10 of the best alternative city tours in Europe

See a different side of Europes major cities on these innovative walking tours that revel in art, history, food, drinking and even fiscal mismanagement

PolaWalks, Warsaw

Instagram has fuelled our lust for instant travelling photos, but this tour describe on actual cameras, arming walkers with a vintage Polaroid camera and a pack of film as you snap away in the Polish capital. The three-hour tour starts by meeting in the old town square and attains its style through some of the citys key sites: the Royal Castle, the Presidential Palace, the University of Warsaw Library and its roof gardens and the witokrzyski bridge. Resulted by a local guide and also running in Vienna and Graz the tour cost includes camera loan and a pack of colouring movie from the Impossible Project: the company that took over Polaroid when it discontinued production of instant film in 2008.
59, polawalk.com

Ijburg architecture, Amsterdam

Bridge
Go with the flow a wonderfully curved bridge in futuristic Ijburg.

Amsterdam may be best known for its picturesque canalways, but one of the most interesting areas of the city, right now from an urban planning view, at the least is Ijburg. This is a collection of manmade islands merely east of the city, which is currently being developed into a progressive new residential district. Led by a tour company specialising in architecture tours all over the Netherlands( its worth checking out the other tour on offer, including those exploring the city by bike, or boat ), the Ijburg tour talks you through the laboratory for new forms of living that the region has become, with a fascinating range of housing projects created by renowned architecture firms. All walks are led by architects.
All tours are private and custom-made, for details and rates contact info @architecturetours. nl, architecturetours.nl

Walk the financial crash, Reykjavik

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Crash, bang, wallop a tour party at the edge of Tjrnin, and close to the Alingi, which houses Icelands parliament

The Blue Lagoon trip can wait One of the most dramatic events to happen in Icelands history( apart from the Eyjafjallajkull eruption) was the catastrophic breakdown of all three of the countrys banks in 2008 the third largest bankruptcy in history, which caused knock on effects around the world. The crash tour( which covers a similar subject matter to Londons own Occupy Tours) is led by historian and business journalist Magns Sveinn Helgason and explores sites that played a role in the accident, explanations of what caused it and what happened to those responsible, and the story of the pots and pans revolution: when thousands took to the streets in protest.
22, tour last around 2 hours 30 minutes, citywalk.is

Millennium tour, Stockholm

Guests
In search of Stiegs people guests on the Millennium tour. Photo: Thomas Karlsson

Stieg Larssons Millennium trilogy including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is among the most popular volume series in the world, so youve likely heard of them, or at least watched the movie adaptations. However, this isnt a literary tour for bookish forms, instead a chance to put yourself in the footsteps of the series Scandi-noir characters. The two-hour walking, run by the City Museum, takes fans through the Sdermalm neighborhood, passing the home of the fictional journalist Mikael Blomkvist, the office of Millennium magazine where he works, past Lisbeth Salanders apartment, as well as other locations mentioned in the books and films. The plot is put into a wider context, as you learn about the dynamics of contemporary Stockholm and the regions that form the backdrop to the action.
11.50, tour last around two hours, stadsmuseet.stockholm.se

Zemun and New Belgrade bike tour

Belgrade
New Belgrade district. Photo: Vladimir Martinovich

This tour explores the urban geography of the Serbian capital with a walk through the Zemun and New Belgrade districts on the left bank of the Sava river. New Belgrade was constructed as a socialist mega-project, with the aim of being the perfect city. The tour also takes in the Millenial Tower and Zemun Park, which was once the border crossing of the Turkish and Austrian empires. It concludes with a stop in the Savamala district, a neighbourhood now known as an art and design quarter, though it is also in the midst of its own controversial riverside growth plan, which carries echoes of the citys past, grandiose urban projects. Still in Belgrade, which operates the tour, also offers stroll through Savamala and Dorcol as well taking in galleries, street art and clubs.
13 for a group tour, 25 for an individual, tours last 3 hours,
stillinbelgrade.com

Secret Zagreb tours and quests

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A guide on one of Secret Zagrebs tours or is it a quest? Photo: Suzana Ajhner Starcevic

The creative tour company behind these journeys of discovery offers more than merely the usual guided walks. Visitors can go on anything from a steampunk-inspired trip into Croatias science history to a tour through the serene woods on the Medvednica mountain outside of the city, where there are visits to peaceful pilgrimage spots and abandoned second world war bunkers. Thats only the tours: Secret Zagreb also operate quests that explore the city while guests complete challenges and missions, such as the Witch Hunt quest, where you learn about the history of citys witch trials, before a scavenger hunting all over the upper town region, solving riddles along the way.
10 pp for scheduled tours, 95 for quest with squad of 2-6 people,
secret-zagreb.com

Falls Road mural tours, Belfast

Falls
A Coiste tour stops in front of a mural.

Coiste Irish political tours are among the best ways a guest can learn about how the citys recent turbulent history has shaped it. Resulted by political ex-prisoners from the republican community, the tour provides a personal oral history of the Troubles as well as an attempt at explaining its broader context. There are several tours on offer, but one of the most popular is a three-hour walk through west Belfast, passing the murals painted along Falls Road and ending at Milltown Cemetery, where three of the republicans who died during the 1981 hunger strike are interred. Theres a chance to discuss what youve learned over a pint at the end of the tour.
10 pp,
coiste.ie

Culinary backstreets, Lisbon

Stallholder
Market day a stallholder at Mercado da Ribeira

Culinary backstreets offer in depth, specialist foodie tours in cities from Athens to Shanghai. In the Portuguese capital, known for its delicious fresh seafood, expertly cured meat and red wine, the company offers a walking that takes in what is, essentially, three and a half hours of gourmet grazing. Starting in the citys vibrant food market, the Mercado da Ribeira, there are insights into the raw ingredients that make up the citys cuisines and the chance to sample plenty of make, too. From there youll stop by everywhere from neighborhood canteens and a family-run grocery store, finishing at a local pastelaria with a glass of sour cherry liqueur, before you presumably expend the rest of the day in a peaceful slumber.
From 86, includes all food and drinking, walks last around three and a half hours, culinarybackstreets.com

LAlternative Urbaine, Paris

Murals
Vive la difference LAlternative Urbaine proves off another side to Paris.

Founded to encourage professional and social inclusion in the city, LAlternative Urbaine uses the structure of the city tour business as a means to train and supporting people who have been struggling with long-term unemployment or homelessness. The result is friendly tours of the Paris neighborhoods that usually go less explored by tourists, such as a walk through the java suburb in the 10 th arrondissement, or a walk around the 13 th, learning about the lives of factory workers who lived in the formerly industrial areas of the Faubourg Saint-Marcel and Butte aux Cailles.
Payment by donation, tours last around one hour 30 minutes and are in French,
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Erotica tours, Barcelona

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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