THEMED WALKING TOURS
Come Along – A Must for Local Flavor and Entertainment
With cars and public transport these days, many of us do not walk where we want to go – sometimes we do not walk the street we live on! Walking about a city (or the countryside) gives you a unique perspective and appreciation for the passing scenery than one gets by driving, especially if you are the one behind the wheel of a rented car. For this reason, whenever you can, take a guided walking tour or two on your vacation. It gives you whole new appreciation of your destination.
Why a walking tour?
Walking tour guides are local, well-informed, trained and often licensed depending on local regulations. Sometimes they are even costumed for the full effect, especially on historical or ghost tours. Questions are entertained at some point during the tours for those that are curious. And the background stories are colorful, giving you little known but interesting facts you may not find easily elsewhere. All in all, the experience adds local flavor to your visit.
Be Prepared to get the Most Enjoyment from the Walk
Be prepared with walking gear as well as physical activity and the weather as some walks can be will over a mile long: wear comfortable shoes, layers of clothing, sunglasses and/or sun hat, rain gear if necessary, water bottle, and a camera. Some tours are known to go rain or shine, and older city areas may involve cobblestones and steep steps. Ask beforehand the guide’s proficiency in your language. Most will be offering English. There is nothing worse than not understanding what your guide is saying! Also determine the group size. Obviously, a small group of a dozen or less is preferable. Who wants to be at the back of a large crowd? Even with head phones?
Another point to check with any tour is the inclusions. If you are visiting special attractions such as a museum as part of your guided walking tour, find out if the admission is free or do you have to pay an additional fee at the door. Where so you meet or are you to be fetched from your hotel, etc? What is the local custom for gratuities? The guide could be expecting a tip.
Themed Walking Tours
Visit any major city world-wide and you will be spoiled for walking tours. For this article, we will be touching on three themes you often find addressed: history, food, and ghosts (or vampires or voodoo, depending where you are). Let’s concentrate on a few North American and European cities you might visit on an ocean or river cruise, and those walking tours of only a few hours in length.
Traditional Irish Coddle & an Ale (Image: Bigstock)
Caribbean: In Nassau, you can take a “Bites of Nassau” food and cultural walk that combines the best of food, culture and historical buildings on a 3+ hour tour. Eat conch fritters, rum cake and more – six tastings in all. The tour will accommodate food sensitivities provided advance notice is give. (Currently, May 2022, fee is $75 per adult.)
Paris: From cheese to chocolate, with 8 stops in the Montmarte district where Picasso and Van Gogh once lived, this tour is 3+ hours and runs Tuesdays to Saturdays. Bring your appetite!
Dublin: Not a culinary destination is your first thought, but for lots of fun – that’s Ireland! Hit a Walking Food Tour in Dublin for a great time. The tour is about 3+ hours, visits many surprise stops, and you purchase your own food so it’s great for those with special dietary restrictions. As beer may be involved with any Irish food tour, remember the legal drinking age of 18 in Ireland. Warning: great Irish music and frivolity may be involved in some tours too!
Wax figure of Ann Frank (Image: Pixabay)
These are a must for everyone, not just the history buffs, as what occurred in the past has resulted in the city (or country) where you visit today. Knowledge of that history enriches your experience.
Amsterdam: A more recent event, in terms of this city’s history, forms the basis of a WW2 and Holocaust walking tour. There are many such available and you can even book a private or personalized tour, if you prefer. There’s much to see with numerous monuments and museums such as the National Holocaust Museum and the Ann Frank House.
Edinburgh: There are many themed historical walks to choose from in this capital city of Scotland. You can even take an Outlander walking tour with references to the story of Jamie and Claire. Visit Tolbooth Jail, World’s End Tavern and more.
Athens: Probably one of the more popular walking tours in Athens is that of the Acropolis. Depending on what other sites are visited, this can be a long one- up to five hours if you opt for the Acropolis, City Tour & Acropolis Museum.
Mauseleum in New Orleans, perfect for a ghost or vampire (Image: Bigstock)
This is a personal favorite theme walk of the author. Part historical, part great acting of the guide, these tours are entertaining and informative.
Halifax: In an older city that suffered much devastation and loss of life due to the largest explosion of its time, Halifax, Nova Scotia is certain to have its fair share of ghosts and ghost stories. It is a port of call on the majority if not all, Canada/New England cruises; however, if you want to experience a ghost walk, ensure you are in port in the evening hours.
New Orleans: Shivers! Voodoo, vampires and ghosts! Tour the French Quarter for two hours if you dare at $28 pp. This walk also includes a visit to a haunted tavern – just in case you need liquid fortification!
London, England: As one of the supposedly most haunted cities in the world, a ghost walk has stiff competition with all the other attractions found here. But in case you have a free couple of hours at dusk, join Richard Jones, paranormal author extraordinaire, on his spine-tingling walk and talk through the ancient, forbidding streets. It’s a bargain in a pricey city.
Our standard word of advice in visiting a new city is taking the hop-on, hop-off bus tours when available to quickly orientate you to an unfamiliar setting, and to give you ideas of what to see and do, but nothing beats a walking tour to really absorb the local atmosphere. Take time to indulge in this activity on your next destination vacation.
Article updated in 2022. Covid-19 in all its variations has taken a toll on many walking tours previously mentioned. Those now in the article are currently still in operation. Check with your real travel expert to book your tour of choice if possible before leaving home. Walking tours referenced in this article are for examples only, please use your own judgement ( or that of your travel advisor) before booking.
For this year’s family trip, my dad thinks we’ll all enjoy if he hires a walking tour guide to bring us along a city to explore and know facts. This has prompted me to research about it and your article helped me learn about different themed walking tours. I really like what you stated about history tours because they help you understand how the city you are visiting now came to be because of what happened in the past.
My mother believes that hiring a historic walking tour guide to take us along on the family vacation this year will be fun for everyone. This inspired me to do some research, and your post gave me information on several themed walking tours. You made a great point about how history tours may help you comprehend how the place you are seeing now came to be as a result of past events.
Thanks for the comment. And for that great link to the scandalous tales tour in Manhatten – looks fabulous!
Real Travel Experts