Viator Tours in Europe

I found some great tours with Viator, but want to make sure they're a good company and not a scam. Has anyone taken a tour with them in Europe? I'm looking in to some of their tours in Provence.

Posted by Kate
Atlanta, GA, USA
61 posts

Now I'm confused since you all seem to have had good and bad experiences. How long ago did you go? Can you recommend any other companies? Most of the google searches I've done seem to go back to Viator.

Posted by Andrea
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
435 posts

I recommend against Viator every chance I get. They are a consolidator who purchases tours from local operators on your behalf -- so they carry nothing you cannot get elsewhere.

We used them in Spain for a jeep adventure tour for seven. We called the local number provided to confirm and they had no information on our booking. We spent two afternoons making phone calls back and forth. We did finally get our tour but what a waste of precious vacation time.

Against my better judgment I booked through them for a service in Rome a year later and we showed up for our service and the operator had no idea why we were there and spent some time making calls to confirm we had paid (and I think to make sure they would get paid if they provided the service).

I really dislike using companies who require you to phone again once you are at destination because in my opinion, I have already paid for the service so isn't my own problem if I don't show up? They also wait until shortly before the tour to email the vouchers and if you have departed in advance of the booked tour, and do not check email on vacation (which I don't)you might not get the voucher.

My sister also booked a tour with them (Paris) for which she was never able to locate the start point and was out the money.(to be fair she didn't bother to pursue the refund that hard).

Hope this helps.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7827 posts

I haven't heard anything bad about them in Paris, but, they do charge more, and they are NOT the tour company , they are just a middle man. If you see a tour you like you should google for suppliers website and see what they charge. I don't know why, but some poeople do not mind paying more for what they think is conveneince. Most tours avaialable in Europe are put on by companies that have their own websites, in english too!

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2011 posts

I've only used them once and was very pleased. Did a Milan tour of the Last Supper, La Scala, the Dumo, the Galleria and Sforza Castle this past December. Got email confirmation immediately after booking. All pertinent info, where to meet, contact name, etc. Excellent guide, clean bus, small group. Couldn't have been happier and since I only had a day in Milan perfect for me.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7827 posts

Kate, lets be specific,, name one of the tours you are interested in,, I being queen of googling, will find the offical site for the company,, so you don't have to use viatour ( we can compare prices too!)

Posted by Charles
Tumwater, WA, United States
118 posts

One of the things I liked about this company was that they refunded all of my money after I had paid for one of their tours and then found that I could not travel this year. The money was back in my Visa account in less than a week. That sold me.

Posted by Dan
Paris, France
81 posts

I have booked with other similar agencies and I have been satisfied, mainly for the following:
- maybe not always, but these sites buy large volumes from the tour guides so they get better rates or special inclusions like lunch.
- I don't have time to search on Google and compare across all the local tour guides, especially when their sites are not clear about inclusions or tour details and I don't speak their language.
- maybe most important for me, I only pay online with secure and trusted sites, not with any small site, because I don't trust at all their handling of my credit card.

I don't think you run any risk (it's not a scam, if that's the question). You can call them if you feel more secure. I personally like to use agents when they help, then it's up to you to do what's best for you.

Posted by Amy
Bremen, Alabama, USA
52 posts

As someone has posted. They don't do the tours. They contract out with many different tour companies to make it easier for people to find different tours for different locations around the world. So for that they do a great job.

I have booked with them twice Sept of 2007. 1st time was in Dublin for a day tour to Newsgrange. Great tour! Loved it! The guide was great! Come to find out it was done through Grey Line Tours.

A few days later while in Amsterdam again I used them again for another tour of the windmills. It was awful. We didn't get within 300 yards of a windmill. We could see them off in the distance. We ran through a viking villiage, and was rushed through a cheese factory. But what got me was the rude guide. Her parting words were "Even though she wasn't American and she wasn't in American, she expected to be tipped as if she was!"

Sites like Viator are great for people who aren't ready to get out on their own. They are great to educate yourself to learn how to get out on your own. It's basicly the luck of the draw on the companies.

Posted by LAURA
JUSTICE, IL, U.S.A
1 posts

I'VE USED VIATOR FOR THE LAST 5 YRS IN italy the best ever Laura

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7827 posts

LAURA why are you yelling,, and do you work for Viatour,, this being your first and so far,, only post here. We aren't stupid you know.

Posted by ERIC
ELKINS PARK, PA, USA
1 posts

Do not use VIATOR. We purchased a Paris fashion tour as a holiday gift for our daughter and this was to be one of the highlights of our 2010 Spring break family trip to Paris. We confirmed, showed up early at the meeting place and waited and waited. No guide showed - super disappointing! To top it off I have been fighting for over a month to get a refund from Viator. They promise fast replies to customer complaits, etc. but they took nearly a month to reply to my emails and phone calls and are treating me like I am lying and at fault. We even have a receipt from the Starbucks meeting place to prove we were there at the given time. To top it all off they have not sent me the link to give a review on the tour (it is suppose to come 1 week after a tour) I now know why there are no negative reviews on their web site. Sorry if I am complaining a bit but as Rick recommended do not deal with a middle man, if you want a local tour contact a local tour guide directly.

Posted by Judy
Alameda, CA, USA
80 posts

I will not use Viator. Last summer, I tried them and was deceived of nearly $250. I don't remember the precise details since it was a painful lost of money. My final impression and conclusion: they are not trustworthy.

Should you decide to use them, we wish you luck.

But if you lose money like the rest of us, consider yourself warned. Blame no one but yourself :D

Posted by Teresa
Charlton, London, United Kingdom
1 posts

I got ripped off by Viator in my home town of London. I booked a ride on the "duck" with my son for his birthday. I requested a certain time slot and did not notice that they actually gave us a different one. We sat and watched several tours set off and wondered sadly why we hadn't been offered an earlier slot as there were obviously spaces. When we finally came to the requested time we made our way forward to be told that the 3pm slot I'd chosen was not available and I should have been on the 13:10 one!! The Tours cost £60 each and I was offered £25 toward a new one. I was too annoyed to take them up on it...

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

This almost 4 year old post was revived by a new poster who wanted to complain about Viator. I'm sure the Original Poster has taken her trip by now.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8755 posts

Andrea is right. I'm afraid that viator did nothing wrong. It is the customer's job to check that the tickets are what they expected. I'd never open an envelope without looking at the contents. I'm always astonished when I see train tickets that are for trains different than the passenger is on - they never seem to check. People make typos when buying on-line and clerks make typos on phone reservations. Always check.

Posted by Denise
Watford, Hertfs, England
1 posts

I am using them for the first time in Rome this year. My daughter has used them to go to Paris and said they were great. Denise, Watford, England.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7827 posts

Denise, as we have been trying to explain they are not a tour company, you are just buying other peoples tours through them, so it is possible that you could buy direct and get better times or prices.. but yes,sometimes they offer better prices if they buy blocks of tickets.The point is most people like to save money, so they compare to see if they get a better deal buying direct. I find it amusing some people think that a tour company that does thousands of tours a year is less reliable with their credit card information then a mere middle man agency.. they are not much different likely. I am not saying there is anything wrong with Viatour, I am saying that if there is a mix up you have to deal through a second party instead of directly with company and that can cause problems.

Posted by Judy
Adelaide, SA, Australia
802 posts

We have used Viator to book tours 3 times over the last 5 years. Have had no problems. Found them to be efficient and easy to deal with.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4764 posts

It still doesn't make sense to pay Viator a cut of the money when you can book with the companies themselves. I cringe when I read the prices of the bus tours they are offering in Germany sometimes, going to the Rhine, to Heidelberg, the Romantic Road, etc.

Posted by kiko
los angeles, ca, usa
2 posts

DON'T DO IT!!! Viator doesn't run the tours themselves. We got to the Barcelona office of the local tour operator. They told us that they forgot about the "confirmed" tour that my whole family was supposed to join. There was really nothing we could do. Nothing! I was thinking that Viator was recommended by my AAA agent that it should be really good. And knowing that it is a big city as Barcelona that it was a no brainer. They must have local operators that are dependable. Wrong. What a waste of time and effort. They wasted our day in Barcelona. Btw, I am still chasing Viator with regards to my refund. Even though I have a copy of the email sent by the tour operator cc'd Viator that they screwed up and to please issue a refund to me. Viator is denying that there was an email send by the local operator in Barcelona. Okay, here is the operator's name ExploreCatalunya.com.
If you want a copy of the email from explorecatalunya.com just email me.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7680 posts

Am I missing something? Where is the "update"? This link just appears to be a direct copy of what you posted above.

Posted by Michele
Austin, TX, USA
1 posts

I recommend against Viator. As the other's commented, they are a middleman and you must contact the tour operator to confirm the tour, pick up locations or ask any questions. They do not provide good customer service and as soon as they have your money, the customer service ends. I have contacted Viator with questions about tours with no response, tried to cancel a tour and told "sorry - no refund". Use Trip Advisor to find out where to go and what to do, or, look at the tours Viator offers and then google the tours to find the operators. Yeah, sure, if you prepay, have no questions, and good luck, Viator works just fine.

Posted by Peter
Woking, UK
1 posts

Just been to Amsterdam and booked Viator's 'Skip the Line' tickets online, giving us admission to Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum plus a 24-hour Canal Bus hop-on hop-off pass. Booking online was easy, though I was worried that the terms and conditions were very user-unfriendly. However booking through Viator turned out to be not worth doing. We booked on the basis that the voucher printed off would give us instant admission to the museum, avoiding any queues - but this didn't work. The staff controlling entrance to the museum saw our voucher and put us in a very slightly shorter queue on arrival; but when we got to the Ticket Office the staff there looked mystified and told us we had to go to a Canal Bus office some distance away so as to get the voucher exchanged. We were sure there had been nothing in the Viator booking process that told us we had to do that first. By the time we found the Canal Bus office and came back we had wasted more than an hour from first arrival at the museum. The queues (on a Thursday morning) were much shorter than an hour, so there was really no point in having booked online. There didn't seem to be any significant saving on the entry fees either.

Posted by Thomas
Tucson, ARIZONA, US
1 posts

Viator doesn't post bad reviews, so you only see the good. We did the Cinque Terre in September 2013, with Viators' guide company "Walkabout". The guide was 15 minutes late to the meet-up point, and didn't have a list of passengers. The tour was billed as a small group, so when I saw the 2 mega busses (plus the 2 other unrelated cinque terre tour groups at the train station)we tried to back out, but we were talked into to doing it by a guide who later left the bus for another tour. We were told we would be able to set our own pace and that it would be uncrowded, but the pace was set by the rump of the tourist ahead of us, and the 40+ ahead of him, and behind us. The views are occasionally great, but if you stop to take a photo you are likely to have to force your way back into the stream of tourists. Barbara, our guide, was almost impossible to understand and short enough to be impossible to find in a crowd because she was holding only a piece of paper, and it was always crowded. She also changed shirts mid-tour, which made it doubly hard to spot her. At one point, she took exception to my shoes, which were nice, closed toe, grippy shoes that I've worn hiking all over goat tracks and hill villages in Europe. She actually seemed to want me to leave the tour mid-stream. When I pointed out the other tour-takers wearing flip-flops, she just became angry with me. I was wearing a large hat, for sun protection. She commented that it was a nice hat, but I would be sorry on the boat. There was no boat, it was cancelled, and despite trying to avoid her, she later tried to yank my hat off my head when I was passing a blueberry bramble. By that time I had sized her up and I yanked it back and told her to stop picking on me. All in all, very unsuitable guide, not a 'small tour' and very disappointing. Nice people on the tour, however.

Posted by Mike
Terrace, B.C.
1 posts

In case anyone missed Kiko's note I'm happy to repeat it: ~ DON'T DO IT! ~
I made the mistake of blundering into Viator before research here, TripAdvisor, etc. Didn't realize that they were just a 'jobber' for real tour operators. Experienced many of the same frustrations as those listed here. Caveat emptor and all that, but I'm definitely a 'buyer well aware' now.

Posted by Lille
Austin
21 posts

I guess this is truly a "mixed bag" when it comes to viator experiences. we have used them a lot over the years. Granada, Spain for Alhambra, Rome for a Vatican tour, Barcelona for a day trip to France and Andorra, Quebec City for a half day trip, Mexico City for a Teotihuacan day trip. We have never had a problem with them and have found the tour guides to be helpful and knowledgeable about the trips. I guess we have been lucky...knock on wood.
We will use them again.

Posted by Lille
Austin
21 posts

Oh forgot to mention, I do check other sites to find the best deals, and I've found that the prices are pretty comparable which is why we continue to book with them.
And no, neither I or any member of my family work for viator :-)

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7827 posts

Lille so what do you think the advantages are of using a middleman agency for booking tours instead of booking directly? It seems if there is a problem on the ground the tour company refers people back to Viatour instead of helping you deal with the issue directly.

Posted by Lille
Austin
21 posts

Hi Pat! I guess the ease of having multiple choices all in one site. A lot of the times there is so much more to do in a city or town than we thought, so flipping thru all the activities on one site makes it convenient.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4764 posts

That is what you can do on Trip Advisor. Find all the tours and attractions for each city you want to visit, as well as all of the reviews, good and bad. Viator doesn't publish the bad reviews. Good example - go to Viator and see what they offer for Frankfurt. The only thing they have listed is a bus tour, where in reality there are lots of different tours available here. Look at Trip Advisor to see the difference. Same thing for the Rhine. They offer one crappy, but expensive bus tour, run by ETS. Using Google will give you better options for things to see and do than Viator will.

Posted by Matt
Oregon
4 posts

My wife and I booked a honeymoon and used Viator for tickets to the Uffizi gallery. The listing clearly states that we purchased tickets, and not a tour or group. Upon arriving at the designated site at the designated time, we were "greeted" by a very rude, very unhelpful representative who looked at our receipt and said that our "tour" had left. "We didn't purchase a tour." I explained, "But rather tickets to skip the line." She quickly stated that we purchased a tour and turned away from me and ignored me questions. I contacted Viator's customer care, and although the representative on the phone admitted the mistake by Viator, the online representative DID NOT stand by their product, or the representative and refused our refund. Viator did not provide us with services or merchandise as paid for, and was very unhelpful. DO NOT PURCHASE ANYTHING FROM THIS COMPANY.

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
774 posts

Gray Line Tours offers a great selection of day or multi day tours. You can go on-line and see their choices. Gray Line.com. We have used them for day tours in many, many countries. For longer trips we have used TAUCK Tours. They are the best. Tauck Tours.com