GREETER – the people who love to show you their city.

What is GREETER? Simply, it is an organisation of wonderful people who will greet you in their own town, city, or port. They take no money. They cannot take a tip. And though we still can’t get a handle on it, that is the rule. They see Greeting as a mutually enriching opportunity for cultural exchange, to create links between people in creating a better world in a totally inclusive way. It is not a group thing, they never guide more than six, and it is a far more personal exploration of someone’s city. We suggest the least you do is cover their food and drink, and please share your experiences here – they never suggest that and probably won’t accept. Greeters started in 1992, in New York, when Lynn Brooks initiated “Big Apple Greeters”. Since then, Greeters have been set up in cities and regions across the world, from Argentina to Vietnam.

Greeters welcome visitors to their city and take them on a personal, two- to three-hour walk showing them the city beyond the guidebooks and off the beaten track. They are volunteers who love their city or region and are keen to share with you their enthusiasm and knowledge about the city or region. During your walk, you’ll discover the city on foot or using the public transport network. They show you their city and take you behind the scenes in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

Come as a guest – leave as a friend!

That is the line from their website. I will start by saying I was sceptical, and Jean wondered if we were going to be abducted, but there are some wonderful people in this world who are not rushing to the buffet saying what’s free? These are people who love their city, and when available will greet you, family to family. Our greet was in Hamburg and to our surprise was with a multi-lingual ex-pat Gordon Drane. Whilst we did not need any of his language skills, more than one was useful. We had the most incredible day, and in return we made him take a beer – but even then, that was hard, and it was only to stop me from drinking three!

The film is a little of Gordon’s tour of Hamburg. It was beyond amazing. As Doris Visits had been to Hamburg many times, I looked for something different. That is how I found the Greeter Association. They also use the plural, Greeters, but not on their artwork.

Here is another thing. You can discuss your visit with your Greeter before you arrive which means the excitement grows.

Here is what they said on their Hamburg website…  Do you want to get to know Hamburg through the eyes of a Hamburger? Like with a friend who takes you on a guided tour of a special kind?

Well, it was, and it was perfect for us. It was not obvious, it was detailed, it was personal and it was fantastic. Enough of my raving, here is what their site goes on to say…  HAMBURG GREETERS love our city with all its nooks and crannies. It’s wonderful to infect others with it. We would like to give you an insight into our very personal Hamburg life. We accompany individual guests and groups up to 6 people and show them our city. This happens without payment and without a tip – just as it is natural among friends. Therefore, the motto: Come as a guest – go as a friend!
You will experience Hamburg for free during individually designed tours and incidentally learn something from our everyday life. What we don’t offer you: a complete sightseeing tour to tourist attractions. But we can tell you where there are which city tours, round trips, etc.

Don’t expect there to be a greeter in every port, but for the adventurous, there are little villages, and off the beaten track destinations, that with a little effort can be got to from a cruise port. For example, San Sebastian in Spain can be got to from Bilbao if you have seen Bilboa before. Explore their website and get to know the Greeters.

I had so much footage, I spent two days cutting it down and I hope I have done the wonderful Gordon justice. But, rather than me transcribe their site, here is the link…


Now if you want to see more of Hamburg here on Doris Visits, you have come to the right place. We have been there a number of times as many regular cruisers will have been. We highly recommend Wunderland, and a coffee next door afterwards. And looking at the city from the promenade around the Concert Hall (Greeters film). We suggest the Reeperbahn is not necessary if time is tight, except maybe for the festival at the end of August. However, if you are interested in the Beatles (Greeters Film) look at our film of the Liverpool Beatles Museum, that is a must. We did it for a 64th birthday… we did say, when I’m 64. Our other Hamburg films. That is what Doris Visits does, we make Port Guide films.

  1. Here is the Hamburg Coffee Roasting (near Wunderland)
  2. Here is the Doris Visits look inside the Town Hall
  3. Here is the Doris Visits Hamburg Christmas Market
  4. Here is the Doris Visits film and blog on Wunderland.
  5. Here is Hamburg Blue Port.
  6. Here is Hamburg City Walking Guide

But let’s talk more about GREETERS. They span more than 30 countries and way over 100 destinations. They take you on very different personal free walks, through their home cities. Whilst it is normal for a few hours, ours was nearer 6 hours and we walked and walked. They are walking tours they are free of charge, and there is no tipping. The groups are small and personal so as you can see these are different from the free walking guide tours where the guide expects a tip or even suggests the size of tip before they start. We have done other free walking tours… Let’s not confuse these. We have done a great walking tour in Copenhagen, and a poor free walking tour Lisbon. The latter we will try to correct one day as it must depend on the guide. The same may apply to GREETERS, but as these are people who expect nothing other to meet and greet, they are a very different set-up to the yellow umbrella walks, which can also be fantastic. We offered to reciprocate the kindness shown by Gordon if he came to North London.

Greeter Worldwide website is here. Some examples are below, and then a detailed list by country with cruise port examples.


Bologna (from Ravenna) Volunteers of Bologna give a personal and characteristic insight of the city to curious guests, looking for a typical experience, in their lovely medieval town: a stroll in a unique and maybe not too crowded district; a drink in a place attended only by local people, or a taste of some good food in one of the inhabitants’ favourite bar, restaurant or trattoria.

Ravenna Is the Ancient capital of the Western Roman Empire of the fifth and sixth centuries, Ravenna has inherited the splendour of having been the capital and its wonderful past. It has been able to preserve it in optimal conditions. Its Byzantine mosaics are famous and eight of its monuments have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Catania (Sicily) If not tempted by the 20-kilometre-long beach, there is much to discover here aside from street jazz, gourmet food and the looming Mount Etna (whose top can be easily reached by car or bus in less than an hour). 
Greek Catania is almost 3000 years old, the university 700 years old. The very active Opera House is dedicated to the musician Bellini, who was born here. Look and ask for a ticket to a concert or opera show.