Our Pick of the Top Guided Tours in London

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With millions of tourists heading into the centre of London every year, it follows that many of the most popular guided tours and booked experiences get sold out months in advance – from the Harry Potter tour just outside of London in Watford to the various open top bus tours which pick you up somewhere outside the hotels near Paddington Station and carry you through the streets of London for a look at the most iconic buildings and viewpoints.

In this blog, we’re sharing not only our pick of the top guided tours in London but some advice on how to make sure you don’t miss out on the city’s biggest and best experiences – from booking in advance to reconsidering when you visit and which days you choose to do these popular experiences.

But first for the best guided tours in and around London.

Harry Potter Studios Tour

This tour, which takes place out in the Warner Bros studios in Watford, is accessible via train or coach from near the Park Grand Paddington Court Hotel, and despite being outside of central London is one of the attractions which drives the most tourist activity all year round.

With sets, costumes, and props from the Harry Potter movies, and a number of experiences that visitors can partake in and engage with, this tour is available with an audio guide so that you can move through the exhibitions at your own pace. The Hogwarts train is one highlight of the tour, as is the chance to try a Butterbeer and wander the souvenir shop to find your own wand, robes, and other goodies.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan but want to stay within central London, another experience that you might enjoy is the Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition, which offers a low key alternative to the studios tour with images, clips, and props from the movies as well as a chance to ride a broomstick and enjoy a butterbeer.

Tower of London Tour

Combining history with gory stories and interesting insights into the world of the royal family and other members of central London history, the Tower of London isn’t just home to the Crown Jewels – it is also a place where you can find out about Prisoners Gate, the Prince’s in the Tower, and the execution green among other sites.

The Crown Jewels exhibition is an additional part of the tour that needs to be booked in advance and at extra cost, or you can simply enjoy the tour of the main castle and its grounds before heading to St Katherine’s Dock or the nearby Southbank for lunch and a drink.

Iconic Open Top Bus Tour

What better way to see London than from the top of an open top bus, with a multitude of these tour buses travelling through and around London on a daily basis. As more and more visitors look for unique ways of experiencing the city, these bus tours have become increasingly versatile and immersive, with some now offering afternoon tea on board as well as other added extras to enhance the experience. Whatever your ideal bus tour, most of the central accommodation in Paddington is only a few minutes’ walk from a stop so you should have no problems finding a tour close to home.

River Thames Cruise

Just like the open top bus tours and on-road tours which are available throughout London, the river Thames boasts its own tours and on-water experiences – including those which travel along the river and offer views across the city and beyond, and those boats which are designed to be toured as attractions of their own, like the HMS Belfast.

Most of these river tours are considered to be popular attractions because they combine history with a unique experience – however there are ways of enjoying the river views without booking onto an organised tour, for example by hailing an Uber boat or getting tickets for a ride on a Thames jet.

How to make the most of your tour

Now that we’ve highlighted a few of the best and most popular tours in London, it’s time to share a few tips and pieces of advice to help you maximise the time you have available.

One of the biggest pieces of advice to share with any London visitor is the importance of the right footwear and clothing. Not only is London known for its rainfall and the ever-changing weather, but most attractions are located close enough to the city centre that you can walk but not so close that you can comfortably stroll around in sandals or heels. No matter when you visit London, be sure to pack accordingly and have access to comfortable shoes.

Another piece of advice is to always pay attention to the London hotel deals which flood the market at different times of the year. Peak season is not relegated merely to the summer months – Christmas is another incredibly busy and popular time to visit London, with half terms and other dates of note all drawing huge crowds into the city. Where possible, research and plan to visit London outside of the peak travel times, and book tickets for your top guided tours and attractions on weekdays when the crowds will be at their lowest.

Finally, make sure to factor travel into your plans and where possible, consider travel as another layer of the experience itself. Instead of always heading down to the London underground, why not hire one of the Boris bikes or travel across the city on foot; if heading from north London down to the Southbank, revel in the chance to cross one of the iconic bridges and create your own tours as you take in and explore some of London’s most famous streets and green spaces.

London is a place where guided tours meet organic experiences – and where every corner conceals something new and exciting that’s worth exploring. Where will your next London trip take you?

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