Obviously, there are some parts of the world where a professional guide is pretty much mandatory for reasons of the preservation of life and limb. You don’t want to take yourself on a safari unsupervised, go wandering on your lonesome through a mine-strewn war zone, or up and then precipitously downwards across the slopes of Everest.
There are a lot of other locations where a little local knowledge can add enormously to your experience, but you may not even get a chance to realize what you are missing:
A very popular tourist destination and a fabulous place to visit, Edinburgh is both packed with history and stories, and extremely exhausting to wander randomly around with no real plan as to your destination. Taking advantage of one of the many professionally guided tours allows you to get the history from the people that know it best, and most importantly know the most efficient way to visit it all before your poor legs give out on you.
Far too big to be accessible to a single guided tour, London nevertheless has dozens of locations where knowledge can pay dividends. The Tower of London is famous for its guided tours from the Yeoman Warder’s or ‘Beefeaters’ as they are more popularly termed. You’d be wise not to use the less respectful term to their faces. They are part of the Yeomen of the Guard, the monarch’s traditional bodyguards, and one of the requirements is at least 22 years service in any of the UK armed services barring the Navy (who take their oaths to the admiralty rather than the crown).
One of the most interesting tours around London is the Rivers of London Tour, which takes in many of the historic rivers of the city, some of which have now ceased to exist or have been otherwise absorbed by the city. Another fascinating experience involves touring the underground, including visiting some of the famous lost and abandoned stations.
The Paris catacombs are another must see attraction. A product of the mass exhumation in the 18th century of the cemeteries that had started to unacceptably crowd within the city limits, the catacombs now hold the bones of some 6 million people. Originally merely piles of bones, the arrangements in the catacombs have evolved over the years into a rather grim form of artistry casino188, and possibly the only place in the world where the hobby of femur arrangement is considered a socially acceptable form of self expression.
Obviously, guided tours are mandatory here as the possibility of becoming lost in a 300km long maze full of skulls is not the kind of memory you will want to associate with your European vacation.
So remember to stay alert for opportunities where those in the know could point out what you might have otherwise missed the next time you go on vacation.