Travel / Travel Tips

How to Find the Best European Tours

european tours

Lake Maggiore, Italy

If you’ve been wondering where to find the best European tours for your next vacation, I’ve researched to find these well respected tour companies that offer remarkable service and value.

Sometimes a guided tour is just what you need. Why not sit back and let someone else do all the work? Having an expert tour guide is especially helpful on a first visit to acclimate you to your destination. Who wants to be messing around with luggage transfers and local transportation when you’ve just stepped off an overnight flight?

If your one of those travelers who prefers to plan their own tour, I can understand that too. You’ll have the freedom of setting your own itinerary and schedule.

The advantage of using a European tour specialist is saving you both cost and time. Most tours get highly discounted rates from hotels and coach companies. You could choose not to participate in the excursions and still save. The hotel, meals and airfare offered on a packaged European tour is a much better deal than you could get booking independently.

How to pick the best European tours?

Pick a guided tour that’s well rated and specializes in your preferred destination. My research centered around getting the best value for our trip to the Italian Lakes.

Where do you want to go? What tour company offers the best package, pricing and accomodations for the cities and towns you want to visit?

Choosing a tour which caters to your age group should be a factor in your decision too. Half the fun of the group tour is the camaraderie amongst your fellow travelers and if you’re of similar age then you’ll have a lot more to share.

Pros of an escorted European tour:

  • Make new friends and enjoy the comraderie of fellow travelers
  • Solo travelers enjoy companionship if they choose
  • An expert tour guide well versed in local history and culture
  • Pack and go. No worries getting airport transfers or local transportation.
  • Relax and let someone else do the driving so you can see the sights.
  • Local tour guides usually speak the local language if you don’t
best european tour

Villa Balbionello, Lake Como

Cons of an escorted European tour:

  • If you’re traveling in a large group, you have to wait for others
  • Large tour buses may make you feel like a “tourist” instead of a local
  • View from a coach window isn’t the same as driving, cycling or walking
  • Lack the option of stopping when and where you want
  • Hotels and restaurants may be limited to those that cater to large groups
  • Tour guides aren’t all created equal. You may get a dud!

The Best European Tours – Budget to Luxury

Offers tours throughout Europe. Gate 1 tours includes options such as small groups, river cruises, Value, Classic and luxury.
8 days in Italy starting at $2109. including airfare.

Catering to the over 50 crowd, GCT offers a wide variety of all inclusive tours. Started by the founder of AARP. No surprises, you get what you pay for. The website handily rates each tour’s activity level so you’ll know before you go what to expect.
15 Days Northern Italy starting at $2995. including airfare.

Globus is the more expensive side of the Globus/Cosmos travel tour conglomerate. Well laid out website, lots of options. A huge company that began in Lugano Switzerland in 1928 by founder Antonio Mantegazza using a single row boat to offer travel tours. Package details include hotel options which I prefer.
8 Day Rome, Assisi and Milan starting at $1813. not including air.

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 if either party has illness to consider. Travel tours to 50 countries offering both escorted and independent vacations.
9 Days in Florence, Bologna and Lake Como from $3599. not inclusive of air.

3 generational international travel company started in 1925 based in Westport CT. Highly rated. More expensive holiday tours, but includes many unique side trips and excursions so do compare that value against another trip. The trip to Italy is 21 guests or fewer with a private demonstration of a Murano glassblower as well as a private behind the scenes tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel and lunch with a contessa at her private Venetian palazzo.
8 Days in Culturious tour to Rome, Florence, Venice starting at £3290. includes transfers but not air.


best european tours

Bruges, Belgium

Based in the UK, a good all around travel tour company with good reviews and a wide variety of tour types from cycling to luxury coach tours to rail journeys and fly/drive options. According to reviews Trailfinders can also put together bespoke or customized itineraries.
8 Days Cycle Cilento and Amalfi Coast starting at £1199. inclusive of air from UK

Also based in the UK, but bookable from anywhere, Riviera Travel is the company we booked our trip to Lake Como through. For a first experience it was very positive. The tradeoff for an excellent value was traveling in large groups so buses and hotels  had to cater. However hotel was located right on the lake and we couldn’t fault the value.

The majority of our tour group was 60+ although this may have been due to our October departure. Our local tour guide was excellent, and 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 starting at £849. inclusive of air from UK

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”. I didn’t see specific hotels mentioned on the Italian Lakes tour, which is a bit of a red flag. It means you don’t have the option to do your own research and choose a preference.

If you’re looking for a European tour operator who offers an extensive range of destinations and tour options, Trafalgar will be worth researching. Private airport transfers are included in every trip.
9 Days Best of the Italian Lakes from £1526. pp not inclusive of air

Now’s the time to plan a summer or fall getaway and take advantage of any early booking discounts. Have a wonderful time. Divertiti!

Don’t forget to take a peek at my travel resources before you go.