Most people ask me before I travel, will I be joining a tour group? Personally, I don’t mesh well with tour groups or things with a strict itinerary. A lot of people do enjoy tour groups because it requires less work and research. However, when I travel, I’m much more of a “go with the flow” type of person. I enjoy getting the freedom to choose depending on what I feel like that day. There are a lot of days, that I’m exhausted from traveling, so I’ll take a rest day, do laundry, cook, and more. But on actual days where I tour the city, I like that I get to choose what I want to see, when I get to eat, and how long I want to stay at an attraction. Which is a really difficult thing to do when you are on a tour since they have to stick to a strict schedule. If you want to see a brief summary of the pros and cons of tour groups, click here.
But, I have found a great alternative to tour the city, gain knowledge, and see the best sites the city has to offer — day tours. Day tours usually last about 2-3 hours and they show you the best parts of the city. Surprisingly, many of the ones in Europe are actually free. At the end, you tip your tour guide based on their performance and essentially, how much you would pay for the tour, if you did have to pay.
I first tried it out in Brugge, Belgium because I noticed after a day, I didn’t know what else to do since it is a fortress. However, I managed to come across a free day tour offered in English and in Spanish in Brugge. In the case for the Brugge day tour, I had to show up in front of the Belfry Tower by a certain time and find the people with the red umbrellas. No reservations needed, just show up and you can join the tour. It’s also really nice that if you realize it’s boring halfway through, you can sneak out and do your own thing. Many cities around Europe offer these types of tours like Brussels, Cologne, Dublin, Prague, Vienna, and more.
These are the three that I used while traveling in Europe.
- Legends of Bruges Free Walking Tour (Brugge, Belgium)
- Wild Atlantic Way Day Tour–Cliffs of Moher (Ireland) **
- Wicklow Mountains & Glendalough Tour–Ireland **
Visit these sites to find some tours that will fit best for you and where you are visiting or simply look them up online.