Does anyone have suggestions for private guides in Berlin and Munich that can be hired by the day or half-day?
Insider tours do offer great tours, both for private or simply joining their daily group tours. "Jeremy, the Berlin Expert" also comes highly recommended for great, personalized tours. For Munich, give "Dark History" a look. Excellent, very professional tours covering all sorts of themes for Munich. Whether your interests lie with the Romans, WWII, the Middle Ages, or archeology, this tour can't be beat.
I took a couple of tours with Berlin Insider tours. I just took the walking tours that they offer to the general public at 12 EUR a person, but evidently you can arrange private tours through them. Both of the guides I had were excellent. http://www.insidertour.com/tours.php/city/3
This is a topic that, as best I can tell, has not been addressed often on this forum. Regarding two people wanting to see Berlin, I would welcome any comments on (1)what greater value is provided by the more expensive private guides over the value of the various walks by the larger tour companies, and (2) what private guides and walk companies do an especially good job.
I know that there are several private guides in Berlin who receive superlative ratings on Trip Advisor, but their services are not inexpensive. For those wanting to see Berlin on a cruise excursion from Warnemunde, a private guide is essential, but it is exponentially easier on a cruise to put together a small group for the excursion and to make use of a private guide cost-effective as opposed to just two people visiting Berlin.
The difference between going on a private tour and a group tour is that you have more control over what you get to see, and the full attention of the guide. If you have any special interests, you don't have to share the guide with 20 other people, nor spend your time seeing sites that don't interest you. If churches are your thing, or architecture, or WW2, or Jewish history, or the Holy Roman Empire, or the Romans or the Celts, a private guide is going to make sure this is what your tour will be about. Guides that offer private tours, have spent considerable time and effort learning about their subject, which is why they get such rave reviews. They take enormous pride in being accurate too. They will enhance your visit, open your eyes to things you would never find in a guide book, and help you to have a memorable visit. That is why the prices are higher. This is a career choice, many guides have university degrees on these very subjects you want to learn about. A group walking tour or bike tour can also help you to learn about the city you are touring in a more intense manner than any bus tour can possibly do, just not in the same way as a private tour can. You may get to ask a few questions, but not as many as you would be able to ask on a private tour. I think you will be hard-pressed to find someone who went on a private tour and then regretted it. It happens, I am sure, cause everyone can have a bad day or personalities clash, but I don't think very often. I seldom read bad reviews about private tours.
Jo, thank you for your always insightful comments, which have helped me think more clearly about the issue I raised. There are Berlin private guides who on Trip Advisor receive an excellent rating 98 percent of the time. But the walking tour companies in Berlin receive an excellent rating 95 percent of the time. I suppose I am writing the obvious, but it seems that there are three instances when a private guide should be used: (1) when there is a group of a certain size needing a tour so that use of a private guide can be somewhat cost-effective; (2) when there is a desire for a special itinerary tour based on a special interest, especially if it is conducted by someone with unusual knowledge of the subject; and (3) when there are limited options, such as a cruise ship excursion of the Amalfi coast. My issue in the prior post, perhaps not clearly expressed, concerns the feasibility of a general walking tour of Berlin for two people where the cost of a private guide for a four hour tour might be 200 euro more than the cost of a walking company tour. And I suspect my answer is that, under these circumstances, hiring a private guide is a luxury purchase and not cost-effective.
However, as always, I welcome other views, especially from those who have hired private guides in Berlin.
I think most of the time, joining one of the tour groups from one of the top tour companies will satisfy most people. It is only when your schedule doesn't match up, you are with a group that can share the costs, or you have special interests that you feel won't be covered as well on a group tour, etc. that having a private guide makes more sense. Joining a one of the group themed tours, may be better too, especially if it matches your interests. A Cold War tour, Berlin Underground, 3rd Reich, Jewish Berlin, Stasi Berlin, and so on could all be good possibilities.
Hi Robert, I would recommend Plus One Berlin: http://bookalocal.plusoneberlin.com/ They don't offer guides, as much as an actual local person, who can show you whatever you want to see. There are lots of different people and personality types to choose from and I think it offers a different way to see the city. Here's some more info about the service: http://www.miniloft.com/en/culture/plus-one.html