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Most Active RS Tour?

Hi, I've done 7 Rick Steves tours and found some to be more active than others. I thought Paris and the Heart of France was very active; Southern France was a bit more relaxed. I know there are "activity ratings" for each tour but I was just wondering what was your most active tour?

Posted by
1173 posts

I have been on 14 RS tours, but on some of the week long tours I went twice. I found that the week long tours were much more active as you are in one city for a whole week and one hotel, so you tend to go day and night. There is no "rest" time or down time on the week long tours. I found that on the bus tours my body was able to rest on the bus. Not so when we were in the cities and going strong. I did find that out of all the city tours I took, (Paris, Rome, London, Prague, Florence and Istanbul) that the Istanbul tour was the most active. Not to say the other tours were not active but the Istanbul tour, we had a great group and we hung out a lot in our free time together and we went out at night. Our guide also took us around even in our free time. And before I took that tour I had friends that took other RS tours and they too said the Istanbul tour really wiped them out! I did not find the Paris and the Heart of France tour very active but I do agree the South of France tour was more relaxed. I did find the 14 day Best of Europe tour to be very active too. Rome too is a very active tour. But as you know it is up to you as to how active you want to be in your free time.

I do find that the more I exercise ( and I have been exercising more now then ever) that that helps me on the tours.

What tour do you want to do next?

Posted by
3469 posts

I find the new activity ratings that are shown for each tour to be helpful identifying each tour in its least active to most active indicators. But I don't always agree with those ratings. Some tours come in at the middle of the scale but I have found them more difficult than some listed more active. I think it is my own limitations where I have little or no issues with walking long distances over relatively flat land but have ever increasing issues with stairs and steeper walks. So one that is listed as more difficult because there are long hikes involved seem much less active or difficult to me than ones with lots of up and downs. But the ratings can at least help if you are looking for a more active tour.

Posted by
1068 posts

For me, Best of Greece was the most active tour. I think people forget how mountainous Greece really is. Most of us opted to do the "extra" sights such as the hike up the hill in Kardamyli to pass the tombs of the Disoscuri and get to the view/church at the top or the walk to the upper citadel on top of Monemvasia. Even some of the stops such as Delphi can be more or less active depending on what you opted to see in the time allowed after the formal tour.

Posted by
1952 posts

I agree with Ray-Greece-for the same reasons. But last Fall I found Villages of South England runs a close second and I felt that was because the down time on the bus was so short. We stopped frequently to see and do stuff and nearly all tour members participated a lot of guide offered (fun!) free time activities. That was all for the good and I didn't find any of the activities to be too much at all. I DID sleep well at night! These would be my top two most active tours. That said, I highly recommend both tours!

Posted by
8443 posts

I think Andi makes a good point about the short bus time and shorter distances for the Southern England tour.

For me, though, the most strenuous one was the 21 Best of Europe. The group activities were pretty strenuous with very long days in Amsterdam and Rome (10-12 mile days) plus any extra touring time on your own. Lauterbrunnen Valley was also a long day but I added to that total by walking from Truemmelbach Falls back to the hotel in Stechelberg.

I've not done Greece, so can't compare to that one. I didn't find Paris and Heart of France as active as 21 BOE but I think it also depends on the guide, the group and the weather.

Posted by
279 posts

I agree with the 2 previous posters that Greece has been the most active tour I've taken. And when polling other tour members in our Greece group who had taken the Sicily tour (which is listed as the most active kind of tour), they all thought Greece was tougher than Sicily.

Posted by
1068 posts

I agree with the 2 previous posters that Greece has been the most active tour I've taken. And when polling other tour members in our Greece group who had taken the Sicily tour (which is listed as the most active kind of tour), they all thought Greece was tougher than Sicily.

Glad to hear Greece was harder. I have Sicily coming up and I was younger when I did Greece!

Posted by
1952 posts

Me, too, Ray! And I didn't really think Sicily was that strenuous. Just did Sicily last year..Greece was in 2010.

Posted by
101 posts

I'm a veteran of six RS including Best of Ireland where I met Ann. Of those six, I found the Best of Germany, Switzerland and Austria to be the most active in the "up and down category." The hike down and back to Berg Elze ( a van was available), the uphill hike to the hotel in Murren, the hike back and forth to Trummelback Falls and any hiking one chose in Switzerland.
Treating myself to a foot massage and visit to a spa in Baden-Baden was helpful. I spent two extra days in Vienna doing lots of walking and stairs. I then flew to Istanbul and found my way to a hamam. The massage at the hamam was to avoid an injury as my legs were so tight.
Pam from Bath

Posted by
1173 posts

Hi Pam from Maine! We did have a great time on the Best of Ireland tour! I will say all the tours are active and you need to do a lot of walking. But on the plus side, there are lots of cafes along the way to rest and have a nice drink or meal!

Posted by
2755 posts

I'm glad to hear Greece was the hardest. I'm thinking about Sicily, so good to know that as I found Greece OK, Sicily will be as well.

Posted by
1624 posts

Hi and thanks to everyone who responded. I agree that weather, the guide and the group have a lot to do with the activity level. When I did Paris and the Heart of France (May 2009) it rained all day, nearly every day. It was draining. I would like to take that tour again (in better weather!)

We do a lot of walking in our free time and try to make the most of the trip. We also like to take pictures so if there's a castle with a view, we have to hike up to see it. We haven't done Greece yet but it's on the list!

Posted by
1615 posts

We've only done 3 RS so far (Eastern France coming up mid-August), but Greece and Heart of Italy both seemed pretty active. Actually, we chose to make sure we did the Greece tour when we did because we wanted to get it in while we could still move well. When we did Italy, it started in Florence and ended in Rome. I'm wondering how much impact individual guides have on possible activity? Both guides on those to tours seem to enjoy gathering up anyone that was interested and setting off on adventures/walks during free time. Is that universal to RS guides?

Posted by
4665 posts

Patty, I think it's fairly common. It partly depends on the tour; some of them are so packed with activities that there's not as much down time (although there is always down time - just varying amounts.) We've been on at least two tours where the guide offered an additional excursion, one that wasn't listed in the itinerary as "optional."

I've not been able to figure out the activity rating system. The Barcelona - Madrid tour is listed as "most active," and we found it to be one of the more moderately active tours. (Although a couple of our tour mates complained about all the walking. But they were brought on the tour by their kids, and hadn't vetted it themselves.) And I've always heard that the Village Italy tour was fairly strenuous - all those hill towns - but it's described as Moderate.

I think the most active tours we've been (of 10) on were the 21 Day BOE and 7 (8?) day Rome.

Posted by
8443 posts

I'm with Jane on figuring out the system and judging people's reactions to the tour. When I took the Best of Ireland the guide mentioned that it was one of the most strenuous. In retrospect, not so much...even though we added extra hiking time in Kinsale and on the Dingle free day. Of course, on that tour we were completely fogged out of Cliffs of Moher and Giant's Causeway so that may have had an impact on activity level.

I didn't find VI particularly strenuous but I did that the same year I did 21BOE and Best of Paris so by the time I got to VI I was in really good shape, lol!! To me an average day on VI was no where near as strenuous as a day in Rome that might include the Colosseum, Forum and some other museums.

I do think people who haven't traveled with Rick's tours and don't know about the forum are less informed on how much activity is more or less the norm on these tours.

I also agree about the guides and extra activities - usually it starts with the guide saying this afternoon is free time but anyone that wants to meet me for a walk/tour/funicular etc is welcome to. On a free afternoon in Muerren on the GAS tour Carlos met with anyone who wanted to go up in the funicular to the Almendhubel hiking trails. He even got everyone started on their selected route which was very nice, then headed back to the hotel to spend his free afternoon doing paperwork.

Posted by
13 posts

We've taken several. I'd rank Greece as the most strenuous -- not so much for the distances, but the amount of walking on rocky surfaces. Second, I'd go with the Heart of France for endurance. I took Germany, Switzerland, Austria last year and walked my feet off, but one has opportunities to take it easier if desired (although our group was very hung ho, our guide observed). I would also say those were my three favorite tours. Bring good sturdy shoes, good socks, and bandaids (just in case).

Posted by
24 posts

I've been on seven RS tours. I would say Greece and Turkey were the most active. The week long Paris city tour had ALOT of walking as well. I'd say the least strenuous tour I've taken was Best of Eastern France although there is a free day in Chamonix to go hiking which we did.