Alternatives to Walking Tours: Other Ways to Discover a City

Trams have always fascinated me, maybe because they combine the comforts of subways (dedicated tracks, no car sickness), with the scenery offered by a bus trip. So when I first arrived in Istanbul last spring, I decided to just hop on tram #19 and see where it would take me. In Berlin, I could blame a bad pair of heels for testing the largest tram network in Germany. In my hometown (Rome) I often find an excuse to potter along, on line 8 or line 3, and admire the city. And if trams are not available, I often opt for ferries and transport by water. In London, the Clipper Thames remains the best way to admire the city; while in NYC I will never forget the daily trips on the ferry that took us from our B&B in Staten Island to lower Manhattan.

So when looking at our program of walks in our 20 cities, I asked myself, “what do we offer apart from our walking tours?” The alternatives are abundant, and good for active travelers as well as “lazy” ones. Here are some of my favorites:

Paris: The ferry that goes along the Seine makes for a perfect means of public transport on our Paris Orientation by boat, giving you the opportunity to see the city from a different perspective, rest your feet, and avoid traffic.

Berlin: Our Biking the Wall tour has already become a best seller in the city. Led by a historian who is also a cyclist, this three-hour ride unravels the complex social, cultural and political history of the Berlin Wall by tracing a section of its former route through the city center. Bikes and helmets are hired on the day.

London: When Kings and Queens lived in Hampton Court, they used the River Thames as a highway connecting London and their gorgeous country residence. Today, the four-hour voyage is not very convenient for day trips. However, we often arrange bike rides from London to Hampton Court, combined with a visit to the Palace. The ride is flat and easy, and runs along the Thames.

Istanbul: The 20 minute journey on the public ferry is a fundamental part of our Bosphorus Walk: To Asia and Back. The ferry takes us from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side, immersing visitors in everyday life, and taking them to off-the-beaten-path parts of the city that go undiscovered by average visitors.

Rome: Our Cutting-edge Architecture and Contemporary Rome takes place in a residential neighborhood of Rome easily reachable by public transport, but tucked away from the crowds. An integral part of the tour takes place on a tram #2. This takes us from one of the Baroque squares of the city to the heart of a new contemporary architecture development. During the journey we discuss accessibility, sustainability, and what it’s like to live in Rome and use public transport…all in the comfort of a tram seat!

What’s your favorite alternative to walking?

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