Taking a bus tour in Italy is a wonderful way to see the sights and meet new travel companions. Bus tours are a popular option for families, expats, couples and solo travelers who want to pack in a lot of sights without having to worry about planning all the travel arrangements.
However, bus tours aren’t suited to everyone; in fact, some travelers avoid them entirely! Even so, it’s worth taking a few moments to consider the pros and cons before you decide whether or not to book your place on a bus tour of Italy.
I have written another article about sightseeing Italy by bus that also includes a brief review of the some of the best bus tour companies that offer tours in Italy. That article has information on how you can go about picking the right tour and tour company that best suits your needs.
The Advantages Of Sightseeing Italy By Tour Bus.
Great advantages of sightseeing Italy by tour bus. In my view, you should seriously consider touring Italy by bus if you are visiting Italy for the first time. Ideally during your first visit, you should take a bus tour and plan something separately. During my first visit to Italy almost 20 years ago, I took a Trafalgar bus tour of Northern Italy and then visited Rome by myself.
A bus tour will help you experience Italy from a higher level, which is not a bad thing. You can get into the details in your later visits.
Tour Buses Are A Great Way To See A Lot In A Short Time.
If it’s your first time in Italy then it can be difficult to figure out how to fit in all the top attractions in a short vacation. For instance, it’s not easy to arrange all the transport, accommodation and timetables to get around the country while stopping off at all the major attractions along the way.
By reserving your place on a guided tour you’ll be taken from place to place without needing to worry about public transport, unreliable timetables and booking your accommodation. This will allow you to sit back, relax and take in the sites along the way without the stress of making your own plans and bookings.
You’ll Have A Guide On A Bus Tour.
One of the main advantages of joining a bus tour in Italy is that you’ll be able to benefit from the guide’s historical and cultural knowledge of the sites you visit. Guides on the best tours are multilingual and will be able to give you and the other guests a commentary on the background and facts relating to all the sites you visit.
On some tours, the bus driver doubles as a guide but in other cases, there is a designated driver and a separate guide. Ideally, you should select a tour that has both a guide and a driver to get the most out of the experience. This means you’ll always have the guide’s narration to complement the attractions you’re seeing around you and be able to ask any questions you have, even while you’re on the road.
Having a guide to show you around the country adds a wonderful element to your time in Italy; in a sense, it’s like watching a live-action documentary! Your guide will also ensure that you don’t get lost or waste time trying to find your way from place to place during the tour.
Remember, your guide will be an absolute expert on all things Italy so they can really be a valuable resource that allows you to deeply immerse yourself in the sites and attractions that you’re visiting.
Entrance Fees And Tickets Are Included In The Price.
When you book a bus tour the cost of the package will almost always include the entrance fees and tickets for the attractions on the itinerary. In some cases, the package will also include the price of meals on the tour. This makes it much easier to budget your trip to Italy in the knowledge that all your tickets are prepaid in advance.
Another benefit of prepaying your tickets and entrance fees in advance is that large tour operators can get significant discounts on the prices because they bring so much custom to the attraction. These costs are often passed on to you or taken into account of in the overall price of the package. That’s why it can actually work out cheaper to take a guided bus tour than it would otherwise have been to arrange it all yourself.
Bus Tours Of Italy Are Less Stressful.
Joining a bus tour is a far less stressful way to see Italy than arranging it all yourself! Not only will you have a driver who knows the roads and routes to take but you won’t have to worry about making bookings or buying tickets during the tour. As well as tickets and entrance fees, your transport is provided and often your accommodation is included in the package too.
This means you can sit back and enjoy the ride while stopping off at all the most important attractions along the way. In the evening you can concentrate on relaxing and appreciate the hotel and its surroundings without losing sleep about arranging the next day’s itinerary.
Most tours also include a certain amount of free time in the itinerary; so you’ll still have a chance to do some exploring on your own. Even so, having the basic itinerary laid out in advance really can take the stress out of your vacation.
You’ll See All The Top Attractions.
Group bus tours are carefully designed to have a comprehensive itinerary that incorporates all the top sites and attractions in a given area. The tour organizers work hard to plan itineraries that will show you everything you came to Italy to see; and often, because they plan the tours so meticulously, you’ll also see a few things you wouldn’t have thought of including in your own itinerary!
You Won’t Need To Drive.
Driving in Italy can be very difficult, particularly if you haven’t got a lot of experience of driving in the country. Not only are Italian drivers famously dangerous and often reckless, but it’s hard to navigate the small winding roads in historic locations and find parking spots at night.
Renting a car in Italy can be expensive when you include insurance and the fuel in the cost. Allowing the tour operator to manage all this on your behalf will certainly work out cheaper and, as an added benefit, you’ll have a driver who knows the rules of the road to handle getting you from place to place.
Making Friends And Meeting Travel Companions.
A fun aspect of joining a bus tour is that you’ll have the opportunity to meet new friends during your time in Italy. There are many different types of tours that cater to different age groups and interests so if you find the right one you’ll be visiting the sites in Italy with a group of people who could all become potential friends.
This can be a major advantage if you’re traveling alone but it’s always nice to meet new people, even if you’re traveling as a couple or a family.
Traveling With A Bus Tour Is Safer Than Going On Your Own.
While it’s true to say that Italy is a very safe country to visit and you shouldn’t expect to run into any problems, traveling with a tour group is a safer option than going solo.
This is especially true for first travelers or anyone who doesn’t have the confidence yet to head out and explore a new country on their own. Traveling with a group will mean that you won’t get lost and will always have people around if something were to go wrong.
For instance, if you had an accident and needed medical treatment then your guide would instantly call the appropriate emergency services to make sure that you got the best help available. Your guide will also be able to steer the group away from potential pickpockets, who often target tourists, and generally ensure that everything goes smoothly during the trip.
Not Knowing Italian Is Not A Major Issue.
In Italy’s main cosmopolitan cities like Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence, almost everyone speaks at least a little English or understands English. But once you get out to more rural parts of the country, the language barrier can be a real issue.
When you’re on a tour, your guide will be able to communicate with the hotel staff, restaurants and anyone else who doesn’t speak English on your behalf. They can even help you make your onward travel arrangements if you’re having trouble finding someone who can speak English.
NOTE: Some of these bus tours can be multilingual which can be a little problematic. Every communication that the guide makes will be made in multiple languages (example English, French and German) and not just in English which would be ideal if you are from the United States.
There’s a Huge Variety Of Tours On Offer.
No matter what type of things you want to see, the size of the group or the demographics of the other tourists, you can find the perfect tour for you and your family. There are short weekend bus tours and longer, several week tours that really cover a huge amount of territory!
Equally, there are tours that have packed itineraries and others that give you more free time to explore on your own. Some tours include accommodation and meals while others will expect you to pay for dinner yourself on top of the price of the package.
Some tours are primarily cultural while other tours have stop-offs where you can take part in activities such as white water rafting, hiking, cycling and swimming in the sea!
The Disadvantages Of Sightseeing Italy By Bus Tour.
There are several major disadvantages of sightseeing Italy by bus that you should be aware of. One of the issues with sightseeing Italy by bus is that you do not know who your fellow passengers are until the start of the tour. They might be in a different wavelength than you.
Group Tours Can Be Expensive.
Some of the high-end bus tours can be extremely expensive and may leave you wondering whether it was really worth it! If you’re an experienced traveler and aren’t worried about making your own arrangements for your vacation in Italy then it might be better to travel under your own steam instead of joining a bus tour.
You Can’t Choose Your Itinerary.
Most of the major tour operators have fairly similar itineraries that rarely include anything that’s off the beaten track. This means that if you want to see some of the lesser known parts of Italy you’d be disappointed if you took a bus tour.
Of course, you will probably want to see some of the major attractions such as the Sistine Chapel and the Leaning Tower of Pisa but there are thousands of incredible churches, museums and historic towns that are hardly ever visited by the average tourist.
In other situations, you might want to spend more time in a particular museum or city than the schedule of the tour allows for. Therefore, unless you’re willing to have your vacation planned out for you it’s probably better to make your own arrangements.
You Might Not Have Enough Free Time.
Tour operators are keen to incorporate as much as they can into their itineraries which has its upsides but it also means that you might not get enough free time to explore on your own. So if you’re the type of traveler who likes to follow their feet and see where it takes you then a tour with a regimented itinerary really won’t be for you!
Bus Tours Visit A Lot Of Predetermined Shops.
When you’re on a bus tour you tend to visit a lot of shops where you have products pushed on you by the vendors. This can get a little annoying, especially if the items on sale aren’t interesting to you. You also won’t get the chance to explore the more genuine Italian stores where you can often find much cheaper and higher quality arts and crafts and other accessories, such as leatherware, on offer.
You Won’t Have An Authentic Experience.
It’s impossible to have a truly authentic experience of Italy while traveling with a bus tour. You won’t have time or the opportunity to meet with and connect with local Italians as you’re herded from one tourist hotspot to another.
If you do want to have a more authentic experience in Italy but would still like to have a guide to show you around then you can book onto a private or very small group tour. This way you’ll get the best of both worlds but on a larger, standard bus tour you’ll only see the most touristy parts of the country.
For example, almost anyone who has travelled to Tuscany would have heard of San Gimigiano. The reason being it is one of the key stops in the tourist trail for a very long time. But very few would have heard of Volterra (my base in Italy), which is only about 25 kilometers away from San Gimigiano. The same can be said of Siena (which is extremely popular) and Montepulciano (which is must less popular).
You Can’t Choose Your Own Pace.
Everyone has their own preferred pace when they’re visiting another country. Some people like to go at a super slow pace and take in every detail while others prefer to move at a much faster pace so they can fit more into their short time abroad.
For some travelers, this is a make-or-break aspect of a vacation so it’s something you should consider carefully before booking onto a bus tour.
Sightseeing In Italy By Bus Tour.
Taking a bus tour of Italy is a wonderful way to see all the main cities and the most famous monuments, museums and churches. However, as with everything in life, there are pros and cons that you need to take into account.
For some people, a bus tour is an ideal way to explore a new country while for others it’s too restrictive and doesn’t give them the scope to discover the more authentic side of the country.