The Smithsonian Journeys wall map series serve not only as a handy reference piece, but as an eye-catching accent for any room or office. NOTE: each map is professionally folded to 8x10 inches and when unfolded the map is 24 inches high and 36 inches wide.
Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan through Travel Guard with the price of your tour. This travel insurance plan includes On-tour medical evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), emergency medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only, not including U.S. Territories). Travel must be more than 100 miles from the Insured’s primary residence.

In addition, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment from unforeseen events, such as missed flight connections, lost luggage, and cancelled plans. There are many plans you can consider. For your convenience, you may visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1.800.208.6142 to learn more.

Terms and conditions

Our Mission

Smithsonian Journeys engages travelers in the mission of the Smithsonian – “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Like the Institution, our tours enrich our guests’ lives and satisfy their curiosity about the world around them. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 19 museums, national zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.

What Is Included in the Tour Cost

  • Expertise of Oxford Tutors.
  • All accommodations (based on double occupancy).
  • Meals as indicated on the tour page, including special welcome and farewell dinners (B-breakfast; L-lunch; R-reception; D-dinner).
  • All sightseeing and visits as noted in each itinerary.
  • Pre-tour information, including a reading list.
  • Baggage handling for one bag plus one carry-on bag per person.
  • Service charges and gratuities.
  • All on-tour transportation, unless otherwise noted.
  • On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only).

What Is Not Included in the Tour Cost

  • Round-trip international airfare and air and departure taxes.
  • Transfers to and from your home to the program site and transfers to and from the airports, unless specifically noted
  • Transfers to and from airports for individuals not arriving or departing on scheduled program dates. 
  • Passport fees, visas, and visa photos as required.
  • Personal items such as wines, liquors, a-la-carte orders, meals other than specified.
  • Room service and valet/laundry service.
  • Expenses incurred by our tour operators in making individual travel arrangements in conjunction with the tour.
  • Other items not specifically mentioned as included.  
  • Optional Travelers’ Protection Plan: Unexpected events before or during a trip may leave you with cancelled plans, lost luggage, or unforeseen medical expenses. This optional plan offers an affordable package of benefits and services that can provide coverage and assistance for the unexpected. Visit TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys to learn more.


Space is reserved in the order of receipt of phone or web reservations.

To submit a request for a reservation, please order using our secure online process, or call 855-330-1542 to speak with a Reservations Specialist, Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Submitting an online request does not guarantee space on a tour. You will be notified of your status when your request has been received and processed. Please note: No new registrations can be accepted within 30 days of most tours. Some tours are more restrictive; please see individual tour pages for these exceptions.

To complete your request, the following is necessary:

Required Information
For all international departures, passport information including the following, in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program as well as by our international travel partners: your full name as it appears on your passport, date of birth, and gender (for further information, please visit www.tsa.gov). In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, or if you use a different passport than originally cited, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.

Deposit of $500 (land tours) or $1,000 (Cruise tours) per person, per tour, payable by check to the tour operator or by major credit card, is required to reserve a space on a tour program. Deposits are applied to the payment of the program price.

Balance due upon invoicing at least 95 days prior to the program. If payment is not received by the final payment due date, your place cannot be guaranteed on the tour.

Late Registration
Any registration received within 95 days of departure is considered a “late registration” and must be subject to special confirmation. Payment in full must be made immediately by credit card or by check and sent by overnight mail to the tour operator before confirmation is possible.

Once confirmed, cancellation penalties apply as set forth below. If confirmation is not possible, all payments made will be refunded in full.

Late registration confirmation procedures apply to any participant who is transferred from the wait list to the program within the designated late registration period for that program.

For additional information, please call a Reservations Specialist at 855-330-1542, Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) or visit www.SmithsonianJourneys.org/Contact.

A Note About Costs

Tour costs are based upon current airfares, tariffs, currency values, and on the basis of a minimum number of participants. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change. Should actual enrollments fall significantly below minimum numbers, a surcharge may be added. Due to fluctuations in oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee (e.g. internal flights, cruises, etc.). Details and costs will be advised prior to departure. 

Wait List

If the tour of your choice is fully subscribed, you may choose to be placed on a waitlist by contacting a Reservation Specialist at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time), or SJReservations@si.edu. Individuals on the wait list will be contacted if space becomes available and can inquire about tour status by contacting a Reservation Specialist. If you choose to withdraw from a wait list, please notify us.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Per person cancellation fees are based on date of notice to Smithsonian Journeys.

  • Cancellations within 7 days of booking (if not within final payment date): full refund.
  • Cancellations after 7 days of booking: $500 retained (entire deposit).
  • Final payment due: 95 days prior to departure.
  • Cancellations made less than 95 days prior to departure: no refund.
  • Cancellation by the Smithsonian: full refund.
  • No refund for unused portions of the tour, including but not limited to, missed meals, hotel nights, and sightseeing.

Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Air Service

For tour packages that include round-trip international airfare, rates are based on economy class from designated departure cities as shown. Airfares from other cities are available upon request. Airline upgrades at additional cost may be available on request for the international portion of your flight.

Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservations, you do not purchase nonrefundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes.

Neither Smithsonian Journeys nor the tour operator has any liability for any loss resulting from tour cancellations or changes in international gateways, travel dates, or airline schedule changes. If an air schedule requires an overnight stay in a gateway city, the cost of the overnight will be at your expense. For tour packages that include round-trip international airfare, we will be happy to help with arrangements. Please note that seat assignment on your international flight is usually done at airport check-in. The tour operator is unable to guarantee any seat assignments.

When planning our tours that include international round-trip airfare, the tour operator contracts with those airlines that they feel provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates that enable us to offer you the best possible travel value. Please note that frequent flyer mileage credits are issued at the discretion of the airline(s) and may not be available for the flights on your tour. If you prefer to make your own airline reservations, “land only” pricing is available on most of our tours.

Individual Arrivals and Group Transfers
A designated group flight is not included on most tours. However, transportation from the arrival airport to the ship/hotel is included in your tour cost if you arrive in time to meet the scheduled group transfer. Your first tour bulletin will thoroughly explain the details of the options available for your individual flights.

Air Tickets Purchased Independently of the Tour
We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since international departure times and flights can change. Tours also can be canceled due to low enrollments. Neither Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.

Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan, through Travel Guard, with the price of your tour. On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only). It also includes up to $25,000 medical and up to $500 dental expense coverage, and 24-hour worldwide travel and medical assistance. Please click here to view complete coverage details.

Please visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1-800-208-6142 to learn about additional (optional) coverage.

Travel Documents

For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of your tour, and with at least six blank visa pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all tours in this catalog. If your tour requires a visa or other entry documents, we will send you the appropriate information after you make a reservation. You are responsible for obtaining these documents. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact your embassy or consulate to ensure you obtain the proper documentation.

Physical and Medical Considerations

Please note that these tours require that participants be in good physical condition. You must be capable, without assistance, of walking a minimum of two miles over uneven terrain and of climbing stairs that may not have handrails. Participants should have sufficient stamina to keep pace with an active group of travelers on long days of touring. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a tour, please call us at 855-330-1542. Some tours have additional notes regarding physical and medical considerations, which are noted on the Tour Information link

Itinerary or Program Modifications

Smithsonian strives to improve tour itineraries and their features. If improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute hotels. Every effort will be made to carry out the program as planned but alterations may still occur after the final itinerary is sent. Please note that weather conditions may force changes to the advertised sailing schedule on cruise programs. The ship’s captain has the authority to change the ship’s schedule.


Smithsonian chooses hotels based on a combination of their location, service, atmosphere, and price. On adventure tours and programs in out-of-the-way places, best-available hotels are used. In most cases, hotels have elevators and meeting rooms for Smithsonian lectures. Program prices are based on two persons sharing a room with a bath.

Singles and Roommates
Hotel rooms are always reserved for single travelers; however, the number of single rooms available on a tour may be limited. Therefore we recommend that you register early. Please note that a single supplement will apply for a single room. If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room, we will do our best to find someone of the same gender and smoking preference to share with you. If you are matched with a non-smoking roommate, it is mutually agreed that you cannot smoke in your hotel room. When a roommate cannot be found, the single supplement will be charged. 


All tours, except family programs, are designed for adults. On this program, the minimum age is 18 years old.

Special Travel Arrangements
Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel. Please note that the tour operator can assist you in making post-tour arrangements only. We regret that we are unable to help with pre-tour arrangements.

Participants on tour may be photographed for the educational and promotional purposes of the Smithsonian Institution. Photographs may be printed in publications and posted on websites to promote Smithsonian Journeys. Travelers who prefer that their image not is used must advise the tour manager at the beginning of the tour.

Smoking Policy
For the comfort of all participants, we ask that there be no smoking during all group activities, including excursions and meals. On certain cruises, there is no smoking aboard the ship. Your pre-tour bulletins will provide further information.

Preparing for Your Journey

Prior to departure, you will receive Tour Bulletins containing both general and tour specific information to help you prepare for your travel experience. These bulletins will include:

  • Passport and visa instructions
  • Flight information
  • Weather, clothing, and packing suggestions
  • A suggested reading list
  • General information about the countries you will visit, e.g. the food, customs, medical precautions, and currency.
  • Information about your Smithsonian Journeys Expert and tour staff
  • Baggage tag(s) and name badge(s)
  • Final itinerary
  • Participant list  


Read Carefully: Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer
Smithsonian Journeys are managed by professional tour operators hired as independent contractors. The use of tour operators allows the Smithsonian to offer its members a wide array of educational travel opportunities. The tour operator acts only as an agent for the respective suppliers by making arrangements for transportation, accommodations, and other services. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of tour participants.

The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour announced, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a tour, or to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time, when such action is determined by tour staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or the individual participant, subject only to the requirement that the recoverable portion of the total amount paid that corresponds to the cost of unused services and accommodations be refunded, if any. If your tour does not include airfare, your Tour Bulletins will provide information about when participants are recommended to purchase airline tickets. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator accept no liability for the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets to/from the tour departure city if a tour is canceled or otherwise modified subsequent to the participant’s purchase of those tickets. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the sole responsibility of the participant.

Dates, schedules, program details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication of the brochure or catalog, are subject to change and revision.


The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this tour, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the tour brochure(s), and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the tour and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the tour brochure(s). The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel tour, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff or others. In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the tour, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this tour, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour.

By registering for a Smithsonian Journey, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.