East London Walk, London (Self Guided)

The City is a notable part of central London. This neighborhood is colloquially known as the Square Mile, as it is 1.12 square miles (2.90 square km) in area. The City of London is able to offer great number of things to see. This tour will guide you from the Tower Bridge to the “30 St Mary Axe”, great achievements of architecture and engineering.
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East London Walk Map

Guide Name: East London Walk
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Author: Xena
Tower Bridge Exhibition

1) Tower Bridge Exhibition

The high-level open air walkways between the towers gained an unpleasant reputation as a haunt for prostitutes and pickpockets; as they were only accessible by stairs and were seldom used by regular pedestrians, they were closed in 1910. In 1982 the walkways were reopened as part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, a display housed in the bridge's twin towers, the high-level walkways and the Victorian engine rooms. The exhibition charges an admission fee. Presented here are films, photos and interactive displays which explain why and how the Tower Bridge was built. Visitors can access the original steam engines that once powered the bridge bascules, housed in a building close to the south end of the bridge.

Operating hours: 9:30 am- 5:30 pm (last admission 5 pm). Admission prices: adults - £8.00; children (aged 5-15) - £3.40; children under 5 – free; family tickets from £12.50.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Tower Bridge

2) Tower Bridge (must see)

Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name. It has become an iconic symbol of London. The bridge consists of two towers which are tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways which are designed to withstand the horizontal forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical component of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower.

Its present colour dates from 1977 when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Originally it was painted a chocolate brown colour. Tower Bridge is sometimes mistakenly referred to as London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge upstream.

Why You Should Visit:
Unique and majestic structure; amazing to see especially at night!
Great view and a glass floor on the high-level walkways that is really quite cool.

If you're lucky enough, you could see the bridge open up to let the barges/ships pass by.
Don't skip the engine room, which is very educational as to how the bridge operates.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Royal Armouries

3) Royal Armouries

The Royal Armouries is the United Kingdom's National Museum of Arms and Armour. It is the country's oldest museum, and one of the oldest museums in the world. It is also one of the largest collections of arms and armour in the world, comprising the UK's National Collection of Arms and Armour, National Artillery Collection, and National Firearms Collection. It is also the keeper of the Tower of London history.

The Royal Armouries is one of the ancient institutions of the Tower of London and was originally engaged in the manufacture of armour for the Kings of England. In 1545, it is recorded that a visiting foreign dignitary paid to view the collection at the Armoury. By the time of Charles II, there was a permanent public display, featuring the "Spanish Armoury" which included instruments of torture and the "Line of Kings" - a row of wooden effigies representing the kings of England. This makes it the first museum in Britain. From 1414, the Tower was home to the Master of the Ordnance and the Ordnance Office (later the Board of Ordnance) who were responsible for providing weapons to both the Army and Navy. The Tower was engaged in the development, manufacture and storage of a wide variety of weaponry until the Board was abolished in 1855, however the historic collection remained. Only a small part of this could be displayed and in 1995, much of the artillery collection was moved to Fort Nelson in Hampshire and the following year a new Royal Armouries Museum was opened in Leeds. The remaining part of the collection relates directly to the Tower.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 9 am – 4:30 pm; Sunday to Monday: 10 am – 4.30 pm. Entry to the White Tower is free and includes the standard admission ticket to the Tower of London.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Tower of London

4) Tower of London (must see)

The Tower of London is a misnomer, it isn’t a “tower”, it is a vast, ancient fortress, so when you visit it, pack a picnic because it will take you all day to fully explore every part open to the public. Gazing at the Crown Jewels is only a small part of the attraction of this magnificent bastion.

The original building was constructed on the orders of William the Conqueror in 1070 as a temporary wooden building. Later a stone tower was added and by the 13th century, it had become the fortress you can visit today, with several towers, all with their own history.

These towers are: the White Tower, built in 1097 and white-washed by Henry II (hence its name); the Bloody Tower where Richard III supposedly had his nephews murdered so that he could take the throne after the death of his brother, Edward IV; St Thomas Tower where political prisoners were brought to by way of the Traitor’s Gate; Beauchamp Tower where Lady Jane Grey (the Nine Day Queen) was guarded before her execution; the Bell Tower where Thomas More was kept before his execution.

Visits are commented by the Yeoman Warders, known as Beefeaters. This name came perhaps from their salary, which included sides of beef. Lower servants of the Crown received bread as part of their pay. Yeoman Warders today still wear traditional costume and are as much a part of the Tower as are the ravens.

According to legend, the ravens first settled on the walls during the reign of Charles II. They were probably attracted there in the first place because of all the executions that took place on the grounds. Charles feared that if they left, the monarchy would be doomed, so he appointed a Raven Master to care for them. The birds have had their flight feathers cut so that they can’t fly away and thus fulfil the legend.

Charles II was so concerned about the wellbeing of the ravens that he had the Royal Observatory moved away from the fortress when his astronomers complained that the birds were a nuisance. Many ghosts haunt the Tower; the most famous is that of Anne Boleyn, who wanders around with her head under her arm.

Why You Should Visit:
Tower of London says it all about how important the city was – even back in the 11th century.

Buy your ticket(s) online and in advance, then print out and skip most of the lines to enter by following the signs for ticket holders.
Join one of the free Beefeater guided tours, lasting some 45 min. These are informative and will give you a good appreciation of the Tower's history.
Make sure you walk all round the Tower, as there are fascinating exhibitions in lots of places you may not notice.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Mon: 10am-4:30pm; Tue-Sat: 9am-4:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
All Hallows-by-the-Tower

5) All Hallows-by-the-Tower

All Hallows-by-the-Tower, also previously dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, is an ancient Anglican church located in Byward Street in the City of London, overlooking the Tower of London. All Hallows-by-the-Tower was first established in 675 AD by the Saxon Abbey at Barking and was for many years named after the abbey, as All Hallows Barking. The church has a museum called the Undercroft Museum, containing portions of a Roman pavement together with many artifacts discovered many feet below the church in 1926. The altar in the Undercroft is of plain stone from the castle of King Richard I at Athlit in Palestine. All Hallows-by-the-Tower is celebrated and remembered throughout the world in the use of its name including Dublin, Ireland (All Hallows College) and Brisbane, Australia (All Hallows' School). It has been the Guild church of Toc-H since 1922. The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Mary-at-Hill

6) St. Mary-at-Hill

If you would like to see a fine example of a 12th century church, then you shouldn’t miss visiting St Mary-at-Hill in the Billingsgate Ward.

This church was built in the 12th century and called “St Mary de Hull”, later changed to the name it bears today after the Norman influence on the language waned. It isn’t a very large church, being 96ft long and 60ft wide, but it represents one of the oldest buildings in the capital.

The church was damaged during the Great Fire of London in 1666, but Sir Christopher Wren was able to rebuild it, replacing only the east end and the interior. The three other walls and the west tower were undamaged. The interior has four free-standing Corinthian columns that support the barrel-vaulted ceiling which has a Greek cross pattern and a coffered dome in the centre.

In 1787 the west wall was rebuilt and the tower was replaced rebuilt in brick. In 1826 arched iron-framed windows were installed in the north wall. A cupola was added to the dome and windows were set into the chancel vault in 1848.

Sadly a fire in 1988 caused a great deal of damage, and although the roof and ceiling were rebuilt, the woodwork which included the ancient pews and the pulpit were not replaced. Every year the October Festival of the Sea is held in the church – a Harvest Festival with fish and sea food instead of fruit and vegetables – and in June music recitals are given on St Botolph’s Day.
Sight description based on wikipedia
London Bridge

7) London Bridge

We all know the children’s nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down”. Today’s London Bridge is not falling down, but its predecessors were all destroyed during wars or by fires.

The first bridge to span the Thames at this spot was a Roman pontoon bridge built in 50 AD, replaced in 55 AD by a piled bridge, which was destroyed in 60 AD by Queen Boudicca. The bridge was rebuilt but fell into disrepair when the Romans left. It was rebuilt in 990 and again destroyed – this time by Prince Olaf in 1014.

The Norman Bridge built in 1067 was destroyed in the London Tornado of 1091. King William II had it rebuilt but this time it was ravaged by fire in 1136. The stone bridge built in 1173 had a chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket in the centre and houses and shops were built along the bridge, making the passage for carts and wagons very narrow. Fire destroyed the North end in 1212 and the South end in 1633. The South gateway was used for over 300 years as a place where traitor’s heads were put up on pikes for the edification of the general public.

In 1756 the houses were removed from the bridge and a new bridge was built in 1831. This bridge was sold in 1968 to an American millionaire and transported piece by piece to be reassembled at Lake Havasu in Arizona. The current bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973.

Don’t miss the London Bridge Experience and London Tombs – the scariest attractions in the capital. You will find them in the Gothic vaults under the bridge. In the London Bridge Experience you will be led by actors through the history of the bridge. London Tombs takes place in an ancient plague pit and is very frightening. Children of under 11 aren’t allowed in.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Monument

8) The Monument

The Monument to the Great Fire of London, more commonly known simply as the Monument, is a stone Roman Doric column in the City of London, near the northern end of London Bridge, which commemorates the Great Fire of London. It stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, 202 ft (62 m) tall and 202 ft (62 m) from the place where the Great Fire started on 2 September 1666. Another monument, the Golden Boy of Pye Corner, marks the point near Smithfield where the fire stopped. Constructed between 1671 and 1677, it is the tallest isolated stone column in the world and was built on the site of St. Margaret's, Fish Street, the first church to be burnt down by the Great Fire. The Monument comprises a fluted Doric column built of Portland stone topped with a gilded urn of fire, and was designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke. Its height marks the distance from the site in Pudding Lane of the shop of Thomas Farynor, the king's baker, where the Great Fire began. The top of the Monument is reached by a narrow winding staircase of 311 steps. A cage was added in the mid-19th century at the top of the Monument to prevent people from jumping off, after six people had committed suicide by casting themselves from the structure between 1788 and 1842.

Three sides of the base carry inscriptions in Latin. The one on the south side describes actions taken by Charles II following the fire. The one on the east describes how the Monument was started and brought to perfection, and under which mayors. Inscriptions on the north side describe how the fire started, how much damage it caused, and how it was eventually extinguished. In 1681, the words "but Popish frenzy, which wrought such horrors, is not yet quenched" were added to the end of the inscription. Text on the east side generally blames Roman Catholics for the fire, and this prompted Alexander Pope to say of the area that it is:

“Where London's column, pointing at the skies,

Like a tall bully, lifts the head, and lyes”

Moral Essays, Epistle iii. Line 339 (1733-1734). The words were chiselled out in 1830.

The west side of the base displays a sculpture, by Caius Gabriel Cibber, in alto and bas relief, of the destruction of the City; with Charles II and his brother, James, the Duke of York (later James II), surrounded by liberty, architecture and science, giving directions for its restoration.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Leadenhall Market

9) Leadenhall Market

Built in 1881, Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest marketplaces in London where meat and fish had been sold since as far back as the 14th century. Located in the historic center of London’s financial district, this beautiful covered Victorian market is a rather magical place for a bit of shopping. Its ornate painted green and red roof and cobbled floors made Leadenhall a popular attraction even before it played a starring role in the Harry Potter series.

In the films, the market is featured as the area of London which secretly leads magical folk to Diagon Alley, the cobblestoned shopping hub of the wizarding world where Hogwarts students stock up on school supplies like spell books and wands. Harry and Hagrid walk through the market as they approach the Leaky Cauldron, which holds a sneaky entrance to the alley.

In both, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” an empty storefront at 42 Bull’s Head Passage (at Leadenhall Market) was used as the entrance of the Leaky Cauldron. The shop was vacant at the time, so filmmakers were able to paint it black and hang up a Leaky Cauldron sign for the scene. Its rounded blue doorway is now instantly recognizable to Harry Potter fans. Today the shop is occupied by Glass House Opticians, so, with a bit of luck, you may even find Mad-Eye Moody here, getting fitted for a contact lens...

Operation hours: Monday - Friday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Lloyd's of London

10) Lloyd's of London

Many people think that Lloyds of London is an insurance company, but it isn’t. It is the British Insurance Marketplace, consisting of members, and in truth insurance in Britain could not exist without this remarkable institution.

The idea of an insurance market began in around 1688 and started in, of all places, a coffee house. Lloyds Coffee House was frequented by merchants, ship owners and sailors, all worried about finding insurance for their goods and transport. The idea grew to invite a body of (rich) people to become members of an insurance market and pledge to underwrite policies. The idea was popular and became formalised in 1774. The market is made up of Members who provide the capital and agents and brokers who support the members, underwrite the policies and represent outside customers.

The “market” is housed in the 14 storey Lloyds Building in Lime Street in the City. It is a truly amazing building consisting of six towers – three main ones and three service ones – around a central rectangular space. It is often referred to as the “Inside Out Building” because the stairways, power conduits, water pipes and 12 glass-fronted lifts are on the outside, giving maximum space to the interior of the building.

On the ground floor is the Underwriting Room with its barrel-vaulted glass roof and the famous Lutine Bell, which used to be struck to warn that a ship was either late or lost at sea. While most of the building has a futuristic look about it, the 11th floor is a total surprise. It is where you will find the Committee Room – a dining room designed in the 18th century by Adams ; it was dismantled from the old Lloyds building and rebuilt here piece by piece.

Some insurance policies that Lloyds underwrites include Celine Dion’s and Bruce Springsteen’s vocal cords; a comedy theatre group against a member of the audience dying of laughter and the development of the New World Trade Centre.
Sight description based on wikipedia
30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin)

11) 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) (must see)

St Mary Axe? Never heard of it! The Swiss Re Building? Oh, I might have heard of it! These are typical replies to tourists’ questions. Now if you say the “Gherkin” or the “Egg” everyone will know what you are talking about.

This amazing building is to be found in the City of London. The City, as it is usually called, is the tiny one square mile area that houses the main financial establishments in London, and is, in fact, the only remnant of the original city founded by the Romans.

The “Gherkin” is also called the “Crystal Phallus” – a pun based on its glass-and-steel construction, like the famous Crystal Palace, and its rather phallic shape. Both of these appellations infuriate its designer Norman Foster, who would rather people admire its aesthetic form, its elegant energy-saving structure that uses steel and glass in a 5° rotation from floor to floor to capture light and to cut down on the wind chill factor, meaning that the building uses less than half the energy that surrounding buildings use.

The building was put up on the site of the former Baltic Exchange Building that was almost entirely destroyed by a bomb in 1992. It was opened in 2004 and respects the “Sight Lines” rule which states that no building must obstruct or detract from the view of St Paul’s Dome. Therefore the 40 storey, 180 metre high tower just passes “skyscraper” status.

Why You Should Visit:
An architectural masterpiece, deservedly listed in the book '1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die'.

Great view from Tower Bridge or from the Sky Garden.
If you want to visit it or have a meal in the restaurant on the top floor, you must be invited; free entry is impossible, so it’s best just to take photos from the plaza outside the building to avoid having to give proof of identity and DNA samples before you are allowed in through the front door.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in London, England

Create Your Own Walk in London

Create Your Own Walk in London

Creating your own self-guided walk in London is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

All across the globe William Shakespeare is referred to as the preeminent writer in the English language and the leading dramatist. His London was a very small world, and the theatrical world within that was even smaller. This 3-hours walk will take you to the significant Shakespeare places in London.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Kensington/Knightsbridge Walk

Kensington/Knightsbridge Walk

Situated just below Hyde Park, Knightsbridge and South Kensington are two adjacent neighborhoods with grand Victorian homes and leafy garden squares. The area is also a shopper's paradise featuring grand luxury stores, whereas museumgoers will find a number of excellent museums on history, science and arts. On this self guided walk, you will visit former Princess Diana's residence,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 km
West End Nightlife

West End Nightlife

Be prepared for the exciting, throbbing sensation of London's nightlife, one of the best in the world. You will find everything you are looking for: trendy clubs, hot atmosphere and exclusive drinks. Follow this London West End nightlife tour to get the party started!

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

Shopping in London is a must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades and from snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street there are a host of shops selling items which typically depict this vibrant city. Whether you are looking for something uniquely English as souvenir for yourself or gift for friends, you will find great inspiration in the shops featured on this...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Harry Potter Walk in London

Harry Potter Walk in London

The arrival of Harry Potter books, followed by tremendously successful Hollywood adaptation, has made London even more popular now with the Harry Potter fans all over the world. The list of attractions in the city associated with Potter’s journeys includes both, newly-invented as well as some long-standing locations. To follow in the footsteps of the young wizard and his friends in the British...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.8 km
Charles Dickens London Walking Tour

Charles Dickens London Walking Tour

Born in Portsmouth in 1812, Charles John Huffam Dickens was the second child to arrive in a big family of his father, a Naval clerk. At the age of three, Dickens traveled to London along with his family, upon which two years later they moved to Chatham in Kent. Starting circa 1840 until his death in 1870, Dickens remained the most famous and popular writer in the world. He authored some of...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.0 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

Most visitors to London consider shopping as part of their must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades to snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street, there are a host of shops selling items which typically represent this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in London for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best London has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting London's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the London Pass, London Explorer Pass, or iVenture Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple London's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of London hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Trafalgar St. James London Curio collection by Hilton, Corinthia Hotel London, The Grand at Trafalgar Square.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as London, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of London typically costs somewhere between US$30 and US$130 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of London from the open top of the bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the six interconnecting routes, plus get on board the Thames River Sightseeing Cruise. The tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

- Spend half a day pedaling your way around London Royal Parks on a guided bike tour to see the city's most spectacular highlights stopping at some for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions from a knowledgeable group leader.

- Commit yourself to a full-day of sightseeing to appreciate the English capital in its full splendor complete with its top (UNESCO-listed and other) attractions, plus to enjoy a sightseeing cruise down the River Thames, and more.

- Dive into Britain’s royal and political history on the Westminster Abbey & Houses of Parliament tour for an up-close view of the country's two most prominent landmarks that have been in place and duly served their purpose for almost a millennium.

- Explore the WWII chapter of the British history on a guided 2-hour walking tour of Churchill War Rooms & Westminster to see how they operated back in those days. Hear some little-known war tales and tidbits about London and the country's most celebrated leader, Winston Churchill.

- Satisfy your penchant for English tradition, glamour and food culture in style with an afternoon tea experience at the 5-star Grosvenor House Hotel in London complete with a full set of lovely cakes, sandwiches and tea!

- If you're into music, give yourself a treat, whilst in London, to the Musical Theater Show at Apollo Victoria Theatre presenting the alternate side of the famous Wizard of Oz story previously untold.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in London, why not use it to explore some out-of-town destinations like the Warner Bros. Studio London, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle, Cotswolds, or Leeds Castle, Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury. For as little as circa US$100+ to US$120+ per person you will get a chance to explore the postcard-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage sights, get behind-the-scenes of the mystical world of Harry Potter, see what has been the home of the British Royals for the past 900 years, explore the ancient rock formations, Roman Baths and medieval castles, walk the streets of the charming hometown of William Shakespeare, check out one of the world’s most prestigious universities, get to see the picture-perfect region officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, otherwise known as “forever England,” renowned for its quaint villages and rolling hills, admire the symbolic White Cliffs of Dover, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up straight from your hotel in London and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or train (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.