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10 BEST Tours in Philadelphia for Food, History, and Hidden Gems

10 BEST Tours in Philadelphia for Food, History, and Hidden Gems

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Philadelphia is one of the most historic (and fun) cities to visit in the United States, and a tour is the best way to really get to know the birthplace of the USA

Yup, exploring Philly is about more than just walking around and looking at museums and monuments. From Philadelphia history tours that take you back in time to Philly cheesesteak tours and boozy trolley adventures, there are a ton of great ways to explore this city. We were actually super impressed by just how many unique tours were available. And if you only have one or two days in Philadelphia, it’s a great way to maximize your time.

So if you’re ready to take Philly by the horns and enjoy some fun experiences in the city, we’ve rounded up the top 10 tours on offer. Whether you want to learn about Philadelphia’s food, art scene, or craft beer culture, there’s definitely something on this list that you’ll enjoy! 

Our Top Choices

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie with their fresh pretzels during a food tour in Philadelphia, USA
The food tour!
Bailey walks through Elfreth's Alley and Museum in Philadelphia, USA
Bailey walks through Elfreth’s Alley!

If you don’t have time to read this entire article, then we’ve picked the top two tours you need to know about. Food and history are the two main reasons to visit Philadelphia, so these tours are the best way to get to know the City of Brotherly Love.

Flavors of Philly Food Tour

We did this Flavors of Philly food tour and had a fantastic time. It’s one of the best food tours we’ve ever done, anywhere in the world! You get to eat a ton of Philadelphia’s classic dishes, including cheesesteaks, tomato pie, cheese whiz fries, and two yummy desserts. We were stuffed by the end! 

If you’re like us and love to eat like the locals when you travel, then this tour is a must. You can skip the tourist trap restaurants and also pass by some of the city’s historic hotspots. We ate so much food and for $65 USD (or $74 USD on weekends), we thought it was great value too. This tour is very popular and sells out quickly, so make sure to book a spot in advance here.

Philadelphia Old City Historic Walking Tour

History is one of Philly’s biggest draws, so you can’t pass up the chance to step back in time while you’re here! This walking tour takes you to more than 10 historic sights, including the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross House, where the first American flag was sewn. You’ll also visit Elfreth’s Alley, which is the oldest residential street in the USA.

This tour has stellar ratings and is one of the best things to do in Philadelphia. It lasts for 1.5 hours, so it’s not too long but it’s still a fantastic way to learn how the United States came to be. It costs $44 USD and there are several departure times, so it’s easy to fit into your sightseeing schedule. History buffs be sure to book this tour in advance!

Best Tours in Philadelphia 

1. Best General Food Tour 

Bailey with a slice of Tomato Pie that we tried on a food tour around Philadelphia, US
The famous tomato pie!
Bailey bites into a doughnut during our food tour in Philadelphia
Yum!

This Philly food tour is one of the best food tours we have ever done! It was so much fun and we ate so much delicious food. Plus, for $65 USD it’s great value for money too, making it one of the best cheap things you can do in Philadephia! Trust us, you’ll want to arrive hungry!

Your guide will take you to a handful of local favorite restaurants and food vendors to try beloved Philly classics, including cheesesteaks and tomato pie, which is basically pizza without the cheese. Don’t knock it until you try it – it’s actually really good.

There are also stops for soft pretzels, cheese whiz fries, and dessert. Our guide made the tour super entertaining and taught us a lot about how Philadelphia’s food culture came to be. The tour ends at the Reading Terminal Market, which is where you’ll get to sample some insanely good sweet treats. This market is a must-visit in Philly, so we liked the fact that the tour took us here.

Not only did we get to eat tons of Philadelphia favorites on this tour, but we also saw quite a lot as we walked around the city. We think it’s a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with Philly and get a feel for what it’s all about. 

You’ll meet your guide in Liberty Place before beginning the tour. There are two choices for start time: 12 pm and 1:30 pm, so you’ll be hungry when the tour starts! Note that the price is $65 USD per person on weekdays and $74 USD per person on weekends.

For one of the best food tours you’ll find anywhere, book this Flavors of Philly Food Tour here.

2. Best Italian Market Tour

Bailey enjoys an Italian Coffee during our food tour of the Italian Market in Philadelphia, USA
Italian coffee!
Inside of a cheese shop in the Italian Market in Philadelphia
Look at all that cheese!

Philadelphia’s Italian Market is super famous thanks to the movie Rocky! In the 1976 film, Rocky runs through the street as market vendors are throwing fruit around, and the market became a Philly must-visit as a result. However, it’s actually been around since the 19th century, and it still feels very authentically Italian.

There are so many shops to explore that it’s difficult to know where to start, which is why we highly recommend this Italian Market food tour. You’ll be guided by Chef Jacquie who will help you discover the area’s culinary highlights, including an amazing cheese shop, a quintessential South Philly pizzeria, and lots of curbside stalls. 

You’ll not only get to indulge in a ton of delicious food during the tour, you’ll also learn more about the history of Italian immigration to the US, and the difference between northern and southern Italian cuisine.

Chef Jacquie is super funny and charismatic, and there’s a maximum of 10 people per group so it feels really personal. The tour lasts for around 2 hours and costs $80 USD per person. Alcoholic drinks cost extra but there will be chances to enjoy a glass of Italian wine along the way.

Discover the iconic Italian Market for yourself by booking this chef-led food tour here.

Related Read: One of our favorite foodie experiences is visiting Chelsea Market in NYC. The market has over 40 vendors serving up everything from noodles to donuts to New York-style pizza!

3. Best Combo Tour with Philly Cheesesteak  

Bailey bites into a Philly Cheese Steak during a food tour in Philadelphia
Yum!
Daniel out the front of Pats steaks during our segway food tour in Philadelphia, USA
Pat’s is the home of the Philly Cheesesteak!

It may be the birthplace of the United States, but Philadelphia is arguably just as famous for being the birthplace of the Philly cheesesteak! So if you’re wondering where to find the best Philly cheesesteak in the city, the best thing to do is join this small-group tour.

This combo tour promises to be super memorable not only because you get to visit one of the most legendary sandwich shops in the city, but also because you get to see some of Philadelphia’s most famous sites at night! Most visitors do their sightseeing during the day, so you’ll have some spots practically all to yourself.

Your guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you to historic sites all throughout the city. From Independence Hall to Philadelphia’s Washington Monument, you’ll get to see some of the most famous spots in the city.

Of course, no tour of Philadelphia is complete without a Philly cheesesteak, so you’ll stop to grab one at the legendary Pat’s. It’s the perfect way to end the night!

We love this tour because the maximum group size is 7 people, so it really feels like you’re getting a private experience. Plus, there’s just something so fun about ending the night with a cheesesteak. It costs $114 USD per person, including your transportation, guide, and Philly cheesesteak tasting. The 2-hour tour begins at 6:30 pm and is one of the best night tours in Philadelphia.

For a memorable night out in Philly (cheesesteak included!), book this combo tour online here.

4. Best Walking Historic Tour 

A statue in the Old City of Philadelphia, USA
The area is filled with history!
Bailey poses for a photo with liberty bell in Philadelphia on a tour from New York City
Liberty Bell!

Philadelphia is one of the most historic cities in the United States, so a history tour is a must while you’re here. On this historic walking tour, you’ll learn so much and get to visit all of the highlights of the Old City. 

From the Betsy Ross House to the Benjamin Franklin post office, you’ll see all of Philadelphia’s most important sights. You’ll even get to see the Liberty Bell, which was rung after the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

This tour is super popular because it really brings history to life, which is why it’s one of the best sightseeing tours in Philadelphia! You’ll hear lots of stories about the people and events that shaped the city that you’d never get from a textbook or classroom. The Old City is also very scenic and there are lots of photo stops, so this tour is also good for your Instagram feed! 

This historic walking tour costs $44 USD per person and lasts for 1.5 hours, which is enough to cover everything but not too long. There’s a maximum of 20 people per group so things don’t get too crowded, and you’ll have a chance to ask questions.

To discover Philadelphia’s role in shaping American history, book this historic walking tour here.

Related Read: To see more historic sites on the East Coast, consider taking a sightseeing tour of New York City.

5. Best Night/Ghost Tour 

A statue at Washington Square at night on a tour in Philadelphia
Learn about the dark side of Philly!
Our guide of our Dark Side of Philly tour talks to our tour group
This was a fun tour!

Believe it or not, Philly’s history isn’t all about the founding fathers and the revolution. There’s also a more sinister side to the city’s past, and this adult night tour is a fun way to discover it! 

We did this tour on our last trip to Philly and got to visit lots of historic places around town, including the original red light district where we heard lots of grizzly stories. We saw and learned so much on this tour that we consider it one of the best history tours in Philadelphia!

Our guide also took us to execution sites and places that are rumored to be haunted and regaled us with stories about vampires, pirates, and of course ghosts. She was an older lady with a wicked sense of humor and she really made this tour memorable – we had a blast. To learn even more about our personal experience, you can read our full review of the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour right here.

You get to visit sites like the President’s House, Congress Hall, and the First and Second Banks of the United States. It’s super engaging and a fantastic way to see a different side of Philadelphia. 

We also really appreciated the fact that this tour was at night because it gave us such a welcome break from the heat. Philly gets very warm during the summer so an evening tour is a much more comfortable experience.

The tour is for anyone over age 14 and costs $38 USD per person. The price increases to $44 USD on Fridays and $48 USD on Saturdays. It leaves at 8 pm and lasts for 2 hours, and the time really flies by because the tour is just so entertaining.

To discover Philly’s dark side (and have a blast), make sure to reserve your spot on this adult night tour.

6. Best Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour 

Hop on hop off bus in Philadelphia
Hop-on hop-off bus in Philadelphia

Philly is really walkable, but you still need a way to get around, especially if you’re only here for a quick visit. We think that hop-on hop-off bus tours like this one are a great way to get to know a new city because they give you so much flexibility while being a convenient way to see all of the highlights. 

We picked this specific bus tour and think it’s the best one because it’s got a really comprehensive route and covers almost everything that there is to see in Philly. There are 21 different stops when you can “hop off” from Reading Terminal Market or the United States Mint to the movie-famous “Rocky steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You really can’t go wrong! 

There’s guided commentary along the way, but you can get off at each stop and explore independently, and buses run between 9:30 am and 5 pm. You can also choose multi-day tickets if you plan to spend two or three days in Philadelphia.

A single-day ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus costs $36 USD per person. It’s $55 USD for two days or $74 USD for three days, so you can just choose the option that suits you best. There’s also an additional free shuttle that connects the bus route to hotels in the city center, so you don’t need to worry about getting to and from your accommodation either! 

If you have a limited amount of time in Philly, make sure to book your ticket for this hop-on hop-off bus tour.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

7. Best Brewery Tour

Daniel and Bailey enjoy drinks at Iron Hill Brewery in Philadelphia, USA
Cheers!
Tasting paddle at Iron Hill Brewery in Philadelphia
So much beer to try!

Philadelphia’s craft beer and brewpub scene is growing fast, and there are lots of fantastic spots in the city to discover. If you’re keen to find the best spots, this guided brewery tour takes you to some of Philly’s coolest breweries and distilleries, and you get to sample up to 12 craft beers! 

In a small group of no more than 14, you’ll go behind the scenes to three different breweries. At each spot, you’ll sample several of their best brews and really get a feel for the local flavors.

You not only get to know Philly’s craft beer scene, but you also get a feel for how brewing culture has developed across the United States. 

You can choose to leave either at 12 pm or 4:45 pm depending on the day, and you’ll get local snacks along the way. It costs $105 USD per person for groups of 3 or fewer and $120 USD each for larger groups. That includes all of your tastings and food, as well as transport from the meeting point to all of the different breweries. We think this is a really fun way to spend an afternoon or evening in Philadelphia! 

To enjoy Philadelphia’s craft and brewpub scene, reserve your spot on this brewery tour online here.

8. Best Combo Tour – Trolley Tour with Drinking!

Founding Footsteps Trolly in Philadelphia
Photo credit: Founding Footsteps

If you want to hit the town and go drinking in Philly, but also want to see the sights and soak up some history, this trolley tour is just the ticket! 

Basically, you bring your own booze with you and hop on board one of Philadelphia’s historic trolleys to go sightseeing. There will be a ton of energy on board, and the guides will make you laugh as they tell you lots of funny stories about the city’s history. 

The tour begins at Betsy Ross House where the trolley is parked in front of the courtyard. You’ll cruise around the city on this vintage trolley and see famous spots like City Hall, the famous Rocky steps, and the statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You’ll also see the Eastern State Penitentiary where Al Capone was held for 8 months, and Love Park.

There are plenty of stops along the way to take photos, and the drinks will be flowing on board. It’s such a fun and interesting way to discover Philly’s history – it’s both a sightseeing tour and a party!

The tour runs on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It leaves at 2 pm and lasts for around 2 hours, ending near Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. It costs $49 USD per person, and since you can bring your own drinks on board, it’s definitely cheaper than bar hopping.

For two hours of nonstop fun while exploring Philadelphia, make sure to book this history trolley tour in advance here!

9. Best Museum Tour

Bailey dressed up at the Revolution Museum in Philadelphia
I got dressed up!
A man on a horse on display at American Revolution Museum, Philadelphia, USA
One of the displays!

Philadelphia is home to tons of fantastic museums, but the American Revolution Museum is the star of the show since the city was integral to the American Revolution. 

The museum chronicles the American revolt against British rule and the fight for American Independence, and it’s an amazing place to learn about the foundation of the USA. You can visit independently, but the best way to do it is on this early morning guided tour.

You get to visit the museum at 9 am, an hour before it officially opens, so there are no crowds and you have the whole place to yourselves! Your guide will tell you some fascinating stories about the artifacts you see that you’d never hear otherwise, and get an in-depth look into American history. 

This tour is an incredible opportunity for history lovers to immerse themselves in the political, social, and cultural climate of the American Revolution. Plus, it’s a small group tour with a maximum of 14 people, so you’ll get to ask lots of questions and enjoy a whole hour at the museum before anyone else gets there! 

The tour costs $50 USD and starts at the museum at 9 am. The price includes museum entry and you can always stay after the tour ends and explore some more by yourself, as there’s a ton to see here. The tour is available Friday through Sunday.

History buffs, reserve your spot in advance on this early entry tour to make sure you don’t miss out!

10. Best Art Tour

Street art in Philadelphia, USA
So stunning!
A large street mural in Philadelphia, USA
The murals are huge!

Philadelphia is home to an awesome art scene and so many amazing street art murals. The best way to see them all is on this South Philly street art tour which will take you to see the best pieces in the city and to the Magic Gardens, which is Philly’s famous open-air art gallery. 

This is an awesome way to get off the beaten tourist track and see the Bella Vista and South Street neighborhoods, where a lot of the city’s most vibrant and eye-catching street art can be found. There will be plenty of photo opportunities, and you’ll learn so much more about the murals that you see.

The final stop on the tour is the Magic Gardens, which is the brainchild of Isaiah Zagar. He used materials like bottles, kitchen tiles, and bike wheels to create quirky mosaics that feel pretty Gaudi-esque. Your guide will tell you all about Zagar’s life, what inspired him to create these gardens, and the impact that they have had. 

It’s a really fun walking tour in Philly, and a portion of the proceeds go towards a local community art organization, so this tour helps to keep Philly’s art scene going. We like it because it’s a fantastic way to get off the tourist track and learn about the city’s local artistic community. It costs $49 USD per person and leaves at 2 pm, lasting for around 2 hours.

If you want to learn about Philly’s art scene, book this South Philadelphia Art and Murals Walking Tour here.

Where to Stay in Philadelphia, USA

Element Philadelphia Downtown room with a view
Photo credit: Element Philadelphia Downtown

Philadelphia is a big city, and deciding where to stay can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve narrowed it down to our top choices for each budget range. Plus, these places are close to the starting point for many of the tours we discussed. So keep reading to find the best accommodations for you!

The Rittenhouse Hotel – $$$

The Rittenhouse Hotel is a centrally located, award-winning accommodation. It has that old-school Philadelphia feel with modern amenities. They offer a gym, an indoor heated pool, a sun terrace, and a fabulous restaurant. You can also enjoy British tea and cocktails in their tea room, which is connected to a gorgeous garden.

Prices range from $350-$1,000 USD depending on the type of room and your dates. You can check prices and availability online here.

Element Philadelphia Downtown – $$

The Element Philadelphia Downtown is just a block from City Hall. It has a fitness center, an on-site restaurant, a shared lounge, and free bikes. The place has modern, well-equipped rooms, friendly staff, and a decent continental breakfast. Request a room higher up for an awesome city view.

This place is a great value for money, with prices starting as low as $160 USD when you book in advance.

Apple Hostels of Philadelphia – $

Apple Hostels of Philadelphia is my favorite budget accommodation in Philadelphia. It’s located in the Old City, within walking distance of the Liberty Bell and Center City. This hostel has it all, including a shared kitchen, laundry, pool table, foosball, Xbox, computers/iPads, guitars, and a TV area. You won’t have any trouble socializing, and they even offer free drinks and dinner sometimes. It’s clean, comfortable, and has a great vibe.

Shared rooms start at $34 USD, and private rooms begin at $85 USD. You can book your stay on Booking.com or through Hostelworld.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at th American Revolution Museum in Philadelphia, USA
Thanks for reading!

No matter what you enjoy doing from visiting historical sites to sampling craft beer, there’s probably a tour for it in Philadelphia. Hopefully, this guide has helped you pick out the tour that’s just right for you. We love seeing all Philly has to offer, and we hope you do, too!

If you’re planning to visit more US spots, check out our blogs all about the USA. We’ve also written about many other destinations worldwide. To get started, just click on one of the popular links below!

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