Sue Farley - freelance writer

Coach Tours Are Not Like They Used to Be

Posted on Posted in All Travel Posts, Europe, Luxury Tours, Tours & Trips

Budapest Parliament Building

I like what’s happening to coach tours these days. Looking at the mid to higher range tours, we work with three companies in the main – Insight, Globus and Trafalgar. Each has its own nice way of doing things.

Perhaps a coach tour isn’t for everyone. But for many it’s a low-stress way to cover a lot of country, or countries, in a relatively short amount of time. You don’t have to worry about hiring a car, driving on the wrong side of the road or arguing with the GPS when it tries to send you through a paddock in rural France. You get to jump the queues at major attractions, you don’t have to wait around at vast, noisy railway stations and you can be fairly certain that the recommended restaurants will produce a great meal.

Both Insight and Trafalgar have their own versions of a slowed down tour where you get to stay 2 – 4 nights in the same place. Hotels are usually in the central city (if you’re staying in a city) or boutique-style if you’re in a smaller place. The day doesn’t usually start before 9am so there’s plenty of time to eat pastry and drink coffee before you get underway. The days aren’t huge so they suit the more relaxed traveller, and you also get plenty of free time to wander at your leisure. Experience has taught me that you actually see twice as much if you go at half the speed.

Insight have some nice points of difference. They have six styles of tour – ranging from short City Breaks which are not a coach tour but a guided stay in a particular city. Regional, Country Roads, Easy Pace and Discover Tours all move at different speeds and explore a region or country to a greater or lesser degree. Their Luxury Insight Gold Tours are their top end product with super stylish hotels, excellent dining and small private tours.

Trafalgar and Globus have a similar range of tours but Trafalgar also have a dedicated Train Journey selection, and several food-focused trips. Globus also have their Religious Travel selection, Avalon River Cruises and Monograms, which are their independent pre-planned tours.

My pick – should I ever be so lucky – would be Trafalgar’s 17-day Highlights of Eastern Europe. Starting and ending in Vienna it heads south through Austria, Slovenia and Croatia before hopping across to Budapest, then north to Krakow and Warsaw in Poland, west to Berlin, then south through the Czech Republic before finishing back in Vienna. High season cost is $3758 p/p twin share plus some dinners and gratuities. Sounds perfect.

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(C)  by Sue Farley