A European cruise is a wonderful vacation; in fact, it’s my favorite type of vacation! I have been taking a European cruise every spring for the past few years and recently returned from a Scandinavia / Russia cruise. I’m often asked the best way to see a city in the limited number of hours that a ship spends in port. Here’s what I do, which incidentally, also saves me some money!
While I’m planning my itinerary I always do an online search for “Free Walking Tour Put In City Name”. Something always comes up. The websites for these tours promise young, energetic, knowledgeable guides that love sharing their city with tourists. And that is exactly what I have experienced! In the past I have done some really amazing “free” walking tours of London, Madrid, and Barcelona. If you’re happy with the tour, and I always have been, I tip the guide. And although I feel I tip quite generously, the price is still less than what I would pay with a touring company.
If you’re only interested in snapping a bunch of “selfies” in a foreign city to prove you were there, a guide is not necessary Of course the results can lead to tons of meaningless pictures! To truly understand and appreciate the significance of the sites, memorials, buildings, statues and other visited places, there is nothing quite like having a local guide. They provide historic context, interpret the architecture, share stories of events and persons associated with each site, as well as throw in trivia and humor.
On my most recent European cruise I enjoyed “free” walking tours in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Amsterdam. Each one was wonderful. Those same companies offered additional tours for a small cost and I took of few of those also. So if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to tour a city on your next European cruise search for “free” walking tours. Reservations are not necessary. Just print out the meeting point and time before leaving home. Have a great cruise!