Hi. My family and I are going to Europe for the first time this June and we've decided on the RS Best of Europe in 14 Days Tour (France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy). I noticed, however, that there are free afternoons where we can do whatever we want. Any suggestions of things to do/tours that's not part of the RS tour? The free afternoons are in Paris, Munich, Venice, and Rome. Thank you for your valuable input.
On the 16 RS tours we have taken we have always received a communication from the RS folks about things that are not covered on the tour that we might consider doing during our time off from the tour. We usually receive that communication along with lots of other tour information maybe a month or so before the tour begins. You might want to check with the RS Tour Desk to see if that information is available early.
You can look at the "itinerary" tab and it contains suggestions for the free time. If you have a guide book there will be a lot more mentioned. And you can always ask the guide for a suggestion.
There will be plenty of choices of things to do.
To me, the free time on RS tours is one of the major plusses.
Everybody has different interests, and I usually have something I would like to see or do in a given location that isn't included on the tour. Or, sometimes, I really just want to wander or sit in a cafe. I enjoy the freedom to please myself.
Enjoy your tour!
In Paris, go up the Eiffel Tower.
In Munich, visit the Deutsches Museum. It's on an island in the Isar river, walking distance from the historic center. It reminds me of a small version of the Smithsonian.
In Venice, visit the Doge's Palace if it's not included. Or just explore the back streets and get lost, especially if you're provided with a vaporetto pass. Try to find some of the cicchetti places and enjoy a snack.
If it's a nice day in Rome, rent bikes and ride around the Villa Borghese park. Then walk down the Via Venato and visit the Cappuccian Crypts.
I've been on several RS tours and the guides are wonderful. When we had a free afternoon the guides always told us ahead of time and made suggestions as to things/places me might want to see on our free time. It was very helpful and some of us decided to do the same activity and the guides sometimes arranged ground transportation or additional info on how to get to what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go .
Thank you so much for all the great suggestions! I was thinking of booking the tours ahead of time but since I read your replies, I think it would be best to wait and see how the day goes. We could either walk around, chill in some place, or book a tour per the guide's recommendations. We will definitely see the Eiffel and I know that's not included in the tour. I tried to reserve a tour through Viator for that but they only book as far as February. Guess I'll be checking every month until they book in June.
Frank, I love your suggestions. Question though, in Rome, do we have time to do all those in an afternoon?
I'm so excited and I can hardly wait! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! :)
How old are the children in your family? It might help us to make suggestions.
Our boys will be 22 and 17 by June.
The Eiffel Tower is best a ways off as a focal point. I'd just take a walk thru one of the open air antique or book markets.
In Munich There's just so much...Point the boys to the English Gardens; if the weather's warm the girls will be sun bathing by the Monoptoros and hanging out at the Beer Garden just north of there. Then you can take the time to do something you guys like. The art galleries or museums, antique shops, the hunting museum, or just sitting at a table on one of the streets and watching people go by while having a drink or two.
I can't comment on Venice or Rome, but afternoons sitting with a drink and a snack are not to be taken lightly. I've met some great people that way.
Look at the scrapbooks from previous BOE-14 tours. They are a wealth of information and good advice.
I hope the tour through Viator you were looking for was not for the Eiffel Tower. You can book directly from them, 2 - 3 months out, https://www.toureiffel.paris/en. The site seems to change the timeframe from 2 - 3 months out.
Enjoy your trip.
Also note that Viator is a reseller, they do not do their own tours.
You guys are the best! All these info I never would have known on my own! The scrapbook suggestion is a gem, and I will definitely book the Eiffel tour directly at their website (thanks for the warning about Viator). I also love the the suggestion by KGC about taking the boys to the English Garden in Munich, where girls will be sunbathing. I’m sure they will love that! LOL!
So giving "the boys" the opportunity to ogle the girls sunbathing in the English Gardens is a good idea?
Norma, I have raised my boys to treat women with respect. I am not “giving them an opportunity to ogle sunbathing girls”. We live in Florida where women wear the skimpiest of bathing suits ALL year round. They certainly do not “ogle” them. We have been to beaches where women sunbathe topless and they did not “ogle” them. Young hetersexual men will naturally want to be around young women; there is nothing wrong with that.
I don’t want to start a different kind of discussion, just want some travel advice, not a moral sermon. Just having a little fun here, that’s all. Lighten up.
Jovie, you said this is your first trip to Europe. You will be on a tour already; why not take your free afternoons and enjoy time on your own to visit locales that interest you and are not on the tour itinerary. Use a travel book or one of the RS podcasts. Why opt for even MORE tours? Take your free time to walk around, sit outside at a cafe, meander into a bookstore, visit a synagogue or church, etc.
Bikes rent by the hour, and an hour is about how long it takes to explore the park by bike. Much of the park is shaded, which makes it a great way to spend part of a sunny June afternoon. The top of Via Venato is near the bike rental locaions, so walking downhill to the Cappuccian Crypts only takes about 15 minutes. If you have time left, turn right at the bottom of Via Venato and walk along Via del Tritone to the new Rinasciente flagship store. The store is a sight to see and the rooftop bar has spectacular views. If you prefer, there's an express elevator to the food floor from where you access the rooftop by stairs.
The chances are that im Englischen Garten you'll see nude guys as well lying there sunbathing in addition to the girls. I was at a foreign language workshop once where the head of the Goethe Institut of Los Angeles ( no longer there) pointed out to us this likely occurrence and saying emphatically, in case any of us had not been there, or in Munich, or in Germany, "Deutschland ist anders." (Ger. is different). She is correct. Obviously, she didn't oppose this practice.
Now for something entirely different -- in Rome.
If your time works out and you don't mind splurging, I can highly recommend taking a Scooteroma Vespa tour. You don't have to drive the things. You can ride on the back like I did.
These are the planned tours, but you can arrange something different, adjust the timing, etc. I did that for the Street Art one, cutting it down to 3 hours. At the age of 71 and weighing about 200 pounds, I didn't think they'd accept me, but I rode on the back of an "antique" Vespa with my guide as the driver. He picked me up in front of my apartment and took me back to it.
It was June and very hot. We were both sweating like horses. We'd stop to see particular things and do a little walking in a neighborhood. We also stopped for refreshments twice. During those times we talked about the art we saw, film, him, his mom and his wife and new baby.
I loved it! He drove like a typical Vespa driver, swerving around cars, driving between lanes, ending up in the front of the traffic -- like all the other people on 2 wheels. I was warned that it was a very dangerous thing to do, but he gave me a helmet and I had travel insurance to cover anything that might happen, including repatriation of remains.
The only issue I had was that my knees stiffened up toward the end of the trip, but I had no issues getting off the bike and walking up the 3 flights of stairs to my apartment.
I should add that I did this in the afternoon, following a very early tour of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's.
Lo, what a great idea. Thanks! 🛵
Continental, thanks for the input. You’re the 2nd person here who said that and I now agree. We decided to just see how the day goes and opt whether to take it easy or to go for another tour.
Frank, that sounds really enticing. I will definitely look into that once we get to Rome.
Fred, thanks for the helpful warning. I work in the medical field so I’ve seen more than enough of the male anatomy but that would be an interesting sight for my hubby and sons. LOL!
Lo, that is an amazing idea! If the finances allow, I would love to do that!
Thank you, everyone, for all the wonderful advice. Much appreciated!