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20 Best Charleston Tours | Walking, Boating & Food Tours

When you think of Charleston, South Carolina, the first thing that comes to mind is usually its rich history and Southern charm. But there’s so much more to this amazing city than just old mansions and cobblestone streets.

There are many different tours in Charleston, South Carolina. Some of them are about the history of the city. Others are more fun and unique, like tours that involve getting to know animals or learning about how to cook food. Charleston is a great place to visit, and these tours can make your time there even more enjoyable.

This article will cover the best Charleston tours and what makes them so special. We’ll take a look at some of the more unique tours that are available, as well as some of the more traditional ones. And we’ll explore why these tours are so popular with visitors to Charleston.

Best Tours in Charleston, South Carolina

These are the top-rated tours in Charleston, SC.

1. Lost Stories of Black Charleston Walking Tour

African American History Tour in Charleston, South Carolina
image by Viator

Experience the everyday life and rich cultural heritage of Charleston. Black history is abundant in Charleston but often forgotten. To bring back this rich history to the public, the Lost Stories of Black Charleston Walking Tour was launched.

Led by historian Darin Waters, tour participants will hear stories of black heroes and heroines who had a major role to play in shaping Charleston as we know it today. You will also learn about their struggles and triumphs along the way.

2. Charleston’s French Quarter Guided Walking Tour

Charleston Historic District, South Carolina
image by GetYourGuide

Tour Charleston’s fabled walled city in the oldest French Quarter in the United States. From America’s First Public Garden to an ancient burial ground, the Historic District is rich with history. Walk through this neighborhood and discover why it is one of America’s most beautiful cities.

This pleasant 90-minute walk with a storyteller/guide takes you to the highlights of Charleston’s historic district, national landmarks, and majestic harbor. The tour includes admission for two into any one of three attractions: Magnolia Plantation, Old Slave Mart Museum or Fort Sumter.

3. Charleston Historical Walking Tour

Historical Walking Tour, Charleston, South Carolina
image by GetYourGuide

A walking tour is the perfect way to explore a city. On this tour, you will take an in-depth look at Charleston’s history, its architecture and its culture.

The expert guide will provide details about the city’s key events and figures that have shaped it into what it is today. You’ll get to visit some of the most important sites, such as the Battery, where the first shots of the Civil War rang out; the Old Exchange, one of America’s oldest public buildings; and Fort Sumter, where many battles were fought during the Civil War.

4. Charleston’s Alleys and Hidden Passages

Hidden Alleyways & Historic Sites Walking Tour, Charleston, South Carolina
image by Viator

Explore Charleston’s enchanting alleys and hidden passages on this guided, small group, 2-hour walking tour. You are guaranteed a more intimate and up-close experience. The city’s alleys are distinguished by their beauty and occupy spaces that blur the line between public and private areas.

These pedestrian passageways are often overlooked in favor of grandiose homes, but walking along these cobbled paths is an opportunity to appreciate Charleston’s hidden, more intimate charms.

5. Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District

Carriage Tour of the Historic District, Charleston, South Carolina
image by GetYourGuide

Charleston Carriage Company is a locally owned and operated business that provides the best carriage tours in Charleston. Save time and money while exploring the city’s amazing landmarks, churches, gardens, and more during our 1-hour horse or mule-drawn carriage tour through the historic district. Tours are narrated by an experienced certified tour guide, so you’ll never miss a thing!

6. Charleston Mystery Walking Tour

Murder Walk Mystery Walking Tour in Historic Charleston, South Carolina
image by Viator

Charleston Mystery Walking Tour is a 90-minute walking tour that puts you in the shoes of a detective. It’s an interactive experience, but not one where you’re barking out orders or trying to figure things out on your own. Instead, it’s more like a puzzle where you have to piece together clues and listen carefully to what the guides are saying to solve the mystery.

7. Charleston’s Old South Carriage Historic Tour

Old South Carriage Historic Horse & Carriage Tour, Charleston, South Carolina
image by Viator

Take a journey back in time as you travel by horse-drawn carriage along the picturesque streets of Charleston. See highlights such as historically significant homes, churches, and gardens while listening to informative commentary about the city’s role in the Civil War from your knowledgeable guide.

Enjoy the relaxed pace of a carriage tour as you soak up the southern charm of Charleston. Please check in with Old South Carriage 15 minutes prior to the tour.

8. Charleston: Sightseeing by Carriage & Classic Carriage Works

Charleston Carriage, South Carolina

Relive the days of Southern elegance and charm on a 1-hour narrated history tour. Charleston Sightseeing Carriage Company takes you on a journey through America’s oldest city aboard one of our elegant Percheron draft horses and carriages. Your knowledgeable guide will explain what makes this historic area unique as you admire stunning architecture, lush gardens, and more.

9. Supernatural Charleston 60 or 90-Minute Ghost Tour

Charleston Supernatural Ghost Tour, South Carolina
image by GetYourGuide

From the Charleston City Market to the Battery and back again, this tour covers a lot of ground. With over a century of ghostly experiences, there’s never a dull moment! Join Geordie Buxton, author of several true ghost stories and an expert on all things supernatural, for this 2-hour walking tour. He will share his knowledge and love for the city with you as he takes you through some of the most haunted areas – from the Citadel to St. Philip’s Church Cemetery and much more!

10. Historic Charleston Small Group Walking Tour

Charleston Historic District, South Carolina

Explore Charleston’s colorful past as you stroll through the historic district on this 2-hour walking tour. Learn about its revolutionary history, visit the homes of notable slaves and abolitionists and uncover secrets from America’s Civil War. Discover tales of pirates, patriots, ghosts, and much more on your journey through the oldest city in South Carolina.

11. Charleston: Small Group Food Tour – Savor the Flavors

Charleston Small Group Food Tour, South Carolina
image by GetYourGuide

Charleston, SC, is a unique blend of history and culture, architecture, and cuisine. Walk through the historic city center and discover how the city’s food has evolved over 300 years.

Charleston Food Tours will walk you through all 4 food groups: meat, bread, seafood, and dessert. Taste some of the best restaurants Charleston offers as your local expert guide shares stories about the city and its people. Taste everything from oysters Rockefeller to fried quail with waffles!

12. Charleston: 90-Minute Historic City Highlights Tour

Charleston Historic Walking Tour
image by Viator

If you’re only visiting Charleston for a short time and want to make the most of your trip, this is the perfect tour. Travel through the city on a spacious, climate-controlled shuttle as an expert guide shares stories about Charleston’s rich history. See more than 100 points of interest across the city during this 90-minute tour, including landmarks like High Battery and Rainbow Row.

13. Downtown Charleston Culinary Tour

Downtown Charleston Culinary Tour, South Carolina
image by Viator

Join a culinary walking tour of downtown Charleston for a fun, unique, and delicious way to experience the historic city. This 2.5-hour food tour features the area surrounding City Market in the historic downtown district.

Learn about Charleston’s history as you enjoy tastings of traditional favorites and contemporary innovations, all of which highlight the cuisine of locally owned restaurants. With a guide, you’ll visit at least four eateries that provide samples of Lowcountry dishes.

14. Charleston: Historic Harbor Cruise

Historic Harbor Cruise, Charleston, South Carolina
image by GetYourGuide

Charleston Harbor Cruise is a great way to see the city of Charleston. The view from the water is simply breathtaking! During your 2 hour cruise, you will be given an informative and entertaining narrative on everything from the history of South Carolina to a detailed description of Fort Sumter.

15. Historic Downtown Walking Tour

Historic Downtown Guided Walking Tour, Charleston, South Carolina
image by Viator

The Charleston Historic Downtown Walking Tour is a 2-hour walking tour of the downtown area, exploring the French Quarter and the area south of Broad. Along the way, you will hear tales of historic churches and view city architecture. You will learn about the city’s first settlers and current residents, as well as its past and future.

16. Chilling Charleston Ghost Tour

Ghost & Dungeon Night-Time Walking Tour, Charleston, South Carolina
image by Viator

Chilling Charleston Ghost Tours is an experience like no other. Please get to know the darker side of the city’s history on a 1.5-hour walking tour by gas light through the cobblestone streets of Charleston while hearing chilling tales of ghosts and paranormal encounters from one of our experienced guides. This is not just any ordinary ghost tour but a historical adventure that will leave you wanting more!

17. Charleston: 45-Minute Haunted Jail Walking Tour

Haunted Jail Night-Time Walking Tour, Charleston, South Carolina
image by Viator

The Old City Jail is one of Charleston’s most haunted locations. Now, take a 45-minute tour of the jail and learn about its mischievous spirits, who have been known to make their presence felt during the dark hours. As you explore the Jail’s dank corridors and dimly lit cells, prepare yourself for spine-tingling tales that will leave you questioning what is real and what is not!

18. South Carolina Aquarium Admission

South Carolina Aquarium Exhibit
image by Viator

The South Carolina Aquarium is one of America’s largest and most fascinating aquariums, with more than a mile of habitats representing the three coastal regions of the Southeast. Come face-to-face with amazing animals from the Lowcountry, Piedmont, and mountains, including hundreds of creatures native to South Carolina.

19. Charleston: 90-Minute Ghost & Graveyard Walking Tour

Charleston Ghost & Graveyard Walking Tour
image by GetYourGuide

Charleston is known for its rich history, and there’s no better place to learn about the past than its graveyards. This 90-minute tour explores some of Charleston’s oldest cemeteries, including Magnolia Cemetery and Ebonhi. Topics covered include the city’s unique burial customs, famous native sons and daughters buried here, notable figures buried here (Clementa Pinckney), as well as ghost stories that have been passed down through the generations.

20. Charleston: 90-Minute Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

Exchange and Provost Dungeon, Charleston, South Carolina

Learn about the history of Charleston’s Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon on a 90-minute walk-through of the city’s historic downtown district. Hear tales of hauntings and ghost sightings as we unearth stories from Charleston’s pirate past, uncover the mystery behind America’s first voodoo murder, and more.

Things to Know Before Booking a Tour in Charleston

Sidewalk In Charleston South Carolina

When planning your visit to Charleston, be sure to consider booking one of the many excellent tours available. Before booking a tour, there are a few things you should know.

First, be aware that not all tours are created equal. Some are more comprehensive than others, and some focus exclusively on certain aspects of the city (e.g., history or architecture). So be sure to do your research and choose the tour that best suits your interests and needs.

Second, booking in advance is always recommended, as many of Charleston’s popular tours tend to fill up quickly. Finally, be sure to dress comfortably and wear comfortable shoes, as most tours involve a fair amount of walking.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Charleston?

Types of Tours in Charleston

There are many different types of tours in Charleston, SC. Some of the most popular are walking tours, boat tours, history tours, and ghost tours. This historic city is filled with all forms of group tours so you’re sure to see the city in a variety of ways.

Charleston Walking Tours

Aerial View of Charleston

Walking tours offer an excellent means of getting to know South Carolinas oldest city. Walks of Charleston has an excellent tour guide that is licensed with the town so they can tell the truth about their work in short (even the stories that are not found in a history book).

The group provides many walking tours including a Charleston History Tour, a private tour, and a Hidden Path Tour. The popular Charleston History Tour offers a chance to visit the historic city of Charleston, the French Quarter, and the Battery.

Charleston boat tours offer a different perspective on Charleston. You’ll get to see the waterfront and some of the beautiful homes and gardens from the water.

Charleston Plantation Tours

Plantation in Charleston

There are numerous plantations in Charleston, some of which provide wonderful Charleston plant tours including the Charlestown Tea plantation and Magnolia Garden. Each of those plantations offers its own itinerary. They give tractor excursions from one farm to the next on Boone Hall Plantations.

Taking a 30-minute trolley tour to the Charleston Tea Plantation and learning about tea culture is an unforgettable experience.

Charleston Carriage Tours

Carriage Tours In Charleston

In Charleston, there are numerous businesses providing carriage transportation. They’re all fantastic. Is there anything wrong? The company is managed by locals of Charleston. Can you imagine the family dwelling in Charleston from the 1600s to today?

It’s incredible. I adored seeing the area from a local perspective and learning new things about it every day!!! You may choose to go on a group trip or a private tour. We were invited to take part in a group tour, which was thoroughly recorded by an excellent guide for one hour.

Charleston Ghost Tours

charlestonghosttour
Image from Bulldog Tours Facebook Page

The Bulldog Tours Ghost Tour is a great option for those interested in the supernatural side of Charleston. This tour takes visitors to some of the city’s most haunted locations, including jail cells where many notorious criminals were incarcerated, the Provost Dungeon, and centuries-old graveyards.

Those interested in ghosts and other supernatural phenomena will definitely want to check out this tour.

Charleston Food Tours/ Culinary Tours

Charleston Upper King Street Food Tour
Image from TripAdvisor

If you’re looking for a way to explore Charleston’s culinary scene, look no further than the city’s food tours. From King Street tours to downtown Charleston tours, there’s a variety of options to choose from, each offering its own unique mix of local dishes and drinks.

No matter which tour you choose, you’re sure to have a delicious time exploring Charleston’s culinary scene. So what are you waiting for? Book your tour today and get ready to taste your way through the city.

If you’re interested in history, there are several history tours to choose from. And if you’re looking for a spooky experience, the ghost tours are sure to please.

See Related: Things to Do in South Carolina

Charleston Boat Tours / Charleston Harbor Tours

Charleston Harbor Boats

If you’re looking for a unique way to see Charleston, consider taking a boat tour. There are a number of companies that offer boat tours of the area, including Schooner Pride Charleston.

These boat tours offer a different perspective on the city and its surroundings and provide a great way to get up close and personal with dolphins if you’re lucky.

One evening during a trip to South Carolina’s first beach, I was greeted by Schooner Pride and enjoyed seeing the region through the eyes of the sea. The sunset was spectacular, but we also got close and personal with two dolphins who were jumping beside the ship.

They provide a beverage service onboard and ample seating. Despite being in the cockpit of the ship, you can easily go on a stroll through the ship and enjoy its surroundings. Book your tour on Schooner Pride to ensure an unforgettable experience.

See Related: Best Breweries in Charleston

How long do Charleston tours last?

Charleston South Carolina Bridge

Most Charleston tours last between 1-2 hours, though some may be shorter or longer depending on the tour company and the specific tour you choose.

Are Charleston tours kid-friendly?

Pineapple Fountain In Charleston

Yes! Many Charleston tour companies offer child-friendly tours that are perfect for families. Some companies may even offer discounts for children. Please contact the tour company directly to inquire about their specific policies.

See Related: Ways to Get Free Hotel Rooms

Final Thoughts

The best Charleston tours are definitely the ones that give you a comprehensive view of the city. There are a number of great tours available, so be sure to do your research and find the one that best suits your interests.

With so much to see and do in Charleston, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience on any of these tours. If you’re looking for a great way to see Charleston, then be sure to check out one of the city’s comprehensive tours. There are a number of different tours available, so it’s important to do your research and find the one that best suits your interests.

These tours will take you to all of the important landmarks and give you a chance to see the city from a different perspective. If you’re looking for a unique way to explore Charleston, be sure to check out one of these tours.

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FAQ

What are the best Charleston tours?

There are many great Charleston tours, but some of our favorites include the Ghosts and Gravestones Tour, the Charleston Tea Plantation Tour, and the Boone Hall Plantation Tour.

How much do Charleston tours cost?

Charleston tours range in price depending on the tour company and the specific tour you choose. However, most tours fall within the $20-$30 per person range.

Where do Charleston tours depart from?

Most Charleston tours depart from the Visitor’s Center, which is located at 360 Meeting Street. Some companies may offer pick-up and drop-off services from other locations around town for an additional fee.

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