Taking a bus tour is one of the most relaxing ways to see Italy, particularly if it’s your first time in the country and you don’t want to have to worry about the day to day arrangements of your trip.
When you join a bus tour you’ll be able to enjoy the guide’s commentaries as you learn about the attractions and monuments that you visit along the way. You’ll also be able to make new friends with the other people on the tour with you which can add a really fun element to your vacation.
There’s a fantastic range of tours available in Italy so you’re bound to find one that suits your budget and itinerary requirements. Offerings range from small, luxury tours to larger group tours that include budget accommodation and meals. The cheaper bus tours in Italy start from around $150 per day although the best tours will cost significantly more than this!
The Best Bus Tour Operators In Italy.
There’s a huge range of tour operators to choose from in Italy but you’re generally better off by selecting one of the big names. These operators have the infrastructure and experience in the industry to ensure that you have a smooth trip.
The larger operators also have ongoing arrangements with the hotels, museums and other attractions which means that the discounts they get on prices can often be passed on to you!
These tour operators fall into different categories and should not be compared against each other. Some cater to the luxury segment, while others might cater to young travelers or families. NOTE: A private company called “The Travel Corporation” based in California owns Trafalgar, Contiki and Insight. Globus and Cosmos are owned by a Swiss company called Group Voyagers.
Abercrombie & Kent.
This luxury tour provider was founded in the early 1960s and offers some of the finest tours in Europe. The operators work hard to create inspirational tours that include the most famous sites in Italy. The operator also offers private tours and small group tours. Tours of Italy will typically start from $7000 and above. However, the number of people in a given tour is very limited, so will get a lot more personal attention.
Insight Vacations is a middle to upper-end tour operator that provides well-thought-out itineraries with plenty of scope for tailoring the trip to your own schedule. They offer different styles of tour including easy pace, country roads, special interest tours etc.
Cosmos is an independent tour operating company from the United Kingdom. They are a budget tour operator. Their tours are ideal if you want to pack a lot into your vacation without spending a fortune on the trip.
A leading tour provider that sits in the middle of the price spectrum, Globus is a great choice for your vacation in Italy. They also offer different styles of tours of Italy.
Trafalgar is my favorite tour operator in Europe. I have taken their tours all over Europe. Trafalgar is an excellent choice for families, solo travelers and couples visiting Italy. With an excellent range of tours to choose from at very reasonable prices, Trafalgar is one of the best all-round tour operators in the industry.
Choosing The Perfect Tour Operator For Your Italian Vacation.
There are several things you need to consider before choosing a tour operator:
Research The Costs Of The Tour.
One of the first things you need to establish when you’re choosing a tour is your budget since this will determine which operators you can choose from! Of course, it’s not usually worth choosing the cheapest tour operator because the groups are likely to be large and the accommodation and food might not be up to your standards.
Pay attention to who the rest of the travelers are likely to be since you will be spending a lot of time with them. The tour company that you would select if you are young is different from the company that you should go with if you have a family. Young people will party at night and might not show up on time the next day. This will impact the whole group.
When you’re researching the costs of the tour make sure to find out exactly what’s included in the price. For example, are your meals provided during the tour and does the price include your accommodation? In most cases, your entrance fees and tickets for the attractions should be included in the price of the tour but it’s always worth checking this as well.
IMPORTANT: Every tour will have parts of the tour that are included in the cost and parts of the tour that are optional. Some of the optional programs might be a guided tour of the Colosseum or a dinner in a nice restaurant. One of my favorite memories of Italy was a New Years’ eve dinner in a nice restaurant in Florence about 15 years ago. The restaurant had spectacular views of the city of Florence, many from the tour signed up and we all sang and danced the night away!! It was a Trafalgar tour and I was relatively young compared to the rest of the travelers, but I thoroughly enjoyed the company and the knowledge.
You also need to make sure that no extra fees are charged when you arrive in the country to begin the tour! This is a sneaky tactic that some of the less scrupulous tour operators employ to hide parts of the cost of the package. A quick email or call to the operator will suffice to check whether there are any additional fees that you’ll be liable for on arrival.
If you’re planning to travel alone then you should find out if the operator charges a ‘single supplement’. This is because the operator will have to provide you with your own room at the hotel but it’s a little unfair to penalize solo travelers. Therefore, if you are traveling alone then you should check whether the single supplement fee is going to be added to the overall price of your tour.
Of course, you will get what you pay for so if you want a truly unforgettable experience then you may want to select a top end luxury tour operator. If you do, you’ll be able to travel in a small group, stay in the best hotels and enjoy the very best of what the Dolce Vita has to offer!
What’s The Size Of The Group?
The size of the group can make a massive difference to the quality of your experience. A large group, of 48 people for example, will inevitably be cheaper but the guide won’t be able to tailor the tour to the interests of the members of the group. On the other hand, a smaller group of 10 or 12 people will be much more rewarding although the price will, of course, be higher!
It’s worth remembering that larger group tours will tend to stay in impersonal accommodations because only the big chains can accommodate that many people. However, if you’re on a small group tour then you may end up staying in some lovely little hotels which have a much more authentic Italian feel. Larger groups also have to eat in the more touristy restaurants and spend less time at each destination.
Check The Reviews.
Before you book your place on a bus tour you should spend a little time reading through some of the reviews from past customers. Of course, don’t forget that a lot of people only write a review if they were unhappy with the tour so you’ll never hear from many of the satisfied customers!
With that said, you can still get a good idea of the quality of the tour by reading the reviews. You can also use online forums to hear from other people who have taken the tours or reach out to your social media network to see if anyone has any recommendations.
Who Is The Tour Designed For?
There are many different types of tours and each is tailored to a particular demographic. For instance, some tours are geared towards younger people while others mainly cater for retirees and elderly travelers. You can usually learn more about the normal demographics of the tour in the About section of the website but you’ll also be able to get a feel for it by the photos on the site and the types of activities that are included in the tour.
Another way to figure out the demographics of the tour is to check what type of accommodation you’ll be staying in. As a general rule, if you’ll be staying in guest houses and hostels then it’s a tour for backpackers and younger people whereas tours that stay in top-end hotels are usually for families and older tourists.
Is The Itinerary Balanced?
Before you sign up for a tour you should take a good look at the itinerary! This may sound obvious but there’s a lot of variation in the way that operators manage their schedules. For example, does the tour allow you some time to explore on your own? Do you want every moment of the day packed full of activities or would you prefer a slower pace? Also, make sure your tour does not include long bus rides. On one occasion, I spent the entire day in the tour bus riding from Rome to Sicily. I still enjoyed the scenery and riding the ferry to Sicily, but it would not make financial sense to some of you.
There’s no right answer about the type of tour that you should choose but you do need to give it some thought so you aren’t disappointed on your vacation.
Health And Safety.
It’s important to make sure that the tour company follows all the necessary health and safety requirements. You should also ask the operators what their policy is should you have an accident or something goes wrong during the tour.
This may sound overly cautious but it’s still a good idea to make sure you’re in safe hands, particularly if you’re traveling with your family and young children.
My Favorite Bus Tour Of Italy.
There are several bus tours of Italy that I love. One of my favorites is “Trafalgar’s Best Of Italy – 13 Day Tour”. This tour is a very good introduction to Italy for first time visitors.
This 13 day tour is run throughout the summer and gives you a wonderful look at a wide range of Italy’s most iconic attractions, monuments and cities. The Best of Italy tour is great value for money, costing just under $2500 per head, and is suitable for families, couples and elderly travelers.
Starting in Rome, the tour takes you to Pompei, Sorrento, Isle of Capri, Assisi, Verona, Venice, Milan, Lake Como and San Gimigiano. The tour finishes back in Rome after 13 days of sightseeing throughout the whole of Italy.
Some of the highlights of this action-packed tour include visiting the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, seeing Juliet’s balcony in Verona, visiting Venice and seeing the haunting remains of Pompeii. You’ll also get to taste authentic Italian cuisine along the way including handmade parmesan, tortellini and other local specialties during your time on the tour.
This tour will give you a great overall experience that incorporates as much as possible while still giving you plenty of time to relax in the evenings and do some shopping on your own.
Selecting The Right Tour Operator For Your Italian Trip.
No matter what type of tour you’re looking for it’s vital to do your research in advance! The more you can find out about the tour the less likely you are to be disappointed or surprised once you arrive.
However, there are plenty of great tours to choose from so you’re bound to find one that’s perfect for your requirements and falls within your budget. Once you’ve found the ideal tour you can look forward to sitting back and relaxing as you’re guided around the wonderful land of the Dolce Vita.