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For those who have taken multiple RS tours: Which tour was your favorite & why?

For those who have traveled on multiple RS tours, I'm interested to know which RS tour itineraries were your favorites & why? Thanks in advance!

Posted by
1144 posts

I have done quite a few trips. They were all fun and I would do any of them again.

My favorite was probably GAS, I had two incredible guides and paragliding in Murren was quite the adventure.

My second (a very close second) favorite is village Italy. It does things that I could not do easily in my own. We visited a truffle farm and essentially had family dinner with the owners. Visiting the olive oil cooperative, seeing the process old school style. Getting to see how marble is produced in Carrara. All added up to quite the memorable trip.

Posted by
8069 posts

I've taken 8 of Rick's tours since 2013.

My very favorite was the 21 Day Best of Europe. It moved quickly, covered a lot of territory and showed me some wonderful sights. My guide, Dimitri, was great fun, taught me a lot about travel and made me realize I could travel independently as a solo traveler. The 3 weeks allowed the tour group to bond differently to any other tour I've done. I really enjoyed the group and am still FB friends with many.

Running very closely for 2nd are Best of England and Village Italy. I love England and Wales but this tour was so much fun because of Tom the guide and his sidekick, Ben the bus driver! Village Italy also had a great guide with Trina but also got us to some smaller villages and cool experiences.

Are you considering a tour?

Posted by
1910 posts

18 tours and counting. Obviously I am a dedicated customer. Loved them all....some have changed itineraries since way back when but I like to say my most recent tour is/was my favorite and that happened to be Villages of Southern England. Like Pam, I loved the "village/small town" aspect of Villages of South England, Villages Italy and the Basque Country when we stayed in San Sebastian the whole week, day tripping to the other destinations. Family Tour, GAS, Southern Italy and Southern France; Tallinn-Helsinki-St. Petersburg, Greece, the Adriatic......not a one I didn't learn from and love. Every tour had something different to offer and I have enjoyed not having the same guide twice. Each one was an amazing teacher, mentor and have become friends. I took the off season Sicily tour twice, each with a slightly different itinerary. The latest was scheduled over both Palm and Easter Sundays (what a terrific experience), so maybe that one is my favorite? I will be taking the Eastern Europe tour in a few months and am excited about that one.

Posted by
2589 posts

I've completed 13 tours with number 14 scheduled for later this year and find it impossible to pick a favorite. I don't feel that the enjoyment of a particular geographic area or route in itself makes one or another a "favorite." It seems that each tour is a sort of living organism that's a microcosm of location, time of year, tour guide, tour members and random experiences that provide a uniqueness to it.

Do I remember some tours more favorably than others? Definitely! On the now defunct Best of Barcelona trip, 14 of the 24 guests worked for Boeing in Seattle - by chance not by plan. Unfortunately they all bonded together shutting out the others and it felt like two tours with one guide. On my Best of Prague tour, I met two retired Air Force generals and their wives - remarkable people with amazing stories. And then there was the Best of Venice in 2002. This group just hit it off together beautifully - I still correspond with three tour members from this trip - and Rick's first traveling companion and fellow writer, Gene Openshaw, was our guide. We all remember his concern about being in Venice with us instead of being back home with his infant daughter.

So to pick a favorite? I can't. I just enjoyed each trip, each sight, each guide, each tour member for what it was in providing a unique experience. I wouldn't trade any of them and really hesitate to rank them.

Posted by
1092 posts

We've been on three - Eastern France, Turkey and the Adriatic. They were all excellent. Choose an area you are interested in and go. You won't be disappointed.

Posted by
1068 posts

Been on 7 with 2 more coming this year. All were good, not sure I have a favorite and definitely glad I took them all.

Posted by
4487 posts

We've taken 10 RS tours since 2009. My favorite was the now defunct Best of Florence. It was the first one we took, and I was so impressed with how good it was. We, like many people, were apprehensive about taking a guided tour, but it was wonderful. We love art, history, good food... the tour was first rate. Cecilia was our guide; we had her again the following year for Best of Rome.

My DH's favorite was the 21 day Best of Europe. He loved the variety - so many different things to see, with a great guide (Jennifer) and a (mostly) compatible group. In fact, he liked it so much that he wants to do it again in 2018 when we have a milestone anniversary!

Posted by
1600 posts

Hi Kelly, I've done 8 RS tours and would happily do all of them again. I guess my "favorite" would be Paris in 7 Days. It was the first tour I took (2007) and it got me hooked on Rick Steves and his backdoor philosophy. I've learned a lot, met some nice people, and seen and done things I never would have on my own.

Posted by
135 posts

Leaving in less than a week for my 6th RST, Sicily Off-season. I know it will be (as well as the previous 5; VFR, Paris, BAM, South Italy, London) my favorite due to how and how well the places/areas I want to visit are covered on a RST. I am a fan of staying in a central location at a moderate accommodation (often deluxe, in my experience and high standards), having a dedicated professional guide with additional expert local guides providing even more background and information on and about where and what I am touring. I like the array of tour activities offering so many different ways to enjoy the city or town I am in. I choose single location or city tours when I know I'd rather stay in one spot and I opt for the multi-stop tours when I am OK having a more vigorous driving schedule (coupled with the pack up and move to the next place) in order to have enjoyed being in more places on the tour. I like mixing it up on time of year when making my tour pick and add nights before and after at first and last hotels. I am unlikely to choose a longer than 14-day tour due to my profession; I have enough vacation time to allow for it, just not in a 3 week chunk.

Posted by
41 posts

We have done three so far with #4 in June. I would recommend the Venice, Florence, Rome tour to anyone and I think that if you are only going to do one tour, this tour is the one. I would like to go back to Italy. We have toured Germany by ourselves and done three RS tours (Prague/Budapest, VFR, and 14 day Best of England). 14 day Ireland is this summer. Still want to do Adriatic, GAS, and Village Italy before I pick some others. .Impossible to have a bad RS tour. Keep on Traveling!

Posted by
2426 posts

We've completed 5 tours, two more coming up this summer. We enjoyed them all, but a great guide (all the guides are very good) and a collegial group can make a tour all that much better. For us that was Greece, hands down. Village Italy, Spain close seconds.

Posted by
7 posts

This is great feedback - keep it coming!

As for me, I signed up to take my first RS tour this June - Greece - and I noticed in the comments for the Greece tour that more than one reviewer commented that it was their favorite RS tour....so I am already dreaming about where else I might go, and wanted to get the feedback of others.

Such great insights - keep posting & I'll keep adding to my (already long) travel bucket list!

Posted by
1007 posts

We have been on three RS tours. They were all great, but Sicily was the best. This tour is one of the so-called cultural connection tours, which might have made a difference. The tour guide (Alfio) was excellent, and we also had a tour guide in training on the trip. The tour seemed to get better with each passing day, and there were a number of surprise stops along the way. The hotel for the last night was fabulous - something that might cost $700 a night in Manhattan.

Posted by
8069 posts

Kelly, I am sure you will have a great time! You will also doubtless have folks on your tour who have done other RS tours so you can get good ideas from them as well.

I'm always interested to see how people do back to back tours, what they choose and how it works out, plus what they do before the start of a tour. I got a great tip from a Trip Report a couple of years ago on organizing time before the GAS tour - they had started in Paris and mentioned how easy the train was from Paris to the GAS tour start. Of course it's not too complicated from the nearest airport but I loved how they did it and structured my trip the same way.

Posted by
12 posts

We have completed 3 and are booked for our 4th in Oct (Best of Spain). Of the 3 we have completed (BOE in 14 Days, Eastern Europe in 16 Days and Greece in 14 days), our favorite has been the Greece tour! The tour content was great, the locations were awesome and super interesting, we had the best group yet and our guide -Anastasia was amazing! We did that tour in 2015. We haven't been disappointed with any of the RS tours - they were all fantastic, but just really had the best time on the Greece tour.

Posted by
815 posts

I have only done 2 completed RS tours, my third one in 8 weeks or so. I have been a RS fan since 2002ish. Don't know why I didn't start back then. Probably not enough money. Ha! But now retired but work part-time, so this job pays for my trips.
Guess my favorite so far was my 1st - Best of Ireland in 14 days in August of 2014. I spent my 56th birthday on the Aran Island at Dun Aonghasa just soaking up Ireland's beauty and the cliffs looking out at the ocean. I sat there and was so amazed and thought am I really here.
( I have Irish and Scottish ancestors). Another reason why Ireland is .....that the people are so friendly. I would go back in a heart beat. My 2nd trip was 2016 11 days Belgium and Holland, ours was one the of the tours that changed after the bombing and only with 18 tour members. We meshed so well, we had 3 tour guides (hans, nica and ben). Ben left us have way thru to meet up with Rick for travel research. Nica said she has never had a group that meshed so well, so quickly. I too, am on FB with several past tour mates. Love to travel with them again. Went to Cincinnati on vacation last year and had dinner with one of them. Holland was special to me because my grandparents lived in the Hague for several years with shell oil company. on our free time, we went to the Hague and found the house that I visited there when I turned 4 that summer. Both tours were terrific, beauty of there countries, people were awesome, art, history, guides. I can't speak enough how these tours are run top notch. Ricks tour guides are the bomb and his local guides are terrific. My third will be in June for 8 days Barcelona and Madrid, scheduled after my river boat cruise down the Rhone with Amaways. My 4 & 5th will be in 2018 back to back tours 8 days Heart of Ireland and 10 days best of Scotland. My wish list is 11 day Paris and Heart of France; 14 day village Italy; 7 day London; 14 day Scandinavia; 14 day best of Eastern Europe.

Boy.... I have a lot of travelin' to do.

Happy Travels to all in 2017!

Kim

Posted by
1173 posts

I have been on 14 tours since 2005 and I keep booking tours as I enjoy Europe and every where I go! For me the best tours were not the itineraires as they have all been wonderful but the people I met along the way. All the tour groups were great but some just stand out more than others. The groups that bonded really well or a few people on the tours that I traveled with that were tons of fun and great travel companions. I met so many nice people and some I still keep in touch with some. One woman and I went on two more tours, Prague and Paris after meeting her on my London tour which was in 2005. A couple I met on my Prague tour, I have met up with for the past three years as they come to NY for a long theatre weekend. And others have come to NY and I met up with them for a day to show them around NY or have dinner with and I have been to WI twice to stay at one couple's home. So for me it is always the people that make the tour.

But also seeing Paris, Prague, Florence, London, Rome, Istanbul and a host of other wonderful cities and towns have really been life changing. Also being taught how to get around on your own has enabled me to stay in Paris, London, Vienna and Rome on my own.

I have been on the London, Paris twice, Florence twice , Rome twice , Istanbul, Prague, Ireland, Best of Europe, GAS, France, Heart of France and all the itinearies were interesting and different.

I have truly enjoyed some of the most wonderful sites, museums, food and hotels I would not have experienced had I not gone on a RS tour.

My favorite is just being able to go on a tour and to go to Europe and have a great experience.

Posted by
4487 posts

Kim didn't mention this, but we're trying to coordinate our 2019 schedules to take the Paris and the Heart of France tour at the same time! Even more fun that way!

Posted by
815 posts

yes we are!!! I did not want to be an over-achiever on my future plans!! lol

Posted by
644 posts

I've been on 9 tours and, like others have said, they were all great in their own way. If I had to pick a favorite, I might go with the Best of Ireland. Amazing people, history, music and beauty. I had a great guide in Stephen McPhilemy. I have made two return trips on my own to further experience the music in Dingle and the 100 year anniversary of the 1916 uprising.

I also really enjoyed the Best of Eastern Europe. I knew less about this region before the trip than any of the others I've been on. Just about everything about the trip was a new experience. This tour has great cities - Prague, Krakow and Budapest; great scenic beauty in Slovenia and Croatia; long and tragic history with WW II and the Soviet era. Growing up during the Cold War, gave me a certain negative perceptions of places like Prague and Budapest. Visiting these cities completely opened by eyes. Peter Polczman was a superb guide for this tour.

I could go on. I've yet to be disappointed by any of the tours. Rick hires an extraordinary group of tour guides and local guides. The guides add a value to the tour experience that, as a mostly single traveler, I would never get traveling solely on my own.

Posted by
224 posts

We have been on 4 Rick Steves tours - GAS, Portugal, Best of Italy and Greece, and while previously we would have wholeheartedly said Italy was our favorite, we now resoundingly say Greece! Such a beautiful country with surprises almost every day. The tour group meshed so well and were genuinely fun to be around. Greek people are wonderful to interact with and genuinely loved having visitors.

Your first RS tour can be the sentimental favorite (ahh Germany/Austria/Switzerland) but once you objectively look at each one, that can change. We are looking forward to many more tours!

Posted by
2258 posts

Well, I have now taken 7 RS Tours since 2013, with 2 more scheduled for 2017, so far. For me, an especially enjoyable and memorable tour combines (1) an exciting itinerary, including at least a few small towns or rural stops, beyond popular tourist buildings and sites; (2) an especially well-informed and enthusiastic guide, who really cares about the interests and enjoyment of each tour member; and (3) various opportunities to interact personally with local people who do NOT work in the tourism business everyday. An enjoyable tour group, delicious food, great bus and driver, especially comfortable hotels, good weather, all count too, but are not, for me, the key factors. Hmmm, maybe the good food is key, now that I think about it!
All that said, my top three tours, in alphabetical order, are: Bulgaria, Sicily and Spain.
Next month, I am off for the RS Portugal and Greece Tours, with a few extra days before, between and after the tours. I very much hope to add to my list of favorites. I have chosen these next tours based, in part, on the especially positive and enthusiastic reviews of people on this Forum.

Posted by
408 posts

Well that was a fun read. I love when this is asked which seems every couple of months. I agree my favorite is always my last one or the one I am planning next! Alas none in the planning stages yet but hope it changes soon.

We have been on five tours. Two just my husband and I and three with my two kids. The first when my now teenager was only 10. We have loved them all. Our guides really made the difference. They were all great.

Now we haven't had quite the group bonding experience others talk about not sure if it is because we had a family ( we always try to include others and sat apart at most group meals) or because we mostly have taken city tours but they were all nice people and I would travel again with all of them.

Enjoy!

Posted by
8069 posts

LA, to me there is a different bonding experience on the City tours vs the tours involving covering more territory and longer bus rides.

Posted by
408 posts

Pam I think that may be the case. Our last trip was your more typical long distance bus tour but there was a large group traveling together so that did change the dynamics.

It was still great fun.

Posted by
8069 posts

Oh, yes, that can definitely change the dynamics. I once was on a tour where 11 of the tour members were family/friends/associates. It did make a difference. That was also the only tour that included A GRUMP!!

Posted by
340 posts

My favorite tour? The Basque area of Spain and France. I've actually thought of doing it again.

Posted by
277 posts

My favorite tour would have to be my first trip, Best of Italy in 17 days. The reasons: great food, incredible lakes, mountains and seasides, great cities, fantastic art, incredible history, wonderful wine, stunning cathedrals and the very friendly Italian people. Did I mention the fabulous food. You will never taste Italian food like these fabulous freshly made dishes. I can't leave out the gelato... I tried about 10 different varieties and they were all great. And it is acceptable to have gelato for lunch. We did that several times! Some unexpected surprises: the gentle beauty of Lake Como, gondola ride, the Tuscan country side, Otzi the iceman and the flavor of Germany in the Dolomites. It has everything!

Posted by
68 posts

Cannot pick a favorite although only been on two. BOE in 14 was my first time in Europe and was nothing short of magical. My honeymoon was the Best of Ireland in 14 days and the tour exceeded my expectations, which were already high. :-)

Posted by
600 posts

I'm late to the party, but I love this thread! We are looking at the Greece tour for our next trip, so it is encouraging to see how many of you loved that one! We have been on 3, Scotland, GAS and Italy in 17 days, and like everyone else, it is impossible to pick a favorite. Scotland was my favorite guide experience because we had a guide who was a native of Scotland and she had so much passion. It was also our first tour, so everything was a surprise. GAS would have probably been our favorite because we had an awesome group that really clicked and a funny guide and we loved the beauty, but we didn't have great weather. Italy was my favorite itinerary because it had such an amazing variety, but our group didn't click the way the other two did (we still enjoyed everyone very much, just didn't have the same kind of connection). I loved every minute of all three and really don't think you can go wrong!

Posted by
24 posts

I've been on seven RS tours. It really comes down to the group, the guide and the itinerary. My favorite will probably always be Best of Turkey which unfortunately I don't think is still offered. I was lucky to have an amazing group that meshed right away. Next would be Best of Spain, again another great group and wonderful guide Javier. I agree that bonding with the group is easier on the longer two week or more itineraries than the week long city tours. Looking forward to my eighth tour in a couple of weeks, Best of Ireland!

Posted by
13 posts

We have been on nine RS tours dating back to 1998. They have all been great and as someone else commented, some are more memorable than others. Two of our most memorable ones were 21 day tours. One of Western France and one of Italy. Both were great because in a relatively short time (21 days) you got to experience the changes in terrain, cuisine and culture of a country. The time span was long enough to experience things yet short enough to be able to compare. Unfortunately, Rick has dropped those longer trips and they have been broken up into shorter individual tours. We have asked guides why and typically the response has been that most Americans just aren't interested in longer trips. That has not been our experience of people we know who travel and are retired. Maybe with the Baby Boomer generation retiring and traveling, there will be enough increased demand for those types of tours again.

Posted by
4487 posts

Russ, that's a good idea. One of our RS guides, on the 21 Day BOE, as a matter of fact, said Rick always wanted more 21 day tours, but was regularly reminded that most Americans don't have 3 or 4 week vacations.

But now that our large cohort is retiring, it might be time for RSE to revisit the idea. I would love a 21 day tour of Italy or France.

Posted by
85 posts

Europe Tour, October 1998. First time I was to Europe. I was thrilled with that, but the guide and the group members made it the best! Thank you our guide Reid! And Joanne from Chicago, the ladies from Portland OR., and the others who's names I can't remember now.

You will remember your tour for your tour mates as much as the trip itself! Don't worry, just go!!

Posted by
125 posts

We have been on tours with several different tour companies including RS. I have chosen the tours based on the itineraries, but my satisfaction with the tour depends on the tour guide. There are good ones and not so good ones with every company. The guide makes the tour.. But I don't know how to make sure we get the best guides.

Posted by
125 posts

We have been on tours with several different tour companies including RS. I have chosen the tours based on the itineraries, but my satisfaction with the tour depends on the tour guide. There are good ones and not so good ones with every company. The guide makes the tour.. But I don't know how to make sure we get the best guides.