If its good weather, there is nothing better than to go out and explore London! One of the best ways is to go by foot. You might not be able to cover as much distance as if going by Public Transport or bike, but its definitely quality over quantity here.
Here are a few ways to get going.
1) Just go somewhere!
This might be stating the obvious but its great fun just to pick an area that you have never been before, take public transport or cycle there and just have a look around! London is always changing so even areas you know can look and feel different after a few months!
Just turn up, walk around, visit shops, visit café’s, museums etc. The app “Foursquare” has been a good companion on these occasions as it usually gives good reviews from locals and points you to places you might like based on your preferences.
To “just go” somewhere, there are so many places to name. But some true favourites of mine where I tend to take people when they visit me are
- Regent’s Canal (especially the stretch from King’s Cross to Camden / Primrose Hill) – make sure to visit Granary square – see picture above), nose around Camden Lock and enjoy the Primrose Hill Panorama!)
- Shoreditch to Bricklane – even though its now mainstream tourist staple, it’s a lively area and it has some of the best street art in London. My favourite Route is to go through Rivinton Street to Shoreditch High street and then via Redchurch street to Bricklane. Below some street Art pictures – from Redchurch Street Area (left) and Rivington Street (right)
2) Buy a guidebook and follow any of the walks in there
If you don’t have a clue where to go or want to dig up some inspiration, there are countless London guide books. They range from the classical general tourist guides to books featuring quirky neighbourhoods or “secret” locations, but there are also many that have set walks around all sorts of areas. The nice thing about those is that you usually already get excited when you are at home reading about all possible places to go and make your plans.
Timeout’s “London Walks” or “London’s hidden Walks” by Metropublications are some easy ones to start with.
3) Walk along one of TFL’s official London Trails
TFL has signposted seven different walking trails in and around London, ranging from 15 miles (for the Jubilee Walkway) to about 150 miles for the London LOOP (London Outer Orbital Path), nicknamed the “M25 for walkers”. All trails are split into sections to follow. My favourite here is the “Jubilee Greenway”- see below.
More details on all of those can be found on the TFL Website http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/walking/top-walking-routes
4) Go on a guided walk
Guided walks are a great way to really discover an area. Even if you been there 100 times, a good guide will be able to open your eyes to the history of an area, point out small details you never noticed before and will usually open up a whole new layer of knowledge.
There are 2 organisations I walk regularly with, namely
The major difference between the two is that London Walks has more generalist walks and you can just go and turn up without pre-booking, whereas Footprints of London has really excellent special interest walks in all types of neighbourhoods and you need to pre-book the walk.
But there are many more walks out there so hopefully you’ll find some that you like.
After lots of thinking, these are probably my Top Five Walks (4 guided, 1 self- guided)
1) All change at King’s Cross (Footprints of London, check schedule for next dates)
My all-time favourite and always changing walk. Rob always jokes he has to re-research the walk about every time he does it because the area around King’s Cross and the Canal is undergoing the largest urban revitalisation in Western Europe. And Rob takes you right in the middle of it.
2) Old Hampstead Village (London Walks, usually on Sundays, see schedule)
Does a great job on introducing Hampstead, a village that seems very far away from the hustle and bustle of London. My first foray into Zone 3 (almost…)
3) Walking the Jubilee Greenway (self-guided)
Established in 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee, the Jubilee Greenway is 60km long, going from Central London along the Regent’s Canal all the way to the Olympic Park, via the Thames path to Greenwhich and the Tower Bridge and its really a “Best of London walk”
4) Walking the Hidden River Fleet (Footprints of London, check schedule for next dates)
This is a day-long marathon walk, starting in Hampstead Heath and going all the way down to the Thames. Split in 3 separate walks (in case you can’t spare a whole day), it traces the River Fleet from its Source in Hampstead all the way down to the Thames. Along the way you learn the areas along this path, from Hampstead Heath, to King’s Cross and Farringdon (and many more)
5) The Olympic Games Walk (London Walks)
I took this walk before and directly after the Olympic Games and it did a great job introducing the park, the games and all the excitement before and after the games. Since then, the park has changed, opened for the public etc. I have not been on the new walk, but I am sure that the guides still do a great job to show you the area and explain the transformation and impact the Games have brought to this part of London.