Helpful Tips, Travel

Why Tours Are Worth The Money

February 20, 2017

When in doubt, go on a tour!

One of my favorite things about traveling are tours in a new city. Tourists have a certain stigma; the locals sometimes judge them for one thing, but they definitely help the economy of our cities! I have made it a point to go on as many tours as possible. Specifically, if we are visiting outside of the U.S., booking tours on Viator.com has been my choice, but I’m always looking for other sites to compare. That being said, it looks like Viator might be in a class of its own.

Tours Thus Far

I have learned so much from the tours Eric and I have done. They help immerse us in the culture, provide insight into that city’s history, and we see way more than we would on our own. We’ve been on tours in the following cities:

London, UK

Paris, France

Cherbourg, France

Bilbao, Spain

Gijon, Spain

Rome, Italy

All of them, except for the tour in Cherbourg, were exceptional. The tour in Cherbourg was labeled as “Cap De La Hague with Crepe Tasting” (It was a shore excursion on Royal Caribbean). Now, when I read “crepe tasting”, I assumed that meant we would get to try more than one crepe. Apparently, that was supposed to be the case but we ran out of time…? Or we were robbed of the chance to try more crepe varieties. I fully believe the latter was the case. We spent 3 hours on a bus touring the French countryside, which was stunning, but I know all of us were really looking forward to crepe tasting.

French Crepes!

They were authentic and very tasty!

We stopped at this cute place called Creperie la Gravalette in a small town called Jobourg. All 30 of us couldn’t get off that bus fast enough. The cafe was expecting us, but I think they were still overwhelmed by our large number. So instead of getting to choose between one with Nutella or one with literally any other topping, they gave us a large plain crepe with powdered sugar. It was very tasty, but at the same time, we had been driving around for 3 hours, and I was hoping for a chance to sample more. Plus, we sat next to a menu of all the different types of crepes we could have ordered, but due to lack of time, we were unable. Needless to say, it was torturous.

The Elusive Crepe

The crepes that were not meant to be…

Crepes aside, we did enjoy all of our other tours quite a bit!

Decisions, decisions…

I’ve had a lot of success using Viator.com in the past, and what fun would this blog be if I didn’t share my research with everyone? We’ll be visiting London/Edinburgh in September as I previously noted. Let’s see what tours we can check out when we go!

We already did a successful tour in London. The London Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Tower of London and Thames River Cruise. We had a blast, our tour guide was cheeky, and I learned quite a bit that day for example, how the Beefeaters at the Tower of London go their name. (It’s suspected that the wardens who guarded the Tower were sometimes paid in beef/meat, so thus they earned this title. Pretty cool, huh?) So what tour could we do next?

I know we are interested in doing the Harry Potter studio tour and visiting Stonehenge. I’m also completely open to options in Edinburgh, so let’s see what Viator.com has to offer.

Stonehenge

Okay, first off, let’s look at Stonehenge option:

Viator Stonehenge Tour including lunch

Viator Stonehenge Tour including lunch

Okay, for two people that would add up to $257.74. So how much bang for our buck are we getting here?

Details of Stonehenge Tour

Highlights and Why People Chose Viator

This all sounds pretty fun actually, plus I’d love to see what a traditional English pub and a homespun lunch looks like!

Interest level: High

Harry Potter Studios Tour

Hello, my name is Natalie, and I’m a Harry Potter addict. Seriously, I’ve read the series at least 20 times, some single titles clock in at 40x or more. I’m not as big of a fan of the movies, but all things Harry Potter definitely deserve my attention. (Eric’s Note: I even made her a custom Harry Potter Monopoly board )

Let’s see the costs:

Costs of the Harry Potter Tour

Costs of the Harry Potter Tour

Definitely a little pricey. What do we get on this special tour?

Highlights of Harry Potter Studio Tour

The highlights!

They forget to mention that you do get a ride to and from the studio tour, it might not be a “highlight” necessarily, but it is an important fact. Anyway, I wish this excited me more, but this one I need to think about. I definitely want more Harry Potter swag, but I could get that from Kings Cross Station without the added cost.

Interest level: Low

London East End Food Tour

We did the Paris Chocolate and Pastry Food Tour, and it was pretty awesome. We had a very nice tour guide, and while she was a little hard to understand at times, her knowledge of the high-end chocolate shops and pastries was extensive. Obviously, I’m a fan of food tours, and I came across this London East End Food Tour as an option.

The cost:

London East End Food Tour Costs

London East End Food Tour Costs

And what do we get for $92.23?

Highlights of the London East End Food Tour

Highlights of the London East End Food Tour

A worthwhile note is that this is a “strolling” tour (a.k.a. bring comfortable shoes), which I would say is preferable since we’re probably getting a good amount of food. Or at least, I hope I’m getting sizeable portions. The reviews say to come hungry so this is intriguing.

Interest level: Medium (on the condition that it’s a lot of money for what’s offered, so it may not be worth the price.)

Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Small Group Day Trip from Edinburgh

I really love that I could meet Nessie or at least buy something that looks like Nessie. Honestly, anything Nessie related would thrill me. So let’s see the costs:

Costs of Edinburgh Day Tour

Costs of Edinburgh Day Tour

12 hours for $56.86 a person? Not bad, not bad!

Highlights of Edinburgh day trip

Highlights of Edinburgh day trip

Okay, so we have to buy our own lunch, but this is pretty extensive and with the right tour guide, I think this could be pretty special.

Interest level: High

West Highland Lochs and Castles Small Group Day Trip from Edinburgh

Castles, castles, and more castles! This is why we go to Europe, right? To see castles that are nearly non-existent in the U.S. There is so much history here, and the fact that these are centuries old is just fantastic.

Costs:

Edinburgh Castles Day Trip Costs

Edinburgh Castles Day Trip Costs

Again, the prices are really not bad for such a detailed trip.

Highlights of Edinburgh Castles Tour

Highlights of Edinburgh Castles Tour

That’s 4 castles we could see! 4! Also, this gives you the option to buy lunch at a place of your choosing which is always a nice plus in a new area.

Interest level: High

Edinburgh Historical Walking Tour

10-hour or 12-hour tours could get tiring (a.k.a. definitely bring comfortable shoes), so here’s an option of a walking tour that is around 2 hours.

Costs of Edinburgh Walking Tour

Costs of Edinburgh Walking Tour

Interesting how the price of this walking tour is only $20 cheaper than the full-on 12-hour tours above. This is something to consider for sure, so what do we get?

Highlights of Edinburgh walking tour

Highlights of Edinburgh walking tour

The highlights are very interesting here, I know for sure we want to see what Old Town Edinburgh has to offer so this tour is a must-see in my mind.

Interest level: High

Conclusion

I really like Viator.com’s layout and ease of searching. Their customer service has been helpful in the past, but my only con is that they can be a little expensive. Once Eric and I have some time to discuss these options, and I think if we decide to use Viator to book, we’ll choose the Stonehenge tour, London Food tour and have to decide what to do in Edinburgh. However, maybe Eric should have a choice too…

Our current budget for tours is $300… for both of us. Gulp. I mean, I certainly like all these options and would be comfortable bumping that budget up a little, so stay tuned to see what we decide!

2 Comments

  1. Corinne Porter

    February 21, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    You have to go to the Edinborough vaults! Underground city and catacombs!

  2. Mandy Noack Barr

    February 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Stonehenge is really cool if you’ve never been there before, but be prepared for a bit of a shock: it’s right next to a freeway. My mom did the HP tour and did the very first one of the day, as a result she got fantastic pictures because she was the first one in and no other tourists around!

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