Visitors to South Carolina’s charming city of Charleston are in for a real treat: the historic district enjoys some of the best guided tours in the US.
Charleston was founded in the 1600s. The city soon became exceedingly prosperous via the plantation business, with plantation owners forcing many thousands of African slaves into labor. However, these days atonement is in the air – the city issued a formal apology in 2018 – and the true story of the past, from its Gilded Age mansions to its plantations, is told on excellent guided tours of the city. Charleston’s downtown is filled with beautiful old buildings and the best way to explore and learn about this past is on foot. These five top walking tours explore Old Charleston’s sights, sounds and, occasionally, tastes as well.
Historic Charleston Guided Walking Tour
This relaxing two-hour stroll aims to illuminate Charleston’s historic moments that have helped shape the city you see today, for better or worse. Explore Charleston’s religion at churches such as the French Huguenot Gothic revival building, slavery outside the Old Slave Mart, and architecture outside Gilded Age mansions such as Edmondston-Alston House. Other places of interest around the French Quarter include Dock Street Theatre and the Battery and White Point Gardens. This tour runs daily in the afternoon. From $22 per person.
Charleston’s Hidden Alleys and History Walking Tour
The Holy City – as Charleston is often known for its numerous church steeples – has a plethora of pleasant alleys and passageways that are inaccessible to vehicles and therefore offer a glimpse of the city’s past. Bypassing some of the more obvious and well-known sights of the city, this tour aims to recount the lesser-known history of Charleston, SC. This extremely popular walking tour passes by Rainbow Row, Joe Riley Waterfront Park, and Philadelphia Alley, among other places. From $26 per person.
Charleston’s French Quarter Guided Walking Tour
The French Quarter of Charleston is said to be the oldest surviving French settlement in the United States. It is this nook of the historic district that encapsulates so perfectly the easy charm of Charleston. During this two-hour guided walking tour, you’ll explore the streets of this walled city within a city and on towards the historic harbor, with its defensive forts, built to protect the city from attacks by its European founders. Highlights include 17th century churches, General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters during the Civil War, and Dock Street Theatre. This tour runs on most days apart from Saturdays. From $28 per person.
Charleston Historic Walking Tour
This walking tour concerns itself with unravelling the mysteries of historic Charleston. By visiting a broad array of sites, from historic Gilded Age mansions, Joe Riley Waterfront Park – with its cannon and Fort Sumter – and the old Charleston City Market, the past of the city is gradually unlocked. Highlights visited during the approximately two-hour walk include the colorful houses along Rainbow Row and important sites in the city from the Revolutionary and Civil wars. From $36 per person.
Downtown Charleston Culinary Walking Tour
Over the course of 2.5 hours, the Charleston Culinary Tour combines two of the best elements of travel: history and food. By way of the historic heart of the city, this excellent guided tour stops by three or four different restaurants to sample cuisine typical of the Lowcountry region. The food tastings are included in the price. The amount of food served during the tour should be enough for a full meal. With a few exceptions, this tour runs three times daily. From $85 per person.