Wondering why take a free walking tour of a city? After having several really great experiences with free walking tours I thought I should probably share the love and dedicate a whole post to it! Granted they may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But for me, it’s the perfect way to see the city.
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Why take a free walking tour of a city
If you have limited time in a city I think any kind of organised tour it a great idea. You can quickly orientate yourself without getting lost and wasting time. I’ve even been known to take a seat on a big red bus (or five), sometimes they are great, especially in big cities where it’s too far to walk everywhere in a day. That said, I’ve done all three NYC routes and it was painful! Being in any kind of motorised vehicle in NYC is never a good idea if you are passing through midtown!
So what’s the difference between a free walking tour and a normal tour? And what are the benefits to going on an organised tour rather than just figuring it out yourself?
Ok, so firstly some free tours aren’t really free. Make sure you do your research before hand so you know. In the City of Bath, for example, the tour I took was run by the Mayor of Bath office and they do not accept tips of any kind. The guides are all local volunteers. Other tours marketed as free tours are in fact ‘pay what you feel’ tours. The tour guides make their money from the “tips” you give at the end of the tour. They will normally give you a suggested amount but it’s up to you if you pay at all, and what you pay.
My Experience of free walking tours
The first free tour I took I chose because I’m a budget traveller and I didn’t want to spend 20 euro on a walking tour. When I realised I was expected to pay at the end I felt a bit duped. However, by the end of the tour, I was so impressed that I happily handed over my euros to the guide.
The ethos they work on is that they have to work hard to make sure you have a great experience. That way your are happy to pay for the service you receive. Because the tour guide works hard and the customers reward their hard work with the payment they feel appreciated and like they have done a good job. Thus getting job satisfaction. Well, that’s the idea anyway and how our guide explained it to us. However, I can also see how this could possibly go a bit wrong so do watch out for that and make sure you go with a good company.
So why take a free walking tour? Here are just a few reasons:
You have limited time
This is normally my number one reason for taking any kind of organised tour. It’s pretty simple really. If I have a few days and don’t mind getting totally lost and wandering the streets aimlessly then that’s great. But if I only have a day or so taking a free walking tour is the perfect way to see the sights, orientate myself and do it quickly. If I have time I go back to places (now I know how to get to them) and explore at my leisure.
You are on a budget
If you want to take a tour but the fees you may pay with other companies are too expensive then this is perfect. Do keep in mind to check if you are expected to tip, though.
You want to learn about the history of the city
This is another of my top reasons. I love finding out about the history and culture of a place and what better way to do this that by getting a guided tour from a local person (or at least someone with a lot of great local knowledge). You get to find out things about the city that you would likely never know without the tour. I even took a tour recently of my hometown Liverpool and learnt that the clock in the Liver Building is bigger than Big Ben in London. I’ve already used this fact several times to demonstrate my general knowledge haha.
You want to orientate yourself quickly
What better to orientate yourself than spending 2-3 hours walking round it with someone who knows where they are going.
You want to meet other people
The last tour I went on I met so many cool people, I actually ended up staying on for the beer tour (I was in Belgium and it would have been rude not to). I met some great people and ended up having one of the best nights out I’ve had in ages. Who says you can’t have a good time going out on your own!
You want some local knowledge
You have 121 access to a local person whose job it is to inform you about the place you are in. It’s a bit of no brainer really. Ask them where to go, where to avoid, where to eat and where to drink. Chances are they wouldn’t be doing the job unless they loved their city and enjoyed educating people about it. They want you to have a good time so of course, they are going to help you out and give you some great advice.
So if I have convinced you to take a free walking tour there are a few companies I can 100% recommend:
One of the best places to get information on all tours and activities around the world is through Viator which is a trip advisor company. I have used them several times and had great experiences with them. They also always have special offers and discounts so make sure you sign up for their mailing list!
Operate tours in the following cities:
Barcelona, Berlin, Budapest, Dublin and Prague
Operate tours in the following Cities:
Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Hamburg, Jerusalem, Lisbon, Liverpool, London, Madrid, Munich, New York, Paris, Prague, Tel Aviv
Have you taken a free tour of a city? I’d love to know about your experience!
Are You Traveling soon?
Be sure to check Skyscanner for the best flight deals.
I never travel anywhere without Travel Insurance. If you are looking for insurance be sure to check World Nomads first.
This post was proofread by Grammarly
Book your trip now
Are you ready to book your trip? To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.
- Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with.
- Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections.
- Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
- Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
- Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there.
- Workpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Workpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership!
- 12Go – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then 12Go is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and air travel.
- RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals.
- Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
- World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review.
- SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here.
- Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration.
- Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.