The Ultimate Guide to Free Walking Tours

Free walking Tours are one of the best ways to get the “lay of the land,” find out all of the best places to visit, get recommendations and learn about the history of the city.

However, there are few things to know about free walking tours, what they are, are they really free and where do you find these walking tours?

What are walking tours?

Free walking Tour in Amsterdam
The sites of Amsterdam on a free walking tour

Walking tours are exactly that. Tours, where you walk. Most walking tours last two or three hours and take you around the main areas of the city, whilst explaining the history and any main events of the past and also the present.

Walking tours are usually run by locals (or very informed expats) and are accessible for all ages and fitness levels. Tours typically depart at 10 am from the main square, and the tour is repeated again at 3 pm. Of course this can vary city to city so make sure you double check.

READ MORE: TOP THINGS TO DO IN PARIS

What are free walking tours?

Free walking tour in Munich
Free walking tour in Munich

Free walking tours, are offered in many cities around the world and through many different companies. The main type of walking tour, is a city tour. Your guide will take you passed most of the main sites and explain the history of the city.

There are other variations of the free walking tour depending on the country or city you are in. For example, in London you can take a free Harry Potter walking tour and in Budapest there is free communist walking tour.

Free walking tours are offered in several different languages and are run by locals (often university students). Even though, the tours are free, they are run through a company, and the guides have a strict training process they must go through to ensure they are providing you with the best information possible.

READ MORE: TRAVELLING EUROPE ON A BUDGET

But, are the free walking tours really free?

Free walking tours are marketed as exactly that, free tours. However, guides are not paid through the company to lead these tours. It is customary that people tip their guides. So technically, they are not free. They are called free walking tours because there is no set price for the tour. For this reason, it is entirely up to you how much you choose to tip your guide. In Europe, as a guide, 5 – 10€ per person is acceptable. However, this is entirely up to you.

Heineken's to end the walking tour
The best way to end a free walking tour in Amsterdam

If you cannot afford to tip, it is polite to speak to your guide during the tour and not just run off before the end of the tour.

Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Most walking tours have paid options which will be advertised during your free walking tour. If you speak to your guide during the free tour, they will most likely have a discount code you can use.

Some of the paid options are tours such as; the Red Light District in Amsterdam, Pub Crawls, Ghost Tours etc.

Before you book a paid tour, just double check that there is not another company that offers something similar for free (or tip based!)

Where do you find these tours?

The Wishing Bell, Warsaw

Most hostels will either have their own free tours or a lot of information about the free walking tours.

Otherwise, you can find information from the local tourist information center or on Google. You can simply type into; Google ‘free walking tour’ + [the city you are looking for the free walking tour]. For example: free walking tour Paris.

Making the most of your tour

You can just turn up to the meeting place but I recommend booking online. In some cities, especially smaller cities, they do have a limit to the number of people so book online or turn up early.

Arrive early to make sure you don’t get left behind or end up in the wrong group, you don’t want to be in the Spanish group if you don’t understand a word of Spanish

I suggest doing your walking tour on the first morning (or day) in a new city. You get your bearings as you get a rough overview of the city layout and find the places you would like to back during your visit.

Gnome in Wroclaw
Holding up the tour to check out the day’s photos

Walking tours can be a fantastic way to get to know new people. If you are travelling by yourself (or even if you’re not) take this opportunity to chat to other travellers. You will be together for three hours so you may as well get to know each other!

Talk to your guide! They are all very knowledgeable people and are a wealth of information. They are also a fantastic resource for local recommendations, so if you want a recommendation of other places to see, neighbouring towns or cities, or food recommendations ask!!

READ MORE: EXPERIENCES YOU MUST HAVE EVERY TIME YOU TRAVEL

Recommended companies

A stop on the Edinburgh free walking tour
One of the most famous places in Edinburgh – The Edinburgh Castle

With any tour you do, I suggest you do some research and read some reviews before you go (although, at the end of the day it is a free tour so as long as you’re safe you don’t have anything to lose!)

Here are some companies that I have used:

Strawberry Tours
Sandermans New Europe
Free Tours by Foot

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Have you had any funny experiences or found any hidden gems on a walking tour? Comment below

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9 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Free Walking Tours”

  1. I have done many free tours during my travels! I do them to learn about the area as like you said, they often led by locals so I feel the information is more authentic. I always always tip!

    Reply
    • I am the same! I have even done a free walking tour in my home town, that was very interesting 🙂

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    • I liked our walking tour in Amsterdam, did you do the Red Light District tour? I’m glad we went to the Red Light district with the walking tour, our guide was amazing!

      Reply
  2. We love taking free walking tours. They’re informal and very informative. In fact, we have often been the only ones on the tour on some occasions which has allowed us to learn even more about the country/city we are visiting from the guide.

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    • It would be awesome to be the only group on a walking tour! You could ask the questions you wanted!!

      Reply
  3. Great tips for walking tour newbies. I even like the idea of walking tour in my own town. I live near Los Angeles and I’m sure they have great walking tours where I’d learn a lot more than just driving around in traffic lol

    Reply
    • Strawberry tours and freetoursbyfoot have free walking tours in Los Angeles! You should check these out. I loved doing our free walking tours in our home town!

      Reply

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