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Private guides

A University of London archaeologist, hired through Context Travel, guides a family through the British Museum in London (Photo courtesy of Context Travel)
A University of London archaeologist, hired through Context Travel, guides a family through the British Museum in London

How to hire a private tour guide in the U.K.

Sometimes you want something that goes beyond the pages in your guidebook or the audio tour at the museum.

Though they aren't cheap (see below), private local guides can be the keys to the most rewarding vacation—and if you're already spending a few grand on the trip itself, what's an extra couple of hundred bucks to make sure all that effort of getting over there was worth it?

How much does a guide cost? 

The rates charged by private tour guides varies widely based on the guide's experience, the popularity of their destination, and, frankly, however much they want to charge. For a ballpark:

  • $35–$90 per hour
  • $200–$600 per day

Many guides will offer a "first hour free" sampler of their services.

Why hire a guide?

A tour guide can help you tailor your days of sightseeing and shopping to your own tastes, and give you the utmost depth of information about any subject that catches your fancy.

Local guides know the hidden corners and amazing anecdotes that can help make their city and its history come alive, and can answer all your questions. Yes, with enough guidebooks, history tomes, and Googling you could probably uncover much of this on your own, but it would take a phenomenal amount of time and research whereas a guide can spoon-feed it all to you at the drop of a hat.

If you've never toured with a private guide before, treat yourself to one for a day—or even just a few hours in the morning —in one of the major cities. Trust me; you won't be disappointed. Just make sure it's a licensed tour guide.

How to find a licensed private guide

You can get a list of officially sanctioned and licensed guides from the local tourist office—but that's all you get: a list.

Some travel guidebook will recommend a local guide or two (someone who often doubles as the local stringer the publisher uses to update the information in the book).

Aside from a direct recommendation from a friend who's been there before and used a guide, your best bet for finding a local guide is to book one via a third party:

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