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If you’re looking to book a tour or activity pretty much anywhere in the world, the chances are you’ll stumble across the website called Viator.
And if you’ve never booked with Viator before, you’re probably wondering “is Viator legit?”
Viator is a third party booking site and it’s one of the leading travel websites worldwide. So yes, it is legit! We use Viator all the time and have done so dozens of times in the last few months alone, in locations all over the world – from New York City to Fiji!
We find Viator so useful for booking travel experiences, which is why we’ve written this Viator review to explain not only why it’s legit, but also to explain how it works and help you get the most out of the site. In this blog we address the pros and cons of booking tours with Viator, so you can easily decide if it is the right website for you. So, without further ado, here is out Viator review!
1. Is Viator legit?
Yes, Viator is a legitimate company.
In fact, it’s owned by TripAdvisor, so it’s safe to say that Viator is trustworthy. Viator is a huge company that is a third party provider for tours – just like Booking.com is for hotels!
Just like sites such as Booking.com, you can also read reviews and see customer ratings on Viator to make sure that you’re choosing a good quality tour. For us, reading reviews is an essential part of booking travel.
Viator won’t steal your money, and in our experience, they have great customer service! When you book through Viator, you often get a way better cancellation policy than you do by booking direct, and in some cases we’ve also saved money by going through Viator.
2. Are tours more expensive on Viator?
No, they shouldn’t be.
Viator has a lowest price guarantee, so when you book any tour through Viator rest assured that you’re getting the lowest price out there! If you do find the same tour offered cheaper elsewhere, including with the tour operator directly, then Viator will refund the difference, up until 48 hours after you do the tour.
We recently went through the lowest price guarantee refund process with Viator. We booked a Bowen Island dinner cruise in Vancouver, Canada last August. We booked the tour on Viator (as we always do) but then later saw it advertised for $15 CAD cheaper per person on the tour operator’s website. I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org with screenshots of the lower price, and within two days I had a response and Viator refunded me the $60 CAD difference (we booked for four people, so the small fee difference adds up!)
The lowest price guarantee experience we had was seamless, and it was nice to know that Viator stands by this policy. It was also nice to experience how easy it was. I just sent screenshots and no other questions were asked and my original form of payment was automatically refunded the difference – it was that simple!
Knowing Viator has this guarantee gives me a piece of mind knowing that I can be sure I’ll always get the best price!
It’s also worth noting that the prices you see on Viator include taxes. Often, booking direct may appear cheaper at first because taxes aren’t added on until the very last stage of the checkout process. But in the end, the Viator price should be the same or even cheaper!
You can read all the terms of Viator’s lowest price guarantee online here!
Related Read: Want to know how to save money for travel? Read all of our tips!
3. What are the benefits of booking tours through Viator?
One benefit of booking with Viator that we talk about often on our blog is the fact that you can get free cancellation. For most experiences on Viator, you can change or cancel your booking for FREE up to 24 hours before it starts.
We’ve taken advantage of this many times to ensure that we get the best weather conditions or because plans have changed, which they often do when you’re traveling! It just gives you extra piece of mind that you’re not going to miss out.
Lots of tours do not offer this same cancellation policy if you book direct. Viator’s cancellation is honestly the best we’ve found when it comes to tours, and if you are someone who likes to change plans last minute (like me!), then the 24-hour cancellation is super handy.
Plus, with really in-demand activities that book up far in advance, booking through Viator allows you to secure your spot now with the option to cancel for free later on.
Note: Not all tours and experiences on Viator offer free cancellation. We notice that most do, but you do need to watch for this if it is something that’s important to you. When you are on Viator’s website, you can see the cancellation policy for each individual tour under the “Check Availability” button (you can see an example screenshot above.)
Currency payment options (so lower transaction fees)
You can change the currency that prices are displayed easily on Viator. This means that you can pay for tours on Viator in your local currency so that you don’t get hit with transaction fees from your bank!
For example, I live in Canada, but when I was traveling to New York City, I booked a food tour on Viator. Although the tour is operated by an American company that normally charges in USD, on Viator I could change the currency to Canadian Dollars and pay using my Canadian bank card. No extra international transaction fees, currency change fees, nothing!
You don’t usually get the option to change the currency you are charged in when booking tours directly with the tour operator, so this is another way in which booking through Viator can save you money. Those fees really add up over time!
Note: On your computer, you can change the currency on Viator at the top right of your screen. On your phone, click the little person icon on the top right corner and then you’ll see the option to change the currency pop up!
Reserve Now, Pay Later
Another thing that we find really convenient about Viator is that it gives you the option to reserve your tour now, and then pay later. Sometimes, you only need to pay three days before your activity!
This is really useful if you want to secure your place on a tour now, but want to wait until after payday to fork out for it! It really helps with budgeting for your trip, and this is an option that’s something we’ve really only seen on Viator.
After you reserve your tour, you’ll get an email with all of the details. You’ll also get an email the day before you are scheduled to be charged for the tour. Then, once they process the payment you’ll get another email confirming everything. It’s all automated and so easy!
Note: If the tour has 24-hour free cancellation, you can still cancel and get a refund after you’ve been charged – how handy!
So we’ve talked about Viator’s generous cancellation policy, but some websites can still be slow to give you your refund. However, we’re happy to report that Viator isn’t one of them. In fact, they have always refunded us very quickly!
It’s so annoying when a company drags its feet on giving you your money back, but with Viator it usually only takes a couple of days for the money to reappear in my account.
If you’re wondering “is Viator legit?” then this is probably one of your biggest concerns, but we’re happy to report that they’re really good about issuing refunds quickly, with no hassle involved.
We cancel tours all the time and get refunds back from Viator without any hiccups.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case when you book tours directly with the tour operator. In some cases, companies will hold onto your money and either refuse to give it back, or make the process really difficult in the hopes that you’ll give up. Of course, that is not always the case and we’re not bashing anyone, but we do like the fact that we never have to worry about getting our money back with Viator if we do have to cancel a booking.
It’s always a good idea to read as many reviews as possible before booking any experience. Viator performs checks on reviews and only permits the person who made the booking to leave a review, so you know they’re legit – unlike, say, the reviews on Google Maps, which anyone can write!
Viator also displays the most recent reviews first, not the best ones, so that you can get an accurate idea of what to expect from your tour. You can see the month and year that the review was left so that you know it’s recent and not from four years ago!
Viator also asks the reviewer to leave photos, so sometimes you can check out photos taken by travelers, too. This gives you a more realistic visual of what to expect on a tour.
Communication directly with the tour operator via an online chat
One thing that we love about Viator is that it makes it super easy to communicate with your tour operator. You can talk to them through Viator via an online chat feature to ask questions, advise them of dietary requirements, or arrange pickup times. It’s so easy to use and keeps communication nice and simple.
Related Read: Do you travel lots? Check out our top tips for long-haul international flights.
Lowest Price Guarantee
This is one point we mentioned earlier, but it’s a great policy and one worth highlighting!
As well as wondering if Viator is legit, people also often worry that booking through a third-party site will cost them extra. However, this is not the case with Viator, as they offer a lowest price guarantee.
This means that usually, you won’t pay any more when booking through Viator then you would if you booked directly – and sometimes, you’ll pay less!
However, if you do happen to see a lower price elsewhere up to 48 hours after your tour starts, then Viator will refund the difference to ensure you do not pay more as a result of booking with them.
Also, we do want to point out that Viator’s prices are simplified and include taxes. Sometimes, when you check out the company’s site directly in somewhere like the USA, the price you see is initially lower than the one on Viator. That’s because tax is only added at the end of the checkout process, so do bear this in mind.
In fact, you might think you’re saving money but actually end up paying more. We found that booking experiences through Viator was often a couple of dollars cheaper than booking directly for New York attractions.
So, the long and short of it is that you’re guaranteed to get the lowest price through Viator!
Only the best tours make it on Viator
Viator has a very strong review system and uses reviews left on Viator directly and TripAdvisor, which is their parent company. They also display ratings very clearly so that it’s easy to pick a reputable tour.
Because of this review system, only the best tours remain on Viator long term. Those with poor reviews are eventually removed, because Viator clearly knows that selling shoddy tours is not a good business model. So, using Viator is a good way to separate the top-tier tours from the bad quality ones.
Easy to compare similar tours
I personally love the convenience of choosing tours on Viator! If you click on a tour that interests you and then scroll down, you’ll eventually see a comparison block. Here, Viator showcases other similar tours and compares key features like prices, inclusions, cancellation policy, etc.
It’s also easy to search for tours and see all of the different options available in one place. Instead of sifting through tons of different tour company websites, Viator has it all in once spot so that I can easily choose the tour that seems right for me!
This saves me time, which is so valuable when traveling.
Some attractions on Viator also offer Skip-the-line access. This means that when you prebook on Viator, you can skip-the-line when you visit the attraction and waltz right in.
For example, we bought this Skip the Line access to One World Observatory in NYC. Since we were visiting New York in July, it was super busy at every attraction around the city. We purchased Skip-the-line tickets whenever possible and saved ourselves hours of standing around.
Again, this is another feature that saves you time! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much patience for standing in long lines, so the skip-the-line options are always super appealing to me.
4. What are the negatives of booking through Viator?
Booking last minute can be hard
This is an honest Viator review, so we’re not going to pretend we’ve never, ever had a problem while using the site.
Sometimes, if you’re using Viator to book a tour for the following day, your booking can be rejected. We’ve only faced this issue once, having made around 40 bookings recently, so it’s not that likely to happen to you, but it is possible.
The reason this happens is that the tour operator has already planned for the day and doesn’t have enough room for you. Or, it might be too last minute to organize for extra people.
Of course, the best thing to do is try and book at least a day in advance, but we’ve been traveling for long enough to know that that isn’t always possible.
You need to double-check pick-up locations with the provider
If your tour includes hotel pick-up, make sure that you always double-check the email you receive after booking. It will say where the pick-up location is and if it isn’t your hotel, then you can contact the tour operator through the Viator chat to resolve this.
One time, there was a mix up with our booking and the pick-up location was set to another hotel. We totally missed this in the email and had to Uber to another hotel for pickup, which was inconvenient and a bit of a waste of money. So do just make sure you double-check, as although our situation was annoying, it could have easily been avoided!
5. Has Viator changed recently?
This might seem like a weird question, but we think it’s important to address because yes, it definitely has.
Viator has undergone a huge overhaul in the last few years and delivers a much better user experience now than it used to.
We tried to make a booking with Viator back in 2018 and the booking system was terrible. It was confusing, slow, and just difficult to use. It put us off using Viator again for years! Let’s just say that our Viator review back then would have been much less positive.
However, it’s really impressive to see just how much Viator has improved since then. We use the site all the time now because it’s so easy to use and it only takes a minute to make a booking.
They are also adding more tours and activities all the time. At the time of writing this Viator review, there are almost 400,000 bookable experiences on the site!
Viator is a growing company that is improving all the time. In fact, the Reserve Now, Pay Later feature was only added a few months ago.
So, if you had a bad experience with Viator in the past, it might be time to give them another try.
You can browse tours on Viator easily here!
Related Read: A fun way to travel for an extended period of time is to go on a working holiday!
6. What is Viator’s customer service like?
Honestly, it’s really good. Sometimes tour websites don’t have very responsive customer service, but Viator really is legit and their customer service proves this.
If you have to cancel a tour, refunds are made really fast and in the same currency that you booked in, so you don’t lose money due to transaction fees.
The lowest price guarantee also works really well. If you contact Viator’s customer service and show them that you found a lower price elsewhere, you’ll get a solution within just a couple days. We were really impressed by this.
Sometimes, it feels like companies offer price guarantees and then make excuses to wriggle out of their promises, but this is not the case with Viator. We’ve always found them to be true to their word!
7. What has been our personal experience with Viator?
We have been using Viator for years now, and the more we use it, the more we love it!
After making so many bookings and having so many fantastic experiences all over the world with Viator, we’ve really built a lot of trust in the company and their booking system. Making bookings with Viator is so nice and easy, and it takes so much stress out of traveling. We always use Booking.com for hotels and Viator for tours!
The best part is, when we recommend tours on Viator our readers know we have used them – a lot! In fact, we have reached out to Viator on multiple occasions to ask them to improve certain features based on feedback from our readers. Viator listens, and their booking system continues to improve.
8. Are we affiliated with Viator?
To be fully transparent, we figured we should be honest about our working relationship with Viator. Yes, we do work with Viator in the same way that we work with Booking.com – in an affiliate partnership.
What does this mean? It means that when we recommend a tour on Viator, we get a small commission if you book it. Our commission comes from Viator’s profit – it isn’t an additional fee to the tour operator.
If you read our other blog articles, you’ll notice that we often recommend tours and experiences that are listed on Viator, but we use our personal experience to ensure people join a great tour.
Regardless of our affiliation, we do like booking tours with Viator, and our honest review of them is great! We want to ensure our readers have only amazing experiences, so we only recommend companies and products that we personally use and like.
Even if we didn’t work with Viator, we would still use them to book tours!
Viator is also the main tour website that we work with because it’s a company that we trust. One of the reasons we wanted to answer the question “is Viator legit?” is because there are so many third-party tour websites out there that aren’t. You do need to be cautious, which is why it’s so nice to be able to use a reputable website like Viator to book tours all over the world.
If you read our blog articles, you’ll notice that we usually only recommend tours with Viator, or through direct companies. This is because we know you’ll get great service and have a fantastic experience, which is our number one goal!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
We really hope this blog has helped clear a few things up for you about booking with Viator. It is our favorite way to book tours these days, and we wanted to share all the perks that we enjoy with you!
Viator really is a legitimate company and based on our Viator review, we hope that you would consider booking with them one day in the future.
If you liked this blogs, check out some of our other blogs about general travel advice including a couple related posts below: