Throughout the past few years, most of our travel has been short stays with no more than 5 days in a particular country. Therefore to make the most of our travel, we have resorted on most occasions to tours. Sightseeing tours are a great way to get a glimpse of the city, learn some historical facts, meet people with common interests or partake in some form of activity (i.e. our favourite – wine tasting).
We thought it would be great to share some tips based on our experience of finding the perfect tour.
Do your research before hand. Its hard when you have a full time job to take time out to organise a full trip (trust us we know), but a few weeks before hand read up on the destination you are going to, find out what are the best places to see, activities to do and read about others experiences. Some of our favourite places to read city guides include: Brooke from World of Wanderlust and Yaya & Lloyd from Hand Luggage Only.
Researching gives you a good idea about what that destination has to offer and helps with streamlining what tours might be good for you. For example on our trip to Iceland with a large group there were several personalities and to accommodate all, we found a tour that covered sights that everyone was interested in.
Once you have done your research, you need to now find the perfect sight that offers tours. In the past we have loved sites like Viator, Get Your Guide, and Lonely Planet. These sites are comprehensive and allow you to book several tours with local tour companies on one site. They also provide reviews from travels on how they found the tour which gives you the ability to gauge if the tour is to your liking. We have also found that a great way to book tours is through the tourism website of where you are visiting. They are a good source for the popular tour companies in the area.
Group vs Private
Now you have your tour site, or company you are looking to book with. So do you do a group tour or private? Group tours are perfect for meeting those with similar interests to you and sharing your travel experience. We have met several fellow travellers on our group tours who are able to offer their own personal recommendations for what other tours to try, what not to try and what cities have been their favourites. If you select a group tour we would recommend those that are smaller in size – less than 15 in the group. When you have a group smaller in size, you feel that you can still ask questions, speak with the tour guide and hear and see everything that is being shown. A private tour is a lot more intimate and great if you are travelling in a small group as you can typically customise your experience. Private tours are also great if you are short on time and can’t find a group tour that covers everything you want to see in a city. They are usally more of a luxury trip and of course a lot more expensive than the group tours.
Hop on Hop Off and Free Walking Tours
Another great type of tour to consider is the hop on hop off (HOHO) or the free walking tours. City Sightseeing is a popular vendor for the HOHOs and also usually offer the free walking tours along side your ticket purchase. HOHO is a great inexpensive way to explore the city on your own, and perfect for being your weekend transportation.
The Free Walking tours we have found to be extremely informative. They are usually led by a student studying in the city who provides a witty account of history in the city taking you through the unbeaten path. As they are also with a group, you feel safe walking through the streets that you may not have felt comfortable walking on your own.
Finding your perfect tour is all about what you are hoping to experience in the country. We have had some great experiences on the tours we have booked in the past, some of our greatest include – wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, The Golden Circle Route in Iceland, a Malay day trip from Singapore. Wherever your destination may take you, we recommend looking for tours that spark your interest.
We hope we have provided you with some tips about finding your perfect tours. We would love to hear your suggestions as well of any tips you have for finding tours.
Kara & Kendra