Whether it’s self-guided or in the presence of a most knowledgeable guide, the City of London offers anyone with an interest in its architecture and history a chance to become that bit more familiar with the capital’s thriving heart simply by taking to its streets. Step away from the taxi, and even the bus: lace up your walking boots (or comfiest shoes) and get ambling through London’s bustling, beautiful centre with any of these brilliant walking tours.
1. An Artist’s Eye: Buildings, Sculpture, and Beyond
A large part of the City’s artistic wonders lay within the bounds of its churches. Not all these pieces are of an overtly religious nature, however. From Naomi Blake’s Sanctuary at St Botolph Aldgate (Aldgate High Street, EC3N 1AB) to Sukhi Barber’s Radiance at St Bartholomew-the-Great (Church House, Cloth Fair, EC1A 7JQ), find your way from the former to the latter and treat yourself to a pint in the Rising Son at Cloth Fair after (once a favourite of John Betjeman).
2. Literary Landscape: From the Bard to Dickens and More
From the preferences of a poet, to the haunts of other writers gone by, why not try following in the footsteps of Shakespeare by making your way up from Blackfriars Playhouse (Playhouse Yard, EC4Y 7HL), through Guildhall Great Hall and Library (Gresham Street, EC2 7HH), down past Leadenhall Market (Gracechurch Street And Lime Street, EC3V 1LT), and over Tower Bridge to end up at the Globe Theatre (Gracechurch Street And Lime Street, EC3V 1LT)? If you’ve determinedly stayed away from the Bard since school, then take a page out of Dickens’ book(s) of inspiration and amble down from Doughty Street (his original place of residence) to just past St Paul’s Cathedral.
3. The Roman Road: History’s Highways
Of course, Londinium was the City’s name back in AD43, so a walking tour of its fundamental outline and remaining substance is a must. Less sprawling than other options, the original bridge that crossed over the Thames was the only means of access to Londinium for 1,700 years. Brush up on your Latin and take in such sites as Tower Hill City wall (7-9 Copthall Avenue, EC2R 7NJ) and the Royal Exchange (3 Royal Court, EC3V 3LN).
4. A Greener Gander: Trees and Other Nature
If you often strive to escape urbanity without losing your city-based job, a nature-focused tour of London’s arboreal wonders might be just the thing for you. From the 25 metre-high Sweet Gum near St Paul’s Cathedral to the London Plane on Cheapside (believed to have been purchased for sixpence 250 years ago), and the mature Fig Tree of the Rotunda Garden (West Smithfield,nEC1A 9BD) – it may seem strange, but the City really is a marvel of natural delights.
5. A Modern View: Finance and the Future
Nonetheless, a walking tour of the City would never be complete without a proper look at the structures housing the world of finance. Yet, looking beyond the obvious merits of the Square Mile in an exploration on foot (when all that awesome architecture has been well appreciated), don’t forget to consider also the non-monetary markets that lie in the surroundings, such as Smithfield (225 Central Markets, EC1A 9LH).