London: Five free walking tours
Do you smell that, Cheapos? It’s the scent of summer, of rubber-soled walking shoes, and of crisp, new, glossy maps. It’s time to set foot in the land of tea and crumpets. Royal weeeeee!
Here are five fabulous walking tours in London that won’t cost you a pound. Get moving!
1) For Charles Dickens fans:
London is a virtual playground for book nerds. Using this wonderful free tour from the London Tourism Board—that comes in a convenient PDF format and can be downloaded to your computer—you’ll visit the homes of John Keats, Charles Dickens, the essayist Thomas Carlyle, and Sigmund Freud. And, since for some of the jaunt you’re in the heart of literary Bloomsbury, you can also beckon your inner Virginia Woolf.
2) For thick skins:
Jack the Ripper was one of London’s most notorious serial killers. Today, there are countless (and expensive) tourist trap tours of the life and times of “Jack-attack.” Enter Richard Jones—author, tour guide, and frequent contributor to the History and Discovery networks—who offers a DIY Ripper walk for free on his website. Visit the locations of all actual killings and get a taste for the crimes that stumped the city’s police in the 1880s. One caveat: Jones doesn’t recommend doing this walk alone after dark. Instead, he says, link up with at least three others and go during the day. (Ooooh, creepy!)
3) For those who love the Queen:
You simply cannot visit London without getting a taste of the monarchy. But, let’s face it, a ticket into Buckingham Palace is costly (£15.50, to be exact). Although Sandeman’s New London Tours normally charge for their guided tours, every other day (from April to August) and everyday from May through July, they offer a free “royalty tour.” Visit all the regal hot spots, including St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster Abbey (where Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1953), and Nelson’s Column. Best of all, you’ll benefit from the tour guide’s expertise, although your guide may ask for a small tip at the end. Check the schedule here.
4) For bridge-hopping:
We’ve recently come across a great site, London for Free, that features a fantastic “bridges walking tour.” Take in Westminster Bridge, the famous London Bridge, and Tower Bridge, plus many others, on an easy-to-use trail laid out by the LFF’s experts. Also included: little known trivia facts that will complement the sightseeing. (For example, did you know that for years London Bridge was the only working bridge in London? Or that because residents relied so heavily on ferries to cross the river, today’s “EastEnders” still occasionally refer to the West End of London as “up West.”)
5) For the outdoorsy types:
If you just want to get up and go, then get thee to Visit London’s latest venture, “London Outdoors“. Tons of free information, including how to get to and from walking tour locations, trail maps, and more are available on the site. If you’re already in London, we recommend you head to the London Tourist Information Center, at 1 Lower Regent Street (closest tube station is Piccadilly Circus), and just ask for a free walking tour and map. Then, get hoofing!