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City Tour Guide for London

San Jose, California
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City Tour Guide for London
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We have reservations for a week in London next year in April (2022). Does anyone know of a tour person who could take around town for 1-2 days? We've been outside the city, we want to spend the entire week in downtown London. Hopefully, by then, vacation travel will be safe.

24 replies to this topic
North Yorkshire...
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for Wiltshire, London
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1. Re: City Tour Guide for London
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See if one of these meets your needs https://www.guidelondon.org.uk/blue-badge-tourist-guides/

Or try a slight touch of do it yourself and pick one or more https://www.walks.com/

Or get a good guidebook and go for it

r c
Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: City Tour Guide for London
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welcome,

Im not sure of your endgame or what you arent saying about why you need a guide. ALso, i get it some people love them , feel safer with them, or just like to be on a leash.

but its been my experience, most of the things are well marked. But if you want to know such things as "Winston Churchill" sat here one day or something like that, then a guide maybe worth it.

but depending on what your endgame is you may not need one.

good luck

Beckenham, United...
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3. Re: City Tour Guide for London
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An open top bus tour may be a good place to start and get to know where the main sights are, a few of us have used this tour and reccomend it.

It is a non stopping circular tour so no hanging about at stops waiting for passengers to get off and on, also no waiting for a bus to come along with space for you to get on.

See https://uk.megabus.com/products/london-bus-tour

Greater Manchester...
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for Pollenca, Port de Pollenca
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4. Re: City Tour Guide for London
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<< tour person who could take around town for 1-2 days? >>

Within your whole week's stay in London, it's puzzled me as to what is the key objective is, or expectation of, hiring such a person for 1-2 days within that week ?

Is your expectation to include car transportation as well ?

And whereabouts is the location of your reservation, perhaps that's a factor in your qn ?

Edited: April 08, 2021, 2:07 am
San Francisco, Ca
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5. Re: City Tour Guide for London
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Instead of hiring a guide for full day/s*, I would recommend a combination of the Megabus overview tour, walking tours of specific areas of interest and on-site tours in places like the Tower of London.

*If you hire a guide with a car to take you around, it's going to be more complicated than you think. Think of touring San Francisco by car, but with more traffic and less parking (but fewer hills). You can drive past the back of the Tower (not the front of it, though), but you don't get a great view. If you want to get out and visit, the guide will have to find somewhere to pull over and let you out and make arrangements to come back at a specified time. And because of security precautions, the nearest place to pull over may be a bit of a walk from wherever you're going.

Compared to many major cities, London has very few half-day guided tours because of these issues.

London, United...
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6. Re: City Tour Guide for London
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Many, many tour guides in London. What are do you consider to be downtown?

Solihull
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7. Re: City Tour Guide for London
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There is really no such thing as a "downtown" in London.

We never use the term "downtown" about any city here in the UK

I guess the nearest term would be "city centre" but in London that covers a fairly wide area.

Solihull
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I am not sure how well you know the centre of London but here is some information that may help you with your planning.

The Romans invaded this country about 2,000 years ago and created the start of the city on London. They called in Londinium.

As London grew the area that Londinium covered (and the Romans created) became known as the "City of London" (as opposed to the huge conurbation that is known as Greater London). It is positioned slightly to the East of the current centre London

The City of London roughly covers from St Paul's Cathedral in its West to the Tower of London in its East.

This area (which is also known as the Square Mile) has had an amazing history and you can still see sections of Roman wall that was built 2,000 years ago, right up to huge modern day skyscrapers, and everything from history in between (historic buildings and churches and so on).

I think you probably need at least two days to visit the city of London. The Tower of London alone can take a fair part of one day, St Paul's half a day.

There is a fine museum in this area, called the Museum of London. Web site here:

https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london

The City of London has its own web site and it contains many self guided walks, see here:

https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/walks-and-itineraries/self-guided-walks-and-trails

While the "City of London" was growing in the East an area was also being developed West of it. and this was called Westminster. This area is called the "City of Westminster".

(So rather confusingly London has within its centre "The City of London" and the "City of Westminster")

Westminster was first home to an abbey (Westminster Abbey) then our Royal Family started to live in the area (they built the huge Whitehall Palace there but sadly it burned down).

Because our kings and queens "ran" (governed) the country back then as well as them living in that area our government also began to be situated there.

So now in this area we have a number of Royal Buildings (Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace, Clarence House and nearby Kensington Palace) and also our government buildings - Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, 10 Downing St (home of our prime minster) and many other government buildings.

Loads of history in this area and you could probably spend two days exploring the Westminster area.

Here is a self guided walk round the area to give you an idea what is there:

https://www.londontoolkit.com/walks/whitehall_walk_westminster.htm

So these were the two main areas to first be developed in London, the only other area was Southwark which was South of the river (where Shakespeare's Globe theatres was situated and the modern day copy still is).

So we had these two separate cites (City of London and City of Westminster - both North of the river) but almost nothing in between just mostly farmland.

But as London grew the land in between was bought up (much of it was church land) and this was gradually built on. This area became known as The West End and at last the City of London and the City of Westminster were "joined up".

The West End is another fascinating area with loads of things to see (museums, shops, art galleries, theatres, pubs, restaurants etc)

Again you could probably spend 2 days exploring the West End (that's six days so far !)

Here is a West End web site showing many of the things there are to do.

https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/london-areas/west-end

So I would say as a tourist those are the three main areas to visit, but there are loads of other areas worth visiting, like South Kensington, Greenwich, Mayfair, Bloomsbury, Notting Hill, even "East London" (the site of the original huge London Docks but redeveloped in the last 30 or 40 years).

Personally I am not sure you need your own guide.

Perhaps choose three walks from the walks company mentioned above - and do one guided walk round the City of London, one walk round the City of Westminster, and another round The West End.

One thing to note. London has been there 2,000 years, and some people have had dozens of holidays there and still not seen it all. I lived in London for over 30 years but there are still some sections of it I have never visited.

Don't expect to "see it all" in your one week there.

Good luck with your planning.

San Jose, California
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9. Re: City Tour Guide for London
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

London, United...
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10. Re: City Tour Guide for London
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Props to Guikbert53 for an elegant summary.

A visit to the Museum of London near the beginning of your visit will give context to what you see in London. Lots of the wonderful things on display were dug up when the foundations for the modern buildings around the museum were built.

Blue Badge Guides are generally terrific and take challenging exams to qualify. If you can afford one and you like history, it really will add to your enjoyment. A private guide can tailor your day specifically to your interests so to benefit the most, do some reading in advance so you know what you might want to see.

As has been pointed out, driving around London (except for one go around with a tour bus) is not the best way to see London so taking public transport and walking is usually best.

Unless you insist on standing on the left side on the tube escalators, you will find people willing to be helpful.

If you do insist on standing on the left side of the escalators (despite the signs saying "stand on the right") you will learn a new English vocabulary. BTW, standing on the right applies to luggage as well.

I agree that taking a bus tour (I have done it with exchange students) is great for seeing the iconic sights from the outside.

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