If you’re jetting off on holiday soon, you’ve no doubt started to think about your itinerary, and the most effective (and painless) ways to tick as many things off your list as possible. After all, if you’re going to somewhere for the first time, you’re sure to want to experience all the sights, sounds and flavours your new destination has to offer.
If you’re heading to London, you’ll be pleased to know it’s super easy to get around the city, with many of the city’s top sights and attractions within a decent range of each other. You may have also thought about killing multiple birds with one stone with a tour – they’re a great way to learn about the city from those who know it best. And, if you opt for a bus or river tour, they’re a great way to experience lots of different attractions within an hour or two, without even leaving your seat – perfect if you overindulged at your bed and breakfast London!
However, after a bit of research, you’ll see how many different options there are out there. And if you’re on a budget, you’ll see that a few of them can be quite pricey. So as well as helping you to manage your spends, you need to choose one that is right for you and what you want to get out of the experience. We’ve put together a mini-guide for the three top tour options in London, to hopefully help make your decision a little easier.
Bus tours have become synonymous with the world’s most visited cities, and London is certainly no different. When exploring the capital’s top attractions, you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot a tour bus or two.
Although some travellers may feel they’re a little cliched and dated, it’s worth suspending this belief and giving them a go, as you’ll be walking a lot in London and are sure to appreciate the rest. They’ll take you through the most iconic streets, with your conductor pointing out key landmarks, offering fun facts along the way.
There are bus stops to hop on and off throughout the city providing easy access to and from Park Grand London Lancaster Gate. This is one of the key advantages of this type of tour, as they offer a lot of flexibility. Due to the hop-on, hop-off nature of some of the most popular options, some travel-savvy tourists even use them as a bit of a taxi to tick off all the things on their itinerary.
For those who want to discover London from a whole other perspective, a riverboat tour down the river Thames is a great option (and will soon have you feeling like you’re in a film!).
Whether you’re heading to a particular spot along the river, or simply want to go along for the ride, you’re guaranteed to get the best view of London’s most popular landmarks from the river. Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral and The O2 are just some of the diverse attractions facing the banks of the famous river. So it’s no surprise that this is a popular choice with tourists looking for a sightseeing experience with a twist.
One thing that is worth noting about this option is that, like pretty much every experience in London, they can get super busy. In fact, with some of the big operators, you’ll need to book tickets online in advance, so they’re not quite as flexible as the other two options. If you’re heading on an open-aired boat, be sure to stock the sun cream and lots of water, as you may end up getting super warm, too.
Some boats also have restaurants, bars or cafes on board, if you haven’t filled up at your afternoon tea or Indian tea, or chocolate afternoon tea.
Walking tours in London are great as they’re the most diverse way to discover the city, its history and inhabitants. As well as the standard, tourist-friendly sightseeing tours, lead by guides covering a multitude of languages, there are a million and one different special interest tours to delight and excite tourists and locals alike. From Harry Potter walking tours that explore the set and inspiration of the books and movies, to graffiti tours in the hip area of Shoreditch, to London’s black history, and even tours discovering the city’s significant toilets, there truly is a walking tour for everyone.
Think they’re just for the grownups? Think again! Lots of the best tour operators now provide excellent, mini-adventures for young London explorers, and an exciting introduction to the magic of the city. The guides will be armed with jokes, games and activities to keep your little ones entertained and to help them learn a lot about the capital. They’ll be so busy, they won’t even moan about their feet hurting!
Just make sure you’re near one of the top restaurants in Lancaster for when they do…
Other ways to see the city
As well as these three, key tour options, there are of course other great ways to see the city.
Grab a Santander bike and travel the streets and pathways of London in a way that other tours can’t – on a guided biking tour that takes you to some of the most popular sights the capital has to offer.
Not afraid of heights? Then you have to take a ride on the iconic London Eye observation wheel. You’ll get incredible 360-degree panoramic views of the city from your glass-enclosed pod. At the highest point of the wheel, you’ll be 443-meters above ground. Each pod is fitted with interactive touch screens that highlight information about sights you’ll be able to see during your ride.
Another great option for those who want to see the city from new heights is the Emirates Airline. Take to the air on London’s only cable car and enjoy a truly unique experience in east London. It crosses the River Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, only five minutes away from the O2 by North Greenwich Tube station.