Our favorite walking tours in some of the biggest cities around the world.
There's no better way to explore a new city than on foot, where you can take in the sights, sounds, scents, and scenery first-hand. As avid pedestrians, we've collected our favorite walking tours in some of the most-visited cities around the globe. Whether you want the focus to be on history, art, food, or culture, we've got the tour for you.
Amsterdam's flat, compact, and lively streets make the city an ideal place to explore on foot. In fact, walking may be the best way to appreciate gorgeous 17th-century canals, leafy parks, and former industrial docklands. While you could download the Amsterdam Map and Walks app (free), why go it alone when you can get behind the scenes with a walking tour led by a local expert?
1. Hungry Birds Food Tour
Hungry Birds curates tours that allow you to sample the city's best street food in one afternoon—think Vlaamse frites (Belgian fries), spicy spring rolls, Dutch cheese, raw herring, home-baked cakes, and local beers. The tour can be tailored for vegetarians, and the price is all-inclusive ($78 per person).
2. Amsterdam Photo Safari
Give the selfie stick a rest and take some proper pictures with photographer Tim Collins on his photographic tour of the city. Tim knows Amsterdam's best and most original locations, from picture-perfect canal views to off-the-tourist-track, gritty urban landscapes. Chose from daytime or nighttime tours, and both novices and experienced photographers are welcome (from $23 per person).
3. AllTourNative Amsterdam Street Art and Alternative Amsterdam
AllTourNative Tours takes you to the relatively tourist-free zones that feature Amsterdam's most amazing graffiti and street art—not to mention funky independent galleries and shops (from $16 per person).
4. WWII and the Holocaust in Amsterdam
Learn about the traumatic period in Amsterdam's history with World War II experts Peter Schaapman and Ben de Jong. On the tour, you'll visit all the key locations, including a day trip to the site of the Battle of Arnhem ($28 per person).
5. Night Watch Walks
You've seen the The Night Watch in the Rijksmuseum—now explore the fascinating story behind Amsterdam's most famous artwork. Jacques Hendrikx, who has written a novel about the painting, takes you to the location where Rembrandt's masterpiece was painted, and recounts its journey over the years, as well as the life stories of the people featured in the painting ($28 per person).
6. Amsterdam Design Tour—What Makes it Dutch?
Over the course of the 20th century, Dutch design has become a world-coveted phenomenon. Find out more about the thinking behind it, and the people and places that have helped to make Amsterdam's reputation as a design capital—all while taking in the city's best design shops and sights ($170 per person).
Related: Best Walking Shoes for Women
Cape Town's beautiful city center—an easy-to-navigate grid brimming with historical monuments and quaint Victorian architecture—is in the throes of a revival. The streets have been cleaned up, hip new restaurants and boutiques keep opening, and a monthly art exhibition and cultural program is one of the city's star attractions. For those who want a closer look at all the vibrant city has to offer, read on for some of its best walking tours.
7. Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour
A collection of brightly painted homes at the foot of Signal Hill marks the start of the Bo-Kaap neighborhood, long home to South Africa's Cape Malay Muslim community. It's also where you'll find a distinctive culinary tradition that exists only here at the tip of South Africa: Cape Malay cuisine is a unique hybrid of Dutch, Asian, Indian, and African flavors. Sign up for a cooking tour with Cape Fusion Tours, where you'll walk through the neighborhood and learn about its history, followed by a cooking demo in a local home (you'll learn how to make bobotie or a traditional Cape Malay curry; inquire about price).
8. The City Walk
An initiative by the Cape Town Partnership, this monthly free city tour combines exploring with storytelling. Starting at the Company's Garden in the CBD—a historic plot set up in the 1600s by Cape Town's first Dutch settlers—the walk takes you along the pedestrian St. George's Mall, up to St. Andrew's Square, and beyond, taking in the best of Cape Town's art, history, music, and more. If you're in the city on the third Saturday of the month, don't miss it (free).
9. Culture Connect
Interested in immersing yourself in Cape Town's creative scene? Book a niche tour from Culture Connect—themes include the city's Art Deco architecture, a behind-the-scenes look at the Irma Stern Museum, and a gallery tour of Woodstock (inquire about price).
10. Bites and Sites
No visit to Cape Town is complete without a jaunt to the nearby Winelands. Hanli Fourie founded Bites & Sites to show visitors that there's much more to the oak-lined burg of Stellenbosch than world-class wines: join one of her cultural culinary tours through the 300-year-old town's historic center, or to the nearby Kayamandi township for a Xhosa lunch (inquire about price).
Not so keen on being herded around in a group, and prefer to explore the Mother City at your own pace? This GPS-driven app offers engaging audio tours all over the globe, but here's a fun fact: it's actually a homegrown business started last year in Cape Town. You can download VoiceMap before heading to Paris, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Hong Kong, and even far-flung destinations like Tunis or Ashtarak, Armenia, its offerings are strongest on its home turf. Choose from a maritime-themed walk along the Seapoint Promenade, a street-art tour of Woodstock, an offbeat route through the bohemian seaside suburb of Muizenberg, and more. Each of the intimate, local-guided narratives is prompted by your location, so you can walk as quickly or slowly as you'd like, with your guide in your ear (free).
Maui is full of such discoveries and little-known trivia, all of which you can learn when you take a walking tour on the island. Whether trailing through the bush to a hidden waterfall, eating your way through its top culinary spots, or tracing the path along Front Street in Lahaina, if you're looking to dig deeper on your vacation, these walking tours in Maui are the best ways to explore the island on foot.
12. Maui Nei Native Expeditions
There was once a time when the town of Lahaina was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and an inshore island called Moku'ula was the exclusive dominion of royalty. On a walking tour with Maui Nei, join a kumu, or local guide, on a two-hour tour of Lahaina, where he or she will regale you with the history of fascinating historical sights. Learn about Lahaina's numerous eras, from whaling, to missionaries, to plantations, and get updates on archeological digs taking place at Moku'ula. Later this year, the group will add a second tour, "Discover Old Hawai'i," which will involve everything from medicinal plants to learning how to pound poi, and will even give guests the chance to carve an authentic bamboo nose flute (from $22).
13. Hike Maui
While Maui hiking tours come and go as suddenly as a flash flood, the team at Hike Maui has remained synonymous with educational, outdoor adventure. Operating for more than 30 years, Hike Maui brings you to cascading falls located deep in the East Maui jungle, or helps you crunch across cinder-lined trails in Haleakala Crater. The guides are phenomenal sources of knowledge on history, mythology, and ecology—not to mention the local intel you can glean while exploring the forest (from $85 per person).
14. Local Tastes Of Maui
If there's one thing Maui locals do well, it's know how to hunt down good food, and these tours are designed to introduce you to dishes you might never taste otherwise. These two-hour walking and tasting tours explain how Maui's eclectic cuisine is steeped in its plantation past, and go into the history, legends, and lore of the island's buildings and towns. Tours begin at 9:30 a.m—so don't fill up on breakfast—and are offered in Makawao, Paia, Kihei, as well as downtown Lahaina. (Bonus: Portions of proceeds are directly donated to animal welfare on Maui; $45 per person).
15. Hawaii Tasting Tours
If you'd rather enjoy a tasting tour that includes wine, the "Lahaina Lights Dinner Tour" from Hawaii Tasting Tours is an evening that focuses on history, culture, and cuisine with wine accompanying each stop. Sit on the rooftop of Fleetwood's On Front Street—a restaurant by rocker Mick Fleetwood—and feast on food that's paired with wine from Mick's personal collection. Travel by foot to three other stops on a short walk along Front Street, and gain local insight into life in Lahaina before settling in for the next course ($179 per person).
16. Open Eye Tours
Finally, while all other Maui walking tours have scheduled itineraries and stops, Pono Friedman of Open Eye Tours can craft a private, custom tour on any subject you wish. In the past he's led groups that learn about everything from hula to sacred sites—with a special focus on Hawaiian culture, music, photography, and art (from $725 for two people, for six hours).
In Melbourne, the best walking tours bypass the city's best-known sights in favor of lesser-known, hidden, and secretive discoveries, from out-of-the-way boutiques to shadowy historical facts.
17. Hidden Secrets Lanes and Arcades Tour
Even locals gush about all you can learn on the Hidden Secrets Lanes and Arcades Tour, possibly the most well established of the city's walking tours. Visitors see all the nooks and crannies and history that the Central Business District has to offer, making stops at cafes and cool stores along the way ($70 per person).
18. Melbourne Street Art Tours
Run by the city's street artists, Melbourne Street Art Tours take you down laneways and alleys to show you the best graffiti, paste-ups and other types of street art in the city. Tours will go into galleries, too ($51 per person).
19. Aboriginal Heritage Walk
Starting with a traditional smoking ceremony, guests wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens to explore the ancestral lands of the Koolin nation, and dive into their rich and thriving culture on this walk. Along the way you'll learn traditional uses of plants for food, tools, and medicine ($22 per person).
20. I'm Free Walking Tours
Knowledgeable local guides lead guests on a tour of Melbourne's sights, with plenty of facts and interesting stories along the way. The I'm Free Walking Tours meet at the statue of Sir Redmond Barry in front of the State Library of Victoria (free).
21. Melbourne Literary Tours
Melbourne was named the second UNESCO City of Literature in 2008. A writer leads each MEL tour around the CBD, visiting some of the city's 70 bookstores and learning about the city's literary history ($37 per person).
22. True Secrets
True Secrets is an app with a self-guided tour of seven of Melbourne's best secrets re-enacted by professional actors, including an attempted assassination on the Beatles during a visit here decades ago ($9 per person).
Paris is the gastronomic capital of Europe, so it's no surprise that there's a cross-section of excellent walking tours focused on the city's culinary delights. These tours offer hungry travelers the perfect expedition while they're there.
23. Context Travel: Baguette to Bistro—Culinary Traditions of Paris
Burgeoning Francophiles will love the attractive carbs, alluring pork products, and full-bodied cheeses samples on this two-and-a-half-hour tour. The walk focuses on small, family-run shops on the Left Bank. The docents—sommeliers, food writers, and chefs—give great context to France's artisanal food chain, and how its carefully guarded production impacts the country's culinary heritage ($100 per person; book reservations here).
24. Paris by Mouth: Taste of The Marais
Anyone interested in gaining an appreciation of French gastronomy will love the tours from Paris By Mouth, a top website devoted to chronicling the local food and wine scene. It organizes small group culinary tours in several food-focused neighborhoods; their Marais tour visits small artisanal shops on Rue Charlot, and the food9 stalls of the historic Le Marche des Enfants Rouge, Paris's oldest covered market ($106 per person; book reservations here).
25. Chloe Chocolat
You'll visit Paris's top chocolate shops with Chloe Doutre-Roussel, a world-renowned expert who will transform your palate and appreciation for all things cacao, tasting insane bars, truffles, and specialty sweets from Patrick Roger, Pierre Hermé, Jean-Paul Hévin, and Pierre Marcolini ($112 per person for groups of four to eight; book reservations here).
—Amy Tara Koch
Consistently ranked as one of the country's most walkable cities, Philadelphia is ripe with colorful neighborhoods, great buildings, and cultural sites to explore. We've picked five of our favorites tours that give you the best Philadelphia has to offer.
26. Constitutional Walking Tour
First-time visitors to Philadelphia should beeline for the city's array of historic sites. On a 1.25-mile stroll, the Constitutional Walking Tour (from $19 per person) manages to capture more than 20 of the most important ones in American history. Major stops include Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Constitution Center, while lesser-known buildings, homes, and parks pad the educational experience. Carpenters' Hall, for example, is where the First Continental Congress met in 1774. Also on the itinerary: the cemetery where Ben Franklin is buried, the Betsy Ross House, and the first and second Banks of the United States.
27. Grim Philly Twilight Tours
It's adults only on the Grim Philly Twilight Tours (from $20 per person), where brave souls hear tales from Philly's dark past. Developed by a university professor, guides tell well-researched stories of serial killers, vampires, aphrodisiacs, ghost hunting, grave robbing, gangsters, and pirates. Each of their nine itineraries focuses on specific subjects and drinking tours are on offer. Walking is minimal on all, and includes opportunities for sitting.
28. Italian Market Immersion
Seemingly a world away from Philadelphia's colonial sites, the South Philly section has a rich history of its own. The Italian Market Immersion ($25 per person) explores this neighborhood through its food. Cheese, chocolate, spice, and olive oil stands abound at the famous outdoor market, which is open daily and is America's largest. Along the way, you'll hear stories from owners and employees at the shops and stalls. The tour ends at the intersection of Philly's two most famous cheesesteak shops, Pat's and Geno's.
29. Architectural Walking Tours with the Preservation Alliance
Philadelphia is home to a rich variety of architectural styles, including French Second Empire, Italian Renaissance, Art Deco, Late Victorian, Beaux Arts, Georgian, Federal and Greek Revival. Three days a week, the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia offers a robust line-up of walking tours—65 in total—of Philadelphia and its suburbs. These experiences are an ideal way to explore the many neighborhoods in and around Center City ($15 per person).
30. Real Philadelphia Tour
Locals and insiders contributed to creating the itinerary on the Real Philadelphia Tour. In less than four-and-a-half hours, you'll walk a 5K with stops at City Hall, some of Philly's many murals, LOVE Park, the Avenue of the Arts, Chinatown, funky South Street, the Italian Market for lunch, the Reading Terminal Market, and Magic Gardens—a world of mosaic tile and recycled items occupying half a city block. The tour is pay-what-you-wish and reservations are required.
Portlanders like to walk—whether it's on city streets or in the woods of Forest Park, whether it's sunny and 75 degrees, or gray and drizzly. Below, our favorite of the city's walking tours, which offer the best of everything:
31. Underground Portland
In just one mile of trekking, the Portland Walking Tours underground tour (from $17 per person) promises to cover "all the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things from Portland's past," and it delivers. You'll spend 75 percent of the tour above ground in the Old Town/Chinatown areas, learning about the history of the city's booze-smuggling, gambling, and "Shanghai-ing," where drunks were supposedly smuggled out of the city through underground tunnels to be sold into work on ships. The coolest park of the tour, though, is when you're handed a flashlight and get to walk under the historic Merchant Hotel in an area that once led to the legendary "Shanghai Tunnels."
32. Division Street's Eateries
Division Street is best eating street in all of Portland, so start your walk hungry (note: this tour is free and self-guided). It's stretch in the hip Southeast area is densely packed with food stops from 26th to 39th, including everything from casual, cheap eats (one of the city's best food truck pods) to finer dining (Ava Gene's, arguably one of the best meals in town). Some snack stops that are not to be missed: the Kati roll from Bollywood Theater is wrapped for an easy walk n' chew, Salt & Straw for a scoop of non-traditionally flavored ice cream, the Smaaken food truck for a waffle sandwich, or Roman Candle Baking Co. for a $5 slice of thick, square-cut pizza Bianca. Plus, you can stray to any of the cross streets to check out beautiful, 1900s-era Craftsman homes.
33. Mississippi Arts District
This restored historic area is now dotted with hip shops, galleries, and restaurants (note: this tour is free and self-guided). Pop into Land Gallery to see their current exhibit (previous ones include valentines inspired by the Talking Heads), then flip through cards and art prints in their shop. Check out Black Wagon, the coolest kids' store, for artsy books, slingshots, and tiny Vans. Stop for a craft cocktail at Interurban, a cool two-story bar with a great back patio, then finish with lunch or dinner of tacos and agua fresca at Por Que No Taqueria—there's always a line, but it moves quickly.
—Sarah Z. Wexler
San Francisco's best walking tours don't go to predictable landmarks like Coit Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge—instead they take you to the neighborhoods, parks, and alleys where the city's most fascinating stories take place. Similarly, many of the city's best guides aren't recognizable in uniformed red windbreakers and nametags: they're locals with a yarn to spin. After all, to understand a city as unconventional as San Francisco, you must walk the paths of its nonconformist residents.
34. San Francisco City Guides
San Francisco City Guides has been divulging San Francisco's secrets since 1978. Their tours are rooted in history for a beneath-the-surface foray into the city, led by more than 200 donation-based guides. Walk the destructive path of the 1906 earthquake, see the city through the eyes of Alfred Hitchcock, or learn about downtown's architecture inspired by the Jazz Age of the 1930s (free).
35. Wild SF
Wild SF (pictured) leads city seekers away from the tourist traps and into the cultural folds of the city. Artist, musician, and activist guides tell stories with an eye toward San Francisco's historic movements, independent business owners, and legendary rabble-rousers (from $18 per person).
36. Forage SF
Stray from the concrete sidewalks for a walking tour that traverses dirt paths on Forage SF's naturalist-led ("Feral Kevin") foraging tour. Learn about San Francisco's edible wild foods, some of which appear on restaurant menus, like miner's lettuce, as well in medicinal plants along urban trails ($40 per person).
37. Tenderloin Walking Tours
Longtime neighborhood local Deleano Seymour offers an informative peek into San Francisco's underbelly with donation-based tours of the Tenderloin district. Seymour has a reputation for enlightening people about the complicated history and subtle nuances of this often misunderstood neighborhood during his Tenderloin Walking Tours (inquire about price).
As the country's tech capital, it's of little surprise that one of San Francisco's best walking tours is an app. Created by a Groupon founder earlier this year, Detour is an audio app that tells compelling stories about the city based on your GPS location (free).
One of the best features of Washington, D.C., is its walkability. Not only are many of its major sites and attractions grouped together on the National Mall, but the city is a series of true neighborhoods knitted together, easily traversed by foot. Whether they skew historic or cultural, food- or monument-centric, here's a look at some of the best walking tours the city has to offer.
39. D.C. By Foot
There's a walking tour for nearly every subject at D.C. By Foot. Better yet, they're all free, or pay-what-you-can. The group works with independent, licensed guides who offer walking tours across the city featuring themes from major tourist attractions, like the National Mall and Tidal Basin, Arlington Cemetery, and Capitol Hill, or dig a little deeper into the city's history and culture, with tours that track the Lincoln assassination, the ghosts of Georgetown, the secrets and scandals of the nation's capital, and the U Street neighborhood's heydey as the "Black Broadway." They've also got food-centric—mostly specifically focused on dessert—walking tours based in Georgetown and Capitol Hill.
40. Cultural Tourism D.C.'s Neighborhood Heritage Trails
If you're more of a self-starter when it comes to touring a new city, consider Cultural Tourism D.C.'s neighborhood heritage trails (free). Since 2001, the organization has been establishing walking trails throughout the city's many neighborhoods, allowing residents and visitors alike a self-guided, deeper look into the heart of the city, as opposed to the monuments and government buildings downtown. Follow the signs around each neighborhood to learn more about what it was once like to live there and how it has come to be what it is now. Hear about the immigrant experience in Adams Morgan, explore D.C.'s Civil War history at Fort Stevens in Brightwood, or follow the city's transition from civil war to civil rights on a tour of downtown.
Before you go on any tours, though, check the Cultural Tourism D.C. website for intel on where to pick up tour pamphlets—there's even a mobile app for the downtown and greater U Street heritage trails.
41. National Park Service Ranger Tours
You can hardly find a more knowledgeable tour guide than a National Park Service ranger. Stationed at all the major monuments and memorials downtown, park rangers are available not only to give talks at each of the individual sites, but they also conduct free guided walking tours of the National Mall and Memorial Parks—both during the day and in the evenings.
Rangers customize their own tours, but plan on seeing most of the major memorials. During cherry blossom season, there are extra tours available of the memorials and the Tidal Basin. Check the National Park Service website for dates and times, as they can vary seasonally.
42. D.C. Metro Food Tours
For those who prefer the classic technique of learning about a city's culture by eating all of its food, D.C. Metro Food Tours (from $52 per person) is a solid place to start for a guided tour of Washington's restaurant scene. These tours are on foot, too, to help you work off the calories you'll be consuming at the four or five restaurants you'll be stopping at for small bites along the way.
Itineraries are primarily divided by neighborhood, including Georgetown, Capitol Hill, U Street, Dupont Circle, and Adams Morgan. There's also a tour that focuses on all the excellent Ethiopian food that Washington boasts, as well as a tour of the culinary offerings at Eastern Market. Restaurants included in each can vary (and be hit or miss) but do give a unique perspective on the city's heritage through its culinary traditions.
43. Washington Walks
You don't need any reservations to get on a tour with Washington Walks ($20 per person). This company has been leading tours of the city since 1999, exploring the architecture and high society of Embassy Row, the fashion and Kennedy-related history of Georgetown, and the haunted history of Lafayette Park, just across from the White House.
Washington Walks also offers special tours during cherry blossom season, a selection of routes to tour the memorials by moonlight, and weekend morning tours through a rotation of neighborhoods including Bloomingdale, Foggy Bottom, and Woodley Park and the National Cathedral. All tours last about two hours; check the website for details about where to meet your tour or to sign up in advance if you prefer.