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Portland, MaineCulture & history

Our most recommended Portland, Maine Culture & history

Portland, Maine: Sightseeing Trolley Tour with a Guide

1. Portland, Maine: Sightseeing Trolley Tour with a Guide

Hop on this classic 1-hour trolley tour and explore the rich history and beautiful sights of Portland! On this fully narrated tour, you’ll learn about hundreds of years of history and pass some of Portland's most iconic landmarks. Weaving between Old Port, East Bayside, Downtown, and the Arts District, you’ll learn about places like The Portland Observatory, The Longfellow House, and Victoria Mansion. Once the tour is complete, you'll have a wealth of knowledge and recommendations for the city of Portland. Please arrive to the tour meeting point 15 minutes before the tour begins.

Portland, Maine: Hidden Histories Guided Walking Tour

2. Portland, Maine: Hidden Histories Guided Walking Tour

Discover Portland's hidden histories on a guided walking tour of the Old Port, downtown, and the working waterfront. Marvel at images of the past and at the colorful storytelling your guide shares with you to make the past come alive. Hear stories only a local knows about the city's sights, streets, and buildings. Brick sidewalks beneath your feet and beautiful Victorian-era buildings nestled around you, on this tour you’ll casually stroll Portland’s lush, historic Old Port toward the sparkling waters of Casco Bay. Enjoy two hours to slow down and immerse yourself in the best Portland has to offer. End your tour in a waterfront park, about a 5-minute walk from where you started, surrounded by boutiques, restaurants, and other activity opportunities to continue your own discovery of the city. Entertainer-historian Dugan Murphy leads unforgettable jaunts through his hometown, telling an inclusive, empowering, and surprising constellation of tales you won't hear on other tours. Find out why Tripadvisor named him Portland's #1 tour guide!

Portland, Maine: 2-Hour Guided History Tour

3. Portland, Maine: 2-Hour Guided History Tour

Meet your local guide, a history lover who will bring the stories and facts from Portland’s past alive throughout the tour. Starting on Commercial Street, walk through the cobble stone streets of the historic Old Port, downtown, and waterfront areas.  Some of the locations that may be featured as part of the tour include the lobster statue, the home of Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow, the Eastern cemetery, the Abyssinian Church, and more. Your tour will finish on a sweet note with a local treat.

Portland, Maine: Walking Tour Audio Guide

4. Portland, Maine: Walking Tour Audio Guide

Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app, which will function as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map all in one. Purchase one tour per car, not per person. Everyone listens together! Once downloaded, your tour begins outside the Visit Portland Center. Here, you'll get your first introduction to Portland's intriguing history, from its dual founding to its reconstruction following the Great Fire. Walking down the city streets, you'll learn about the Burning of Portland, the landmark United States Custom House, and the only newspaper published at sea! You'll delve into the fascinating tales of the Portland Rum Riot and the city's history of conflagration, then journey back to the times of the Underground Railroad and the life of Daniel Colesworthy, a key abolitionist voice in Portland. Stepping into the world of the Wabanaki people, you'll also gain insight into Portland's original inhabitants. The next stop is the beautifully preserved Victoria Mansion, a symbol of the city's architectural wealth. After that is the equally grand Cathedral Church of St. Luke. Stroll by the Augusta Hunt House, take a moment to admire the statue at One Longfellow Square, and learn about the struggle for Women's Suffrage in Maine. Then, pick up some trendy souvenirs in the vibrant Art District! At the Maine Historical Society, explore the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, a reminder of the city's literary heritage. After that, lounge in the beautiful Lincoln Park as you hear the thrilling tale of the Battle of Portland Harbor. Finally, you’ll pass by the University of Maine School of Law, a striking building with a lot of history. Your tour concludes here, back in Old Port where you began.

Portland, Maine: Crime & Injustice Guided Walking Tour

5. Portland, Maine: Crime & Injustice Guided Walking Tour

From stories of villains whose crimes against humanity turned vast profits and poisoned geopolitics across the Atlantic World to the resisters whose acts of defiance expanded freedoms for modern-day Americans, you’ll step through the centuries while enjoying an insider’s view of both the city’s prime sightseeing spots and less-visited landmarks. Riots, battles, mayhem, and criminal hijinks from generations past come alive with horror and humor, impropriety and inspiration. Be shocked by the children who maimed one another for a nationally-sanctioned holiday. Be gob-smacked by the many ways obscure legal decisions from two centuries ago still impact you today. The salty scent of the ocean mingles with the sweet aroma of freshly baked bread wafting out of local bakeries. The sound of a seagull echoes, punctuated by cheerful chatter. As you stroll Portland, Maine's charming streets, you’ll be aghast at the grim past lurking behind the picturesque facades of brick buildings whose storefront windows overflow with cheerful color. Explore Portland's famed Arts District, passing museums, boutiques, and restaurants along the way. We'll stroll the tree-lined brick sidewalks of the historic West End neighborhood, stopping at mid-19th century row houses, discovering the scoundrels and freedom-seekers who lived side-by-side. We'll stop by Portland's old Irish neighborhood at Gorham's Corner and wind our way through the hustle and bustle of Victorian Exchange Street to find a pocket-sized park oasis in the heart of the Old Port. Entertainer-historian Dugan Murphy leads unforgettable jaunts through his hometown, telling an inclusive, empowering, and surprising constellation of tales you won't hear on other tours. Find out why Tripadvisor named him Portland's #1 tour guide! The stories on this tour include: crimes against humanity, war and war crimes, enslavement and human-trafficking, white-supremacist terrorism, scalping, murder including child murder, violence committed by children on other children, kidnapping, maiming, suicide, domestic abuse, drowning, execution and state-sanctioned violence, arson, rioting, physical violence, and mention of sex-work and pornography. This tour is not appropriate for children under the age of 14. If you’re thinking of bringing a teenager on this tour, consider their emotional maturity.

Portland, Maine: Black History Guided Walking Tour

6. Portland, Maine: Black History Guided Walking Tour

Wind through the brick sidewalks and cobblestone streets of Portland's Old Port and working waterfront on this guided walking tour. Immerse yourself in the rich story of the Black community in the East End neighborhood. Meet your local guide at the First Parish Church, Portland's oldest church, and begin your journey back in time. Discover the monuments, places of business, and civic institutions where Black Yankees drove the economy and organized for political power. The air here still lingers with the notes of sea shanty songs, the crackle of rope from cargo hoisted aboard ships creaking in the waters of Casco Bay, and the myriad accents of Black sailors arriving from the Caribbean and eastern Canadian provinces. Head to the East End neighborhood to see the homes of Black sailors and stevedores that served as stations on the Underground Railroad. Admire the churches where Black families worshipped, celebrated, and learned together from the 19-century up to the present day. Step on granite cobblestones crooked with age that once saw footfalls from national heroes like Frederick Douglass. Learn how Maine's earliest colonial settlements could not have survived without Black insight, skill, and labor. Uncover the story behind the enslaved Black maid who abolished slavery in Maine during the Revolutionary War. Discover the exceptional figures who shaped Portland and the State of Maine over 400 years of Black leadership. Printed images of the past, together with gifted storytelling, bring the past to life. Hear the stories that other history tours omit. A portion of every ticket sale will help fund the restoration of the Abyssinian Meeting House, Maine's oldest and America's third-oldest standing Black church. End your tour at Eastern Cemetery, one-half mile from where it began. Entertainer-historian Dugan Murphy leads unforgettable jaunts through his hometown, telling an inclusive, empowering, and surprising constellation of tales you won't hear on other tours. Find out why Tripadvisor named him Portland's #1 tour guide!

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What people are saying about Portland, Maine

I took my parents on this tour to get to experience Portland like a local and it did not disappoint! Our guide, Ross, was very knowledgeable in Portland’s history and even sang us a few ole’ Portland songs. We learned so much and had a wonderful time. The delicious cookie at the end of the tour was the icing on the cake. I highly recommend this tour if you’re in Portland for a few days visiting or even if you’re a Portland local…anyone can learn from this tour!

Ross gave us an outstanding tour of Portland, combining his deep historical knowledge with a keen eye for good restaurants/bars, and is a genuinely interesting person. I cannot recommend a tour with him highly enough.

The tour was well worth it. Our guide, Ross, was very informative and interesting. We saw lots of things we would never have found on our own.

Very knowledgeable and personable guide; enjoyed very much!

It was really fun and interesting to see the city!