Take a tour of the sights, sounds and tastes of NYC with one or more of these FREE guided walking tours through NYC’s diverse neighborhoods, parks and iconic historic buildings. Whether you are a lifetime resident, newcomer or tourist, there’s something to enjoy, and learn.
Many of these tours are completely free, or tip-based, and all are guided by dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers and docents ready to share their love of the greatest city on the planet.
These free guided tour groups are in alphabetical order, because that’s the only fair way to list them.
Big Apple Greeter
Everyone gets a warm welcome from the Big Apple Greeter team of 300+ volunteers, many of whom are multilingual. The sign-up form asks what neighborhoods you fancy and what your interests are, and matches you with a local expert.
The art galleries of SoHo or the Upper East Side? Got it. Revolutionary Era sites connected with Alexander Hamllton and George Washington? Got it. The best espresso and fresh baked bread in Little Italy in Manhattan or Arthur Avenue in the Bronx? Got it.
Battery Park City Parks Conservancy
Battery Park City Parks Conservancy takes care of 36 acres of Lower Manhattan playgrounds, gardens and plazas, including the revolutionary SeaGlass Carousel, where you ride sea creatures, not land creatures. FREE tours include include organic-gardening walks around Wagner Park, public-art explanations at Teardrop Park and bird-watching excursions, binoculars included, or bring your own. There are no tours in winter months.
Make a day of it by visiting two great museums at the edge of Battery Park.
- The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian, with FREE admission year-round, and exhibits on Native Americans from throughout the Western Hemisphere, both North and South America.
- Museum of Jewish Heritage is a tribute to those of all faiths and cultures who perished in the Holocaust, and contemporary issues of intolerance and discrimination. There’s also a great section on Jewish stars of vaudeville, Broadway and Hollywood, from Sophie Tucker and the Marx Brothers to Barbra Streisand and Stephen Spielberg.
Brooklyn Brewery and SingleCut Beersmiths
Brooklyn Brewery hosts free tours daily, less crowded than the weekend tours, which start on the half-hour, between 12:30pm and 5:30pm. Reservations are required on weekends. Each tour ends in the Tasting Room, where you can sample what you watched being brewed, or one of the other featured brews, sitting at indoor picnic tables. Tours also touch on the unique history of the Williamsburg neighborhood.
Neaby SingleCut offers a short, somewhat informal tour of its facilities on Saturdays and Sundays, at 3pm and 4pm. Repair afterward to the tap room—or start there, and buy a beer to have in hand while you check out the brewing process.
Under 21s must be accompanied by someone over 21. Make mine a hefeweizen!
Central Park Conservancy
Central Park has 80 acres of woodland, 250 acres of lawns and 150 acres of water, so it’s nearly impossible to see it all without an expert tour guide. The Central Park Conservancy offers long lineup of free tours, and an equally long list of ticketed tours, most of which are $15 or less. Offerings change seasonally, from FREE birding tours in warm weather to Strawberry Fields in colder weather.
Or, chose a tour of the lesser-known sights at the northern end of Central Park, including the Harlem Meer, or the Shakespeare Garden or Conservatory Garden in between.
- SEE ALSO 8 Secrets of Central Park
Free Tours by Foot
Free Tours by Foot offers a combination of FREE self-guided audio tours, guided tours and ticketed bus tours, in Manhattan and Brooklyn, especially food tours. Get a taste – literally – for the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village or Chinatown. Obviously, you pay for the eats from your own pocket. There also are tours of Harlem landmarks such as the Apollo Theater; the thrift stores of Gramercy; and a couple of NYC parks.
All guides work solely for tips, so the value of each outing is up to you.
Grand Central Partnership
See why the neighborhood surrounding Grand Central Terminal is so much more than a transportation hub. Every Friday at 12:30pm, the Grand Central Partnership conducts a 90-minute guided walking tour led by an urban historian. You’ll stop at, and learn about the Whispering Gallery, discover the secrets of the passageways, gaze at the architectural splendor of the Chrysler Building, visit Pershing Square, and more.
There are no reservations; just show up. There also are FREE audio tours.
Union Square Partnership
Join a FREE one-hour walking tour entitled “Union Square: Crossroads of New York,” led by the historians at Big Onion Walking Tours, to explore the social and political history of the Union Square neighborhood and learn about the people and events that shaped this vibrant historical community. The tour begins at the Abraham Lincoln statue in Union Square Park near 16th Street.
Look for the guide holding a “Union Square: Crossroads of New York” sign at the statue. Tours are every Saturday except major holidays, and times vary by season. Reservations are not required for individuals, but are required for groups of 10 or more. To RSVP for a group, call (212) 517-1826.
Village Alliance specializes the literary and entertainment history, along with the timeless charm, of this famous Manhattan neighborhood which retains its Bohemian vibe.
Tours highlight such literary icons of the past as Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe, more contemporary ones including Truman Capote, the artists and students today who frequent the neighborhood’s coffee shops, theaters and music clubs, and the social and architectural aspects of the Village. FREE tours are June through September, or download self-guided ideas for other times of the year.
Image of Union Square via NYCGO, the NYC tourism marketing agency.
Image of Mark Twain plaque at 14 W. 10th St. courtesy NYTimes.