How is the Real City : Walking Tour of Medellin? And how “free” is it? Is it worth it? If you’re looking for the best countries to retire cheap, you’re not a tourist. Chances are you won’t be doing the same things that a tourist who is visiting a country for 2 weeks will be doing.
I discovered the Real City Free Walking Tour through word of mouth from a hostel mate . Go here for the tour details.
First I should I admit, I’m terribly terribly biased againts tours. The tours I’ve gone on are usually commissioned based, sucker traps. I remember going to China, and the tours were like “Here’s a nice jade factory….you should by some jade”. Real City doesn’t do that at all. According to my guide Pablo, it’s completely commission free. (I can say that is true, we didn’t walk into any obvious tourist traps.)
To sign up, do it for the day before, they run these tours 2 times a day, so you should have no problem getting in. They have about 200 people per tour time, broken into multiple groups. You will need to reserve for exactly how many people you want to bring though. I saw one group of 3 guys try to add a 4th girl. The whole group was moved into the waiting list. Also, show up with your friends, because they check you in based on time, if you do not show up together you won’t be in the same group.
The tour itself is “free” but they will hit you up for a 25-35k Colombian peso tip ($12-$17 Cdn) at the end.
Lasting roughly 4 hours, only 2 hours of it is walking, the other 2 hours is sitting. Do not worry about your physical condition, you can do this tour limping with a walker.
The average age of the group is 20 something, but older people should have no problem.
Did I love the tour? Not really. But I admit I’m incredibly anti-tour. They spent way too much time sitting, and not near enough time in the fun areas. For example, one time, an impromptu break dance troupe of topless Paisa guys with music happened in front of us. These guys were pretty good. Flips, jumps, spins…..nicely done.
The tour guide dragged us away so he could talk about what a typical Colombian breakfast was. You could definitely tell that the group (girls especially) would definitely have liked to see the end of the performance.
You can’t blame Real City Tours for this though. That’s the reality of any type of group tour. You’ll inevitably spend far too much time not doing what you want to do, and not enough time doing what you do want to do.
My tip? Skip this tour, and take the metro to Parque Barrio with a friend. I’ve included their map if you want to recreate your own tour.
I rate this tour a solid 5/10. I would recommend it if you are the type of person who likes tours. If you’re independent, and not scared to venture out, skip it. (To be honest though, you don’t pay if you don’t think it was worth it, and most people there seemed like I had a good time.)
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