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To tour or not to tour...that is the question!

To tour or not to tour...that is the question!

Sep 25th, 2007, 11:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 25
To tour or not to tour...that is the question!

I am off to Rome in about two weeks and am trying to decide if I should book a tour to see sites like the Vatican, St Peter's, Colosseum etc. or if I should do it myslef with my Rick Steve's handy guide and a little research. I have discovered there are a few tours that sound good, one that covers ancient Rome and two that cover St Peter's and the Vatican repectively. Any suggestions or thoughs?
plastictraveller is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 12:47 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 48
By all means, yes!

Join a tour group. It will enhance your understanding so much.

You've spent some money getting there anyway, by all means spend a bit more.

I would suppose these apply moreso to historical places, like the Colosseum, the Vatican, etc.

We took the Angel Tours for the Vatican and the Pantheon., but we were late for the Colosseum tour (Actually Angel Tours left us, we arrived 09:05)

Happy trip!
TravelFreak168 is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 01:51 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,444
hi. plastic,

we didn't book any tours, but we wished we had when we were trying to sort out the muddle that is the forum. I'd go for one there, certainly.

The Vatican and St. Peter's we managed quite well by ourselves with a guide book, ditto the colosseum.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 07:29 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,607
I have visited the Vatican and the Colosseum/Forum both with and without a tour guide. And having a knowledgeable tour guide was a much better experience overall, in both cases. I think for the Vatican in particular it is enormously helpful to have a guide (not only because you don't have to stand in the long line). But I learned so much more about the Forum when I had a guide also. Sure, I had the guidebooks when I was on my own, but it isn't a substitute for a person that you can ask questions.
cheryllj is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 09:17 AM
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Ok so tour guides are a hit. When selecting one it seems like a BIG plus would be one that you don't hve to wait in line for tickets with. Any suggestions on guides. Also do you do the tour purchases in advance over the internet(anyone ever been scammed that way, it makes me nervous), go through your hotel or just get one from the place when you get there? Seems like the advance planning is HUGE in Rome.
plastictraveller is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 09:23 AM
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plastictraveller: When I was in Rome last year, we went to the Amex office near the Spanish steps and booked a half-day Vatican tour the day before we wanted to go, and the guide was excellent. They also have half-day tours of the Colosseum/Forum and many other half-day and all-day choices. I'm sure your hotel will have brochures from various tour companies also.
cheryllj is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 09:25 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Tours on the cheap:
At St. Peter's you can get a free tour (tips are suggested), at the museums you can get a good audio tour, the Forum has an inexpensive tour and you can catch up with a tour group right outside the Colosseum at very little cost.
Or...use good tour groups like Context Rome.
I believe that tours enhace your experience and are especially important for the Forum.
jabez is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 09:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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We don't usually use tours or tour guides; I prefer to use, usually, several guidebooks - a practical one like Rick Steves, and an indepth one like the Blue Guide to Rome.

But this last trip, we took an excellent tour of the Palatine Hill, the Forum and the Colosseum from ContextRome. It's a small group tour (no more than 8 people, as I recall), and led by graduate student types. Our guide really knew her stuff, and was able to answer all of my (many) questions. I'm very interested in history, and the ContextRome tour was just right for me, as well as for my husband, who enjoyed it but hadn't read umpteen books on Roman history like I had!

One down side to guides or tours is that then you have that time booked in advance, and your time is thus less flexible. So maybe book one tour for one place in Rome, and do other places on your own, if you want to retain flexibility in your schedule.
Lexma90 is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 10:13 AM
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Excellent, stuff. I have heard about ContextRome, while I prefer indepth and try to do my homework before arrival, I was afraid it was to academic. Do they have tickets for you or do you have to wait in lines for the attractions? Any advice on where the AmEX office is I have also read more than one post about tours through them.
plastictraveller is offline  
Sep 26th, 2007, 11:00 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Hi plastic,

On my last trip I spent 5 days in Rome and decided to do a tour in the places where I knew there was a LOT to absorb, and I like detail too.

I did the Context Rome tour of the Vatican museums and the ancient Rome tour on different days. They limit their groups to 6 and their guides are extremely knowledgable. I felt both were well worth the money. Both were about 4.5 hours long - so don't do both on the same day!

The Vatican museums tour began at 1pm. At that time the earlier LONG line had disappeared and we just walked right up to the window for our tickets.

I planned one major time commitment per day and left the rest of the day for wandering and church hopping, and seeing things like the Piazza Navona and various fountains - where there are no closing times. Worked very well for me.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  

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