As a sprawling, multicultural metropolis, London truly offers something for every type of traveler and a variety of ways to experience its top attractions. To help you see all the sights, U.S. News compiled the city’s top tours, taking into account traveler sentiment and expert opinion. Whether you vacation by adventure or learn about a city through its food, you’ll find a London tour to suit your needs on this list.
Secret Food Tours – London Bridge
On this roughly three-hour London Bridge food tour, you’ll visit seven different eateries, sampling everything from sausage rolls to sticky toffee pudding. You’ll start at bustling Borough Market, where you’ll snack on a bacon and egg bap 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 always 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. Participants appreciate the quantity and quality of food provided, as well as the entertaining guides. The tour costs approximately 80 pounds (about $99) for adults, 75 pounds (about $92) for teens and 70 pounds (about $86) for kids 12 and younger. Tours depart twice a day in the morning and afternoon; exact times may vary by month. Secret Food Tours also offers tours of the Shoreditch district, among other areas.
BrakeAway Bike Tours – The Secret London Bike Tour
The 3 1/2-hour Secret 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 mid-March through October at 3 p.m. Tour prices, which include bikes, helmets and rain ponchos, start at 24 pounds (about $30) for adults and 19 pounds (about $24) for students and children ages 10 to 17. Groups are capped at 12 participants. For a more traditional tour of London, consider the company’s Grand London Bike Tour.
Liquid History Tours – Drink London Tour
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 guides share about as much as they enjoy drinking local brews. Three- to four-hour tours run daily at 2 p.m. and cost about 25 pounds (about $30) per person. The cost of drinks is not included. Participants must be at least 18 years old. Traveling with a group? Liquid History Tours also offers private excursions.
The Ghost Bus Tours
Hop aboard 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 will 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. Tickets start at 24 pounds (about $30) for adults and 16 pounds (around $20) for children and teens ages 5 to 15.
London Bicycle Tour Company – The Gold Classic Tour
Travelers consistently give the London Bicycle Tour Company high marks for its fun guides who are vigilant about ensuring riders’ safety. On the 3 1/2-hour Gold Classic Tour – which travels about 8 miles – you’ll breeze past Westminster Abbey, Covent Garden and Buckingham Palace, and possibly even see the changing of the guard (depending on the schedule). 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 10:40 a.m. and tickets start at around 40 pounds (about $50) for adults and 30 pounds (roughly $36) for children ages 10 to 17. If you’re hoping to admire the city lights at night, consider the company’s daily sunset ride.
(Courtesy of Alternative London)
Alternative London – Street Art Walking Tour
Promising to show you things London guidebooks don’t review, Alternative London’s 90-minute 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. Tours run Tuesday and Friday through Sunday. Weekday tours typically depart at 2 p.m.; weekend tours depart at 11 a.m. Tours are limited to 10 people. Tickets start at 18 pounds (about $22) for adults, with discounts for seniors and children. Looking to explore more of London’s hidden spots? Alternative London offers bike and pub tours that also emphasize street art.
The English Bus – Stonehenge, Bath & A Secret Place Tour
After you’ve gotten your fill of London’s hustle, take a daytrip to the countryside. On this small tour of 16 people or fewer, you’ll be picked up in 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 start at 114 pounds (about $140) and 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.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
Dive deep into the world of “Harry Potter” at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at sets, props and costumes used in the wildly popular movies. Walk through the Great Hall – which is set for dinner – wander around trees that were used in the Forbidden Forest, and walk through the Hogwarts Express. Other exhibits include Diagon Alley, costumes, such as Quidditch uniforms and Yule Ball dresses, and much more. You can even enjoy a butterbeer in the Backlot Café. Special exhibits are also displayed throughout the year and around the holidays. Travelers say this is a must-do activity for fans of the film franchise. Plan to spend at least half a day to fully experience the collection and discover its intricate details. Tickets start at approximately 50 pounds (around $62) for adults and around 40 pounds (around $50) for children ages 5 to 15.
City Experiences by Hornblower – Evening Cruise on the River Thames
City Experiences offers a gorgeous way to end your day in London on its Evening Cruise. Once you board, a server will greet you with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine. A singer on board provides the background music while you take in the sights along the Thames. You can sit on the open-air upstairs deck or inside the saloon with picture windows. Also included with your ticket are hors d’oeuvres, served throughout the two-hour cruise. Travelers enjoy the trip, saying 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) and tickets start at 33 pounds (about $40). Patrons must be age 13 or older to cruise. City Experiences offers a wide range of river cruises, including a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing cruise.
(Courtesy of Jack the Ripper Tour)
The Jack the Ripper Tour With Ripper Vision
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 approximately two-hour tour allowing the guides to show, as well as tell, all about the gruesome serial killer. You’ll visit the actual murder sites where you’ll learn about all of Jack the Ripper’s victims and 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. Tickets start at 15 pounds (about $19) for adults ages 17 and older and 9 pounds (around $11) for children ages 10 to 16. The company also offers Jack the Ripper pub tours.
Eating Europe – East End London Walking Food Tour
Eating Europe’s East End food tour is a 3 1/2-hour exploration of one of London’s more diverse and interesting neighborhoods. Participants will enjoy food at six restaurants, pubs, markets, bakeries and shops. Along with classic fish and chips, you’ll also sample curry, a salted caramel tart and bagels. Along the way, your guide will point out amazing street art, Roman burial grounds and more. 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 Thursday through Tuesday, departing at 11 a.m. Tickets start at 89 pounds (about $110) for adults; 69 pounds (roughly $85) for teens ages 13 to 17; and 55 pounds (around $68) for children ages 4 to 12. Eating Europe also offers tours of Soho and Borough Market.
Fat Tire Tours – Royal London Bike Tour
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. Tickets start at 28 pounds (about $35) for adults and 24 pounds (approximately $30) for students and children. Fat Tire Tours also offers cycling tours along the Thames, bike rentals and private tours.
Evan Evans Tours – Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath
The first stop on this daytrip 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 for 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 some 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. Tickets, which cover the entrance fees to Stonehenge, start at 85 pounds (about $105) for adults and 75 pounds (about $92) for children ages 3 to 16. Evan Evans Tours also operates a similar tour that stops in Oxford instead of Bath.
(Courtesy of Brigit’s Bakery’s Afternoon Tea Bus Tour)
Brigit’s Bakery’s Afternoon Tea Bus London Tour
Offering a unique twist on both a bus tour and afternoon tea, Brigit’s Bakery’s Afternoon Tea Bus London Tour combines both 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. Most enjoyed the food, but some expressed disappointment with the quality of the sandwiches. In addition to the tour’s novelty, visitors find the prerecorded commentary entertaining and informative. However, some complained the commentary can be difficult to hear at times. Tours, which last about 90 minutes, run several times daily and depart from either Northumberland Avenue or Victoria Coach Station. Tickets start at 45 pounds (about $55) for adults and 35 pounds (around $43) for children. 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.
Tally Ho! – Landmarks and Gems Tour
On the 3 1/2-hour 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. (there may only be an afternoon ride during the fall and winter months). Tickets start at 39 pounds (about $48). Tally Ho! offers a variety of cycling and walking tours, including a gin “safari.”
Premium Tours – Full Day London Tour
On Premium Tours’ daylong excursion, which lasts about 8 1/2 hours, you’ll take a guided tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral 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 a 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. Tickets for this London bus tour start at 108 pounds (about $133) for adults and 98 pounds (around $120) for children ages 3 to 16. 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.
Thames Rockets – Ultimate London Adventure
Do you have a need for speed? 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 exhilarating and exciting. Tickets start at 41.95 pounds (roughly $51) for adults and 36.95 pounds (approximately $45) for children ages 14 and younger. Tours cruise several times daily. Keep in mind: From November to February 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.
(Courtesy of Tour for Muggles)
Tour for Muggles
This tour 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. Tickets cost approximately 16 pounds (about $20) for adults and 14 pounds (about $17) for children ages 11 and younger.
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 1/2-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 Shoreditch 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. Tickets start at 70 pounds (about $86).
Strawberry Tours – Free Soho Walking Tour
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 also take you by Chinatown, 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, Friday and Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Tickets, while free, 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
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’ interest. Visitors can name their own price, paying what they think the tour was worth at the excursion’s conclusion. Tours operate Friday at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Reservations, while free, 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.