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Best of Spain or Athens and the Heart of Greece?

We are overthinking this, I’m sure, but my H and i cant decide on which tour to take.
We are both 60 and active and we have been on several RS tours and enjoyed them.
There aren’t many recent trip reports of these tours so I’m hoping people will chime in and let me know their thoughts on either/both of these tours.
We like, history, museums as well as active walking on our tours
Any input is appreciated,
Claire

Posted by
2809 posts

Recently took the RS Greece Tour. Since you enjoy history, museums and active walking this is the tour for you and much more! We took the opportunity following the tour to add another 11 days to visit two islands. There are many Forum contributors who are willing to answer any forthcoming questions!

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks so much for all your replies.
My husband’s reservation re the Greece tour is that there seem to be more 1 night stays than the Spain tour.
Did you all find that to be a problem?

Posted by
262 posts

My husband and I have taken 4 RS tours, GAS, Portugal, Best of Italy and Athens and the Heart of Greece.

While they were all wonderful, Greece was the runaway winner in my book. That said, we are taking the Best of Spain tour next spring!

Posted by
2265 posts

Claire, i’ve done them both, and both were wonderful! I did Spain in 2016 and Greece in 2017, my first visit to each country. In each, I spent some additional days both before and after the tours. I really can’t say that either was better. Do them both, back-to-back, or in different seasons of the same year, or one year after the other.

Posted by
2466 posts

You've got a tough choice, but you can't go wrong with either. After 7 RS tours Greece still our favorite, with Spain a close second. Don't let the one night stops in Greece prevent you from taking this great tour.

Posted by
911 posts

I didn't feel the one night stops were a major issue. Don't unpack your suitcase, just get out of it what you need as you need it.

Posted by
266 posts

I'll echo the popular opinion here: Greece! The tour takes you to places you would never have been able to navigate or known about, which is probably why there's more than a few 1 night stops. Go while you're still mobile. Go and enjoy. Go and wonder at the birthplace of modern civilization. Just go, you won't regret it!

Posted by
50 posts

TURKEY!

Just kidding (but not really).

I also vote GREECE if choosing between Greece and Spain (I've done both). But make sure you eventually do Turkey, if you haven't already. And while I'm at it, take the Sicily tour (but only after Greece and Turkey).

Posted by
208 posts

We did RS Greece in 2015 and RS Spain in 2016. Both were really great.
1. I think that there is bit more hill and step climbing involved in the Greece than the Spain tour. Some of the more interesting churches required bit of a hike up hills.
2. There is predominantly ancient Greek ruins and orthodox Greek churches to explore in the Greece tour. On the Spain tour, it’s mainly Catholic cathedrels, Renaissnace and Arabic fortresses and sites. So depends upon your history interests.
3. Food was great on both tours and equally cheap. Greece was salads, cheese, and seafood. Spain was tapas, ham and more ham, and wine. I think the wine was better in Spain than Greece.
4. Hotels and one night stays were not that big a deal. Main difference is not tossing the toilet paper in the bowl in Greece (have to put in container in the bathroom). Got use to it quickly.
5. I felt that there was more free time on the Greece tour than Spain. There was less stuff to see and more exploring on your own.
6. Both places have their political issues occurring. However, Spain may be bit more active and volatile with the Barcelona situation. However, I can’t see there being an issue for tourists.
If I was to do one trip again, it would be Greece. Mainly because there was stuff to see that i missed because knew less about the history and culture of Greece than Spain.

Posted by
14326 posts

I've been to Spain several times on my own and I took the RS Greece tour this past spring. They are both wonderful places to visit.

I didn't mind the one-nighters. I put what I needed for the first 2 nights after Athens in a backpack and left my suitcase on the bus. The only thing I didn't like about the tour was going to the airport when it was over.

Posted by
17 posts

I want to thank everyone for replying, especially David with his comparison analysis.
Fortunately, or not, Rick Steves has made the decision for us.
The Greece tour, which was “filling fast” for our dates, only has space for 1 person so we will be going on the Best of Spain.
I hope people will chime in with as much love for this tour as everyone has shown for Greece.

Posted by
2466 posts

Greece will be there for next time. You will enjoy Spain. We wished we had spent a day or two longer in Barcelona before the tour. Much to do and the hotel was great. We did stay a few days extra in Sevilla and that was worth it. Took an easy day trip by train to Córdoba to see the Mezquita, one of the highlights for me. And we had a great lunch at this Sephardic restaurant http://casamazal.es/en/. You will find Spain inexpensive and fun. Bring a bathing suit as at least two of the hotels have pools. Get used to dining really late!

Posted by
208 posts

You’ll have a great time on the Spain tour. A few considerations:
1. We arrived a couple days early so we could check out the Gaudi buildings and park in town.
2. Consider going to the Picasso museum in town. It has his early works, before he went to Paris. So don’t expect to see much blockbusters paintings. However, it’s educational to see his early works, to see how he later developed his style. A self portrait done when he was 14 years old is amazing and showed his obvious talent.
3. If you are a foodie, check out the “Devour Barcelona” and “Devour Madrid” food tours. We took both and it was worth it. They take you to several tapas places to sample the speciality of each bar. If you do dinner, eat a very light lunch, since you’ll be eating large amounts of food.
4. If you are a vegetarian or don’t eat pork, you may miss out on certain important food aspects of this tour. If that is not an issue, you have to pay the money and get Jambon Iberico Bellota, the black footed, 5J (brand name). It’s about 180 euro per kg, but worth it. Get about 100 grams, sliced tissue paper thin (most important part). Just let it melt in your mouth.
6. They take you to meet a family that grows real saffron, not the often fake stuff you buy at market stalls. They sell it for about 1/4 what you will pay in the US. Plus they have a video on how it’s grown and harvested. You’ll then know why it’s so expensive.
7. We had a great bunch of travel buddies. Often everyone got together after touring and shared wine and snacks, before heading off the separate dinners. It was a great recap of the day for everyone.
8. On one day of the tour, you are broke up into small groups and taken to a local family’s house for brunch. Really good food, and you get to see how locals live. If you can team up with someone who speaks Spanish, so much the better for communication, since the families often speak little or no English. Better experience if someone in the group spoke a little Spanish (or take a quick course yourself).
9. Have a great time and just assume that you’ll gain about 2-5 pounds during the trip and will work it off back home.

Posted by
17 posts

David, thanks again for all your detailed info; and thanks to everyone for helping me.
I’m printing out this thread to take with us!

Posted by
2466 posts

Another company to look at if you like food tours is this one: http://culinarybackstreets.com. We used them in Lisbon last summer and were very pleased. On the Picasso Museum in Barcelona: if you go buy tickets in advance as the wait is otherwise an hour or more.

Posted by
2265 posts

I took a terrific 5-hour Food and Culture Tour in Barcelona with Taste Barcelona!

Posted by
31 posts

We did Greece in 17 and it was spectacular. Our guide Colin was amazing. We were in Europe 2 weeks before the tour and had a blast. We also added Santorini on at the end along with Italy.

We are working on doing all the tours but Greece was one of our favorites. Amazing!