• Pantheon in Rome
  • Colosseum in Rome
  • Cooking Class in Tuscany
  • Michelangelo's David in Florence
  • Venice
  • Tegelberg Luge in Austria
  • Swiss Alps
  • Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • J'adore Paris

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Family Best of Europe in 14 Days Tour

Rick Steves has designed a two-week family adventure that makes the wonders of Europe come alive for kids — and cuts the stress for parents, too. Starting in Rome — the Eternal City — your enthusiastic Rick Steves guide will introduce your family to the countryside charms of Tuscany, Renaissance Florence, the canals of Venice, castles and forests of the German-Austrian Tirol, the majestic Swiss Alps, France's Burgundy region, and the must-see sights of the City of Light — Paris. Join us for the Family Best of Europe in 14 Days!

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Kids ages 8 through 17 are welcome — and save $200
  • A full-time Rick Steves guide, tour assistant and local experts — who will make the history, art, culture — and fun! — of Europe come alive for you and your kids
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 20 group sightseeing events • Evening walk through Rome including Trevi Fountain • Pantheon • Colosseum tour • Forum tour • St. Peter's Basilica • Vatican Museum tour • Sistine Chapel • Florence walking tour • Uffizi Gallery tour • Florence's Accademia Gallery including Michelangelo's David • Venice orientation • South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology (Iceman) • Mountain luge ride (weather permitting) • Neuschwanstein Castle tour • Hiking orientation in the Swiss Alps • Guédelon Castle tour • Louvre Museum tour • Paris walking tour • Notre-Dame • Seine River cruise...and more
  • All group transportation from Rome to Paris
  • 13 nights accommodations (all stops but one are for 2 nights) in memorable, family-friendly hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff: Each household will receive Rick Steves' Europe: Italy's Cities Blu-ray + DVD Set and Europe Planning map. Each adult will receive Rick Steves' Best of Europe guidebook and Europe Sightseeing Supplement. Each tour member will receive a French-Italian-German phrase book, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Itinerary

Daily Activity Key
  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to Europe

We'll have a brief "Welcome to Europe" meeting around 3 p.m. at our hotel in Rome, followed by a neighborhood stroll and transportation orientation. Then we'll visit what may be the oldest standing structure you'll ever see: the 2,000-year-old Roman Pantheon. Nearby, we'll have a get-acquainted dinner together, followed by a fountain-splashed stroll through the heart of Rome — stopping to toss coins in the Trevi Fountain — and back to our hotel. Sleep in Rome (2 nights). No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 2: Majestic, Ancient Rome

Today we'll jump straight into the heart of Ancient Rome. Our local guide will tell tales of gladiators as we stand inside the Colosseum, and of Julius Caesar's rise and fall as we explore the Roman Forum. You'll then have free time to marvel at the view of Rome from atop the Victor Emmanuel Monument, sample gelato at the Piazza Navona, climb the Spanish Steps, or explore the city's colorful back streets. Later this afternoon, we'll gather for an orientation to the awe-inspiring St. Peter's Basilica — home to Michelangelo's Pietà — in time for the 5 p.m. mass (which you may watch or attend). Your evening is free. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3: Catholic Rome and Tuscany

This morning will set the stage for many masterpieces you'll see on this tour. We'll meet our local guide and tour the remarkable collection of art in the Vatican Museum including what may be the world's single greatest work of art: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Afterward, you may want to explore more of the Vatican Museum on your own or find lunch at the nearby street market. Then we'll leave the noise and stone of the city for our first, green glimpse of rural Europe: peaceful Tuscany, where we'll find our cozy countryside hotel. You can sit back and relax over a glass of Tuscan wine while the kids swim in the pool before we all sit down to a hearty Tuscan feast together. Sleep in Tuscany (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 4: Renaissance Florence

Today we'll have a jam-packed tour of Florence's sights beginning with a "Renaissance Walk" where we'll learn what daily life was like in Florence, and how ideas and events here changed the world. At the masterpiece-packed Uffizi Gallery, we'll see how art evolved from medieval times to the Renaissance, with Botticelli, Da Vinci, Raphael and others mastering perspective and realism. After lunch and some free time to explore the local food and crafts markets, we'll meet face-to-face with a work of art that was, in its time, like nothing anyone had ever seen before: Michelangelo's David. We'll return to our rural hotel late this afternoon where you'll have time to relax, take a walk or maybe swim before dinner together. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 5: Discover Venice

Today we'll take our bus straight to Venice where we'll board a vaporetto boat for a canal ride to our hotel in Venice's historic heart. This evening we'll take an alleys-and-canals orientation stroll through the backstreets of Venice to the deservedly famous Piazza San Marco. Later tonight, your guide will help organize an optional gondola ride. If the moon is out, it will hit your eye like a big pizza pie. Sleep in Venice (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 6: Free Day in Venice

The entire day is yours. You can visit churches and museums, cruise between the different islands, or simply get lost (remember, it's an island) exploring Venice's hidden alleyways and canals. Or how about swimming and relaxing on the beach? Your guide will organize an afternoon trip to the sandy beach island of the Lido. No bus (too much water). Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 7: Over the Dolomites to Austrian Tirol

Leaving Venice, we'll say "Ciao" to Italy and take the dramatic drive toward the Brenner Pass and Austria, stopping for lunch in the Italian-Tirolean town of Bolzano. We'll also visit Bolzano's most famous resident: the 5,300-year-old, naturally-preserved remains of Ötzi the Iceman, along with a museum exhibit explaining how prehistoric Europeans lived and died. Then we'll take a scenic drive to reach our beautiful Tirolean country hotel, just outside the flower-boxed town of Reutte. We'll eat a hearty dinner together and sleep near Reutte (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 7 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 8: Neuschwanstein Castle

It's a short drive and a half-hour walk to "Mad" King Ludwig's famous Neuschwanstein Castle. We'll tour this fairy-tale palace and enjoy its panoramic views of the Tirolean countryside. After lunch, you'll barrel down the Tegelberg luge (kids and adults love this, weather permitting), and still have free time to stroll along trails, bike down country roads, or kick back and relax at our peaceful hotel before another Tirolean supper together. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: strenuous.

Day 9: Scenic Drive to the Swiss Alps

Today we'll take a scenic drive, winding our way through forests, enjoying views of craggy peaks and pristine lakes, and stopping for lunch in the cutest town we can find. Then we'll climb into the heart of the Swiss Alps and our creaky old chalet overlooking the magnificent Lauterbrunnen Valley, where we'll have dinner and sleep (2 nights) Train: ½ hr. Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 10: Free Day in the Alps

The day is all yours (kids can sleep in)! You can take a narrow-gauge railway to trailheads at the feet of the towering Eiger and Jungfrau peaks, or just wander through the meadows and play Heidi. For more Alpine thrills, you can ride a gondola lift up to the revolving-restaurant-topped Schilthorn at 10,000 feet. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 11: Beautiful Burgundy

We'll drive all day to our next home in the French countryside, passing pastures and châteaux en route to the quintessentially French region of Burgundy. Our country hotel has plenty of space for kids to play outdoor games this evening. For dinner we'll share a buffet of French specialties. Sleep in Burgundy (1 night). Train: ½ hr. Bus: 8 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 12: Medieval Marvels and the Historic Heart of Paris

This morning we'll visit the construction sight of Guédelon, a 13th-century castle being built (by people in traditional costumes using historically-accurate tools and machines) exactly as it would have been 800 years ago. Then we're off to Paris where we’ll introduce you to its birthplace with a walking tour of the Ile de la Cité. Our walk will continue through the Latin Quarter before ending with a visit the gargoyle-topped Notre-Dame Cathedral. We'll cap off our first day in Paris with an evening boat cruise on the Seine. Sleep in Paris (2 nights). Boat: 1 hr. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 13: Parisian Masterpieces

Our day begins with a guided tour of the magnificent Louvre Museum where our local guides will bring the Mona Lisa and other great works of art to life. This afternoon you're free to round out your Paris sightseeing with a climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe or Eiffel Tower, a stroll down the Champs-Elysées, or do some last minute shopping. We'll gather for our final dinner together to share travel memories and toast new friends. Salut! No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast

It's a breeze to reach Paris' airports by taxi, shuttle or public transportation. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Merci et au revoir!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

Our tours are physically active! It’s an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Family Best of Europe in 14 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
  5. Be able to get up and "at 'em" in the morning, often departing around 8 a.m.
  6. Be content with the possibility of your family sharing bathroom facilities on this tour.

Reviews

Diane

Eugene, OR

Tour: 06/23/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a very well-organized tour. The days were full, varied but not too exhausting. There was a good mix of scheduled time and independent time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We all had different "wow" moments: Hiking in the Alps above Wengen. The Guedelon Castle. The gondola ride in Venice."

Joyceann

Portland, OR

Tour: 06/23/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I love the family atmosphere. The kids are amazing. Everyone looks after each other. This was my second Family Tour of Europe, I took one 8 years ago with my oldest grand daughter and never thought twice about taking it again when you youngest grand daughter was 13 and ready to see Europe.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking in the Alps and flooded St Mark's Sq in Venice."

Jim

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 06/21/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

My eight-year-old son and I joined the family Best of Europe tour from Rome to Paris and had a wonderful time. Neither of us had visited these major sites before and the organization, preparation and execution of the venue visits was superb. Our guide Sarah was experienced and a no-nonsense leader which helped keep many teen emotions and overall group interaction on a positive level. Sawyer was an engaging and playful addition who acted as an additional parent to oversee children.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Among the wow moments in the Coliseum, St. Peters basilica, David, canals and alleys of Venice, lakeview of Neuschwanstein castle, hotel view of Eiger, Monk and Jungfrau, countryside views of France, construction of 13th century castle at Guedelon, Notre Dam and Eiffel tower, instrumental music played from the steps of Florence and the engaging friendships of our fellow-travelers, my greatest wow moment was dinner in Venice during which a group of locals began singing and everyone joined in."

Barbara

Eugene, OR

Tour: 06/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I would not consider myself ideally suited to tours but I have got to say that I think that this tour with my daughter was absolutely the best option I could have taken. The caliber of guests on this tour was outstanding and combined with the experience of our guide and enthusiasm of the assistant, it will be a summer we will not forget. With a few extra countries added on our days before and after the tour, we ended up seeing 9 countries together! Not bad for a little over 3 weeks' travel.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favourite "wow" moment was driving through a magnificent narrow pass when traveling from Austria to Switzerland. Our driver, Paul, went the extra mile and then some to show us a part of the world that is so absolutely stunning that the images will not soon leave my brain. This part of the tour reminded me of growing up in the Canadian Rockies and reminded me that mountains all over the world are amazing and beautiful and worth making the effort to see."

Pamela

Marlboro, MA

Tour: 06/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Really enjoyed tour, did so many adventures and made great friend. Also really learned so much feel I could go back on my own and fell comfortable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think walking to the very peak in Switzerland -can't remember the name of the peak."

Peggy

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 06/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our Rick Steve's family tour experience was fantastic! We would definitely do it all over again! Everyday was a "Pinch me, am I really here!" reality. The entire tour was unforgetable! We can't tell you how thankful and pleased we were with our experience. Castles, food, friendships, and art - we loved it all!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments. While in Rome, it was the immense size of the ancient Roman Colosseum, and the gorgeous marble of the Trevi Fountain. Both took your breath away. My family loved both gondola rides. The Venetian boat gondola was mesmerizing. The speedy ski lift gondola that took us up to walk along the snowy banks of the Swiss Alps was surreal. I loved the famous artists, amazing architecture and phenomenal churches. Seven countries in 14 days. "WOW!" What a ride!"

Mackenzie

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 06/16/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every day was a new adventure! I loved everything this tour had to offer. There was such much variety in scenery, activities, food, and culture! Our tour guide, Ben, was incredibly funny, knowledgeable and was always in a good mood. He made us feel safe and relaxed traveling in the city. I definitely want to go on another Rick Steve's tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have two "wow" moments. First of all, I loved the beauty of Austria and Germany. When we hiked back to our hotel from the Neuschwanstein Castle and turned a corner, we were amazed by this beautiful lake. The sky was a vivid blue, and the air was sweet. Another wow moment for me was waking up in Switzerland, looking out of the hotel window, and being blinded by the shining, snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps. That is not something you see everyday."

Mike

Apollo, PA

Tour: 06/14/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a great time on this tour. There were so many extras that we wouldn't have experienced if we had done this ourselves. The Rick Steves experience is wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many wonderful memories its hard to just single out a single item."

Nicole

Kalaheo, HI

Tour: 06/14/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour surpassed our expectations--great tour guide, local guides, and tour assistant, hotels centrally located, captivating history presentations, majestic natural sceneries, ruins, castles, churches, buildings, and arena. Museum tours organized and efficient with minimal waiting. The fellowship forged among tour members exceptional.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"All wows--timeless natural beauty of the snow-capped and misty majestic Alps, voluminous cascading shimmering waterfalls, steep slidering stones lining the wild fragrant pine footpath, cows with cowbells chiming in the wind, magnificient sculptures, paintings, tapestries, buildings, and columns of the Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance periods, captivating history, fellowship forged among members of tour."

Wonkoo

La Palma, CA

Tour: 06/14/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Best trip I had yet. Fed my body, heart, brain, and soul. The guides were excellent and really went out of the way to make the experience enriching. We also had a great group and loved each others company.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When I first reached Rome. I love history and the city just oozed history. It was breathtaking to see the ruins and massive cathedrals."

Scot

Kalaheo, HI

Tour: 06/14/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded our expectations. It was efficient and organized with minimal waiting. The tour guides were excellent. The museum guides were also excellent, especially the one from the Vatican City.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"No one wow moment. Every destination has its wow moment despite increment weather and unexpected events[INVALID]the Forum was magnificent in spite of the torrential rain, the Alps' raw natural beauty even with hail storm, the long but enjoyable walk from the Eiffel Tower back to the hotel when the Metro inexplicably shut down. Stephen Blackwood's discourse on Stoicism revealed the silver lining of our inclement adventures. Stephen's long, colorful, entertaining personal stories were captivating."

Irene

Blackstone, MA

Tour: 06/09/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Robert chose this tour because it fitted with our time constraints and had a little more "down time". Even though it was a family tour and we had no children with us (wonderful to have children around that we weren't responsible for!) we had a great time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So difficult to choose - I liked walking through the narrow streets of Florence towards the cathedral and suddenly realizing how huge it was. Also seeing the inside of the "church in the field" was a definite WOW."

Curt

Rochester, MN

Tour: 06/09/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Dimitri and Brenna did a great job keeping everything together on the tour. The sites I expected to see were all there. There wasn't anything that was promised left out.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many WOW moments to mention them all. In Rome, we stumbled upon a Plaza a little bit out of the general tourist area and had a wonderful meal with locals putting on little performances. There were some young jugglers, an Opera singer practicing, and numerous musicians. Basically, one of those "Back Door" moments that Rick talks about on his shows."

Theodore

South Bend, IN

Tour: 07/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were very well taken care of. We had a magical time adventuring together: bonding, experiencing new people, cultures, having fun and savoring the delicious flavors of gelato especially in combination. Our age 11 granddaughters had a wonderful time just as we had hoped.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The 2 1/2 mile hike in the alps above Wengen: the alpine peaks ever in view; cow bells clanging, fine weather, sunshine, brilliant white clouds overhead, flowers and then an ominous fog. I walked slowly, deliberately, savoring this once in my lifetime experience. Then, with our alpine cafe in sight, we were hit with gale force winds and sharp rain pelleting our bodies. We could barely move forward. We were soaked and cold. It was just great! I had a complete Alpine hiking adventure!"

Neil

Dallas, TX

Tour: 07/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent trip layout. Outstanding guides Excellent trip organization and logistics

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Switzerland - hiking and small towns Austria - hotel and town Paris"

Charles

Sammamish, WA

Tour: 07/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour guides, enjoyed the hotel locations, thankful that travel and hotels were handled by the tour! Liked the buddy check and the buddy sharing event.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can I pick a tie? First, the hike from the edge of the Austrian boarder to the German boarder, then along the far side of the lake near Neuschwanstein. Spectacular. Then, Everyone decided to go for the Gondola ride from Wengen up to the top, and a 90 minute hike across the mountaintops to the train back down to Wengen. It was clear for 30 minutes, then drizzled off and on, full rain, then stormy near the end of the hike. And we loved it. All the cows and cowbells, vast mountain views, fun!"

Heather

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 07/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A great trip, lots of interesting and varied sites. A lovely group of travel companions too!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really liked the small church ("church of the meadow" or "weir", I think) that our guide suggested when our luge ride got rained out. It was so unassuming on the outside, and amazing on the inside. I'd never have found this on my own. I also really liked the hike in the Alps too, and getting to see the various local performers, including the alphorn and yodeling couple in the Alps, and Demeter on the piano at the Falken hotel."

Ruth

Dartmouth, NS

Tour: 07/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fantastic, and it exceeded our expectations! Having other teenagers on the tour was great for my daughter, as all the kids seemed to enjoy each others' company.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really enjoyed seeing Guedelon Castle. It was so interesting to see the castle under construction using 13th century tools and techniques. The Guedelon tour guide was excellent!"

Brenda

Casey, IL

Tour: 07/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was an excellent way to introduce our grandsons to several European countries in one trip. Each stay was interesting, fun and memorable, and helped us get a flavor of the culture of the area. There were several surprise stops along the way which added to the enjoyment of the whole experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Almost every stop included a "wow" moment for me, but the greatest one had to be hiking in the Swiss Alps with our grandsons. They were so excited to be there! It was a 'pinch me am I really doing this' time for us. Thank you for helping us to make wonderful memories that will last a lifetime!"

Debra

Chesterfield, VA

Tour: 07/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Was hesitant at going with a group and being on a tour with a schedule. But this tour did not disappoint at all - in fact it was fantastic and would do another tour with RS again! I loved being able to choose whether or not to join in the group activities (we ended up doing everything - our group was very cohesive).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was arriving in Venice and seeing the ocean and my super "wow" moment was being on the boat to Burano and Murano we especially loved Burano we nick named it "The Happy Island"."

Megan

Goleta, CA

Tour: 07/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, this tour was the highlight of my life. i really got to bond with my family but i also got to meet so many new people. i feel like i got a great view of Europe and i will definitely be visiting again.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment, and there were many, would have to be the gondola ride in Venice a few days before my birthday. We had musicians in our gondola and it was really magical."

Julie

Goleta, CA

Tour: 07/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall it was an absolutely fantastic tour experience, met my expectations and exceeded them. We had never travelled on a tour before, and we were skeptical at first how it might go, but the professionalism, insight, wisdom, and travel savvy-ness of our guide quickly grew our confidence, excitement and trust. My husband and I had travelled quite a bit internationally before, but this was our first time taking along our two teenage daughters. Would do it again in a heartbeat!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Certainly hiking in the swiss alps and staying in Wengen, but our morning walk around the lake in Austria over to Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany is also tied for number one. Okay add to that our evening gondola ride in Venice and watching my girls learn how to traverse the metro systems in Rome and Paris. Seriously, I felt like there was "wow" moment every single day, and that's what was so fantastic about this tour."

Rajinderbir

Chesterfield, VA

Tour: 07/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour, wonderful people on the tour with us (which made it very enjoyable for us as a family). Wonderful guide and tour assistant. Visited great cities, saw wonderful places and had a great time. This was a great tour for the family even though our son was one of the oldest (18). While he enjoyed the other kids, we the parents enjoyed the wonderful company of the parents / grandparents. We would highly recommend this tour for families with teenagers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We had many 'wow' moments at the places we visited. If there was a city we liked, it was Venice and the outer island of Burano. For us each city had its own charm and uniqueness. The age of the monuments was always a 'wow' as we were touching something that someone had laid a hand on several hundred years ago."

Grant

Portland, OR

Tour: 07/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I joined this tour primarily to allow our niece to experience Europe before getting too deep into high school. We are a bit unusual in that we were the only couple without a lineal descendant on the tour. We had been to about half the locations on this tour before. That being said, the trip met and exceeded our expectations. We saw new things the places we had been before and enjoyed all of the new places.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My personal favorite was on our "off day" in the Lauterbrunen Valley. We had been here before. In the afternoon we had been in Murren and decided to walk from the bottom station to Lauterbrunen. As we neared Lauterbrunen there was a woman playing an accordion outside her house. It was so delightful."

Ravi

Austin, TX

Tour: 07/13/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Experience overall was good. The explanation of historical references, schedule etc was good. However, the guides need to fine tune their skills conducting family tours. Some of the times, they rushed the group fast without considering the age of the kids in the group. Another point of improvement can be the food arrangements (dinner) during the tour. OVerall the food served during the official dinner organized by the tour is not good at all.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Tour of the pantheon and sisteen chapel at the Vatican."

Shareef

Pleasanton, CA

Tour: 07/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I are not group/tour/cruise people. We prefer to do our own planning and sightseeing. However, our experience with this Rick Steves tour took much of the burden off our shoulders and allowed all of us to enjoy the vacation without worrying about getting to the next hotel, choosing the next place to eat, etc.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was a tie among three sites: the Colosseum, the Swiss Alps, and the Castle Guedelon. I had a major wow moment at all three."

Jeffrey

Seattle, WA

Tour: 07/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The pace of the tour was just right. I liked that we visited many different places in a short period of time, yet I never felt rushed. The accommodations were very comfortable. I enjoyed meeting the other families on the tour, and found them to be interesting travel companions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking in Switzerland. The views were just awesome."

Wayne

Denver, CO

Tour: 07/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We chose this tour because of our impression that it would have a little more "grit" to it--a little more off-the-beaten-path experiential value. We saw the expected venues, i.e. Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, Venice canals, etc., but also stayed in lodging that reflected the local culture, and ate in restaurants that clearly had deep roots in the local community. Also felt there was a great balance of structured vs unstructured time when we could explore some of our more nuanced interests.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we arrived in Wengen, Switzerland, the rain and fog made it impossible to see the Alps around us. After dinner--and after the rain had stopped and the fog had cleared--we stepped outside to see the Swiss Alps--in all of its towering, stunning beauty--staring us directly in the face! Wow!!"

Rose

Simi Valley, CA

Tour: 07/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were truly blessed to have the guides we had! Although my husband and I were fortunate to have the experience of the Best of Italy 8 years ago, we were amazed at how much more we learned on the Family tour we had the pleasure of being on. Most of all what made our tour experience so wonderful was our tour partners who were amazing!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The realization that when we had "free time" we wanted to spend it with our tour peeps,especially for dinners because we had so much fun together. Although I enjoyed each and every place we had the pleasure of seeing and doing my "wow" was our last night together in Paris when we shared what meant the most to us and our tearful farewell at the Eiffel Tower. This was truly an experience of a lifetime that I will treasure for the rest of my life."

Philip

Austin, TX

Tour: 06/24/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife, my two 12 year old fraternal twin daughters and I decided to try the family oriented Best of Europe this past June-July. Our expectations were high as we're big fans of Rick's PBS series, and I must say, the tour greatly exceeded all our expectations!! Our guide, her college intern assistant, and our driver, were just fantastic. All were warm and friendly, but their collective knowledge, enthusiasm and humor were wonderful! We have been raving about it to all!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many wow moments to single out just one thing. Seeing Michelangelo's art in so many places gave me a wow moment as I began to fathom the extent of his genius, especially when my daughter Emily looked at David with round eyes saying how much more beautiful it was in person. Tours are about people too, and I remember talking at dinner with a friend John met on the tour and our guid, all talking about how we each were seeking to follow our passion. These are just a few of so many!"

Phillip

Albuquerque, NM

Tour: 06/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

An amazing two weeks, with equal parts art, history, food and friendship. We were so fortunate to be able to do this, and our guides, Sarah and Cary, were beyond our wildest expectations -- friendly, funny, organized, caring. Do you think we liked it?

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to mention, but seeing Tuscany up close, the Mona Lisa up closer, and singing the national anthem in Paris on July 4 come to mind."

Gayle

Caledonia, MI

Tour: 06/17/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

This was my 6th Rick Steves' tour accompanied by a grandchild but my first "family style tour". For my 14 yr. old granddaughter it was perfect, time with grandma and also a posse of other teenage girls who liked each other instantly. For me it was too much geography covered in too short a time. I had already visited these sites but still felt the pace detracted from my enjoyment.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My granddaughter and the Eiffel Tower. We could see the Eiffel Tower from the balcony of our Paris Hotel and she spent part of every night taking in that sight. From the top of the Eiffel Tower we could see our hotel lit up. After coming down from the top we waited in the park to see the sparkle show at midnight, walked the 20 min. home and went back out on the balcony to say goodnight to our favorite sight. It helped that we stayed an additional two nights at Hotel Splendid"

Weather

Italy / Rome

Rome Weather


Italy / Florence

Florence Weather


Italy / Venice

Venice Weather


Austria / Vienna

Vienna Weather


Switzerland / Bern

Bern Weather


France / Paris

Paris Weather

Pre-Tour

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go at our Family Europe FAQ. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive in Rome before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' Best of Europe guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Italian, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.

Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in Rome that we do not do as a group: Explora (hands-on children's museum); Villa Borghese — park, zoo (Bioparco), bike rental, mini-train, puppet theater, fountains and a small lake with boats, Borghese Gallery (reservations mandatory); Spanish Steps; Largo Argentina Cat Shelter (for the cat lovers in your family); Cappuccin Crypt (spooky!); National Museum of Rome; Ancient Appian Way (great for biking) and catacombs; Time Elevator — history of Rome through an interactive movie attraction with special effects.

With extra time in Paris, your family may enjoy the kid-friendly Luxembourg or Tuileries gardens, or consider tackling the sprawling grounds of Versailles. As an end-of-trip reward (or if Paris is more convenient than LA or Orlando) you could take the easy train ride to Disneyland Paris.

Transportation

Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.

There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaw" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). Paris and Rome are transportation hubs, making travel before or after your tour quite easy.

For information about flying within Europe, ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines

Read Rick's train travel and rail pass tips and decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass.

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Trip Resources

Learn more about Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and France: Check out a collection of Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, plus find a list of recommended books and movies.

Packing

While it is important to pack light, there are some items we'd like you to consider including when packing for this tour. There are a few long bus rides on this tour, so card games and small travel games are great to keep the kids from plugging-in and tuning-out. You will have the opportunity to swim and hike (weather permitting) on this tour, and you may wish to pack a swimsuit and a lightweight microfiber towel. While hiking boots are not necessary, we recommend you bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes with soles offering good traction. 

For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.