Visiting Chicago On A Budget: Tour Edition

Last week we posted on how to visit Chicago on a budget: Food Edition. This week’s Chicago on a Budget will go over free and cheap/discounted tours. There are a lot of tours that take place all over Chicago (check out our Chicago tours page here to see all tours going on Chicago). However, tours can be a little pricey, so we found the tours that are free or really cheap/discounted. Enjoy and learn about Chicago with the help of professionals without putting a dent in your travel budget.

Chicago Greeter

Get a little exercise and learn about Chicago neighborhoods  for free with Chicago Greeter tours. The Chicago Greeter offers free walking tours in Chicago guided by local knowledgable volunteers. Visitors can pick tours based on what neighborhoods interest them. Guests must register 10 business days in advance and once registered, are qualified for a free 2 to 4 hour guided tour of a Chicago neighborhood. Tours are only for visitors of Chicago. The maximum amount of people per group is 6. Sign up is a 6 step process that requires users to provide contact information and the neighborhood they are interested in touring. Tour guides are local volunteers that have a passion for their city and want to spread their knowledge of the rich history and culture of  Chicago neighborhoods.


Free Tours by Foot

Free Tours by Foot offers pay what you can guided tours of Chicago. These tours focus on the more popular neighborhoods of Chicago and have an overall theme for each tour. For example, The Architecture & Grant Park tour focuses on the Chicago loop and it’s buildings architecture. Free Tours by foot has a set schedule for all of their tours. However, they also offer private tours, but those are not pay what you can. Free Tours by Foot provides the following tours:

North Loop & Millennium Park
Chicago Riverwalk
Architecture & Grant Park Tour
Ghost Tour
Lincoln Park Blues & Gangster Tour
Gold Coast and Lincoln Park Zoo Tour
The Magnificent Mile Tour

These tours can be as cheap or as expensive as guests want it to be. With pay what you can it’s up to the guest to determine how much the tour should cost. All payments are accepted after the tour, so tour attendees can truly evaluate what they think the tour is worth.


Chicago Go Card

The Chicago Go Card is similar to the Chicago City Pass, but offers discounts on museums as well as tours. The Chicago Go Card offers three different passes: All inclusive, Explorer, and Build Your Own. The All inclusive pass offers customers an “all you can do” in 1, 2, 3, or 5 days for a set price. Visitors of Chicago can buy a pass for a set price and see as many attractions or tours they want that are on the Chicago Go Card attractions and tour list. If visitors plan their time right they can save up to 55% on available tours in Chicago with the All Inclusive Pass.  The Explorer pass allows customers to visit 3 or 5 attractions for one set price during their stay in Chicago. The Build Your Own Pass, allows customers to pick 2 or more tourist attractions at a 20% discount. The following tours are accepted by the Chicago Go Card:

Architecture River Cruise
Classic Lake Tour
Bike and Roll Chicago
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour
Panoramic and Scenic North Side Tour
Historic Chicago South Shore Tour
Grand Tour
Chicago Hop On Hop Off Tour
jackson park


If there is a specific tour visitors want to participate in that is not on the Chicago Go Card, we recommend Googling the name of the tour along with the terms “coupon”, “sale”, or similar terms. Sites like Groupon offer discounts on Chicago tours all the time.