Ever paid a big upfront fee for a disappointing walking tour? Free walking tours by local guides give you control over how much (or how little) you pay for your tour and let you base that on the quality of the experience.
The best way to see the details of a new city is by walking around and exploring. This is why walking tours have become so popular lately! On a walking tour, you can stroll through a city and learn about all the interesting and strange places from a local guide. While most walking tours charge a fee for joining, there are some that are free. Some don’t charge anything, while others suggest a tip for your guide in any amount you choose. For a glimpse of some free walking tours around the world, here are 10 great options. Are you visiting any of these cities this year?
1 This is My Athens
If you’re visiting the city of Athens, you can get a local volunteer guide to take you through the city. You don’t have to pay, tip, or offer any kind of remuneration for your tour through the city of Athens. Rather, these Athens locals are looking for cultural experiences, new friends, and a chance to show off their city. This Is My Athens matches visitors with locals who share their interests and can tailor the tour to match.
2 Global Greeter Network
This organization is similar to This is My Athens, except that it’s on a global scale. Wherever you’re traveling to, see if Global Greeter has a volunteer guide who can take you around! You can customize your trips based on your interests. What to learn about architecture? City parks? The best restaurants? Global Greeter guides can help! If you want to give back to the community, you can volunteer to be a guide in your own city.
3 Tours by Foot
This organization takes visitors through cities in Europe and America. This walking tour network has “free” in the title, but it’s expected that you’ll pay whatever you can afford and what you think the tour is worth. Even though it’s not technically free, it’s about as close as you can get in many cities. These tours often include fun elements in addition to information! There’s even a ghost tour.
4 New Europe Tours
If you’re in Berlin, you can get a free walking tour from New Europe Tours. There are several free tours every day, and there are various tours you can choose from. Heck, try them all, plus the fairly inexpensive paying tours that New Europe also offers! Although tips aren’t required, it is good form to tip your guide since they don’t get any other pay for their work.
5 Nielsen Tours
Cape Town, South Africa comes alive during the free walking tours offered by Nielsen Tours. All the tours offered by this company are an hour and half, and they cover four different routes. You can choose from the Historic Tour, the Bo-Kaap Tour, the District Six Tour, and the V&A Waterfront Tour. Learn about Cape Town from a South African local, all for the price of tips! This company also offers a similar tour in Johannesburg.
6 Free Walking Tours Barcelona
See Spain’s most stunning city (who are we kidding? All of Spain’s cities are stunning) by foot. Anglophones, Spanish speakers, and Italians can all enjoy tours of the Gothic Quarter of the city. Every day, you can join the Free Walking Tours Barcelona group at either 11 am or 2:30 pm. As with most other tours of its type, a local will take your group around for free and you can pay what you like at the end. On this tour, you can learn about Barcelona’s history as well as modern hotspots.
7 Tour Guys
Toronto’s quirkiest walking tour is also free! Although you are expected to tip your guide, the cost of gratuity is much less than you’d have to shell out for a paying tour. Tour Guys offer upbeat and friendly local guides who can take you around all the Toronto’s most famous places as well as its best-kept secrets. For an unusual tour, try the Graffiti Tour.
Iceland is gaining popularity as a destination. If you’re one of the many who has recently been captivated by this incredible country, you’ll almost certainly be headed to Reykjavik. Iceland is an expensive destination, so cut costs by spending a day taking a free walking tour from CityWalk. Although this company offers a handful of awesome paying tours as well, stick with the free history and culture walk while in the city. The guides for the free tour are Icelandic history majors and Reykjavik locals. Pay what you want at the end of the tour.
9 Be Free Tours
Take a trip to Bratislava, Slovakia to learn about the fascinating past and present of this beautiful city. This is one of the longest free tours you’ll find—it lasts for two and a half hours. Focused on solo travelers and small groups, Be Free Tours are conducted in English and don’t require a reservation. You’ll get the opportunity to learn about Slovakia’s culture and history in a way you never did in school.
10 Free Walking Tour Peru
This tour has been awarded TripAdivsor’s Certificate of Excellence for the last five years, and you’ll quickly see why. Like most “free” tours, this walking tour runs on tips. Unlike other tours, there is no need to book. You can simply show up. This is the perfect activity to do if you have a free afternoon while in Cusco, Lima, or any of Peru’s other major cities. On these tours, you can learn all about the city, from history to culture to the best unsung eateries. To top it off, the tour ends at a bar where you can sample Pisco sours and other Peruvian treats.
Free walking tours with local guides who know and love their city are a great way to get an insider’s view when you travel. No more gambling on an expensive tour of unknown quality. These tours of cities around the world let you pay what you want or tip for an outstanding experience, with no upfront base fees.