We would like to take our first RS tour next year and are trying to decide between Greece or Sicily, neither of which we have been to before. I was a little concerned that the Greece tour seems to have some rather long bus rides (5 hours). Can people who have taken either tour or both, help us decide?
I have taken both tours, and the Sicily tour twice. Both are fabulous and I would be hard pressed to choose my favorite. To address your long bus ride concerns, I would just say the drives are broken up by stops to either eat a wonderful meal, see a fabulous site or discover an out of the way place most tourists do not visit. Also, by law, the drivers are required to stop for a break every two hours. This also allows all of us to get off, stretch our legs, use the facilities, peruse the unique and wonderful shops, get a coffee or eat something new and interesting to tide us over to the next meal! Both of these tours offer amazing things to see and do plus gorgeous places in which to see and do these amazing things. Oh, and the food (have I mentioned eating?!?!).......incredibly good on both tours! You'll pick a winner whichever one your choose.
Last spring I took the Greece tour. A couple years before that I visited Sicily on my own. Both are great choices. The bus rides, except for creeping through Athens traffic (only a couple of times), was quite enjoyable. RS uses full-size buses, so there's plenty of room to spread out, relax, enjoy the scenery and get to know your tourmates. The guide also uses some of the bus time to talk about the country's history, or culture, or answer questions. Some days you may spend 4-5 hours on the bus (the time is usually slightly overestimated) but it could be in 2 or 3 increments, stopping at sights and/or for lunch or just to enjoy a beautiful view.
I have also taken both tours, Sicily in 2014 and Greece in 2017. Both locations and both tours are really wonderful. Both offer a mix of larger cities and small towns, as well as great scenery, cuisine, and deep history. The Greece tour does involve quite a lot of walking, including up and down stairs at various ruins and elsewhere. Have you already visited other parts of Italy, as generally people visit the great cities and regions on the mainland, before going to Sicily, but there are certainly no rules about that. Best solution: take both tours, one after the other, or different seasons during the same year, or one year after the other. I guess Greece comes first in alphabetical order, for what it’s worth.
We have taken the Sicily tour, and did not find the bus rides too long. Keep in mind that the Greece tour covers just one country in 14 days, so the amount of travel time is not excessive on an overall basis compared to such tours as Best of Europe or the Eastern Europe tour.
When I am looking at tours, I add up the total bus time and divide by the number of days on the tour. There is quite a bit of variability among the tours when you do this calculation, and it may be a better way of evaluating the bus time issue.
Last Fall we took the amazing RS Greece Tour plus adding on a couple Greek islands on our own. In 2014 we took a Southern Italy/Sicily Tour with another tour company. It too was equally amazing! We took both tours in the Fall.
As others have mentioned, the longer bus rides are broken up along the way. We find that this downtime can serve to decompress, enjoy the scenery, read up on the next location, engage with other tour members, & enjoy historical info. from the guide.
We have to say, these were 2 of our favorite tours of all time. Since our Greece experience was the most recent; magical Sicily is calling us back again!
Done Greece, not Sicily
As already noted its not a '5 hour drive'. Its 5 hours with several stops for sights or snacks/lunch or a combination.
Not at all like a 5 hour flight
ENJOYED our Greece trip
Thanks everyone for the feedback. I think we will do Greece since it seems to be more active and we aren’t getting any younger!
The variety of experiences available on the Sicily tour extend to geographical, historical, gastronomical ...even cultural differences in the island’s varied areas. From fascinating Greek ruins, to volcanic hikes at Mt.Etna, to elegant Taormina, to wonderfully gritty Polarmo ....all very distinctly Sicilian - not Italian.
The diversity is unique !
I'm with you, diveloonie, I'm hoping to sign up for the Greece tour but am waiting for information on a tour I hope to take with my church to Israel in Spring 2019. If Israel materializes, I will sign up for the last tour in October for Greece. Hopefully, the weather in October will not be so hot. Otherwise, I would sign up for a March/April departure for Greece. I know the weather is unpredictable but just trying to increase my chances of milder temps. I was in Paris in April and it was mid-80's everyday but with beautiful sunny skies which made for beautiful pictures.
Also, I want to go to Greece while I'm still physically fit...
Judy B, we took the last scheduled Greece tour in October a couple of years ago and it felt as if there was just something special about that. Our weather (other than a huge rainstorm in Monemvasia!) was darned near perfect. For that night, our wonderful guide, David W., arranged for pizzas to be delivered to our hotel and we spent that torrentially rain-filled evening playing board games, bridge, pinochle, etc., in the hotel; lemonade out of lemons! A fun time was enjoyed by all. This is a terrific tour and I am sure you will enjoy it. Oh, and by the way-good point about taking it while young(er)! The Peloponnese is hilly!
Diveloonie, I think you might have been worried on another thread about hotel rooms with no AC and hot weather?
If I don’t have you mixed up with someone else then I hope you are planning early or late season. I’ve not done either of these so no personal experience, just have considered both and also don’t tolerate heat!!
Hi Pam, yes you probably read that on several threads! It is the reason we have hesitated taking an RS tour. But, we are taking the plunge......we signed up for Greece, the very last tour on October 7th. I still have concerns about the heat. I wish there was a tour in November. I just hope they are not above average in their temps while there.
Judy B, that would be great if you sign up for the last tour of Greece in 2019. It would be fun to meet you as I have read many of your posts.
That would be delightful to meet you if by chance I sign up for the last Greece tour! I met a lovely young lady on the forum last year and then it happened we were tourmates on the 8 Days Heart of Ireland tour last Sept. It was fun to get to know her on the tour.
What a nice description you wrote of the evening on your Greece tour with the thunderstorm when David, your guide, arranged for board games, etc. I love that! It is also nice to hear that the weather was otherwise perfect. I imagine the people in your group bonded pretty well, too.
I so enjoy this forum, so many nice folks!
I would say the same thing as andi.
All the hotels on our RS Greece tour had effective a/c. We went late June early July. Parka not needed!
Thank you that is very reassuring to hear, although I know from reading this forum, that RS does not always use the same hotels for all the tours. Keeping my fingers crossed for A/C!!!
I am going on an Athens and Best of Greece tour in October this year and plan on Sicily for 2019. From what I recall on my Venice, Florence and Rome trip, we were never on the bus for more than 2 hours without a pit stop, which is what I assume they will do on both of these trips.