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The cosmopolitan city of London is full of stunning architecture, old-world traditions and modern culture blending together to offer something for every traveler. Thore’s classic icons include Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, beautiful parks such as Hyde Park and St. James, as well as plenty of charming British pubs. Not sure what to see and do when you're in town? From boat cruises on the Thames, biking tours, walking tours, and day trips to the outlying areas, these London tours will give you a taste of all that city has to offer.
Best Overall: Buckingham Palace Tour with Changing of the Guard Ceremony
Watching the traditional changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace is a must when in London, and on this 4.5-hour you’ll get to experience this event, as well as other quintessential British traditions. The package combines three major attractions: the changing of the guard (including fantastic photo opportunities), a tour of the State Apartments and traditional afternoon tea. The guided tour passes through St. James Park before stopping to watch the guard ceremony with soldiers dressed in traditional uniforms, followed by entry into Buckingham Palace for an audio tour. After, travelers will head to a luxury hotel (Rubens at the Palace or St Ermin’s Hotel in central London) for traditional afternoon tea, scones and sandwiches.
Best Film Tour: Warner Bros. Studio Making of Harry Potter Tour
Experience the movie magic of Harry Potter with a behind-the-scenes look at Warner Bros Studio with the seven-hour, Making of Harry Potter Tour. The popular film series about magic and wizards grossed around $7 billion, with much of the movies taking place in and around London. The comfortable Mercedes coach bus departs London Victoria to Warner Brothers Studios where you’ll spend four hours exploring the studio and viewing some of the films’ most memorable sets. Experience Professor Dumbledore’s office, Diagon Alley and the Ministry of Magic, plus the famous Platform 9 ¾ and the original Hogwarts Express train, as well as a number of costumes used in the production. Bring your own snacks or lunch – it’s not included in the price.
Best Night Tour: Jack the Ripper Tour with Ripper Vision
For a fun, and slightly spooky nighttime activity, consider the Jack the Ripper Tour with “Ripper Vision,” an hour-and-45-minute walking tour that follows the mysterious story of serial killer, “Jack the Ripper.” In 1888, a series of violent (unsolved) murders occurred in the Whitechapel district that is still the subject of much speculation as to who the killer was. The story has also been turned into several popular films, and visitors to London can explore the eerie, dimly-lit streets retracing the clues and murder scenes as the guide tells the tale. Although several Jack the Ripper tours exist in London, the “Ripper Vision” adds another element to help transport guests into that time period with visual slides that are projected onto the walls.
Best Boat Tour: Thames River Sightseeing Cruise with Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea is a British tradition, and to make this casual, elegant experience even more relaxing, you can combine it with a sightseeing cruise of London’s Thames River, the main waterway that flows through the heart of the city. Board a window-lined vessel for an hour-and-a-half voyage from Tower Pier to Westminster that includes traditional tea service with pastries, scones and sandwiches. The boat will float past iconic sites like the Tower of London, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, as well as Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theatre. On the return, feel free to wander the outside deck for photos and listen to informative commentary from the staff.
Best Bike Tour: London Royal Parks Bike Tour
London has some spectacular parks that are perched among the city’s most famous attractions and a guided bike tour is a fun and relaxing way to cover a lot of ground quickly and experience these lovely public spaces. The four-hour, morning or afternoon bike tour begins in Central London where bicycles and helmets are issued, followed by a leisurely ride through Westminster to the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben with narration from the tour guide followed by bustling Trafalgar Square. Next, the ride heads to all four Royal Parks: Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park and St James's Park. Before returning to the start, riders can visit the Princess Diana Memorial at Kensington Palace.
Best Pub Crawl: Soho Legends and Pub Tour
If you’re looking for a great way to meet fellow travelers, learn some history of London and have a pint or two, consider the Soho Legends and Pub Tour. The 2.5-hour walking tour takes place in SoHo, London’s trendy entertainment district where many famous musicians and celebrities have lived and worked. It begins in Picadilly Circus where the group of no more than 12 will gather – making it easy for guests to mingle. The tour will stop at several colorful pubs along the route and guides will provide an inside scoop into pop culture icons as they lead the way to clubs where people such as Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Hendrix, Keith Moon and Paul McCartney frequented.
Best Day Trip: Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Oxford Day Trip
If you’re interested in exploring some of the world-famous attractions outside of London, consider booking the Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Oxford Day Trip. The full-day tour departs from London in an air-conditioned bus, spans about nine hours and includes three of England’s architectural gems. The first stop is the Queen’s official residence: Windsor Castle for audio tours and a chance to see the changing of the guard followed be free time to explore the streets of Windsor. Next up is a visit to the mysterious UNESCO site of Stonehenge, followed by a walking tour of the city of Oxford. Along the way, the guide points out historical landmarks and other attractions and provides an in-depth commentary. Food and beverages are not included, but you can pick something up in Windsor.
Best Food Tour: London Food Walking Tour
Sample traditional British fare as well as some creative new culinary works with the 3.5-hour, London Food Walking Tour. The tour begins near the London Bridge as a foodie guide leads the way to local pubs, market stalls, artisan stores and bakeries. Travelers will visit the colorful, Borough Market with more than 100 different stalls selling chocolates, sausages and other tasty treats. Get the inside scoop on current food trends and hear stories about London, while stopping for photos of Tower Bridge and the HMS Belfast – the Royal Navy Cruiser. You’ll also have a chance to try British cheeses, chutneys, cider, beer, tea and fish and chips – a signature British dish.
Best Music Tour: London Rock Music Tour
London is a hotbed for rock and roll legends, and the London Rock Music Tour explores all the famous music sites while keeping the group size to just 16 people. The tour is available for morning, afternoon or full day departures and includes transportation in an air-conditioned bus to legendary sites such as Abbey Road, the Apple headquarters, Jimmy Page's house, Paul McCartney’s house and Ringo Starr’s house. The tour visits famous music venues with connections to artists like Queen, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and more in neighborhoods including Soho, Camden Town, Hampstead and Islington. See where Jimi Hendrix burned his first guitar, where Amy Winehouse lived and died, and walk across the famous Abbey Road.