Charleston Tours: Best Tours of the Holy City
Charleston is one of the most historically diverse cities in the U.S. It’s also at the forefront of the contemporary culinary scene and has some of the most photogenic neighborhoods in the lowcountry. Basically, it has all that and a bag of Lowcountry Kettle chips. To see as much as possible in the Holy City, you might want to take a tour. The only problem? Choosing the right one. Luckily, it’s hard to find a bad Charleston tour. But if you want to find the best Charleston tours? Look no further than our list of tours you won’t want to miss.
Charleston Tours: 7 Best Tours of the Holy City
#1: Charleston History Tour, by Walks of Charleston
Yes, there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it: we think our history tour is one of the best Charleston tours in the city.
Charleston is full of history that dates to the 1600s. It played major roles in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. It survived a major earthquake. And it’s still home to dozens of historic structures and quaint, cobblestones streets.
Our history tour takes you to all the major sites in the Holy City. From historic churches to government buildings to humble homes, owned by famous Charlestonians, we help you go back in time to truly understand the city’s diverse history.
#2: Alleys and Hidden Passages, Lowcountry Walking Tours
If you want to get even deeper in both history and the physical city itself, this Charleston tour will show you both the famous sites and some beautiful back alleyways.
Charleston’s back alleyways aren’t the ‘seedy’ or spooky. In fact, the back-alleyway system of Charleston was an important network of streets that connected well-to-do homes. Walk along the cobblestone streets and discover the stories of the men and women that built this city — sometimes scandalously.
All of Charleston’s alleyways and passages are public spaces that allow you to get a glimpse into the private lives of some of the city’s most prestigious residents.
#3: Upper King Street Culinary Tour, Charleston Culinary Tours
If you’re like most travelers we know, you’d rather eat your way through a city than walk through it. On this tour, you can do both.
The Upper King Street Culinary Tour takes you through one of Charleston’s most prestigious neighborhoods, highlighting traditional Charleston cuisine in the process.
This tour includes 2.5 hours of eating, drinking and stories. You’ll learn all about the innovative Charleston chefs that are making waves in southern cuisine — all while trying bites of dishes along the way.
At the end of the tour, you get a free ticket to the Charleston Powder Magazine, the city’s oldest public building. You can even pair a food tour with a carriage tour (should you be too full to make your way back to your hotel).
#4: Chilling Charleston Ghost Tour, Ashley on the Cooper
Charleston is known for being one of the most haunted cities in America. It’s no wonder that there are dozens of ghost tours in the Holy City, detailing the stories of the long-departed men, women (and sometimes pets) that still wander the city’s streets.
Ashley on the Cooper features several of the best haunted Charleston tours — including a murder walk and a macabre ghost tour.
The murder walk allows visitors to solve whodunnit-style murder mysteries and bring a killer to justice. The macabre ghost tour focuses on Charleston’s mysteries, many of which that have yet to be solved. All night tours are led by the light of gas lamps throughout the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
#5: Carriage Tour, Carolina Polo & Carriage Co.
There’s something so quintessential about a Charleston carriage ride. Making your way through the cobblestoned streets in a horse-drawn buggy-drawn is one of the best ways to see the city.
You’ll learn all about Charleston’s diverse history from the comfort of a six-person carriage while passing by some of the city’s most famous sites.
This carriage company has been around for generations and only hires drivers and guides who truly understand the inner workings of the Holy City. You’ll also hear stories about some of the lesser-known Charleston figures in this one-hour tour.
#6: Sunset Boat Cruise, Adventure Harbor Tours
Charleston by carriage is a sight to behold, but it’s a whole different sight by boat. Practically surrounded by water, Charleston’s downtown is almost completely accessible by boat. What better way to enjoy the skyline (and the sunset) than with a sunset boat tour?
Adventure Harbor Tours offers both a ‘mild’ sunset cruise and a ‘wild’ one. Cruise around the harbor for 90 minutes while you snack on food and sip BYOB beer, cocktails and wine. The ‘wild’ cruise features everything the ‘mild’ one does — only with more dancing and energy.
The cruise is also partially narrated, so you’ll learn a little about Charleston’s history and culture while you’re having a blast.
#7: Upper King Street Pub Crawl, Original Pub & Brewery Tours of Charleston
If you want to enjoy even more libations, you’ll want to get into some of Charleston’s historic pubs and breweries. The Upper King Street Pub Crawl, offered by Original Pub & Brewery Tours of Charleston, is a great way to get an overview of the many bars this city has to offer.
While this tour is based on European-style pub crawls, it’s all lowcountry at heart. You’ll get a great historical overview of the city in a small-group setting. You’ll also get to see Charleston as nature intended — from a barstool at some of the city’s most spectacular rooftop bars!
If you’re not a tour person, we won’t hold it against you. Instead, you might want to check out one of our self-guided food tour or history tour. Or, if you like the idea of the tour (without all the people), we can also recommend customizable private tours, too.