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Rick Steves vs. Perillo Tours


I am an avid Rick Steves fan--although I have never taken one of his tours (I did do an escorted tour of Italy in 2014).

I am looking at revisiting Italy again in 2019, and am considering either a Rick Steves tours or a Perillo Tours. I like Rick Steves tours for the reasons that many of you have listed on this forum before--but I REALLY like Perillo tour specifically for the Vatican/Vatican Museum tour in Rome and the fact that they do Venice/Rome and Amalfi coast itinery (my favorite place in Italy).

My specific question is to those of you that have taken both a RS tour and also a Perillo tour. What are the differences? What were you likes/dislikes?

Thank you in advance!


Posted by
11613 posts

Have not taken either, but could you do the RS tour and tack on a couple of nights to hire a guide to tour the Vatican/Saint Peter's? And perhaps a couple of nights in Venezia at the beginning of your trip, if the tour you choose doesn't go there?

I am thinking that neither tour will spend enough time in the Amalfi Coast if that's your favorite place in Italy.

Posted by
2697 posts

I've taken 7 Rick Steve's tours. They appeal to me for a number of reasons: 1) small groups.The largest we've had is 28. On the bus this means you really get to spread out. And it's pretty easy to meet everyone. 2) they are very physically active. Even though we are well into our 60's we are very active, enjoy walking and the RS tours emphasize that. 3) culturally oriented. You get to see many sites and get a great historical perspective. 4) great guides. This is a key point. These folks are tops. Here is what you don't get: 1) tipping-its all included. 2)Optional this and that with more money due. What you see is what you get so read the description. 3) shopping excursions. You will have some time but these are not tours for shoppers. 4) 5 star hotels. The hotels are adequate places to lay your head down and that is about it; some exceptions and on recent tours we've had some real winners.

Posted by
6 posts

Hi Robin:
I have taken both a Perillo tour (2002) and multiple RS tours (11 and counting). My thoughts will echo many of those posted by Alan, but here goes!

Would you rather be lead around by a guide with 50 people or half that number? With Perillo, you'll follow the umbrella as one of many, recognizing some of your "family" (that is what we were called on our trip), but with RS, you'll be in a group of about 24-28 people who you will meet and talk with and maybe even pal around with during free time. People mixed with each other more with RS than with Perillo.

Do you want to know the price before you take your trip or not? With RS, the price is up front and the only extras are what you choose to do on your own. With Perillo, early on the guide will discuss all the extras and the additional costs ($50-$200 depending on the excursion). That can add up.

Do you want to go-go-go or take it easy? Both give you the option of skipping activities. With RS, typically there is free time built into each day (less so on traveling days) and it is your choice on what you want to do with the time. Some enjoy sitting and people watching while others prefer to see as much as they can. And while you can do some of that with Perillo.....

Do you want to learn how to use local transportation and have your hotel in a location where you actually can get out and see the sights? This is one of the biggest decision points for me. Perillo often will have your hotels farther out from the city, in hotels that are more corporate/generic to appeal to the masses. RS will use smaller, centrally located hotels, filled with quirks. Some people like that and others don't. The RS guide will give an orientation walk, showing you where and how to take the bus/metro and how to navigate and stay safe. With Perillo, people just stayed with the group and guide and didn't venture far away (not that they couldn't).

Agreeing with Alan on the rest of his points. :)
Hope this long-winded post helps you decide!

Posted by
14597 posts

Have you looked at Odysseys Unlimited Portrait of Italy Tour?

It goes to Venice, Rome and Amalfi, among others, and is a small group tour like RS. I have never traveled with them but am considering another one of their tours.

They were staying at the same hotel in Orvieto as the RS group I was in and they seemed very social amongst themselves and the couple I spoke to were enjoying the tour.

Posted by
13636 posts

Sue, thank you so much for your assessment of the Perillo tours! I have looked at them every now and then but with your observations I can tell they would not be for me.

Posted by
2309 posts

I agree with Frank. Odysseys has some great tours. We have done 3 with them and 3 with RS. The price for Odysseys includes your airfare. If you book your own airfare, the cost of the Odysseys tour is adjusted accordingly. Neither of them include your drinks except on a rare occasion. Odysseys encourages you to tip the guide. I factor that into the price. Odysseys stays at some really nice hotels. RS hotels are just fine but not as fancy as Odysseys. The guides are top notch with both companies. On RS, you have to handle your own luggage. On Odysseys, we never touched our luggage except at our home airport. Both companies include tips for restaurants, porters, etc. I choose these tours based on the itinerary. Both are small group tours (less than 28 people). You need to be able to walk on both of these tour companies. They can be physically taxing.

Posted by
362 posts

Echoing what Sue said above. I have flipped through Perillo tour brochures, but I am now confident I'm good with other options. Thanks!!