Every major European city will have free tours of the city that are fun and informative. The problem is that you probably don’t know about them. I didn’t even know about these tours until the first time that I stayed in a hostel.
Here, I’ll tell you how these tours work, why I like them, and how to find out about them.
How They Work
The tours work on a tip basis. This means that, at the end of the tour, you pay the tour guide what you think the tour was worth. You can give none, a little, or a lot. The tour really is free and you don’t have to give anything and you can leave at any time during the tour. In reality though, most people end up giving between 1 and 5 euros for the tour.
This type of tour is always a walking tour, so dress accordingly, can run anywhere from 1.5 – 3+ hours and will usually take you all over the city.
The tours are open to everyone and anyone and you just show up to the meeting point at the designated time and join the tour.
Why I Like Them
Because they are free! There is a slight catch of course (read above) but, honestly, if you don’t want to give any money to the tour operator or anyone else, you don’t have to.
You get a crash course on the history of the city, its most important land-marks, what everything means, what you should see and do in the city, and usually some cool hidden details, facts, or places to go in the city. Often times these tours are run by young locals who know what is going on and who can give you an insider’s look at the city. They are happy to answer your questions on any topic and will stay after the tour to show you where you should go to eat or where some bars are for the evening or they may even join you and some other people from the tour for lunch.
This is not a corporate environment (usually) and that’s what makes the tours so great. The tour guides are flexible and willing to help you out.
I always look for one of these tours when I get to a new city but, if you are not staying in a hostel, it can be difficult to find out where and when these tours take place.
How to Find out About These Tours
It can be difficult to find these tours but, if you stay in a hostel, the people at the front desk will know about any free tours in the city. At hotels and apartment stays though, they will most likely not know about these free walking tours. In that case, you will need to look for the tours on the internet. The best way to do this is to simply go to Google.com or Bing.com and type in “London free walking tour” and replace “London” with the city that you are visiting.
This search may not directly give you a link to a free walking tour site or information but it should lead you to the information either through travel forums or other posts on free tours in that city made by travelers. Sometimes the tours can be hard to find if you are not staying in a hostel but it will save you a lot of money compared to a tour for which you pay up-front.