Why Do a Walking Tour?
I am a huge fan of walking tours. Maybe it’s because I like to walk, regardless of what city I am in, but I really think jaunting around a city on foot is the best way to get acclimated with it. You can find best streets, the main sights, and all the quirky history a guidebook just cant fit in. That is what a walking tour gives you, and so much more. If it is free (which most of the good ones are) you tend to meet a lot of likeminded travelers who are there to learn and have a good time, as well. Plus the free ones mean they are working off of tips, so the guides go the extra mile (literally and figuratively) to make sure your tour is the best.
How it works
Google “free walking tours+city” before heading out to your next destination (most major cities have them), and look for the best reviewed one. You can find this from Google or Trip Advisor. Most of the time, you don’t have to make a reservation before, you can just show up. But double check with the tour of choice anyway. On the day of, arrive to the meeting point on time. Please try not to talk during the tour! This is the person’s job, so be respectful of their time and don’t be rude. And finally, don’t skip out early. Give them your time and attention so you can learn the most in the few short hours you are with them.
A note on tipping
I can’t stress the fact enough that you must tip your guide. I always try to give a good tip, since many times this is their main source of income. But do it no matter what, even if it is not the best tour you’ve ever been on. I know, I know. You should have excellent service, but sometimes they are doing the best they can under the circumstances they are given. On one tour I was on, the guy was strapped with over 25 of us in blistering heat, trying to talk history of this Eastern European city over a lot of noise. Not my favorite tour, and the guide was pretty boring, but I could tell he was trying to appeal to the older group. So, you go with it, and I tipped regardless. Tip more on a great tour, and still tip even if it is mediocre. As travelers, we are all trying to spread some love in this world!
A few of my favorite walking tours
Paris – One of the first walking tours I’ve ever been on, and it was by far one of the best. Paris is such a diverse city, meant for walking even on the dreariest of days. Sandeman was a great option, but make sure you book ahead in the summer
Iceland – I took the the CityWalk tour in Reykjavik and even in zero degree temps and only a few hours of sunlight, this tour was one of my favorites. Our guide was really personable, funny, and truly hit the highlights of the city. He also told us the best places to go for happy hour in expensive Reykjavik, so that is a win in my book!
Prague – Prague, like many cities, have great options for walking tours. Discover Prague has a variety of options depending on what you want to see.
Budapest – Budapest was on of my favorite places to do a walking tour in. The city is beautiful and very walkable on its own. But my sister and I did a few, and my favorite was the afternoon walking tour at Budapest Free Walking Tours. It was short, informative, and took to you the main parts of the city.
Special Addition: Barcelona – to mix things up when I was in Barcelona, instead of a walking tour I did a bike tour (you can read more about it HERE!) Sure, this one isn’t free, but I think it was the perfect tour to see the beautiful, steep and crowded streets of Barcelona, Spain. It allowed me to see a lot in a short period of time.
Have you tried a walking tour before? What are your favorites? Comment below!