Hiring a private tour guide or joining a public tour in London can be one of the best ways to experience the capital as a tourist, or even as a Londoner. You might be looking for an accredited Blue Badge Guide for a private tour of the Tower of London, someone with Harry Potter magical know-how, or a tour guide who knows secret, quirky, hidden or historic London inside out. Perhaps you want to tag along on a guided public tour, book a personal walking tour for your own party, or create a customised London tour, bespoke-created for you and yours. From Blue Badge experts to everyday London gurus, here is a selection of some of the best tour guides in London.
London’s Best Tour Guides
Alex Lacey hit the career jackpot when she discovered she wanted to become a London tour guide. She worked in tourism for most of her adult life but discovered that what really made her tick was getting out and about, chatting to people and helping them discover London’s secret, hidden gems.
She covers a wide range of areas and subjects including the Georgian sex industry, film and TV, street art, food and drink, photography and London’s major sightseeing landmarks. Alex can also create bespoke private tours. And if you fancy a virtual puzzle, she hosts the brilliant Tudor Escape Box.
Alex is a Blue Badge Guide and was St Paul’s Guide of the Year in 2015. She runs tours in English, Dutch and French. If you love your London history, you will want to head over to her Ladies who London podcast and her Instagram page here.
- Pack your wands for one of the best: the Harry Potter Wizarding Wander walking tour
- For the grown-ups, she loves dishing out fun facts about London’s Georgian history in her signature Harlots and Bawds tour (which I can confirm will have you hot under the collar!)
- Blood and Guts in Smithfield and Clerkenwell
- Black Londoners
- Women of Westminster
- Slavery in the City of London
- Glorious Greenwich
Alex, please share a quirky fact about London? Did you know there is a hangman’s noose you can find behind a pub along the river? Go down the tiny little Pelican Stairs alleyway alongside the Prospect of Whitby pub, and you will find the noose, reminding us of the pirates who used to be executed near here on Execution Dock. Grisly, huh?!
How to book a tour with Alex:
Due to Covid restrictions, Alex is currently capping the group size for her London public tours to 12 (she normally hosts 20). These cost £15 per person and you can book via her website. For private London tours, please contact Alex directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0) 7790308887. Prices start at £180 for a 2-hour tour.
“Oh my! Can we bottle this tour guide?! I took a tour of an area I’ve visited in London regularly for the last decade. When I return, everything will feel new & undiscovered again because Alex really opened my eyes to what was around me. Her knowledge brings the surroundings alive, and her passion leaves you energised & hopeful for the future of culture in this country.”
Minna Andersen has been keeping busy throughout lockdown with her addictive historical talks and virtual walking tours. She specialises in Richmond, St James’s and Mayfair, Kensington, Notting Hill and Hampton Court.
Originally from Finland, Minna delivers her tours in (perfect) English and Finnish. 30 years ago, she decided to set herself the challenge of working her way through the Blue Badge Tourist Guide course and is still loving and discovering the capital city she fell in love with all those years ago. Her knowledge of London history is nonpareil and delivered with infectious enthusiasm.
- Royal London
- Aristocratic London
- 1000 years of the Tower of London and Southwark
- Historic Richmond
- Queen Victoria’s Kensington and the birth of the museums
- National Gallery
- Henrys and Georges in Hampton Court
- Marble Hill House and Gardens
- Orleans House in Twickenham
Minna, please share a quirky fact about London? Cleopatra’s Needle on Embankment has a Victorian Era time capsule buried at its base, and it includes that day’s newspapers, railway timetables, some bibles in different languages, coins, razor blades and 12 photographs of the most beautiful women in England!!
How to book a tour with Minna:
Her live walking tours are all private and the maximum group number is 10-15 people. Her main clients include DMCs (destination management companies), agencies, corporates, airlines and universities. She can also put together a customised tour. Book via her website or by emailing her on email@example.com
“A big thanks also to the very special Minna Andersen. What a gem. She had us captivated from the first word and somehow managed to keep their attention until the very last day. She brought great hospitality to the program and provided a wonderful red thread throughout, connecting the first through to the very last day.” (Australian VVIP corporate organiser)
Katie Wignall of LOOK UP LONDON
I came across Katie back in 2017 when we were both Time Out community bloggers. Katie left her job at the National Theatre in 2013 to pursue guiding full time. She trained as a Blue Badge Tourist Guide and qualified in 2018 with “best overall presentations.” She knows her London stuff inside and out and has become famous during lockdown for her virtual walking tours of London.
She specialises in walks for Londoners, helping them rediscover the city and encouraging them to look up (as well as look down). Katie also hosts private museum and gallery tours and London sightseeing tours.
TripAdvisor ratings place Katie as one of London’s best tour guides (she’s regularly in the top 3). Most days, you’ll see her walking around London or burrowing somewhere in the city’s underbelly – and sharing the magic with us on her blog or on her Instagram.
Look Up London Tours
- Bankside Behaving Badly
- The City: Power and Sacrifice
- Bermondsey: Off the Beaten Track
- Quirky Bloomsbury
- Sordid Soho
- Southwark’s Saucy Secrets
- The Spirit of Spitalfields
Katie, share a quirky London secret with us? “Too many to share! Come see the Russian WWII tank in Bermondsey, or the Roman ruins in a Hairdresser’s basement, a pub with a famous stuffed parrot and where coffee was first sold in London!”
How to book a tour with Look Up London:
Get booking as her public tours sell out quickly! Groups are for a maximum of 10 people (including Katie) and cost £20 per person. You can book them here or contact her directly for a private tour of London. These start at £180 based on two people for approximately 90 minutes.
“The best tour of London I have ever been on. I have walked those streets hundreds of times on my way to and from work, and yet discovered so many new things that I had never even noticed before. Katie’s energy, humour and passion made it a very relatable and funny tour, and all of us were blown away by all the fascinating stories and details she revealed to us. I would recommend it to any Londoner, even if you think you know those streets like the back of your hand. You do not!” (recent Tripadvisor review)
Antony Robbins of MR LONDONER
Antony (aka Mr Londoner) is a London Blue Badge Guide, holds a Tourism diploma and was one of the directors of the Museum of London. Antony is a regular guest on David Grant’s BBC Radio London programme who describes Mr Londoner as “the coolest man on the planet.”
A born-and-bred Londoner, he loves working with adventurous guests who want to have fun and see the city through the eyes of a local. His favourite neighbourhoods include Shoreditch, Soho and Bankside. As a Blue Badge, he is accredited to tour around St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. Antony also works further afield in Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Canterbury.
I met him during one of his popular Bankside tours (on a wet and windy night when a post-tour pick-me up was definitely required!) You can read more about that here.
Antony creates bespoke tours according to each clients’ individual needs. He specialises in the secret and the hidden and likes to lead his group off the beaten track. Antony also hosts popular bike tours of London.
Mr Londoner Tours
- The Liberty of the Clink
- London Icons
- London at War
- Hidden, Secret, Lost
- Menswear and Making
- Sex, Death and Shopping
- Magical Mystery Tour
Mr Londoner, please share a fun London fact? “Bankside gave the world the drag queen. In Shakespeare’s day, women were forbidden from treading the boards. Young men took female roles instead and became the ‘queens of the drag’.”
How to book a tour with Mr Londoner
“I went on Mr Londoner’s tour of lockdown London and was genuinely impressed. Antony was exceptional and was able to show a different side of London that I didn’t think was possible through a camera. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wanted to see London from the comfort of their own home.”
Oliver Briggs of BRITISH BRIGGSY
Oliver is London’s youngest tour guide and is passionate about London’s history – the good, the bad and the ugly. He specialises in royal history and can often be seen running around London in his signature bowling hat, recording videos for his YouTube, Instagram and TikTok channels.
He specialises in Westminster and the City of London but works further afield, also covering parts of south east England.
His “Welcome to London” tour is a tourist extravaganza, whizzing through 1000 years of history, from Parliament Square to Buckingham Palace. You’ll meet Cromwell, Churchill and Her Majesty the Queen in this whistle-stop sightseeing tour of some of the most famous landmarks in the city.
Oliver, please share a fun historical fact about London with us? “During the Great Fire of 1666, which started in Pudding Lane and saw most of London brought down to ash, the famous diarist Samuel Pepys decided instead of running away that he would bury cheese and wine in his garden.”
How to book a tour with Oliver Briggs
Tours cost £15 per adult and £7 per child for a 60-minute tour. The tour can include optional props and costumes. Oliver also runs virtual tours. Contact him via his email for additional information.
“Oliver worked with us for trail walks around Westminster… Oliver was very confident, likeable and adaptable in performing the tour in a clear and engaging way. Having been a success, I asked him to run three tours for our school – to both primary and preschool children. He showed a real enthusiasm for engaging with the students to ensure they were given the best experience possible, demonstrating a wide range of knowledge retained as the walk around London content. He was able to adapt quickly to any challenges faced and sought to overcome language barrier issues through his use of a mix of facial expressions, actions and a Paddington Bear toy. He was able to speak and project clearly and was confident in keeping our students’ attention.”
Sue Hillman of IT’S YOUR LONDON
It’s not every day your face ends up on the world-famous Piccadilly Circus digital billboard, but Sue’s was splashed across it as a thanks for her amazing charity work this last year. Pre-pandemic, Sue would kick-start her year with a 2-month volunteering stint in a range of countries, helping to build schools and give kids a better start. During the last year and due to Covid travel restrictions, she’s focused her charity work in London and has been supporting Age UK with food packing and delivery to keep the capital’s older folk properly fed. She also works with the homeless, foodbanks and much more.
I met Sue at a press view several years ago, and the depth and breadth of her knowledge about London always amazes me. I’m now proud to call her one of my friends.
Sue’s tours are all tailor-made. She is comfortable heading into most areas of London, although she tends to focus on central London. The bulk of her clientele is from the USA. She only tours in English but can speak some French and Spanish.
Some of her best tours include the Walking Tour of the City (which includes the Tower of London), hopping in and out of black cabs, or a guided tour by boat or by double decker bus. Her most popular tour for London newbies is the Big Sights Tour. London aficionados might prefer her Hidden Gems tour.
Sue, would you share a fun fact about London with us? “London black cab drivers are amazing! As well as driving safely around London they must pass a fiendishly difficult test called The Knowledge. This means they know every road and landmark within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross in central London. This amounts to around 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks along 320 key routes. It takes them two to four years to learn this. You will often see trainees out and about on bikes with maps trying to cram all that information in before the tough exam. It’s mind boggling. So, next time you take a black cab, remember there’s a genius driving!”
How to book a tour with Sue Hillman of It’s your London
Sue specialises in small private groups – anything from solo travellers to a family of six. Tailor made tours start at £250 for a half day for a small group and £500 for a full day. Contact her via email for further information. You can also follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
“We recommend Sue’s personalized London tours. She has an excellent feel for the big city and will customize your days based on your particular interests. We spent 2 days with her, one for a general introduction to the must-see sights and the second day was traveling around to different neighborhoods and lesser known, fascinating and fun places that only insiders know about. Definitely book her to discover this fascinating city of London.” (Anne and Chuck, USA)