Lost in a New City? A Walking Tour Can Help!

While you’re out there traveling the world, there is no better or quicker way to get yourself oriented in a new city than a walking tour. As luck would have it, these tours are gaining popularity, and many big cities are starting to offer free walking tours. These guided tours will provide you with a few hours of entertainment and information, as well as the opportunity to meet new people and learn the ropes in a new place. These tours are tip-based, so typically the guides are entertaining and full of information and stories of the city, ready to provide a laugh or answer your questions in order to earn a tip at the end. By the time the tour is over, you will know the lay of the land and will probably have a smile on your face and a new friend at your side.

My first experience with a free walking tour was in Sydney, Australia. I had never even heard of such a thing, but I was immediately intrigued when a friend of my local host suggested it. I utilized my trusty pal, Google, to find the details about a time and meeting place, and the next day I set off, unsure of what to expect. The tour met in the morning, and over the course of the next few hours I made my way all over the city, laughing and learning along the way. By the time the tour ended, I not only had a great overview of the large city, but I had also ended up meeting a new travel partner as well. To the delight of many, the local walking guide was branching out with his business and was starting a pub crawl tour too, so that night many people of the tour reconvened for a chance to be led from one cool bar to another to experience the city’s nightlife.

Sydney free walking “Peek Tours” guide explaining that people often touch the snout of the statue for luck, and his other area to “get lucky”.

After having such a fantastic experience with my first free walking tour I decided to keep this method of exploration in mind as I set out to travel the world. While traveling through Central and Eastern Europe I came across multiple free walking tours in Budapest, Bratislava, Prague and Ljubljana. Budapest was heavily into the free walking tour scene, offering a General City walking tour, as well as more specific walking tours to cover the Jewish Quarter, and Communist times, and each night a local guide hosted the ever-popular walking tour of the Ruin Bars. In my short time there I participated in nearly every one of the tours and learned a lot of useful information along the way. Each day I made new acquaintances and oftentimes we would continue to explore the city together long after the tour ended.

When traveling alone and on a budget, there is no question that a free walking tour will be a useful tool to help you maximize the enjoyment of your time in a foreign city. My advice would be to research and see if the city you are going to offers a free walking tour, and if so, get started your first day there! Tours are typically held in the mid-morning and early-afternoon. By checking out a free walking tour you have nothing to lose, but the amount of information, entertainment, and friendships you may gain are priceless.

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