London is one of the most walkable cities in the world. It’s relatively large, but many sights in Central London are located near each other, and are often faster to get to by walking instead of on the Tube. Markets like the Borough Market, and the Camden Market can’t be visited from the window of a bus. Sure, you can take a bus tour to cram the most sites into your time here, or you can explore the hidden nooks and crannies the way they were meant to be explored – on foot. Below is our guide to London’s best walking tours.
Got a taste for the grim and ghoulish? Take a Jack the Ripper walking tour (there are lots on offer). This tour doesn’t just discuss the grizzly Whitechappel murders, it also paints an excellent picture of what life was like for people, and especially for women, living in poverty in Whitechappel in the 1880s. The area you walk, of course, is no longer run-down and full of slum accommodation, and it is interesting to see the contrast between the newly rejuvenated area and the description of what it once was.
If you’re looking to get out onto the water, try a combined walking tour and cruise. These tours will take you out on the Thames, as well as around Southwark, which once existed as a separate entity to London. These riverfront tours, by boat and foot, offer the chance to explore an area that has played host to some of the greatest figures of English literature, such as Dickens, Chaucer and Shakespeare. Regular £24, Children’s £12, Sat & Sun at 3:30pm from Covent Garden, http://www.newlondon-tours.com/daily-tours/thames-cruise-and-south-bank.html
Are you too cool for regular art tours? Check out a street art tour. Banksy is the most obvious artist, but Graff guide Griff will show you many other hidden gems of this subculture (from El Mac to Invader), and knows many of the artists personally. Tours usually focus on London’s hotbed of street art, Shoreditch. Weekend tours will also take you up to Hackney on a more extended expedition. Tours: From Old Street tube station every Tuesday (10am) £12, two hours. A four-hour tour costs £15, on Saturdays at 11am, streetartlondon.co.uk/tours
For a little bit of magic (and good fun for all ages), try a Harry Potter tour. These wizarding tours seek out eight locations in London. One tour explores the City of London, where you’ll find Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron. You’ll be spellbound in Westminster, where you’ll find the entrance to the Ministry of Magic. All muggles are welcome. City tours run every Sunday from Bank tube station, 2pm, Westminster tours run on Saturdays from Westminster tube station, at 2pm, adults £9, children £3, free for under-8s, walks.com – check website for up to date seasonal schedule.
Want to learn a bit of history and quench your thirst at the same time? There are several historic pub tours on offer throughout London – mainly around Fleet Street and Holborn, or along the Thames. Soak up the facts while sipping one of London’s many lagers, or traditional cask ale.