How does a private tour compare to a group tour or sightseeing on your own?
We believe private tours can give you the best experience when sightseeing.
One of the big issues in big groups are… the other (often annoying) people in the group. You might be lucky and hit a group when everyone is nice and knows how to behave, but chances are there’ll always be someone that doesn’t follow the guide’s pace, gets lots, constantly interrupts with (unnecessary) questions… It can be quite unnerving. Plus the itineraries are rigid and the timings are strict and often rushed. You don’t get a personal experience, but a cookie-cutter tour.
As for traveling on your own, it’s always fun but it often requires A LOT time spent on researching and planning beforehand, good orientation skills and you don’t get to interact much with locals (specially if you don’t know the local language) nor get most of your questions answered. And there are so many things that you can easily miss!
Private tours combine the best part of group tours (the information and the planning) and the flexibility and personalization of going on your own, plus at the end of the tour you’ll have got a good orientation of the city and your guide can give you lots of tips so you can continue exploring it on your own much more efficiently.
Lesroccario (Albany, New York, USA)We had always wanted to try a private tour and this was where we did it. Miriam started out by asking what we definitely wanted to see, and included other things along the way, mapping out strategically how we would do it. We asked her for shopping recommendations along the way and her choices were excellent.
DSackheim (Los Angeles, California, USA)I had never used a private tour service before, but when I told a friend that I was headed to Barcelona with my family, he suggested I give ForeverBarcelona a try. It was some of the best advice I’ve ever received. Marta gave us access to the kind of insider knowledge you simply can’t get from a book or a group tour.
Alice M (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)We had never hired a private guided tour before. our experience with Miriam has turned us into true believers!
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Kathleen L (Los Angeles, California, USA)We had a wonderful day, and learned more in a couple of hours than had we try to navigate on our own. We encountered many “free city tours” in the course of our day. All seemed over-crowded and the tourists eye-balled us longingly. Clearly we had the better tour!
JenlikesbeachesWe saw everything we wanted and more… WAAAY more than you would on a boring hop-on hop-off tour. We used the hop-on hop-off to get to the Joan Miro Museum on one of our “alone” days… if anyone used ONLY the hop on hop off as a guide to the city, they are sadly lacking in information. A guide is the only way.
Pink5026 (London, UK)After being on tours with 50 people in Rome and a guide who shoots off, I was keen to find a more personal experience in Barcelona. Javier was always looking for things he knew would interest us more as we go to know each other over the trips. He was clear to offer options during each day so we could tailor-make each trip even as the day unrolled.
Artist_pina (Sydney, Australia)ForeverBarcelona heightened my experience so much that they have changed my way of travelling for life – no more group tours for me with 50 sweaty people on a bus ever again. Private tours all the way. I only wish that all private tour guides will be as welcoming, intelligent and generous as the wonderful women of ForeverBarcelona.
Candi Pluchino (Princeton, New Jersey, USA)From the very start of the tour, Marta was like a family member. I generally enjoy going on a walking tour of sorts so as to get the lay of the land when visiting a new city, but hate a cookie cutter lead you from here to there kind of thing. This tour was more than I could have anticipated because it was personal for us and because of Marta’s kindness, warmth and extensive knowledge.
David DWhen you’re doing a group tour, you tend to get lost in the speech behind the crowd and just admire your surroundings. We decided to get a private tour with ForeverBarcelona this time, since we did not know much history on Gaudi. The special part of the tour is being able to ahve someone whisk you in and out of the sites through walking or taxis without having to stare at google maps half the time. Skipping the line at the Sagrada Familia was a big bonus.
Daphne H (Austin, Texas)This was our first time using a private tour. The difference between a group tour was amazing! When she explained the history and culture of all the work, we did not have to strain our ears from the back of the crowd to hear her. It was such a personalized tour.
Who hasn’t wasted hours in a line to get inside a monument? It can be so frustrating, not to say boring! And that results in way less time to enjoy your sightseeing. But there are two solutions: you can buy tickets online, or you can join a tour (besides traveling off season or getting there super early or super late to avoid the crowds, but that’s not always possible and limits your vacation options).
Buying tickets might seem easy… if it’s just for one site. But if you have to buy tickets for several sites, it starts to get trickier: how long does it take to visit a site? how long do I need to get from that site to the next? what about a lunch break? Creating a successful timing can be a nightmare… unless you are a pro, of course!
In a tour all this is organized for you, sparing you the trouble. Large groups will buy every single ticket needed for their itinerary, but tickets are timed and that results in a quite strict tour timing. In our private tours, we only buy in advance the tickets for Sagrada Familia and Park Guell because they sell out. At all the other sites, our guides just skip lines. The time lost at the ticket office is minimal, but that allows for much more flexibility during the tour, so we can linger longer somewhere you liked, or spend less time if you are done with a site. We love how that allows us to make our tours much more personal and relaxed!
Gene R (Atlanta, USA)We started at the Picasso Museum. The line was extremely long, but she was able to bypass. Others waited over an hour to get in.
Rikke R (Skive, Danmark)Skipping lines at La Sagrada Familia, she saved us HOURS. DO NOT skip to see the inside!! It was just wonderful.
Neal MThe “VIP” entry to the sites due to her professional guide status was a real time saver.
LauraSingapore (Singapore)Even better was whizzing past the queues at the sights when Marta waved her magic card. If you don’t have a lot of time to spare (we had 3 days) this is the best way to see Barcelona.
You'll learn much more (in a fun way)
When you are on your own, you rely on whatever they tell you at the information office or what you might have read in a guidebook. But then… you are on your own. Adventures might happen, but more often than not you’ll be missing things because no one told you they were just around the corner. And you’ll see things you want to know more or get to understand, but won’t have anyone to ask.
By joining a large tour you get a lot of helpful background information and also a few interesting facts and stories that don’t come in guidebooks (nor travel blogs!). And this is great, but the information is likely to be a canned speech that can suit the majority – you don’t get something personal that speaks only to you. And you get some opportunities to make questions, but you still have to respect the other members of the group right to ask, and time is limited.
Our tour guides we love adding personal touches to their private tours. While moving from a site to they’ll start a casual conversation that will give them hints: your profession, your hobbies, other past trips… And all this will allow them to make their speech more personal and focus more in your interests beyond the basics. Our guides are also very knowledgeable and love answering as many questions you might have. At the end of the day, you’ll have learned and understood much more than going solo or on a large group.
And you’ll feel less like a tourist and more like a local.
Michael F (Windsor, Canada)We were uncertain whether we should book a private tour or just explore the city on our own, but we saw many hidden gems that only a licensed guide is allowed to show you.
68jimoMiriam took us to many interesting venues that were not even mentioned in guide books.
Barb G (Thamesford, Canada)We thoroughly felt as though our time with Marta was the reason we left Barcelona knowing more about the city than simply what meets the eye.
Lyrics4me (Dallas, Texas, USA)I had been to Barcelona before but Marta brought a wealth of knowledge that as a tourist we would have missed.
Robert2533“It is really easy to do the major Gaudi visits on your own”. Of course you can, but you miss out on the knowledge of taking a tour with a Gaudi expert, someone like Marta of ForeverBarcelona.
MNMillionMiler (Minnetonka, Minnesota, USA)Having our own guide clearly helped us appreciate the tours much more than we would have on our own. Miriam was also able to give us some advice about the rest of our trip – which made the whole trip to go more smoothly.
SusanFleurNC (Durham, North Carolina, USA)Miriam took us into shops and in the back of the shops you could see old structures still in existence from over 700 years ago. If we had visited without Miriam we would have never found these ancient structures.
Sue OasayWe explored many areas and places with Marta, that only locals would know about!
Pickpockets are a reality. And while they aren’t as massively spread as they were some years ago, you might still be crossing them during your stay.
There are things you can do to protect yourself when you are on your own (we discussed them in our blog). But did you know they often target large groups of tourists because they are distracted and the guide can’t keep an eye on them all the time?
Instead, for a private guide it’s easier to be alert since our group is small and we can quickly detect when someone suspicious is around us. We know how pickpockets look like and how they act, and can take measures to protect you even without you noticing it.
The prove is that we very rarely get pickpocketed in our tours (less than once a year, and we give over 500 tours a year!). And if ever that happened, we are there to help you getting to the police and doing anything possible to ease the consequences and comfort you. Much better than going through that horrible experience on your own!
James W (Meridian, Mississippi, USA)As a first time visitor to Barcelona having a guide was a necessity. We always felt safe with Begoña and our excellent driver. In fact at the Olympic Stadium she alerted us and encouraged some pickpockets to move along. They left very promptly!
Birdlegz (Western Suburbs of Chicago, USA)There were some large political demonstrations going on that day, and Javier explained the history and reason for them to us. Learning about Catalonia’s contemporary history, alongside of its ancient history, made this tour really extraordinary for us.
George Kellerman, USAMarta made us feel safe. At one point she spotted some potential pickpockets, but she maneuvered herself between us and them and made sure we got out safely.
Mcoop2016 (Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA)We had a great tour with Javier in Barcelona. Though it was raining (can’t predict the weather!), his personality and knowledge made the tour awesome. He even deftly helped us get a cab in the rain so that we would make it to all the attractions on time and as dry as possible.
Michelle J (Huntingtown, Mayrland, USA)During the tour my son lost his phone and Marta worked so hard to locate it!
Kathleen L (Los Angeles, California, USA)Even at the end of the day when I was pick-pocketed (yes, it’s true what they say about Barcelona!), Magda went above and beyond, making sure we were taken care of, even walking with my young son to the bank so he could exchange some cash. Fortunately, all ended well for us, and because of Marga what could have been a major drama was only a minor inconvenience.
GinnyB685 (Calgary, Canada)We were coming to Barcelona just after the independence vote. Marta has been wonderful keeping us up-to-date on what’s happening in Barcelona (potential of strikes during our visit). We really appreciated how well she has kept us informed.
TravelerMaggie (Virginia, USA)We had an episode of me “losing” my smartphone that I used taking pictures while touring Montjuic. Both Javier and the driver were so kind to help me in searching the grounds, talking to guards, letting me using their cells to lock and locate my phone. The story ended well that I just misplaced the phone in another compartment in my bag :P, but I would never forget the genuine concern and kind help extended by both.
Aim1122 (Yorkville, Illinois, USA)Maria picked us up at our place and arranged all of the transportation (despite the unexpected taxi strike).
More reasons to take a private tour...
JTB62 (Boston, Massachussets, USA)Javier gladly took pictures of all of us (Usually my husband is behind the camera). It was great to get us all together for once and not to have to bother anyone. If we had tried to figure out how to get to all the same places in one day with getting timed tickets and navigating, I think we would not have had as fun and relaxing time.
Elaine RXPrivate tours are pricey, however we would never be able to see as much, visit so many sites and get all our questions answered.
Is money an issue?
Well, that subject would allow for a whole chapter by itself… 😉
If you still need more reasons to convince yourself that our tours are well worth your money, here you’ll find more information and real testimonials of other travelers like you.
And in this post in our blog we share tips and tricks that will help you make the most out of your money so you can afford your private tour.