Planning to visit London and want to know if city sightseeing tours are worth it for you? In this article, we’ll go over the different ways you can explore London, what to expect from guided tours, and their benefits. That way, you can decide if London tours are worth it for you and which ones to take.
Pro Tip: It’s easier to organize your trip when you have all your resources in one place. Bookmark this post along with our dedicated guide to London for more planning resources, our best London tours for a memorable trip, and the top things to do in London.
What Does It Mean To “See London”?
When we think of the UK, the city of London will certainly spring to mind with its red double-decker buses, black cabs, and lush green parks. The city has hundreds of years of history and tradition, so visiting iconic sites like Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben makes for an unforgettable experience.
London also has something for absolutely everybody in every season of the year. It’s a huge cosmopolitan city, with lots of people going about their daily lives plus tourists. It can be a bit intimidating to tackle London town all on your own.
To really see London and its popular tourist attractions, joining a sightseeing tour may be the best way to go—provided you find the right one for you. Different tours will cover different areas of interest. Read on to find out the best ways to explore the city for you.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our article on the best London tours to take and why.
Areas of Interest
If this is your first time in London, we recommend sticking to the city centre. Not only is there a lot to see in the city centre, but most of the attractions first-time visitors to London want to see are located there. You’ll also have easy access to the top sites on foot, by tube, or by bus. Even after taking a tour, you’ll be well-located to continue the rest of your trip.
The city of London is divided by the river Thames, so there’ll be attractions to see on both sides of the river. A number of iconic bridges connect the north and south banks, making it easy to go between the two. Both sides of the river are also full of free things to see. You can enjoy dynamic markets, street performers, and shops on either side of the Thames.
If, however, this isn’t your first time in London, you may want to go further afield. London has great connections to other important tourist attractions in the UK. How about visiting the breathtaking Windsor Castle just a short distance from the London city centre? Is a day trip to see Stonehenge on your bucket list? What about visiting the Harry Potter world of wizardry at the Warner Bros Studios?
You can purchase tickets for the sightseeing tours individually. But we recommend deciding which areas you want to explore here. There are three main zones: the city of Westminster, the city of London, and Southwark (think: Tower of London).
The City of Westminster
With a city as big as London, it’s not surprising that it comprises what were once, centuries ago, independent towns and boroughs. Well, the City of Westminster is on the north bank of the river. This is the area referred to as Inner London: the very heart of the city centre. Here, you’ll find many famous buildings, including Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace.
The City of London
Traditionally the financial district of London, this part of the city is where you’ll see tall skyscrapers. It’s the new, flashy part of London. Passing through the city, you’ll encounter St. Paul’s Cathedral as well as other famous monuments like the Old Bailey, and the Monument—the memorial to the great fire of London. Finally, the Tower of London is right on the border with the city of London in Southwark.
Southwark is the oldest part of the southern bank of the river Thames. In fact, it used to be a separate city. It’s definitely worth it to head over to explore Southwark. We recommend you cross over via Tower Bridge after visiting the Tower of London. In Southwark, you’ll also see monuments like the Shard and the Borough Market area—one of the best places to eat in London.
If you’re looking to see London from a different perspective, you can get to Southwark by boat. Head to the area of Embankment where you’ll find many services to get you from one side of the river and back again.
Is a Sightseeing Tour of London Worth It?
Short answer: Yes, of course it’s worth it!
We’re a tour company, so obviously we think London tours are worth it—as long as it’s the right tour with a small group and a great guide. Not all attractions need tours for you to enjoy them. With London’s long history and rich traditions, however, you’ll definitely want to hear all the background history and intriguing stories of its attractions. London is one of the greatest tourist destinations in the world after all, and you’ll get the most from the experience with a guide.
There’s also a lot to see in London. If you’re short on time or just aren’t really sure what to see and how to fit it all in, you’ll have a wonderful stress-free day on a tour like our London in a Day, for example. However, if you’d prefer to explore on your own, we’ve got you covered with our London Guide. Our top goal is to enrich the global community with culture and knowledge.
Another important reason why a London tour is worth it is the benefit of skipping the lines. London welcomes many visitors every year and, as such, there are queues for everything, including top attractions of course. There’s a high demand for tickets at any time of the day. So, if you don’t plan ahead, you may be disappointed. Here are a few reasons why we (and many of our customers) think a guided tour of London is really worth your time and money.
Guaranteed Admission Tickets
Tickets to places like Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London sell out quickly. If you’re planning on seeing more than one attraction in a day, it gets really hard to plan out the various entry times.
Fortunately, we’ve been doing tours for a long time and are great at getting tickets and planning streamlined visits to various attractions. In fact, even we sell out during the busy summer months! That’s because with our tickets, you’re guaranteed entry to the London attraction of your choice. We like happy travelers and we know how important it is to have peace of mind on vacation!
This summer, the queues for the Tower of London averaged nearly 2 hours long! Even people with pre-purchased tickets queued for far longer than anticipated! With a guided tour or our skip-the-line tickets, you’ll get VIP access reserved for tour operators like us. Go straight through and enjoy your time exploring instead of wasting time in a long queue.
Great Tour Guides
Sure, anyone can go to Wikipedia and read about this place or that. But it doesn’t compare to having a professional guide with you to give you deeper knowledge, share curiosities and anecdotes, and answer all your questions in the moment.
Tour guides do this every day and have trained very hard to be able to help you understand and appreciate why all the places you visit with them matter. They’re passsionate about what they do and the places they take you. What could be better than seeing the Tower of London with someone who knows and loves the history, long-held traditions, and fascinating stories of the monument?
We know from experience that the smaller the group the better the tour is for you. That’s why we keep our tour groups small. You’ll have a more intimate experience of the places you visit with a guide who can focus on your groups interests and questions. Beyond an epic tour of top attractions, small groups make it easier to get around, meet new people, and enjoy what travelling is all about.
River Cruise Combo
Cruising down the Thames is a beautiful experience, particularly at night as you catch all the lights and colours of the different sides of the city. Our guided tours of London usually include a river cruise—the Thames is an iconic part of London! There’s nothing better after a day of sightseeing than enjoying a relaxing river cruise with breathtaking views.
If you decide to go on a day trip to any of the attractions outside of London, you’ll quickly realise that transport can be an issue, particularly if you’re traveling in a small group. With our tour tickets, you don’t need to worry about transport. Simply turn up and let your guide and driver take care of the rest. All we need from you is an open mind ready to learn and have fun.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our London Guide for more resources.
Most Popular Tours Of London
Our most popular tours of London combine different attractions, vary in length, and offer unique experiences. The right tours for you will depend on your interests, how long you’re in the city for, and your budget. Here are the most popular tours of London, just for you:
Our top-selling London tour is a must when you’re traveling to the heart of the United Kingdom. Your local guides are highly qualified and can share an unreal amount of cool facts and stories about London’s iconic sites and history. Starting at Westminster Abbey, you’ll be amazed at just how much of London you can see on foot and on a Thames river cruise.
Your skip-the-line tickets help you maximize your time, and your guides know all the best spots to see the Changing of the Guard. Your final stop at the Tower of London brings London’s more grisly history to life. It’s the perfect place to end your busy day tour of London!
Looking for a guided tour of London’s oldest fortress? Our passionate London guides are ready to take you! This tour starts with a gentle cruise on a River Thames taxi boat where you’ll see London’s iconic skyline and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater from a new perspective.
Then, dive deep into history at the Tower of London where your guide makes your trip easy by explaining what you’re seeing in this massive complex. Legends of the ravens, stories of the Beefeaters, a visit to the crown jewels, and much more are included!
Clients love our skip-the-line access to the famous Westminster Abbey where they can enjoy a few minutes of quiet time with their guide in the nave of the abbey before the public enters. There’s more to see at Westminster than you think, so having a knowledgeable guide to lead you through the Quire, Poet’s Corner, and more, is extremely helpful. And if the Changing of the Guard happens on the day of your tour, they’ll be sure to help you see it from several vantage points.
A trip through ancient history is just what you need while in London for a few days. Let us take the hassle out of arranging transportation and tickets while you sit back and relax on this day trip from London.
You’ll hit up the top sites for British, Druid, and Roman history within a few hours of the city, thanks to your driver-guide who loves sharing these sites with travelers. A visit inside Windsor Castle, time to explore Stonehenge, and free time in the city of Bath to explore will round out your full day trip.
Early birds, unite! This early morning trip to Stonehenge from London is ideal for anyone who wants to see these ancient ruins under the soft light of dawn. Leave the driving to a local guide who will also provide you with early access tickets to see this monument before the general public. Also included is a stop at the Salisbury Cathedral where you’ll find the tallest spire in the United Kingdom and an original Magna Carta.
If you’re interested in seeing more ancient ruins outside of London than just Stonehenge, then check out this tour! You’ll start your day trip from London with a local driver-guide who’ll take you to the manmade mound called Silbury Hill and the nearby 5,000-year-old burial grounds. Stops at Avebury to see a mini Stonehenge and the supposedly haunted Red Lion Pub are up next before heading to Stonehenge at sunset.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our article on the best London tours to take and why.