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London Tours

London is cosmopolitan, dynamic, very lively and very, very big. Tour it all with a guided tour.

Vicky Del Moral

Vicky Del Moral

10 min read

London Tours

London with Big Ben in the background | ©Aaron Van del Pol

On foot, by bike, by boat or bus, by day or by night. About London's most infamous history or about its splendor reflected in palaces and monuments: there are tours for all tastes, pockets and travelers.

1. Walking Tours in the historic center of London

London Bridge| ©Kimber Nilsson
London Bridge| ©Kimber Nilsson

If you are one of those who love to know a city getting lost in its streets, this walking tour through the center is a great option because it covers several of the wonders that are hidden in the maze of streets that make up one of the most beautiful and most historic parts of London, its old town.

What you will learn

You will discover how Covent Garden was once the most dynamic red light district in London; you will learn all about the great fire that devastated the city in 1666 in front of the Monument to the Great Fire of London and how the plague killed a third of its population. You will also get to know other emblematic points such as Tower Bridge or what was for centuries the tallest building in the city, St. Paul's Cathedral. A spectacle for the eyes.

Itinerary

  • Covent Garden
  • The Monument to the Great Fire of London
  • London Bridge
  • Tower Bridge
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Bank of England Museum
  • Tower of London

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2. Jack the Ripper Night Tours

London by night
London by night

I have been to London many times, but this visit took me to places I had never seen before and made me see the city in a different way. I learned a lot about Jack the Ripper and London's more terrifying history. I will definitely come back for another one of your tours on my next visit.

Do you scare easily or do you love to hear spooky stories? If you answer yes to the latter... Welcome to the Jack the Ripper night tour. Here your guides, terrifyingly into their role, will take you back many years to know the places that starred in the most Dantesque scenes of London's history.

What you will learn

In addition to visiting the most infamous place in the city, the Tower of London, you will discover chilling places of the black legend, such as the first Psychiatric Hospital, the Plague Pits, the Traitor's Gate and the haunted areas of the East End. And also, how and where one of the most famous serial killers in history, Jack the Ripper, whose identity is still unknown to this day, operated. Are you ready to have a... scary time?

Itinerary

  • Tower Hill tube stop
  • Tower of London
  • The Ten Bells Spitalfields

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3. London Underground History Tours

London Underground| ©Will H McMahan
London Underground| ©Will H McMahan

Lovers of engineering and train operation, the tour through the history of the oldest and most iconic subway in the world awaits you. Travel back 150 years to learn the secrets and history of how the subway network that runs through London was built, practically by hand, why it was a pioneer and how renowned architects designed its line system, as well as see a ghost station abandoned 50 years ago.

Itinerary

  • Baker Street Station, Marylebone
  • Westminster Station, Westminster

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4. Central London Bike Tours

London Eye
London Eye

London is a city of heavy traffic and crowds, so going with a guide will make the bike tour more comfortable, showing you the best areas to cycle, such as the banks of the Thames, while telling you the details of everything you see. In addition, and contrary to what it might seem, the bike tour is not hard, even children from 10 years old can do it.

With this central London bike tour you will learn about the history of the city and more than 12 of its main attractions: Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, the street performers of Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square and the colorful markets of Leather Lane Market and Smithfield's Market. Exercise, fun and sights to feast your eyes on, what more could you ask for?

Itinerary

  • Big Ben
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Westminster Abbey
  • St. James's Park
  • Buckingham Palace (and if it coincides, you will see the changing of the guard)
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Covent Garden
  • Lincoln's Inn Fields
  • Smithfield Market
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Cleopatra's Needle
  • London Eye
  • Leake Street Arches

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5. Thames Cruises

Thames River Cruise
Thames River Cruise

Thames cruises are a really nice way to see the London skyline on the banks of this mighty river and take a break from the intense sightseeing on foot that this great city demands. With departures every half hour, the Thames cruise from Westminster to Greenwich is a very economical boat tour with which you will admire up to 13 of London's major attractions.

What you will see on this tour

Departing from Westminster Pier, you can relax on deck or inside the boat to take pictures, while a specialized guide explains the history of wonderful monuments such as the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

The tour ends in Greenwich, where you can get off the ship to see this area and visit on your own places such as the Cutty Sark exhibition ship, Greenwich Park, the National Maritime Museum or the Royal Observatory of Greenwich. Also, if you wish, you can return to the starting point, Westminster, on board the same cruise ship. I have written an article about Thames River Cruises in London that may interest you.

Itinerary

  • Houses of Parliament
  • London Eye
  • Royal Festival Hall
  • Tate Modern
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
  • HMS Belfast
  • Tower of London
  • Tower Bridge
  • Cutty Sark
  • Royal Observatory Greenwich
  • Greenwich Park
  • Old Royal Naval College
  • Greenwich Market
  • National Maritime Museum

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6. Sightseeing Bus Tours

London Sightseeing Bus
London Sightseeing Bus

Comfort and unlimited mobility. These are two of the advantages that make the iconic tourist buses have become a 'must' that you will see around the city at all hours.

They allow you to admire London from the heights and comfortably seated, while a guide explains the history of the different places, avoiding daily dependence on its crowded public transport network and, most importantly, having the possibility to make their full tours or to get on and off (its famous "Hop on-Hop off") as many times as you want in each of its dozens of stops.

Original Tour Routes

There are several companies that offer these tours, but The Original Tour tourist bus has more variety of routes, up to 6, and more stops, almost 80, plus it is the best to go with children, as they have activities on board and explanations specially designed for them.

Its routes depend on the geographical area or the theme of the attractions included, from some with all the must-see attractions in London to others with stops at the main leisure experiences for the whole family, including an exclusive route through the neighborhood of Notting Hill and another early in the morning to see how this great city dawns.

This tour also includes a free walking tour of the city, a cruise on the River Thames and some local discounts*. Their buses are fully adapted for baby carriages and people in wheelchairs or who need guide animals.

In my guide to London Hop on Hop off Bus Tours you can read all the details of each company, all their routes and the attractions you will find at each stop.

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7. Night Sightseeing Bus Tours

The Tower of London, illuminated
The Tower of London, illuminated

Personally, big cities fascinate me even more at night. When the natural light disappears and neon lights, street lamps and spotlights begin to wake up to illuminate the imposing monuments, streets and shopping areas, it seems as if only you and the city are left.

Why I like this night tour

Touring the city at night and doing it comfortably seated on a tour bus is a great idea, especially after having walked around all day. This night tour by tourist bus is from the same company as the previous one, The Original Tour, only that departs at dusk, and with it you can see illuminated, among others, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral or the Millennium Bridge.

Their buses leave every 5-12 minutes in summer and every 15-30 minutes in winter, with a single route for more than 20 free stops where you can get on and off whenever you want. In addition, this tour also includes a sightseeing cruise on the River Thames and three walking tours of the city.

Itinerary

  • Tower of London
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Tower Bridge
  • SEA LIFE London Aquarium
  • Tate Modern
  • Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
  • St. James's Palace
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Millennium Bridge
  • National Gallery
  • Royal Academy of Arts
  • Trafalgar Square
  • The London Dungeon
  • Hyde Park
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Leicester Square
  • Oxford Street
  • Horse Guards
  • Whitehall
  • Southbank Centre
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Big Ben
  • Changing of the Guard
  • Downing Street
  • Westminster
  • The Original London Sightseeing Tour
  • Thames River
  • London Eye
  • London Bridge

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8. Tours of Shakespeare's Globe, including Afternoon Tea

Classic British afternoon tea
Classic British afternoon tea

Here's a tour that no literature lover can miss: Can you imagine seeing in person what the theater where Shakespeare's most famous plays were performed was like? If you have seen the famous movie 'Shakespeare in love' you can get an idea of this tour to Shakespeare's Globe Theater, a reconstruction of the original Elizabethan theater.

With this tour of Shakespeare's Globe you will learn about playwriting in 16th century London, how sound effects were created 400 years ago, scripts, costumes and even music through his Globe Exhibition. If you want to round off your visit and feel like a real 'British' you can include the experience of having an afternoon tea with sweets, inspired by the great play "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

Itinerary

  • Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, 21 New Globe Walk, London
  • Admission to the theater included

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9. Buckingham Palace Tours

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

Feel part of royalty for a day with this tour of Buckingham Palace, with tea at the end of your visit, an exceptional opportunity that can only be enjoyed for eight weeks of the year.

What this tour consists of

A guide will take you to the gates of what has been the official London residence of the British Royal Family since the nineteenth century and now inhabited by Elizabeth II and will give you your ticket to visit inside at your own pace and with the explanations of an audio guide.

You can marvel at the lavish decoration of the rooms of the palace and its chandeliers, elegant furnishings and treasures of the royal collection and enter the Throne Room, where photographs are usually taken at weddings of royalty.

After the visit you will enjoy with your guide a walk through the most beloved park by the British, the beautiful St. James's Park, to finish your experience enjoying a typical afternoon tea with an exquisite display of sandwiches, homemade scones served with thick cream and jam and freshly baked cakes. A delicious tour fit for a king.

10. Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament Tours

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

If you want to really understand British history, a guided tour of two of its most iconic and influential places is a good place to start. This guided tour of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament is a great option to learn in a brief summary the history of the British Royal family and its traditions, which are still so present in the lives of the English today.

What you will learn

From the place that saw all the great monarchs crowned since 1066 and celebrated great royal weddings, such as that of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, in the essential Westminster Abbey, to the place where politics and the future of the country are still decided today, in the Houses of Parliament, which houses the House of Commons and the Lords.

In addition, at the Palace of Westminster, a World Heritage Site, you can visit the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the greatest symbol of London, Big Ben, the bell that strikes its grand clock. For more details on how to visit Westminster Abbey, you can consult my guide on London Westminster Abbey Tickets: how to buy and prices.

Itinerary

  • Westminster Abbey
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Big Ben

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Other interesting tours in London

If you like history and you feel like enjoying another historical enclave on your trip to London, this guide about Tower of London Tickets and Tours: how to buy, prices and schedules can help you to organize your visit to the Tower of London. If on the other hand you feel like a more relaxed visit, Madame Tussauds will be a great contrast in your trip. I leave here an article I have written about London Madame Tussauds Tickets: how to buy and what to see in case you are interested in knowing more.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the best city tour to do in London?

    There are plenty of City Tours in London that are worthwhile, but if you can only stick with one, make it the one that includes a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral, entrance to the Tower of London, a cruise on the River Thames and an optional pass to the London Eye, as it covers a lot of the city's monuments and sights.

  • What else can I do in London?

    Although London has enough to offer to take your breath away, you may want to try some alternative plans such as discovering the city's profuse street art, watching a sing-along movie at the Prince Charles Cinema, enjoying a cocktail at the hidden bar The Mayor of Scaredy Cat town, or visiting the Hackney City Farm urban orchard.

  • What is the best way to get around London?

    Undoubtedly, the best way to get around London is by tube. For this, your best option is to get an Oyster Card for a short visit. Also, a good way to get around the city is to get on a Hop-on Hop-off bus, as you will be able to stop at the main areas of interest in the city. As a general rule, don't take a cab if you can avoid it.