Please sign in to post.

Trying to select our second RS tour

Our first RS tour was the best of Sicily (off season), and I can honestly say that the tour made Sicily so much more memorable than it would have been on our own.

We're looking now at picking our second RS tour. We're torn between the 11 day Heart of Belgium and Holland OR the 9 day Basque Country of Spain and France tour. In third place is the 12 day Best of Portugal.

My other half and I have not visited ANY of those countries. I've changed planes in Paris. That's it. Mr. Aquamarine does not like enclosed boats, but otherwise we're good. (Open boats or journeys of an hour or less are fine with him.) We love to see new countries and those three tours are the limit of what my other half can take off at one sitting.

Any comments on favorites between those trips?

Posted by
1942 posts

I have not taken any of those tours, but have taken 5 RS tours and can say with confidence that you will enjoy any of those destinations. What time of year will you be traveling? The Basque and the Portugal tours will be warm in the summer months. If you took Sicily (off season) perhaps, that is the time of year, Feb. or Mar. you are thinking. If so, Belgium & Holland will be cooler and likely wet.

A friend of mine is taking the Basque tour in June when it will be hot, she is the primary caretaker for her elderly mother, and cannot go any other time. She knows in advance she will have to deal with the heat. I have read the itinerary and it is a variety of samplings from both Spain and France - you can't go wrong with any of the 3 you have mentioned.
Let us know which one you decided to take!

Posted by
4594 posts

We've done the Belgium and Holland tour, and loved it. The itinerary has changed a bit since we took it, but not much. We did the tour in late May, and the weather was delightful, as I recall.

We haven't done the other two, but they're on my short list.

We've done 11 RS tours, and there wasn't a stinker in the lot. Just toss a dart and sign up.

Posted by
816 posts

I have done the 11 day Heart of Belgium and Holland in 2016. Ours was the one when they changed the itinerary due to the Belgium bombing. Our tour was scheduled a few weeks/or month out of that incident. We had planned to stay in brussels three days prior to the start of the tour. Airlines changed our flights from In/out of Amsterdam. Had to catch the Thyls train from Amsterdam to brussels where we had hotel reservations for 3 nights, then Caught the train to Ghent where it started. Tour never went back into Brussels.
We chose the one of the first 4-5 tours that go to Keukenhof Gardens! The weather started off cool/cold but ended up great.
We loved this tour. It was my 2nd and Mr. P's 2nd. I was worried that his opinion of European travel was not as wonderful as mine, but he absolutely loved it!

Never been on the other two tours (yet). LOL

Happy traveling.

Posted by
6579 posts

We spent several weeks in June, last half, in the Basque country, Spain and France, and it was never hot. This is where Spaniards go to escape the heat

Posted by
260 posts

We have taken the Heart of Portugal tour, in September, and it was glorious weather and a wonderful tour. The sights! The food! The tour guide! The destinations! Plus the most favorite cathedral of all I have seen in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal and Greece. But I also know you can't go wrong with any of these. Have the best time dreaming and choosing. :)

Posted by
166 posts

We are on the April departure for Sicily so glad to hear you enjoyed it. We joined the Best of Portugal and Basque Country tours (back to back) last April and loved both. Terrific guides and a well planned itinerary to see the "best of". We flew from Porto to Biarritz to join the tours. We have found that arranging the tours this way saves on Transatlantic airfares. The flights in Europe of so much cheaper! We have visited both Belgium and Holland by independent travel by train. Based on the 13 RS tours we have done, you will not go wrong on any itinerary!!
I recommend that you go to Portugal sooner rather than later. It is becoming a very hot destination. Already lots of cruise ships!

Posted by
2464 posts

We took the Portugal tour this past summer and loved it. We had one hot day but you are near the ocean for some of the tour and their were chilly days in June. Our still favorite tour, out of the 7 we've taken is Greece. But, as others have said, really can't go wrong.

Posted by
65 posts

My recommendation would be for Belgium and the Netherlands. We took this tour last year and loved it. I liked that there were only three bus days. We felt very safe and could communicate in English. We spent three extra days in Ghent at the beginning of the tour to get over our jet lag - the hotel in Ghent was fabulous ! It was easy to get around on our own in Ghent - one day we took a day trip into Brussels which was easy and fun. During the tour we spent a free afternoon going to the art museum in the Hague which we loved. This tour has more art opportunities than other tours, a plus for us. I'm glad you liked Sicily because that's where we are going next :)

Posted by
66 posts

So glad to hear you enjoyed the Sicily tour! We are going in this one (our second) in April. We went on the Best of Prague and Budapest last year and it was fabulous! You may want to consider this one for next year! Prague is amazing-we arrived a couple days early so we could wander around.
This was our first experience with a tour. We have used RS guide books, etc for several European visits and really loved them. We did not know if we would like a tour but it was so much more than we ever expected! We experienced so much more than we would have on our own. We are so excited to experience Sicily-I know we will see and do so much more than we would do on our own! Did you fly to Palermo and out of Catania? We have not secured our air fare yet and are looking at best options-maybe fly to Rome and then to Palermo?

Posted by
1014 posts

We went on the RS Sicily tour in April 2016. Traveling from the US to Sicily can be challenging. We did the following:

  • Flew from Boston to Rome on Aer Lingus and stayed a couple of nights
  • Flew from Rome to Palermo - Alitalia - on the day before the tour started

At the end of the tour, we flew from Catania to Rome on Alitalia and stayed one night in Rome before flying home on Aer Lingus.

We avoided a lengthy multi-stop itinerary, as well as avoiding an early departure from Catania at the end of the tour. We are familiar with Rome, so it was a nice way to get over the jet lag from the overnight flight. We also wanted to avoid Alitalia for the transatlantic legs due to concerns over service issues. Also, there is talk about bankruptcy for Alitalia. Note that Ryanair has service from Rome to Sicily.

Posted by
996 posts

Thank you everyone for the amazing suggestions and feedback ideas! :-)

Did you fly to Palermo and out of Catania? We have not secured our air fare yet and are looking at best options-maybe fly to Rome and then to Palermo?

We flew Home Airport - Atlanta - Rome - Palermo (two Delta flights & Alitalia for the last leg). On the return trip we did Catania - Rome - JFK - Home Airport. (Alitalia for the Italian leg again and Delta for the rest of the flights.)

Posted by
373 posts

We took the Basque tour...it was fabulous! But, I agree with an earlier poster, you can't go wrong...all the RS tour seems to be wonderful! Great company culture and credo seems to breed great travel guides and travel companions.

Posted by
281 posts

Took first version of both Basque and Belgium/Holland tours. Both were memorable in a very good way. Great Guides and wonderful activities. I did the tours based on my interests and took the first offered tour of each.

Look at the activities and do some internet searches to see if one strikes your fancy more. Otherwise pick one that works schedule and cost wise better for you.

Posted by
2797 posts

One of our favorite RS Tours was the "Best of Portugal." It was lovely in mid September. Another favorite was Loire to the South of France. Again, mid September was perfect.

We added a couple days prior to Portugal Tour in order to do a day trip of Sintra. We did Madrid, Toledo and Barcelona on our own following the tour. South of France tour we added 5 days in Paris pre tour and extra day in Nice at the end.

As others have mentioned, you can't go wrong with your choices.

Posted by
21 posts

As one who is heading to our 14-th RS tour in Greece in May you, as others had said, will enjoy them all as we have. Portugal is a great tour. Our tour guide Robert Wright was absolutely excellent. But a couple from our 2015 Spain tour did the Portugal last year and had a different guide, a woman, whom they reported as also being excellent. (Note the words "Rick Steves tour guide" and the word "excellent" are redundant !!) We have not done either of your other two choices; but they are on our list. I agree with your thoughts on Sicily. Was Tomasso your guide there? Best of Italy in a great tour and I would follow that with Villages of Italy in that order. Don't overlook Spain also with Robert. For a loooong time when people asked what was our favorite tour we responded Villages of Italy. But now we respond Spain also. Of course "favorite" involves a lot of factors. Happy travels !

Posted by
996 posts

I agree with your thoughts on Sicily. Was Tomasso your guide there?

We had Nina for our guide.

Thanks for all the encouraging words and recommendations! It sounds like we can't go wrong, no matter what we pick!