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Free Europe Tours: is a free tour in Prague worth the cost?

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 25, 2008 in Travel Tips |

Angela leads a tour for FreePragueTours.eu. The company operates elsewhere.

Angela leads a tour for FreePragueTours.eu. The company operates elsewhere.

Today, Sean and I took a nearly three hour tour of Prague. It was a free tour. But can you afford to take one yourself?

To begin the tour, our kindly guide - a beautiful young woman of German extract named Angela who has lived in Prague for 10 years - told us that it is custom tip, somewhere between 150 and 200 korunas. The money goes to her pay, promotion and distribution of the Free Prague Tours, she said.

Sean and I each tipped Angela 150 koruna, nearly $8.

These tours - free, aside from tip - are in Munich and Berlin, Germany and Amsterdam in the Netherlands - perhaps elsewhere too. It gives you the chance to walk around these cities with a (relative) local and (supposed) expert, for somewhat minimal cost. But I don’t know if this is always the best way to do things.

Understand, many have raved about these particular tours and, of course, many more have great experiences with walking tours. Many hostels offer their own free tours.

It is a good opportunity to learn a bit about a city without much effort. To be truthful, unless you luck out with a great tour guide, you will get little more than what it is in your guide book. Indeed, you won’t get lost and it’s a great way to immediately learn a bit of navigation, but you will be directed to restaurants with which those guide companies have relationships and usually only the more apparent sights are found.

What is more distressing for me is that too often, guided tours of cities are too narrow-focused. Here is a building, this is when it was built and here is a funny anectdote about it.

I would much rather a broader sense. Here is a building, it was built at a time when this city was without an identity in a confused eastern European climate.

Yeah, but how are you supposed to do that during a whirlwind continental tour during which you make only short stays? Short of heavy reading, CouchSurfing, where you meet real locals and can get a sense from honest people about their own sense of identity in a place, is the best way to do this.

While I can get bored of typical walking tours, if you are to do them, understand their place. Do it early in your stay, ask questions, or at least use it for a better sense of navigation. Ignore the funny anecdotes - like peeing statues - and try to find each city’s personification.

There is no more useful souvenir than to be able to come away with a sentence or two about the mentality of a place you visit, if only for a few days. If a guided tour helps you do it, even an $8 free one, then go right ahead.

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1 Comment

MUKESH AGRAWAL
Jun 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I WANT TO GO EUROPE FREE OF COST


 

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