Visiting a new city can carry a bunch of different emotions along with it: excitement, anxiety, anticipation, frustration… just to name a few. Recently, I have discovered a great way to combat some of the more negative emotions while enabling myself to relish in the more positive ones.
Free Walking Tours
Free walking tours aren’t actually free, they’re tip based. I have paid anywhere from $5 – $30 for these tours depending on their length/number of people/knowledge of the guide. I have found on the handful of ‘free’ walking tours that I have gone on, that the ‘free’ tours are often even better than paid tours… why? Because they only make money if the tours are good!
So far, I haven’t been on that many, but it is now something I have started seeking out in cities that are unfamiliar to me. Here’s a bit about the Free Walking Tours I have gone on so far.
This was the first free walking tour I went on. I found out about it through the hostel I was staying at. Despite the weather not being great that day, I still really enjoyed the walking tour, and it clearly kick-started something since I now look for free walking tours as I travel.
My favorite thing about this tour: in Slovenia it is common to buy unpasteurized milk. I love milk, but had never tried the unpasteurized variety before. More than that, there are actually milk vending machines in a few places in the town!
I visited Copenhagen immediately after Ljubljana, so I was definitely still on a free walking tour kick. Copenhagen is a much larger city that Ljubljana, and the free walking tour company actually offers two different tours: the Copenhagen Free Walking Tour and the Christianshavn Free Walking Tour. I wasn’t in Copenhagen for long, so I only had time to do one as it is not possible to do both in the same day. I choose the Christianshavn Free Walking Tour.
My favorite thing about this tour: visiting the famous free town of Christiania where pot shops basically line the streets. Occasionally the government will raid the area, as pot is not technically legal, but usually they just turn a blind eye on the free city.
The Cairo walking tour has probably been my favorite so far. Our guide was fantastic and filled us in on a lot of Egyptian history that I otherwise likely would have had no idea about. I think this tour was especially great because Cairo is such a sprawling and hectic city. It was great to have a local take us around and show us the sites and hidden food places we otherwise wouldn’t have found. You can read more about my visit to Cairo here.
My favorite thing about this tour: this is a tough one, but definitely seeing an ancient condom in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities was up there. Apparently, they were sometimes made out of animal innards, or cloth…. [yikes]. They were used when the stars/spirits, etc. were not in favorable conditions for a baby to be conceived.
Most larger, somewhat tourist-y cities seem to have these free walking tours, and I absolutely love them! I hope to go on quite a few more as my travels take me to more unfamiliar cities. Have you been on a great free walking tour?