The 11 Best Salem Tours
From its infamous witch trials to its underrated food scene, this Massachusetts city is ripe for exploration.
Travelers regularly flock to Salem to learn of its infamous witch trials.Getty Images
Note: Some tour providers on this list may have ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
While best known for its notorious witch trials in the late 1600s, Salem, Massachusetts, has a lot more to offer. These Salem tours offer an in-depth look at everything related to the trials, but they also explore the area's food scene, landmarks and Revolutionary War history. U.S. News selected the following tours by consulting traveler sentiment and expert opinion. Whether you explore by day or by night, these excursions will introduce you to all sides of Salem.
Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours
On this two-hour walking tour from Bewitched After Dark, travelers learn about colonial Salem, along with its ample witch-related history. Along the way, tourgoers will pass by more than a dozen historical locations within the downtown area. Reviewers praise the guides for their storytelling abilities and recommend the tour for history buffs. Many also add that this tour turned out to be the highlight of their visit to Salem. Tickets cost approximately $25 per person; children 7 and younger can participate for free. Tours operate nightly at 7 p.m. and there's an additional 3 p.m. tour Friday through Sunday.
Hocus Pocus Tours
Visitors highly recommend this historical tour and describe guides as funny and interesting. This 90-minute walk around town details not only the infamous witch trials, but also the city's history, including anecdotes about Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Boston Strangler. It also includes stops at two filming locations of the hit movie "Hocus Pocus." Tours are available nightly at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $18 for adults; discounts are available for children, students and seniors. For tours offered Thursday through Sunday in September and October, each participant pays adult admission. Hocus Pocus Tours also offers custom tours for groups.
Led by paranormal investigators, this trip focuses on more than the city's fabled witches. During the 90-minute tour, guides will share stories about Salem's ghosts, New England vampirism and Voodoo while visiting haunted sites like the Salem Jail and the Joshua Ward House. Guides will also teach participants how to hunt for ghosts and take images of spirits with their cameras. Reviewers say this is an informative and historically accurate tour and that it's one of the best ghost tours they've attended. Tickets cost approximately $20 for adults and $10 for children 10 and younger. Tours are available at 8 p.m. nightly; there's also a 2 p.m. tour offered Friday through Sunday.
Salem Night Tour
Explore downtown Salem at night and learn about the city's history while listening to ghost stories on the Salem Night Tour, which lasts about 90 minutes and covers roughly 1 mile. As an added bonus, the company says the tour's content is appropriate for children. Travelers give high marks to guides, describing them as knowledgeable and engaging. Tickets start at $15 for participants ages 13 and older and $10 for kids 12 and younger. Tours are offered daily at 8 p.m. The company also offers a daytime tour at 2 p.m.
Salem Black Cat Tours – Daytime Historic Tour
To learn about everything from Salem's Revolutionary War history to its prominent authors to the pirates who once called the area home, consider this excursion from Salem Black Cat Tours. Along the mile-long walk, tourgoers visit the waterfront, view centuries-old architecture and see burial grounds. Travelers extol guides for their historical expertise and say this outing is a particular treat for history buffs. Tours operate Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and last 90 minutes to two hours. Tickets start at $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 6 to 12. In the mood for something spookier? Salem Black Cat Tours also offers a nighttime ghost tour.
According to travelers, this hop-on, hop-off trolley is the best way to see Salem. Riders can disembark and hop back on at 14 stops around the city to visit top sights, such as the Salem Witch Museum, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and the Old Burying Point Cemetery. Visitors suggest taking the entire narrated tour – which covers about 8 miles in an hour – before disembarking. Tickets start at $20 for ages 15 and older, $10 for ages 6 to 14 and are free for children 5 and younger. A single ticket grants you daylong access to the trolley. Tours run daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October. Weather permitting, tours will run weekends in November.
See Salem from its waters during a tour with Fame of Salem.(Courtesy of Fame of Salem)
Fame of Salem – Sail on the Fame
Set sale on a replica of an 1812 privateer schooner named Fame on this nearly two-hour cruise. Not only do tourgoers see Salem from the water, but they also learn about the original ship and the War of 1812. Travelers will also have the opportunity to assist the crew with raising the sail and other tasks. Passengers say the sail was one of the highlights of their trip to Salem and praise the friendly crew. Tickets cost approximately $40 for participants ages 14 and older and $20 for youths ages 13 and younger. Tours are available May through October several times daily a few days a week; availability depends on the season. Fame of Salem also offers a sunset cruise, as well as private charters.
Witch City Walking Tours – History & Hauntings of Salem
Those with an interest in Salem ghost stories should sign up for this two-hour walking tour led by a local historian. If you'd like to boost the fright factor, opt for a night tour when you'll be led around town by lantern. Stops on the tour include the Old Burying Point Cemetery, the seaport and the Old Town Hall. Tour-takers describe guides as passionate about Salem and say the tour is full of great stories. Tickets cost approximately $25 for adults with discounts for seniors, students and children. Tours run daily at 10 a.m. as well as at 12:30, 3 and 6:30 p.m. The company also offers a Mysteries and Murders of Salem tour.
Salem Food Tours – Food Tour
If you need a break from Salem's witchcraft lore, consider exploring its local food scene. This 3 1/2-hour excursion from Salem Food Tours makes at least five different stops for samples that could include ice cream, lobster rolls, spices, cheese and chocolate. Guides offer information about the history of the city's food scene and a chance to talk with local chefs and shopkeepers. Tour guides are knowledgeable about the city's food offerings and the community, according to travelers, who highly recommend taking the tour. Tickets cost approximately $60 per person and include all food and wine tastings. Tours are generally recommended for participants 21 and older as they do include a wine tasting, though the company can accommodate older teens with a nonalcoholic drink. Tours operate Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Salem Food Tours also offers a morning coffee tour, among other options.
Sinister Stories of Salem – Salem Morning Stroll
Learn about the history of Salem's witch trials, its colonial roots and more momentous events on this guided walk that covers a little less than 2 miles in two hours. Stops on the tour include the Witch House, the McIntire Historic District, Broad Street Cemetery and other landmarks. Travelers praise the tour guide and say this tour is adept at covering local history beyond the witch trials. Tickets cost approximately $20 per person; children 13 and younger can tour free. Tours are generally offered every day except Wednesday and Sunday. Morning tours depart at 11:30 a.m.; an additional 3 p.m. tour is also available.
Salem Historical Tours & Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tours – Cemetery 101: Grave Matters Tour
Travelers routinely laud guides of the Cemetery 101: Grave Matters Tour for their expertise and engaging storytelling style. This hourlong walk leads travelers through Salem's oldest burial ground while guides share stories about those who have been laid to rest there. Tourgoers will also get the chance to view tombstones created by prominent stone carvers. Tickets start at $12 for adults, $8 for children ages 6 to 12, and $10 for students and seniors. Tours depart daily at 1 p.m. The company also offers ghost tours and themed tours, including one that focuses on movies and TV shows about Salem.