We've just launched our 2024 tours — and now's the time to start booking travel fun on more than 40 different itineraries, all year long and all across Europe.
Rick Steves tours have always been all about experiences. And these days, as pandemic restrictions fade and record crowds descend on Europe's bucket-list sights, we're finding that our experiential focus — while timeless — is also timely.
Don't worry! We'll still visit Europe's top museums, churches, and castles. But now more than ever, we believe that the vivid experiences — between those big sights — are what distinguish a great trip. And we sum up those experiences in one word: Wow!
As we gear up for 2024 tours, I've been reliving some of my personal "wow!" moments from Rick Steves tours — both as a guide, and when I've joined as a tour member:
Exploring the best of Sicily, while we worked up an appetite touring Carthaginian ruins on the historic island of Mozia, our hosts set up a zero-kilometer lunch that was indimenticabile. (That word — a favorite I picked up on that trip — means "unforgettable.") Luscious tomatoes…eggplant sautéed in garlic and basil…grilled homemade sausages…indimenticabile!
In the Scottish Highlands, our bus pulled into a remote farm, and as we stepped off, the shepherd and a dozen eager border collies scampered over to greet us. It seemed they were as excited about the herding demonstration as we were. With shouts and whistles, each dog obeyed individual commands, displaying an impressive mastery over the sheep. Afterward, our group got to cuddle tiny puppies, only a few days old and just starting to open their eyes…and I seriously considered a "puppy-napping."
In a medieval church deep in the heart of Turkey — famous as one of the first places Gregorian chants were sung — a family on our tour suddenly burst into song. They just had to sing: the harmony…the acoustics…the thought that, for over a thousand years, such music had filled this spot…and the spontaneity of it all. Truly unforgettable.
Returning to our woody chalet after a delightful hike in the Swiss Alps, I flopped on my bed both exhausted and filled with joy. Then I heard the distant jangle of cow bells. I pulled my shoes back on and rousted the rest of our group. We gathered on the lane outside and cheered as the cows swung their ceremonial bells, while their happy herders marched them to the barn. Later, flopping back onto that bed, this time I did so with a lifelong memory to cherish.
On our annual guide-training tours — where, each fall, I gather all our new hires to personally teach them the Rick Steves style of touring — one of my favorite activities is building a Gothic cathedral out of people. All you need is 13 tourists (or 13 tour guides): six columns, six buttresses, and one spire. I've been doing this with my tour members for decades, usually in front of an actual cathedral in France or Italy that took generations to build and stands for centuries. A "human cathedral" is built in just three minutes, but it'll survive forever…in our minds.
In Ireland, learning how to properly draw a pint of Guinness…in Poland, gathering under a chandelier that survived World War II to hear the music of Chopin played in his hometown…in Tuscany, having my wine poured by a woman whose family's name is on the label…in Portugal, learning our numbers in the local language as the fisherwoman counts her traditional seven petticoats…and in London, laughing with the Beefeater as he makes history both poignant and funny: These are just a few of the "wow!" moments our guides strive to create…and the experiences our tour members treasure forever. Yes, a Rick Steves tour is, in so many ways, indimenticabile.
If you'd like our help creating some "wow!" moments to savor for yourself, have fun browsing — and dreaming — through our complete collection of Rick Steves tours for 2024. We have 1,400 departures on more than 40 different itineraries scheduled for next year, so there's sure to be a tour for every interest. Many will fill up quickly, and it pays to act soon: With our early booking discount, you'll get $100 off any 2024 seat if you book by June 30.
In this month's Tour News, check out more favorite "wow!" moments from our recent tour members, join me as I drop in on a fado performance in Lisbon, and meet a few of our great guides who will help turn your travel dreams into unforgettable memories in 2024.
I hope you can join us, as we keep on travelin'!