Top 10 Special City Tours
Are you looking to avoid traditional guided tours when hitting the city? No problem – there are plenty of city tours that offer a more specific, thought-provoking angle to your trip. Be it walking tours with a specialist twist, following ancient footsteps by night, or pub crawls with a difference, we’ve gathered together a few truly inspiring ways to explore some of the world’s most visited cities:
Silver Cane Tours – Takes you through the streets of London where famous names such as James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, penned the lines ‘Shaken, not stirred’ in London’s exclusive Mayfair. You’ll also find London street connections with other heroes like Oscar Wilde, John Lennon, Gandhi, Churchill and Emmeline Pankhurst. Award winning Blue Badge tourist guide, Simon Rodway takes you on a movie location tour or a simple stroll to investigate things the guides books won’t tell you about a London district.
Highgate Cemetery tour – One of London’s great Victorian cemeteries, Highgate Cemetery is overgrown, atmospheric and beautiful. It is famous as the burial ground of the likes of Karl Marx, George Eliot and Michael Faraday and holds the graves of some 170,000 people, including 300 war graves, mostly from the First World War. You can visit the East Cemetery daily (where Karl Marx lies) while the West Cemetery is accessible by guided tour only when you can witness the cemetery’s stunning architectural relics like the Egyptian Avenue, terrace catacombs and Julius Beer mausoleum.
Original Berlin Tours (OBT) – Provides free walking tours to see the city’s main highlights and historic sites. But if you are after a more unique view of Berlin, their Alternative Tour will take you to see street art and give you tips on where to find live music, as well as give you a peak at squats and community projects which are slightly off the beaten track. Night tours take you to enjoy live music or on pub crawls at New Year’s Eve or Halloween. Day tours also include visits to the Berlin concentration camp memorial, street art workshops as well as bike trips.
Viator – Recommends following ancient footsteps by night in Rome. A romantic way to escape the city’s scorching heat and tourist crowds, the tour enables you to choose from a full range of nocturnal, floodlit tours, including one of the Colosseum which is normally closed at night; that is, unless you are on an after-dark tour. The Pope’s serene Vatican Gardens are only accessible with a guided tour so to see both the museums and the historic gardens by moonlight, a tour is the only way. You’ll have 90 minutes exploring the exclusive gardens, followed by three hours at the Vatican Museums, all with the assistance of a local guide.
Tour Rome in a Vintage Fiat 500 – What better way to see Rome than as a passenger in a Vintage Fiat 500 or Cinquecento! Let your English speaking driver negotiate the busy streets of Rome and relax as he/she tells you all about the sites and entertains you with interesting stories as you drive by. Tour itineraries include the Grand Tour, Night Tour or Tour of the Hills. The Fiat 500 is a stylish Italian icon, featured in many famous films of Italian Neo-realism.
New York City
Big Onion Walking Tours – Is an award-winning tour company providing guides of numerous districts throughout New York to explore its diversity and unique charms off the well beaten tourist track. Graduate student guides lead tours that are comprehensive and thought-provoking so there’ll be no need to get out your guide book. Featured tours include Greenwhich Village; the “Official” gangs of New York; historic Lower Manhattan; “Satan’s Seat” New York during the Prohibition; and the original multi-ethnic eating tour.
Chinatown Shop and Cook – Chinatown can often seem like a maze of dumpling shops, noodle houses and karaoke bars and, to the uninitiated, it may be difficult to choose where is best to buy your produce. So why not let a local expert lead the way? Abigail Hitchcock of Camaje Bistro in Greenwich Village is completely familiar with the best markets in Chinatown and enjoys leading small groups through the winding streets to find exactly the right ingredients for an afternoon French-American bistro feast. Join the five-hour class and you will learn where to shop for fresh fish, herbs and other ingredients before returning to the Bistro for a hands-on cookery class. After a delicious meal, you’ll leave with plenty of recipes and ideas to expand your cooking repertoire when you get back home.
Free Tours by Foot – Provides a wide range of cultural tours, walking by day or night. All guides come free of charge but you are free to tip them at the end, in accordance with your budget. The choice is varied and interesting: you could choose to explore America’s first suburbs at Brooklyn Heights; or go down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass – once industrialised, now ultra-chic. You could admire street art at Williamburg Street, explore SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown or tour around the World Trade Center and 911 Memorial.
Historical Tours – With the help of Trinity College history graduates, these tours guide you through Dublin’s development through times of war, famine and conflicts. Architectural tours are also available as well as historical running tours for all abilities.
Dublin Literary Pub Crawl – Takes you weaving between pubs that once hosted great writers such as James Joyce, Brendan Behan, Samuel Beckett and WB Yeats while passing important literary sites like Trinity College, where Oscar Wilde once studied. But don’t worry: the focus is firmly on the drinking holes from where so much creativity flowed. You’ll get the chance to raise a glass in their memory on the way while being entertained by readings, music and song, bringing personality and Irish warmth to your pub crawl.
For literary buffs, Lonely Planet provides plenty of literary walking tour ideas all over the world.