9 of the Best Apps and Sites for Finding Local Tours and Guides

By Lani Fried Android , iOS April 13, 2020 There are no comments Published for the first time in 2019.

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What are the best ways to find great tours in a new city? You can either go through your local travel agency or use one of the large online marketplaces such as GetYourGuide. You may find a variety of options at hostels and hotels, but you don’t know what the quality is.

These are not the only options. You can find and book many specialised tours offered by locals within your city or town via numerous apps and websites.

These options are often more customizable and extensive than traditional tour operators. You can also find information such as reviews from customers and biographies about your guides to help you make an informed decision about which tour you want.

Some apps provide curated local experiences such as wine tastings, cooking classes or bike tours at a specific time and place. Some services allow you to book a local guide, and then work out a route together. Others let you meet up with volunteer guides for free.

These are the top nine apps and websites for finding local guides or tours, no matter what your preference. Before you go to the travel agent, make sure to review them!

ToursByLocals

ToursByLocals allows you to find guides and tours in 159 countries, typically charging per experience instead of per hour.

Although some prices may seem high (for instance, day tours in Western European capitals typically cost in the hundreds of USD), they are much more affordable when you split them with a larger group.

You can get information from the tour guides about how many people are allowed to participate in each experience. This is usually between two and ten people. Each tour’s itinerary can be viewed, as well as a short biography and information about the guide. You can also read reviews.

WithLocals

WithLocals is a peer-to-peer platform for locals to exchange their skills and experiences. You simply need to enter your destination, as well as the number of children and adults in your group.

The list will include local activities such as night tours, workshops, or food tours. WithLocals is especially useful for families because you can search for activities based upon the number of children in your group. Many activities are family-friendly.

The service is currently focused on Asia and Europe, but it may expand to other continents.

iOS, and Android

AirBnB Experiences

AirBnB is best known for its accommodation services, but it has recently begun to explore tours.

AirBnB experiences connect travellers to local guides for a wide variety of experiences. These can include a traditional Yantra tattoo in Chiang Mai, exploring Milwaukee farmsteading, or a tour of LGBTQ history and Dublin.

Locals can organise classes, workshops and culinary experiences. You can also choose to book multiple-day experiences or a single morning or afternoon.

You can read reviews from other participants, see the host’s calendars, check prices and book directly through the app.

iOS, and Android

ShowAround

ShowAround is a unique business model that allows you to book guides per hour. Instead of choosing a time and itinerary for your experience, you can connect with locals and work out the itinerary together at an hourly rate.

These activities would include walking around a neighbourhood, visiting a museum, taking wine tours, and other interesting activities. This is a great way to get to know locals, but not necessarily for traditional tours.

To help others, you are encouraged to leave a review about your trip at the end. Guide rates can range from $10-30 per hour, but they can vary.

Vayable

Vayable is a global platform that offers real-life experiences. It helps travellers connect with local artists and designers, teachers, filmmakers and chefs around the globe. These experiences include photo shoots, food crawls and street art tours.

You can sometimes book directly with tour guides by using video, though most providers will need to approve your request.

Vayable also offers general resources, such as city guides for selected locations and a blog that updates you on local experiences.

iOS, and Android

Embark

Are you looking for an outdoor, active experience? Check out Embark. Locals can arrange adventures that include hiking, biking, surfing, climbing, camping and rafting. Just specify your location and the number of people in your group (1-15) along with your favourite activities.

The available options will be displayed by Embark, such as the duration, maximum group sizes and the difficulty of the activity. Additional information is provided by local guides, including a basic itinerary, details about the experience, how it can be booked, cancellation policies, and hours of availability.

City Unscripted

City unscripted connects tourists with guides. It is useful for those who are interested in experiencing local culture, but don’t know what to do. Guides provide detailed descriptions of their interests and can often speak multiple languages.

Tourist hotspots are often the focus of tours, which can be great for those who want to see the sights. You can review the guides and search by guide or location.

Experiences are free for children under 12 years of age. Many tours let you choose when and where to begin.

Global Greeter Network

Are you looking for a tour guide who is free? Global Greeter Network matches you with local “greeters”, who have chosen to volunteer for a variety of reasons. Some people are retired or have more time, while others are simply interested in travelling.

They are happy to show you around the city, regardless of your reason. You should note, however, that not all tours and greeters are available at all times.

It’s a volunteer-based project so you might find exactly what you are looking for or even discover that there is nothing in the area.  It only takes a few moments to figure it out.

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Couchsurfing

Finally, there’s Couchsurfing. Unfortunately, the service has suffered in quality over time as it transformed from an independent and open-minded community to a big business.

You can still meet people and show them around cities around the world, but you don’t have to stay at their homes.

Couchsurfing users are more interested in having coffee with you than hosting you on the couch. You may end up becoming friends with your local contact.

Couchsurfing is different from paid services in that you have to do all the work. You will need to communicate with locals free of charge, write messages, tell them what you are interested in, build your profile, and possibly get references.

You might not get back from everyone, but that’s OK. Couchsurfing is a great way to get a glimpse into the lives of locals. Despite its imperfections, it’s still a community that has much to offer.

iOS, and Android

Images via Pxhere, people taking photos, Max Pixel (Tokyo night), Xphere group on walking tour and Px Here hiking group.

 

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