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BOE 14 days - suggestions for free time on tour?

My husband and I are going on our first Rick Steves tour, BOE 14 days, leaving July 6. We are super excited! Does anyone have any recommendations for free time while on the tour? If there was something you really enjoyed, I would love to hear about it. I'm not sure how much planning to do ahead of time vs. seeing what our guide suggests that day. If there is time, I would love to go to Versailles on Day 2 from Paris or Neuschwanstein Castle on Day 7 from Munich. Is there anyone who was able to fit them in during their free time?


Posted by
68 posts

Hello Erin,

I was on the BOE tour during 2012 and had a fantastic time; you will have the same I am sure. As far as free time goes, you will have a healthy balance of planned activity and free time. However, other than Gimmewald, you will not have an entire day dedicated as free (even here, we had the option of an alpine hike, in which at least half our group attended and I would highly recommend it.) If you are interested in Versailles, you may want to consider arriving in Paris before the tour begins and go then. We did have free time in Paris, but many of us took advantage of the Paris museum pass in the city given that our tour activity did not end until after lunchtime. I do not recall the time distance from Munich to Neuschwanstein castle, but we did have an entire afternoon of free time. I recall that Dachau was a popular option as well as the BMW factory. I particularly did the walking tour from the guidebook and finished the night in the beergarden. I would recommend getting lost in Venice late at night. I had my best experience in Venice by getting lost, only to find myself welcome by a wine bar full of locals thanking me for spending the night in their city. There is some free time in Beaune the morning before we leave, but outside of walking, there are not too many options. Florence was the only area where we did not stay in the city each night - but the villa we stayed at in Tuscany was amazing with entertainment both nights. I do not recall too much free time in Rome during the tour. If you want to continue Italy post tour – Naples, or even Sicily, you might want to stay in Rome after the RS tour.

Hope this helps,

Posted by
22 posts

Hi Erin,

I just returned from the BOE 14 day tour last week. You're going to love it. Here is some of what we did on our free time -- none of which was pre-planned.

Paris - Musee d'Orsay (highly recommended) and some other sites, like inside of Notre Dame, Place de la Concorde, climbing the Arch de Triomphe at sunset. We also did the Eiffel Tower the morning before our tour began (2 PM that day). Not sure you could meaningfully do Versailles during the free afternoon.

Beaune - Dinner (highly recommend Le P'tit Paradis if you can get a reservation), Hospices de Beune, walking the Ramparts.

Lauterbrunnen -- Our free day was crystal clear, so we followed our guide up Schilthorn and Kleine Scheidegg for spectacular views (do NOT opt out of this) and the James Bond museum (just kidding -- there really is one at Schilthorn, but totally skippable). Trummelbach Falls was only so-so after the earlier spectacular views.

Munich -- We did Dachau, the only ones in our group to do so. Highly recommended, but not a feel-good sort of activity.

Venice -- We did the Doges Palace (including Bridge of Sighs), Correr Museum, and ate too much gelato (hold out for the good stuff).

Florence -- Climbed a hill across the river for spectacular views of Brunelleschi's Dome.

Rome -- We stayed two extra days, so took our time but ultimately covered the Scavi Tour under the Vatican (highly recommended, but need to reserve months in advance), Capitoline Museum, Spanish Steps, walked all over the place, and, again, ate too much gelato.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your tour, but there's very little risk that you won't.

Posted by
22 posts other tip. I highly recommend downloading an offline maps app and download the maps for all of the cities you'll visit ahead of time. I used Pocket Earth Pro, but there are others. This allows you to use your GPS without using data, and is great for navigating on foot and getting lost without worry. Just go explore and use your app to find your way back.

Posted by
281 posts

Hi Erin,

My wife and daughter and I will be on the same tour, look forward to meeting you and your husband at the 2:00p meet-up in Paris!! Likewise, this is our first RS Tour, which we've been planning for close to a year. We're arriving that Saturday (4 Jul), staying in Rue Cler for the weekend prior to our group/hotel check-in on the 6th. Looks like we're in for a fantastic time, given all the venues and sites before us. Travel safe, and we'll see you in a couple weeks!!!


Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all for the very helpful suggestions! I really appreciate the feedback.

Looking forward to meeting you and your family on the tour, Matt! Safe travels!