If you visit Brussels or are planning to visit Brussels, you will see that several companies and independent tour guides offer “Free Tours” in English. In this article, we give you the best tips to help you choose and book the best “Free Tour of Brussels” and avoid bad surprises.
First of all, it is important to know that the activity of tour guide in Brussels is not regulated, unlike medicine or architecture that require a degree to practice them.
Therefore, anyone can call themselves a tour guide, offer their services to companies or organize guided tours or “Free Tours”.
Not all “self-taught” guides are bad, just like not all tour guide companies in Brussels offer quality tours.
So, how can you choose the best Free Tour of Brussels?
To book the best “Free Tour” of Brussels in English and avoid a bad experience, we advise you to take into account the following information:
1) The company or organization that organizes the guided tour.
Book only with companies or organizations that have more than 2 years of experience in the tourism sector. As explained above, in Brussels, anyone can call themselves a guide and offer their services and/or organize guided tours in the city. However, not everyone has the required experience or organization skills to offer a quality product.
How can you know for how long a company has been offering guided tours?
You can find this information:
- at the bottom of the site page,
- under “Who are we?”
- or on the page of legal mentions.
Choose companies that do not exclusively offer “Free Tours”. In general, the best guides only work with companies that offer different types of guided and thematic tours.
In the same way, book with companies that offer their services in several languages. As you already know, Belgium counts three official languages and the majority of its inhabitants speak at least two languages. Likewise, the best guides and companies are not limited to a single language and offer their services in several languages.
2) The description of the Free Tour.
Read and compare the description of the Free Tour and/or the program of the guided tour you want to book. Trust only companies that show this information on their online pages or in their booking system.
In the same way, do not let yourself be guided simply by the name of “Free Tour”. Many companies, to differentiate themselves, use names such as “Unusual view of Brussels” or “The authentic Free tour”, “The real Free tour”, etc.
3) The information about the type of guide who does the tour.
We advise you to book only with companies that offer professional guides, and ideally only in English.
About this last point, many companies or guides do bilingual tours in order to increase the size of the groups.
The information on the type of guide who does the tour should normally appear in the description of the Free tour you want to book.
4) The terms and conditions.
Read the terms and conditions carefully: price, booking and cancellation fees.
For a “Free tour”, there shouldn’t be any booking or cancellation fees, and taking the tour should be free.
5) The number of participants or group size.
In order to make the most of the Free tours, some companies do not limit the number of participants.
We advise you to choose companies that limit the groups to 25 participants in order to ensure a better experience.
6) The comments.
Comments on sites such as TripAdvisor or on the same page as the tour you want to book are not 100% reliable.
Many companies manipulate this information or pay to have good ratings and comments. Some Free Tour companies ask their customers to write a positive comment on TripAdvisor and use this as another type of payment.
We advise you to check the comments of the customers with a critical eye.
- If all the comments are well written and structured (do not trust),
- If there are only positive comments (do not trust),
- If the company has thousands of comments (do not trust),
If the company has more negative than positive comments, it means that its services are not very reliable. We advise you to avoid this type of companies.
7) The results on Google and on other search engines.
Google as well as the other search engines use a fairly efficient algorithm to give the most relevant results and the “best services”. We advise you to check and compare the first 5 companies that appear in the Google results (or in the results of the first three pages of results of your favorite search engine).
Be careful! Do not confuse the “natural” results of your search with the ads that appear at the top of the results. Most companies pay to appear at the top. In Google, you can recognize the ads in the search results because they carry the mention “ads”.
Our advice: check the results that are not ads.
8) The intermediaries.
There are currently many booking platforms and companies for guided tours on the Internet. These platforms first list all the tours of the main destinations in the world. Then, they use an aggressive marketing technique to attract a maximum of clients and put them in touch with the guides or local service providers.
This service, as you can imagine, is not free.
Depending on the platform:
- The local company pays a commission for each client that book via these platforms, which forces the local company to maximize the participation (not always in the best way),
- Or the client ends up paying management fees, usually 1€,
Many of these booking platforms do not operate locally but offer services in the main destinations around the world and have little or no control over the quality of the tours.
Book directly with companies providing local services. If possible, avoid intermediaries.
9) The Brussels tourist agency.
The Brussels tourist agency lists all the legal companies that offer guided tour services in Brussels and at the same time carries out independent quality checks. You can trust the companies that appear on the site of the Brussels tourist agency.
To sum it up
What is the best Free Tour of Brussels?
If you are going to book a “Free tour of Brussels”, we advise you to consider the following tips in order to avoid a bad experience such as booking a Free Tour with an incompetent guide or wasting your time on a guided tour that does not meet your expectations.
Book your “Free Tour” with companies that:
- Have more than 2 years of experience,
- Offer different types of guided and thematic tours,
- Offer services of Free tours and guided tours in different languages,
- Show the description and/or program of the Free Tour,
- Work only with professional guides,
- Inform you about the terms and conditions of participation,
- Limit the number of participants (groups of 25 people maximum),
- Have more positive comments than negative ones,
- Appear on the first page of “non-paid” results online search engines,
- Give the possibility of booking directly with them without going through intermediaries or global booking platforms,
- Appear on the list of trusted companies on the website of the Brussels tourist agency.