Walking tours can be one of the best ways to explore a new city, especially during your first week abroad. First, it gives you the chance to get your bearings, as you orient yourself around a new location. Secondly, it provides you with a tour guide who is usually a local. He or she can be a perfect resource for restaurants, shops, nightlife, or most questions you may have about your new city. Finally, you can often find walking tours according to your interests. Many cities, for example, offer architecture, historical, ghost, and food tours for tourists. Some older cities even offer unique underground sewer and street tours that are rare elsewhere.
If your program does not provide a walking tour, or if you are curious about what tours your city has to offer, visit a tourism office to get more information. If a certain tour looks interesting to you, be sure to do the following:
1. Call or have someone at the tourism office check its availability. While many walking tours can accommodate large groups, tours can often become full fast, especially if you are abroad during a high tourist season.
2. Check if the tour takes reservations. Some tours require that you reserve a spot online, while others simply require you to show up at a designated spot.
3. Be sure that you know how to get to the meeting spot for a tour, and give yourself enough time to get there, especially if you are unfamiliar with your city.
4. Bring comfortable walking shoes (especially if you are walking on cobblestone streets) and an umbrella.
5. Bring some cash on hand to tip your tour guide at the end of the tour. Your guide only gets a fraction of what you paid, and so a tip is customary and greatly appreciated.