Guided tours can be a great way to experience a new destination, but you want to make sure you get the best experience possible. How can you find the best tour companies to guide your adventure?
Whether you’re looking for group trips, self-guided tours, river cruises, tours for solo travelers, or overseas adventure travel, you want to find a tour operator that can deliver a seamless, enjoyable, and authentic experience, all without zeroing out your bank account.
Here are the top 15 tour companies out there today. I’ll walk you through what each excels at and how to pick the best one for you.
When you imagine travel tours, you may picture massive group tours and a bus packed with 50 noisy, gawking tourists.
That’s not what you get with Intrepid Travel. This company specializes in adventurous and immersive small group tours with an average of 10 people.
Operating on all seven continents, Intrepid offers a huge range of trip types to fit any traveler. You can choose biking tours across New Zealand, river cruises in Europe, trekking in the Himalayas, or wildlife safaris in the Serengeti. There are options for all-female adventures, family expeditions, active trips for adventure travelers, or trips catering specifically to 18-29 year olds.
If you don’t want to spend the trip of a lifetime sitting on your butt looking out a bus window, Intrepid Travel is for you. Their group trips are designed to fully immerse you in the culture and beauty of a new place. Here are two examples of what you’ll get from Intrepid Travel:
With the Alaska: Hike, Bike, & Kayak tour, you are led by an expert guide on a range of active adventures through some of Alaska’s best scenery and national parks. You’ll go sea kayaking, cycle along the rugged Alaskan coast, and hike through Denali National Park.
If you’re looking for more of a cultural experience, the Premium Sri Lanka tour is an incredible journey through the culture, history, food, and wildlife of this island. You’ll explore ancient temples, eat incredible food with locals, and search for leopards in the country’s wildlife preserves.
One last perk: Intrepid Travel is a Certified B-Corp, meaning they are dedicated to doing good in the world. They donate to worldwide relief causes and offset the carbon footprint of every trip they operate.
2. G Adventures: Best Small Group Tour Company
If you’re looking for small group tours, G Adventures is one of the best in the category. Just like with Intrepid, their tour groups average 10 people, so, with G Adventures, you won’t have to deal with being part of a massive hoard of tourists.
So what sets G Adventures apart? Unlike many tour operators, they focus on helping you get exactly the experience you’re looking for instead of packing every day with a rigid schedule. Every trip offers a wide range of optional activities that you can pick and choose from to personalize your experience. Plus, you can opt for more free time to explore or hang out on your own.
I also love that G Adventures hires all local guides. They put a lot of emphasis on their guides, even calling them CEOs (chief experience officers). That means you get local, insider expertise on your trip. Your tour director will speak the local language, know the best spots to eat, and fully understand the culture.
If you’re looking for big luxurious hotels and resorts, G Adventures probably isn’t for you. Instead of going to the big chain hotels, G Adventures uses locally owned and operated lodgings.
This has two benefits. First, you get a much more authentic local experience. Big hotel chains don’t have the same charm and character as a true local hotel. Second, your money will go toward benefiting the local economy rather than some giant corporation. That’s a big win for G Adventures in my book.
You may not need or want a fully guided multi-day group tour, But sometimes it’s nice to have the guidance of a local expert for a truly unique experience that you couldn’t get otherwise. Choosing day tours is a great way to get the benefits of guided group tours without being stuck with a tour group for your entire trip.
Get Your Guide is my favorite resource for finding amazing day tours, entry tickets, and other travel experiences. It’s perfect for more independent travelers who can manage the details of their own trip, but are looking for shorter guided tours.
How does it work? Get Your Guide is essentially an online marketplace where you can search for and reserve tours, museum passes, adventure activities, and more.
For example, let’s say you’re planning a trip to Sweden. On Get Your Guide, you could book a dog sled adventure to see the northern lights, a day cruise on an icebreaker ship, a “ghost-walk” historical tour of Old Stockholm, and a guided ice climbing excursion.
I’m already getting excited about that trip.
4. Go Ahead Tours: Best Tour Company for Solo Travelers
Solo travel can be a bit intimidating, especially if you don’t have a lot of travel experience. I’ve found that group tours can be a great way to ease some of the stress and make it easier to enjoy your trip as a solo traveler.
Go Ahead Tours is one of the best tour companies that specializes in trips for solo travelers. With their solo trips, you always get a private room at no extra cost, and the other travelers in your tour group will also be solo—so you don’t end up as the awkward 17th wheel in someone else’s family vacation. As a solo traveler with Go Ahead Tours, you get all the benefits and security of a group trip, and you’ll meet other amazing people traveling the world on their own.
Go Ahead Tours focuses on small group itineraries in tour destinations around the globe, from popular destinations to locations off the beaten path. Want a food-centric trip across Italy? Check. Want to visit South America and hike to Machu Picchu? Check. How about a wildlife safari in Kenya? Yep, they’ve got that. Go Ahead Tours offers the best group tours for solo travelers, and you may even make some new friends on the way.
Family travel can seem complicated, especially if you have younger kids. Group tours can help simplify planning the dream trip, but tour operators often plan trips focused on adults, so younger travelers may get bored quickly.
Adventures by Disney is one of the few group travel companies that specialize in family-oriented trips and tours, from South America to Scandinavia. Disney Vacations designs their group trips to have something for everyone: wine tastings for the adults, adventure scavenger hunts for the kids, and sights and experiences that will engage your entire family.
Disney Adventures trips are a bit pricier than many other group travel companies, so not all families will be able to afford them. However, if you can make it work with your budget, your family will get an amazing experience that you just won’t find from more mainstream travel.
6. Trafalgar: Best Tour Company for Seniors
Trafalgar is one of the biggest (and best) group travel companies in the world. They offer hundreds of international trips to popular destinations around the globe.
Trafalgar’s guided tours are great for travelers of all age groups, but they cater particularly to senior travelers. The majority of Trafalgar guests are over 50. It’s also great for family tours to get grandparents and grandkids spending quality time together.
If you’re looking for highly active itineraries with adventure activities packed in, Trafalgar may not be the best for you. They focus more on cultural immersion, history, architecture, and local cuisine. Trafalgar is a great choice if you want to take a deep dive into the essence of your destination.
You can count on having a tour leader who is an expert in the local culture and history, and you will come home with tons of new knowledge.
Trafalgar focuses primarily on land-based tours, but they also offer a range of cruise vacations if you want to travel by sea.
Hotel stays, meals, transportation to/from the airport, and all the logistics are all arranged for you. You can even add on flights, extra hotel nights, and travel insurance so you don’t have to worry about any additional complications for your trip.
7. Tauck: Best Tour Company for Europe
Tauck is another big name in group tours that operates on all seven continents. While they have guided tours all around the globe, Tauck is an especially good choice if you’re looking for a group tour in Europe.
It’s easy to go to European cities, see the major tourist sites, and head home without really diving deep into the culture and spirit of the place. My favorite thing about Tauck is that their European tours are designed to give you more than just the standard tourist experience. Their Yellow Roads of Europe tours take you off the beaten path for a truly unique European experience.
Every Tauck tour pairs you with handpicked expert local guides who will help fully immerse you in the experience.
Tauck offers both river cruises and land-based group tours. If you want a unique European experience, imagine cruising through Western Europe along the Seine.
Almost every traveler dreams of a bucket list trip to Italy. What’s not to love? Amazing food, amazing sights, amazing culture, Italy has it all.
If you’re looking for the best guided tours in Italy, I highly recommend Insight Vacations. Insight offers tours all over the world, but their Italy tours are especially good. Whether you want to see the major sights, learn to live like a local, or sample the best food from around the country (or all of the above!) they’ve got tours for you.
As an example, you could choose their Best of Italy Tour for your next trip. This 11-day tour includes stays in Rome, Florence, Venice, and more. You’ll learn from local artisans, eat farm-to-table meals on the foothills of Mount Vesuvius, and get a VIP tour of the Vatican (including areas normally off-limits to visitors).
Insight’s tours are all led by local tour guides who speak the language and have in-depth knowledge of the culture and history of each site you visit.
If you’re traveling with a group of 10 or more people, Insight Vacations can also put together custom itineraries specifically for your group.
9. CIE Tours: Best Tour Company for Ireland and Scotland
If you’re into history, stunning scenery, charming towns, or good times at the pub, you would probably love touring Ireland and Scotland. CIE Tours is technically based in the US, but it’s partially owned and operated by the Irish government. It specializes in travel to Ireland, Scotland, and a few other European countries.
This dialed-in focus means that there are no better guided tours for Ireland and Scotland. I highly recommend their Taste of Scotland and Ireland Tour. In 11 days, you’ll experience sightseeing in Glasgow and Dublin, a day cruise on Loch Ness, carriage rides through the Irish countryside, and a feast in a historic castle.
Their tours have a great balance of exciting sightseeing and activities with enough downtime to relax or do plenty of exploring on your own. It’s a great way to get all the benefits of group travel without feeling like you have no control over your schedule.
If you want more freedom, CIE also offers independent adventures. They will build an itinerary for you and book your lodgings, admission tickets to attractions, and rental car (or you can opt for a private driver). You can choose from their pre-packaged itineraries, or build your own custom trip.
I also appreciate that CIE Tours has fairly affordable rates that include all admission tickets and most of your meals. Plus, they often offer discounts on airfare!
Maybe you’ve always been intrigued by Iceland’s wild, untamed beauty (I know I have). If you want to experience this first hand, Nicetravel Iceland is one of the best group travel companies in this amazing country.
Nicetravel Iceland by three local Icelandic families, so they have a lot of local expertise. They offer trips ranging from 8 hours to over a week and have itineraries to suit any type of traveler, whether you want to relax in natural hot spring pools or hike along the glaciers and coastlines.
They focus on small group tours, and you’ll never have more than 19 people in your group. Most of their tours start from the capital, Reykjavik, and will drive you to various destinations in Mercedes Sprinter Vans. Way better than the huge tour buses many other companies use.
In addition to standard tours for sightseeing, they also have a range of tour options for more adventurous travelers. You’re in the right place if you want to explore caves, hike on glaciers, or raft down raging rivers.
11. Cosmos: Best Tour Company for Spain and Portugal
For a tour operator on the Iberian Peninsula, Cosmos is one of the best choices, especially if you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg. Cosmos has been guiding group travel for nearly a century, and they employ expert local guides to help you get the most from your trip.
The Cosmos Best of Spain and Portugal Tour is an incredible 13-day group travel itinerary. You will stay in 7 amazing cities across the two countries and visit a wide range of historical sites.
Cosmos is also a good choice for responsible travel, as they have several initiatives to support local communities and planet-focused nonprofits like the African Wildlife Foundation, The Ocean Cleanup, and Trees4Travel. I appreciate companies that are taking steps toward sustainable travel.
12. Exodus: Best Egypt Tour Company
It’s hard to visit any travel website without seeing a picture of the Great Pyramids. Egypt has captivated the minds of explorers and travelers for centuries, and it is worth having on your bucket list.
If you want a guided tour of Egypt, I highly recommend Exodus Travels. With destinations on all seven continents, Exodus Travels is one of the most popular group travel companies for adventurous travelers, and their Egyptian tours are particularly good.
With 9 different guided tours in Egypt, you can find the perfect itinerary for your trip. Exodus Travels is a true expert in the industry and hires incredible guides for their group travel excursions.
Plus, Exodus Travels also offers trips that are perfect for family travel.
13. Klook: Best Asia Tour Company
Whether you want to experience the hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo or an adventurous trek to Everest Base Camp, Klook is one of the best group travel companies for Asia.
Klook is more than just a tour operator. It is a marketplace for everything travel, from airline tickets to hotels to tickets to museums, theme parks, and more. Klook offers trips for small groups or individual travelers all around the globe, but they are based in Asia, and that’s where they focus.
Klooks South Korea Tour will take you to Nami Island, through beautiful gardens, and into a centuries-old palace in Seoul.
14. Click Tours: Best Tour Company for Israel
Click Tours specializes in group travel in Europe and the Middle East, and Israel is by far their most popular tour destination. In Israel, Click Tours will offer trips ranging from 3-day highlight tours to 18-day deep-dive cultural experiences.
They focus on small group travel, and your tour group will have 15-24 guests. That means you get more personal attention and a more authentic experience of the country.
A tour of Israel with Click Tours will focus on historical and archeological sites. You’ll visit temples and ruins that are thousands of years old as well as dive into the amazing food and rich culture of Israel.
If you’re looking for a group travel trip to Greece, Epos Travel Tours is a local company based in Tripolis that offers tours across the country.
Since Epos Travel Tours specializes only in Greece, you can expect catered trips and insider knowledge. They are truly the experts in travel to Greece, and their trip itineraries are designed to help you get the most from your trip, whether you want to visit historical sites or delve into amazing food and culture.
If you’re into history and architecture, their tour of Ancient Corinth is hard to beat!
Best Tour Companies FAQ
Which is the best tour company in the world?
In my experience, Intrepid Travel is the best tour operator. They have amazing small-group tours.
What are the top travel companies?
Is Globus or Trafalgar better?
Trafalgar is usually the better choice. They offer amazing all-inclusive tours around the world.
Are tour companies worth it?
Group travel can be worth it if you want the stress and planning taken out of your trip.
Who is the biggest tour company?
Disney is the biggest tour company by revenue.
How do you know if a tour company is legit?
It is a good idea to look for reviews of a tour company on TripAdvisor.