Coach BusTour trips in Spain and Portugal

My companions and I are planning a tour bus tour in Spain and Portugal for two weeks. We have never done a coach tour like this before and not sure what to exspect. We are in our early 50's and pretty laid back Canadians but the reviews seem to be varied? Are these tours good or not so good. Also in our third week we plan on traveling by train to Belgium, any advise what to see and do?
Thank you for any advise you may have

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
5722 posts

If you want to know what to expect on your tour, you'll have to state which tour company and which specific tour of theirs you are taking. A Cosmos tour and a Tauck tour are VERY different, and that's reflected in their very different prices.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8174 posts

I took one trip with my mom on a coach tour. It wasn't horrible but really wasn't for me. Primarily because I'd prefer to organize my own trip around my preferences. Typically bus tours cater to older passengers (the young ones will be in their 50's) unless they are specifically marketed toward a younger crowd.

The things some people would probably really like:
- The bus is comfortable.
- You don't have to plan anything, worry about lodging, transportation, or finding meals (the guide will tell you where to eat if the meal isn't included in your trip).
- The guide gives you a rolling commentary throughout the trip, describing history, culture, along with amusing anecdotes, that make you feel like you've had a better introduction to a place.
- The lodging is typically really nice.
- If it's in the brochure, it should be included in the price.

The things I didn't like:
- They will barely stop at an important historic sight, in favor of hours of shopping and getting every meal exactly on schedule.
- The stops are EXACTLY as described in the brochure. Don't think they are simply using a variety of words to describe stops along the way. If the brochure says, "You will see..." expect to simply drive by and "see" the sight. "You will stop at..." is likely to be a very brief stop. Unless it says, "You will visit..." don't expect to be able to spend time looking at something.
- The guides depend on tips and kickbacks, so expect their tours to be at least somewhat geared toward maximizing the two (see the first point).

Posted by Margaret
813 posts

If your bus tour is with Rick Steves (ETBD) or with Tauck Tours, you will most likely be happy. You would be in very good hands.

Rick's tours are very nice, and Tauck tours are a step or two up from that (hotels/restaurants). Tauck tends to pull group that I would 'guess' would average about 10 years older than the typical Rick Steves' tour average age.

With Rick's tours, one handles their own luggage (as far as taking it from the bus to your hotel room), but with Tauck, everything is done for you. With Rick's tours, you make your own way from the airport to the first hotel...with Tauck, you are picked up at the hotel (sometimes in a private sedan).

If it is a company other than Rick's or Tauck's, then yep, you would likely experience what Brad describes in his post.

I would not hesitate to go on another Rick or Tauck bus tour......each company is different, but on both you will likely meet and share the journey with lovely well-educated, interested travelers, and you would have a wonderful tour director and fabulous local guides.

P.S. With Tauck, for example, one sees the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum privately as a group, after crowds. That's the two step up difference....typical of all their tours, just different by locale.