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Self-Guided Walking Tours of London

A great way to explore London is to go on a self-guided walking tour. A walking tour on your own gives you the opportunity to explore London at a leisurely pace and take time to enjoy the various places of interest. A good London street map (available from the newsstands and shops) comes in handy to get your way around and make interesting diversions without getting lost. Remember to wear comfortable shoes before you start your tour.

The  suggested self-guided walking tours below are meant to be easy on the feet where you don’t have to walk long distances to cover an area. The described areas are all in Central London and well known parts of the city. You shouldn't have any difficulty finding the locations since they are easily accessible by the London Underground trains.

Westminster Walk

Westminster is the heart of London and the centre point of British politics and government as well as the location of the official residence of the British prime minister and the monarchy. It’s an historical area of London with a rich history dating back centuries and many of the city’s most familiar attractions known around the world are located right here in Westminster. The nearest London Underground station is Westminster Station (serving the Jubilee, District and Circle Lines) where you can begin your walking tour.

It’s a short walk to the Palace of Westminster (also known as the Houses of Parliament) from Westminster Station. The 19th century Westminster Palace is the home of British democracy where the House of Common and House of Lords are located. This majestic building is a fine example of neo-Gothic and Victorian architecture and at the north end is Big Ben, the celebrated clock tower and its massive bell. Walking southward is Victoria Tower Gardens, a small scenic park along the River Thames featuring green open space, tree-covered areas and scenic views of the river.

Palace of Westminster by Adrian Pingstone

East of Westminster Palace and nearby is the Gothic Westminster Abbey, the location of many royal weddings and the coronation church of the monarchy since William the Conqueror in the 11th century. Walking westwards along Birdcage Walk from Westminster Abbey is the majestic Buckingham Palace, the official royal residence of the British monarchs since 1837. A popular event here is witnessing the Changing of the Guards, held daily from May to July and on alternate days throughout the rest of the year. Nearby is St James’s Park, a scenic park with a small lake and an oasis of greenery in bustling Central London.

Soho Walk

Soho is a small area in Central London bordered by Oxford Street, Leicester Square, Charing Cross Road and Regent Street. It once had a sleazy image famous for its strip clubs, sex shops, crime and the beatnik lifestyle but today Soho has rebranded itself as a fashionable and lively area of London without the sleaze. Four London Underground stations serve each corner of Soho including Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus Stations. Soho is not a large area and any station makes a good point to start your walking tour.

Walking around Soho and you’ll find a diverse mix of cafes, restaurants, late night coffee shops, shops, nightclubs, bars, theatres and even residences. Soho is fun loving, vibrant and full of energy - never quiet and never empty! At night, neon lights turn much of Soho into a brightly coloured spectacle. There are several venues for live performances including the famous Soho Theatre popular for its stand-up comedy, cabaret shows and new plays. If you have food in mind, then you are is the right place with some of the best restaurants in London located in Soho with many of them clustered along Dean, Greek, Berwick and Old Crompton Streets.

Soho by Rudolph A Furtado

Deviating from your walking tour with shopping in mind, then you are in the right place at Carnaby Street. It was the home of the mod and hippy fashion in the 1960s but now mostly fashion from British labels by established and emerging designers. Within Soho is the small enclave of Chinatown with its unmistaken Asian character. Traditional Chinese symbols, decorations, sculptures and a pagoda adorn Chinatown with street signs and signboards written in Chinese alongside English. Chinese-owned businesses dominate the enclave including shops, supermarkets, bakeries and one of the best places in London for Chinese restaurants.

Leicester Square Walk

Leicester Square is a large public square in London’s West End. It’s not a scenic part of London but nevertheless a thriving entertainment spot with its theatres and cinemas as well as casinos, clubs, restaurants, cafes and the occasional street performers. To get here, take the Northern or Piccadilly Line on the London Underground train to Leicester Square Station. Alternatively take the Piccadilly or Bakerloo Line to Piccadilly Station. Take a short 5-minute walk heading west if exiting from Leicester Square Station or east from Piccadilly Station towards a small park centrally located in the Leicester Square area.

The pedestrian only square surrounding the park makes a good starting point for you walking tour of the area. In the centre of the park there’s a fountain with a statue of the famous English playwright William Shakespeare who seems to be brooding. The entertainment district is booming with activities and gets extremely lively if you happen to be here on Friday or Saturday nights. Along the perimeters of the square, you’ll find several booths selling tickets for various theatre performances. If you are not planning to spend any money on the theatres, then enjoy free entertainment from the impromptu street performers.

Leicester Square by Daniel James

Your walking tour does not wonder far from the vicinity of the square and therefore can walk at a leisurely pace. Around the square are some of London’s famous West End theatres renowned for their high quality productions. Theatres around the square include the Leicester Square, Prince Charles and Harold Pinter Theatres. Slightly further are the Duke of York, Wyndham’s, Arts, Queen’s, Gielgud, Apollo, Lyric, and Criterion Theatres. There are also several cinemas including the Odeon Leicester Square, one of London’s largest film theatres and the main venue for many red-carpeted film premieres attended by celebrities.

Covent Garden Walk

Covent Garden is an area of London situated between St Martin's Lane and Drury Lane featuring narrow lanes and closely packed buildings occupied by shops, cafes, restaurants and theatres. The area has an atmosphere of festivity and popular a destination with Londoners and tourists especially during the weekends. Covent Garden Piazza is the centre point and a pedestrian only cobblestone square surrounded by centuries old buildings. The most convenient London Underground train is the Piccadilly Line to Covent Garden Station, which is centrally located in Covent Garden and therefore a good starting point for the walking tour.

After exiting from Covent Garden Station, it’s a short walk heading south to the cobblestone Covent Garden Piazza. Entertain yourself with juggling acts, miming, clowns, magic, music and dance by street performers at the square. Nearby is the Market Building where you’ll find a mix bag of shops and stalls selling clothes, handbags, leather goods, jewellery, artwork, crafts, antiques, confectionery and the occasional curios. Across the street south of the Market Building is the Jubilee Market selling arts and crafts on Saturdays and Sundays, antiques on Mondays and a general market on Tuesday-Friday.

Covent Garden by Ypsilonatshared

If feeling peckish and need a short break from the walk, you’ll find plenty of restaurants and cafes in the area around the square and some have been here for generations. The London Transport Museum is nearby and explores the history of public transportation in London with exhibits that include the first underground steam train. Also nearby the square is the London Film Museum dedicated to the British film industry. Walk around Covent Garden and you will discover 13 theatres including the Royal Opera House and New London Theatre presenting shows ranging from opera, theatrical performances to rock concerts.

Canary Wharf Walk

Canary Wharf is one of London’s two major business and financial districts with the other being the City of London. Located along the riverfront in London’s East End, it was once an area of busy docks but today features modern architecture occupied by major corporations and financial institutions. Take the train on the Jubilee Line on the London Underground to Canary Wharf (Underground) Station or the Docklands Light Railway train to the nearby Canary Wharf (DLR) Station. Riverboats under the London River Services stop at the pier located on the western end of Canary Wharf.

Whichever station or pier you start, walk around the Middle Dock (small area of water) situated in the centre of Canary Wharf and you will see all the major sights. Canary Wharf is a magnificent example of modern architecture with its towering office blocks of which some are among the tallest in Europe. The tallest is One Canada Square towering at 235 metres (771 feet), which is the second tallest building in the UK after The Shard in London. Other notable modern high rises as you walk around the Middle Dock are 8 Canada Square, 25 Canada Square, One Churchill Place, 40 Bank Street and 25 Bank Street.

Canary Wharf by Chris McKenna

Canary Wharf is more than just about modern office towers but another lively area of London especially during the weekends. The Canary Wharf Shopping Centre comprises of three arcades including Canada, Cabot and Jubilee Place with over 200 shops. The culinary scene here is highly rated with some of the best cafes and restaurants in London located at Canary Wharf. There are also pockets of landscaped greenery including beautiful gardens as you walk around the Middle Dock. The Museum of London Docklands is an interesting museum that tells the history of the River Thames in London and the Docklands.

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