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17 Best Charleston Walking Tours: Explore South Carolina on Foot

17 Best Charleston Walking Tours:  Explore South Carolina on Foot

Slow-paced and low-tech, Charleston walking tours give you a unique perspective of this breezy, charming town in coastal South Carolina.

Established in 1670, the city of Charleston is brimming with history, stunning architecture, and amazing food. They also have the best breweries in town.

This Lowcountry gem begs you to leave the car at the hotel and simply take a leisurely stroll over the cobblestone streets and past the colorful townhouses. There are so many great professionally guided Charleston walking tours to choose from.

Or, decide on a free walking tour by picking a district and exploring on your own When you do walking tours through a port city like Charleston, you can stop and read the plaques serving as markers to all the notable, often tragic, events of her past.

You can allow the aroma of dishes prepared by chefs specializing in Southern and French cuisine to seduce you into a leisurely lunch or the most decadent dinner you’ll ever have. Spontaneous cocktail hours or tea times are also easier when you’re on foot. On Charleston walking tours no one cares if you get off schedule.

So get moving–slowly–with a few of these Charleston walking tours through one of the most alluring and interesting cities in the world.

Best Charleston, South Carolina Walking Tours of Nature

If you’d like to see some of the area’s natural beauty or get an important history lesson, one of these Charleston walking tours will take you out of town and into another world.

Paddle with the dolphins

Not technically a Charleston walking tour, but low-tech and slow-paced nonetheless. The Charleston: Folly Beach Stand Up Paddleboard Dolphin Safari is a 2-hour paddleboard lesson among the dolphins and water birds of coastal South Carolina.

Specially designed to get beginners standing up and paddling, this introduction to SUP will get you navigating along the picturesque Folly River in no time.

Your instructor will show you how to flow with the tide to look for bottlenose dolphins and other wildlife. Equipment is provided. Just bring your swimsuit, towel, and sunscreen.

Charleston walking tours for Civil War buffs

This is one of the only Charleston walking tours that include a ferry ride. Fort Sumter: National Monument Entry Ticket & Ferry gives visitors a chance to walk in the paths of the Americans who changed the course of history.

Located at the strategic point of the mouth of Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter is famous for being the site of the opening gunshots of the Civil War. Board the ferry at Liberty Square in downtown Charleston. Then cruise to this National Historical Park for a view of the monument.

Along the way, you’ll see Charleston’s Rainbow Way and Battery houses along the waterfront. Once you’re at the monument, National Park Rangers are on hand to tell the story of the first battle of the Civil War and answer questions.

Then spend some time learning more about the fort’s importance in the war at the Fort Sumter Museum. As one of the Charleston walking tours, you’ll have ample time to roam the very site that launched America’s bloodiest conflict. Admission on the ferry and into Fort Sumter is included in the tour price.

Take a walking tour of Fort Sumter, the site of the first battle of the Civil War.

Best Charleston, South Carolina Walking Tours of the City

Charleston walking tours are a fantastic way to get to know the city. Put on your comfortable shoes and hit the streets.

Charleston Historical Walking Tour – 2 Hours

The Charleston Historical Walking Tour gives you a two-hour overview of North America’s only English-walled city. A knowledgeable guide with deep family roots will take you step-by-step through Charleston’s controversial past and how it has shaped the city today.

Historic stores, tombs, churches, and homes are on the list of places you’ll see on this walking tour of Charleston. You’ll also hear stories of the disasters, colorful characters, and notorious pirates that have left their mark on this old port.

Wear your walking shoes and bring some water so you can completely immerse yourself in Charleston’s history and lore.

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Charleston 1.5 Hour Historic Walking Tour

If your bucket list includes seeing Rainbow Row and the Battery, you’ll find this to be the best of Charleston walking tours for you. Fascinating history will come to life in this one-and-a-half-hour walking tour of Charleston’s antebellum neighborhoods.

Get an in-depth, from-the-ground view of two famous city districts. Charleston’s Rainbow Row is a string of 13 different colored historical homes along the waterfront. It draws visitors from around the world and is one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city.

You’ll also see the stately mansions of the Battery, the famous promenade along the waterfront. Out in the harbor, Fort Sumter will be visible. You’ll also tour the beautiful courtyards, gardens, and graveyards all while hearing rich tales of Charleston’s past.

You may want to plan your Asheville itinerary so the adventure won’t stop in the southern part of North Carolina.

Include a walking tour of the Battery, an important waterfront neighborhood.

Charleston French Quarter Walking Tour

Charleston’s French Quarter is the oldest in the US, and this French Quarter Walking Tour is the best way to see it all. The oldest French Huguenot church in America is here in all its Gothic Revival glory.

Other historically significant churches, many of them first churches established in the 1600s, are included in the walking tour. Situated on an old cobblestone street in the Quarter is the Old Slave Mart, now a National Park.

An actual site of slave auctions, it stands as a museum dedicated to African-American history and art. You’ll also see the Dock Street Theater, the headquarters of General Robert E. Lee, and the 4 Corners of Law with St. Michael’s Church attended by George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette.

And, so much more.

Take a Charleston walking tour of the French Quarter to see the oldest French Huguenot church in America.

Free Walking Tours in Charleston, South Carolina

Guided Charleston walking tours are a wonderful way to see the city. But sometimes you just want to be free.

Free Charleston walking tours with King Street Shopping

Busy, but in a Southern-friendly way, King Street is a 300-year-old downtown boulevard named for England’s King Charles II. It was originally designed for people arriving into town at the port. Now it’s a major retail district of exclusive boutiques, restaurants, and cocktail lounges.

King Street is actually made up of three districts called Lower King Street Antiques District, Middle King Street Fashion District, and Upper King Street Design and Dining District.

Pick one end and then shop and dine your way through to the other. This is an excellent free walking tour and a fun way to spend a day in Charleston.

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Charleston walking tours of Nathaniel Russell Home

One of the best free walking tours in Charleston is that of the grand home of merchant and slave trader Nathaniel Russell. There is a nominal fee to enter the home, but download the free app to take a detailed self-guided tour.

Nathaniel Russell was a 1765 transplant to Charleston from Rhode Island. He immediately set himself up in the town as a successful businessman.

The Russell mansion has been meticulously preserved as a National Historic Home with the purpose of shedding light on the lives and times of the Russell family and of the slaves who allowed them such a luxurious lifestyle.

Take a free walking tour of the Nathaniel Russell House, a National Historic Landmark.

Charleston walking tours of Broad Street

Art lovers will love one of these free walking tours of Broad Street’s galleries and cultural centers. Broad Street features approximately 70 galleries perfect for wandering in and out at your leisure.

Don’t miss the Postal Museum located in South Carolina’s oldest post office. Entry is free.

Charleston walking tours of Church Street

Take a free walking tour of Church Street for a quick dose of American history. See the first permanent playhouse, Dock Street Theater, and the historic St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, built in the 1830s.

The church’s graveyard is the burial place of several prominent figures in the nation’s history. Secretary of War and Vice President, John C. Calhoun was originally buried here in 1850. It was exhumed in 1865 when it was hidden and not returned until after the Reconstruction around 1879.

It is also the burial place of the signer of the Declaration of Independence, Edward Rutledge, as well as the signer of the Constitution, Charles Pinckney. For lovers of literature, DuBose Heyworth who wrote the American classic Porgy, is buried here too.

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Charleston walking tours of the Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhoods in historic downtown

The most fun part of free walking tours is that you can easily blend in and look like one of the locals. The Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhoods of Charleston allow you to do just that.

The neighborhoods are a cool blend of amazing houses, cool boutiques, and funky bistros and bakeries. The College of Charleston, established in 1770, sits in Harleston Village in the center of downtown too, so you’ll feel that hip, collegiate vibe as you meander.

Find the College of Charleston when you do a Charleston walking tour of Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhoods.

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Walking Ghost Tour in Charleston

Charleston is an old city with spectacular history. Of course, there are ghosts.

Charleston: Haunted History Walking Ghost Tour

Get frightened in the city’s Haunted History Walking Ghost Tour when you spend over an hour or so learning about the dreadful souls skulking through Charleston’s city streets. The rivers and dark corners of this charming town contain many secrets…and more.

Discover what skeletons remain in Charleston’s closets and which ones roam free in this spooky walking ghost tour. It’s a fun evening of storytelling about the pirates and other baddies that have left their stamp of terror in the Lowcountry.

Supernatural 90-Minute Walking Ghost Tour

This terrific supernatural walking ghost tour is led by the author of the paranormal, Charleston’s own Geordie Buxton. Join him for an hour and a half of shocking tales of hauntings featuring the Old Citadel and College of Charleston.

Prepare yourself for ghostly orphans, lost cadets, and mischievous beings who crave nothing more than to give you the chills, even on sultry Southern nights.

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90-Minute Ghost & Graveyard Walking Tour

What’s scarier than a walking ghost tour in a graveyard? Not much. Spend a ghastly evening roaming Charleston’s graveyards hunting for spirits. Or are the spirits hunting you?

Hear tales of the undead and other fun folklore about the history of those who should’ve departed this realm a long time ago. Search gravestones for hidden meanings and decide for yourself who is dead and buried and who…may not be.

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90-Minute Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

Dungeons are fun places for walking ghost tours, right? See for yourself in Charleston’s Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour. Voodoo is a mysterious spiritual belief system and you’ll learn all about it–fact and fiction–on this tour of the scariest regions of Charleston.

Charleston is often referred to as the Holy City due to its tolerance for all sorts of religions. You’ll also get a sun-down perspective of Charleston when you’re led down back alleys, through graveyards, and past ancient churchyards.

Hear stories of priests and priestesses, pirates, and other practitioners of voodoo. Your eerie evening ends after a visit to the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

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45-Minute Haunted Jail Ghost Walking Tour

Charleston’s Old City jail is the perfect backdrop for this ghost-walking tour that will leave you unnerved…and unable to sleep. Take a Haunted Jail Walking Tour to learn more about the truly terrible crimes committed by the former residents of this creepy lockup.

The worst criminals to come out of the Lowcountry were housed here from 1802 to 1939. Learn how these inmates–some pirates and Civil War prisoners–came to be incarcerated in these notorious walls.

Keep your eyes and ears open too. The former residents may want to make an appearance.

The notorious Old City Jail is one of the ghost walking tour options available in Charleston.

Boo-Hag and Brews Haunted Bar Hop Ghost Walking Tour

Need some liquid courage to survive a ghost-walking tour of Charleston? You’ll find some on the Boo-Hag and Brews Haunted Bar Hop walking tour.

Hear ghost stories and city lore from local historians on a downtown bar hop with guide-recommended cocktails available for purchase and appetizers, included in your admission, to calm your jangled nerves.

That is until you end up at the park where one of the city’s first female serial killers was hanged. Cheers!

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Patriot’s Point Haunted USS Yorktown Ghost Walking Tour

This fascinating Haunted USS Yorktown Tour tells the awful shipside tales of the mighty vessel that once housed 3,000. Commissioned in 1943, she was a defender during WWII. Many aboard made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of duty.

Some of their spirits may still linger on deck. Hear the stories and see what life may have been like for these men in this exclusive after-dark tour including areas that are normally closed to the public.

You can also try exploring the small town of Travelers Rest, SC, with your family and friends to continue with your adventure or go to Burlington to find more attractions for yourself.

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