Years ago, I decided to move to Charleston while walking around its historic downtown.
All Charleston is beautiful, but one of the most unique aspects of the city is the peninsula. And walking around it is the best way to experience it.
But free Charleston walking tours (led by you) can only get you so far. You could theoretically do your research before you go, then try to find the places you found online or in books.
But that sounds like a lot of work.
Save time by linking-up with one of the local Charleston walking tours. The city of Charleston certifies all tour guides by:
- requiring they buy a giant book on Charleston history and trivia
- taking a rigorous test on all that information
How do I know this?
Because I bought the book shortly after moving here, thinking I could become a tour guide and make some money on the side. I got another job before I took the test, and moved into a different industry.
But I still enjoy knowing all the local legends and trivia. So I enjoy a good walking tour once in a while.
Most visitors have no idea how many fantastic walking tours are available to them for their Lowcountry expedition. But even locals learn something on these tours that you can then turn around and spout-off to visiting friends and family to sound smart. Hence my argument that it’s not just a tourist thing.
Get a quick, hour or so, introduction to Charleston on a carriage ride. That works if you’re only here for a day. After that, get something more in-depth.
And you’ll be able to skip the standard tourist questions, like, “why do all the porches point in the same direction?”
Get a Quick Virtual Tour of Charleston
Before you drop the $20-45 per person necessary for a typical tour, check out this video of Robert Phillips, longtime tour guide and Charleston native, as he gives a quick introduction to Charleston.
Read on to find the best fit for you.
12 of the Best Charleston Walking Tours
Considering that, you’ll find ten of the best walking tours in Charleston listed below. Make sure you don’t overlook them if you want to see the city in the best light and uncover lots of fascinating information.
Kyndra Luce is the person in my circle of friends that I go to for advice on the Charleston area (everything from hiking to car mechanics). She’s a native who went to school in Boone, North Carolina, so we are both on the crunchy and funky side of things.
And she’s started a tour company to go along with her camp business. Famous Tours offers niche tours, like her Urban Eco-Tour, which explores the environment of peninsular Charleston. Her “Waking Up” tour of Charleston focuses on issues related to race, gender, and class in Charleston’s history.
She knows her stuff, and I would totally pay to hang out with her if I didn’t get to do it for free.
Uniquely Charleston Tours
This tour company is highly recommended by the above-mentioned Kyndra Luce. She says that taking a tour with proprietor Paul Garbarini is so good that she as a native has spent money attending one of his tours.
Paul Garbarini is a docent at McLeod Plantation, the Charleston plantation devoted to the African-American experience as opposed to that of the white slave owner. As such, his Unique Charleston tours are heavily researched and knowledgeable. And he gives awesome custom tours.
Two Sisters Historic Walking Tours
This two-hour walking tour is perfect for people who want to experience the charm of Charleston with some genuine local flavor. You get to stroll through some of the most beautiful streets in the city and learn more about the rich history. With a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor with over a thousand reviews, these ladies must be onto something. Two Sisters Historic Walking Tours start from Washington Park.
Charleston Footprints Walking Tours
Anyone who takes part in these tours will benefit from the vast knowledge of a seventh generation Charleston native. Award-winning journalist and author Michael Trouche has garnered 2,000 positive reviews on TripAdvisor for good reason. Discover the beauty and history of Charleston with a relaxed walk around impressive local architecture with a local expert.
Oyster Point Historic Walking Tours
Founded by College of Charleston graduates, Bill Harris and Palmer Stowe, this is a newer addition to the list. They offer walking tours introducing visitors to the history and major attractions of Charleston. Or they can create a customized tour based on your unique interests about the city. Oyster Point Historic Walking Tours meet at 200 East Bay Street, or the Old Customs House.
Not at Oyster Point, or White Point Gardens, as their name would imply.
Things that make you go, “hmmm”.
Charleston Sole Walking Tours
For people who want to learn more about historic Charleston folklore and legends, Sole Walking Tours are the best company to contact. Visitors will get to know the city from the unique perspective of respected native Brian Simms.
Get your fill of “sole” puns at the Charleston Sole Walking Tours website. And then book or whatever.
At this point, everyone and their mom has heard of Bulldog Tours. They definitely don’t need my plug to be found. They’re like the Hyman’s Seafood of tours in Charleston. Except their product is actually palatable.
If you enjoy ghost tours, history tours, or culinary tours, Bulldog Tours can supply everything you desire. They also offer some of my fahisvorite Charleston ghost tours. Exploring Charleston’s enchanting graveyards and cobblestone streets while hearing a few spooky stories along the way is a Halloween tradition for me.
Say Charleston Photo Walking Tours
Charleston local Liz Legare Duren runs these tours to guide you through the city her ancestors helped build. Guests enjoy professional photographs taken along the route.
Lowcountry Walking Tours
There are three different tours available from Lowcountry Walking Tours at the moment, and they include:
- the Downtown Walking Tour
- Charleston’s Most Beautiful Walk
- Charleston’s Alleys and Hidden Passages
Charleston In A Nutshell
If you’re not going to be in the city for a long time, this walking tour will ensure you see all the most essential sights with local historian Jeff Zimmerman. He offers a morning walk, an early afternoon Civil War walk, and a twilight stroll by candlelight. Charleston In a Nutshell also offers group and private tours on request.
Free Tours By Foot
Free Tours By Foot offers “name your own price” tours of cities across the country, including Charleston. That means they could be free if you want. That seems to be rather unfair of the freelance tour guide takes the time to take you around the city.
But whatever, you do you.
Ghost City Tours of Charleston
These all-ages ghost tours of haunted Charleston are for anyone who wishes to visit the most ghostly locations in the historic area of the City. Ghost City Tours of Charleston provide fun and excitement for all the family. It’s a decent way to learn more about Charleston’s chilling history.
Usually the researching process is the part that stops me from actually doing an activity. So I’ve done the research for me, and you now, so you’ve got no excuse.
Pick a warm (not too hot) day, and schedule a walking tour already. Enjoy!