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Free Walking Tours in New York City

The beating heart of New York City is home to stellar museums, trendy restaurants, bespoke boutiques and a thriving economic center, which combine to earn New York the rightful reputation as the “city that never sleeps.”

Embark on a free walking tour of the Big Apple with a knowledgeable guide to discover some of the capital’s most famous landmarks, including Times Square, the World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and plenty of secret celebrity haunts that only the locals know about.

You will find below all you need to know about free walking tours, one of the best options for sightseeing tours in New York City.

How do free walking tours in New York work?

Free walking tours in New York are an instant classic for locals and tourists alike. These tours don’t have a fixed fee but operate on a “name-your-own-price” policy. The traveler pays a tip for what they feel is suitable for the guide at the end of the tour.

Free walking tours in New York can be booked online free of charge. Make sure you bring some spare cash with you to tip your guide when your excursion finishes.

How much should you tip for a free walking tour in New York?

The tip for the tour guide is decided by you, according to your level of satisfaction. Most people tip between US$10 and US$15 per person. However, some people who feel generous tip as much as US$50.

When deciding how much to tip your guide, factors you should consider are how much you enjoyed your trip, whether you learned a lot from your guide, and the amount of effort your guide put into your tour.

What are the best free walking tours in New York?

There is a range of free walking tours in New York according to the topics you choose and the different districts you would like to visit in the city.

Free walking tour of the New York City Center

This free walking tour is highly sought-after in New York City. On this 2.5-hour tour, you’ll experience the best the Big Apple has to offer by strolling along the famous Wall Street and discovering the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, among many other popular tourist attractions in the city.

If this is your first trip to New York City, then this free walking trip is a great opportunity to take in the capital’s top sights with a knowledgeable guide who is bound to teach you a thing or two about the history of this thriving city.

Itinerary

Most tours start in the financial district of Manhattan, where a number of iconic landmarks are waiting to be discovered.

Your local tour guide will teach you about the history of New York City and the importance it holds worldwide today. You’ll then delve into the culture of this enchanting capital by walking past the National Museum of the American Indian, followed by a stroll along Wall Street.

You'll discover other notable points of interest, including the World Trade Center and the New York Stock exchange. You’ll also make a stopover at the charming historic center of New Amsterdam, where you’ll feel like you’re stepping into Europe as you admire the last Dutch-style houses in the capital.

For an obligatory photo opportunity, you’ll visit the famous Wall Street Bull sculpture, followed by a stopover at Battery Park for envy-inducing panoramic vistas of the Statue of Liberty.

Most tours end at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, where you can partake in a sobering commemoration of the victims of the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Free walking tour of the West Village

If you’re a Hollywood movie buff, this is the a movie tour is definitely for you. You’ll dive straight into some of the most famous scenes from “Friends” and “Sex in the City”, among others.

You’ll stroll along the charming streets of one of New York City’s most picturesque neighborhoods as you discover some of the much-loved stomping grounds of celebrities, artists and singers, as you track down hidden surprises and well-preserved secrets that only the locals know about.

Itinerary

The free walking tour will begin at Wavery restaurant, located at the corner between Wavery street and 6th avenue. You’ll wander through the delightful bohemian streets of West Village in search of hidden tales of the neighborhood’s top tourist landmarks.

You can expect to stroll along Washington Square Park, followed by the opportunity to marvel at the Washington Arch and explore New York University – founded in 1831 by Albert Gallatin, formerly Secretary of the Treasury under President Thomas Jefferson.

Along a 2-kilometer strip, you’ll dive straight into famous movie sets such as Joe’s pizzeria, "Friends" apartment and Carrie Brandshaw’s apartment from "Sex in the City".

To recover some of your energies, you’ll also make pit stops at coffee, followed by a stopover at Blue Note jazz cafe, which has earnt itself the rightful reputation of being the creme de la creme of New York jazz.

Once you’ve discovered the famed cultural side of West Village, you’ll have the chance to discover two of New York’s most recent build attractions that sprouted up during the pandemic at your own leisure: Little Island Park and the Vessel.

Lower East Side free tour

If you want to discover New York like a true local, then you can’t go wrong with this fascinating Lower East Side free walking tour.

For this 1.45-minute excursion, you’ll visit some of Lower East Side and Lower Manhattan’s most famed tourist attractions, including Times Square, Broadway and The Ninja Turtles, before taking a step back into the 19th century.

Itinerary

This fascinating Lower East Side free walking tour starts at the characteristic Kat’z Delicatessen, famed for its no-frills mile-high sandwiches – a real New Yorker’s treat. This Jewish restaurant is located at 205 E Houston Street.

From the outset, your knowledgeable and fun Mexican guides will show you examples of New York’s mixed culture and heritage.

You’ll begin by making a stopover at Red Square, where you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Moscow as you marvel at Lenin’s statue – a renowned statue of the former Soviet leader and revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.

You’ll then have the chance to gawk at some fine examples of 19th and 20th-century architecture before making a trip down the cultural lane. You’ll visit some of the most multicultural regions of Lower Manhattan: Chinatown and “Little Italy” that perfectly showcase the mixed flavors, sights and smells of New York City, as well as its migrant culture.

You’ll then finish your tour at the stunning waterside Pier 35, which offers perfect photo opportunities of the city that are exceptionally beautiful when the sun goes down.

In which languages are free walking tours in New York operated?

Free walking tours in New York are typically run by English-speaking guides. As such, you will find most free walking tours in New York in English.

However, since New York is a multicultural city, many free tours in the Big Apple come with bi-lingual guides who also offer tours in Spanish and other languages.

Where do free walking tours in New York start?

The starting point for free walking tours in New York City varies depending on which part of the city you decide to explore. For free walking tours in the city center, tours typically start at Bowling Green in the financial district of Lower Manhattan.

The free walking tour of the West Village starts at the corner of Waverly restaurant on 6th Ave. The Fascinating Lower East Side free walking tour starts at Katz Delicattessen, located on East Houston Street, a short distance from Rockwood Music Hall.

How long do free walking tours in New York last?

Most free walking tours in New York last around 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours, depending on how many stops are included on your walking tour.

When is the best time to join a free walking tour in New York?

The majority of tours operate after lunch or in the afternoon. It’s best to take a free walking tour in New York at this time of day, when most walking tours are available. The weather is also pleasant during the warm summer months during this period.

It’s best to take a free tour at the beginning of your stay, this way, you’ll enjoy a fantastic introduction to the capital.

Should New York free walking tours be booked online?

It’s best to book your tour online to guarantee your spot and give your local tour guides time to prepare for the number of people joining the trip. Free walking tours in New York are popular during the peak season, so it’s best to book at least 2 days in advance.

It’s free to book your tour online, but visitors should remember that a minimum of four participants is often recommended for booking. Should your group be less than this, your tour guide will be in touch to offer alternatives.

If for any reason you have to cancel your trip, make sure to cancel plenty of time in advance so that your tour guide can make the necessary adjustments to the trip.