by Meg MassiePosted Feb 10th 2011 05:00 PMUpdated Feb 12th 2011 03:35 PM
Photo by Jaanus Silla from Flickr
Tours through the city take on many different forms - London walking tours, bike tours, and bus tours are some of the most popular. How you decide to see the city is largely going to be based on how much exercise you're willing to take. Hikers, bikers, and outdoors enthusiasts will likely enjoy walking or biking to various London attractions. Families with small children may find such tours inconvenient and opt for a bus or taxi tour. The themes of London tours are equally diverse as the methods of getting around. Mystery tours, photo tours, and historical tours all draw in huge crowds. There are even greenery tours to places like Hyde Park.
A word of caution before talking about specific businesses: bus tours seem to get a bit more negative press than other types of tours. Common complaints include not being able to hear the announcer, getting little to no information about landmarks, and generally feeling rushed. That doesn't mean that a London bus tour is a complete waste of time. Rather, be realistic about what is typically a crowded and fast-paced and experience. If you're set on trying a bus tour, consider Big Bus Tours. Touted as being "hop-on, hop-off", tickets are good for two days, allowing you to move around the city at your own pace from the comfort of a London tour bus.
Here are some additional unique London tours worth consideration:
London Duck Tours: Experience London from the safety of a modern "DUKWS" amphibious craft, seeing the city from both the roads and the River Thames. Lasting approximately 75 minutes, you'll see numerous famous landmarks with a knowledgeable tour guide. Tickets range between 14£ to 20£ ($22-32 U.S.), though the website states that prices will go up slightly starting April 1, 2011.
Fat Tire Bike Tours: Apparently not affiliated with New Belgium Brewing's Fat Tire Amber Ale ("Fat Tire" is actually a reference to the old fat tire bikes of the early- to mid-1900s), this bike tour rates among the best in London. Choose from the Royal London, River Thames, or Private bike tours, each one providing a unique experience without all the "mind-bending dates and boring stories." Tours last four to five hours, or they can be customized to your time schedule via a private tour. The normal London tours range from 18£ to 30£. ($29-48 U.S.)
London Walks: Among normal walking tours, London Walks receives a fair amount of praise for its knowledgeable guides and diverse routes. If you take the popular London tour, it's a reasonable 8£ ($13 U.S.; under-15's go free). Starting February 14, London Walks will also offer the Royal Wedding Walk on Monday afternoons and some Sundays. The company features dozens of additional walks in and around London as well, including Stonehenge and Oxford. (I highly recommend Avebury over Stonehenge.)
Photo Walks of London: If you're the type of person who loves capturing photos wherever you travel, while learning more about your photography skills, then this London tour is for you. Aside from pointing out great angles for photos, the knowledgeable staff reportedly also gives "professional advice on perspective and photographic techniques." Whether you're a beginner or vet', you're sure to learn a little something about photography while seeing London in all of its glory. Choose from any of the three diverse two-hour tours, each costing 28£. ($45 U.S.)
One final tip: you can save money on some of these London tours by purchasing a London Pass. Ticket discounts are available with both of the previously mentioned walks when using your London Pass. You'll also save money on entrance fees to famous landmarks, museums, and galleries in London with the pass. And if you're still baffled about what to do, take a look at the London itineraries suggested by AOL Travel's editors.
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