Ever feel like you’re seeing the same old sights that everyone else is seeing when you visit a new place; that you’re stuck on the well-worn tourist path, while fantastic attractions and new experiences are waiting somewhere just outside of your guidebook recommendations? We can help you with that.
Walks Pop-Up Tours are a set of limited-edition experiences that we cook up every summer to take you a step or two beyond the normal tourist trails for something just a little more exciting. Below is a quick rundown of some of the highlights of this year’s lineup, which will be running on select dates during June and July. If you’re going to be in Italy, Paris, or New York, we’d love for you to come along.
The Vatican museums are one of the most famously crowded art galleries in the world, with an estimated 25,000 people passing through them per day. If those kinds of crowds aren’t your cup of tea, until very recently you were basically out of luck. Then the Vatican began offering night tours. These rare and wonderful visits take place once the museum has closed its doors for the evening and are the most exclusive way – outside of the joining the Roman priesthood – to see world-famous attractions like the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael rooms. The perfect experience for lovers of fine art, these are truly once-in-a-lifetime visits.
One of the main “problems” that people have when visiting Rome is a specific sort of malaise that overtakes you after seeing too much fantastic art and architecture. After your 5th “most beautiful church in Italy” and your 10th baroque masterpiece, all the “best” and “greatest” and “most beautiful” start to blend together. It’s called “art fatigue” and the struggle is very real. That’s why we have designed a tour that isn’t going to show you the greatest or most exquisite or particularly beloved anything. No, this tour is all about the monuments that the locals don’t like so much. From places commemorating dictators to statues that have a habit of pissing people off, you’ll see a collection of the weird and wonderful sites of Rome that everyone loves to hate. Give your art appreciation censors a rest and spend a few hours just having fun.
When archaeologists first began excavating Pompeii and Herculaneum in the 18th century they were surprised to unearth a lot of, well, sexually explicit artifacts. The ancient Romans had some interesting and, by our standards, pretty “out-there” views on the matter, and they delighted in depicting them in paintings, frescos, and statuary. Some of the risque and pornographic artifacts recovered from Pompeii and Herculaneum went into private collections, but many of the pieces ended up in the Gabinetto Segreto, literally “secret cabinet”, in the National Archeological Museum in Naples (which had a different name back then, as the country hadn’t quite united yet). This area of the museum was off-limits to the general public, as well as any women or children. Naturally, it became a de rigueur to see it for the wealthy young Englishmen passing through on their grand tours of Europe. The exhibit experienced various levels of censorship over the years and was even bricked up and semi-forgotten for a while. But today it’s open to the public and we’re going to take you. The visit also includes a tour of the highlights of the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, which has Italy’s greatest collection of antiquities.
Florence is the city that everyone goes to in order to see the art of Italy’s greatest Renaissance masters: Michelangelo’s David, Botticelli’s Primavera, Brunelleschi’s enormous dome. But none of it would have been possible if not for a family of bankers who kept the money flowing behind the scenes. Without the Medici dynasty, there would be no Florence Duomo, no Michelangelo’s David, and Perhaps no Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci at all. This tour takes you to some of the places in Florence most closely associated with the Medici and tells you their epic story.
In a city full of beautiful buildings the Palais Garnier is among the most astounding. This opera house was built by Napoleon III and features one of Europe’s most stunning interiors. From the dramatic Grand Staircase and the chandelier-lined Grand Foyer to the main auditorium featuring paintings by Marc Chagall, the entire building hums with old world glamor. Our tour takes you to see it all, just don’t blame us if you’re rushing back to book tickets for a night at the opera.
There are lots of Seine cruises on the market and all of them are very nice. You go down the river, you see many of the main sites of the city and you come back and go about your business. But what boat ride isn’t improved by a little bit of bubbly? We’ve taken normal Seine cruise and ramped it up a bit, adding your own private cabin, a sommelier, and three different champagnes for you to taste as you enjoy your sunset cruise down the river. Think of it as the ultimate sundowner and the perfect way to end a day of sightseeing or a begin a night on the town.
China Town and Little Italy are two of NYC’s most iconic immigrant neighborhoods and they just happen to sit directly beside each other. In New York’s food pantheon, they are also the meccas for their respective cuisines, offering a plethora of dishes that are either better than they are anywhere else in the city, or simply not available anywhere else in the city. This tour takes you inside the history and culture of both China Town and Little Italy through their food. From pizza and Peking duck to cappuccinos and egg tarts, this is one of the finest cultural and culinary experiences you can have in New York.
For our full list of 2017 Pop-Up Tours, check out the Walks Pop-Up Tours website.