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RS Best of Spain 2023- questions and advice for a solo traveler

Hello all,
I’m going on Best of Italy 2022 in September. 1st tour ever! Excited!
I love planning travel, it’s been my hobby since Covid started, and even way before that. I’ve travelled to most European countries within the past 20 years.
Im planning a trip every year with friends and family- bookmarked for an independent trip each year in between. I’m thinking the “Best of Spain” next year for a solo trip with my own activities planned at the beginning in Barcelona and the end in Sevilla. I’ve never been to Spain! I’m not too shy and I love meeting new friends! I have my own personal activity planned each day but I’m into group activity if that’s what is on the schedule.

My questions are- Can travelers from 2022 “Best of Spain” list their hotels. I know Rick is awesome at getting local centrally located hotels but I’d like to a little research ahead of time. I know there is a huge chance that the hotels might not be the same, that’s ok. I like to have an idea ahead of time, especially travelling solo. Like I said, I’ve never done a group “tour” I can’t find any links on the website so curious about the hotels…

I like knowing the hotels so I can figure out if it works for me. As a lady- sometimes you just want to know these things!

Next- I’d like to do an independent sponsored tour group from Sevilla to Tangier. I read the reviews on Viator and they are mixed. Any experience? For a solo traveler?

Last- solo traveler- fly out of Sevilla ( longer layover in Lisbon at 6:30 am for me) or train to Cordoba for 2 nights- train to Madrid and fly back to US. I have the luxury of extra time but also not sure if, as a solo traveler, I may be ready to go home. I know that no one can answer that for ME, but love to hear your experience.

Solo travelers on this tour- if you have any thoughts or advise. Thanks! Or anyone else- I’m trying to make a decision whether to do it on my own or get the supreme benefits from a Rick Steve’s tour. Pluses and minuses for sure. By the way I’m 56 year old active lady. Love art, architecture, culture, literature, museums, outdoors, indoors, luxury, eating and drinking glorious things! and also just scrapping by my backpack! No preset notions. Love to learn. Find joy!
Happy travels! Lots on this post but honestly would love to hear all feedback on the “best of Spain 14 days” especially for solo travellers.

Happy travels! Thanks in advance.

Posted by
7573 posts

I think you will have a much better idea about how you want to go about this after you have taken your RS tour in September. You will get quite a few opinions (we are not short of them on the forum) about either doing it independently, doing it as part of a tour, or doing a trip that combines independent and a tour. In the end, the only opinion that is going to matter is yours.

My suggestion is to wait on this. Wait until you have actually gone on a tour and seen what the experience is like for you. Then you will have a better idea about how a tour might meet, or not meet, your expectations for the Spain trip.

I'm pretty confident that you will have a wonderful time on your Italy tour and I hope you will come back and post a trip report for us.

PS: Sometimes you can look back through the scrapbook archives on the RS website and see information about a tour in the past. They can give you a sense of what it was like and where people stayed.

Posted by
298 posts

Thank you Ms.Carol!
I have indeed tried looking at the tour scrapbook for Spain trips and there is only one lately. Which was actually pretty cool! Due to Covid there isn’t much to look at lately.

But thank you! Your advice is spot on. I’ll try this Italy tour. My husband and I are going with another couple. I’m excited but it’s so foreign to the way I usually travel… good advice…

Since you are on this website, I have a
Little feeling that you may be like me.. always looking to the future for the next travel experience! Thanks so much for your thoughtful and kind response.


Posted by
1943 posts

I did this tour solo a dozen years ago - one of my favorites, especially the food and wine (better than Italy IMHO). At the time, our tour included Tangier so I can't comment on the side trip, but it was worth the cultural shake up and really highlighted the connection between Spain and Moorish influence in food, architecture, art. I stayed an extra night in Madrid before flying home so I could see some of the art museums I missed on the first pass through. I regret not stopping over or spending the night in Cordoba on the way back to Madrid.

There were three solos that rotated sharing rooms. It worked out ok - one roomie I still keep in touch with, the other I was glad to part company. If privacy is of importance to you, spring for the single supplement.

FWIW, and knowing that many, MANY things have changed since 2010 (including the tour itinerary), here is where we stayed so you can get an idea of location: Hotel Duc del la Victoria (Barcelona), Hotel Los Linajes (Segovia), Hotel Europa (Madrid, also stayed here on way back home), Hotel Eurico (Toledo), Hotel Anacapri (Grenada), Hotel La Mirada (Terifa), Hotel El Convento (Arcos), Hotel Alcantara (Sevilla).

Posted by
2109 posts

I will be going on my 8th RS tour in October. I have always gone as a single, and have always paid the single supplement.

There have been other people traveling single on all 8, usually women, and I can't think of any particular problems that arose because of that. RS hotels vary, but all have been at least fine, some have been nicer than I might choose by myself.

Posted by
6204 posts

Hi Lisa,

The RS Best of Italy was our first experience in Italy 17 years ago. I can confidently say that the tour and the itinerary were all “wow” moments and the perfect way to be introduced to Italy! You will have a wonderful time! We have returned to several of those locations, and I just finished my second solo trip to Italy - 6th time to Italy now.

To comment about this question you had:
“Last- solo traveler- fly out of Sevilla ( longer layover in Lisbon at 6:30 am for me) or train to Cordoba for 2 nights- train to Madrid and fly back to US. I have the luxury of extra time but also not sure if, as a solo traveler, I may be ready to go home. I know that no one can answer that for ME, but love to hear your experience.”

The train is so easy to go from Sevilla to Cordoba to Madrid that it would be a shame to not see Cordoba while you are so close. It also would give you a chance to go at whatever pace you want for your last few days. I’ll also attach our Spain trip report; it may give you ideas for Cordoba or your other locations. Have a great time!

Posted by
298 posts

Thanks everyone for the replies. Your advice is so valuable.
And Jean, I read and bookmarked your Spain trip report, it was so helpful! Sounds like you had a fabulous trip! I realized I also had bookmarked your recent solo trip to Italy! I loved that trip report as well! A great big double thank you is in order! ; ) I LOVE reading the trip reports! So much good info there.

Posted by
15450 posts

I would definitely recommend spending 2 nights (or more) in Cordoba and at least one more night in Sevilla. Flying out of Madrid probably means spending your last night there. That would be my personal preference, especially if it meant a direct flight home.

I have been to Spain 3 times for 3.5 weeks each, and repeat visit to Barcelona at the end of a longer trip in France. It vies with Italy as being my favorite European country. All my visits have been as a solo traveler. It's a very easy country to see on one's own. Most cities have very good small group guided tours which, aside from the usual benefits, also gives the solo traveler the chance to share experiences with others and sometimes even more time together after the tour. In my trips of 23-25 days, I've never wished I'd spent less time in Spain. Though I do a lot of planning - working out dates, hotels, itinerary, etc. - I don't make day by day plans. Though there are a very few things that must be booked in advance, I mostly wing it, though I'll have a list of sights, tours and restaurants.

I've been on 3 RS tours. I took the tours because the logistics of each would have been daunting to me as a solo traveler. I don't like museum tours and tend to wander off on my own, I often zone out on guided sight tours with large group (and 28-30 people is a large group). However, I found that the RS guides gave me lots of insights into the countries I visited that I would not have had on my own. A few of the group activities bored me to tears, while others were exceptionally interesting, especially the "back-door" experiences. Whichever you choose, there will be pluses and minuses.

If you take the tour, I'd encourage you to arrive in Barcelona at least 2 days in advance. There is so very much to see and do there and lots of great day trips as well. My first visit was 5 days, my second was 7, the next was a short 4 days, and I'm now planning another European trip for December that ends with 4 days in Barcelona.

Posted by
298 posts

@chani thank you so very much for your detailed reply. Thanks for sharing your wealth of experience, it always helps to hear from others that have knowledge and have visited the locale.

Thanks everyone! I’m still pondering but know for sure I will add time before and after the tour. Your advice helped me to come to that conclusion. Cordoba or maybe even Lisbon. I’ve never been to Portugal, it’s an hour flight from Seville. It’s actually the first stop layover if I would have flown home from Seville. But Cordoba sounds fantastic as well. Hmmmmm…. So much to ponder! I’m certain that any decision will be a good one! Thanks!

Posted by
12719 posts

I just want to make a general comment about Viator. It is a 3rd party tour consolidator owned by Trip Advisor. They do not actually run the tours themselves. You can see who the actual tour provider is on the Viator site, then do a search on Trip Advisor for reviews of that specific tour company. Viator charges 20-25% to the tour company for each booking so you'll save either the tour company or yourself money by booking direct.

I also agree with the advice to do your first RS tour before you decide to book your next one. AND if you are doing the Best of Italy tour with friends you can see the fun the solo travelers have on that trip, lol. I'm sure you'll love the tour!

Posted by
15450 posts

Occasionally, for whatever reason, I got a better price on Viator than directly. But you definitely should check both.

Posted by
6204 posts

Another comment about Viator - I have found small tours by Viator (a middleman provider) that look interesting but many times when I’m looking at the full details of the tour, they won’t let me book it as a solo traveler. I have run into this issue with some other tour sources I was researching, also - frustrating!

Viator also leaves out some of the details that are important to me, such as exactly where is the meet up location. It can be something vague for cooking classes, like “near public transportation”. As I’ve researched it further, it may be a location I don’t feel comfortable or is 45 minutes by bus away from the historical center.

Finding the real person or small business running the tour or activity, as Pam mentioned, gives you the full details. I was able to do this for some activities in Bergamo, Italy this year, and he offered more options than what was shown on Viator. I was able to have a wonderful experience (this was outdoor painting classes), and he was flexible to even let me choose what time to meet.

Posted by
298 posts

Thanks, so interesting some of the things you all pointed out about Viator…. I, too, usually look and see who the original tour provider is and then go to that website first to compare prices! I also like to enter the name of the tour and original provider into TripAdvisor to see if I can get additional reviews and photos attendees have posted for that particular tour. @Pam sounds like we have the same idea about that! ; ) Sometimes I think I almost research things to death!!! But the research is part of my fun…. The planning and dreaming and arranging before the actual travel occurs!!

I find Viator is a good first stop to see what some of the popular day tours are- especially staying in a larger city like Barcelona or Sevilla.

But thanks again for your thoughts, everyone!

I did see that tour to Tangier, Morocco from Seville on Viator. I can’t recall who the original operator was. Now normally I’m not one to take a long protracted day tour just to cross a locale off of my internal “list” however, the thought of Morocco thrills me! But the description and reviews of the tour honestly don’t sound exactly appealing with a long potentially confusing day of travel and not much time sight seeing. So I think I will skip that one.

I also had the thought that if a tour provider does appear on Viator, hopefully has been vetted a bit if nothing else but tour reviews. So hopefully no shady operators… I always try and look at the number of reviews posted, too. Travelling solo, I always try to be careful of these things.