20 Best Tours in Charleston, South Carolina

When you think of Charleston, the first thing that comes to mind is its Southern charm. But there’s so much more to this fantastic 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 area. Others are more fun and unique, such as a culinary walking tour where you can experience the unique tastes of the city.

Some tours will help you learn local history and what makes the local cuisine so enjoyable. Charleston is a great place to visit; these adventures can make your time there even more enjoyable.

This article will cover the best Charleston tours and what makes them unique and highly passionate. We’ll 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 options are so popular with visitors to Charleston.

TL;DR: Our Top Picks

Best Tours in Charleston, South Carolina

These are the top-rated tours in Charleston, South Carolina.

1. Lost Stories of Black Charleston Walking Tour

African American History Tour in Charleston, South Carolina
Lost Stories of Black Charleston Walking Tour / Viator

Experience the everyday life and rich cultural heritage of Charleston. Black history is abundant in Charleston but often forgotten. The Lost Stories of Black Charleston Tour was launched to help restore its history.

Led by historian Darin Waters, participants will hear stories of black heroes and heroines who played a significant role in shaping Charleston as we know it today. You will also learn about their struggles and triumphs along the way. You will connect with the past led by local Charlestonians.

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2. Charleston’s French Quarter Guided Walking Tour

Charleston Historic District, South Carolina
image by GetYourGuide

Tour Charleston’s fabled wall in the oldest French Quarter in the United States. From America’s First Public Garden to an ancient burial ground, the beautiful Historic District is rich with history and an amazing experience. 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. It includes two admission into 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

walking tour is a perfect way to go exploring. On this adventure, you will look in-depth at Charleston’s history, architecture, and culture. The expert guide will provide details about the region’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.

See Related: Best Museums in Charleston, South Carolina to Visit

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 tour. The alleys are distinguished by their beauty and occupy spaces that blur the line between public and private areas. You are guaranteed a more intimate and up-close experience with these sightseeing tours.

These pedestrian passageways are often overlooked in favor of exquisite homes, but traveling 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. An experienced certified tour guide narrates tours, so you’ll always catch all of them! Save time and money while exploring the city’s notable landmarks, churches, gardens, and more during our 1-hour horse or mule-drawn carriage drive through the historic district.

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 tour that puts you in the shoes of a detective. It’s an interactive experience, but not one where you’re barking orders or trying to figure things out independently. 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.

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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 before it begins.

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

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 tour.

He will share his knowledge and love for the town 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! This tour covers a lot of ground from the Charleston Market to the Battery and back again.

See Related: Best Breweries in Charleston, South Carolina

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 tour. Learn about its revolutionary history, visit the homes of notable enslaved people 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 town in South Carolina.

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

Charleston Small Group Food Tour, South Carolina
image by GetYourGuide

The town uniquely blends history, culture, architecture, and cuisine. Walk through the historic city center and discover how the city’s food has evolved over 300 years. This particular food tour will be an introduction to the best food tours it has to offer.

Charleston Food Tours will walk you through all four food groups: meat, bread, seafood, and dessert. This secret food tour will taste some of Charleston’s best restaurants as your local expert guide shares stories about the city and its people. Taste everything from oysters Rockefeller to fried quail with delicious waffles to crab soup!

You will also get to witness fried green tomatoes, fried oysters, collard greens, southern pralines, sweet tea, stone ground grits, she crab soup, and many other southern foods as you engage on the culinary adventure that is part of local food tours Charleston, SC.

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12. Charleston: 90-Minute Historic City Highlights Tour

Charleston Historic Walking Tour
image by Viator

This is perfect if you’re only visiting briefly and want to make the most of your trip. Travel through the city on a spacious, climate-controlled shuttle as an expert guide shares stories about Charleston. See over 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

Charleston culinary tours are unique and a fun way to enjoy the historic city. This 2.5-hour Charleston food tour features the area surrounding City Market in the historic downtown district.

Learn about Charleston’s food tour 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 cuisine and delicious food.

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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. 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 Tour is a 2-hour walk-through tour, exploring the French Quarter and the area south of Broad. You will learn about the city’s first settlers and current residents, as well as its past and future. You will also hear tales of historic churches and view the architecture.

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 tour by gaslight through the cobblestone streets 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!

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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. As you explore the jail’s dank corridors and dimly lit cells, prepare for spine-tingling tales that will leave you questioning what is real and what is not! Now, take a 45-minute tour of the jail and learn about its mischievous spirits, known to make their presence felt during the dark hours.

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), and ghost stories passed down through the generations.

See Related: Most Haunted Places in the US

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 and along the historic streets. 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, 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 fantastic, and some focus exclusively on specific aspects of the city (e.g., history, food, or architecture). So be sure to 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 quickly. Finally, dress comfortably and wear comfortable shoes, as most food tours involve a fair amount of walking around restaurants.

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Types of Tours in Charleston

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

Charleston Walking Tours

Aerial View of Charleston

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

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

Most special 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 lovely Charleston plant tours, including the Charlestown Tea plantation and Magnolia Garden. Each of those plantations offers its 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. Most tours focus on the interesting aspects of the city.

Charleston Carriage Tours

Carriage Tours In Charleston

There are numerous businesses providing carriage transportation. They’re all fantastic. Locals of Charleston manage the company. Is there anything wrong? 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 every day!!! You may go on a group or private tour through the holy city. We were invited to participate in a group tour, which was thoroughly recorded by an excellent guide for one hour.

Charleston Ghost Tours

Charleston Cemetery at Night During a Ghost Tour
Bulldog Tours / Facebook

The Bulldog Tours Ghost Tour is an excellent option for those interested in the supernatural side of Charleston. Bulldog tours take 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 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 at the city’s food tours. From the upper King Street district tours to downtown Charleston tours, there are various options, each offering its unique mix of local dishes and drinks.

No matter which tours you choose, you will 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’s culinary history.

See Related: Things to Do in South Carolina

Charleston Boat Tours / Charleston Harbor Tours

Charleston Harbor Boats

A boat tour is a great way to the city from a different perspective. Several companies offer boat tours of the area, including Schooner Pride Charleston. You might even get to see a dolphin along the way.

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 got close and personal with two dolphins jumping beside the ship.

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

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How long do Charleston tours last?

Charleston South Carolina Bridge

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

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. Contact the tour company directly to inquire about their specific policies.

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FAQ

What are the best Charleston tours?

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?

Tours range in price depending on the tour company and your specific tour. However, most tours fall within the $20-$30 per person range. Some tours also offer free cancellation.

Where do Charleston tours depart from?

Most Charleston tours depart from the Visitor’s Center 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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