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We know! You did not have time to pick up a guidebook.  Alternatively, you picked it up but didn't have time to read it.  If either statement identifies you, try taking one the "touristy" but informative "overview" tours in the cities that you will visit.  Yeah, you may feel like a tourist, but you will be an informed tourist.  Find out more in our article.


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Travel Advice -  Take the “Introduction to………” tour

When you arrive at a new destination for the first time and that location is one of the world’s major tourist cities, we advise you to take an “overview” tour used to highlight the attractions the city has to offer the visitor. Yes, it sounds "absolutely touristy" and the buses used for the tours are usually painted in bright colors and make it look "absolutely touristy". Forget about it! You are on vacation and you are only going to do this bus thing once. Besides, these tours are really helpful, especially if you have done little research on things to see and do before leaving home. (See Researching your destination and Buying the right guidebook for you)

  • One of the best places to find information about these “introduction” tours is the local, official tourist office.
  • Another good source (available only in major cities in the U.S. and internationally) are the tourist magazines such as “Where” or “Destination” that are provided free of charge at major hotels and travel agencies.
    • Even if you aren’t staying at one of these hotels, they usually have a stack of these magazine at the Concierge’s desk and they are free for the taking.
  • In most locations, though, it is impossible to miss knowing about these tours, as there are generally “hawkers” near major tourist attractions, who represent the tour lines and will be pleased to provide you with brochures describing the different tours.


The “Introductory Tours” are a great way to get an overview of the city and checkout the locations of the sites that you may want to visit. In addition, the tour will help you to understand the layout of the city and its relationship to the location of your hotel. Although the prices of these tours vary, most are good values and are a pleasant, easy way to spend a couple of hours learning about your new destination.

  • Although most operators offer different types of tours that vary in length, we suggest limiting yourself to a two or three-hour introduction.
  • In addition, we suggest taking the tour on your first day at the location. If you have traveled overseas to get there, the bus ride is a good, low energy way to keep awake in your attempt to avoid jet lag (see Avoiding Jet Lag).

Many of these bus-based tours are of the “hop-on, hop-off” variety, allowing you unlimited travel for the day you purchased a ticket.

  • In some cases, this is a good way to see major attractions as it allows you to travel between them at a reasonable rate.
    • We do not recommend this as a strategy as it can lead to “burn out” and trying to see too many attractions. (See our article When less is more.)

Many of the tours in international locations feature a translation of the tour guide’s spiel in various languages. Make sure that the systems works and demand a refund if it doesn’t or you will spend two hours wondering what you are seeing and why it is important.


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