One of the best ways to explore a new city is on foot — and while it’s easy enough to wander around on your own, there’s nothing like having a savvy guide who can show you the secret local spots you might otherwise miss. That’s why we love these incredible city walking tours around the world, from a dessert-tasting excursion in Hong Kong to an artist-led tour of London’s graffiti and murals.
All of our picks are short walking tours (most are two to three hours) and have drawn rave reviews on TripAdvisor.
1. Alternative London
Go beyond Big Ben and Buckingham Palace on this two-hour walking tour through London‘s creative East End. Alternative London tours have a special focus on street art, with many guides who are artists themselves. “Our guide did a great job explaining the history of the area, individual street artists and why they do what they do,” says TripAdvisor member Houston27tx. “I liked it so much I went back early the next morning on my own to take more photos.” Visit AlternativeLdn.com.
2. Vancouver Photowalks
You won’t be disappointed with your travel photos after taking this two-hour tour around Vancouver, in which a photography pro will help you learn to better use your camera and snap more creative shots. You can choose among tours of various neighborhoods, including Gastown, Granville Island and Stanley Park. “I’ve been into photography for more than 10 years,” says TripAdvisor member German_Marin, “and despite reading books, doing courses and practicing on my own, I really felt that I learned something useful about my latest camera doing just one Photowalk.” Visit VancouverPhotowalks.ca.
3. Runner Bean Tours, Barcelona
Travelers rave about this family-owned company, which offers free and low-priced tours of Barcelona. Excursions last two to three hours and focus on everything from key Gaudi sites to Barcelona’s darker side (think medieval torture, the Spanish Inquisition and city legends). “It was amazing,” says IndependentTraveler.com Editor-at-Large Dori Saltzman. “The guide was fantastic, very knowledgeable. I learned so much about Barcelona in just a 20-block radius.” Visit RunnerBeanTours.com.
4. Reality Tours & Travel, India
What makes this company special is not just its eye-opening tours of Mumbai and Delhi, but also the fact that 80 percent of its profits support local communities. The most fascinating half-day tours offer an up-close look at government-owned slums, including lunch with a local family. “It was insightful and interesting, and completely changed my perception of life in the slums,” says TripAdvisor member BeckySmith2110. “The sense of community and productivity is overwhelming.” Visit RealityToursandTravel.com.
5. Marrakech Food Tours
Husband/wife team Youssef and Amanda invite visitors to taste “the food you’d find your Moroccan grandma (if you had one!) cooking.” During a three-hour walking tour through the souk, you’ll taste goodies like slow-cooked lamb, traditional salads, pastries and — of course! — that famous mint tea. “You may be able to sample foods in Morocco on your own,” says TripAdvisor member deedeelynn1, “but you will likely spend more money and time trying to find the stuff worth sampling than if you were to just sign up for this tour and be led right to the good stuff.” Visit MarrakechFoodTours.com.
6. Liuda Tours, Hong Kong
Liuda Tours offers five unique two- to three-hour walking tours around Hong Kong, including a gallery excursion perfect for art lovers and nighttime haunted tour. Got a sweet tooth? Don’t miss the dessert tour, about which TripAdvisor member Rick-and-Leah writes, “Definitely do not eat beforehand — there is so much amazing food on offer, you will leave very full!!” Visit Liuda.squarespace.com.
7. Melbourne by Foot
Melbourne by Foot offers two intriguing options for visitors to Melbourne. Learn about the city’s history, street art and cafe culture in the daily Cultural Walk, or quench your thirst with the Beer Lover’s Guide to Melbourne. (Each tour is about three hours.) TripAdvisor member Saro B raves about the cultural tour’s mix of “little-known historical facts, architectural gems, arty pitstops and a short break at a wonderful little cafe for a well-earned coffee!” Visit MelbournebyFoot.com.
8. Through Eternity Tours, Rome
You’re familiar with Rome‘s most famous landmarks, but did you know that there’s a hidden world under the surface of the Eternal City? Check it out on the 3.5-hour Underground Rome excursion from Through Eternity Tours, which explores relics and ruins beneath three historic churches. “We were able to go underground and see the remains of old churches, temples and apartment buildings,” says TripAdvisor member sdbrick. “It was fascinating to see what life was like 2,000 years ago.” Visit ThroughEternity.com.
9. Literary Experience, Buenos Aires
A professor of Latin American literature leads intimate three-hour walks through Buenos Aires focused on writers such as Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortazar. There’s also a fascinating Jewish tour. “This was the best tour we have taken,” says TripAdvisor member Michael S. “Lara has such deep knowledge and yet presents everything in a very accessible way. … Always the professor at heart, she had us stop at a cafe where we read and discussed two short stories relevant to the tour.” Visit LiteraryExperience.com.
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Editor’s Note:is published by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, Inc.