Much of Savannah’s charm rests upon the beauty of its historic architecture and the numerous squares of its city plan.
Savannah was famously spared the fate many other Georgia cities suffered during General Sherman’s March to the Sea, and has a rich variety of 19th-century architecture (plus a few 18th-century survivors of the devastating fires that plagued Savannah during its early growth).
Local tour guides offer an abundance of general history walking tours that provide an introduction to the city and its past, but if you have already taken a general tour, or have a special interest in architecture, an architecturally-focused walking tour provides a much more in depth guide to Savannah’s buildings and landscape than a historical overview tour has time for.
A few of Savannah’s guide companies specialize exclusively in architectural tours – Savannah Rambles (Dirk Hardison), Architectural Tours of Savannah (Jonathan Stalcup) and Savannah ArchiTours (Beth Reiter and Bill Thomson) – drawing upon their professional experience and academic knowledge of architecture and preservation in the city.
The rest of the architecture tours, though their focus is usually on a specific aspect or period of Savannah’s architecture or landscape, are offered by general tour companies.
Times and availability may vary by season, and operators may withdraw or change specific tours without notice. Please check all details directly with the company or guide when planning your trip.
Overview Architectural Tours
Several tours provide a chronological overview of Savannah’s architectural history from its earliest surviving styles through to the present day.
“Savannah Architecture Ramble” (pet-friendly, 12 max) 2hrs or 5hrs. With Savannah Rambles. Former professional restorationist and architectural consultant Dirk Hardison offers two tours providing a general review of the city’s architecture and the people who shaped its landscape from the colonial era through to the preservation projects of more recent times, geographically focused around the area of the Bull Street squares.
The shorter tour (2 hours) is available Monday-Saturday, usually with both morning and afternoon starts available (plus Tuesday and Thursday evenings in summer). Adults $20, children/students (8-21) $10, young children (0-7) free. Reservations are recommended (either online or call 912-704-8170) but not required.
The longer tour (5 hours, break included) covers roughly twice the distance, and is available fall through spring on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. $60 per person. More details
Architecture Tour, 1hr30. With Architectural Tours of Savannah. SCAD architecture graduate Jonathan Stalcup offers a single, chronological overview tour of Savannah’s main architectural periods and styles, mostly within the more northerly portion of the Historic District.
Tours are available most mornings, $30 per person. Reservations are required, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-604-6354. More details
Savannah’s Mansions & Residential Architecture
Much of Savannah’s notable architecture consists of its historic houses and mansions. You can expect these to be discussed on any general tour, but some center on this topic specifically.
Please note that unless otherwise specified, tours will not enter any of the homes seen, including those that are ordinarily open to the public. For details of visiting Savannah’s historic house museums, see here.
“Historic Homes” (pet-friendly) 1hr30. With The Savannah Walks, a general-interest tour company with several guides. This tour focuses on the history of Savannah’s Historic District mansions, their residents and preservation history, and includes a visit to the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace (though please note that if you bring your dog on the rest of the tour, they may not be brought into the house).
Tours are available every morning. Adults $30, children (6-14) $12, young children (0-5) free. Admission to the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is included in the price. Reservations are recommended and should be made online. More details
“Savannah Homes” 1hr30. With Private Walking Tours of Savannah, a general-interest tour company with multiple guides. This private-only tour examines Savannah’s historic residential architecture and how domestic styles changed with the growth and economic development of the city.
Morning and afternoon tours are available daily. $35 per person, 2 person minimum. Reservations are required, either online or call 912-509-2084. More details
“A Present for Mr Lincoln: A Cotton Kingdom” 2hrs. With former preservation officer and local historian Beth Reither, of Savannah ArchiTours. Antebellum architecture and Civil War history. This small-group tour, beginning in Pulaski Square, focuses on the history of Savannah during and after the Civil War and the city’s antebellum mansions.
Tours are available on Wednesday mornings, and at other times by request. Adults $20, seniors $15, children (7-18) $10, young children (0-6) free. Advance reservations are required, either online or call 912-659-1487. More details
“Antebellum Architecture Walk” (6 max) 2hrs. With Old City Walks. Savannah guide Phillip Sellers (usually) leads this small-group tour exploring the history of the city’s antebellum mansions and their architecture. Additional, seasonal tours on other architectural topics are sometimes available.
Tours are available daily, with a choice of morning and afternoon times. Adults $49, children (12-16) $25. Reservations are required, either online or call 912-358-0700. More details
Landscape Architecture: Squares & Gardens
The architecture of Savannah’s landscape – its system of 22 squares in particular, but also the effect produced by the Historic District’s many individual domestic gardens – contributes as much to the city’s appeal as does the architecture of its homes and public buildings.
A small number of tours specialize in this landscape history. Please note that unless otherwise specified, no private gardens are entered. The only way to pay a visit to Savannah’s notable privately-owned gardens (excepting those attached to historic house museums) is to attend either the Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens or the North of Gaston Street Tour of Hidden Gardens, organized each year in spring.
“Gates and Gardens” (pet-friendly) 1hr30. With The Savannah Walks, a general-interest tour company with several guides. This tour focuses on the history of Savannah’s historic squares and private gardens.
Early afternoon tours are available daily. Adults $20, children (6-14) $9, young children (0-5) free. Reservations recommended, available online. More details
“Gardens & Historic Homes” 2hrs. With Noble Jones Tours, a general-interest tour company with several guides. This tour examines several of Savannah’s squares and their history, plus the gardens and ironwork of surrounding homes.
Tours are available Monday-Saturday (Wednesdays during peak season only), with either morning or afternoon departures depending on the day. Adults $25, children (8–14) $15, young children (0-7) free. Reservations are required, call 912-660-6468 or book online. More details
Savannah’s churches and synagogues provide many examples of its oldest and most distinctive architecture and were an important part of the history of the city and its different communities too. Read more about Savannah’s places of worship
“Spiritual Savannah” (no pets) 1hr30. With general-interest tour company Savvy Savannah Tours. This tour examines the history and architecture of Savannah’s historic churches, synagogues and memorials.
Tours are available on Sunday and Thursday mornings. Adults $25, seniors (50+)/military $22, children (5-11) $15. Reservations are required, and should be made online. More details
Savannah’s Neighborhoods & Period Architecture
Many of Savannah’s neighborhoods have their own distinct architecture, often tied to the history of their development. Today, these neighborhoods are often the target of preservation efforts.
Several current tours focus on this neighborhood history. Occasionally, additional public tours that venture outside of the Historic District are offered, but for the most part, if you want an architectural tour of Savannah’s more outlying neighborhoods, it will have to be self-guided.
“Carved From a Pine Wilderness: Colonial Utopia” 2hrs, 1.5 miles. With former preservation officer and local historian Beth Reither, Savannah ArchiTours. This tour, geographically focused around Savannah’s northeastern Historic District, examines the history of some of Savannah’s oldest surviving neighborhoods and their architecture, along with their more recent preservation.
Tours are available on Tuesday mornings; other times by arrangement. Adults $20, seniors $15, children (7-18) $10, young children (0-6) free. Reservations are required, call 912-659-1487 or book online. More details
“The Old Fort District” 1hr30. With Bill Thomson, Savannah ArchiTours. This tour focuses on the history of the Old Fort neighborhood (situated around the former Fort Wayne on the far east of Savannah’s Historic District, just beyond Washington Square) and its preservation in the 1950s and 1960s.
Afternoon tours are available Monday through Saturday. Adults $20, seniors $15, children (7-18) $10, young children (0-6) free. Reservations are required, call 912-659-1487 or book online. More details
“Early Bird Preservation Tour” 1hr40. The Davenport House Museum offers seasonally-available tours of Savannah’s eastern wards, focused on the area’s preservation history. The 2017 tours were in April; tour information for 2018 TBC. Latest details