When it comes to exploring a new city, there’s no better way to orientate yourself and get acquainted with it than by seeing it on foot. London is no exception. One of the world’s largest cities, London is surprisingly walkable, and you can easily spend a day strolling about the city without ever needing to use the Tube or hop in a (ridiculously overpriced) taxi. Yet, what’s the good in walking if you don’t really know what you’re seeing? Taking a walking tour is a great way to get to know a city better, and have a knowledgeable local or resident of a city impart their expertise, so you can really get under the skin of a place. Being such a large city, London has a lot of fun walking tours to offer, but I’ve curated my three favorites, with a bit of something for everyone.
London often gets a bad rep when it comes to food, but those who dismiss its culinary credentials have usually only eaten at places around the big tourist sites which, in general, charge too much and usually serve up rather mediocre fare. The folks at Eating London Food Tours have made it their mission to change the perception of London as a wasteland for foodies. The tour takes place in London’s East End, around Spitalfields and Shoreditch, and participants get to walk around the area, learn about its history, and eat some truly tasty morsels. The tour really is a ‘best of British’ type affair, with classics like bacon sandwiches and fish and chips making an appearance, as well as more modern additions to the UK’s food heritage, like salted caramel tart, or a curry on the famous Brick Lane.
Ken Titmuss is better known by his alias, the Old Map Man. Why? Well, because he conducts tours of London based on old maps. Ken’s tours are an absolute must for history buffs, with his website, London Trails, detailing what tour is coming up next, with each one taking place in a different region of London. So, what can you expect on the tour? Well, using old maps, Ken takes people on a historical tour of London and really delves into the murky, often surprising, pasts of wherever he’s guiding folk around.
If there isn’t a phrase about never trusting a tour guide, well, then this tour is enough of an excuse to make one up and embed it into the vernacular. If you choose to participate in one of the Liar Tours, you’ll end up being shown around the city by two guides. One of them is a veritable font of knowledge, and the other? You guessed it, a complete liar, who will try and feed you tidbits of misinformation and some downright fibs. However, the roles switch up during the tour, and participants will be asked who they think is the liar when they hear facts about each stop. At the end of the tour, the most astute member of the tour group ends up winning a prize, so brush up on your body language beforehand.
Have you ever been on a walking tour? What is your favorite walking tour in London?
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Tom has always had the travel bug and, after quitting his call centre job in the UK, he packed up and moved to South Korea to teach English for almost four years. Since moving on from South Korea, he's been travelling the world and loves exploring city streets, trying delicious new food, meeting great people and taking way too many selfies with his phone, although he'll disagree with you on that last point. Read about Tom's adventures on his blog, Waegook Tom, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.
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