5 Free Walking Tours in New York City
Free walking tours to help you orientate NYC
· 4 min read
Free walking tours are a great way to explore a new city, learn about its history and culture, and meet new people. They offer a more personal and intimate experience compared to traditional guided tours, and they are often a more affordable option for budget-conscious travelers.
Since COVID, many of the walking tours that once used to be free now charge a small fee to keep the group size small. To help you explore one of the world’s best cities, here is a round-up of some of the walking tours that still remain free!
💡 Note that while there are no upfront costs for these tours, it is customary to tip the guide at the end of the tour. How much to tip depends on the length of the tour and how many people there are on the tour, but a good range would be somewhere between $5-$15.
Free Tours by Foot
Free Tours by Foot is known to have guides that are very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and their walking tours in New York City are very highly rated. Free Tours by Foot offers a variety of free walking tours in New York City, which includes tours of the main districts of New York City, including Central Park, Lower Manhattan, Soho, Greenwich, Brooklyn, and more. For foodies looking to explore the cuisines of New York City, they also offer food tours — how much you spend on these food tours depends entirely on how much you want to eat. For a first-time visitor to New York City, there is also a full-day tour that covers most of the key attractions.
Reservations are required for these tours. Spaces on the tours are limited, but there is an optional booking fee of $3 per person that you could choose to pay to secure a spot. If the timings of the tours do not work for you, or if you haven’t been able to secure a spot, the company also offers audio guides at $2.99 each.
⏰ How Long: Most tours are between 2-3 hours. The one-day tour lasts approximately 6 hours.
Flatiron NoMad walking tour
Every Sunday at 11 am, rain or shine, professional tour guides are ready to bring you on an outdoor stroll through the iconic Flatiron and NoMad district. On these fascinating walking tours, you will learn about the fascinating historical details and even some scandalous tidbits that make the area integral to New York. You can also enjoy the magnificent architecture, including some of the city’s most notable landmarks like the New York Life Building, the MetLife Clock Tower, the Appellate Courthouse, and (of course!) the famous Flatiron Building.
There is no need to RSVP or reserve for this tour. Simply appear at 11am on Sunday and meet your guide at the tip of the Flatiron Building, on 23rd Street just east of 5th Avenue. if you are unable to take part in the tour, you can also refer to the self-guided walking tour brochure as you explore the area!
🗓️ When: Every Sunday, 11am
⏰ How Long: 90 minutes
Gran Apple Tours
The New York free tour operated by Gran Apple Tours is a highly rated tour that helps you navigate the Financial District and its neighbouring areas. You will learn about the history of New York as you stroll along Wall Street and discover some of the city’s most important landmarks like the World Trade Center and New York Stock Exchange. The tour also includes a stop by Battery Park to get one of the best views of the Statue of Liberty, and will end near the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
The English tour takes place every Wednesday and Saturday at 10am, and you can book up to 2 days in advance. The tours will require a minimum of 4 participants to proceed.
🗓️ When: Every Wednesday and Saturday, 10am
⏰ How Long: 2 hours 30 minutes
🔗 Where to book: https://www.civitatis.com/en/new-york/new-york-free-tour/?aid=2545
Big Apple Greeter
While not strictly a walking tour company, Big Apple Greeter matches visitors with their local volunteers who are excited to share about their city. Rather than a fixed route, these tours are private and customised to the interests of each group of visitors. The Greeters are not professional tour guides, and these tours tend to be more casual like how a friend would bring you around their city. So if you are looking for a more casual and personalised experience, this would be a great fit for you.
Greeters meet up to 6 people who are traveling together. Requests are made through the website from at least one month prior to arrival, and no requests within 10 days of arrival will be accepted. As there are limited numbers of Greeters, not all requests can be fulfilled. As Big Apple Greeter is a voluntary organisation, you can also make a donation to keep them going.
🗓️ When: No fixed schedules, depends on your travel dates
⏰ How Long: No fixed duration
🔗 Where to book: https://www.bigapplegreeter.org/request-a-greeter
Literary Audio Walking Tour of Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Public Library has put together an audio tour that helps you explore Brooklyn through literature. The guide will bring you through the literary sites of Brooklyn as you stroll from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. You will get to know more about the fictional places where novels have been set, real apartments where the authors once lived, and the libraries they visited. The tour features 34 writers, and you can find the list of books that have been featured on this dedicated book list.
The tour is completely self-guided, and you can start anywhere and do as many stops as you want, all at your own pace. It will take at least two hours to complete the entire tour.
🗓️ When: Completely up to you
⏰ How Long: Flexible, but expected to take at least 2 hours to complete the whole tour
🔗 Where to get the tour: Download the Otocast app and search BPL