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How to Find the Best European Tours

Updated March 28, 2024

UPDATED September 2023

Wondering where to find the best European tours for your next vacation? I’ve done the research for you!

Sometimes a guided tour is just what you need. Sit back and let someone else do all the work!

First visit to Europe? An expert tour guide helps get you acclimatized to your destination. After all who wants to be messing around with luggage transfers and local transportation when you’ve just stepped off an overnight flight?

A  specialist in European tours will probably save you time and expense. Most tours get highly discounted rates from hotels and coach companies. Even if you decide not to join the excursions you can still save by just taking advantage of their buying power.

european tours

Pretty Varenna on the shores of Lake Como, Italy

What to Look for: European Tours

Pick a guided tour that’s well rated and specializes in your preferred destination. When I started researching I wanted to find the best value for a long desired trip to the Italian lakes and that led me to Rivera Travel.

Where do you want to go? What tour company offers the best package, pricing and accommodations for the cities and towns you want to visit? Don’t try to squeeze in everything. I primarily wanted to see Lake Como. All the excursions offered on our tour were lovely, but the time spent on and near the Lake was the most memorable.

Think about your age group when making a decision too. Half the fun of the group tour is the camaraderie amongst your fellow travelers. I’ve met some wonderful people and made new friends!

Pros of an Escorted European Tour:

  • Make new friends and enjoy the comraderie of fellow travelers
  • Solo travelers can enjoy company of others
  • A knowledgeable expert tour guide who speaks the local language
  • Airport transfers and local transportation are booked for you.
  • Relax and let someone else do the driving!
european tours

Villa Balbionello, Lake Como

Cons of an Escorted European Tour:

  • Traveling in a large group may mean waiting around for others
  • Large tour buses can make you feel like a “tourist” instead of a local
  • View from a coach window isn’t the same as driving, cycling or walking
  • You can’t stop when and where you want
  • Hotels and restaurants may be limited to those who cater to large groups

Hand picked European cruise lines to explore Europe on your own.

European Tours for Your Next Adventure

Here’s a selection of some of the best known and respected tour companies based both in the US and UK.

1. GATE 1
Offers tours throughout Europe and all over the world with small group and discovery tours as well as walking holidays, river cruises and more. Sign up for their weekly specials. If you’re looking for a wealth of options, browse their website for your perfect itinerary. Reviews

  • 8 Day Affordable Tuscany from $1199. w/out airfare.
  • 8 Day Affordable Paris/London from $1699. w/out airfare

2. GRAND CIRCLE TRAVEL
Catering to the over 50 crowd and started by the founder of AARP, GCT offers a wide variety of all inclusive tours including cruises.  They specialize in European, North American and South Pacific tours. I like the comprehensive details on each tour page which tells you exactly what you get, plus ratings and single supplement pricing.

  • 16 Days Great Rivers of Europe Cruise from $4695. including airfare
  • 16 Days Impressions of Italy, Amalfi Coast and Tuscany from $3195 including airfare

3. GLOBUS
Globus is the more expensive side of the Globus/Cosmos travel tour conglomerate. Well laid out website, lots of options offering travel to most parts of the world. A huge company that began in Lugano Switzerland in 1928 founded by Antonio Mantegazza, who used a single row boat to offer tours! Offers multi country tours and faith based travel as well as different travel modes like Independence and small groups.

  • 8 Days Greek Island Adventure from $2249 including airfare
  • 7 Days Independent Edinburgh and London City Stay from $1349.
european tours

Shopping on Carnaby St in London

4. COLLETTE TOURS
Although not catering to seniors specifically, Collette offers a travel cancellation waiver which allows you to cancel for any reason up to day of departure for a full refund. This feature alone makes it unique and worth considering. Offers tours to 50 countries with both escorted and independent vacations. Visit their website for trip reviews and sign up for deals.

  • 12-14 Days Discover Croatia, Slovenia and the Adriatic Coast from $2754.
  • 9 Days Christmas on the Danube featuring a 6-Night Danube River Cruise from $2999.

5. TAUCK
3 Generation international travel company started in 1925 based in Westport CT. Highly rated and expensive. Their tours include many unique side trips and excursions so compare for value given.

For example, a trip to Italy offers a unique demonstration of a Murano glassblower; a private behind the scenes tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel plus lunch with a Contessa at her private Venetian palazzo! Tauck also offer multi generational Bridge trips so perfect for the family that wants to travel together.

  • 12 Days Grand European Family Holiday, London, Paris & Rome from $10,987 pp
  • 7 Days A Week in Spain from $5680 pp

Bolt on a relaxing stay in Europe before and after you meet your tour. It’s so much nicer to start a tour when you’re over your jet lag!

european tours

Lovely Venezia

6. TRAILFINDERS
Based in the UK, Trailfinders has good reviews and offers a wide variety of tour types from cycling to luxury coach tours to rail journeys and fly/drive options worldwide. According to reviewers, Trailfinders can also put together bespoke or customized itineraries such as private jets or touring. How about a golf holiday?

  • 17 Day Grand Tour of Scandinavia including the Arctic Circle from $4200.
  • 6 Days Fly/Drive Wine & Dine Northern Portugal from $725.

7. RIVIERA TRAVEL
Also based in the UK, I used Riviera for our trip to Lake Como. This first trip was a very positive experience and I considered it an excellent value. The hotel was located right on the lake and we couldn’t fault the location and amenities.

The majority of our tour group was 60+ although this may have been due to our October departure? Our local tour guide was excellent, plus we had enough free time to explore on our own.

Riviera offers European cruises, short city breaks, solo travel holidays as well as escorted European tours.

  • 8 Days Lake Como, St. Moritz and Bernina Express Air from UK included from $1650.
  • 4 Day Tour of Bruges, Belgium Rail from UK included from $500
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The pretty streets of Arles, France

8. TRAFALGAR
For 70+ years, Trafalgar has been creating memorable holidays worldwide. They specialize in creating a local experience and offer insider access as well as “hidden gems”.  If you’re looking for a European tour operator who offers an extensive range of destinations and tour options, Trafalgar will be worth researching. Free airport transfers to and from your hotel are included at select times.

  • 10 Day Castles & Kilts Family Tour from London to Edinburgh from £2655.
  • 9 Days Best of the Italian Lakes from $2391. pp

9. SOLO TRAVELERS
If you’re dreaming of traveling to Europe, but have chosen to travel solo, then these companies offer bespoke tours especially designed with your needs in mind. No single supplements and a room to yourself? Yes please.

How luxurious to travel on your own but share experiences with other solo travelers. Of course you can just go and enjoy your own company and have a fabulous time!

Why not fly into London a few days ahead of your tour? Make the most of being in one of the most fascinating iconic cities in the world!

For best pricing and availability, DO book ahead for a place to stay and tours. Occasionally you’ll find some last minute discounts, but as travel ramps up again, more popular tours are getting sold out. Sign up for emails and get first dibs. Don’t miss out, get started planning now 🙂

Book a European river cruise or cruise the Mediterranean with one of these well known cruise lines.

Take a peek at my travel resources before you go. Divertiti!

About Author

With over 30 years in a creative role in advertising and publishing, and a lifetime of journeys between the US and UK, I've created Hipoverfifty for you. I hope my journey and perspective will guide you on yours.