Like to familarise yourself with your location? With a long and colourful history, you’ll not be short of a tale or two in London, but if you don’t fancy a traditional tour of the sights, maybe you’d like to step in the shoes of the Jack the Ripper? Or Sherlock Holmes? There’s a few themes you can choose from…
Harry Potter Tour
It’s the tour everyone’s talking about. When filming came to a close on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the studio, which had been the wizard’s home for many years, was converted into an attraction so everyone can come and see where Harry Potter got through 160 pairs of glasses, 70 wands and where over 588 incredible sets were built from scratch. Find out more in our guide to the Harry Potter Experience.
Jack The Ripper Tour
This murderous tour will guide you along the streets and alleyways of East London, following in the footsteps of the infamous serial killer, Jack The Ripper. Several tour companies offer this tour, and they all take place in the evening at around 7pm and last around one hour and 45 minutes. The tours aren’t recommended for under 14s.
Sherlock Holmes Tour
London is the home to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous characters, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, so this is the perfect place to take a Sherlock Holmes guided tour. Follow in the sleuth’s footsteps, around Charing Cross, through Covent Garden and, of course, make your way to the great detective’s home at Baker Street. London Walks is probably the most well-known company for walking tours and they have a Sherlock tour every Friday afternoon. But there are other companies who also offer this themed tour that you can find with a quick search online. They generally cost around £10, last around two hours and, though some can be booked in advance online, with London Walks you can just rock up at the designated time (2pm) and place (Embankment Station) and pay on the spot.
James Bond Tour
Step into the world of this notoriously (not so) secret spy. Brit Movie Tours offer both a bus or walking tour option to follow the Bond trail around London, taking in several locations from different Bond films. You’ll get to pass the secret offices of James Bond’s HQ and learn just how the films were brought to life. The walking tour costs £12* for adults and £10 for kids, lasts two and a half hours and is every Friday at 2pm. The bus tour is a bit more expensive at £26 for adults and £19* for kids, but lasts 3 hours and runs most Sundays at 11am. Best to book in advance online.
London by Night Tour
Are you a night owl? Then you might enjoy seeing all of London’s landmarks at dusk, on a night tour. There are three main companies that run this tour, See London by Night and Golden Tours. Generally, you’ll save if you book your tickets in advance online and, by doing this, tickets cost £15 for adults and £10* for kids (under 5s go free). The tour is available in several different languages and the whole loop takes one hour and 45 minutes, but you may hop-on and off en route (only with London By Night).
Street Art Tour
Know your Banksy from your Invader? Street art is a huge part of the East End, and it’s forever changing, with works lasting an average of six months. Take this tour and be guided around the latest imaginings from the artists on the street. There are several fantastic tour companies you can go with, check out London Walks, East End Tours and Street Art London. Between the companies, they offer tours on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, lasting between an hour and a half and four hours. Prices are between £9-£15*. London Walks is the only company that allows you to show up and pay on the day, the other two you need to book in advance.
London Liars’ Tour
It’s kind of a ‘your nose is growing’ thing. On this fun and mix-it-up tour, from London Street Walking Tours, your guide will take you around the London scene telling you all there is to know about the stops along the way, but then you are given cards to read out at each stop and you need to determine between you which one is the lie and which is true. For each one you get right you get a token and the person with the most tokens at the end of the tour wins a prize. It’s one big game! You do need to book as a group of up to 12 (for £100) or 20 (for £150)* on this one, so rally round your mates, or maybe give the tour company a call and ask if they’ve got any spaces on a forthcoming Liars’ tour.
*Prices correct as of January 2015. Please check websites for more details.