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5 Top Tour Operators to Book on Your Next Trip to Europe
Keep the trip-planning process hassle-free with
top-rated tour operators across the pond.
A reputable tour operator can help minimize headaches and maximize value.(Getty Images)
Europe offers a treasure trove of museums, archeological sites and historic monuments. But, unless you're an art historian or medieval scholar, in order to fully appreciate these cherished attractions – and make the most of your limited vacation time – you'll want to book day tours with local tour operators. Reserving tours with a reputable tour company can ensure a richer (and more stress-free) experience, especially when traveling with kids in tow. Plus, booking reservations with a trusted guide far in advance can not only ensure availability but can also help you secure discounts and maximize savings. Here's who to go with on your next trip across the pond.
Fat Tire Tours
This English-speaking, British-headquartered tour operator has branches in Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and London, and offers 'skip the line' tours for major tourist attractions as well as unique city tours by bike. Opting for the latter and exploring iconic sights such as the Eiffel Tower and the Tuileries Gardens from behind handlebars holds more appeal for kids than walking and makes for a more memorable and pleasant experience. Apart from benefitting from a knowledgeable guide as you navigate the city by bike, you'll also have the added element of keeping teens and preteens enthralled. Book a Fat Tire Tour online in advance of your trip, as the operator is very popular, but also look for deals offered by the company after your tour. There are often discounts available for booking second tours, and given the variety of offerings in each city, families could easily spend another day exploring with the Fat Tire crew.
Focused solely on the Eternal City, Overome is a highly specialized tour company that offers small group and private tours at major Roman sites, such as the Vatican and Colosseum. While Overome primarily covers the can't-miss points of interest across Rome, their greatest strength lies in their tour guides. Their reputable guides are known for their enthusiasm and friendly demeanors, which help make it easy for families to unwind and enjoy in-depth tours of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, without hordes of tourists at their side during prime visiting seasons. In a city known for crushing crowds at tourist attractions, having a guided tour with a small group can easily transform your trip from stressful and hassle-prone to headache-free.
Viator tours are offered in multiple countries across Europe and beyond, making this tour company the most expansive on this list. Travelers booking a tour through Viator can look forward to a range of offerings from daytrips from Paris to Normandy or Mont Saint-Michel to tours of Belgian Christmas markets to walks through Turkish bazaars. How does Viator offer such an extensive list of tours? They act as a middleman, pairing travelers in need of tours with local tour operations in European cities. First, travelers book the tour of their choice through Viator. Then, a subsequent email confirmation lists the local meeting point for the tour and includes information on the local tour company used. While Viator users do have to deal with two companies rather than one, they can count on the process to be streamlined and user-friendly. Best of all, Viator rigorously vets their local operators, so travelers don't have to worry about whether they're in good hands.
Walks of Italy
With tours offered in Venice, Rome, Florence, Pompeii, Tuscany, Milan and the Almalfi Coast, Walks of Italy is a standout pick for specialty tours across Italy. The company is known to tap visitors into the local culture with treks to off-the-beaten-path sites and hidden gems across the country. In other words, after you've seen the major landmarks, or think you know all there is to know about an Italian destination, take a Walks of Italy tour to discover lesser-known places. Their Rome as a Local Tour takes visitors across the city and into the suburbs to hit all the attractions guidebooks tend to gloss over, from chariot tracks on the Appian Way to aqueducts to the secret keyhole to St. Peter's Basilica. As your Walks of Italy tour guide takes you to less-trodden local points of interest, you're bound to feel more like an insider than a tourist.
Brit Movie Tours
Offering a fun way to explore London and the United Kingdom, Brit Movie Tours specializes – as you may have guessed – in movie locations for fans of series shown on both the big and small screen. Families will be most interested in their Harry Potter tour, which takes fans across the capital for three hours via motor coach to locations such as Kings Cross station and 12 Grimmauld Place, but there are also tours for fans of Doctor Who, the Beatles, Sherlock and more. Tours range in size, so look closely at tour descriptions. Also, consider private tours if a top priority is exploring top locations without heavy crowds.
Before You Book
All the tour operators on this list specialize in half-day and full-day tours in major European cities and all companies offer both small and large group tour sizes, ranging in price from approximately 30-200 euros per person. When possible, book your reservations in advance and opt for a small group size of 10 or fewer participants for the most value.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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