Seeing the world: Why you should take free walking tours

Sometimes landing in a new place can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t speak the local language.

As much fun as it is to wander around in circles for hours with a map in hand, sometimes its a good idea to get a grip on a city by taking a walking tour.

These tours used to be costly but in the past ten years or so, free walking tours have been popping up in tourist locations around the world.

Wait there’s a catch right? Well the best thing about the tours is that you pay what you feel the tour is worth, making it perfect for those on a budget.

I’ve done several of these tours and definitely feel like I learnt more about the cities I was in thanks to the knowledgable guides.

When I was in Copenhagen it was interesting to learn about the city during the war and also the social make up of the country.

And when I was in Brussels, we were all given good tips on where to buy the best frites and chocolate.

Our guide was incredibly enthusiastic and knew the best spots to take us. Without his knowledge, I would never have visited some of the places around Brussels that we visited existed. And I would definitely know less about the history of Belgium.

Monika from Travelling Encounters

“The free walking tour in Amsterdam is the best thing you can do if visiting the city for the first time. During the three hours of strolling the streets – with a tea break in the middle – I saw and learnt about most of the ‘essentials,’ from the oldest part of Amsterdam – the Red Light District – to the Jewish quarter, Anne Frank’s house and the widest bridge and the smallest house in the city. In Amsterdam, every corner has a story and getting to know some of it gave me a real feel of the city.”

Monica from The Travel Hack 

“My favourite free walking tour was one I took in Berlin. I was travelling solo to Berlin for 3 days and I was staying a hotel so I had no way of meeting anyone. I was getting a bit fed up and lonely so decided to take a walking tour.

The tour itself was a brilliant way to familiarise myself with the city and learn a bit more about the history, culture, thing to do and (most importantly!) places to eat. But, best of all, I met four other girls who were travelling solo and we got on like a house on fire. We stuck together for the remainder of our time in Berlin and we’re still all friends today. It was such a great way to meet likeminded people!”

Olga from Latinas Who Travel and Dreams in Heels

“My advice, when traveling in major cities, is to check out one of the free walk tours. It’s a great way to see the highlights of the city while also on a budget. One of my favorite experiences was in Budapest. It wasn’t only about the tour but the diversity of the group.
It was a great way to understand some of the history of Hungary, learn about the places of interest in Budapest (they even provided a list of places to explore), and receive tips to keep in mind while traveling around the city. The protocol is to give a tip to your guide based on how much you enjoyed the tour or based on how much you can afford. After the tour, I went to eat and drink with my new international friends, which I still keep in touch with today. It’s a total win win situation.”

You can find free walking tours with companies such as Sandeman’s who seem to do free tours around many European cities. Alternatively just look on trip advisor for the city you’re going to and you should be able to find at least one. And one thing to remember: be sure to tip your guide! They make a living from showing you around the city. You don’t have to tip them much, but enough to show them that you thought their tour was worthwhile.

3 Comments

  1. September 5, 2017 / 6:18 am

    Great post! I always love to do a free walking tour when I go to a new city, you learn so much and its really helpful to get your bearings! 🙂

    • Sophie
      September 22, 2017 / 3:15 am

      Thanks Keri! Yes I definitely now opt for free walking tours when they’re available!

  2. September 8, 2017 / 10:04 am

    This is one of my favorite ways to see a place. I have been hooked since I took my first one and have learned a lot as a result. I give a fair tip at the end.

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