The first World Heritage City in the United States offers plenty of attractions for visitors. Whether you’re in Philadelphia to take in historic sites like the Liberty Bell and Independence National Historical Park, or you’re on the hunt for famous “Rocky” filming locations and cheesesteaks, there’s an expertly guided tour for you. Factoring in traveler sentiment and expert opinion, U.S. News selected 16 of Philadelphia’s best tours.
The Yo, Philly! Rocky Film Tour
Mike Kunda, a lifelong fan of “Rocky” and the winner of a national “Rocky” look-alike contest, leads three- to four-hour private tours all over the city to “Rocky” filming locations. Kunda will share stories told to him by actor Sylvester Stallone from his time on set during the filming of “Rocky Balboa,” “Creed” and “Creed II.” He’ll take you to famous sites, including Rocky’s apartment from the first movie, the Front Street Gym featured in “Creed,” the Rocky Steps and many other lesser-known locations, all while giving you all the “Rocky” trivia you could wish for. Participants praise Kunda’s depth and breadth of knowledge and love his enthusiasm. The exclusive tour, which is limited to a private group of up to seven people, starts at $350 and must be booked in advance.
Big Bus Philadelphia – 1-Day Tour
Climb aboard the Big Bus Philadelphia and settle in for a 90-minute overview of the city. If any one of the 27 landmarks along the route pique your interest, hop off to explore and hop back on when you’re ready; buses frequent stops every 20 to 30 minutes. Stops include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, City Hall, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Experienced English-speaking guides offer a comprehensive commentary along the route. Visitors praise the personable and friendly guides and say the bus is a great way to learn about the city. Other travelers complain that the buses run infrequently and that the guides can be hard to understand due to the sound system. There is no limit to how many times you can board the bus over the course of the day. Tickets start at $35 for adults and $12 for children ages 4 to 12. Buses run daily from approximately 9:30 a.m. to around 5 or 6 p.m. in the summer, spring and fall; they run daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the winter. Two- and three-day bus tour tickets are also available.
Intrepid Urban Adventures – Italian Market Immersion
Wander through the famous 9th Street Italian Market, try samples, chat with shopkeepers and even get the chance to purchase cheeses, chocolates and other goodies on this two-hour tour. The tour ends in front of Pat’s and Geno’s, two famous competing cheesesteak eateries. Reviewers give guides high marks for their vast knowledge of the market and Philly in general. Others praise the generous food samples. Tours are offered Tuesday through Sunday at 10 a.m. Tickets start at $35 for adults and $30 for children ages 6 to 12. Intrepid Urban Adventures also offers several other tours, including a beer-focused outing.
Philly by Segway – 2 Hour Philly Cheese Steak Tour
Indulge in the city’s most famous sandwich on this two-hour Segway tour, which stops at five popular cheesesteak spots. Along the way, guides share information about Philadelphia’s history and attractions, and even take photos, which are emailed to riders for free within two days after the tour. Other highlights include gliding around Old City, Chinatown, Center City and the Italian Market. Tourgoers say the guides, who make everyone feel safe, are excellent. Reviewers also warn you’ll walk away stuffed at the end of the excursion. Tours are offered Sunday through Friday at 2:30 p.m. Riders must be at least 12 years old and weigh 100 to 300 pounds. Tickets start at $85 per person. Philly by Segway also offers general sightseeing Segway tours, as well as tours that explore the city’s murals.
Founding Footsteps – BYOB Tours of Philadelphia
Bring your own beer or wine and hop aboard a trolley for a different kind of sightseeing overview of the city. You’ll not only see the city’s major attractions and learn insider knowledge of off-the-beaten-path sites, you’ll get to sip your beverage of choice and listen to corny jokes. Travelers say the tour is a hilarious and fun way to see and learn about Philly; even locals say they enjoy the trip. Tours last around two hours, but the length of the tour can depend on timing and how many stops the group decides to make. Participants can also bring snacks. The tour is offered on Saturdays at 1 and 4 p.m. Tickets start at $37 for adults with discounts for seniors and children. Keep in mind that though children are welcome to tour, imbibers must be 21 or older. Bourbon-themed tours as well as walking tours are also available.
Chew Philly Food Tours – Chestnut Hill
You’ll visit six different spots for mouthwatering bites on this approximately three-hour tour of Philly’s picturesque Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Highlights include vendor demonstrations, owner meet-and-greets and lots of food. Expect cheese and artisanal olive oil tastings, a microbrewery stop, and several desserts. Reviewers rave about the tour, saying the food is delicious and the guides are informative. They also say the tour shows a hidden side of the city that even locals may not know about. Tickets start at $59. Tours typically run around 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from March to November. Chew Philly Food Tours also offers a walking tour of the city’s most iconic cuisine, including cheesesteak, as well as a haunted food tour.
“Philadelphia Muses” by Meg Saligman is one of many murals art lovers will see on the Mural Mile Walking Tour.(Courtesy of Steve Weinik/Mural Arts Philadelphia)
Mural Arts Philadelphia – Mural Mile Walking Tour
Mural Arts Philadelphia – the country’s largest public art program – offers a tour that explores the murals found all over the city. On the two-hour tour, participants head to Center City neighborhoods where guides highlight art in lesser-known spots, as well as the newest artwork in town. Visitors say the guides are well-versed in each mural’s story and that a diverse array of artwork is represented. Tours are generally offered in the morning and afternoon, though specific dates vary. Tickets start at $23. Mural Arts Philadelphia also offers train and vehicle mural tours around the city.
Philly Bike Tour Co. – Classic City Tour
Explore popular parks and lesser-known neighborhoods on this three-hour bike tour. You’ll see the Rocky Steps, the Liberty Bell, Rittenhouse Park and more along the 10-mile trek. According to tourgoers, guides are very attentive to safety – a point of praise for reviewers – and ensure every participant understands the rules of the road. Many also note how well-prepared and friendly the guides are. Tours, which depart daily at 10:30 a.m., are limited to 12 participants. Children 12 and older are welcome with an adult. Tickets start at $59. Tours that focus on the city’s murals, as well as Fairmount Park are also available.
City Brew Tours – The Sip of Philly Tour
For a fun and safe introduction to Philadelphia’s craft beer scene, try City Brew Tours’ Sip of Philly Tour. During the three-hour outing, you’ll be chauffeured around the city in a comfortable van, visit three breweries for up to 12 total tastings, enjoy behind-the-scenes tours and a hand-rolled pretzel. Stops may include Love City Brewing, the Roy-Pitz Barrel House and Double Nickel Brewing Company, among others. Participants say the tour is lots of fun and applaud guides’ knowledge of the brewing process. Plus, reviewers appreciate the comfortable transportation. Tours, which are capped at 14 participants, are offered Saturdays at 10:45 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets start at $70. Longer, five-hour tours are also available.
Free Tours by Foot – Independence Mall Tour
You have the ability to name your own price on the Independence Mall Tour from Free Tours by Foot, paying what you think the tour is worth at its conclusion. On the two-hour jaunt, guides will walk you through historic Philadelphia and discuss the early history of the city with lighthearted humor and trivia. Some of the sights covered include Carpenters’ Hall, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, Christ Church, Ben Franklin’s burial site and City Tavern. If time permits, you may go inside some of the free-to-enter attractions. The guides earn high marks from visitors, who applaud their vast historical knowledge and entertaining delivery. Tours are offered several times a day. While there is no ticket fee, reservations are required. Italian Market and Chinatown tours are also available, among other options.
City Food Tours Philadelphia – Flavors of Philly
Travelers will want to arrive with an empty stomach when they embark on the Flavors of Philly tour, which makes stops at five local eateries over the course of about 2 1/2 hours. Guides will discuss Philly’s food history and the origin of the city’s iconic foods, all while participants nosh on dishes like cheesesteaks, cheese fries, tomato pie, soft pretzels and more. No one walks away hungry, according to reviewers. They also say the food is delicious. Tours also visit the Reading Terminal Market, where guides share tips on other places to dine around town. The company advises that this tour is not designed for children younger than 5. Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 1:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. Tickets start at $39 for adults and $33 for children ages 5 to 10. Other tours offered include Historic Old City and East Passyunk.
A stop to visit the Liberty Bell is one of the highlights along the Constitutional Walking Tour. (Getty Images)
The Constitutional Walking Tour
The Constitutional Walking Tour provides a 75-minute overview of the Independence National Historical Park area, stopping by more than 20 of the most historic sites in the city. Visitors will see and learn about important sights, including Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House and Old City Hall, among other landmarks. Participants rave about the knowledgeable guides, who they say are excellent historians. Tours are offered several times every day from April to November. Tickets start at $19 for adults and $12.50 for children ages 3 to 12. The company also offers a combination package, which includes the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour.
Grim Philly Twilight Tours – Prohibition Pub Crawl
Enjoy two tours in one on the Prohibition Pub Crawl from Grim Philly Twilight Tours. During the first 60 minutes, your expert guide – who is either a college professor or a history degree-holder – will take you on a historic sightseeing walk. You’ll pass famous sights like the President’s House and the First Bank of the United States. For the last half of the tour, guides will regale you with stories of Prohibition-era Philadelphia. Tourgoers will hear about Al Capone, Ben Franklin’s brewing recipes and the speakeasies of the 1920s – a particular highlight for reviewers. The tour, which visits up to three bars, includes a welcome drink and a light snack. Tickets start at $45 and participants must be 21 or older. Tours are typically offered on Friday and Saturday nights, but times vary. Grim Philly offers a variety of other tours, with themes ranging from vampires to witches.
Patriot Harbor Lines – Delaware River Harbor Cruise
Participants say this hourlong boat ride in a reproduced commuter yacht from the 1920s is a great way to take in the sights and relax. The narrated trip cruises by vessels at Penn’s Landing, the Gazela tall ship, the Ben Franklin Bridge and Race Street Pier. Another highlight is seeing the SS United States, the largest ocean liner constructed in the U.S. Tours are available seasonally and departure times vary. Tickets start at $30 for adults and $17 for children ages 12 and younger. Patriot Harbor Lines also offers cruises on the Schuylkill River.
Bow Tie Tours – Independence Tour
On the 90-minute Independence Tour, participants will pass more than 20 historical landmarks, including Independence Hall, the President’s House, the National Constitution Center, and the homes of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Betsy Ross. Guides, who are qualified teachers and historians, discuss how the nation was formed by notable figures, such as Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington, among others. Reviewers rave about the expertise of the guides and recommend taking this tour on your first day in Philly. Tours depart daily at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Tickets start at $20 for adults and $15 for children. Bow Tie Tours also offers a variety of other outings, including a “Rocky” tour and daytrips to local historic battlefields.
Beyond the Bell Tours – Badass Women of Philadelphia Tour
Beyond the Bell Tours highlights traditionally marginalized populations, such as women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and indigenous peoples, and calls attention to their impact on Philadelphia. On the company’s two-hour Badass Women of Philadelphia walking tour, participants will learn about several famous Philadelphia females, including Hannah Callowhill Penn, women in the medical field and Ona Judge, an enslaved woman who escaped George Washington. Participants applaud guides, who are well-versed in Philadelphia history and open to discussion, according to reviewers. Tours are offered daily at 11 a.m. Tickets start at $49. Beyond the Bell also offers tours on LGBTQ history in Philadelphia, among other subjects.