Do you know what we do whenever we visit a city with a lot of history and urban tourist attractions? We look for a Free Walking Tour. It is possible to find this type of tour in many tourist destinations, mainly in Europe, and it’s one of the best ways to start a trip without spending a lot. Have you heard about it?
What is a Walking Tour?
Walking Tour, as the name suggests, is a guided tour done by foot with a destination specialist, usually concentrated in a neighbourhood or region of the city and lasting between 1.5 to 4 hours. The tour usually starts at a meeting point near the main area to be explored. During the journey, the guide tells a lot of stories and share curiosities about the place.
The most common are tours through historic centres, but there are also themed tours about street-art, typical foods, local personalities, bars, etc.
These tours can be conventional walking tours, group or private, where you hire a guide and pay a fee per person or they can be Free Walking Tours – which is our favourite tour to do at the beginning of the trip.
How does a Free Walking Tour work? Is it really free?
The name Free Walking Tour can cause a little confusion. In this case, the best meaning of Free should be ‘without any contractual obligation to pay’. The Free Walking Tour is much more informal than a conventional Walking Tour: there is no need to book in advance (although advisable to secure your place in very popular destinations), there is no cancellation fee and there is also no fixed price.
Tour payment is based on tips. At the end of the tour, an individual contribution is expected based on what each person believes to be fair for the experience. A good reference on how much to tip is the equivalent of 5-15 € per person. The groups are usually large but not so much to be a nuisance, the ideal is to stay closer to the guide.
Read more: How to Plan an International Trip
What is the difference between a Free Walking Tour and a Conventional Walking Tour?
For the traveller, the differences are in the need for prior booking, the need to pay and the exclusivity of the tour. In addition, the Free Walking Tour is more general and introductory to the city. In fact, many companies that offer Free Walking Tours also offer other paid guided tours in a more immersive approach.
Is it worth taking a Free Walking Tour?
We love Free Walking Tours because …
- It is the best way to get used to and locate yourself in the city as you arrive;
- In a single tour, you can already learn about many tourist spots, which is great for those who have little time in the destination;
- Between one point and another, you can chat with the guide and get several tips for the rest of your trip;
- The guides really strive to pass on the best information, after all their tips depend on it;
- You will have access to information that you never imagined about the destination. The guides are true storytellers;
- No major planning is necessary on your part. On the previous day, go to the company’s website and make a reservation to receive the meeting point information, then you just need to arrive at the location 15 minutes before the scheduled time;
- It is a good way to meet people;
- It is without any obligation, if you don’t like it, you’re free to leave in the middle of the tour and continue exploring the surroundings on your own without having to spend any money.
How to find Free Walking Tours?
There are many companies offering this type of tour. It is good to do some research and choose consolidated companies. In Europe, we always do it with Sandemans. In other destinations, just search on Google or go to the Freetour platform.
The Tours follow a fixed schedule – always on the same day, time and place, just check out the company’s website. Pay attention to the language of the group, you can usually choose between English, Spanish or local language.