London is a very large city with more than enough to see for locals, let alone short-term visitors. By far the best way to see large portions of the city is to take a stroll. Take a themed walk to focus on history, architecture, or even pubs. For the truly ambitious, there are very long walks that cover upwards of 50 kilometres in and around the city.
Here are 17 of the best walks in and around London to enjoy on your next adventure in this wonderful city.
The London LOOP, or the London Outer Orbital Path, covers 242 kilometres over 24 distinct sections between Erith station and Purfleet. Though the path is extremely long in entirety, the sections are manageable enough to accomplish in a morning before teatime. For the highly motivated, complete the entire LOOP to receive a special certificate of completion.
The LOOP weaves through central urban areas, natural parks, and rural neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city. Some of the sights along the walk include Hall Place, Addinton Hills, Bushy Park, and Bentley Priory. To find the path, follow clearly marked signs with white discs that point the way.
Exactly as it sounds, the Royal London Walk will take you through the must-see royal destinations throughout the city. The route is a loop that starts and ends at Westminster tube station, so it is easy to begin no matter where you’re staying. Popular sites along the walk include Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and Piccadilly Circus.
The walk will take a typical group about two hours and is best to start in the morning to coordinate with the Changing of the Guard. However, the walk can easily be spread out as a full-day activity with tea and scone stops along the way. This handy tube guide will show you the best tube station for visiting Buckingham Palace.
Also called Whitechapel Murderer and the Leather Apron, Jack the Ripper is a world-famous unidentified serial killer that was active in the 1880s. The Ripper Walk explores the portion of London’s East End where Jack the Ripper committed most of his murderous crimes, of which most of his victims were female prostitutes.
Today, this walk will lead you through the magnificent multi-cultural areas of Whitechapel and Spitalfields. Both of these areas are off the typical tourist track and are perfect for the local traveller, or frequent visitor. Since many of the areas on this three-hour walk are less popular and poorly lit, it is advised to complete this walk during daylight hours. Find out more about our Jack the Ripper tour here.
Though the East End Ramble Walk follows a similar route as the Ripper Walk, it has an entirely different historical focus. Starting near Aldgate Station, this walk was created by historian and author Richard Jones as a means to better understand the famed author, Charles Dickens.
During Dickens’ lifetime, the East End was known for dire poverty, as referenced in Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. Today, the area is in full transition and contains hipster coffee shops near immigrant-rich neighbourhoods. Using your imagination, wander the area to better understand the best Victorian author there ever was. This short walk only covers a few kilometres and is best completed during daylight.
The Tree Trail Walk was created by the Trees for Cities foundation and the City of London Festival. With over 2,500 individual trees of over 70 different species, the city of London has a lot of nature to explore within its urban limits.
To start the trail, go to St. Paul’s Cathedral garden to find your first tree. The walk should only take about an hour and highlights 11 notable trees within the Square Mile. To take full advantage of this particularly beautiful nature walk, pack a picnic and settle into any number of the parks.
Starting at the Westminster tube station, the London Bridges Walk will lead you over the River Thames repeatedly as you explore the famous bridges of London. With six total bridge crossings and a number of bridge sightings, this walk will satisfy any bridge-lover’s dream. The walk includes the famous Westminster Bridge, Tower Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, London Bridge, and Millennium Bridge.
In addition to famous bridges, this walk will provide sightings of the London Eye, the South Bank Centre, Templar’s Church, Tate Modern, Winchester Palace, and more! The walk can be done in about three hours. If completing the walk in the winter months, aim to go around lunchtime to avoid high winds on the bridges.
The City of London created the Lights, Camera, Action Walk to highlight a number of famous locations throughout the city that were featured in dozens of popular films. This walk is perfect for movie-lovers and celebrity fans alike. Many of the featured locations are famous in their own right and warrant a visit for any tourist.
The two-hour walk features locations from Harry Potter, Love Actually, V for Vendetta, Mission Impossible, Shakespeare in Love, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and 101 Dalmatians – which covers nearly every category of film that exists!
If ale is your preferred beverage, then the Riverside Pub Walk is the one for you! This journey can be completed at the pace of a crawl to enjoy the food and beverage offerings along the way. The route crosses back and forth over the River Thames to visit some riverside pubs and historic sites like Brunel’s Engine House.
Your journey begins at Rotherhithe Station and wanders to four nearby pubs – the perfect amount to have a light drink at each! It is advised not to do this walk alone at night, as the pub areas are not well lit.
9. Writers Walk
The London Writers Walk begins at Tottenham Court Station and wanders through the Bloomsbury area of the city. The tour will highlight locations that inspired world-famous authors such as George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, and many other authors of a variety of genres including the aforementioned Charles Dickens.
The two-hour walk also passes the British Museum. This nationally famous museum not only has free entry, but is a perfect escape if the weather turns during your walk, since there is little shelter along the route. Here are some other great museums to visit.
The Designs of the Times Walk is perfect for any architecture lovers that visit London. The City of London designed this route to showcase modern architectural feats. Traditionally, London has been known for its Gothic and Victorian architecture. But as a global leader in business and finance in the modern world, the city has also made remarkable leaps forward in contemporary architecture. This tour will walk you through some of the most recent developments throughout the city featuring high rises, reflective buildings, and unique shapes.
The City Gardens Walk is not just one single walk, but a collection of walks scattered around London. The gardens in the city are all part of a network of open spaces, gardens, and parks intended to sustain London as a world-class city. Each space has a unique function for its neighbourhood and for the conservation of wildlife and historic landscapes.
One of the most well known parks in this network is Bunhill Fields Burial Grounds. The name is thought to be derived from ‘Bone Hill’, as it was used for burials over thousands of years. By the time burials ceased in 1854, historians estimate around 123,000 people were buried on these grounds. Today, there is a lovely, shaded path to weave through the head stones.
Another trail with British historical significance is the Kenley Airfield Heritage Trail. The English Heritage group claims this area is ‘the most complete fighter airfield associated with the Battle of Britain to have survived’.
The trail runs around the area and is dotted with history boards, which explain the significance and influence of the pilots, the ground crew, and the local communities during the two World Wars. While meandering along the trail, look up! You won’t see fighter planes today, but you are likely to spot one of the many gliders that silently float over the landscape.
The London Ghost Walk is a collection of walks that was created by historian and author Richard Jones. As one of the oldest cities in the Western world, it should be of no surprise that London is full of haunted buildings and eerie spirits. Richard claims that these trails will show you everything paranormal that London has to offer.
Some of these walks can be self-guided, while others are best done with a tour guide to help identify the unnatural spirits surrounding you. The self-guided walks begin at Bank Station and wander through haunted banks, supernatural pubs and mysterious happenings, and is best done on a weekday night, when the streets are nearly empty and extra spooky.
14. Shopping Walk
It is not surprising that the Shopping Walk through this fashion-forward country is one of the most popular. Many tourists are likely to meander this path in search of trends at some point during their London holiday.
The walk begins at Piccadilly and will take about three hours of just walking. However, if you plan to shop along the way, this should be started at breakfast and may take all day long. The route visits some of the city’s famous shopping areas such as Regent Street and Carnaby Street. Historical stores such as Smythson, Hamleys, and Fortnum and Mason can also be visited along the way for a well-rounded day of shopping.
If the Shopping Walk peaks your interest, take a peek at our full London shopping guide.
15. Legal Walk
If there are any lawyers or history buffs in your entourage, then the Legal Walk should be your top choice. This walk will emphasise many buildings that have had important associations with the English legal system. Some of the highlights include Ludgate Hill, Fleet Street, Chancery Lane, and Blackfriars. However, the Temple Church is another favourite – where the Knights Templar met and ruled.
The walk starts at Blackfriars tube station and will take about two hours to complete. This walk should be completed in the late morning, before lunch, on weekdays. It is important to note that portions of this walk will be closed on the weekends.
16. Jubilee Walkway
Similar to the London LOOP Walk, the Jubilee Walkway was created by the British government and is a well-marked designated path in London. The Jubilee path is divided into five circular sections including the Western Loop, the Eastern Loop, the City Loop, the Camden Loop, and the Jubilee Loop. In total, the walkway is 63 kilometres long.
All five portions of this walk highlight some of London’s most famous tourist destinations including Tower Bridge, City Hall, Trafalgar Square, and St. James’s Park. The walkway is marked by discs featuring the cross of a crown pointing in the direction of travel. Gold discs will also pop up along the path to identify historical events. If you happen to complete all five sections of the Jubilee Walkway, you will receive a special certificate of completion to commemorate your favourite travel destination.
17. London Wall Walk
In 200 AD, the Romans built a defensive wall around what is now the city of London. Throughout many changes, the wall remained surrounding this city until the 17th century. As the population of London rapidly increased, the city no longer relied on the wall for protection and began to expand beyond the walls. Large portions of the wall were demolished in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Today, short sections of the wall remain for historical significance. The Museum of London created this three-kilometre walk for visitors to witness the remaining portions of the wall and the sites of the gates, which are now buried deep beneath the city streets.
Are you ready to get walking? Contact one of our London travel experts at Premium Tours today to organise your perfect tour of London, including a wide range of walks!