12 Best Free Tours In Washington DC

best free tours in washington dc
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The capital of the United States of America is a fascinating and incredible place. Steeped in history and yet modern, this city is a crowd-pleaser for both the young and old, citizen and non-citizen. It offers a wide range of accommodations as well, including historic hotels and Airbnb vacation rentals. While Washington DC has a variety of things to do, one of the coolest things about the city is its huge number of free walking tours. So, if you’re visiting for the first time or returning for the hundredth, check out some of the best free tours in Washington DC, to explore the city more thoroughly.

Walking tours

I hope you brought your walking shoes! There’s so much of DC to see, and a lot of it can be seen on foot, so grab a water bottle and join these walking tours for a fun, informative, and (most importantly) free experience!

1. Capitol Hill Highlights Tour

US Capitol west side
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Martin Falbisoner used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This tour of Capitol Hill offers a captivating exploration of one of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic neighborhoods. Led by passionate local guides, this tour provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the rich history and political significance of Capitol Hill. While primarily focusing on iconic structures, such as the regal United States Capitol and the Supreme Court, the tour also delves into intriguing stories of the neighborhood.

As you stroll along the historic streets, you’ll gain insights into the workings of American democracy, learn about the famous figures who have left their mark on Capitol Hill, and soak in the stunning views of the Capitol’s grand facade. This tour is an excellent way to appreciate the historical and political heritage of the United States while exploring the heart of the nation’s capital.

Capitol Hill Highlights Tour

Address: Between Constitution Ave and Independence Ave

Duration: Tour lasts approximately two hours. Total walking distance is less than 1 mile (1.6 km)

Website: Capitol Hill Highlights Tour: https://freetoursbyfoot.com/capitol-hill-tour/#:~:text=CAPITOL%20HILL%20HIGHLIGHTS%20(EXTERIOR%20ONLY

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2. Pride History Tour

Pride Parade 2019
Source: Photo by Flickr user Kyle T. used under CC BY 2.0

The DC Pride History Tour offers a unique perspective on the nation’s capital, focusing on the LGBTQ+ community’s rich contributions and stories. As you stroll along the streets, you’ll uncover hidden gems and landmarks that have played pivotal roles in LGBTQ+ history, such as Lafayette Square and Freedom Plaza.

This adventure is not just a historical exploration but also a colorful celebration of love, resilience, and acceptance, offering visitors a chance to connect with the spirit of inclusivity that defines the city. Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally, the DC Pride Highlights Tour is a joyful and educational experience that showcases the city’s commitment to diversity and equality.

Pride History Tour

Address: St John’s Episcopal Church to 9th and F St NW

Duration: Tour lasts approximately two-and-a-half hours. Total walking distance is just less than 1 mile (1.6 km)

Website: Pride History Tour

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3. The National Mall Tour

National Mall, Washington, D.C. (20100325-DSC01310)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Matti Blume used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The original and most popular National Mall Tour takes you to visit the memorials on the National Mall, from the Washington Monument to Lincoln Memorial. You will even get a view of the White House along the way!

National Mall Tour

Address: 1500 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560

Duration: Tour lasts approx. 2 hours. Total walking is just over one mile (or 1.6 km)

Website: National Mall Tour

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Washington Tour Guide

Annie Leguennec

Annie Leguennec

My name is Annie. I am a local Tour guide based in Philadelphia enjoying fully what the city has to offer with its deep history, street arts, murals, architecture, traditional food, black history, Farmer Markets, green space, a melting pot of neighborhoods and its great locals. I am looking for to welcome you and show you this incredible city where you will gain a better understanding of the city's rich heritage and its continuing legacy as the birthplace of the United States of America. Book my tour. Explore and learn about this unique city where you will walk on the footsteps of our America's founding Fathers. My tours are conducted in English, French and Italian.

Tours by Annie

Washington Tour Guide

Stephanie Eley

Stephanie Eley

I'm a graduate of ITMI, International Tour Management Institute and 17 years as a licensed Tour Director and Program Director. My expertise began in NYC and Washington, DC where I'm a licensed guide and has expanded to Europe, South America, Cuba and the Western / Southwestern National Parks of the US. I'd love to introduce you for a day or a week to Denver, Colorado and the 4 corners region of the US: Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona! Let's GO!! stepheley@gmail.com

Tours by Stephanie

4. The All In One Tour

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Source: Photo by Flickr user Tony Fischer used under CC BY 2.0

One of the best free things to do in Washington DC, this tour is an extension of the National Mall Tour so you cover many sights in the area. Additional sights include significant monuments such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument and DC’s famed Cherry Blossom Trees.

All In One Tour

Starting Point: SW corner of 15th and Constitution Ave NW

Duration: Tour lasts approx. 4 hours. Total walking is just over two miles (3.8 km). You do stop for refreshments and bathroom breaks half way through

Website: All In One Tour

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5. Old Town Alexandria Walking Tour

Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

For a tour that is historic and otherworldly, go and walk the streets George Washington walked! This free walking tour in Washington DC transports every participant to the glorious past of this iconic city.

Old Town Alexandria Walking Tour

Address: 118 N Washington St, Alexandria, VA 22314, but make sure you go to the west side (N. Columbus Street) gate

Duration: Tour lasts approx. 2 hours. Total walking is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km)

Website: Old Town Alexandria Walking Tour

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6. Historic Georgetown Tour

Georgetown, Washington, D.C. HDR
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kristopher Anderson used under CC BY-SA 2.0

This walking tour is undoubtedly among the best sightseeing tours in Washington DC, especially for those who gravitate towards old-world charm. Absorb the cities’ colonial charm as you wander around and see where the founding fathers laid out the plans for the city of Washington DC.

Historic Georgetown Tour

Address: 900-998 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007

Duration: Tour lasts approx. 2 hours. Total walking is about 2 miles (3.2 km)

Website: Historic Georgetown Tour

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7. Smithsonian Museums Tours

Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History (7508870948)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alex Proimos used under CC BY 2.0

This tour helps you check out some of DC’s best museums! Although it does not go through all of them, which is probably a good thing since there are 19 different Smithsonian Museums, it does go into depth about a couple of the most popular ones including the Air & Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, and the National Gallery of Art Museum.

Pro tip: The different museum tours have different meeting points, so be sure to check out where your tour guide is meeting to get the best out of each museum.

Smithsonian Museums Tours

Address: Varies according to museum

Duration: 2 hours to highlight 1-2 different Smithsonian Museums

Website: Smithsonian Museums Tours

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Night tours

For a well-rounded and exciting experience of Washington DC, you also have to check out the night tours offered. Packed with fun and interesting themes, they’re something that’s sure to make your DC trip exciting.

8. Lincoln Assassination Tour

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC in 2012
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Another Believer used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

For a night of conspiracy, mystery, and drama go back in time with your tour guide to learn about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Although it happened almost 150 years ago, the story is just as real and intriguing. So head on this family-friendly tour to meet the players, walk the along streets, and see the famous buildings where this great drama took place.

Lincoln Assassination Tour

Starting Point: 1600 H St NW, Andrew Jackson Statue in Lafayette Square (North front of the White House)

Duration: Approximately 2 hours. Total distance 1 mile (or 1.6 km)

Website: Lincoln Assassination Tour

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9. Washington DC Ghost Tours

Washington DC at night
Source: Pixabay

Pick any of the four available tours for a spooky treat. These night tours in Washington DC include the Ghosts of Georgetown, Haunted Georgetown (Adults Only), White House Ghost Tours, and White House at Night: Secrets, Scandals, & Legends (Adults Only).

Washington DC Ghost Tours

Address: Varies according to tour

Duration: All approximately 1.5 hours. Total distance ranges from 1 mile (1.6 km) to 1.5 miles (2.4 km)

Website: Washington DC Ghost Tours

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10. Secrets and Scandals Tour

White House at night
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user M.Fitzsimmons used under CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the most interesting things to do at night is to join the Secrets and Scandals Tour. Learn about the founding fathers’ sordid pasts with this tour with glimpses into colonial murders and affairs.

Secrets and Scandals Tour

Address: 1600 H St NW, Andrew Jackson Statue in Lafayette Park on the north side of the White House

Duration: Approximately 2 hours. Total distance three-quarters of a mile (1.2 km)

Website: Secrets and Scandals Tour

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Food tours

In addition to wandering around sightseeing, you can also catch a food tour and taste some of DC’s finest. While the restaurants and food may not be free, the advice and tour still are!

11. U Street Food & History Tour

Ben's Chili Bowl, U St NW
Source: Photo by Flickr user David used under CC BY 2.0

U Street was once known as “Black Broadway,” and the street remains a storehouse of DC’s African American history. Come ready to taste the variety of local street foods that Guy Fieri drools over!

U Street Food & History Tour

Address: 13th St NW exit of the U Street/Cardoza Metro on the Green/Yellow line

Duration: Tour lasts approx. 2 hours. Total walking is just under one mile (or 1.6 km)

Website: U Street Food & History Tour

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12. Georgetown Cupcakes & Desserts Tour

Union Market during DC Scoop
Source: Photo by Flickr user Tom Bridge used under CC BY-ND 2.0

And last, but not least, a tour that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth! This food tour allows you to visit all the locally famed sweet shops, where you can buy as many treats as your waistline can handle!

Georgetown Cupcakes & Desserts Tour

Address: 1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW

Website: Georgetown Cupcakes & Desserts Tour

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DC here we come!

Washington D.C.
Source: Pixabay

With these fantastic tours, you’re ready to take DC by storm. Try out some great food, visit the museums, and walk in the footsteps of the founding fathers - all for free!

Frequently asked questions about the best free tours in Washington DC

  • Which free tours in Washington DC are a must-try for history buffs?

    Should you wish to deepen your understanding of the culture and heritage of DC, be sure to join the: i) Memorials and Moonlight Tour included in the National Mall Tours, ii) Smithsonian Museums Tours, especially those that visit Natural History Museum and American History Museum, and iii) U Street Food & History Tour for exploring the bustling NoMa neighborhood.

  • Which night tours in Washington DC are some of the best ones?

    One way to add color and buzz to your nights in Washington DC is to join city tours at sundown. Some of the best ones that you can participate in are: i) Lincoln Assassination Tour, ii) Secrets and Scandals Tour, and iii) Washington DC Ghost Tours.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Elena Aguirre is a travel writer with Trip101 and a student at UC Berkeley. In the past she has worked on technical, marketing, and creative writing. Favorite pastimes include traveling (of...Read more

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