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Guided tours are a great way to get the feel of an unfamiliar city, or to learn a bit more about your hometown. In London there are a wide range of guided walking tours perfect for those on a tight budget. There are even some fantastic options which wont cost you a penny! If you want to take a gratuity based or free walking tour, keep reading to find out what’s on offer.
On a gratuity-based tour you pay depending on tour quality, and how much you can afford. This means you won’t be paying more for an experience than you think it’s worth. On a free tour you are, of course, not expected to pay anything. However, we suggest giving your guide at least a small tip to show your appreciation for their time.
Three great providers of gratuity based and free walking tours in London are Strawberry Tours, Guru Walks, and Free Tours by Foot. Between them, these three tour companies have a varied and entertaining range of guided walking tours.s
Strawberry Tours currently host nine different free walking tours in London. You don’t have to pay for these tours. You are encouraged, however, to donate an amount of your choosing once the tour has finished.
The traditional landmark tours are a brilliant choice for those who have never been in the city before. On both the “Landmarks Tour West” and “Landmarks Tour East”, you’ll be shown to and taught facts about iconic London structures. For anyone who wants to do something a little bit different, Strawberry Tours also have some amazing themed tours available to choose from!
Jack the Ripper Tour
Jack the Ripper is an infamous serial killer whose identity remains a mystery to this day. There’s a whole range of tours in London dedicated to exploring his gory legacy! On this “Jack the Ripper tour” you’ll go through Whitechapel and see the murder sites of the Ripper’s victims. If you want to learn about the women who were targeted, and uncover the suspects and theories that the police at the time had, then this is the tour for you!
On this two-hour guided walk, you’ll discover Victorian London, walk through the ‘Doors to Hell’, and uncover the full extent of the dark history of this East London area. The tour will end in the Ten Bells pub. Ten Bells is a popular drinking establishment that many of the Ripper’s victims were seen drinking in soon before their deaths.
Sherlock Holmes Tour
The “Sherlock Holmes and the Art of Deduction” free walking tour is a top choice for fans of the fictional detective. The stories of the big-brained super sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, written by Arthur Conan Doyle, have wowed readers for decades. With this tour you’ll learn more about the original creator and author, and about the various popular adaptations of his work.
Fans of the BBC show Sherlock are in for a treat! On this tour you’ll get to see some of the filming locations of popular Sherlock adaptations. This on top of great city highlights like Scotland Yard and London Library will provide you with lots of fantastic photo ops! You’ll also have the chance to visit London’s only Sherlock Holmes pub. The pub is a cosy establishment in the city which houses plenty of Holmes memorabilia!
James Bond Tour
A “James Bond and the History of Espionage” tour is perfect for Bond fans. You can learn about Bond’s origins, and uncover facts about the spy’s creator, Ian Flemming.
This free guided walking tour is also a superb option if you’re interested in finding out about real-life espionage in the city. This includes learning fun facts about the Ministry of Defence and the Secret Service!
Other highlights of this tour include learning strange facts about the popular Corinthia Hotel and seeing top city sights like Westminster Bridge and the Old War Office. You’ll get to stroll past locations that you’ll recognise from various Bond films, and even discover what ‘easter eggs’ were snuck into the films to please fans of the book.
Harry Potter Tour
A “Harry Potter free walking tour” is perfect for Potterheads who want to see great London attractions and streets associated with the popular series. Highlights of this tour include discovering where you can find Harry Potter themed treats such as chocolate frogs, or Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. You’ll even get the opportunity to visit London’s own Diagon Alley!
Other highlights of this tour include discovering Knockturn Alley and visiting JK Rowling’s favourite London streets. You’ll also get to explore the impact of the books and movies on the entertainment scene in the city. On this tour you’ll go past Palace Theatre where the Cursed Child is currently playing, and learn about the Deathly Hallows Part 2 premiere, which was the city’s largest film premiere to date.
The Guru Walks tours are free to book, gratuity-based tours. Though the tour itself is not strictly free, you decide how much to pay. The price will be determined by quality and your affordability, making it the perfect option for those worried about paying for a tour that fails to captivate them!
Guru Walks has a good mix of themed and general London sightseeing tours. The tours are hosted by individual guides or companies which use Guru Walks to promote their tours.
On Guru Walks you’ll find many free walking tours dedicated to showing you key London hotspots. There are options for two hour tours which cover the most significant parts of the city, including Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street, and the National Gallery. There are also longer tours which last up to three hours, such as the popular Sandemans New Europe London tour.
The Sandemans New Europe tour is known for being the original free London sightseeing tour, so it’s perfect if you want a more experienced guide! The tour covers a plethora of amazing London landmarks. You’ll see Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, the Churchill War Rooms, Nelson’s Column, and much, much more!
A tour of Westminster is the best way to discover London’s royal hotspots and uncover the history of monarch and government leadership in the UK. Westminster is also one of the wealthiest boroughs in the country, and the perfect place to explore a more extravagant side to the city.
A Westminster free walking tour with Guru Walks lasts on average around 2hours. There are multiple options which cover very similar highlights and historic facts. On the Exciting Walking Tour of Westminster you can see London highlights such as Westminster Abbey, St James’s Park, and the London Eye.
London is a city with a rich and interesting history to get stuck into. A guided history tour is the perfect place to start! The “Historic City of London sightseeing tour” takes you through 2,000 years of the city’s past while highlighting some popular landmarks. You’ll learn about the Vikings and Norman people, the Great Fire of London, the Blitz and so much more as you take in sights like the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, London’s Roman Wall, and the Monument.
There are also tours which focus on specific areas of London’s history. For example on the Historic Bridges of London touryou’ll get a look into the city’s history while exploring its most famous bridges, such as London Bridge, and Tower Bridge!
Free Tours by Foot
Free Tours by Foot are another gratuity-based tour company like Guru Walks. They have a great range of free tours available, and they offer some self-guided tours which you can use an app to take part in.
Free Tours by Foot are also the host of London’s only pay-what-you-like East End Pub Crawl, and London Tea Tour!
Graffiti and Street Art Tour
If you want to take in some of London’s greatest street art, then this “Graffiti and Street Art tour” is for you! Your guide will walk you through East London, and call attention to and teach you about the various artwork on display on the side of buildings and down the side streets. On the tour you’ll also learn how East London evolved from the Victorian slums to its’ current trendy and modern state.
Highlights of this “Graffiti and Street Art tour” include a nice stroll through Brick Lane, Whitechapel, and Shoreditch. While walking past this great street art, you’ll uncover the stories of the people who helped to mould East London into the vibrant and diverse hub that it is today.
Rock and Roll Tour
On a Rock and Roll London free walking tour, you’ll take a journey through the city’s legendary music scene. You’ll find out where Jimi Hendrix had his first appearance on a London stage, and where the Beatles played their last London gig.
You’ll also be taught about the history of renowned venues like The Marquee Club and Trident Studios. The Rock and Roll London free walking tour is the perfect way to uncover the history of world-famous musicians like The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Prince, and Bob Marley, and learn about what they got up to in the city.
Have of the above walking tours will you be doing?
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