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9 Unique Historical Tours Celebrating the Lives of Groundbreaking Women

Travel Female Travel
by Suzie Dundas Feb 26, 2024

Forget the usual historical tours dominated by tales of male conquest. On your next vacation, skip the sites dedicated to George Washington, Shakespeare, or Che Guevara, and instead, take a tour celebrating the lives of women like chef Julia Child, aviator Amelia Earhart, or even pop star Taylor Swift

The nine women’s history tours below offer unique ways to travel through the lens of women who shaped our world. Some of the tours below are quick afternoon walking tours, while others include multiple weeks of traveling through Africa or Egypt. These women’s history tours will take you into the struggles and triumphs of Cleopatra, into the boulangeries beloved by Julia Child, and along the route used by Harriet Tubman as she shepherded enslaved people to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

If you’re looking for a new way to explore a city or country, consider one of the nine women’s history tours below that offer a bit of insight into the herstory often left out of history books.

Explore the life (and mystery) of Amelia Earhart in the South Pacific

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The Old Japanese Jail in Garapan, Saipan, where some people think Earhart was imprisoned. Photo: Bryan Chernick/Shutterstock

  • Location: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, US
  • Dates: On demand
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Costs: From $595 per group

Amelia Earhart is a name synonymous with courage and ambition, as she soared beyond societal expectations to become a pioneer of aviation. She was born in 1897, took her first flight in 1920, and bought her first plane just a year later, in 1921. Earhart etched her name in history in 1932 as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, becoming one of the most famous people in the world at the time.

Beyond her groundbreaking solo flight, Earhart racked up numerous achievements, setting altitude and speed records for women. She also championed the advancement of women in aviation, co-founding the Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. However, her life tragically ended in 1937 during her attempt to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe. Her fate remains a mystery, as the plan she was flying with navigator Fred Noonan went down somewhere in the South Pacific. Both Earhart and Noonan were presumed to have died in the crash, though it’s something that has fascinated historians and history buffs over the last 100 years.

Some people think her plane likely went down around Saipan, and if you’re on the small island and curious to learn more, sign up for an Amelia Earhart driving tour of Saipan. You’ll learn why it’s thought she may have survived her crash, see where she was supposedly imprisoned on the island, and visit some of the island’s most important WWII sites along the way.

Walk through Eva Perón’s Buenos Aires

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The “Pink House” is where Eva Perón gave her most famous speech. Photo: Gary Yim/Shutterstock

  • Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Dates: Tues-Sun
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Cost: $129 pp

Eva Perón, also known as Evita, was a captivating and controversial figure in Argentinian history. Though she was born into low socio-economic conditions in 1919, she rose to fame as an actress before marrying Juan Perón, who would go on to become president in 1946. Though never officially elected, Eva’s position in society allowed her to weild significant political power and cultural influence.

Evita championed the working class and campaigned for women’s suffrage, establishing the Eva Perón Foundation to provide social welfare programs. Her charisma and dedication to the underprivileged earned her immense popularity, especially among women and the working class. However, she faced criticism for her populist tactics and alleged authoritarianism.

Despite her short life, ending tragically from cancer at the age of 33 in 1952, Eva Perón remains a powerful symbol in Argentina, inspiring both admiration and condemnation.

This Evita-themed tour takes participants through the streets of Buenos Aires, visiting sites that were relevant to her life and work. The tour only requires two people to take place, and has a 48-hour cancellation window for a full refund if your plans change.

Where to stay in Cape Town

Retrace Agatha Christie’s luxurious trip through Africa

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Christie cruised the Zambezi River while on her adventure through Africa, which inspired several stories. Photo: Radek Borovka/Shutterstock

  • Location: Cape Town, SA, to Victoria Falls, Zambia
  • Dates: As requested
  • Duration: 11 days
  • Costs: $7,195 pp

Agatha Christie, the undisputed “Queen of Crime,” is celebrated for her binge-worthy mysteries and creation of iconic detectives like Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Her literary career spanned five decades, with 66 detective novels and additional short stories and plays. She essentially revolutionized the detective genre and inspired media from Murder, She Wrote to Netflix’s Knives Out.

But Agatha Christie was also a woman who had a life filled with adventure. In 1922, she embarked on a ten-month world tour with her first husband, Archie Christie. Christie fell in love with surfing in Muizenberg, South Africa, and was inspired by the landscapes and experiences of her travels enough to put pen to paper. Elements of her travels through Africa are found in novels like The Man in the Brown Suit.

If you’re a fan of a good ol’ whodunnit – or a fan of influential female writers, or even just good wine – check out this luxurious trip through South Africa that follows the route of novelist Agatha Christie. The trip follows the one Christie took through the continent, complete game drives, and stay at the very hotel where Christie stayed when visiting the  impressive Victoria Falls.

There are actually two additional segments through North America and Australia, if you have more time to spend traveling.

Where to stay in Cape Town

Learn about Paris’ food scene through Julia Child

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Mere de Famille, the Paris chocolate shop beloved by Child. Photo: 18th Studio/Shutterstock

  • Location: Paris, France
  • Dates: Daily (but books quickly)
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Cost: 129 Euros pp (about $139)

If you’ve always been a fan of French cooking — or a fan of women who break through the glass ceiling, or just a fan of chocolate — consider booking this afternoon food tour of Paris inspired by the famous Julia Child.

Child was a beloved chef, author, and TV personality who truly revolutionized the American culinary landscape. Though trained at the famed Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris, her infectious enthusiasm and clear instructions in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and TV show The French Chef demystified French cuisine for home cooks. She shattered the perception of cooking as an elitist skill, making it accessible and enjoyable for millions. Child defied stereotypes of women in the kitchen, broke barriers, and inspired a generation of groundbreaking chefs doing amazing work today.

This eating tour through Paris will take participants to the restaurants, patisseries, chocolatiers,  and cafes that made California-born Julia Child fall in love with Paris’ food scene. Tour-goers will taste cheese and wine at Julia’s favorite haunts, try a few French wine pairings, and see the places where Child spent most of her time in the “City of Lights.”

Where to stay in Paris

Take back the word ‘witch’ in Salem, MA

women's history walking tours - salem MA

Photo: Heidi Besen/Shutterstock

  • Location: Salem, Massachusetts
  • Dates: Daily at 9 PM
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Cost: $35 pp

Many of the women who were killed due to being “witches” during the Salem Witch Trials were actually accused because thy threatened the status quo in the town of Salem. Women were drowned and accused of impossible crimes with no way to defend themselves. Roughly 25 women were killed, none of whom, of course, were witches.

To jeep the spirit of these women alive, and bring attention to their treatment and the plight of women in general in the early years of the American colonies, visitors can take a guided witch walk. Crow Haven Corner offers expert-led tours, offered several times a day. But it’s not just a historical tour — the guided group tours include a witch circle dance, witchcraft lessons, and information on the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. It’s all in good fun, but it’s also a way to honor the women and children who were killed, taking back the word “witch” and embracing what they were punished for supposedly doing 350 years ago.

Where to stay in Salem, MA

Drive along part of Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad

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A mural featuring Harriet Tubman on the Chesapeake Mural Trail.. Photo: VisitMaryland

  • Location: Eastern Shore of Maryland
  • Dates: Always open
  • Duration: Self-guided
  • Cost: free

You can’t talk about groundbreaking women without mentioning Harriet Tubman, a fearless abolitionist and conductor on the Underground Railroad. Though born into slavery, Tubman escaped to freedom, then risked her life repeatedly to lead hundreds of other enslaved people north to liberty, moving in and out of states where slavery was legal. Her actions demonstrated resilience, courage, and an unwavering commitment to justice and equality, and she’s estimated to have helped at least 70 enslaved people find freedom.

But Tubman did even more than that. She served as a spy and scout for the Union Army during the Civil War, challenging societal assumptions about the limitations of both women and Black people at the time. And anyone curious to learn more about one of the most heroic people of the 19th century should head to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where Tubman was born. It’s there you’ll find the Harriett Tubman Scenic Byway, which makes multiple stops throughout sites of importance to her life and work. Maryland’s Eastern Shore is also the birthplace of Frederick Douglass, so if you’re an American history buff, it’s an excellent place to visit for the day from DC.

Where to stay near the Eastern Shore

Take a deep dive into the life of Cleopatra

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The Temple of Horus, built during the reign of Cleopatra. Photo: Graficam Ahmed Saeed/Shutterstock

  • Location: Egypt
  • Dates: Offered 3-4 times per year
  • Duration: 14 days
  • Cost: $9,985 pp

Cleopatra VII was the last active pharaoh of ancient Egypt. She lived dying a period of intense political intrigue and drama, and famously aligned herself with Julius Caesar and later Mark Antony, both prominent figures in Roman history. Her personal life, filled with love affairs and power struggles, has also fueled fascination for centuries.

While many people may say King Tutankhamun is the most famous figure of ancient Egypt, his reign was relatively short and uneventful, and his historical significance is primarily due to the near-untouched tomb discovered in 1922. Cleopatra, however, has been portrayed in literature and art throughout history. From Shakespearean plays to Hollywood films, she’s been depicted as a powerful, intelligent, and captivating figure, further solidifying her place in public consciousness — especially as her power equalled (or surpassed) that of most male world leaders.

On this high-end tour of ancient Egypt, participants will travel through the country with three professors of Egyptology, enjoying VIP experiences, access to areas off limits to the public, and direct access to some of the foremost experts on the life and history of Cleopatra. The tour includes all activities and entries, plus lodging and transportation. Unfortunately for singles, there is a hefty supplement if you’re traveling alone — an extra $2,985 per person.

Where to stay in Egypt

A ‘London Boy‘ Taylor Swift Tour

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Photo: Konmac/Shutterstock

  • Location: London
  • Dates: On demand
  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Cost: $459 per tour (up to 10 people)

While it’s a bit hard to put Taylor Swift in the same category as Cleopatra or Evita, there’s no denying that she currently has quite the influence on the world of pop culture. And if you’re a Swiftie in London, you can sign up for multiple tours cashing in on all-things-Taylor Swift. That includes this walking tour that celebrates the sites and places mentioned in Swift’s song London Boy, off her 2019 Album, Lover.

The tour, run by a London local, will take Swifties to many of the sites from the song, including Hampstead Heath, Camden Market, SoHo, Brixton, and more. Naturally, there’s plenty of time to take photos at each stop, and it’s a safe bet that after how many people have probably taken these tours, the guides know how to take an Insta-worthy photo.

Where to stay in London

Take the ‘Bad Broads’ Tour of New Orleans

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Photo: Page Light Studios/Shutterstock

  • Location: New Orleans, LA
  • Dates: Several times daily, starting between 6 PM and 8 PM
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Cost: $34.99 pp

New Orleans is known for a lot of things: Bourbon Street, beignets, jazz, Mardi Gras. But one thing you should know it for is many of its founding ladies, who really didn’t care too much about what the establishment thought of them at the time. If you want to learn more about the females who shaped the city into what it is today, you can take the Bad(ass) Broads walking tour of New Orleans, LA.

It celebrates the lives of women like Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a high-society women known for some of the most horrific crimes in the city’s history; and Marie Catherine Laveau, a mysterious figure known as the “Voodoo Queen” and the inspiration for one season of the show American Horror Story. It’s a mix of a ghost tour meets history tour meets women’s rights tour, and it’s a fun way to spend an evening in New Orleans if you want to learn about some of the city’s history not publicized quite so much. And, bonus, for ladies who like their libations: you’re encouraged to bring a drink with you.

Where to stay in New Orleans

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