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First time traveling abroad recommendations

My husband and I are semi-retired and we have never traveled abroad. We love Rick Steves and want to make our first time traveling to Europe with his company. If we only have 8 days for our first trip, where should we go? Ireland or Germany or elsewhere? We are looking at going in September, 2023.

Posted by
7818 posts

A few ideas to help you make your decision.
1. Which tours still have openings?
2. Which location has the best airfare prices right now?
3. Which location seems most appealing to you?

Posted by
5105 posts

Are you looking for recommendations for one of the RS tours? If so, have you looked through the various tours and itineraries on this site? If you only have 8 days, then the 7 day city tours (Paris, London, Istanbul or Rome) would be your best bet. If you add on a day or two, you could take a multiple city tour.

If you're planning on doing this on your own but using Rick's guidebooks, then you have a lot more options, but it would help to know what your interests are. Do you like history, sightseeing, or hiking? Is art and music high on your list or do you prefer to wander through a small town? Keep in mind that for your first trip, language can be an issue so you might want to focus on an English-speaking country like the UK or Ireland. But having said that, most residents of Germany, Iceland, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands, etc., speak English very well, too.

Another idea is to read some books, or watch some videos about various destinations - you can get some ideas on this page:

Posted by
3518 posts

Since it is your first trip and you don’t have much time, I would recommend looking at his one city tours, such as London, Rome, or Paris. It will be easier to get direct flights in and out of one city. Some of his tours start or end in cities which might need a train or bus to get to the airport. Again, since it is your first trip, make it simple until you feel more comfortable with changing planes, prepurchasing tickets and planning.

Posted by
865 posts

Definitely buy the Rick Steves book, EUROPE THROUGH THE BACK DOOR - sometimes it's cheaper on Amazon instead of this site, but compare the cost. It is a fantastic book and we re-read it every time go.

With only 8 days- I'd do a one city tour like Paris or Rome or London (Rome would be my choice) --- BUT, the Munich, Salzburg and Vienna one is fabulous --as is the Prague and Budapest. You really can't go wrong - but for 8 days and booking air out of ONE airport instead of MultiCity would be easier for you for sure.

Posted by
2 posts

HUGE THANKS, everyone! Guess we've got some research to do, which we love. And we have a couple of couple-friends who have been over there for many years in several cities. Both of those couples want us to travel with them for the first time so maybe that's an option as well. That might build our confidence and then we'd be ready to go on our own. I greatly appreciate this forum. Thank you.

Posted by
14 posts

I couldn’t disagree more with many posters suggestions of a big city tour such as Paris or London.

I don’t hate big cities but what I love most about Europe are the small ones. ALL of my favorite places have been the quaint towns.

Rick Steves has a 8 day Heart of Ireland tour that I think would be an awesome trip. You get bigger city and small town. Especially because you haven’t been before and don’t know your preferences I would certainly NOT stay in a big city for 8 whole days. Learn your preference with a trip that mixes the two then go from there for next time.

We try to limit our city time to 3 days max before breaking it up with smaller towns and that has worked for us. We decided to do 6 days in Paris because it is so big and we regretted it. We were so “citied out” but the end. I would rather do two separate trips and see some more each time. But this is our preference we learned.

Posted by
14125 posts

I too would recommend his 8 day Ireland tour.

Or you could visit both London and Paris on your own. Easy to get between the two.

Posted by
1589 posts

Take the plunge - the first trip is always the worst, but will be a lot easier than you fear. Everyone on the trip will be friendly and enjoying themselves.

Rather than a city tour, chose a tour that lets you see more of the countryside and gives you a feel for what the place is like. Ireland is a fairly small country and in 8 days you will see a lot of Ireland. Another alternative could be Scotland. An advantage is that both speak English so you will be able to talk to the 'natives!'

Do a google image search for the different places on the itinerary and this will give you an idea of what the places are like and if you might enjoy them.

Posted by
4429 posts

Your idea of taking up your friends' offer to show you around is a great alternative. But I would encourage you to plan for a little independent time to start gaining your own skills. We may be tempted to just arrive into their caring arms and let them set the agenda, but I expect they would be relieved to have a short list from you of what you want to see and do.

Posted by
586 posts

Anywhere you go will be brand new to you. There is no best for you. There is no comparison. It will be the one and only time for you to be able to travel free and clear of any comparative journeys.
You may as well throw a dart and go where it lands.

Posted by
1894 posts

Definitely, visit your friends and take up their offer. However, also plan days that just you two explore alone.