If you’re looking for an introduction to the city, then how about a Highlights Tour taking in some of the key sights including Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Guard Change, Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London.
If you’d like to delve into some of our wonderful museums & galleries (many of which are free) then let me introduce you to the best from each collection (& the quirky stuff too).
Although it’s a big city, London really is best explored on foot so maybe you’d like to get to know a specific area – literary Bloomsbury, elegant St James or vibrant Soho.
If you prefer to do something less mainstream, we can head off the beaten track and explore London’s less well known quarters.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are many world class attractions, over 200 museums & galleries, fabulous Royal parks and plenty of markets to discover.
Find out more by exploring the range of tours below:
Castles & Royal Palaces
Hampton Court is one of our most impressive Royal Palaces, surrounded by spectacular gardens and framed by the River Thames. It is most closely associated with the Tudor King Henry VIII who spent lavishly on it making it the envy of Europe. It became the backdrop to many dramatic events, including the long-awaited birth of his son Edward VI, the death of Jane Seymour and the betrayal of Catherine Howard.
On this tour we’ll explore what remains of Henry’s Tudor Palace – we’ll enter through the magnificent Tudor kitchens and see the Great Hall where he entertained and the Chapel where he worshipped. We then move forward to a very different era and see the Palace as it was in the early 1700s, a grand French-style Palace, where the Georgian Kings & Queens, enjoyed hosting dinner parties, sipping chocolate and gossiping. Finally, we’ll enjoy the spectacular gardens and the world-famous Maze.
Kensington Palace is one of London’s most intimate Royal Palaces. The former home of Diana, Princess of Wales, it is now the London home of Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. It has been a royal residence for over 300 years, and it was here that Queen Victoria spent her childhood and where she learnt she would become Queen. On this 2-hour highlights tour, we’ll visit the magnificent State Apartments of the Palace, enjoy a fascinating glimpse into court life across the centuries (how ladies at the Georgian Court went to the bathroom will astonish you!) and we’ll also see the major new exhibition of Princess Diana’s dresses, which trace her fashion story from a shy girl to one of the most stylish and influential women of all time.
The Tower of London is our oldest surviving Royal Castle, having stood watch over London for nearly 1,000 years. It has a dark and blood-soaked history: thousands found themselves imprisoned in the Tower during the reign of the Tudors, a time of huge political and religious turmoil when your faith could cost you your life. Some of the most dramatic events in our history took place within the Tower: three Queens of England went to their executions; one King was murdered and two young Princes disappeared never to be seen again.
As part of the tour we’ll hear about its chilling history, we’ll also see the Crown Jewels, the stunning collection of crowns and regalia used by the Royal family (including the largest clear cut diamond in the world), and hopefully we’ll meet the famous Yeoman Warders and the Tower Ravens – the birds who keep the Tower safe.
Please Note: a tour of the Tower involves being outside a fair bit, so do dress warmly.
Churches & Cathedrals
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most striking buildings – designed by Christopher Wren, its vast dome has long been a symbol of resilience and pride, dominating the London skyline for more than 300 years. We’ll be taking a highlights tour of the Cathedral, learning how it rose from the ruins of the City, how it inspired the coffee pots of the day and how it became the burial place of national heroes Nelson and Wellington.
We’ll also revisit some of its most famous moments on the world stage – including the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. If you’re feeling active, you can also of course climb the 250 steps to the Whispering Gallery and then a further 250 to the top of the Dome!
Westminster Abbey is our Coronation Church and one of Britain’s greatest medieval buildings. For centuries Kings & Queens have walked down its aisle for their date with destiny. It’s witnessed many other major events too, including the 1997 funeral of Princess Diana and the 2011 wedding of her son Prince William to Catherine Middleton. Many of the Kings & Queens crowned within its walls are buried here too, alongside influential figures such as Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens. It’s also where we’ll find the poignant Grave of the Unknown Warrior – one of the millions who lost their lives during WW1.
As part of the highlights tour we’ll explore its long history, soak up the impressive architecture, see the Coronation Chair and find out why some Coronations didn’t exactly go to plan, and why one King banned his Queen. We’ll also discover what connects Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh to the Abbey.
Exploring London [walking tours of different areas]
This 2-hour walk explores the streets of Bloomsbury, one of London’s most literary quarters. Starting outside the British Museum, we’ll visit the heartland of the Bloomsbury Group, and see the places associated with George Orwell, T S Eliot and W B Yeats. We’ll walk one of the best preserved Georgian streets in London before pausing outside the moving Foundling Museum, where young children were taken by mothers no longer able to look after them. We’ll also see one of the last surviving houses that Charles Dickens lived in, and the church where Ted Hughes married Sylvia Plath.
Chelsea is one of London’s most sought-after neighbourhoods. Its tree-lined streets are filled with elegant Georgian townhouses, artists’ studios and pretty rows of mews cottages painted in a range of ice cream colours. Once described as ‘a village of palaces’ thanks to its connections with Royalty, by the 19C it had developed a reputation as London’s bohemian quarter, the haunt of artists, radicals and writers. It shone again, brightly but briefly, in the 1960s when it became one of the hippest areas in London thanks to the fashionable boutiques that sprang up along the King’s Road. Since then, it has settled for a quieter life as one of the capital’s most exclusive areas.
On this 2-hour walk through its charming side streets, we’ll learn more about the artists and writers that lived there, and some of the stranger residents that joined them. We’ll also see the world-famous Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners, and the Chelsea Physic Garden, a botanical research centre with the finest collection of herbs and medicinal plants in the country.
This 2-hour walk takes you through the pulsing heart of the City of London, one of our most historic quarters yet also a place where the glass skyscrapers are in a race to the sky. The City was founded 2000 years ago by the Romans whose life here can still be traced. Since then it has had pretty much everything thrown at it – plague has stalked it streets, fires have swept away its buildings and bombs have rained down from the sky. And yet it has always managed to survive and emerge even stronger. Today of course it’s a world-leading financial centre.
On this walk we’ll talk about life and business in the City, discover some of its hidden corners and hopefully a few things that may surprise you if you feel you know the City well.
Clerkenwell is a vibrant quarter of London, colonised by media & design companies, and in their wake, the usual coffee houses and smart restaurants. However, in the 1700 & 1800s, these streets were amongst the most impoverished in London, many lived here in terrible slum conditions and crime was rife. The main gin distilleries were based in the area and for a few pennies, you could find escape from cold and hunger at the bottom of a glass. The author Charles Dickens knew the area well and used it as the backdrop to several of his novels, most famously Oliver Twist.
On this 2-hour walk through Clerkenwell, we’ll explore both the present and the past.
Covent Garden is one of London’s most spirited and vibrant areas, full of shops, cafes, restaurants and theatres, and some of London’s best pubs. It’s a great area to explore – just a few hundred yards from the busy shoppers and the street performers is a charming maze of streets with hidden courtyards and tucked-away alleys.
On this 2-hour walk, we’ll kick things off in the large open Central Piazza where the old Market Hall has been transformed into one of London’s prettiest and liveliest markets. We’ll see the main theatres that wrap around the district and we’ll also hear about the area’s rich and frankly saucy history.
Greenwich is famous throughout the world for its long maritime history and for being the home of time. Dominating its river frontage is Cutty Sark, one of the world’s most famous tea clippers, whilst on the hill above Greenwich sits the Royal Observatory where we’ll get to see the Prime Meridian, the imaginary north-south line which divides the world into East & West and which gives us Greenwich Mean Time.
On this walk we’ll also see the many impressive buildings that have made Greenwich a World Heritage Site, including the Old Naval College and the beautiful Queen’s House, and we’ll finish in Greenwich Market, a lively arts and crafts market.
Kensington is one of London’s most attractive, yet least explored districts. Maybe it’s because Kensington Palace, a cluster of impressive museums and the world-famous Harrods department store grab all the limelight. But scratch the surface a little deeper and you’ll find beautiful residential squares, hidden mews full of pretty cottages and charming side streets with quaint little shops.
On this 2-hour walk it’ll soon become clear why more than half of London’s most expensive streets can be found here, why it’s sometimes referred to as ‘Paris-on-Thames’ and some say the only place in London to buy a decent croissant, and why it has long been a magnet for the rich & famous.
Marylebone doesn’t get anything like the attention given to its wealthier neighbour Mayfair, but it really should as it’s a charming quarter of London with a great high street, beautiful squares and a very distinctive villagey vibe thingy going on. It’s known for its independent shops and bookstores and boasts one of the best cheese shops in London.
As a consequence, there’s a lot to see and on this 2-hour walk we’ll cover everything from Sherlock Holmes to the Beatles to the private medical practices of Harley Street, and we’ll throw in some scandals along the way!
Mayfair is without doubt the shiniest, poshiest part of London, where the grand terraces gleam in the sunshine and the doorknobs are all spit and polish. Add to this a high proportion of 5-star hotels, fashionable restaurants and exclusive shops selling luxury goods, and it’s no wonder the average house price is just under £14 million.
All gleam on the surface it may be, but it’s also a fascinating and historic area to wander, with appealing mews cottages, interesting courtyards stuffed with coffee shops and connections to the rich & famous. This 2-hour walk will take you into the heart of Mayfair.
There is plenty to love about Notting Hill as you’ll find on this 2-hour walk through one of London’s most fashionable and bohemian districts. Leafy streets and attractive terraces give way to quirky antique shops, fashionable restaurants and stylish shops. However, its beating heart comes from the hustle and bustle of the world famous Portobello Road Market when hundreds of antiques dealers transform the street into a half-mile-long antiques market, the largest in the world. We’ll check out the best of the area, see some of the filming locations from ‘Notting Hill’ and find out more about London’s biggest street party, the Notting Hill Carnival.
Please note: the antiques market is best visited on Saturdays when the full market fills the streets.
London’s South Bank is fast becoming the cultural heart of London with many world-class theatres, galleries and arts venues clustered along the south side of the River Thames. Forming an almost perfect daisy-chain along the River path, we’ll walk from the London Eye, taking in the National Theatre, Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre, as well as a medieval prison, lost Palace and Tudor sailing ship, before finishing in the fabulous Borough Food Market – a place not unrelated to foodie heaven.
If there’s one word that sums up St James it’s exclusive – it’s here you’ll find exclusive shops, a cluster of private members clubs, the highest of high end art galleries and some of London’s grandest houses. At the heart of this Royal quarter stands the impressive St James’s Palace, built by no less than Henry VIII himself and the setting for some of the most fascinating events from our Royal history.
On this walk we’ll weave our way through the streets and concealed courtyards, past the ancestral home of Princess Diana, and the Bar where James Bond’s famous shaken not stirred Martini was born. We’ll learn about what the British upper classes get up to behind closed doors and visit some of the exclusive shops that have been supplying the rich and famous for generations.
Soho is the place where Londoners have partied for centuries. Less seedy and furtive than it once was, it hasn’t lost any of its Bohemian spirit and is still brimming with theatres, music venues, late night cafes and some of London’s best bars and clubs. When it comes to shopping, mainstream is out and indie boutiques, hipster record stores and retro clothing are in, not to mention of course the world-famous Carnaby Street.
On this 2-hour walk, we’ll explore the vibrant heart of Soho and hear about some of its legendary characters.
No area illustrates London’s vibrant cultural mix better than Spitalfields. Centuries of immigration, from French Huguenots and Jewish settlers to Bengali and Somali communities, have shaped this historic East End neighbourhood, giving it a completely unique character. We’ll explore their stories and discover ghosts of the past. There are dark shadows here too, for these were the streets once stalked by the serial killer Jack the Ripper, who during the Autumn of 1888 brutally killed five local prostitutes.
On this 2-hour walk, we’ll explore this fascinating area and walk the streets of former times, but we’ll also visit one of the best markets in London, see some great street art and celebrate a love of all things vintage.
Westminster is the Royal and Political heart of London, jam-packed with London’s most famous sights, including Westminster Abbey, Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the PM’s official residence at 10 Downing Street.
On this revealing 2-hour walk, we’ll hear about the Abbey where our Kings & Queens are crowned, understand how Parliament ticks, see the building that witnessed a King’s execution, discover the secrets beneath our streets (including a secret WW2 bunker) and hear all about life at the Royal Palace. We’ll also head off the beaten track into the hidden Georgian Squares and picturesque back streets that remain elusive to most tourists.
The National Gallery is one of the world’s leading art galleries. It has a stunning collection of European art spanning six centuries, from the 1300s through to the 1900s. If you want to see the big name artists from every century, then you won’t be disappointed – hanging on its walls are works by Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt and the Impressionists, alongside paintings by leading British artists Turner, Constable, Hogarth and Gainsborough. However there is one painting that everyone wants to see – Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, painted as a sign of welcome but now a poignant reminder of a lost friendship.
From across the vast collection of over 2,500 works of art, we’ll seek out the many highlights and we’ll also go in search of the secret codes hidden in some of the paintings.
Please note that the paintings change from time so we can’t guarantee a specific work will be on display.
Next to the National Gallery stands the National Portrait Gallery – a wonderful place where you can come face-to-face with the people who shaped British history, from Kings & Queens (of which there are many) to modern-day musicians and actors. For many centuries portraits were simply ‘Beautiful Lies’ – they revealed something about the individual, but they rarely ever told the whole story.
On this 2-hour highlights tour we’ll take a look at the truth hidden by these portraits – why did Elizabeth I fiercely control her image, which King ‘never said a foolish thing, and never did a wise one’ and what was Charles Dickens really like behind closed doors? We’ll also take a look at the contemporary portraits on show and see just how much portrait art has changed over time.
Please note that the paintings change from time so we can’t guarantee a specific work will be on display.
Tate Britain was founded by the sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate (he of Tate & Lyle fame) in 1897. It is one of London’s best known galleries, home to a fantastic collection of British art dating back to the 1500s. The collection includes paintings by Hogarth, Reynolds, Constable and an entire wing, known as the Clore Gallery, devoted to Turner. Fans of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood will find lots here, as will those of modern art thanks to works by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney.
On this 2-hour highlights tour, we’ll trace events in British history through the paintings of the time, and see some of the works that changed the story of art.
If you want to learn how the story continues, this tour can be combined with a tour of Tate Modern so you can see the development of art from the 1500s to the present day.
Tate Modern is an impressive art gallery with a radical collection of international modern art. It’s the largest collection in Britain and features both well known artists as well as the works of lesser known and emerging artists. There are some big hitters in here, including Picasso, Warhol, Rothko and Lichtenstein. They act as a huge magnet to the 6 million visitors a year who visit Tate Modern, placing it in the top 10 most visited galleries in the world.
Even if you think Modern Art is complicated and weird (I’m not its biggest fan), give it a chance because amongst the challenging stuff, there are some truly thought-provoking and compelling pieces that often have things to say about the world we live in.
If you want to see the prequel to the modern age, this tour can be combined with a tour of Tate Britain so you can discover how the art of previous centuries influenced modern art.
The Wallace Collection is one of the smallest, but finest museums in London. It was brought together by the Marquesses of Hertford over 5 generations and in 1897 they gave their home and their collection to the nation. Today it is known for three things: it has a world-class collection of paintings, many of them by famous artists including Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens, Canaletto and Titian, as well as Franz Hals’ famous ‘Laughing Cavalier’ who is neither Laughing nor a Cavalier! It also features European and Oriental arms/armour and some stunning French furniture and porcelain, including items once owned by Madame de Pompadour and Queen Marie-Antoinette.
On this 90-minutes tour, we’ll see the highlights of the collection and we’ll also get to see what a London townhouse looked like in the 19C – many glittering society events were held here when the Marquesses were in residence.
The British Museum is one of world’s most fascinating museums – inside you’ll find some of the most important treasures of the world. Its remarkable collection spans thousands of years and, in short, tells the epic story of human civilisation. Its size is breathtaking too: there are over 80,000 items on display (less than 1% of the entire collection) so if you wanted to thoroughly explore the Museum, best set aside months, if not years.
But fear not, we’ll be taking a highlights tour of the collection, and along the way we’ll see the legendary sculptures from the Greek Parthenon, find out why the Rosetta Stone was a code breaker that unlocked Egyptian hieroglyphs, see some amazing Egyptian mummies and find out what treasures were hidden in an Anglo-Saxon burial ship.
The Churchill War Rooms are a chilling reminder of Britain’s darkest days. Beneath the streets of London you can enter the secret bunker used by wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his government during World War 2. For the six years of the war, from this warren of underground rooms, an army of civil servants, government ministers and military strategists, led by Churchill, waged a round-the-clock war on Germany. It was Britain’s best kept secret and it saved thousands of lives.
On this tour, we’ll see the War Cabinet Room where high-stake decisions were taken, the main Map Room, the hub of the site, and Churchill’s private quarters. Many things remain as they were left in August 1945 when the lights were switched off and the rooms sealed up. As part of the tour, we’ll also visit the museum dedicated to the life and times of Churchill.
Max Group Size for Guiding: 5-6 people
The Imperial War Museum tells the exceptional stories of how people’s lives have been forever impacted by war, and how it continues to shape our world today. We’ll see the stunning First World War Galleries, which explore this conflict through the eyes of people in Britain and its empire, both on the home front and the fighting fronts. They show how the war started, why it continued, how the Allies won and its global impact.
We’ll also discover how an ordinary London family faced the challenges of life at home during the Second World War and we’ll visit the award-winning Holocaust Exhibition which traces the Nazi persecution and murder of Jewish people from 1933 to 1945.
The Natural History Museum tells the dramatic story of evolution and diversity in the world today and our role in the planet’s future. At the heart of the Museum is Hope – a gigantic blue whale skeleton that dominates the entrance hall. This massive 25-foot skeleton is surrounded by hundreds of nature specimens across three floors, including ten other star specimens in the ground floor wonder bays.
Other highlights include a Dinosaur Gallery with animated dinosaurs, a Human Evolution Gallery which tells the story of us and the Earth Gallery where you can learn about the planet and find out what it’s like to be caught in an Earthquake.
The London Transport Museum explores the story of London and its transport system over the last 200 years, highlighting the link between transport and the growth of modern London, culture and society since 1800. With lots of interactivity, it’s a perfect museum for families with young children and as part of the tour we’ll see the early horse-drawn omnibuses, the first steam powered underground trains and the iconic London Red Buses and Black Taxis. As well as exploring the past, the Museum looks at present-day transport developments and concepts for urban transportation in the future.
One of the finest working stables in the world, the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace are home to the Queen’s horses and the royal collection of historic coaches & carriages. They house the horse-drawn carriages and cars, used for coronations, state visits, royal weddings and major events like the State Opening of Parliament. Amongst the stunning coaches on display are the Gold State Coach, used for coronations for nearly 200 years, the impressive Irish State Coach, and the recently added Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Also within the Mews we’ll be able to visit the working stables where the royal horses live, and find out what names the Queen has given them.
Just be aware that as the horses may be on duty or away from London, they are not always on view.
Interactive and thought-provoking, the Science Museum is a great place to experience science first-hand. From space travel to psychology to medicine, it covers the lot, which is why it’s the most visited science and technology museum in Europe. There are over 15,000 objects on display, including world-famous objects such as the Apollo 10 command capsule, as well as technology that has had a global impact on society, from Stephenson’s Rocket and a Newcomen engine to Crick and Watson’s DNA model and an EMI brain scanner. There are also several interactive galleries, a number of 3D and 4D simulators and an IMAX 3D Cinema.
The V&A (Victoria & Albert) is the largest museum of art & design in the world – the collections are stunning and of unique importance. There’s no easy way to summarise a collection which spans 2,000 years and whose highlights range from the notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci to a bed that sleeps eight people right through to Mick Jagger’s catsuit, except to say that it is an enormous, eclectic and eccentric treasure house of works by some of the best artists, designers, craftsmen and sculptors the world has known.
This 2-hour tour will introduce you to some of the highlights of the V&A, taking in the Renaissance, Jewellery, Theatre and Fashion Galleries, as well as highlights from the British Galleries.
The Royal Quarter is one of London’s most historic areas, steeped in centuries of tradition and ceremony. On this fascinating walk, we’ll see Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence, and hear all about life at the Palace, as well as watching one of London’s best loved sights – the Changing of the Guard. We’ll explore the area around St James’s Palace and the Royal Parks, and head to Parliament Square to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. We’ll also see the world-famous Westminster Abbey, and learn about the Royal Coronations, Weddings and Funerals that have taken place here and find out why some Coronations didn’t exactly go to plan!
This walk can be combined with internal visits to Westminster Abbey , the Royal Mews (which houses the Queen’s carriages and horses), and in the late summer months, Buckingham Palace itself.
If you’re interested in visiting any of the Royal Palaces, see the ‘Castles & Royal Palaces’ section for further ideas. I’d be very happy to suggest a tour that combines visits to two or three of these attractions. Plus, in the late summer months, both Buckingham Palace and Clarence House (the London residence of the Prince of Wales), open to visitors and although there is no Guiding at either, I’d be happy to accompany you on tours of these as part of a wider Royal London tour.
This 2-hour walk will take us into the heart of the City of London often known as the Square Mile. It’s London’s most historic quarter and yet today it’s a world leading financial centre, where the major banks write business worth trillions every day and where the glass skyscrapers are in a race to the sky.
However, there are still plenty of traces of the old city and we’ll discover its hidden passageways, courtyards and stunning Victorian markets. We’ll walk in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, exploring the narrow alleyways where he set scenes from his celebrated novel A Christmas Carol and see the Tavern where he regularly took lunch and the Chop House where his descendants still meet to this day. The walk finishes at St Paul’s Cathedral.
I also do an alternative version of this walk starting in Smithfield which takes in the Old Bailey (our central criminal court) and weaves in the opposite direction across the City.
British pubs are unique, there is nothing quite like them to be found anywhere else in the world. This tour gives you a chance to visit some of London’s most historic and frankly fabulous pubs. We’ll start with a wonderful example of a London Victorian public house which boasts one of the most impressive pub interiors in the whole of the capital.
Once we’ve warmed up it’s off to a 1549 Tavern that hosted secret Catholic services during the heart of the Reformation. Then we’ll cut through the historic Inns of Court to enjoy the hospitality of its quirky pubs, before finishing in the London pub that everyone should pay at least one visit to.
This 2-hour walk of Jewish London takes you into the heart of the East End – an area shaped by centuries of immigration, but particularly by waves of Jewish settlers who arrived in the hope of making a new life for themselves.
Although they have now largely left the area, and new waves of immigrants have arrived, there are still plenty of traces of Jewish life here. Some are very tangible like the Bagel shops on Brick Lane (two of the best in London!) and the Bevis Marks Synagogue, others are ghosts from the past – former shop signs, long lost tenements and the old Jewish soup kitchen.
On this fascinating walk into London’s past, we’ll explore the legal quarter of London visiting the world-famous Inns of Court where Barristers and Judges have their Chambers. The Inns have changed little over the centuries, it’s like stepping back in time, and yet they are rarely explored. We’ll learn about the Solicitors who look after the Royal family, talk about why Barristers wear wigs and gowns and see the Royal Courts of Justice where some high profile names have battled it out.
We’ll also explore Fleet Street, see the church that inspired the wedding cake, learn about the Old Bailey (the main criminal court in this country), and then finish by heading to Smithfield, once the scene of many brutal executions and where men once sold their wives! You will see parts of London you didn’t know existed and even if you’re not interested in legal matters, you’ll find this walk entertaining and different!
This 2.5-hour walk will start in the heart of Bloomsbury where we’ll see places associated with the Bloomsbury Group, George Orwell, T S Eliot and W B Yeats. We’ll walk one of the best preserved Georgian streets in London and pause outside the moving Foundling Museum, where, heartbreakingly, babies and young children were taken by mothers no longer able to look after them.
We’ll then see the only surviving house that Charles Dickens lived in, and the church where Ted Hughes married Sylvia Plath. We’ll head through the Inns of Court towards the house where Samuel Johnson compiled his famous dictionary, and we’ll end at the most famous pub in Fleet Street, known for its many literary connections.
London has oodles of markets, everything from antique & vintage markets to fashion & food. If you like your markets, street or otherwise, this is the place to come. We can do a tour of any of the markets, although be prepared to do a fair bit of hopping around London.
Here’s some of the best . . .
Borough: If you’re a foodie, then this is the market for you. Producers from across the world stack their stalls high with everything from cured meats to fine cheeses to artisan bread. The southern side of the market mainly focuses on fresh produce to take home, whilst the northern half is where you’ll find street food traders selling hot pies, salt beef beigels and vegetarian wraps. Best of all though are meringues the size of your head. Open sort of daily, but the main market only really gets into swing from Wednesday-Saturday. Best days to go if you’re not a fan of crowds are Thursday and Friday.
Camden: One of London’s most famous markets, and definitely aimed at a younger crowd, here’s where you’ll find clubwear, alternative fashion, jewellery and independent designers. It’s a biggie, there’s well over 200 shops and stalls hustling for space in what is a bit of a maze, but well worth exploring. Open daily.
Covent Garden: Covent Garden has got to be one of London’s prettiest and liveliest markets, packed with numerous stalls selling handmade goods and gifts, including clothes, jewellery and prints. The make-up of the stalls differs throughout the week and on Mondays, things take a shift towards antiques and collectables. Lots of street performers keep the crowds entertained and there is no shortage of boutique shops nearby selling everything from shoes to chocolate to perfume.
Greenwich: Tucked away in the heart of Greenwich is one of London’s quirkiest covered markets. Thursdays and Fridays are the best days to go if you’re looking for antiques and collectibles whilst other days put the focus more on arts & crafts, with an ‘Artist Quarter’ at the week-end. It’s not big, but it has bags of character and is definitely worth seeing if you’re in Greenwich. Open daily.
Portobello Road: Already famous, but made even more famous by the film Notting Hill, Portobello Road is probably the world’s best known street market with a history stretching back over 150 years. It’s famous for its antique and bric-a-brac stalls and shops, but it also features a fab selection of fashion, crafts, books and music. Hundreds of traders sell everything, old and new, and there’s plenty of street food to provide the fuel. Without a doubt, best visited on Saturdays when the famous antiques market fills the streets.
Spitalfields: Spitalfields Market can be found in a fabulous Victorian Market Hall in the heart of the East End. There’s plenty to keep you entertained here from antiques and fashion to hand-crafted toys. The market is well known for its up and coming designers and its Bohemian vibe and often has great vintage clothes and accessories. It’s surrounded by streetfood stalls and a clutch of well-known chain restaurants, as well as numerous achingly cool independent shops, selling everything from furniture to brand name cosmetics.
William Shakespeare might have been born in Stratford-upon-Avon, but it was London where he spent most of his working life, both as an actor and a playwright. Today of course, the streets of London are very different to the ones Shakespeare would have known (less smelly for a start), but it is still possible to make a connection with his past and on this walk weaving through the City and across the Thames to the South Bank and the Globe, we’ll seek out what traces remain of his life and times and find out how he still very much influences our lives today.
On this fascinating two-hour walk around Covent Garden and Soho, we’ll learn more about the women from all walks of life who simply refused to play by the rules. We’ll explore the streets where Prostitutes & Courtesans once moved among the crowds, where a Directory listing their best assets became a best seller and where they often paid a high price for their unorthodox lifestyles.
We’ll trace the lives of those who defied convention, including the witty Royal mistress who became a London heroine, the scandalous actress who shocked high society and the now-famous female musician who attempted to be lead singer of The Clash. Along the way, we’ll discover why two Sopranos had an almighty bust-up, how Gin led women to neglect their children and what happens in Soho when darkness falls.
It won’t be all about women behaving badly, we may find some that behaved not quite so badly, but either way, you’ll be entertained by their absorbing stories and their incredible lives!
I regularly do coach pano commentaries across London, so if you’re organising a coach visit to London and would like to offer those onboard a guided tour, please get in touch.
I’m happy to meet clients at any of the main airports serving London/South East and offer them a highlights tour of central London before assisting them in checking into their hotel. Please note, I’m not a Driver Guide so would require separate transportation arrangements to be made.
If you’re new to London, how about an orientation session to introduce you to life in the city? These are particularly useful for international students coming to study in London or people coming to live/work in the city for the first time. These 1-hour sessions cover a range of things to help you understand London’s transport systems, the best places to eat and shop, where to get reduced price theatre tickets, plus some helpful tips and cultural insights to get you off to a head start.