Walking tours are one of my favorite things to do when I visit a new place. I think exploring on foot gives you the opportunity to see a neighborhood up-close and learn about the people and places that make it tick. I've put together a round-up of Free New York City Walking Tours for visitors on a budget. These tours cover a variety of neighborhoods, as well as two of New York City's great parks -- Central Park and the High Line. Be aware that free tours tend to attract large groups, so you're not going to get the same intimate experience you might experience of some of New York City's Best Walking Tours, but you can't beat the price!
Every Friday at 12:30 p.m. you can experience a wonderful tour of Grand Central and the surrounding neighborhood led by Justin Ferate or Peter Laskowich. In addition to exploring some of the highlights of Grand Central terminal, it also includes many neighborhood highlights, including Pershing Square and the Chrysler Building.
2. Tours of The High Line
Built upon an abandoned elevated railway on Manhattan's West Side, The High Line is both remarkable and beautiful. When the entire park is completed, it will run from Gansevoort to 34th Street. The first portion, from Gansevoort to 20th Street opened in June 2009, and the span from 20th-30th Streets opened in June 2011. The tours are led by High Line Docents who share information about the Park's history, design and art.
Want a private, guided tour of New York City? For free? Seems hard to believe, but that's exactly what Big Apple Greeters offers visitors to New York City. Since 1992, this non-profit organization has connected visitors with volunteer New Yorkers who want to share their know-how and favorite neighborhoods with visitors to New York City. They even have a no-tipping policy, but if you love what you experience, you should make a donation to Big Apple Greeters to keep their services available. Please note: tours are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so book well in advance to have the best chance of getting a tour.
4. Free Tours by Foot
Free Tours By Foot offers a variety of New York City walking tours, most of which are free (on their food tours you pay for your own samples). Most tours are 2 hours and cover a single neighborhood, but they also have an All-In-One-Tour that is 6-hours long and covers many areas of New York City. The guides on these tours work exclusively for tips, so keep that in mind and tip appropriately if you are happy with your experience. They recommend tipping $10/person for their 2-hour tours and $25/person for the 6-hour tour.
5. Central Park Conservancy Guided Tours
The Central Park Conservancy offers free guided walking tours covering many different areas of Central Park. Tours range from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and are led by volunteers from the Central Park Conservancy Walking Tour Program. These tours offer visitors a great opportunity to understand Central Park and learn about the park's history and design. Tours are rated for difficulty, and some are handicap-accessible.
6. "Crossroads of New York" Walking Tour
Learn about this neighborhood with a rich political and social history on a walking tour created with the help of the experts at Big Onion Walking Tours. Learn about the people, events and architecture of this wonderful neighborhood.
- When: Saturdays at 2 p.m.
- Length: 90 minutes
- Where: Abraham Lincoln Statue at 16th Street transverse
- Sponsor: Union Square Partnership
7. Free Lower East Side Historic Tours
This three-hour walking tour of the Lower East Side explores both the history and modern side of this dynamic neighborhood.
8. Times Square Exposé Free Walking Tour
Learn about Times Square on this neighborhood walking tour sponsored by the Times Square Alliance. The tour covers the area's historic theaters, as well as new sites and promises a "behind-the-scenes" experience.
9. Not Quite Free: Municipal Arts Society Walking Tours
The Municipal Arts Society offers two weekly tours with "suggested donations" of $10. On Tuesdays, the tour covers Downtown Manhattan, while Wednesdays tour visits Grand Central terminal. MAS offers many other tours as well, and their tour guides are very well regarded.