One of the best ways I have found to get a feel of a new city is to take a quick tour. I think I have found gold though, especially for those travelers on a budget like me. The tour company, called Sandemans New Europe, offers a 2.5 to 3 hour walking tour in 13 cities around Europe. A bit of history, local knowledge and a ton of humor gives you a great overview of the city (I normally fall asleep during history related topics but these tour guides make it come alive). The great part is, its FREE! The tour guides work on a tip basis only, but they deserve every cent they get, I believe 5 euro tip minimum is deserved (heck, they are hard working people)! Expect great things from this company. You won’t be disappointed.
(Tours are given in: Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, Edinburgh, Hamburg, London, Jerusalem, Madrid, Munich, Paris, Prague, and Tel Aviv)