Paper or audio, there are plenty of options for downloadable walking tours of the world's great cities, and many just happen to be free. So before you set out on that next great world tour, you may want to spend a little time scouring the internet for specialized, themed, and generalist tours of your favorite destinations. We've done a bit of the hard work for you and here are a few tours to get you started
Plug and Play for Free
Even if you're not super proficient at all things technology-based, there's a good chance you still own an iPod or MP3 player (even if you need a friend or relative to load the music on it for you). I must admit, that at time, I am a bit download challenged. But when it comes to seeking out the best traveling ideas, I am willing to give anything a go.
Although I like the idea of taking a formal walking tour in a new city, I am not too keen on doing it with a large group and would prefer to do things at my own pace. Which makes the idea of being able to find a tour I like and just download it -- either in a printed version with a map or in audio format straight on to my iPod -- is perfect. The fact that it happens to be free, makes the deal even sweeter. All you need is Internet connection, (free) podcast software and a way to listen to your files (MP3 player or similar).
The free download is particularly prevalent for European destinations, where dozens of city government and local tourism authorities recognize the added value of having such easy access to great tours on the cities' websites. You can either search for individual tours on respective city, state, or country tourism websites; some are available (still for free) through Apple's iTunes website. All you need to do is download Apple's podcasting and music software, iTunes at www.apple.com/itunes/download.
The city of Dublin (www.visitdublin.com/iwalks/iwalks.xml) has a series of different walks (iWalks) and you can access them through the above website or through Apple's iTunes. Subscribe to iWalk podcasts and new iWalks will be automatically downloaded for you when they become available. It's easy and totally free. Currently there are twelve themes and each iWalk comes with a full-color brochure featuring maps and illustrations by historian Pat Liddy.
Tours include Croke Park -- exploring the history of Dublin and the connection between the city, Croke Park Stadium, and the Gaelic Athletic Association; Guinness iWalk -- a journey through Dublin city center, outlining the story of how Guinness has been part of the city for centuries; Georgian Dublin; the Historic Northside; Castles and Cathedrals; Viking and Medieval Dublin; Temple Bar to the Docklands; In the Steps of Ulysses; Kilmainham; Dalkey and Dun Laoghaire; and Malahide to Portmarnock. Apart from English (with a lovely Irish drawl), the downloads are also available in French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
Jerusalem (www.jerusalemp3.com) also offers a selection of 13 free downloadable walking tours that take in various parts of city. All you need to do is visit the website and register (provide you name and email address) and you can download an audio tour, printed versions, and maps, plus watch a video of each tour before you go so you will be more familiar with the sites when you are on the ground. An added benefit is that you can choose to download only selected sites on each tour if you particularly don't want to visit one included destination you're your time is limited.
Tours, ranging from approximately two to six hours in length, include Zion Gate to Jaffa Gate visiting the Dormition Abbey, the Last Supper Room, King David Tomb, the Armenian Quarter, the Christ Church and David's Citadel; Mount of Olives to Kidron Valley visiting Mt. of Olives observation point, Mt. Of Olives churches, Absalom lookout point, and a panoramic view of the City of David; and Via Dolorosa starting at the Lion's Gate and ending at the Tomb Garden with highlights including the 14 stations of Jesus, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Redeemer's Church.
Paris is the prefect walking city, and one of the most beautiful and eclectic areas is Le Marais. For an insider's look at this colorful neighborhood, download a free audio walking tour from Let Them Talk (www.letthemtalk.com/pariswalks/parisaudiotours.html). The people who put these audio tours together actually run language classes in Paris so this is a bit of a side project for them. Their four tours include Marais and Place des Vosges; Le Marais' restaurants, ice cream, deserts, and boulangeries; Le Marais Past and Present; and The Heart of the Marais, discovering the Jewish quarter and its history in Paris.
Cityzeum (www.cityzeum.com/podcast/rss-en.xml) provides a free downloadable audio tour that takes in ten impressive and monumental sites in Paris. The tour itself could take you several days to complete, featuring visits to notable locations such as the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre Museum and Sacre Couer, and is a helpful guide to those wishing to see the sites at their own pace. Each site has a separate audio file so you choose bits and pieces to download.
Da Vinci Code fans will appreciate Peter Caine's "Walking 'The Da Vinci Code' in Paris" free audio tour (www.walkingthedavincicode.com/walkingtour.html). Discover the "palace of symbols" known as the Paris Opera, the beautiful royal square, Place Vendome, the magnificent Tuileries Gardens, and much more. Of course Peter also sells real walking tours of Paris and has written a book, so there is sure to be some gratuitous advertising laced through the free audio tour. A printable map is also available on the website.
And for a more extensive range of free individual Paris downloads (over 30 areas and locations), including Pigalle, Ile St Louis Quartier, Saint Germain des Pres, Champs Elysees, and the La Defense Quartier, visit www.podcastdirectory.com/podcasts/23497.
Buenos Aires' (www.bue.gov.ar/audioguia/?info=quees) tourism department offers visitors and those who are just interested to learn more about their great city, 12 different free downloadable "circuits" or Mobile audio guides for walking tours around town. Areas featured include Recoleta, Retiro, Palermo Viejo, La Boca, Montserrat, San Telmo, and Avenida Corrientes. The website also features downloadable maps or you can pick up copies at local tourist information centers. Even if you don't have an MP3 player, you can access these audio guides via a cell phone for the cost of a local call when you are in Buenos Aires. Tours are in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.
Although they do charge for some of their downloadable audio tours (approximately A$10 to A$14), Talk N Tours (www.talk-n-tours.com/catalog/index.php) features a number of free downloadable podcasts for destinations in Australia and New Zealand on its website. Currently, free podcasts include Melbourne Laneways and Ettalong Beach in New South Wales.
Another good resource is iAudio Guide (www.iaudioguide.com), a website that features over 50 cities around the world with close to 40 free downloadable versions (other payable tours range from €5 to €10 each depending on the city).
And of course, no round-up of downloadable guides and walking tours would be complete without a mention of our own Frommer's website at www.frommers.com/rss/frommers_walking_tours.xml which currently features two day by day free audio walking tours -- one cultural and historical tour of Greenwich Village, New York and the other, of The Da Vinci Code's Paris featuring numerous key sites from the book -- both adapted from Frommer's Day by Day guides.Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers in our Cameras, Phones, and Gadgets Forum today.