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8 BEST Walking Tours in Philadelphia for History, Art, and even Food!

8 BEST Walking Tours in Philadelphia for History, Art, and even Food!

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Philadelphia is a wonderful city with a rich history, iconic food, great bars, and beautiful art, so you’ll find plenty to do during your visit. If you haven’t tried a proper Philly cheesesteak you are in for one mouth-watering treat! 

Walking tours are a fun and affordable way to explore the city. Since many are available year-round, they are easy to fit into your schedule even if you’re only in Philadelphia for one day. We’ve visited Philly lots of times and we want to share our favorite walking tours so you can skip the guesswork and decide which ones are right for you.

If you’re ready to hit the town, keep reading for our 8 favorite walking tours in Philadelphia!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Our favorite walking tours in Philadelphia are:

  1. Exploring the Old City on this historic walking tour that visits a ton of famous stops including Betsy Ross House, the first-ever US Post Office, and the Liberty Bell!
  2. Eating the local cuisine on this Philly food tour – cheesesteaks, tomato pie, and soft pretzels, oh my!
  3. Learning about Philly’s dark past on this night tour for adults

Best Walking Tours in Philadelphia

1. Philadelphia Old City Historic Walking Tour

Bailey walks through Elfreth's Alley and Museum in Philadelphia, USA
Bailey walks through Elfreth’s Alley and Museum in Philadelphia, USA
Old historic building in the Old City of Philadelphia, USA
Carpenters’ Hall!

If you’re looking for a way to spend an afternoon in Philly that’s quick, easy, and highly informative this Old City Walking Tour is a great budget-friendly option. It’s jam-packed with American history and stops by all the highlights in the area.

We met our guide at 3rd Street and Arch to start exploring. Known as the birthplace of American independence, Old City is a wonderful step back in time. Our guide, Seamus, had plenty of interesting facts and quirky anecdotes to keep us entertained as we roamed these historical streets.

We passed by tons of different sites including Elfreth’s Alley which is one of the country’s oldest inhabited residential streets, and Carpenters’ Hall where the First Continental Congress met in 1774.

We also appreciate that our guide took the time to point out other places nearby to visit that weren’t covered in the tour. After about 1.5 hours, we wrapped up by exploring Independence Hall.

This walking tour is one of the best sightseeing tours in Philly and is offered every day with multiple start times so it’s easy to fit into your schedule. It costs $44 USD per person, and it’s a great option for groups or solo travelers.

This is a very popular tour and often sells out fast so be sure to book your tickets here in advance.

2. Flavors of Philly Food Tour

Bailey with a slice of Tomato Pie that we tried on a food tour around Philadelphia, US
The famous tomato pie!
Bailey and Daniel take a selfie with their fresh pretzels during a food tour in Philadelphia, USA
Fresh pretzels!

If you’re a foodie like we are, you’ll love going on a food tour in Philly! If you’re trying to figure out where to eat some local staples, this Flavors of Philly Food Tour was made for you. You’ll get to indulge in some of the city’s most iconic foods that will be sure to leave your taste buds happy.

You’ll head to five different stops to try classics like cheese whiz fries, soft pretzels, a couple of sweet treats, and of course, the Philly cheesesteak! As weird as cheese whiz fries sound they are actually pretty good. Don’t knock it till you try it!

This food tour ended up being a bit of a history lesson as well, and we learned about how some of the city’s most famous foods were created. The famous Philly cheesesteak was invented by a hotdog vendor after he put beef on his grill to make a sandwich and a passing cab driver thought it looked good so asked for one too. The rest is history!

While we’ve eaten some of the best Philly cheesesteaks during our stays in the city, it was really fun to try some other local bites as well. Be sure to come hungry because you will be eating lots of food! This tour includes a stop at the Reading Terminal Market which is another must-see for any foodie.

This tour runs daily at 12 pm and 1:30 pm and costs between $65-$74 USD a person depending on the day. It lasts for about 2.5 hours, and they can accommodate vegetarian requests as long as you reach out beforehand. We found this to be a fantastic way to learn about and eat all the local favorites.

If you’re excited to fill your stomach with Philly foods, you can book this food tour here.

3. Philadelphia History, Highlights, & Revolution Walking Tour

Daniel stands out the front of Independence Hall on a history tour in Philadelphia, USA
Daniel stands in front of Independence Hall on a history tour in Philadelphia, USA
Benjamin Franklins grave in Philadelphia, USA
Benjamin Franklin’s grave in Philadelphia, USA

Do you love American history and want a deeper understanding of some of its pivotal moments and landmarks? We found this History, Highlights, & Revolution Tour to be a great option for both history buffs and newbies to the area (like us!). This tour is loaded with fascinating information about the Revolutionary War, politics, and significant places that played a vital role in America’s liberation from British rule.

We met our group at Signer’s Garden in front of the aptly named Signer’s Statue. This statue represents the men who fought for freedom and is based on the Philadelphia statesman George Clymer, who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

We walked through Independence National Historical Park to see landmarks like Independence Hall and Congress Hall. Our guide really took the time to explain the importance of these buildings, and we learned a lot about America’s founding fathers as well. Did you know Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe all died on July 4th, America’s Independence Day?

This tour also includes a quick stop at the Museum of the American Revolution to see George Washington’s war tent, but if you want to explore more of the museum on your own time, you’re in luck! By joining this tour, you’ll automatically get discounted tickets so you can roam through the museum afterward. We spent hours here, so we highly recommend checking it out if you have time.

We’ve been on a ton of amazing tours in Philadelphia, and we learned so much on this one that we would have missed if we just walked around these areas on our own. Even if you know a lot about American history, I’m confident you’ll learn something new on this tour!

This walking tour runs every day at 10:30 am and 2 pm. It costs $59 USD per person and we think it’s one of the most informative history tours in Philly. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a first-time visitor, you can learn about Philadelphia’s beginnings on this walking tour by clicking here.

Related Read: If you’re traveling on a budget, check out the best free things to do in New York City!

4. Dark Philly Adult Night Tour

A guide talks to a group on a night tour in Philadelphia, USA
Learning about the dark past!
A statue at Washington Square at night on a tour in Philadelphia
Learn about the dark side of Philly!

If stories about haunted sites, vampires, executions, and other grisly historical tidbits pique your interest, we think you’ll love this Dark Philly Night Tour. It offers a fascinating look at Philadelphia’s lesser-known dark history.

You’ll walk to many of the city’s famous landmarks, but believe us, the stories will be much different on this tour. Our guide was an older woman who nailed the role of haunted history teacher meets dark-humored comedian to a tee. She didn’t shy away from the brutal truth of Philadelphia’s past and we were wrapped up in her story-telling the whole time.

We’ve taken our fair share of history tours in Philadelphia, but this one might be the most unique. We’ve learned tons about the Founding Fathers on these tours, and while we won’t ruin the surprise here, let’s just say that the President’s House isn’t all it seems to be. 

We heard so many ghost stories, but luckily our guide always mixed in a fair dash of humor so I didn’t feel the need to keep checking over my shoulder. All in all, this tour turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences we had in the city! If you’re still not convinced, just read our full review of this Dark Philly Adult Night Tour here.

This experience starts at 8 pm and goes for 2 hours, but even if you’re not a night owl, it’s totally worth it! We want to reemphasize that this is an adult-only tour with mature content. It’s available for $38-$48 USD depending on the day, and it’s honestly our favorite night tour in Philadelphia.

For those looking to learn about the R-rated side of Philly that you won’t read in any textbook, you can secure these night tour tickets right here!

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.

5. Italian Market Food Tour with Top Philly Food Journalist 

Daniel walks the fruit market in the Italian Market in Philadelphia
The Italian Market!
Bailey enjoys an Italian Coffee during our food tour of the Italian Market in Philadelphia, USA
Italian coffee!

Get a behind-the-scenes look on this Market Food Tour where you’ll be led by one of the city’s top food journalists through South Philly’s best spots. You’ll eat at famous restaurants and local favorites while getting the inside scoop on Philly’s cuisine over the years.

We met our guide at the Singing Fountain in the legendary Passyunk Avenue neighborhood, and she explained a lot about the people who immigrated here and how different international communities have helped expand diversity through cultural values, food, art, and everything in between.

We visited a couple of different neighborhoods and tried foods like banh mi, tacos, cannolis, and other goodies at some amazing restaurants and bakeries. After going on some amazing food tours in New York, we were excited to find such a great option in Philadelphia. There was such an impressive variety of flavors and our guide was friends with a lot of the restaurant owners and vendors, so it made the whole experience much more intimate.

After a lot of incredible stories and food samples, we ended the day at the Italian Market with a complimentary glass of wine and a “cheat sheet” to all of her recommended restaurants, bars, and other entertaining activities in the city. It was such a great time!

This walking tour lasts about 3 hours and costs $95 USD per person. It’s a fantastic option for anyone interested in trying a variety of international foods while learning about some hidden gems. It’s also less crowded as tour sizes are capped at 10 people. This tour only runs Fridays through Sundays, so we strongly encourage you to book well in advance. You can book this experience right here!

Related Read: If you’re looking for another incredible food tour, check out the Chelsea Market food tour in NYC!

6. Secret Bars and Favorite Spots Walking Tour in Philadelphia

Bailey at Sassafras in Philadelphia, USA
Bailey at Sassafras in Philadelphia, USA
Two cocktails at Sassafras in Philadelphia, USA
Two cocktails at Sassafras in Philadelphia, USA

If you enjoy the craft cocktail scene and going to unique bars, then this Philadelphia Secret Bars Tour was made for you!

You’ll meet at Bao Nine and head out to some of the city’s best venues that are off the radar. Your guide will be sure to round everybody up when it’s time to head to the next location, and depending on the time and size of the group, you might even pop into one of Philly’s best speakeasies.

We want to note that this experience includes bar covers, moving to the front of the line (yes VIP!), and a complimentary shot of tequila! However, any additional drinks purchased are at your own expense.

Each of the bars has a different atmosphere and some offer specialty cocktails, so it’s a really fun experience if you’re looking for a night on the town. We actually think this would be a great tour for people who just moved to the city and are looking for some local watering holes.

You’ll have the chance to dance to a live DJ and enjoy plenty of incredible cocktails on this 3-hour tour. If you do have an exceptionally fun night please remember to be responsible and book a cab back to your accommodation instead of driving. 

This secret bars walking tour costs $35 USD, making it one of our favorite cheap things to do in Philadelphia!

It only runs Thursdays through Saturdays, so we’d reserve your tickets in advance here.

7. South Philly Art Tour – Small Group Walking Tour

Bailey walks through Philadelphia's Magic Gardens in Philadelphia, USA
Bailey walks through Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
A large street mural in Philadelphia, USA
The murals are huge!

Philadelphia has some incredible street art that decorates its many neighborhoods and is a wonderful representation of what the City of Brotherly Love stands for. You won’t want to miss this South Philly Art Tour during your visit and get the chance to dive into the city’s artistic side. 

We loved dipping in and out of the residential areas and back alleys, and there were so many incredible murals that we saw. Our guide also did a great job of explaining the story behind these works of art, which are as stunning as they are meaningful.

The last part of the tour is spent at one of the most unique art installations I have ever seen, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens! This is a massive and continually worked-on exhibit created by Isaiah Zagar that is so much fun to explore. There are multiple levels and many nooks and crannies covered in mosaics and recycled materials, and it felt a bit like walking through a colorful dream. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience and we loved spending time here.

This tour operates every day except Monday and Tuesday and costs $49 USD a person. It lasts about 2 hours, and part of your purchase benefits a local community organization which is pretty cool. You can experience the local art scene by booking this ticket here.

8. The Black Journey: An African-American History Walking Tour of Philadelphia

bailey reads a sign about Geroge Washingtons House in Philadelphia, USA
Slavery in the President’s House.

I found this African-American History Tour to be an important and culturally enriching experience I would encourage everyone to join. You’ll learn about Philadelphia’s history through a new lens including what life was like for black individuals in the pre-Civil War era along with many other fascinating historical insights. 

This tour includes stops at many of the landmarks we’ve mentioned but with a primary focus on black history. We visited the President’s House which is where the first two American presidents resided. However, what’s often overlooked is the fact that enslaved people also lived here. Most tours only briefly discuss life surrounding the abolitionist movement, so this was a truly unique opportunity and gave us a new historical perspective on the treatment that Black people endured.

There is a stop at the Liberty Bell Center as well. We knew this bell was used as a symbol for the abolitionist movement, but this tour provided a lot more knowledge about the struggle for freedom that Black Americans had to fight for long after slavery was abolished. We are always seeking out tours that offer a different perspective, and we’ve been fortunate to join some sightseeing tours in Washington DC with similar ideals as this one that help provide a more complete and accurate understanding of history.

This is a very informative tour and the guides have so much knowledge about the Black History Movement and clearly explain the importance of all cultures and backgrounds and their interconnected roles in society. It runs on Saturdays at 2 pm and only costs $35 USD, and we think it’s one of the best ways to learn about Philadelphia’s complex and important African-American history.

If you’re visiting Philly on a Saturday, we recommend booking tickets for this walking tour right here

Related Read: If you are traveling around this side of the country, we have a complete one week itinerary for New York City that you might find useful!

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. 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 or through Hostelworld.

Thanks for reading!

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

Well, there you have it! Eight of the best walking tours in Philly. Whether you visit for the food, culture, art, or history, you’ll get plenty of information when you join a walking tour in the city of Philadelphia.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article, and that you’ll consider reading some of our others! We’ve been all over the USA and Canada, and have written about our travels along the way. We’ve listed some articles you might like below:

10 Things to Know BEFORE Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

The 3 BEST Niagara Falls Tours from New York City

1 Day in Toronto – The Ultimate 24 Hours in the City