The 10 Best Charleston Walking Tours

Experience true southern hospitality as you explore Charleston on one of these strolls.

By Claire Lawton, ContributorJune 20, 2019
U.S. News & World Report

The 10 Best Charleston Walking Tours

Best Charleston Walking Tours

Visit Charleston's top sights with an easygoing walking tour.(Getty Images)

With plenty of secret alleyways and hidden gems, Charleston, South Carolina, is best explored on foot. To take in the Holy City's deep history, rich cuisine and vibrant scenery, slow down and see all the top sights with a walking tour. U.S. News gathered 10 of the best walking tours in Charleston by consulting both traveler sentiment and expert opinion. Lace up your walking shoes and start exploring.

Two Sisters Tours

Let longtime locals lead the way on a trip with Two Sisters Tours. On this two-hour history tour, sibling guides take you through the charming streets their family has called home for seven generations. You'll hear tales of Charleston's famous historical characters and the events that have shaped the city. Along the way, you'll pass signature landmarks, including St. Michael's Church and Rainbow Row. Reviewers love the informative guides and the tour's scenic route through antebellum neighborhoods and live oak-lined streets. Tours run at 10:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday. There is an additional weekday tour at 2 p.m., weather permitting. Tickets start at $20 per person; reservations are required.

Charleston Food Tours – Savor the Flavors of Charleston Tour

From fried green tomatoes and collard greens to sweet tea and barbecue, low country cuisine is an integral element of the Charleston dining scene. On this 2 1/2-hour walking food tour, a local guide will take you on a journey through the city to learn its history while making sure your inner foodie is fully satisfied. Reviewers rave about the informative experience and variety of samples, as well as the helpful tour guides. Tours leave at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. Tickets cost approximately $65 per person, food and some nonalcoholic beverages are included. Hungry for more? Charleston Food Tours also hosts a walking tour dedicated to the restaurants residing on Upper King Street.

Lowcountry Walking Tours – Charleston's Alleys and Hidden Passages

Stroll through Charleston's picturesque alleys with the help of Lowcountry Walking Tours. During this two-hour tour, your guide will lead you through the network of lush (and often hidden) passages. Throughout the tour, you'll hear the historical anecdotes that tie the streets together. Reviewers love the architectural angle and the charismatic, insightful guides. Tickets cost approximately $25 per person. Tours depart at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. When you're ready to see more, the company also hosts tours of historic downtown.

Free Tours by Foot – Charleston Architecture Tour

If you want a grand introduction to Charleston's culture, people and history, Free Tours by Foot has you covered. On this two-hour tour, your guide will teach you the city's vibrant history through its architecture. St. Philips Church, the Nathaniel Russell House and the Miles Brewton House are among the sights you'll learn about along the way. Reviewers applaud the enthusiastic and accommodating guides and recommend the tour even for those who may not consider themselves architecture buffs. While the cost is on a pay-what-you-like basis, there is a $3 administration fee per ticket and reservations are required. Free Tours by Foot also hosts walking tours focused on ghost stories and the Civil War.

Charleston Sole Walking Tours

See Charleston through the eyes of a local with Charleston Sole Walking Tours. Brian Simms, a 10th-generation Charlestonian, or a member of his team will take you on a two-hour tour of the city. You'll stroll through hidden alleys and tree-lined streets to iconic landmarks and sites of famous Charleston historic events. Sights include St. Michael's Church, Rainbow Row, the Dock Street Theatre and the Old Slave Mart Museum. Your guide will go beyond the usual textbook tour, which reviewers love, and give you a rich walking layout of the city. Tickets start at $20 for adults and $10 for children 6 to 12. Tours run at 9:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday tours depart at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Charleston Sole also offers private and group tours.

Learn all about Charleston's history on this stroll with Walks of Charleston.(Courtesy of Walks of Charleston)

Walks of Charleston – Charleston History Tour

Satisfy your inner history buff with Walks of Charleston. On this roughly two-hour tour, you'll visit sites that date back to the Civil War and Charleston's modern renaissance, including City Hall, the Old Walled City, the French Quarter and the Battery. Along the way, your guide will share stories of the city's founding, as well as insights into several of its signature buildings. Reviewers love the energy of the guides and the insider knowledge. Tours are offered daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets start at $20 per adult and $10 per child ages 7 to 10. Tickets for children 7 and younger are free. Walks of Charleston also hosts tours of the city's alleys and passageways and private tours with custom experiences.

Tour Charleston at Buxton Books – Ghosts of Charleston Tour

Charleston is full of haunted tales, and there's no better way to acquaint yourself with the city's ghosts than on a walking tour. On this 90-minute excursion, a guide will take you out past dusk to regale you with historical legends and supernatural occurrences. You'll enter the Unitarian Church graveyard, a site that dates back to the 1700s. Reviewers rave about the graveyard's eerie atmosphere and the informative experience. Tours start at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost approximately $25 per adult and discounts are available for children, seniors, military members and students. For a less spooky tour of the Holy City, consider the company's history tours.

Charleston Culinary Tours – Downtown Charleston Tour

If you're looking to experience Charleston through your stomach, allow Charleston Culinary Tours to oblige. On this 2 1/2-hour walking tour of the French Quarter, you'll experience the city's food and beverage scene with the help of a knowledgeable foodie guide. Stop into four local restaurants and learn about culinary history while sampling classic Charleston cuisine. Tour-takers will also receive complimentary entry to the Powder Magazine (Charleston's oldest public building) with their food tour ticket purchase. Reviewers love the samples of local cuisine and the historical tidbits from the knowledgeable guides. Tours depart at 2 and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets cost approximately $65 per person. Charleston Culinary Tours also offers mixology, brewery and sustainable seafood tours, among others.

Charleston Footprints Walking Tours

Get the inside scoop with a local journalist and author on the Charleston Footprints Walking Tour. Michael Trouche, a seventh-generation Charlestonian, will guide you through the city's landmarks and traditions on this two-hour walking tour to see the French Quarter, colonial churches, gardens and more. Reviewers rave about Trouche's firsthand knowledge and passion for Charleston. Tickets start at $20 per adult. Tours are typically offered daily at 10:30 a.m. Private tours are available at an additional cost.

Bulldog Tours – Charleston Strolls Tour Experience

On the two-hour Charleston Strolls Tour, you'll walk by a few of the city's iconic landmarks, including antebellum mansions, the waterfront Battery district and Rainbow Row. You'll also get a visual tour of Fort Sumter. Tour guides share stories of the city's history as well as local knowledge and hidden gems – a hit among reviewers. Visitors also appreciate the group's small size. Tickets start at $29 per adult and $19 for children ages 7 to 12. Tickets for children 6 and younger are free. Tours are offered daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. When you're ready for more, Bulldog also offers food and ghost tours.

Claire Lawton, Contributor

Claire Lawton is a freelance journalist and producer based in New York. She writes about art, ...  Read more

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