I first discovered walking tours when I was on a super-budget short trip to Budapest, Hungary, and was looking for free things to do in the city. My searches led me to a company offering free walking tours of the main sites every day; no booking necessary, all I had to do was turn up at the meeting point, locate the guide, take the tour, then pay whatever tip I wanted to at the end.
It turned out to be the perfect introduction to Budapest, with a friendly and knowledgeable guide who gave us an overview of the city as he took us around at a good pace, offering suggestions for the best places to find local treats like strudel! Ever since then, the first thing I do when visiting a new city is to take a walking tour. Here’s why I love them so much…
They’re free! OK, so you will most likely leave a generous tip at the end, as your guide will have been fantastic and you will have had a valuable introduction to your destination, but you only pay what you want to, and it will be a bargain! Plus usually you don’t have to book in advance, so you have that flexibility about which tour to take, and no booking fees of any kind.
It’s a great way to meet people. Walking tours are brilliant for solo travellers as you get to meet other visitors to the city, some of whom will be solo too. Whether you just chat a little as you walk around, or decide to meet up at some point again, it’s always fun to spend some time with other travellers, even if you enjoy going it alone like I do.
The guides are passionate about their city and what they do. Every tour I’ve taken has been led by someone who really loved sharing the history, culture and lifeblood of their home. More often than not they’ve been someone who moved to that city for study or work and fell in love with it and stayed, and this comes through in their tour.
You can find out about the hidden gems. Walking tour guides will give you tips on where the locals eat and drink, and what to see outside of the usual tourist spots. They’re always happy to answer questions on how to enjoy your time in their city to the maximum.
So how do you find a walking tour where you’re going? I’ve always had success by just searching online for “free walking tours” in my chosen city, and having a look at the options and some reviews. Often, and especially in large cities, companies will offer a variety of different tours on different themes, so you can decide what most interests you. Happy walking!
Have you tried walking tours? Are there any you’d recommend?