Tuesday, June 18, 2024

21 Best London Tours of 2024


If you’re looking for the best things to do in London but unsure where to begin, consider a guided tour of the city. Many sightseeing excursions cover the highlights (think Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge), while other London tours focus on Harry Potter, Jack the Ripper and day trips to Stonehenge. Read on to discover a variety of well-rated tours in London.

Secret Food Tours – London Bridge

Price: Adults from 79 pounds (about $100); kids from 69 pounds (about $88)
Duration: 3 to 3.5 hours

British food often gets a bad reputation, but this tour will change your mind. You’ll visit seven different eateries, sampling everything from sausage rolls to sticky toffee pudding.

The tour begins at bustling Borough Market, where you’ll snack on a bacon and egg bap (the U.K. version of a breakfast sandwich) as your guide tells you about the history of the market, as well as an overview of the city’s history and culture. Other stops include a historic pub for a cheese tasting paired with English cider. And – as is standard on a Secret Food Tour – there will be a secret dish offered somewhere along the way. As you eat your way through London, you’ll also enjoy great views of the city skyline, London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Past participants appreciate the quantity and quality of food provided, as well as the entertaining guides.

Tours depart several times a day between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Secret Food Tours also offers tours of the Shoreditch district, among other areas.

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BrakeAway Bike Tours – The Secret London Bike Tour

Price: Adults from 32 pounds (about $41); kids from 26 pounds (about $33)
Duration: 3.5 hours

This London bike tour leads riders past famous sights, such as the Tower of London and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, but also explores lesser-known features of the city, including its street art and secret passageways. It also includes a 20-minute stop at Brick Lane. Reviewers extol the fun guides and say the tour is ideal if you want a break from the tourist crowds. Plus, they say it’s a great value for the money.

Tours are offered daily from late March through October at 3 p.m. Tour prices include bikes, helmets and rain ponchos. Children 9 and younger are not permitted on the tour, and groups are capped at 12 participants. For a more traditional tour of London, consider the company’s Grand London Bike Tour.

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Liquid History Tours – Drink London Tour

Price: From 25 pounds (about $32)
Duration: 3 to 4 hours

If the idea of walking – and drinking – in the footsteps of literary luminaries like Shakespeare and Dickens appeals, this is the tour for you. On the Drink London Tour, you’ll walk along the “Street of Shame” (Fleet Street) for approximately 2 miles and stop in at least four historic pubs, some centuries old. You’ll stroll by St. Paul’s Cathedral, peek into secluded courtyards and listen to tales about Sweeney Todd. Travelers love the stories the guides share just as much as they enjoy drinking the local brews.

Note that the cost of drinks is not included, and reservations are required for this tour. Participants must be at least 18 years old. If you’re traveling with a group, consider one of Liquid History Tours’ private excursions.

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The Ghost Bus Tours

Price: Adults from 25 pounds (about $32); kids from 17 pounds (about $22)
Duration: 75 minutes

Ride a vintage double-decker bus for a spooky peek into London’s lesser-known history with Ghost Bus Tours. Mixing horror with a fair bit of comedy – an aspect reviewers love – the actors-turned-guides describe the haunted history of top attractions, such as the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, among other famous landmarks. Both visitors and locals value the obscure stories guides share.

Tours last approximately 75 minutes and run several times each evening, though departure times vary by day.

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London Bicycle Tour Company – The Classic Tour

Price: Adults from 33.95 pounds (about $43); kids from 24.95 pounds (about $32)
Duration: 3 hours

Travelers consistently give the London Bicycle Tour Company high marks for its fun guides who are vigilant about ensuring riders’ safety. On the Classic Tour – which travels about 8 miles – you’ll breeze past Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Banksy Tunnel (where you’ll likely witness artists at work) and other local landmarks. Your tour guide will offer commentary and give you plenty of time to stop and take photos. Children need to be at least 10 years old and stable riders to participate.

Tours are offered daily at 10:30 a.m. To admire the city lights at night, consider the company’s daily sunset ride.

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Street art in London

Courtesy of Alternative London

Alternative London – Street Art Walking Tour

Price: Adults from 20 pounds ($25); kids from 14 pounds (about $18)
Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours

Promising to show you things London guidebooks don’t cover, Alternative London’s walking tour takes you to East London, where guides showcase the area’s street art and discuss its culture and history. The company employs street artists and other creative types as guides so you get an insider’s look into the community, something travelers say makes the tour unique. No two tours are alike because every guide has their favorite route and spots to highlight. Past tourgoers say the tour is fun and full of interesting insights.

Tours run at 11 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays, as well as 2 p.m. on Fridays. Outings are limited to 20 people. Looking to explore more of London’s hidden spots? Alternative London offers a bike tour that emphasizes street art.

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The English Bus – Stonehenge, Bath & A Secret Place Tour

Price: From 134 pounds (about $170)
Duration: 12 hours

After you’ve had your fill of London’s hustle, take a day trip to the countryside for a tour of Stonehenge. On this small tour of 16 people or fewer, you’ll depart London in a Mercedes minibus and head to both Stonehenge and Bath. At Stonehenge, you’ll have time to walk around the ancient stones and marvel at their enormity. In Bath, you’ll have time to stop for lunch and either explore on your own or take a guided tour. The twist to this tour is that you’ll also visit a secret spot on the way back to London, which is only revealed when you arrive.

The English Bus’s vehicle, with panoramic windows and a glass roof, is small enough to go down back roads and through the countryside – a feature travelers love. Reviewers are also complimentary of the guides, who they describe as friendly, educational and well-versed in British history.

Tours depart daily at 8:45 a.m. and return to central London around 8:30 p.m. Tickets do not include food, drinks or admission to Stonehenge. The English Bus also operates daylong trips to the Cotswolds, Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon, among other destinations.

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Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

Price: Adults from 53.50 pounds ($68); kids from 43 pounds ($55)
Duration: 3.5 to 7 hours

If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you already know that this London tour is a must – and previous tourgoers confirm it lives up to the hype. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter offers a behind-the-scenes look at sets, props and costumes used in the film franchise. Walk through the Great Hall – which is set for dinner – and explore Diagon Alley and Platform 9 3/4. Other exhibits include Creature Effects, where you can see how characters like Buckbeak the Hippogriff and Aragog were brought to life. You can even enjoy a butterbeer in the Backlot Café. Special exhibits are also displayed throughout the year and around the holidays.

Plan to spend at least half a day to fully experience the collection and discover its intricate details. Themed packages and add-on experiences are also available. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

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City Experiences – Evening Cruise on the River Thames

Price: From 30 pounds (about $38)
Duration: 2 hours

City Experiences offers evening cruises on the River Thames, a lovely way to end your day in London. Upon boarding, a server greets you with a complimentary glass of prosecco, and hors d’oeuvres are served throughout the two-hour cruise. You’ll enjoy live background music as you take in the sights from your seat on the open-air upstairs deck or inside the saloon with picture windows. Previous travelers say they enjoyed the cruise, noting it is relaxing and affords spectacular views for photos.

In the warm weather months, cruises run daily at 6:30 p.m.; beginning in October, cruises are available Thursday through Sunday only. Patrons must be age 13 or older to join the tour. Other London river cruises offered by City Experiences include a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing cruise.

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Jack the Ripper tour in London

Courtesy of Jack the Ripper Tour

The Jack the Ripper Tour With Ripper-Vision

Price: Adults from 18 pounds (about $23); kids from 10 pounds (about $13)
Duration: 2 hours

This offbeat Jack the Ripper tour has a unique spin: the company uses what it calls “Ripper-Vision” to tell the story of the notorious murderer. A hand-held projector, “Ripper-Vision” displays pictures on walls and sides of buildings throughout the tour, allowing the guides to show (and tell) all about the infamous serial killer. You’ll visit the actual murder sites where Jack the Ripper commited his crimes, and will get a glimpse of what London was like in the late 1800s. Tourgoers say guides are informative, entertaining and skilled at retelling the stories of Jack the Ripper’s escapades.

Tours are offered nightly at 7:30 p.m., with an additional 5 p.m. tour on select days. The company also offers Jack the Ripper pub tours.

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Eating Europe – East End Food Tour

Price: Adults from 85 pounds (about $108); kids from 70 pounds (about $89)
Duration: 3.5 hours

Eating Europe’s East End food tour is a 3.5-hour exploration of one of London’s most diverse and interesting neighborhoods. Participants will enjoy food at six restaurants, pubs, markets, bakeries and shops. Along with classic (and award-winning) fish and chips, you’ll also sample some of the city’s best curry, bagels and pastries. Reviewers rave about the delicious and varied offerings on this tour and encourage future participants to pace themselves so they can enjoy every bite.

Tours run throughout the day, every day, beginning at 11 a.m. There is a maximum of 12 people per tour. Eating Europe also offers tours of Soho and Borough Market.

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Fat Tire Tours – Royal London Bike Tour

Price: Adults from 35 pounds (about $44); kids from 29 pounds (about $37)
Duration: 4 hours

Fascinated with the monarchy? On this approximately four-hour cycling excursion from Fat Tire Tours, expert guides lead you to spots like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Kensington Palace, all while sharing intrigue and stories about British royalty. Midway through the tour, there is a half-hour lunch break near Trafalgar Square (at your own expense). Bikers say the tour provides a great way to see iconic sights and describe guides as informative and friendly.

Rides are offered daily at 10:30 a.m.; an additional 3:30 p.m. tour may also be available depending on the day and month. Schedules vary during the winter. Travelers should note reservations are required for this tour, and helmets are provided. Fat Tire Tours also offers cycling tours along the Thames, bike rentals and private tours.

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Evan Evans Tours – Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath

Price: Adults from 95 pounds (about $121); kids from 85 pounds (about $108)
Duration: 11 hours

The first stop on this day trip from London is Windsor Castle – the largest occupied castle in the world. Here, you’ll have time to stroll the immaculate grounds and pay a visit to St George’s Chapel, the location of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2018 nuptials. From there, you’ll head to the city of Bath, England – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s home to the world-famous Roman Baths. The last stop of the day is Stonehenge. In all, the tour lasts about 11 hours. Reviewers rave about the entertaining, passionate guides, but some do bemoan the pace of the tour, saying certain parts felt rushed. However, all agree this is a great way to cross some must-see landmarks off your bucket list.

Tours depart Victoria Coach Station daily at 8 a.m. Evan Evans Tours also operates a similar tour that stops in Oxford instead of Bath.

Brigit's Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour in London

Courtesy of Brigit’s Bakery’s Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

Brigit’s Bakery London – Classic Afternoon Tea Bus London Tour

Price: Adults from 45 pounds (about $57); kids from 35 pounds (about $44)
Duration: 1.5 hours

Offering a unique twist on a bus tour and afternoon tea, Brigit’s Bakery London’s Classic Afternoon Tea Bus London Tour combines the two for a tasty outing. During the tour, you’ll ride on a vintage double-decker Routemaster bus through central London, passing by Big Ben, Hyde Park, Downing Street and more. As you sightsee, servers pour tea and offer sandwiches, cakes and pastries. In addition to the tour’s novelty, visitors find the prerecorded commentary entertaining and informative, and most say they enjoyed the food.

Tours, which last about 90 minutes, run several times daily and depart from either Northumberland Avenue or Victoria Coach Station. The tour accommodates several dietary restrictions, though these options may have an additional fee. Children ages 4 and younger are not permitted. Prefer gin to tea? The company also offers a Gin Lovers Afternoon Tea Bus Tour, among other options.

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Tally Ho! – Landmarks and Gems Royal London Bike Tour

Price: From 55 pounds (about $70)
Duration: 3.5 hours

On the London Landmarks & Gems cycling tour, Tally Ho! leads visitors to the city’s major sights, while expert guides offer their insights and informative commentary – a point of praise for many reviewers. Other highlights include seeing the royal guards (and possibly the changing of the guard ceremony), spray painting in the Leake Street tunnel and grabbing a pint at a pub. The tour covers about 5 miles and travels at a leisurely pace, with time for photo stops.

Tours ride twice daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., though times may vary seasonally. There may only be an afternoon ride during the fall and winter months, and an additional tour at 9:30 a.m. runs during the summer months. There is a maximum of 12 people per tour. A helmet or tweed flat cap and spray paint are provided to bikers. Tally Ho! offers a variety of cycling and walking tours, including a gin “safari.”

Premium Tours – Full Day London Tour

Price: Adults from 123 pounds (about $156); kids from 113 pounds (about $144)
Duration: 9 hours

On Premium Tours’ daylong excursion, which lasts about nine hours, you’ll take a guided tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral and then hopefully catch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (if the timing and weather are right). After you refuel with lunch (at your own expense), you’ll journey to the Tower of London to view the crown jewels. Your day ends with a cruise down the Thames and an optional ride on the London Eye. Tour-takers are chauffeured to each landmark in a comfortable bus. While it is a long day, visitors say it is a great way to cover a lot of ground. Plus, they say guides are knowledgeable, humorous and friendly.

Premium Tours also offers a Magic of London tour with a similar itinerary; however, you’ll stop for a cream tea at Harrods instead of a ride on the London Eye.

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Thames Rockets – Ultimate London Adventure

Price: From 49.95 pounds ($63)
Duration: 50 minutes

The 50-minute Ultimate London Adventure tour is a sightseeing cruise like no other. As your actor-turned-guide narrates your trip, you’ll take in iconic sights along the Thames, such as the Tate Modern, the Gherkin and the Houses of Parliament. Once you get under the Tower Bridge, the speedboat captain ramps up to speeds of 30 knots (35 mph) and takes you on a thrilling ride as the music blasts and passengers shriek. Tourgoers describe it as an exhilarating, fantastic experience.

Tours depart several times daily. Keep in mind: From November through January tours are only offered Thursday through Sunday. Thames Rockets also offers adults-only evening rides, as well as longer 80-minute cruises, among other options.

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Best London Tours

Courtesy of Tour for Muggles

Tour for Muggles

Price: Adults from 17 pounds (about $22); kids from 15 pounds (about $19)
Duration: 2 hours

One of the best Harry Potter tours in London, this option garners rave reviews from witches, wizards, Muggles and Squibs who appreciate both the knowledgeable tour guides and seeing their favorite “Harry Potter” locations in real life. Tour for Muggles takes visitors through London for approximately two hours to see locations where the movies were shot, as well as places that inspired author J.K. Rowling.

Tours are limited to 20 people and run several times a day Tuesday through Sunday.

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Gin Journey London

Price: From 75 pounds (about $95)
Duration: 4.5 hours

If you enjoy imbibing in gin, you’ll love taking a tour with Gin Journey, where your expert “gin guardian” takes you to five different venues in London in a chauffeur-driven minibus. During the 4.5-hour tour, you’ll sample five different gins, enjoy five gin cocktails, visit a distillery and learn all about this spirit and why it’s having a modern renaissance. Reviewers praise the guides, the drinks and the tour’s great organization.

Gin Journeys can be booked in different neighborhoods, including Hackney and Soho. Tours, which are capped at 20 people, are offered every Saturday at 1 or 2 p.m., depending on which neighborhood you choose to book. Ticket discounts may be available for early bookings.

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Strawberry Tours – Free Soho Tour London

Price: Free
Duration: 2 hours

Since the mid-19th century, Soho has been a haven for musicians, writers and bohemians. Learn about the neighborhood’s famous residents and much more on this free two-hour London walking tour. Your guide will talk about famous bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and their connection to the area. You’ll also learn about the history of Soho’s sex industry, a topic not always discussed on tours. Guides will take you by the Old Red Light District, Carnaby Street, the West End Theatre District and more. Tourgoers rave about the expert guides and are awestruck by the history of the area.

As its name suggests, the tour is free, but at the end of tour, you can pay your guide what you wish. This tour runs Wednesday through Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Tickets must be reserved in advance. Strawberry Tours offers other free excursions around London, such as street art-themed tours and several London landmarks tours.

Free Tours by Foot – World War Two Tour of London

Price: Free
Duration: 2 hours

On this two-hour walking tour of London, you’ll learn about London during the Blitz, hear tales of how the city was rebuilt after the war and walk past landmarks that survived the bombings, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral. Tour-takers value the engaging guides and the amount of history shared on the tour. They also say guides tailor the tour to participants’ interests.

Visitors can name their own price, paying what they think the tour was worth at the excursion’s conclusion. Tours operate Thursday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Reservations are required to guarantee a spot. Free Tours by Foot offers a variety of walking and food tours, including tours of Westminster and London street art, among many others.

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