On Rick Steves’ Europe Tours

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My wife and I enjoy travel – especially in Europe. Through the years we’ve watched many episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe on PBS – plus we found his tour books to be the best – but, we’ve never taken any of his company’s tours.

However, we know at least five couples who have taken his tours – some multiple times – and everyone endorsed them! So, this past late September-early October, we ventured on our first Rick Steves’ Europe tour to a land we didn’t know – Eastern Europe. (After Bled, we continued on our own.)

 

Several broad points about Rick Steves’ Europe tours – especially two very important limitations:

  • Group size in the mid-to-upper 20s (so there is plenty of room on the full-sized bus)
  • One carry-on luggage and one backpack per passenger – after all, travelers are responsible for carrying their own to/from the hotel

For the tour,

  • A tour guide was with us the entire time (we had a wonderful Czech named Jana)
  • When in a new location, local guides shared their expertise
  • Most hotels are for multiple nights (which allows ample opportunities to do some laundry)

As a philosophy, Rick Steves’ tours want travellers to get the most of their experience by emphasizing history, culture, and interacting with the people because he wants travellers to understand the people, their place, and what is important to them. Besides the local guides, our activities included

  • tasting wine at a winery
  • visiting a school and meeting with an English teacher and her students
  • tasting honey at a local producer
  • eating local cuisines
  • being entertained by traditional music.
  • having two transit day-passes in Budapest good for buses, trams, and subways
  • after leaving each country), Jana led us in a toast to that country with a local liquor and toasting in the native language

The hotels exceeded our expectations. All were clean, spacious, conveniently located, and with a hearty breakfast to start our day.

Rick Steves’ Europe offers tours throughout Europe – and a surprising number of offerings, plus each frequently offered. I invite anyone interested to visit ricksteves.com. Regarding this tour, the previous post featured Prague, and my plan is to post at least one stop a week.

Bus touring isn’t easy and isn’t for everyone. However, I can honestly say that we would not hesitate to take another Rick Steves’ Europe tour. Actually, we even have our eye on another Rick Steves’ Europe tour in the future.

 

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37 thoughts on “On Rick Steves’ Europe Tours

  1. Nice review Rick Steves travels and tour. I’ve always enjoyed watching his PBS specials. He seems to enjoy traveling and has a good time wherever he goes.
    I get car sick so this may not be for me but a cruise 🚢 to Europe sounds mighty fine.
    Happy Wednesday 😀
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isadora,
      As we know, both of us love cruising. Not that long ago (in his new season), Rick Steves did a entire show about cruising. As avid cruisers, my wife and I felt that he was very fair in his assessment. Taking his land tour did NOT change our view of cruising.

      In terms of the motion sickness – I, too, carry that burden. The national parks tour worried me, so I took an over-the-counter motion sickness pill most days … it definitely helped! On this tour, I only took them on the longest travel days. For both tours, the buses were smooth riding, and both guides were sensitive to those with potential travel ills.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. These tours sound like a great way to visit a place you are not familiar with – to gather information and comfort level so you can go back on your own and do more (there’s never enough time on trips!) Good to know about the hotels now – years and years ago some he featured seemed affordable places, but not really what you’d choose, we considered but ended up going on our own and booking our own – but using some of his ideas and guidelines.It is a great idea to stay multiple nights and do laundry!) His books are a great resource. I’ve been on one European bus tour, but buses really aren’t for me…maybe they are all nonsmoking now..still too much swaying makes me carsick

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds very cool, Frank. We’re exploring different options and who knows, we may end up actually doing what we’ve said we’re going to do (for years) next year. Life is like that–you never know what you’re going to get. :). I’ve watched Rick Steves on PBS as well. Not sure I’m the type to be on a tour bus day after day, but I’d definitely be on a tour or two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brigitte,
      Yes – touring is not for everyone. Of all our travels, we’ve never taken a bus tour – until in 2018 as we took two. We were lucky because both groups very, very responsible for themselves and considerate to the other passengers – although I’m also sure that is not true for all groups. On the other hand, I’m sure that all companies are not the same.

      Like

  4. Frank,

    Great stuff, as per usual. I can honestly say that bus trips are relative to the experience, for me. If I’m in a place I’ve never been, it doesn’t bother me in the least because I’m so wrapped up in the new surroundings.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Interesting! It does sound like a good deal. My other half asks me twice a year, if I want to go to Europe. Well, you know how I feel about flying over all that water. However, should I get the nerve, I will check his tours out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Resa,
      I remember your opinion of flying over water! One thing for sure, once you are there I have no doubt that you would love it. Then again, the long trip could freak you out. On the plus side, at least you can get non-stop flights out of your airport – but water is still involved.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never been attracted to a bus tour, to be honest. I’m more inclined to want to go at my own pace. However, it might be something I’ll try in the near future, especially as a solo traveller (though I did quite fine in Toscana)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dale,
      Of all our travels, we’ve only taken two bus tours – and to think both were in 2018! Fortunately, we enjoyed both of them and our fears did not happen. On the other hand, our experience with bus tours with cruises haven’t always been filled with positives. We also like doing a lot on our own, so the fact that we’ve had two very good experiences is a plus – but I also wonder when will our luck run out.

      Like

        • According to the guys, not all “groups” are created equal – therefore my appreciation of our luck. Another wonderful thing about the tours is that we have someone along to tell us about the place!

          Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t mean the tours … but the people on the tour. That is luck of the draw. All it takes is 1 or 2 to screw up the group. For instance, if the guide says the bus is leaving at 11, be on the bus before 11 … not 11:10.

          Like

        • Oh for sure! That could make or break any trip. The loud-mouthed-all-about-me travellers can be found anywhere. On a ship, you can avoid them; not so much on a bus…

          Like

    • Monika,
      Rick Steves has successfully created his brand. On the downside, he wasn’t our tour guide (but some on the tour have met him). Not all guides are created equally – some are better than others. Our guide on this tour was very good – so was the one we had for the national parks tour.

      Liked by 1 person

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