Europe Forums

Post New Topic

Recent Activity

  • Announcement:
  • Recent Spam Attacks
    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
View all Europe activity »
  1. 1 Urgent- Pleaseee HELP - Spain, Italy or France for Xmass and New years
  2. 2 Last minute (next week) London GTG?
  3. 3 Paris to Orly Airport Public Transport
  4. 4 Versailles
  5. 5 Tours of Versailles, Lyon
  6. 6 Paris + Amsterdam: where to stay
  7. 7 Acropolis Athens
  8. 8 Are St. Chapelle concerts just for tourists?
  9. 9 driving from prague to salzburg
  10. 10 Amsterdam and Germany 9 days
  11. 11 Trip Report From Portugal to the Pyrenees and onto Paris
  12. 12 Need help for hiking destinations in Austria
  13. 13 dining on the 25th in Dublin
  14. 14 12 Day Central Europe Itinerary
  15. 15 Trip Report FOCUS ON FRANCE: Paris and South of France
  16. 16 Trip Report Christmas windows in Paris 2016
  17. 17 London: Flaming June and Pirates of Penzeance!
  18. 18 Rare Curiosity-Piquing Photos From Rome + Thank You
  19. 19 Meteora for older folk
  20. 20 SOUTH OF FRANCE / ITALY ITINERARY SUGGESTIONS
  21. 21 Cote d'Azur--Having Second Thoughts...
  22. 22 Short Spain Trip - questions
  23. 23 Milan to Switzerland for skiing
  24. 24 Swiss Half Fare Card
  25. 25 Germany train help!
View next 25 » Back to the top

Any Opinions on whether these Grand Circle Optional tours are Price Worthy?

Jump to last reply

Below I have listed the Optional Tours with a Grand Circle tour of Italy. Perhaps I am naive, but I am wondering if some of these I could do on my own for less money. Although I do not want to give up too much convenience, some seem higher in price than necessary. Also, as I am mobile but not agile, I may be better off moving at my own pace if I can just find my way around. I hate to pay for parts of the tour I may have to skip.
Thanks ahead of time for your thoughts or, even better, substitute versions I could use.


• Siena
Day 7 $120 per person Join us today on our optional tour of Siena, Florence’s great historical rival. Laid out over the slopes of three steep hills, this Gothic city offers its visitors a rich tapestry of churches, monuments, and other historical sites. We’ll see the Duomo—Siena’s main cathedral—and its famous square, the Piazza del Campo. After our tour, enjoy a delicious lunch with wine in a cozy restaurant just steps from the main square. Then enjoy free time to make your own discoveries.
Please note: This tour involves walking over difficult terrain for extended periods of time.
• Sorrentine Farm Experience
Day 11 $70 per person Venture inland to the lovely countryside outside Sorrento to an agriturismo farm. First, you’ll tour the farm and learn about the production. Using fresh ingredients, you’ll learn how to make pizzas in true Italian fashion during a hands-on lesson—then taste the results.
• Herculaneum & National Archaeological Museum
Day 12 $125 per person On this full-day optional tour, we'll first explore the ancient town of Herculaneum, which was buried in about 50 feet of ash and mud when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. It wasn't found again until 1709 when Herculaneum was accidentally discovered by some workers. We'll explore the town's well-preserved ruins, which some claim are even more impressive than those of Pompeii. After lunch at an included restaurant, we'll travel to seaside Naples to visit the National Archeological Museum. The museum is one of Europe's most valuable repositories featuring the priceless Farnese collection of ancient Roman statuary and the many colorful treasures removed from long-buried Pompeii, Stabia, and Herculaneum. Please note: This tour involves walking over difficult terrain for extended periods of time.
• Isle of Capri Day 15 $135 per person Home to emperors past and jet-setters present, the Isle of Capri is only seven miles off the coast of Sorrento. You'll cruise on a high-speed jetfoil to Capri for a stroll through the town and a visit to the Gardens of Augustus, which overlook the bathing port of Marina Piccola. Then you’ll ride to the village of Anacapri, which has spectacular views of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. After an included lunch, you’ll enjoy some free time to explore on your own. Heading back, you’ll ride the funicular train down to port and catch the boat to Sorrento. Please note: The funicular train may not be available on November-April departures.
• Tarantella Folk Show with Apericena
Day 15 $70 per person Spend an evening surrounded by the sounds of traditional Neapolitan music as you enjoy a local performance of live music and tarantella dancing. On the way the Teatro Tasso, you'll stop for a light supper of Sorrentine small plates and a drink. Then, continue on to the theater to hear the emotional strains of mandolins and other traditional instruments against the lively movements of the tarantella.

  • Report Abuse

    You could do Siena on your own for a lot less money very easily, taking the public bus for an hour from Florence, which leaves you off at the very edge of the old town. Then you could explore at your own pace. However, Siena is a very up-and-down, cobbled-stone place and might be taxing for you. Another option would be to take the train to Lucca, another walled town that is flat, and explore there. It has the added bonus of being less touristed (although not untouristed).

    The agriturismo excursion sounds good to me for someone who who would be better off with less need for walking. I doubt you could arrange something similar for any significantly better price, so if that one interests you, I'd take it.

    I haven't been to Herculaneum, so can't common on the terrain. However, the Naples Archaeological Museum is probably the best museum you've never heard of, absolutely stunning, with the best frescoes and mosaics from Pompeii and a fabulous sculpture collection. You don't say whether you are staying in Naples or Sorrento, but Herculaneum is very easily reached on the Circumvesuviana commuter train for a negligible amount of money in a half an hour from either Sorrento or Naples, and if you're staying in Sorrento, it's another half hour to Naples for the museum. This is definitely something you could do more cheaply and very easily on your own.

    I can't comment on the other two. I'm not familiar with Capri, and the last one is a judgment call based on your interests.

  • Report Abuse

    It is so very helpful (and polite) to responders to give a link to the tour rather than making them look it up. I did find the one you reference. What I needed to know is where the optional tours started from since that makes a difference in my answer.

    I've taken several GCT tours and enjoyed the optional tours. They do seem to be a bit pricey but you get a guide and lunch and that's part of the cost. It's also nice to be with a group of people rather than on your own. In terms of the cost, they are a fraction of the total trip cost and how often will you get back to this part of the world. Is it really worth saving a few dollars and then wishing you had taken the tours. I'm only ever sorry for the things I did not do rather than the cost of the things I did do. In a few years (or months) you'll remember the trip but won't have any idea how much it costs.

    Siena: Take this tour. If you were staying in Florence you could easily get to Siena but you'd need to figure out public transportation from Chianciano. The poster above says to take the bus from Florence but there might be a quicker way than going into Florence and waiting for a connection to Siena and then doing the trip in reverse. And then again, there may not be another way but via Florence. You have some free time in the afternoon and I would strongly advise visiting the Civic Museum at the bottom of the campo. The frescoes will leave you breathless.

    Farm: Definitely do this tour – it looks like a lot of fun and not something the average tourist has a chance to experience.

    Herculaneum – Do this tour, as well. You would need to know exactly what you’re doing if you go on your own. Circumvesuviana to Naples, getting to the museum, back to the train station, Circumvesuviana to Herculaneum, walking to the sight, back to the train station, back to Sorrento and then to your hotel. It would not be as much fun on your own. The bus will probably drop you at the site entrance and you won’t need to walk from the train station (although it’s not a long walk). GCT does use local guides and they are knowledgeable. By the time you’ve added up transportation, admission fees, lunch and audio guides you’re near the optional tour price.

    Capri: I would say no to this tour as it is expensive and if it’s not a sunny day then it’s a definite no (but I think you need to commit to optional tours in advance so who knows about the weather). There are other things to do such as take the bus or boat to one of the towns on the Amalfi Coast. Or you could go to Capri on your own but a day trip to Capri left me flat.

    Folk Show: I’ve been to these and would say to skip it.

    Hope this helps.

    http://gct.com/trips/land-tours/europe/tuscany-and-the-amalfi-coast/2014#tripitinerary

  • Report Abuse

    I think you have to decide whether having all of the logistics arranged for you and having a guide to direct and explain is "price worthy." Some people like just showing up and having all the arrangements decided and made. Obviously, you can do almost all of these excursions on your own for less money. But would YOU enjoy them as much?

    I will say doing these excursions on your own would probably mean seeing less everywhere, as tours will stick to a timetable no matter what interests you.

    We took a walking tour of Siena several years ago, and we thought it was more than worth the cost. But if I was part of a guided group going through the Naples archeology museum, I'd probably go nuts.

    We've seen the Teatro Tasso show. I don't know what we paid for the tickets (I'm sure you could find out online), but we enjoyed the show.

  • Report Abuse

    Without knowing where you will be staying (city and location) it's hard to tell what will be easy or difficult.

    You can easily get from Florence (if you're actually IN Florence) to Siena by bus to the upper town. Are you willing to do the research to figure out what you want to see and do. (The train goes there to but not to the centr of the town.)

    You could not pay me to go look at a farm near Sorrento. There is so much to see and do in that area that a farm wuold be about 50 down on the list.

    If you are actually IN Sorrento there is a dock from from more than 20 ferries and hydrofoils go to Capri every day. I would hop one and spend the day there doing what I wanted. But again, you need to do the research to know what you want to see/do. And if you're not really staying in Sorrento somehow get there.

    I would also do Pompeii, picking up a guide at the gate, versus Herculaneum - but start VERY early and bring your own water to stay hydrated and a hat or umbrella to provide shade. And I would head back to the hotel for an afternoon in the pool.

    And we never do any sort of "fold show" did one voluntarily and 2 entertaining clients (1 Ballet Folklorico de Mexico and one the top troop in St Pet) and we were bored stiff every time. One dance is interesting. The second is OK. All others after that are just SO repetitive!

  • Report Abuse

    Thank you for your replies. I never meant to be rude not including the link, so here it is :http://www.gct.com/trips/land-tours/europe/tuscany-and-the-amalfi-coast/2014#. BTW, there is a non optional day trip to Pompeii. The first half of the tour is from a hotel in Chianciano , the second half from Sorrento.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Two Teachers,

    I agree with Adrienne:

    "It's also nice to be with a group of people rather than on your own. In terms of the cost, they are a fraction of the total trip cost and how often will you get back to this part of the world. Is it really worth saving a few dollars and then wishing you had taken the tours."

    Is this your first tour? Many folks object to the cost of these excursions at first sight, but in my experience, they are worth the cost. I have gone on many tours and have never really been disappointed with an "optional." In a foreign city, I would not want to venture off on public transportation to some other destination. Yet many folks enjoy the challenge.

    In any case, enjoy Italy...

  • Report Abuse

    You can take the regional train from Chiusi-Chianciano train station to Siena for 7.90€ one way (travel time is 1:20). There's also a few buses (trains are more frequent) same price/same travel time. Last return time is 8:24.

    You could be staying anywhere in Chianciano area, so you would need to be able to get to and from the Chiusi-Chianciano station. You also have to get from the Siena station up to the old town. Escalator in the mall across the street, but it puts you in a far part of the old town from what most want to see. Bus from the Siena station in the underground parking garage of the mall to Piazza Gramsci (edge of old town that is convenient to sites). Bus takes about 10 minutes and tickets are about a euro. You could also take a taxi.

    If you do Siena on your own, do not get off at Torrita di Siena as it's a long way from Siena.

    If you are staying in Sorrento, you can take the local commuter train to Naples (4€) and your ticket is valid for a certain amount of time on the metro so you should be able to get to the museum (entry fee about 8€). On the way back to Sorrento, get off the commuter train at Ercolano Scavi (about 20 minutes from Naples - a few euro). Entrance to Herculaneum is 11€. Train from Ercolano to Sorrento is a couple of euro.

    You can buy a ferry or hydrofoil ticket to Capri if you decide to go (prices vary depending on which). Take the bus or taxi to Anacapri or the funicular to Capri. If you do this on your own, buy a return ticket at the same time. Ferries can book up, they don't run late (7 or so in summer)and you don't want to get stuck.

  • Report Abuse

    I vote for all optionals except for the last one. Yes, you could do some on your own, but the convenience of joining in is that it saves you time and gives you commentary on the places you visit. I've done this GCT trip and it was great. Do you know who your tour guide is yet? Enjoy!

8 Replies |Back to top

Sign in to comment.

Advertisement