LONDON LIFE • June 2019
Fancy a stroll through London’s haunting past, or an awe-inspired look into its architectural future? Time Out London’s deputy editor, Isabelle Aron, scratches the surface to find seven walking tours that’ll satisfy your every capital curiosity
Obsessed with true crime? You’ll get all the gory details about the infamous bits of London’s past on the Famous London Crimes tour. Run by former Scotland Yard detective chief inspector Mike Neville, it covers the city’s most notorious criminals, including the Kray Twins and Jack the Ripper. You’ll also learn about the first murder solved with fingerprint evidence, the original Scotland Yard and the first (and only) British Prime Minister to have been murdered. Not for the faint-hearted.
Expand your street art knowledge way beyond Banksy on this artsy tour of trendy Shoreditch (£15). Fanatic Dave Stuart will show you around east London’s street art hotspots, taking in everything from sculptures to stencil art. Don’t worry, you obviously will see Banksy’s work, but you’ll also discover artists you’ve probably never heard of. And the beauty is, because the work is constantly coming and going, the tour always changes.
You’ll need your stretchiest trousers for Walk Eat Talk Eat’s three-hour culinary tour (£69) of the East End, which includes six mighty food stops. You’ll start by tucking into a giant Brit-tastic Yorkshire pudding. From there you’ll sample delicious street food, stop for a beer in a Victorian pub, pick up an obligatory (and delicious) salt beef bagel from Brick Lane, and spinach pakoras, before finishing with something sweet at Spitalfields market. Arrive hungry.
From the South Bank’s Brutalist buildings to the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, London is rich in architectural history. The Architecture Foundation’s tours encourage you to look closer at the city’s buildings – and not just the iconic structures. The City Crits tour looks at the past, present and future of an area that’s been through a big transformation, such as the shiny new developments in King’s Cross or the Olympic Games’ legacy in east London. While the Building Tours will take you to snoop around recently completed sites, including a fascinating new part of Lord’s cricket ground.
You won’t have any trouble finding your guide on a Tour for Muggles – they’ll be the one holding a wand, obviously. The guides have an encyclopedic knowledge of Harry Potter so expect to be fully immersed in JK Rowling’s magical world on this two-and-a-half-hour jaunt around the city (£14). Highlights include the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron pub, the alleyways off Charing Cross Road that inspired Diagon Alley, and the Ministry of Magic itself.
Like the idea of spending three hours eating chocolate? That’s on the menu on a Chocolate Ecstasy Tour (£44, plus £1.50 booking fee). The Mayfair Chocolate Tour kicks things off with a decadent hot chocolate, while your guide fills you in on the rich history of all things cocoa. You’ll then meander around Mayfair and Soho, sampling sweet treats at shops along the way. You’ll even sample the Queen’s favourite chocolate – an English fondant, apparently. Sweet!
Ever wondered about the history of Soho’s gay clubs? Queer Tours of London brings the city’s LGBT+ history to life. As well as Soho, they run tours exploring Hackney and Bloomsbury, while other highlights include a queer history of the West End, lesbian London and a Bangladeshi queer tour of Whitechapel. They even run gay liberation tours hosted by people who were part of the original movement, so you can hear a first-person account from someone who was actually there.