Advice on a few Rick Steves' tours

Hello, My daughter and I are just starting to research Rick's tours. We have landed on three that sound interesting. The first is the Best of Europe in 21 days, which we both agreed hit all the places we've already been to and want to go back to, plus more that we want to see. We felt like it summed up a lot of Europe nicely, neatly, and smoothly. The second is the Best of Italy in 17 days. My daughter had wanted to hit Varenna and Lake Como on our first trip, but we didn't end up going. She also wanted to go to Venice and enjoyed the prospect of the stained glass demo in Siena. And of course, we both adored Florence and the Cinque Terre. The third is the Best of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We stayed in near Interlaken in Switzerland last time, but we never went to Germany and Austria. We were hoping to see Hallstatt, and I speak a little German and have always wanted to see Germany. We both would take the opportunity to see the Alps again, and we'd be seeing more new places than old. All three tours sound really lovely, but we can't decide which one. Any comments or suggestions? We'd love to hear from people who have gone on any of these tours. Please give your advice and likes/dislikes. Thanks so much!

Posted by Donna
Cleveland, OH
607 posts

Becky, I did the Germany, Austria, & Switzerland tour and enjoyed it very much. Check out the Tour Reviews (under the Tours tab on this site) for more info. All three tours sound great. Good luck!

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3695 posts

It might also be helpful to you to read people's Scrapbooks (diaries of their tour experience) for each tour in the tours section.

Posted by Becky
Woodinville, WA
77 posts

Thank you both for the head's up! I didn't realize there were tour reviews until I just looked again, and there they are, neatly tucked into the right-hand side. We'll go over there and do some reading.

Posted by Teresa
567 posts

Becky, I sent you a PM. Short version is that I would unreservedly recommend either the 21 Days tour or the GAS tour. Can't comment on the Best of Italy tour (unfortunately!).

Posted by John
Van Nuys, CA, USA
255 posts

since you live just a couple miles from Edmonds you might want to find out when they have their next travel event. A few times a year they bring guides in and have a big travel fair where you can talk to the guides that lead the trips. They also have weekly classes; you might want to call and see if any are led by the guides that work the trips you are considering. I've only been on 1 of the tours you mentioned, plus one other RS tour. Loved each one. Frankly I think you can't go wrong no matter which one you pick. Since you mention going with your daughter and I'm going to guess she is a teenager or young adult, I will mention that the longer the tour the older the average age tends to be. Probably because Americans don't tend to get as much vacation time as people in some other countries.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1167 posts

The two tours I took in the summer (France and Barcelona/Madrid) both had several younger people (teens to late 20s) traveling with family so there was more of an age range than the tours I've taken in the fall. The three fall tours I've done, didn't have any younger people traveling with family. I think the time of year has more to do with the number of young people than the length of the tour. All the young people on the tours were either students or teachers so summer was the time they could travel. I agree with the others, I think any of the three tours you're considering would be excellent experiences.

Posted by Terry
Bellevue, Wa
58 posts

Hi Becky Ive been on the 21 day Best of Europe tour and have been to everyplace on my own with my daughters that the GAS tour goes except Vienna (next trip). The tour was fantastic. The Rick Steves guides that accompany the tour make each location come alive along with good restaurants etc. In deciding between the tours the question I was ask is how much do you love mountains forests and the Germanic/Austrian mountain culture and scenery. If the answer is alot then the GAS is for you. The GAS spends an extra day in the Berner Oberland area which in my opinion is where God goes when he needs a break and to recharge his batteries. Hallstadt and the area around Salzburg are absolutely beautiful. Sounds like you have covered Italy etc thats why I say ask youself about mountains and forests. If the answer is you like them some but want to see lots of other places the 21 day Best of Europe is fantastic. The guides I believe are going to be flown in for the next big Tour Event at the office in Jan or Feb. I go to that each year too and it helps me make up my mind where Im going next...have fun deciding

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
1745 posts

Someone upthread mentioned the travel events held in Edmonds. Go to the News and Events tab at the top of the page and then Travel Classes. They are just posted thru Sept right now so keep checking back. Last year the free all-day travel festival was the first Sat in November. You can go to presentations from 830 or 9AM all day thru Rick's evening presentation of Art 101. It was really interesting altho I am not sure it helped me narrow down my wish list, if anything it made me more interested to go some places I hadn't considered! The Tour group reunion is January 18,2014 when all the tour guides are flown in. I think there are presentations that day as well called Test drive a tour guide?? (or did I make that up?) We are planning to go to the reunion even tho it is winter and Snoqualmie is on the way, lol. Pam

Posted by Becky
Woodinville, WA
77 posts

Thanks to everyone who has replied! I have been to the travel resource fair that Rick puts on in the fall and spring, but I hadn't heard about the tour reunion. I'll definitely put that on the calendar. I, too, am afraid that it will make the list bigger and not smaller :). But, it will be nice to see and hear the guides in person and see what we think! Thanks!