London Walking Tours – Explore The City of London
It’s hard to beat walking when you really want to explore a city. You will take in so much more detail as you walk through neighbourhoods; little things and ambience that you would surely miss on a bus tour. It is also easy to step off the main route and explore down side streets and to stop and take photographs along the way without feeling rushed.
London walking tours is an ideal way to explore the city by walking and experience some of the best organized tours in the world to cherish memory for your whole lifetime. You can travel on the tube to get to a neighbourhood or district that you want to explore and then just start walking. Four interesting neighbourhoods to explore in London are Westminster/Whitehall, Chelsea, Mayfair and Hampstead, however there are, of course, many others.
Did You Know London Was Built For Walking?
That’s right, her ancient streets, tucked away courtyards, hidden alleyways and historic buildings came into existence long before the advent of cars, buses and taxis.The simple truth is that London was built for walking, and so the best way to explore and truly get to know this captivating and vibrant city is on foot.
It’s how Shakespeare got around, it’s how Dickens got around, and it’s how millions of Londoners got around for almost 2,000 years. But, more importantly, it’s how the savvy and wised up get around today.
Because they know that walking is by far the best way to get to know the place that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, recently hailed as “the greatest city on earth”. By exploring on foot you’re there on the ground, absorbing the atmosphere, taking in the sights and the sounds of the City whilst, at the same time, getting a genuine feel for the 2,000 years of history in which the streets of London are steeped.
London is best seen on foot. But in a city so historically, culturally and geographically vast, you might need a guide. Fortunately, a burgeoning community of tour operators is ready and waiting to lead you through the streets of London. Get up close to London’s incredible history. Step right into the heart of the world’s most exciting city by taking London walking tours.
Taking London Walking Tours
To go on London Walking Tours, meet your guide and fellow walkers on the pavement(“sidewalk” in North American parlance) just outside the designated LondonTube Stop (Underground Station) at the time stated.
Your guide will be holding up copies of the distinctive white London Walking Tours leaflet. There is no need to book for any of the London Walking Tours or the Day Trips from London. Just turn up and go. There’s no red tape with London Walking Tours!
Anything else? Well, might make the point that while there’s no need to book, very large groups should book a private walk – it’s even cheaper and you’ll have your own guide! London Walking Tours usually lasts about two hours. The Day Trips to Bath, Stonehenge, Oxford, etc. are all day affairs – but they get you back in central London in time to catch a show!
London Walks and London Walks Day Trips always take place, rain or shine. Each London Walking Tour ends at or near a LondonTube Stop (Underground station). And that’s all there is to it.
Suggestions for unguided London walking tours
If you only have time to go only one of London walking tours while visiting London, I would suggest the Westminster/Whitehall district, as there are a wealth of historic sites and landmarks within this relatively small district. These include Trafalgar Square, The Palace of Westminster and Big Ben, St. James’s Park, The Horse Guards Parade, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey.
Another nice walk is in Hampstead, a district north of Central London. Here you can explore not only the beautiful homes of this prestigious area, but also, a large urban wilderness area called Hampstead Heath where you will experience all kinds of natural beauty. While exploring Hampstead Heath, you can make your way up Parliament Hill for an outstanding view across London, especially on a clear day. There are also a couple of interesting little neighbourhood museums for you to explore; the Burgh House, an early eighteenth century house that displays many paintings by John Constable, a notable landscape painter who lived in Hampstead and The Keats House museum which was the home of famous poet John Keats.
A walk through the Chelsea neighbourhood will introduce you to the historic homes of many prominent British figures who once lived there. Notable homes feature a blue plaque outlining interesting information about the former residents. Other major features of this neighbourhood are the Royal Hospital designed by renowned architect, Christopher Wren in the late 1600s and also the Albert Bridge which has its own interesting history.
A walk through Mayfair will take you by such notable landmarks as Piccadilly Circus, the Ritz Hotel, the home Winston Churchill lived in as a boy, St. James’s Church-Piccadilly Street, and the mews (Rows of stables with living quarters above, most of which have now been converted into modern residences on the inside).
9 Best Guided London Walking Tours
Fancy a trip down Diagon Alley, a view of an elusive Banksy or a look at the spot where William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace was executed? Here are 10 top guided London Walking Tours:
Fox & Squirrel Art Walks
New company Fox & Squirrel prides itself on knowing the best lifestyle venues in the capital. Regular walks explore London’s fashion, arts, vintage, architecture and food scenes. On its typical arts London walking tours, you’ll visit three contemporary galleries. A curator or artist will not only explain the work on show, but also the oft-bewildering nature of the London arts world.
Old Map Man
Nearly all tour guides thrive off London’s unrivalled history. Ken Titmuss, AKA the Old Map Man, goes one step further by physically conjuring up lost London using historic maps. For example, he’ll not only lead you to Charles Dickens’ former home, but also show you a 19th-century map with a gap where this house was about to be built. Tours operate all over London, but there’s no fixed rota so check the website for details.
Black History Walks
Explore the history of London’s African populations with these regular tours in the City, West End, Docklands, Elephant and Castle and Notting Hill. In any of this company’s London walking tours you’ll hear how much of England’s wealth was built on African labour and resources, discover the streets that carry African names, and learn to spot African architectural influences. There’s no regular rota of walks, so check the web site for upcoming events.
Lesser tour guides are often accused of “making stuff up” for the sake of a good story. This tricksy tour makes a virtue of embellishment and deceit. You get two tour guides, one of whom tells the truth while the other tells porkies. Your task is to guess which one is the fibber, with a prize for the most astute member of the group. Liars’ tours are organised by London Street Tours and are available for Kensington, Chelsea, Blackfriars, London Bridge and Bloomsbury (assuming that their spokesperson is telling the truth).
Charles Booth Poverty Maps
Sean Patterson has numerous tricks up his sleeve to bring the sights and sounds of Victorian London to life. One minute you’re ushered into a local supermarket to learn about the history of ice cream, the next you’re dropping into the local pub for a pint of Best. Patterson draws on the work of Charles Booth, the Victorian philanthropist who mapped poverty levels across all of London’s streets. Patterson uses the map to point out areas that remain down-at-heel, and ones that have prospered. His main London walking tours explore the fascinating but little-known streets of Deptford, and he’s working on sequels elsewhere.
London Street Art Tours
There’s much more to street art than Banksy. Graff guide Griff knows many of the artists personally, and will open your eyes to this vibrant subculture. By the end, you’ll be able to tell your Roas from your Malarkys and your Eines from your Sweet Toofs. And Banksy? You’ll also be shown a few of his lesser-known pieces, hidden from general view. Graff’s London walking tours usually focus on the Shoreditch area, this being London’s main hotbed of street art. Weekend tours will also take you up to Hackney on a more extended expedition.
London’s Lost Rivers
A lost network of rivers is buried beneath the roads of modern London. Most are now sewers, but all have left their mark on the world above. Tom Bolton, author of the recent book London’s Lost Rivers: A Walker’s Guide, will show you how to read the landscape and spot these ancient watercourses – from the slopes of nearby roads to tell-tale street names. His next trek, on 8 October, follows the elusive River Neckinger, which rises in Southwark and drains into the Thames in Bermondsey. Periodic London walking tours are available, but don’t run to a rota.
Harry Porter’s Tours
Perfect for families, these wizarding tours of London seek out locations from the eight movies. One tour explores the City of London, home to Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron. Another will leave you spellbound in Westminster, where you’ll discover the entrance to the Ministry of Magic. Muggles are welcome. The tours are by London Walks, who’ve dominated the guided walk scene in the capital for decades, and offer many other themed excursions.
Forget the Tower of London. Smithfield is undoubtedly the bloodiest location in the capital, with a long history of executions (including William “Braveheart” Wallace), centuries of heretic-burning and a famous peasant-slaying (the Revolt was stamped out here). Smithfield has also been the site of a butchers’ market for centuries, which still thrives today. This turbulent and fascinating history is best explored in the early morning, when the market is bustling. Join a representative of the City Guides group for one of early-bird London walking tours.
The Original London Sightseeing Tour
Changing of the Guard Walk – See Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and the regiments that guard them in this exciting walk as you march alongside the guards at Buckingham Palace.
Departs daily 10:30 from The Original London Visitor Centre
Rock ‘N’ Roll Walk – A 90 minute walk through the heart of the capital’s rocking heritage: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and The Sex Pistols – it’s only Rock ‘n’ Roll, but I like it!
Departs daily 13:00 from The Original London Visitor Centre
Jack the Ripper Walk – Walk in the footsteps of the world’s most infamous serial killer as we reveal his murderous tale from the dark streets of Whitechapel in 1888.
Departs daily 15:30 from The Original Tour stop at the Tower of London on Tower Hill.
Follow in the footsteps of London’s heroes and villains with The Original London Sightseeing Tour guides and let them show you a fresh perspective on an ancient city.
Imagine yourself stepping inside buildings that have changed little since Shakespeare visited them in the early years of the 17th century, or following in the footsteps of Charles Dickens through the gas lit thoroughfares of Victorian London.
Picture yourself stalking Jack the Ripper on a tour through the narrow alleyways of the 19th century East End; joining Sherlock Holmes for an atmospheric stroll around the foggy back streets of the Edwardian Metropolis; hunting for the ghosts that haunt tumbledown churchyards; posing as the Beatles on the iconic Abbey Road crossing; or enjoying a drink inside an atmospheric and historic 16th century riverside tavern.
All of these experiences – and many more besides – are possible. So, if you really want to get to know London better – and if you want to discover places that many Londoners, let alone visitors, don’t even know about – then join the numerous walking tour companies and guides ready and available for you on these enjoyable, highly entertaining London walking tours. Let them introduce you to the past and present of the city that has spent 2,000 years preparing for your visit.
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