One way of familiarising yourself with a city (while not paying an arm and a leg for the pleasure; great if you’re on a budgeted trip at the likes of the Shaftesbury Hyde Park International) is to go on a walking tour. And one terrific location that’s brimming with them every day of the year is London – here are some of the more unusual ones you might choose between…
The Harry Potter Tour
(Run by Strawberry Tours)
What’s so out-of-the-ordinary about this walk – after all, you can’t get much more mainstream than Harry Potter? Well, because you can totally immerse yourself in the world of Rowling merely by walking around (Muggle) Central London. And, don’t doubt it; if your little ones are ardent Potterheads, it’s a tour that’s bound to satisfy, even beguile them. Focusing on the West End (ideal then if you’re staying at the BW Premier Shaftesbury London Piccadilly), it takes in many of the most iconic location stand-ins from the film series – including the side-streets that stood in both Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley, as well as the Ministry of Magic (actually the UK Ministry of Defence) and the likes of the Millennium Bridge and Westminster Tube station. Magic!
The Tea Tasting Tour
(Run by Fever Up)
One of the biggest clichés about the British is their love of tea; well, clichés are clichés because they’re true – Brits really can’t get enough of the stuff. So what better to feel at home in their capital than to go on a tea-tasting tour around the place? Based in and around hip, quirky Shoreditch that’s full of intriguing tea houses and fun food and drink outlets, this tour gives you the chance not just to try out some of the more exotic teas in existence, including Indian Masala Chai and Chinese herbal teas, but also give a Japanese tea ceremony a go and, best of all, sample lots of slices of cake. Indeed, it may be just the thing to get you in the mood for an afternoon tea indulgence while taking advantage of the Paddington Court Rooms loyalty program – yum-yum!
The Naughty Tour
(Run by Fever Up)
As you may have guessed from its name, this is one walking tour that really isn’t suitable for minors (indeed, the people behind it stipulate all participants must be 18+). Why is that? Well, because its tone is, er, pretty much in the gutter – but in a fascinating, very insightful way. Looking at the darker, more debauched and grimy side to London’s history, it takes you around the place and reveals all about the Big Smoke, including how and why the Southwark area just south of the river was the ‘Sin City’ of the Elizabethan era where anything went; why it was believed to be good to receive love bites from the ‘Rat Queen’ of sewers; all about amusing and surprising sex scandals of lore and just why, centuries ago, excrement was so valuable. If you’re the type who finds all elements of urban living interesting, this could be the tour for you.
The Hidden London Tour
(Run by Fever Up)
Finally, it may be last on our list of unusual yet essential London walking tours, but don’t be thinking this one’s hidden away… it’s the treasures it reveals and brings to light that once lay dormant but, wonderfully so, no longer are. So, all about insightful urban trivia, it’s a walk that unearths extraordinary tales and curious locales, especially in the back-streets around Fleet Street and Temple (on the cusp of The City), including ancient churches and old-fashioned cloisters and over the top of long-since covered wells and rivers. You’ll never look at the UK capital the same way again!