When you’re in a new city a tour is a great way to visit the must-sees and orient yourself to an unknown environment. But hiring guides or taking bus tours can get quite pricey. Here are three ways to tour for free in cities around the world.
Last year in the New Orleans Garden District, I was able to identify which home belonged to the Mannings of NFL fame versus John Goodman from Roseanne. My skill was not from being psychic or researching real estate records.
Instead I had printed a walking tour which listed 20 stops in this part of town along with pertinent background. My favorite source is Frommer’s which does include self-guided tours for many U.S. and foreign cities.
Google.com offers city tours. Just enter your starting location and a route will be created. Features include the ability to add or remove sights.
Audio tours are narrated city routes. There are lots of free offerings for European cities but you can find downloadable tours out there for most major American cities.
Some even offer iTunes downloads for your iPod or iPhone. Others are good for any MP3 player or smartphone. Speaking of which, there are free or low-cost apps featuring audio tours for many cities in the App store or Market.
No-cost guided walking tours are available all over North America and Europe. These can be sponsored by historical organizations, government agencies or just residents who want to share their city with visitors.
For example, the San Francisco city guides offer dozens of tours throughout the week ranging from the Ferry Building to the Golden Gate Bridge and just about everywhere else you’d want to go.
Citizens in other countries often serve as goodwill guides providing free tours. It gives them an opportunity to practice their English and meet new people. My understanding is that paying any meal or entrance fees for the goodwill guide is customary.
Taking advantage of these types of tours will leave you wallet fuller and leave you more knowledgeable than the alternatives.
Have you taken advantage of any of these types of tours? How do you tour cities at no to low cost?
Photo: Some rights reserved by Dylan Passmore