When you arrive in a new city it can be overwhelming; what sites do you visit? What meaning does that site have? What activities are there? Where do you eat?
From years of travel we have learnt one thing, take this task out of your hands! Most major cities have a walking tour on offer, we google “walking tour ‘location’” and many links will pop up. This can vary from global companies like SANDEMANs tours to companies that just focus on that city our country, like footprints tours, tour are normally offered in different languages too, so find what suits you best.
Most tours you do not need to book, you just need to know the location and time, and its safe to say they are normally around 11am or 2pm for 2-3hours.
On the tour they take you around famous and not so famous locations explaining the history and meaning behind these places. This gives you a layout of the city and things you may want to explore further, they can also recommend other locations to visit, things that are on and food you must try.
You will notice that they are free, what’s the catch? Well they work on a you pay what value you see model. At the end you tip, it’s best to have some cash handy for this, however lately we have noticed they have card machines however this means you will have to wait your turn to pay and they will see what you are tipping (compared to giving the cash as you shake hands and they slip this into their pocket. We normally pay around £10-£20 per person when we do a tour.
Are all tours built the same? Well no, some cities have more to offer than others, say in Germany, you can not compare a tour in Berlin to one in Hamburg.. Heads up the Hamburg tour was a tad boring.
The guide also makes a huge difference, in Brussels we had a theatre student and he made the tour very exciting and fun with the limited locations he had to show off.
Another way to focus your walking tour is to pick a tour that is set to a certain location or topic. In Berlin we did the standard free walking tour, a few days later we did a tour with the same company to a camp, this included getting the train from the city out.
If just walking isn’t your thing then spice this up with a walking food tour, we did this in Palermo, Sicily and it did not disappoint. We had treats and the market, in local shops and market stands while learning about the city we were in.
The key takeaway here is a walking tour will help set you up for exploring the new location you are in, the more you know the more you can appreciate the location you are in and the people that live there.