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Switzerland

My husband and I have traveled quite a bit and often use Rick Steves travel books as a guide but plan our own trip. We have not taken a tour with a group. I would like some thoughts on the options of My way Alpine Europe in 12 days vs the Best of Switzerland in 12 days. We like to be active and want to be able to hike some. Would it be too much of a shock to go to a full tour vs the My way since we have never done a tour?
Thanks for the opinions

Posted by
921 posts

I have taken both of those tours. There is a lot of free time even on the full tour. Plus, you really do not have to participate in a group activity if you have something else in mind. You do need to make sure the guide knows when you are opting out. You do need to be there on time for transportation days. On the Switzerland tour you have 2 days in the Berner Oberland while you have 3 in My Way. Best of Switzerland has a few more urban areas included. My Way has only Salzburg, really. While My Way does not have real guided activities, the tour leader does interact with the group to help facilitate meet-and-greets, etc. On the My Way tour, our group really gelled. I was solo, but there was always someone to spend time with if I wanted - and I did (smile).

They are both fantastic, and I took the Best of Switzerland after the My Way because I wanted more of Switzerland. I will probably take the My Way Alpine again because I want more of the Dolomites..

Posted by
3409 posts

I had some similar questions last year when I wondered about taking a tour. I wondered how it would feel to give up some of the control of picking my own lodging, itinerary, and activities. I even called it , "the experiment" because that is what it was for me.

I found that I enjoyed traveling on the tour. One nice thing about Rick Steves Tours is that they build in significant free time to allow participants to make some of their own choices. In addition, you can always "opt out" of an activity if you let your guide know and do something different. I was surprised by the value I received from having a guide that was always "teaching" about what we were about to see or had local insight that I would not have been able to get on my own. The hotels were fine and I found I enjoyed the group meals and getting to know my tour mates who were really a great group of people. I saw some things that I wouldn't have seen if I was traveling alone and I had a better experience by being stretched in that manner. Rick Steves tours handle logistics exceptionally well.

I am actually leaving to go on the Best of Switzerland Tour in 1 and 1/2 weeks so I can't give you as much feedback now as I will be able to do in a month. I have spent significant time studying the itinerary and I know that there are two full days that are basically free for people to hike as they would like, and several afternoons.

I would encourage you to go ahead and try the full tour. I don't think that you'll be in big shock and I actually think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much you enjoy it. I don't think people can know if going on a tour is for them without at least trying one. You have to be a little flexible, but if you are willing to be positive and be open to new experiences, I think you will really like it.

In terms of itinerary, I like the Best of Switzerland over My way Alpine Europe because you focus in on a smaller area and get more time in the Alps. I think a day spent at Neuschwanstein Castle is a day wasted when you could be in the mountains. I also like that 1/2 the dinners are included. Switzerland is not an inexpensive country to visit.

I still travel solo or with my sister, but I am glad that I learned that I could add Rick Steves Tours into the mix as well.

Posted by
174 posts

I think the best part of each tour is Murren. On the Swiss tour you get 2 nights up there, whereas on My Way you get only 2 nts in Lauterbrunnen Valley, which makes it not impossible but a bit of work to get up there. Plenty of other beautiful scenery around there, of course, but in my opinion, the best part of that area is Murren/Gimmelwald and taking the gondola all the way to the top of the Schilthorn.

Posted by
614 posts

The Alpine My Way tour spends 3 nights in the Lauterbrunnen Valley area. It could be Murren, Wengen, or on the valley floor, itself. Last year we spent 3 nights in Wengen on the tour, which we loved. Others have been very happy staying in Lauterbrunnen because it's easy to reach all the places. They took an overnight at Hallstatt out of the tour and added the night to the Swiss Alps to give 3 nights there.
Staying in Fussen for 2 nights, going to Neuschwanstein Castle is optional--it's "My Way"--you decide what to do. We rented bikes (our tour guide showed the group where the bike rentals are and we rented on the spot, no prior reservation) We rode out to the town of Schwangau and took a bus up to St.Mary's Bridge to get a view of Neuschwanstein, then spent the rest of the day following the bike trails all around the countryside.
The Alpine My Way tour was our first organized tour--I had done all the planning previously. We really enjoyed it for all the reasons already stated. This year we did a full tour, and I think we both enjoyed the freedom of the My Way format more, but wouldn't rule out more full tours.

Posted by
651 posts

I have done both tours and they were both wonderful. The only negative I have about the Switzerland tour is that you arrive late afternoon in Murren after a busy travel day from Lugano via Zermatt, and then have only the next full day to enjoy the Berner Oberland. As luck would have it, my full day in Murren (July) was raining and we never saw the Schilthorn or Jungfrau. The My Way tour does give you that extra day in the area and a higher likelihood of at least one nice day.

Also, the My Way tour does give you the Dolomites and Chamonix, which on a nice day, are spectacular. When I did the tour, it stopped for one night in Halstatt which way very nice. They changed the itinerary a while back to add the additional night in Lauterbrunnen and dropping the Halstatt stop. I wish they would have simply extended the tour by a day so you could have both!

You can't go wrong with either tour. I do think that people who say "I would never do a tour" don't understand the amount of free time you have on most guided tours and that you can always elect out of a group activity.