There are countless fabulous tours of London, whether on foot, bus or boat. But here are 10 which might not have been on your radar, offering you a very unusual way to see the city.
Take to the Water on a Kayaking Tour
For a tour with a difference, why not kayak across London? Kayaking London offers various routes by day or night, all of which start and finish in Chelsea. Pick of the bunch is "Big Ben & Back", "Big Ben by Night" and "Discover London", which takes you past the Houses of Parliament, HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge.
See the City from Above on a Helicopter Tour
The London Helicopter Tours, taking 12, 18 or 30-minutes, are guaranteed to be a highlight of your trip. Whichever route you choose, you’ll soar 1,000ft before swooping between iconic sights such as The Shard and Gherkin, Coca-Cola London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral and Big Ben—very James Bond!
Visit the Queen's Favourite Shops on the Royal Warrants Tour
Over 200 establishments have been awarded the Royal warrant, the official seal of approval granted to businesses that provide goods or services to the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh or Prince of Wales. Each has their own coat of arms that is displayed on their shop fronts, with some businesses such as Fortnum & Mason showing all three. On a four-hour luxury Royal Warrants Luxury Shopping Tour—new for this year—you’ll be guided around Bond Street’s shops. You will also have chance to meet the world’s oldest and smallest police force: the Beadles, in Burlington Arcade.
Learn About Democracy on the Parliament Tour
When the film "Suffragette" was released last October, Houses of Parliament launched a tour in honour of the scenes that were shot there. The "Votes for Women!" Family Tour proved so popular it’s running again in February and March, for a limited time. The one-hour tour begins with a mock election: Would you vote for or against ice cream for all? Then you’ll learn how a suffragette chained herself to the railings outside the parliamentary post office, while another threw a hammer through a window. You’ll visit the Lords and Commons, too.
Relive the Italian Job with a Mini Cooper Tour
See the city in style with smallcarBIGCITY’s Mini Tours, as you whiz through London in a restored 1960s Mini Cooper. Driven by your guide, with a maximum of three passengers, these iconic British cars are the perfect way to see sights without the usual tour crowds. There are several tours to choose from, including an Italian Job-themed excursion—complete with boiler suits and flat caps.
Enjoy Guilty Pleasures on a Chocolate Tour
For chocoholics, this Sunday two-hour walking tour by London Mystery Walks is a must (tel: 0208 526 7755). Former cocoa trader, Paul Mansfield, takes you around Mayfair’s chocolatiers such as Godiva on Regent Street, teaching you about how cocoa is grown and made into chocolate. Go hungry, as you’ll get to sample terrific truffles and ganaches.
Climb on Board for an Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
Combine two classic London experiences in one with BB’s Afternoon Tea Bus Tour. Once aboard a vintage red Routemaster bus, you’ll see iconic landmarks such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace while indulging in a traditional high tea of sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries.
Say 'Cheers' on a Gin Tour
Take the two-and-a-half-hour tour of Beefeater London: The Home of Gin and you’ll be guided through 195 years of gin making. As well as visiting the distillery’s still house and learning about the hand-crafted production process, you’ll sample various gins before finishing with a Beefeater gin and tonic.
Be Like Bond on an Espionage London Tour
James Bond fans will be thrilled to meet a real life former spy on Espionage London, an evening tour that’s new this month. Your secret agent will delve into London’s sinister side, revealing where spies meet in the city, how they communicate and how he exposed international espionage scandals. The six-hour tour includes a three-course dinner in a boutique hotel, during which you can ask questions to another former senior intelligence operative.
Get Creative with an Art tour
This monthly Saturday Art Tour scratches beneath the surface of the capital’s glossy art fairs and preview parties. It begins over tea and coffee in The Library at Brown’s Hotel, where you’ll learn about sculpture, rare books, contemporary and fine art in Cork Street’s galleries and appointment-only townhouses. Your guide, a gallery owner, will take you to four top galleries such as Gallery of African Art, Victoria Miro and White Cube. before a three-course set lunch with wine in HIX Mayfair—look out for a Tracey Emin neon in The Donovan Bar.