Back before the internet contained reviews and listicles for every travel related thing ever, travel planning usually involved reading tons of guide books, booking last minute tours & activities outside the airport, and hoping for the best. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn’t. Nearly 10 years ago when I planned my first grand European vacation, I stumbled upon a little company called Viator. Seriously, my first booking with Viator was in 2007. Ever since, they have been my go to source for booking tours & activities. Viator is a travel planner’s dream when it comes to finding quality tours & activities at any given destination. I am currently a Viator affiliate, but only after a long history as a loyal customer. Below, I’ve given you my thoughts on every Viator tour I’ve ever taken. Viator is pretty easy to use when you know what it’s all about. Once you give them a shot, you’ll find the best choice for your next vacation is booking tours & activities with Viator.
What Is Viator?
Viator is an online travel agent. Not a tour operator. They don’t operate any tours themselves. Rather, they simply provide a marketplace where individual tour operators can offer their services to all travel planners in one convenient location. Viator has operated online since 1999. They offer tours & activities worldwide, but they are based out of San Francisco, California.
In 2014, Viator was purchased by TripAdvisor. Now, when you book with TripAdvisor, you’re really booking tours & activities with Viator. Each booking offers the same guarantees, price protection, and customer support.
Benefits of Booking Tours & Activities With Viator
Viator guarantees the lowest prices on all of its tours. They also offer free cancellation up to 7 days before your tour. If you need to make a change to your booking such as a date change, a quick email or phone call to customer service will take care of it. For free. This comes in handy if you book in the early stages of trip planning (like me!), but decide to switch around your activities later (also me).
Viator carefully selects its tour operators to ensure they are trustworthy and reliable. As a result of the TripAdvisor buyout, Viator has opened itself up to more tour operators, but they claim they are still vetted. They also offer verified reviews and photos so you can see for yourself. I always like to know what I’m getting into.
If any problems arise, Viator offers 24/7 customer support. I haven’t experienced any issues with my tour operators, but, if you do, someone from Viator will be able to assist you.
My Favorite Tours & Activities With Viator
I’ve booked tours & activities with Viator around the world and around the U.S. Below are my own thoughts about each tour. There were a couple of great tours I’ve taken that are no longer offered, but everyone I’ve booked, I’ve enjoyed.
The Original London Sightseeing Tour: Hop-on Hop-off: This bus tour is a good way to see a lot of London quickly. We showed up super early and we were practically the only people on the bus. It also includes a changing of the guards walking tour that takes you to St. James Park to see the guards away from the crowds at Buckingham Palace. It was really cool to see the guards practically walking straight at you.
London Eye: Champagne Experience: As you’ll see, we really enjoy splurging on a glass of champagne. This was a great tour because we skipped the very long line and had a semi-private capsule. Champagne or no champagne, I highly recommend you book a special tour for the London Eye so you don’t have to wait. There was also a lounge where you could hangout before your reservation time.
Thames River Sightseeing Cruise with Afternoon Tea: My only complaint about this tour was that we didn’t have a window seat. Turns out you can actually secure a window by booking this tour instead: London Thames River Afternoon Tea Cruise with Optional Reserved Window Table and Champagne. You can still buy champagne on board if you don’t book the champagne package, but you can’t switch to a window. After exploring the city for a few days on foot (and by bus), it was nice to relax and see the city from the river. The tea, cakes, and sandwiches were delicious and the staff was very friendly. I love doing afternoon tea in London so I’m probably a little biased, but I really enjoyed this tour.
Inner Circle Access of Stonehenge including Bath and Lacock Day Tour from London: Okay, seriously. This was my favorite Viator tour ever. It was one of my favorite tours ever. Period. My only complaint is that the bus is large so the group is large, but when you’re inside the stones it won’t matter much. They are so much larger than you think so you can still find a quiet spot to enjoy them. If you’ve already been to Bath, Viator also offers another tour that includes the same Stonehenge access: Stonehenge Inner Circle Access Day Trip from London Including Oxford and Windsor Castle.
Read more about these activities in London Trip Report Part 1.
Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii Day Trip from Naples: This was my very first Viator tour. Let me just say a few things about Italy in July. It’s hot. Like really hot. It’s even hotter when you’re trying to hike up a volcano. This tour describes it as a “moderate hike” to the top of Mount Vesuvius. That is a lie. It’s a strenuous hike over sandy/ashy terrain. Or I was lazy and out of shape. Truly, it could be all of the above. Anyway, it was still awesome to see Pompeii and (halfway up) Mount Vesuvius in one day. We had plenty of time to explore both. Our tour guide was knowledgeable, friendly, and relatively prompt.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans Original Cocktail Walking Tour: What better place for a cocktail walking tour than New Orleans? This tour took us to the nicer, historical bars in the French Quarter including the Carousel Bar and the Court of Two Sisters. Each bar had a signature cocktail for purchase. Yes, we bought them all. Our guide was super knowledgeable about each location and cocktail. We loved the locations on this tour so much that we immediately booked a jazz brunch at the Court of Two Sisters. We may have enjoyed a few more Bayou Bashes before the Saints game.
Experience Cajun Country: Swamp Boat Adventure and Plantations Full-Day Tour from New Orleans: We did this tour in December so our swamp tour was a bust for gator sightings, but the plantations were a sight to see. This was a smaller group of about 8-10 people. Officially, it’s supposed to be less than 13. We had the same tour guide for the entire day. He picked us up and dropped us off in New Orleans. He was very knowledgeable about the area and shared lots of great stories during the drive. The airboat driver on the swamp boat adventure was hilarious and made the ride great even without the gators.
Open-Door Helicopter Tour over Oahu: I didn’t go on this excursion, but I booked it for Reese for Father’s Day. It took three visits to Hawaii before we found a good, affordable helicopter tour. I had to change the date on this reservation a couple of times. My requests were always handled quickly by Viator and the tour operator. Needless to say, Reese loved it and he saw some incredible views of Oahu. I finally found the lost Oahu SD card! Here’s a photo of Hanaumu Bay as seen from the helicopter:
Final Thoughts On Booking Tours & Activities With Viator
When planning a vacation, it can be hard to ensure you’re booking tours & activities with reputable companies. Viator removes the guesswork so you know you’re going to have a great time every time. I recommend them to everyone I know. I hope you find a wonderful activity through Viator for your next vacation.
Share your Viator experiences with me on social media. I’d love to hear about them!