Worldwide Private & Local Tour Guides - Top Rated | Classic
  • Colombia Guide Carolina

    5 Reasons to Travel With A Local Guide

    <p>It’s tempting to say that you don’t need a guide when visiting a new country. Between the internet and the thousands of guidebooks on the market, it’s pretty hard to get lost these days. After spending many of my traveling adventures alone, my first experience with a local guide convinced me that it was a great way to go (although this was in Costa Rica, on a river paddleboarding excursion, and my guide prevented me from paddling right into a couple of dozing crocodiles), and my last experience in Italy (<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">with Sergio</a>!) confirmed it. What I truly took away, was that my trips wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable had I not been with a friendly local with tremendous knowledge of his country. Here are five reasons why traveling with a local guide makes all the difference. </p> <p><b>#1 Save Time AND Money</b><br>Visiting another country can be overwhelming. There’s so much to see, and this might be the only chance you’ll ever have to see it. You could easily spend a week in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank">Prague</a> and still miss out on some great sights. A local guide will not only take care of all the planning for your daily activities, but he or she will also make sure you get to see the things that other tourists often overlook. And a good local guide will get you from place to place in the most efficient, least expensive way possible. So, you won’t have to worry about paying exorbitant cab fees that inexperienced tourists often rack up.<br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><img alt="People walking in Prague" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATNF&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f844" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a></p> <p><b>#2 Eat Like The Locals</b><br>You didn’t spend 12 hours on a plane to dine at the local McDonald’s. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/local-tour-guides/" target="_blank">Local guides</a> are experts on their country’s cuisine. After all, they’ve spent years eating it and will steer you towards the restaurants that best represent their country’s cooking. They&#39;ll make sure you eat the dishes you’ve been wanting to try and introducing you to some that you might never have heard of.<br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Men in Morocco Market" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATNF&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f849" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a></p> <p><b>#3 A Walking Encyclopedia</b><br>Local guides are an unparalleled source of information about the places you’ll visit. True story: on a recent <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys trip to the Amalfi Coast</a>, I was surprised when our guide Marco stopped in the middle of the trail we were on, yanked what looked like a handful of weeds out of the ground, and ate them. He saw the looks on our faces and laughed. “This is wild arugula,” he explained. “It’s great in salads!” I wish I’d had some balsamic vinegar with me. From giving you a detailed <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfifamily/" target="_blank">history of Pompeii,</a> to… well, showing you what plants you can just pull out of the ground and eat, local guides know their country’s history and even biology like the backs of their hands and are delighted to share it with you.<br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Amalfi tour guide with guests" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATNF&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f84J" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a></p> <p><b>#4 Support the Local Economy</b><br>One way to be a good global citizen is by <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/giving/" target="_blank">supporting local economies</a>. Having a local guide is a great way to do that. Not only do you help those guides earn a living, but you’re also supporting the various businesses, restaurants, and shops to which your guide visits. <br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/giving/" target="_blank"><img alt="Woman in Panama with children" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATNF&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f84E" style="height: 354px; width: 500px;"></img></a></p> <p><b>#5 Make a New Friend</b><br>It might seem like a cliché, but local guides love what they do because they truly enjoy the company of new people. Perhaps the best part of hanging out with your guide is just that... hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. Whether it’s sampling wine in a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank">French chateau</a> or hiking the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank">Inca trail in Peru</a>, you’ll find that the company of a local guide is just as memorable as the sights and tastes you’ll experience.<br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Guests with guide in Peru" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATNF&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f84O" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a></p> <p> </p>

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  • Amalfi Coastline, Italy

    At Home with Sergio & Ulysses

    You have to love a father who names his son Ulysses. My friend Sergio and his opera-singer wife christened their only child in honor of history’s most epic traveler. “They wanted to embed wanderlust in me,” laughs Ulysses. When I asked Sergio if it was true, he confirmed the family tale with a trademark mustachioed smile that his fan club of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> guests would recognize instantly.<br><br>Almost 25 years ago, Sergio met us in his native <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Naples </a>to scout our very first Classic Journeys’ trip to the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Amalfi Coast</a>. In our debut year, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Amalfi </a>was one of just six itineraries we offered. Every year since, it’s been one of the most popular trips, and Sergio has been with us all the way. As a teenager, Ulysses (his name is Ulisse in Italian, but he prefers the English pronunciation) interned in our office in California. Over the last 16 years, we were almost as proud as his father to watch him become an accomplished guide for several companies, one of which named him their European tour leader of the year multiple times. He’s been one of our most popular local guides for a decade or so, and with the upcoming birth of his first child, we like to think the third generation is on the way!<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Sergio &amp; Ulysses overlooking harbor in Naples" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATPR&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f88L" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>“It’s wrong to call this a job,” Ulysses insists. “Every day, I wake up happy for another chance to show guests around the places and the secret corners where I live and where I grew up.” As for Sergio, I suppose that at some point in history, he met a stranger. But I’ve never seen evidence that there’s anyone he doesn’t know in his native <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Naples, Capri or Positano</a>. He makes it sound deceptively simple: “I’m lucky to have many friends. Many have known Ulysses his whole life. Our friends are your friends, too.”<br><br>The depth and sincerity of their ties have blown us away again and again. None of the guides that other companies shuttle in from the U.S. or Canada — no matter how gung-ho or well-versed in guidebook facts — can match their connectedness. For proof that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, look no further than a family house that sits on a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">cliff above Praiano.</a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="View from hills of the Amalfi Coast" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATPR&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f88Q" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>For generations, the family that lives in that house worked the land for the monastery that’s even higher up the slope. The monks are gone now, but the family remains, tending their terraced vineyards and gardens. All <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> guests know this because — thanks to the good graces of Sergio and Ulysses — the family invites you to lunch after you meet the artisans who are restoring the monastery’s frescoes.  Signora Grazia will wave you out to the terrace where you can see <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Positano</a> and all the way to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Capri</a>. Over at the barrel of “grape juice” (aka homegrown wine), you’re instructed to twist the spigot and fill your glass as often as you like. In the cave built into the cliff behind the house, there’s a disk of pizza dough for you to stretch, top to your taste, and bake in the wood-fired oven. Lunch on that terrace as you chat with the family and soak in the view is some kind of heaven — a deeply authentic moment that no tourist can experience at any price.<br><br>The greatest gift you can receive as a traveler is the rare thrill of feeling at home in a place that couldn’t be farther from your everyday life. From the first “Ciao!” you hear from Ulysses or Sergio, you’ll feel that great sense that you are right where you belong. When you visit the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Amalfi Coast</a> with Classic Journeys, you become an instant part of the extended family they have created … and add an unforgettable chapter to your own lifelong odyssey.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Group on a hike in the Amalfi Coast" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATPR&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f88V" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>[SIDEBAR]<br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank"><b>LOCAL MATTERS</b></a><br>When you compare tours, be sure to ask if your guide will be a native of the place you’re visiting. All guides on all of our trips are locals. They have deep roots in the region that assure you a very personal, totally plugged-in view of the people and culture you’re there to discover. A lot of them have been a part of the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> family for 10 years, 20 years and even longer. Many operators tout the guides they import from around the world on their Instagram feeds. Nice and well-intentioned they may well be, but if your goal as a traveler is to get the most immersive feel for a place, local truly matters!<br> 

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  • Costa Cconcordia Rescue

    Local expert reports on Costa Concordia rescue efforts from Giglio Island

    <p>Our head guide in Tuscany, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/local-tour-guides/" target="_blank">Luciano</a>, just called in with an on-the-spot report from Giglio Island. Read on to gain some personal insight into events there and how the local people rallied to help the ship’s passengers.</p> <p>I’ll turn it over to Luciano:</p> <p>When I heard about the Costa Concordia shipwreck last Saturday morning in the news, it didn’t seem real. It was right in front of the Giglio Island, where it feels like home. We travel there in our “Coastal Tuscany and Pisa&quot; tour; it is beautiful and un-touristed. So many of our guests have enjoyed the day we spend there, when we walk from the port, through an ancient trail up to the cozy medieval village with its stunning views of the sea and the continent. The water has different shades from blue to light green and when the sky is clear you can see Corsica. One of our friends there, 80-year-old Mario, works in his garden and skillfully shows us how he weaves his baskets. He even takes us to his cellar, a medieval stall, toasting with us from his own wine production.</p> <p>American friends wrote in, asking if what they saw on TV was the place they had explored with us. As a native guide, I worked together with my colleagues in the Classic Journeys’ head office in 2006 to create this wonderful exploration, looking for such warm-hearted locals as Mario. Out of other islands in Tuscany we chose this one for its beauty and for being less crowded in the southern part of the region; far away from Florence and other well-known cities. During the Renaissance, the Medicis, Grand dukes of Tuscany, named it the “Giglio”, which means “lily”, the flower symbol of Florence.<br><br><img alt="Giglio" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7oA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002sll" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>When the shipwreck happened, several of those same local people we meet in the Giglio Island were up all night, assisting the thousands of passengers that landed ashore. Shops stayed open all night: the local café with warm drinks and food, the general store with blankets and food, the clothing store with clothes, the hotels with hospitality. And the same thing happened on the mainland when they came to Porto Santo Stefano and the Argentario. No one could believe it. Inhabitants’ solidarity came out fully in one night.</p> <p>The news keeps on giving reports, as more details are coming out. In Italy it takes most of the news—prime time on TV—and people talk about it all the time. It seems that this is touching people’s hearts more because many see themselves in the people on that cruise. I won’t really get into the news details, but as an Italian guide familiar with the island and working with the public, I would like to express that my deepest thoughts go out to all the people that suffered and died and families that lost loved ones. As reports have stated, evidence shows human mistake, such as the fact that the ship was far away from its allowed course, came too close to land and the rocks. Not even local ferries that travel daily many times back and forth venture near those rocks. From a professional point of view I would like to say that what happened doesn’t reflect the way we work here. My colleagues and I care deeply, making sure guests and fellow travelers are not only having great times, but also are safe and well cared for on their vacation to Tuscany and Italy.</p> <p>Thanks, Luciano for such a thoughtful report of what’s going on in Giglio with rescue efforts.</p> <p>Luciano is one of Classic Journeys’ most popular and senior guides worldwide. He leads departures of Coastal Tuscany &amp; Pisa, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank">Tuscany &amp; the Cinque Terre</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscanyculinary/" target="_blank">Taste of Tuscany</a>, and our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italyfamily/" target="_blank">Tuscany Family Journey</a>.</p> <p>If you have questions about events in Giglio, or if you want to talk about Classic Journeys’ Coastal Tuscany &amp; Pisa tour or any of our other <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/walkingtours/" target="_blank">cultural walking adventures</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/culinary/" target="_blank">culinary tours</a>, or <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/family/" target="_blank">family journeys</a> elsewhere in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank">Tuscany</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italy/" target="_blank">Italy</a> or around the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/world/" target="_blank">world</a>, drop us a line at <a href="mailto:blog@classicjourneys.com" target="_blank"><b>blog@classicjourneys.com</b></a> or download an itinerary.</p>

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