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Inaugural Tour

So, we're strongly considering signing up for the new Best of Switzerland tour, our second outing with Rick Steves. It's my understanding that this is a new tour for 2016. We like the thought of doing it earlier rather than later, for several reasons, so we're talking about going on the inaugural tour (late May, very early June). We understand that things may be...shaky the first time out. Would anyone like to chime in on the pros & cons on breaking the trail, so to speak? Or if we should wait until mid-June, for weather related reasons?


Posted by
4637 posts

Switzerland is about views and hikes. I would check when is the highest probability of sunny weather and go then.

Posted by
4353 posts

Can't really speak to the weather since we were there in August. However, why not be a trail blazer on the first trip? All of his guides are very good, and some of the places you will go are places that his guides will have gone before. Based on our last half dozen or so RS tours, we would have no hesitation about going on an inaugural tour.

Posted by
32109 posts


I'm not sure why things would be "shaky" the first time out as Rick's tours have travelled for years in Switzerland. They're well versed in getting around there, already have a network of hotels established and have guides that are very knowledgeable about the sights. I wouldn't have any hesitation in travelling on the inaugural tour. Late May / early June should be OK, although the weather could be "variable".

Posted by
3500 posts

I went on the very first RS Belgium Holland tour. Everything lived up to the standards I expect on a RS tour. In fact, the food was some of the best ever. Actually I think a lot of the hotels were happier to see us, being the first of the groups, than on some of the long running tours that have used the same hotels for years.

The itinerary did need some tweaking and the tour was rerouted extensively the next year to make better use of time. While I have no complaints about what we saw and did, the newer routing does seem to be more efficient and actually cover more.

I am looking at the South England tour, also new, for next year. Appears to cover all the things I have managed to miss so far in England.

So I say go for it. There is nothing to lose by being in the first tour groups.

Posted by
13225 posts

On the Best of England tour this Fall, I talked to both the guide and the bus driver about the new Southern England tour. They are both so excited about this! Altho guides have not been assigned yet for that tour they were guessing the most experienced guide would lead the first group. The guides and bus drivers are doing a run thru of the tour this Feb or March according to the bus driver. He said they will take a couple of vans with everyone and run thru the whole itinerary in about 3 days. Among other things, they will assess parking, approaches to specific sights. hotels and restaurants.

I thought them assessing how to approach sights was interesting. This conversation came up after we had gone to Wells Cathedral one afternoon. The bus driver dropped us off at one of the entry ways to the Close area and the guide talked to us there before we approached the cathedral. Then he said something like, Prepare to be amazed. We walked thru the entrance and wow, they had worked it out so we entered the area at a terrific spot so the whole cathedral spread in front of you. The entrance that most people seem to use comes in from the side and you don't get the WOW view. So, I mentioned to both the bus driver and guide when we were sitting together at a meal that I thought entering the area from that aspect had so much visual impact. The driver just grinned and said it did and they particularly plan to do it that way for the impact. Then he said, that's one of the things we will be looking at on the dry run.

So, while the Southern England tour will be a bit different from Switzerland, I am sure the Rick Steves process will be similar in scoping out how to manage the tour.

Posted by
470 posts

I am sure that even for a first time this will be a well-organized tour. However, it will be costly. Having been to Switzerland a couple of times on independent travel, I was surprised to see the new RS itinerary does NOT include many typical (and costly) activities. As Switzerland is expensive, you have to factor in the cost of those "optional suggestions" you would probably want to do. For example, if you want to go up to the Jungfrau from Murren it could be about $200/person. If you want to go up to Mt. Pilates in Lucerne it could be about $100/person. The gondola in Engleberg is about $100/person. Most activities I see suggested on the itinerary for the tour cost about this same amount. Meals on your own will easily be $50/person. Given how expensive the base price is for the tour, you will want to budget accordingly.
We traveled on our own and stayed in Murren the first week of June. We did some hiking the first day, and had some rain but no snow. The rest of the week we were "fogged in". Locals told us that even later in June clear weather was more about good luck than the calendar date.

Posted by
2051 posts

Hi J, the inaugural tour beginning May 23 is already sold out. If you haven't signed up, you'll have to join the wait list. The itinerary looks great!

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks to all for your replies. We decided we were over thinking it and went ahead & booked. These flatlanders will be in vertical Switzerland in 6 short months!

Posted by
2 posts

I guess we will see you there as we are signed up for that tour too! We are thinking of getting the Swiss transfer + Swiss half fare card to cover our trains to and from the airport as well as the discounts on some of the trams and boats for free time activities. I THINK it will save money, especially since there is a 25% sale on the transfer until 11/17, but still working out the details. We are arriving two days early and planning to do Mt. Pilatus and the lake cruise among other things.

Posted by
367 posts

I have signed up for the first outing of this new tour as has one of my work colleagues. I am very excited. I took the GAS tour several years ago and it went to two of the stops on this tour and they were stunning. When I heard the rumor that a new Switzerland tour was in the offing I trolled the site until it was posted then signed up. I think it will be interesting to go on the first tour as it will be a new experience for the guide and some of the hotels. As for the extra costs I am already planning on getting there a day or two early and going up Mt. Pilates and maybe going back to the top of the Schilthorn. When I travel I would rather get home and ask myself why I did something rather than why didn't I.