A free walking tour, why?
There are different moments in which you can decide to visit a city. For example when you are planning a day trip, but also during a weekend trip or a longer holiday. The fact remains that we only really seem to be interested in the history and culture of a city when we cross the borders of our own countries. In our own country we tend to think that we already possess all information about a city because we live in or around this city. But you can discover much more than you think about all cities, including those in your own country. Even about the city in which you live. Of course this does not exclude a visit to the foreign cities.
When you visit a city you can choose different ways to move through it. The most common way to move around a city as a tourist is probably the well-known hop-on hop-off bus. We all know them, those buses packed with sad tourists that rest their cameras on their laps while the bus rushes by all kinds of sights. With the goals for them all to collect enough photos that can be viewed at home. Depending on the city, you can also experience the same ritual from the water, while sitting in a tour boat.
A third option is the bicycle. The bicycle is a much friendlier option, because it gives you much more freedom. It gives you the opportunity to stop wherever you want and determine your own route. In addition, you determine the pace and it is also sporty! It’s great, but the absolute favourite is walking through the city, preferably with a ‘free walking tour’. Discovering the city by foot. In this blog I will tell you exactly why.
What is a free walking tour?
It is highly recommended to take part in a \’free walking tour\’ the next time you visit a city. This concept is now gaining popularity all over the world. These types of tours are exactly like the name already describes A free walk through the city. Participants of the tour give a voluntary contribution to the guide who accompanies them during the tour. So a contribution is completely voluntary, but as you can imagine everyone gives something at the end of the tour.
Free walking tours are always scheduled and start at one or more times during the day. The tour can cover the entire city, cover a theme or take you around a part of the city. The latter usually happens in larger cities where you cannot walk through the entire city in about two hours. These free tours are relatively new compared to the traditional walking tours and have some great advantages:
Walking is (free)
There are some misconceptions about the concept of free walking tours. The biggest of them all is that they are “free”. These tours are not free, they are tip-based. They are based on a very positive view on humanity. They trust you to value the service with the reward you think it is worth. You decide what the tour is worth or what you can afford, if anything. This means that the value-for-money ratio is determined by yourself. Without the risk of being ‘ripped-off’ or feeling like you didn’t get your money’s worth.
The word free is not meant too literally is this case. Free is meant to appeal attractive to budget-conscious travellers. Tourists that are not searching for the overpriced and commercial guided tours of the big tour operators. People in a search for something more authentic. For whom the word free does not mean worthless. Because the exact opposite is true. It is meant to be more authentic and real. It is meant to give you a truly valuable, worthwhile, and rewarding experience. Hosted by a citizen from the city itself.
It is a complete personal experience
In most cases the tour guides of a free walking tour are independent, freelance tour guides. They are citizens of the city itself and thus can give you more than a story alone and they are able to give you a city experience by telling you stories from a real personal and local perspective. In short, they will give you a tour wherein they show you their city. The experience tends to be coloured by the guide themselves rather than just relying on a standardised ‘tour’ or ‘script’. This all makes these tours more authentic and a rewarding impression of a place and people, history, and culture.
Besides this they are very motivated, they themselves are eager to get to know the people in the group and are very passionate. Usually these tour guides are young people who are attracted by the fact that they can be self-employed with a lot of flexibility. They work in collectives or are facilitated by a free tour organisation who is actively promoting the free walking tour concept. Long story short, a free walking tour is a unique experience and always worth the try.
Walking has the perfect pace
A tour by bus through a city can show you a lot of sights in a short period of time. Cycling in a city can give you freedom and flexibility. Walking gives it all to you. Why? Because the pace is just right. You don’t rush by all the sights and are able to stop almost everywhere you want. It gives you the time to take a picture here and there and most important you feel free in your movements. Ok, it is nice to keep up with the group but that will not make you rush. And all the sights that you have seen during the tour are easy to pass by again by foot after the tour. Extra benefit? Walking makes you remember where you are and gives you the feeling you get to know the city for real.
Convinced to take a free walking tour next time you visit a city? Check FreeTour.com to see which tours are available. Or just Google the terms to check out the local organisations.