The 3 Best Free (or nearly free) Tours

April 1, 2019

You don’t have to be rich to travel well.” Eugene Fodor

One day a friend asked me how my family could afford to take so many trips on what we made.  My response?  Because we’re cheap! 

Seriously, we’ve rarely allowed ourselves to fall into the vacation mentality of “We’re on vacation, who cares what it costs!”  Being choosy about how we spend our dollars while traveling has meant that we can take more vacations, more often and still enjoy ourselves. 

Wanna spend less while still seeing the sights?  Here are three of my favorite free (or nearly free) tours.

Free Walking Tours

Free walking tours are a great way to see a city with a guide without spending a fortune.  Tour groups are larger than you might experience on a more expensive tour but not so large that you feel like you are part of a herd. The guides tend to be very knowledgeable, energetic, and genuinely excited to share the history of the city you are touring. You are expected, and should, tip appropriately at the end of the tour but a generous tip is still far less than the average cost of a tour.  We’ve enjoyed free tours in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, and Dublin.

Paris

There are many operators offering free tours in major cities.  We have used Sandemans New Europe and found their tours to be excellent.

Plaza Mayor – Madrid

Take a Stroll With a Local

Can you imagine anything more Parisian?

One of the best tours we took while in Paris was with Paris Greeters. Georges, a local resident met up with us and spent a couple of hours walking us through his neighborhood of the Marais sharing the history of the area, local attractions, restaurants, and even the best bakery to pick up a loaf of bread!  Going fairly early in the day meant we had the normally bustling streets to ourselves. Seeing the city through the eyes of someone that lives there was such a personal way to see an area of the city we would have missed on our own.

Street Art in the Marais – Paris
One Planet, One Chance. Paradise is Here. LOVE THIS!

Public Transportation

Number 28 Tram in Lisbon – Enjoying the ride!

Public Transportation often offers an inexpensive; albeit not guided, tour. The ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island is free and features incredible views of the city from the water. You can also get some amazing pics of The Statue of Liberty as you sail past.

Tram – Lisbon, Portugal

The number 28 tram in Lisbon only costs a few Euros and is a fun way to see many of the historic areas of this beautiful city. The tram provides a roller coaster ride to its riders as it travels up and down hills and winds through the city’s narrow streets. If you are lucky enough to get a seat next to a window, not only will you get to enjoy the breeze but can literally reach out and touch buildings as you pass. It’s an experience not to be missed!

Look how close!

In France, taking the local bus from our cruise stop in Villefranche to Nice offered a scenic ride along the coastline for a couple of Euros.  And if you have kids, half the fun will be the adventure of getting on a train, bus, or boat. Check online to see if there is a local route that offers more than just a way to get from point A to B.  

I hope you will consider some of these options on your next adventure!

More about Candy Wafford

Candy Wafford is a US-based travel blogger and while she travels frequently for her job, she is happiest when traveling for pleasure. Preferably strolling along a cobblestoned street with an ice cream cone in her hand.

9 Comments
    1. I love the recommendation of going with a local! That’s something I never thought of but is such a great idea

    1. I miss the trams of Lisbon! It looks like you all have been some really fun places, and I love the ideas to save money to make even more travel possible. My husband and I also love to do things on the cheap so we can afford to go as many places as possible!

    1. I love travel & your ideas for doing things for less are for me!

    1. Wow such great ideas!! Looks like so many amazing adventures! We live in Turkey for a few years and had a baby in Germany and I miss it over there so much sometimes!

    1. Thank you for the great tips and lovely pictures. I am also a budget traveler and used London Walks last year. There is a small cost, I think 8 euros, and totally worth it. My group even got to see the Queen, thanks to the knowledge and forethought of our tour guide. Great advice. Thanks.

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