Barcelona free tours??

Sep 6th, 2014, 06:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 42
Barcelona free tours??

Hi! Has anyone used the free tours that rely on tipping in Barcelona? Suggestions on which tours/guides/ amount of tip? I will be there end of Oct.

Thanks so much!
cms0515 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2014, 06:28 AM
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We used these tours in Paris:

I also see this one TA with great reviews:
DebitNM is offline  
Sep 6th, 2014, 07:51 AM
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free tours that rely on tipping is an oxymoron.
These tours are usually illegal and therefore the guides do not have the training or the knowledge someone offical will have.
Still you tips your money or you pays your choice!
Tourist guides in Barcelona.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Sep 6th, 2014, 08:24 AM
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I imagine they skirt with the law by claiming they are not running a business, so that's why they expect tips but don't report that income, I bet. They don't need licensing that way if they claim they don't charge and aren't registered as a guide. I agree that saying they are free but you must tip is an oxymoron.

I wonder what happens if you don't tip them? Maybe they just write it off, I imagine most people who take them know what is expected. I personally don't approve of such businesses on moral grounds (people running illegal businesses to try to undercut the legal tour guides, and not reporting income), so have not taken them.

So you could tip 10 euro which is a little less than the price of a real tour. which begs the question of why you would go on one instead of one that is licensed and run by the city, with guides who are legal and are professionals? Those are only 14 euro for 1 two hour tour. see

I notice that Discoverwalks claims the time is 1:40, less than the tourism office ones, and they tell you that the average tip is 12 euro. So it's about the same price, unless you intend not to pay. I'd give them 5 euro out of principle, less than the official ones. Their website strongly suggests you give them 10-12 euro), which of course is just hype, they can't make you. The group size is unlimited, also on those.
Christina is offline  
Sep 6th, 2014, 10:17 AM
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We often take day tours and food tours, and we are willing to fork out big bucks to do them.

To our surprise, we did really well with the free Runner Bean tours. Our guide was brilliant--well educated and very well informed.

I only engaged this tour because
a) the tour started right outside our hotel
b) its timing was between our arrival in Barcelona and our "hit the hay" time--the time when our room would probably be ready
c) we needed a good Gaudi overview

All of the above needs were met in spades, plus the guide showed us how to use the Metro system with tips to avoid pickpockets.

The people on the tour with us were lovely, too.
AlessandraZoe is online now  
Sep 6th, 2014, 10:18 AM
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Don;t understand the purpose of taking "unofficial" guides unless you plan on stiffing them.

Would you really do this just to save 1 or 2 euros? Or do you seriously plan on not tipping - which could make you very unpopular with the guide.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 6th, 2014, 11:05 AM
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Actually, ny, I was willing to pay for something, and I pay big bucks for good people. My husband and I DO subscribe to a "You've paid how much to get here and you are squinting about the best use of your time? Get real" philosophy.

Our time in Barcelona was so darn limited, so I was just looking for something to make our time work. This free tour popped up on a web search, and I thought, "Am I stupid, or why not try this?"

Ergo, what I said above: Our Runner Bean Gaudi Overview tour made our trip needs right off the bat: our arrival timing, our limited time, our location, our interests.

The tour quality was the HUGE surprise. We felt our tour quality was equal to or even better than most we had taken. It was far more efficient than my do-it-myself thingies (I am "Queen-of-All-Self-Tours when not shelling out), and we got key tips for a lot of other things we needed.

As to being cheap...
We paid her well. I don't know if the other people on the tour did so--I think it did help her that we had an idea of what a similar tour might have cost us. But cheating her was certainly not our goal.
AlessandraZoe is online now  
Sep 6th, 2014, 11:23 AM
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The RB Gaudi tour could not get you inside the buildings as they are not offical; only offical ones can. Maybe that is why it is shorter?
I feel that writing "Our guide was brilliant--well educated and very well informed." is not on. You obviously did not do any comparison with offical or unofficial guides so how do you know just how informed on the subject he was?
ribeirasacra is offline  
Sep 6th, 2014, 11:51 AM
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If I had wanted to tour the interiors that day, I would have arranged to do so.

I could not! We knew we would be suffering form jet lag and a time crunch. I just needed an overview. I could come back and tour when we had more hours (which we did).

As to how I know how informed the guide was:

LOL, I don't know where YOU have been, but I should know where I have been. AKA: around the block. I'm old as dirt.
AlessandraZoe is online now  
Sep 6th, 2014, 12:09 PM
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Like other freeloaders, RB doesn't support the system that feeds it. They, and others like them, are actually stealing from the guides who pay the taxes, take the time and expense of obtaining the proper licenses, and support tourism overall.

One of the best museum guides in Barcelona worked for 10 years at Sagrada Familla and has a depth of knowledge unmatched by anyone from RB, no matter how informed they may be, but then you have to pay for that knowledge.
Robert2533 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2014, 02:52 PM
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I really enjoyed our Runner Beans tours (two of them) in Barcelona and, of course, tipped well.
KTtravel is online now  
Sep 6th, 2014, 07:56 PM
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I'm so glad you bought into the scam. It keeps it going!
Robert2533 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2014, 11:35 PM
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***LOL, I don't know where YOU have been, but I should know where I have been. AKA: around the block. I'm old as dirt.****
Then you should know better

It is like the free loaders (as Robert succinctly put it)running illegally run apartments in the city. Time is running out for them too.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Sep 10th, 2014, 09:56 AM
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Thanks?! I was considering all tours...I had read some info on "free tour" group and it sounded small and reviewed well so thats why I put it out there. It was not really a cost issue...
cms0515 is offline  
Sep 10th, 2014, 10:51 AM
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I think there is a lack of understanding about why people book these tours.

I booked this tour coming from a perspective from when we visited Rome eons ago. At that time, there was a free Forum tour that one could take, one tipped appropriately at the end, and if you liked the service, one just booked one other tour that cost on the front end.

There was no "scam" issue associated with the tour at all. It was merely incentive-based marketing. And it worked. As a result of the "free" Forum tour, we booked their St. Peter's tour and were quite pleased with it.

I therefore only booked the Runner Bean based on this past experience, figuring it was an incentive-type transaction, and my intent was certainly not to rip off all that is established in all of Spain.

There certainly was no comparable tour out there, either. Our time was limited, we had NO stamina, plus we have a real aversion to HOHO buses, so for a quickie overview between landing and getting my "hit-the-hay-let-me-get-over-my-jet-lag-before-I-have-to-jump-on-a-bike-in-24-hrs", it more than met our needs.

The darn tour met outside the doorway of our hotel, for goodness sakes.

I do understand now the POV of some of these posters. What immensely bothers me is their refusal to understand MINE.

The presupposition that any tourist is purposely trying to rip off all tour guides in all of Spain by using one of these free tours is just not true.

And the equal presupposition that the tour just HAD to be bad because it was free was equally untrue. Our tour guide was finishing her MA in architecture in the city, and she was just overflowing with enthusiasm. In fact, after the tour, after the tipping transaction and so on, after saying good-bye to one and all, she saw that we had probably, jet-lagged or not, been really keen on what we were seeing. She wanted to know what we were planning as we cycled through the northern areas of Catalonia. When we told here we would be doing a lot of Dali, she gave us the name of one of her favorite books (I think it's out of print):

Antoni Gaudi/Salvador Dali: Duets

So cms0515, do what you like. Just don't tell anyone here
AlessandraZoe is online now  
Sep 16th, 2014, 03:32 PM
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I agree with AlessandraZoe. We also used Runnerbeantours, twice, one to visit the old city, the other was the Goudi tour. Both were excellent ways to INTRODUCE Barcelona, before one delves into the details. Both tours were well conducted by young, very pleasant and well informed guides.

We did the same, 2-hour tour, in Valencia and got a lot of information about the history and the background of this wonderful city.
mamamia2 is offline  
Sep 16th, 2014, 04:03 PM
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I would classify these tours more as 'alternative' rather than free. I go to Santiago, Chile often for work and went on the free tour there after reading stellar reviews on TA. The guide said it was modeled after the Barcelona and Rome tours.

The tour was absolutely fascinating and covered politics, history and customs that would never have been presented on an "official" tour. The other participants were diverse and fascinating - from 14 different countries, 20s-70s, including a Brazilian soap opera actress, Brit AIDs researchers and the son of an Asian diplomat.

I later told some of my colleagues (locals who work in the arts) about the sights we saw, issues discussed and street food we tasted they were impressed with the glimpse we got of Chilean life. It never occurred to me that we were ripping off mainstream tour guides, because the focus was so unconventional.

If the European tours have the same sort of depth, I would sign up in a heartbeat...and tip generously.
crosscheck is offline  
Sep 16th, 2014, 07:34 PM
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"We did the same, 2-hour tour, in Valencia and got a lot of information about the history and the background of this wonderful city."

Anyone with half a brain could give you an informative tour of Valencia, Barcelona or Madrid since you would not be expected to doubt their word as you would supposedly have no basis or background to question them. You could get the same information out of a decent guide book and not be supporting an organization that steals from those licensed by the government.

The major problem with the 'free tours' is that they do not support the system they gain their income from. The taxpayers and tour guides have paid the price, yet you choose something that is convenient for you, regardless of the impact.
Robert2533 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2014, 07:20 AM
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I think your point was well made in previous posts, Robert.
mamamia2 is offline  

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