World's Greatest Tour Guides
From former actors to architect aficionados, the best tour guides from around the globe.
traveler Catherine Clark thought she’d figured out the perfect way to explore Athens, a notoriously difficult city to
navigate. She decided to take her hotel receptionist up on his offer to give
her a one-on-one tour of local hot spots. The receptionist showed up impeccably
dressed, holding a single red rose. Sure, he pointed out a few Greek Orthodox
churches, but within a half hour he was ordering orzo for two at a seafood
restaurant. This was not a tour. This was clearly a date.
one of the many reasons why finding the perfect tour guide is so important.
Clark may have scored a great meal, but Athens’s ancient and modern history,
architecture, and art—the inspiration for her trip—remained a mystery.
a truly great guide is akin to discovering a grandmother-owned restaurant on a
back road in Tuscany, or a secluded beach on the
French Riviera, far from bikini-clad throngs. It took some convincing to get our
global resources to open their little black books and divulge names and numbers.
But open them they did.
distinguishes a wonderful guide from the rest? For one thing, many of these
fantastic lecturers are as committed to their city subjects—art, architecture,
history, music—as they are to their tours.
at Brownell Travel, for example, put us in touch with Sinan Yalcin in Istanbul,
whose expertise made him an ideal choice to accompany First Lady Laura Bush during a visit to the city.
In Madrid, Mencia González-Barros may be
famous for her on-trend store Arquitectura Humana, but what many people don’t
realize is that she also hosts insider fashion trips.
also featured in the article “Walk This Way” (May 2011) by T+L editor-at-large Peter
Jon Lindberg, teaches art history at Temple University Rome and gives
small group tours of his beloved city. Guide Francis Morrone has published nine
books (with three more on the way) on New York’s architecture—and he’s the only
guide with private access to the Plaza Hotel.
their backgrounds are, these guides do have in common a sincere passion for
their hometowns, a healthy obsession quickly revealed through their committed
expertise, thoughtful insights, and commanding energy.
for our list of the world’s best tour guides.