Guide to the Changing of the Guard

Posted by & filed under London.

This post tells you everything you need to know about witnessing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, when to arrive, finding the best spots as well as explaining the all of the elements of the event. This is a ceremony that traditionally takes place daily in the summer and 4 days a week throughout the rest of the year. Thousands of people will queue up for hours outside the gates of Buckingham Palace for a chance to witness a part of this most famous tradition. Basically speaking, the Changing of the Guard is a process where the ‘old’ guard (those who have been on shift already) gives up their position to the ‘new’ guard (those who are just coming onto duty). However, there is nothing basic about the enormous and impressive display that goes along with this!  TIP: The Changing of the Guard is a part of our Tour of Westminster and London in a Day Tours.



 

 

Viewing the Changing of the Guard is free.  For more ways to save, read our Guide to London on a Budget.  Also, be sure to read our post on how to visit the Crown Jewels. Read more »

Harry Potter Locations in London

Posted by & filed under London.

This particular post will focus on film sites in and around London. Not only does Harry journey to and through London throughout the 7 best-selling books, but numerous scenes from all 8 movies were filmed right here in the capital of the U.K., and each one easy to get to!  What follows is a guide to the real-life counterparts of many of the magical locations you have read in print or seen on the big screen!  Or, you can join your fellow Muggles on a walking tour of Harry Potter London film locations on our pay-what-you-like tour.  We also have more in-depth posts on finding the most sought after locations, including the Ministry of MagicDiagon Alley, Platform 9 3/4, and Borough Market (the Leaky Cauldron).


Central & West London Locations

South & East London Locations

Harry Potter Tours


 

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London Weather in August

How is the Weather in London in August?

Posted by & filed under London.

This post is an overview of the weather in London in August as well as providing tips on how to dress and what to do during this relatively warmer month.  August is one of the best months to visit as temperatures are relatively high and there is lots of sun.  It’s also a great time of year to enjoy evening activities, such as our pay-what-you-like tours, as the evening temperatures provide for very comfortable conditions.  


Average Temperatures

What to Wear

Free Tours by Foot

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The Ministry of Magic

Posted by & filed under London.

In the world of Harry Potter, the Ministry of Magic is the governing body of the magical community in the United Kingdom. Since so much of the Ministry of Magic is based on the realities of our world, it means there’s quite a bit to see for Potter lovers who are visiting us here in London! From locations mentioned in the book to filming locations, there’s a lot of the Ministry of Magic to be discovered!  The Ministry of Magic is a stop on our pay-what-you-like Harry Potter Film Location Tour.  We also have more in-depth posts on finding the most sought after locations, including Diagon Alley, Platform 9 3/4, and Borough Market (the Leaky Cauldron).


Where is the Ministry

Which Tube Station

Entrance to the Ministry of Magic


Ministry of Magic film locations in London

 

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platform 9 3/4

Platform 9 and 3/4 Harry Potter Location

Posted by & filed under London.

This post will show you how to find Platform 9 and 3/4 in London.  Every Harry Potter fan knows the most famous train platform in the world: 9 and 3/4!  Located in London’s King’s Cross Station, the barrier between platforms 9 and 10 holds the secret entrance to the magical platform that can only be accessed by running straight ahead – directly into the barrier. This takes wizards and witches out of the ‘muggle’ world and into the magical world where they can pick up the Hogwarts Express, the red steam-engine train that will speed them up to Scotland to Hogwarts. For all witches and wizards, their first entrance into the world of Hogwarts comes as soon as they step through the barrier onto Platform 9 and 3/4. It’s also worth noting that it was near this platform where Harry Potter first met Ron and the entire Weasley gang!  Be sure to check out our definitive post on all Harry Potter London film locations.  We also have more in-depth posts on finding the most sought after locations, including the Ministry of MagicDiagon Alley, and Borough Market (the Leaky Cauldron).


Getting There

Inspiration for Platform 9 3/4

Harry Potter Shop


 

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Harry Potter in Borough Market

Posted by & filed under London.

The post explains how to find the Leaky Cauldron and Third Hand Emporium at London’s Borough Market.  The Leaky Cauldron has actually two filming locations (See our Diagon Alley post for information on Leadenhall Market).  Still waiting for your invitation to Hogwarts? Us, too! But in the mean time, it IS possible to visit the world of Harry Potter. London is filled with locations connected to the books and locations used for the filming of the movies – and one of the best spots to visit is Borough Market. If you’ve ever wanted to visit The Leaky Cauldron or buy some ‘third hand’ magic books, then Borough Market is the place to go!  We also have more in-depth posts on finding the most sought after locations, including the Ministry of MagicDiagon Alley, and Platform 9 3/4.


Getting There

Film Scenes at Borough Market

Borough Market Food Tour

 


 


 


GETTING HERE

Borough Market is located just south of the river and is very easily accessible by train, bus, and on foot. Both Harry Potter locations can be seen by taking a simple stroll down StoneyStreet. Even when Borough Market is closed, the buildings are still available to visit.

Nearest Underground Station: London Bridge

Bus Routes: 43, 141, 149, 521

Why not come with us on our pay-what-you-like Harry Potter Walking Tour and visit both locations with us? 

TIP: Borough Market is arguably the BEST food market in London so considering going on our Harry Potter quest at a time when the Market is open for you to take a wander and grab a bite!

 

 


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HARRY POTTER LOCATIONS IN BOROUGH MARKET

 


 

The Leaky Cauldron – No. 7 Stoney Street, SE1 (map)

There have been two entrances to the Leaky Cauldron during the filming of the Harry Potter movies. For the first film, a shop in Leadenhall Market was used. After that, however, a small shop at Borough Market was used and features in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. A small flower shop – Chez Michele – underneath a railway arch on the edge of Borough Market serves as the entrance to the magical pub. 

 

Harry Potter The Leaky Cauldron Borough Market

 

The Third Hand Book Shop – No. 8 Stoney Street, SE1 (map)

What stands here in the regular world is The Market Porter Pub. But in the world of Harry Potter, this building serves as a “Third Hand Emporium” in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This is the location where Harry would meet his hapless future professor: Gilderoy Lockhart. 

 

Third Hand Emporium Harry Potter Borough Market

 

 

Potter-lovers will also remember Harry disembarking from his crazy journey on the Knight Bus just outside the Leaky Cauldron – and this is the exact spot that scene from the movie was filmed!

 


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The Real Diagon Alley

Posted by & filed under London.

This post explains how to get to the 2 locations for Diagon Alley in London with some background information. There are two contenders here for the REAL Diagon Alley and many Potter fans are split as to which is the ‘real’ Dragon Alley… Harry Potter’s first introduction to the wizarding world comes when Hagrid takes him through The Leaky Cauldron Pub and into the secret back entrance to Diagon Alley – and Potter-heads from all over the world have been coming here ever since to try to find this magical alleyway themselves! Here we’ve got all the information that you need to take a trip to Diagon Alley yourself!  Be sure to take our pay-what-you like Harry Potter Tour of London.


Getting There

Inspiration for Diagon Alley

The Real Diagon Alley

 


 

 

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Borough Market London

Borough Market Food Tour

Posted by & filed under London.

London is a culinary capital and food tours here are becoming more and more popular. But at Free Tours By Foot we think paying upwards of £50.00 for a food tour for a set time and date is not necessarily affordable or flexible for many visitors. So we’ve put together a self-guided food tour so anybody can explore Borough Market for FREE by themselves at any time* – you’ll only pay for the tasty treats you’ll surely purchase yourself!

This self-guided food tour leads through the world-famous Borough Market, where people come from all over the world to eat and drink. Borough Market is one of the largest food markets on the planet, and there is plenty here to get full without spending a fortune. From British food on show or international treats from across the globe – there’s always something for everybody at Borough Market.

 

 

[*Note: We recommend you visit Borough Market on the busiest days, to get the chance to see all of the stalls. This means Thursdays to Saturdays. The market closes before dinner time so try to come in the afternoon for the best experience.]

How to get to Borough Market

Start: London Bridge Underground Station

When you exit the station, follow signs for BOROUGH HIGH STREET. Walk along the High Street. Walk until you come to STONEY STREET and turn RIGHT. Take the FIRST entrance into the market on your right and immediately turn LEFT. You will pass one lot of stalls then come to a second. Your first stop is at the second lot. Here is a map of the inside of the market.

How to get to Borough Market London

 

 

Borough DrinksSTOP 1 – Olive Oil Company – Flavoured Oils and Vinegars

This is a perfect place to start your tour as the Olive Oil Company is always offering up free samples of their amazing flavoured oils and vinegars. Taste all you like – with fresh market-baked bread, of course – and purchase your favourites. The staff here know their stuff and will talk you through all the interesting flavours available – the perfect appetiser before your feast begins!

When FACING the Olive Oil Company, go to the LEFT and follow the circle of stalls around, keeping the stalls on your right. You will then come into your next stop on the other side from where the Olive Oil Company is.

STOP 2 – Borough Olives – Nocellara Olives

Olive lovers get ready: this is the holy grail! Borough Olives provides a HUGE variety of fresh olives from all over the world (think Spain, Morocco and Greece) at very affordable prices. Feel free to sample to help you discover the ones you like best, then pick up a tub of your favourite for under £5. Our suggestion is the Nocellara olives – vibrant green, HUGE, and with a thick meaty texture, they’re the best you’ll have ever had.

For those of you who are not too keen on olives, don’t worry! Borough Olives also serves up delicious salty Feta cheese, gorgeous sun fried tomatoes and a range of pesos. Think about picking up a jar, grab a delicious loaf of bread, and snack on later!

With your BACK to the Olive stall, step forward toward the next group of stalls directly ahead of you. Then go to your LEFT. Keep the stalls to your RIGHT and walk around until you get to your next stop.

STOP 3 – Parma Ham and Mozzarella Stand – Burrata and Buffalo Mozzarella

Here you’ll find some of the finest mozzarella London has to offer – soft and fresh – and we recommend stepping things up and getting the Burrata – a fresh Italian cheese made of mozzarella and cream which is impossible NOT to like. You’ll also be able to taste incredible Parma ham which is imported direct from Saint Ilario, a world renowned producer of Prosciutto di Parma. The ham, which is cured for 24 months, is described as ‘tender, lean and packed with flavour…’ We agree!

FACING the Parma Ham and Mozzarella stand, turn to your RIGHT and walk a few steps – your next stop will be directly in front of you.

STOP 4 – Bread Ahead Bakery – Foccacia Bread

To perfectly accompany your olive oils, dips, ham and cheese, you need to pick out a perfect artisan bread, and this is where you’ll find it. Bread Ahead is a pure London bakery – based in Bermondsey, in the South East of town. There’s a huge variety of bread here and, if we’re honest, everything is good! Prices run from between £2 – £7 depending on what you’d like but our personal recommendation is the foccacia bread. Depending on the day, the selection of foccacia on offer could have garlic and rosemary, tomatoes and olives, herbs and nuts…and the list goes on!

FACING Bread Ahead Bakery, walk to your LEFT. Walk until you get to the last stall on your right and then turn RIGHT. The second lot of stalls on your right will hold your next stop.

STOP 5 – Bath Soft Cheese Co. – Wyfe of Bath Cheese

The Bath Soft Cheese Co. is perfect British product. All the cheeses here are organic and are made near Bath using milk from cows owned by the same company. Their signature cheese is the Wyfe of Bath semi-hard cheese which is named after a character in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Their soft cheese is not to be missed – it is, after all, where they got their name – and has a pedigree that goes back to the 1790’s and it is even claimed that Admiral Lord Nelson enjoyed this cheese! For blue cheese lovers, there’s plenty here for you, too. It can sometimes be a bit overwhelming so talk to the staff – they’re lovely, friendly and they know exactly what they’re talking about!

When facing the Soft Cheese Co. you will see an exit out of this part of the market behind the stalls, in the direction you are facing. Take that exit which will bring you onto BEDALE STREET, which runs between the different parts of the market. Turn LEFT and this street turns into CATHEDRAL STREET. Walk as far as you can before hitting the Cathedral, and enter the market again on your RIGHT (this should be the third entrance on your RIGHT).

Immediately on your left, will be your next stop.

STOP 6 – Scotchtails – Scotch Egg and Sweet Potato Fries

Scotch eggs are a true British tradition – most often found in country pubs, they are quickly becoming the hottest pub food trend in town. A traditional scotch egg is a boiled egg, surrounded by sausage meat, rolled in breadcrumbs and then fried or baked…what’s not to like? The various eggs on offer here contain not just ordinary sausage meet but pulled pork, lamb and mint, black pudding, or even chorizo. Scotchtails also serves up a vegetarian option with the egg surrounded by beetroot and lentils. If you’ve got the space left – consider ordering their sweet potato fries which are the best to be found at the market. Price wise, Scotchtails also delivers, and you won’t have to spend more than £5 to get a delicious bite to eat.

With Scotchtails to your back, walk to your LEFT. Keep walking in this direction and turn RIGHT as soon as you can. This will lead you straight to one of the largest stalls in the market – and your next stop.

STOP 7 – Borough Nuts – Nuts and Snacks

This is a personal favourite, and it’s a guarantee that there is something for everyone at this stall. Huge baskets overflowing with dried fruits, nuts, and baklava are on display, alongside yogurt and chocolate coated goodies – all of which are priced by the weight. This makes it a perfect budget-friendly stop because you can choose to spend exactly how much you’d like to spend! Our personal recommendations are the spicy cashew nuts! For those with a sweet tooth, take a look at the yogurt coated banana chips – yum.

With Borough Nuts BEHIND you, walk to your RIGHT. Walk a few paces and your final stop will appear on your LEFT.

STOP 8 – Comptoir Gourmand – Canele’ and Desserts

It’s time for dessert and Comptoir Gourmand is the place to get it! All the desserts here are created by owner Sebastien Wind, who is an exceptionally talented chef-patissier who uses French technique to create all the delicious delicacies you’ll find at this stall. Try the Canele’ de Bordeaux – a pastry with a smooth custard centre and a thick caramelized sugar crust, or the beautifully colourful meringues, or even gorgeous shortbreads boasting plump raisins and crunchy pecans. There’s so much to choose from here, you’ll have a hard time deciding! It’s the perfect way to end your feast.

Borough Market RoofOPTIONAL BONUS STOP 9

If you’d like to grab yourself a cheeky drink to enjoy during your tour, pay a visit to Cartwright Bros. This stall specialises in importing wines sourced from independent estates. You can purchase a bottle (or three!) or you can also buy by-the-glass. The delicious prosecco is our personal favourite! You’ll find this stall on MIDDLE ROAD which cuts through the Market.

Finish: Either River Thames or London Bridge Underground Station

Once you’ve finished your food tour – you have an option of where to go. Perhaps you’re going to take your goodies away, in which case you can follow the signs back to LONDON BRIDGE STATION. Or maybe you’d like to sit somewhere nice and enjoy your snacks! If so, you have the option of sitting in the courtyard of SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL – which you can see from the Market itself. Or, if you’d like, you can go back to STONEY STREET and follow it toward the river, where it will dead end into CLINK STREET. From there, turn LEFT, go under the bridge then turn RIGHT and you will be on the Southbank of the Thames where you can find a lovely bench to sit and enjoy the London skyline!

+++We recommend all foodies to check out our other (self-guided) food tours as well as our regular pay-what-you-like walking tours!+++ 

Jimi Hendrix’s London

Posted by & filed under London.

Although an American, Jimi Hendrix’s career was made here in London. He came to London, aged 24, in 1966 and took the city by storm. His first concerts in the UK sky-rocketed him to fame and when he returned home, he was already a qualified music idol. Hendrix would return to London and live here for months at a time before his final visit – and unexpected death – in 1970.

The following post lists all of the most significant places where Hendrix played and stayed in London. Interested in visiting these places during your visit? Join us on our Rock N’ Roll Tour of London, which takes you through Soho and shares the musical history of this wonderful neighborhood! Also, be sure to check out our Free Tours by Foot London page for a full list of all of the pay-what-you-like tours that we offer!


Where Hendrix Played

Where Hendrix Stayed

Tours of Soho

 


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Soho, Piccadilly and Chinatown Food Tour

Posted by & filed under London.

London is a culinary capital and food tours here are becoming more and more popular. But at Free Tours By Foot we think paying upwards of £50.00 for a food tour isn’t necessarily affordable and value for money. So we’ve put together a self-guided food tour that is absolutely FREE to take – aside from the tasty treats you’ll need to purchase yourself!

This food tour takes place in the popular London neighbourhoods of Soho, Chinatown and Piccadilly. A popular place to eat for both locals and tourists alike, there’s a huge diverse culinary culture here which means you’ll be tasting food from all over the world, and eating like a true London “foodie.”

Be sure to also check out our history focused guided tour of Soho, Chinatown and Piccadilly as well as our Guide to London on a Budget.

Click map to enlarge or click here for movable map.

London Soho, Piccadilly, Chinatown Food tour map [Note: You can do this tour in the morning or evening but we think lunch time and into the late afternoon is best.]

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