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When my tour guide Carolina (Real City Tours) asked for all those who’ve taken a free walking tour in the past to raise their hand, I did. I was going to mention that I’ve done a walking tour before, but it wasn’t free. Little did I know her emphasis was on the FREE part versus the walking tour part. The point that she was getting to was the difference between paid and free tours. With paid tours, it’s a set price whether or not you like the tour and whether or not the guide was good. With free tours, you pay what you want and not only will the guide most likely be amazing, but they’ll go out of their way to be great because their “tips” depend on how pleased you were. I didn’t think of any of this when booking my Free Walking Tour of Medellin, Colombia with Real City Tours.
Let me first say that I can’t give you the entire spiel because then you’d have no reason to take it. Just like any other tour I’ve done, whether they be food tours or another, you should take the tour to find out every stop along the way. What I can say is that I’m not surprised that Real City Tours is the #1 walking tour company in Medellin, Colombia.
We met up in downtown Medellin – well eventually since my map got me a little lost – and headed out in a group of no more than 20 to explore the area. Over the course of 4 hours we walked around downtown learning the history of Medellin, which seemed to span hundreds of years. In no way was it a boring history lesson (I love history), but we needed to know how Medellin developed a booming economy without the help of Voldemort, aka Pablo Escobar, and his drug money.
Real City Tours gets my stamp of approval because not only are the guides knowledgeable about the city, but they don’t hide or sugarcoat the juicy facts you want to know. Some guides simply want to sell you on their city and let you know just how amazing it is, but I didn’t get the cookie cutter version during my 4 hour walk with Carolina. Having such an open and honest guide made following her around for 4 hours even more bearable. I even loved that she kept encouraging us to ask questions when we really just wanted to hear her speak.
The best part about this particular tour was that we went to the “not so glamorous” parts of downtown Medellin. Seeing hardcore pornography DVDs being sold next to a historical church just wasn’t on my itinerary that day, but it managed to fit in. I wasn’t taken aback being in parts of the city where nobody sane should be caught after the sun goes down, but I love that she took it there. She took US there. And after being in that same exact area the day before and swearing off a second visit, I’m so glad I booked with Real City Tours. Downtown Medellin is my new go to place, even if it’s only for the best empanadas I’ve ever had.
Real City Tours has other tours that I’ve heard are great. Several people even mentioned booking more than one with them. I met a woman who said she’d taken the same tour earlier in the day and it was different, which is something you can expect with different guides. The night before I’d met a woman who said she cried (the good kind of tears) during her tour because it was just that great.
To be honest, I’m not trying to sell you on this tour because I don’t need to. Their testimonies speak for themselves but I will say that the Free Walking Tour with Real City Tours should be the first thing on your itinerary when visiting Medellin, Colombia and I know you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did. If you don’t, well then you lost nothing but 4 hours of your time and it was FREE.