Fancy a stroll? Then strap on your comfiest shoes and take to the streets of London, because sometimes you can't beat a good walk to really get to know a city. Sure, there are some good bus tours (seriously: check out the best bus tours in London), but we’ve rounded up some wondrous walks you won't want to miss.
Yep, we’ve sorted through treks that’ll have you sightseeing in the city, getting to know famous spots and a whole lot more. Besides, whether you’ve got a day, an afternoon or just an hour to spare, there’s a tour for you – from a gentle meander around arty Camden to an exploration of the East End’s criminal past. Buckle up, folks, here are some of the best London walking tours.
RECOMMENDED: Rather ride? Try a London bike tour instead
Walking tours in London
Follow foodie guides who have made it their goal to introduce visitors to the ‘excellence of traditional British food’. The guides will share their knowledge of the local dining culture and latest gastronomic trends, and take you to food shops beloved by the area’s residents.
Immerse yourself in the magical world of the Boy Who Lived on this 150-minute walking tour around the muggle capital of London. Follow in the footsteps of one of the world’s most famous fictional wizards as you step into the real Diagon Alley, catch a glimpse of The Leaky Cauldron, pose by the mythical Platform 9¾, and visit other fantastical locations featured in the Harry Potter movies. You’ll hear insider gossip and see some of the city’s most famous landmarks as you tour London with a guide.
Few people are as synonymous with old Blighty as Sir Winston. So what better way to get a feel for the place than with a tour of Westminster's World War II sites? In two hours your Blue Badge guide will take you to see major landmarks, such as Big Ben and Downing Street, as well as the poignant Cenotaph war memorial. Walkers will then be led to Churchill's bunker, where you can see items that once belonged to the great man, discover top secret conversations that went on down there and walk in the footsteps of all those key decision makers so long ago.
Witness the Changing of the Guard: an unforgettable London experience. Your experienced guide will also take you to see palaces, royal parks, royal residences and even have an opportunity to march alongside the guards. The walk is aimed at all ages, with interesting insights for adults and plenty of fun for kids.
Get to know the godfathers of British crime on this wander around the East End. Led by ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ actor Vas Blackwood (aka Rory Breaker), who'll share his wealth of knowledge about the villains – both fictional and real – of London’s murky underworld. Over the two-hour tour you'll hear tales of the notorious Kray twins around Whitechapel and see iconic ‘Lock, Stock…’ locations from the film.
Discover ancient ale houses and literary drinking dens on a three-hour afternoon pub tour of London. Centred on the area around the City, this walk visits at least four of the capital’s finest historic pubs. Hear the history of the pubs, learn the differences between Elizabethan coaching inns and Victorian gin palaces, and visit the watering holes frequented by Charles Dickens. Numbers are limited to 14 people per tour.
Explore the world of the Great Detective and sidekick Dr Watson on this private four-hour walking tour of London. Visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum (entry ticket not included) at 221b Baker Street – where the famous sleuth lived in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s popular stories – with a private guide. Explore central London sites made famous in the filming of the BBC adaptation ‘Sherlock’, such as Russell Square or New Scotland Yard. Along the way, hear behind-the-scenes stories from the set. Tour includes round-trip travel from your centrally located London hotel.
Set a couple of hours aside to expore the capital's dark side. Discover execution sites, learn about grave robbers and meet London's most notorious murderers as you wander from Barbican to Holborn. Unsurprisingly, a few details in this one are a little ghastly, so it's open to ages 12+ only.
Enjoy a fun and educational half-day tour of Greenwich. All the major venues are on the walk, including the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark, Old Royal Naval College, newly renovated Queen’s House and Greenwich Market. Put on your comfiest boots and join your knowledgeable guide to experience the real Greenwich. This tour is led in small groups, so there’ll be no pushing or shoving.
See the sinister side of the city as you follow the blood-soaked footsteps of serial killers Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd down gas-lit alleyways on a ghost walking tour of London. Arrive at each scary spot by coach, and listen on headsets to a guide dishing out gory details about these infamous London murderers. Get goosebumps at Drury Lane, the most haunted theatre in the city, and hear stories of the Ripper’s East End.
The name? It's Cockney rhyming slang for 'walk'! (Though quite why one word needs turning into three, we're not quite sure.) Regardless, these are tours delivered by Jonnie, a born-and-bred Londoner with a passion for taking people on walks around the city and sharing some of its secrets. His weekend tours are fun, laidback and - best of all - delivered on a 'pay what you can' basis. Private weekday tours can be book to; just take a look on the website for further details.
It's true that everyone is a photography these days - but that doesn't mean every one is a good photographer. So if you really want to up your photography game, book a space on one of these tours by Hairy Goat. The guides will not only take you on a journey around various landmarks in the centre of the city, but they'll also teach you how to take some decent snaps in the process too. The organisers say it's best if you come equipped with an SLR-level camera - but if all you've got is your smartphone, they'll still advise as best as they can.
These tours are run by The Sock Mob, a social enterprise that works with homeless, ex-homeless or vulnerably housed people. The guides who lead each of the five tours - in Camden, Covent Garden, London Bridge, Shoreditch and Brick Lane - have all experienced homelessness at some time in their lives. This doesn't mean these tours are indulgent misery porn or suchlike - actually they're fun, laidback journey through each area's local history, with a little eye-opening info about social injustice thrown in too.