The 5 best websites for booking day tours and other travel activities, per SmarterTravel

When it comes to booking travel, most of our attention goes to finding the best airfare, hotel rate, cruise price, and maybe car rental; the big-ticket, can’t-get-there-without-it, stuff. Those are obviously fundamental components of any trip. But they’re certainly not the only important bookings you’ll make.

Once you’ve booked everything you need to get there, consider these websites devoted to activity and excursion tickets – the best of which let you search popular things to do and see in your destination. And whether you’re looking for something as exhilarating as skydiving or something as simple as a walking food tour, you can usually search for them on one site.

The excursions, tours, performances, and other activities you experience on your travels can make or break a trip. No one wants to be disappointed when an activity booking doesn’t work out or turns out not to be what you thought it was – so you’ll want to be able to search offerings, and preferably to compare ratings of them. Plus, it’s essential to make sure you’re booking with reputable ticket websites offering reasonable prices. 

SmarterTravel shares its five favorite sites for booking memorable excursions:

Viator

Viator offers tours from Boston to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, making it possible to stay in the city but still see the countryside. (Photo: I love sticky rice, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Owned by TripAdvisor (SmarterTravel’s parent company), Viator is a vast activity and excursion ticket website; one of the largest out there. Travelers can book anything from airport shuttle service to guided tours, to skip-the-line admission at attractions all over the world. And because it’s similar to TripAdvisor, travelers can also browse reviews of the activity they’re eyeing. Most listings include comprehensive details about the tour and a generous cancellation policy (usually 24-hours prior to the activity with no penalty).

Viator does not operate the tours it sells. Rather, it’s a search engine of things to do. As such, its offerings tend to focus on cities and better-known travel destinations, although that includes excursions out of those places into the surrounding areas; like tours from Boston to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, tours of the Dutch countryside from a departure point in Amsterdam, etc. This makes Viator a great option for travelers who want to headquarter themselves in one hotspot but still experience the broader region. 

GetYourGuide

Another day-tour-heavy option, GetYourGuide overlaps somewhat with Viator, but is focused more solely on experiences and tours (Viator includes services such as airport and in-town transportation services). Functionally, the sites aren’t very different; both offer an opportunity to compare tours and prices. And on that last note, it can be worth checking both: I found the exact same Dutch windmill tour on both sites, and the price on GetYourGuide was $67, compared to $73 on Viator. Not a huge difference, but for the exact same experience it’s worth noting.

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