Best London Restaurants With a View

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Best London Restaurants With a View

City VIew

There are thousands of places to eat in London and sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to dine! This little list is here to point you in the right direction by highlighting the restaurants here that feature fabulous views of the city for those who want to enjoy London’s skyline while they dine.

[To help you plan your trip and work to a budget, here we will rank the prices of the bars on a scale of £ (very cheap) to ££££ (very pricey).]

 

Tate Modern Restaurant

Located on Level 6 of the Tate Modern Museum sits the Rex Whistler restaurant. Fine food, afternoon cream teas and a wide selection of cakes are all on offer here along with an incredible view over the River Thames to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Beautiful during the day and particularly stunning at night, the restaurant is worth visiting even for those who may not be fans of modern art. Even with the lavish, expansive wine list, this is still one of the more affordable restaurants on our list.

Address: Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG

Nearest Underground Station: Blackfrairs

Price: £

 

Millenium bridge London twilight

 

Aqua Shard

Sitting on the 31st storey of the tallest building in the European Union (as of writing – 2015) sits Aqua Shard. One of a number of restaurants in the Shard building, Aqua Shard is the most affordable with a light breakfast of juice and coffee served up with a selection of pastries all with a bill of under £10! The food here is a modern take of classic British and, where possible, ingredients are sourced from Borough Market just next door. As you can imagine, being located in the Shard, Aqua Shard has some of the finest views in town with sweeping vistas along the Thames from Tower Bridge in the East all the way into Westminster.

Address: Level 31, The Shard, 21 Saint Thomas Street, SE1 9RY

Nearest Underground Station: London Bridge

Price: £ [Breakfast] £££ [Lunch and Dinner]

 

Darwin Brasserie

The 4th highest restaurant in London, the Darwin Brasserie is located in the Walkie Talkie Building’s Sky Garden – one of the newest vantage points in town. The views here are over the City and along the River Thames, and the Sky Garden itself is open to visitors to explore either before/after they have eaten. The food here is British classics with modern flair and is remarkably affordable considering the prime location in the centre of London with one of the best views in the capital.

Address: 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 3BY

Nearest Underground Station: Monument

Price: ££

 

Blueprint Café

The Blueprint Café is located on the south-eastern edge of Central London, on top of the London Design Museum, which means it comes with a prime location on the edge of the River Thames. Floor-to-ceiling windows here mean there are uninterrupted views of the Thames, Tower Bridge and out to the Docklands. When weather is good, there is an outdoor terrace for meals al fresco. The menu here is European and changes with the seasons. Expect a small amount of choice but delicious food accompanied by an extensive wine list.

Address: The Design Museum, Shad Thames, SE1 2YD

Nearest Underground Station: London Bridge or Tower Hill

Price: ££

 

OXO Restaurant

The OXO Tower is a London landmark and an excellent design of art deco sitting right on the southern banks of the Thames. There is an outdoor terrace at the brasserie for outdoors dining, and the more expensive restaurant area has a frontage made totally of glass. Dining here takes place on the 8th storey so this location is not as tall as others, but the views are still commanding. So no matter where you choose to dine, you’ll be getting great views of the river and into the City featuring St. Paul’s Cathedral and the towering turrets of the Royal Courts of Justice. Expect excellent service, modern British cuisine with a pan-Asian twist and a wine list with over 800 choices! Vegetarians and vegans take note, there is an entire menu here for you, too!

Address: Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH

Nearest Underground Station: Waterloo or Temple

Price: ££ [Brasserie] £££ [Restaurant]

 Coq

Coq D’Argent

Visits to Coq D’Argent start off with a ride in a posh private lift, which takes guests up into a gorgeous rooftop garden that overlooks London’s financial district. The views of the skyline here – particularly that of Mansion House and St. Paul’s as well as the other towering turrets of London’s skyscrapers – are spectacular but it’s the impressively manicured lawns and topiaries that really complete the look. Food here is regional French and although the dining is decadent there are both fine and casual dining (at the brasserie) choices available.

Address: 1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ

Nearest Underground Station: Bank

Price: ££ [Brasserie] ££££ [Restaurant]

 

Duck and Waffle View

Sushisamba

A unique menu is on offer at Sushisamba with food that displays a blend of Peruvian, Brazilian and Japanese cuisine. The food is delicious, but does come with a hefty price-tag. It’s worth it, though, for the views here. This is the second-tallest restaurant in London and the views are directed out into the East, highlighting the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and all the way out into the Olympic Park! There’s an outdoor terrace that overlooks the Gherkin which is an incredible place to sit during the summer months, basking in the sunshine overlooking nearly the entire city.

Address: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY

Nearest Underground Station: Liverpool Street

Price: ££££

 

City Social

City Social is located on the 24th floor, surrounded by the modern megaliths of the City of London. You’ll be face-to-face with landmarks like the Shard, the Cheesegrater, the Gherkin and the Walkie-Talkie (the building that melted a car!). The food here is the creation of master chef Jason Atherton and features modern British tastes with Asian and Mediterranean flavours. As you may expect, sitting in the heart of the financial district, this is a restaurant for splashing the cash so consider this one for a special occasion.

Address: 24th Floor, 25 Old Broad Street, EC2N 1HQ

Nearest Underground Station: Bank

Price: ££££

 

Galvin at Windows

Galvin at Windows was one of the first restaurants to capitalise on the vistas and views of London, opening in 2006. The views here are verdant, overlooking posh Park Lane and into the gorgeous Hyde Park, as well as looking down onto Buckingham Palace. Food is French…and expensive but the views at night, with the city lit up from below is a true experience.

Address: London Hilton, 22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE

Nearest Underground Station: Hyde Park Corner

Price: ££££

St. James’s Palace

Posted by & filed under London.

St. James’s Palace

 SJPalace

London is home to a whole host of royal palaces but St. James’s Palace may be one of the lesser known examples. Tucked away on a side street in the district of Mayfair and St. James, the Palace is a fine example of surviving Tudor architecture and the gatehouse is one of the most magnificent in the entire country. A must-visit for Henry VIII-buffs, visitors are not allowed inside the Palace, but it is worth visiting simply to enjoy the outer premises.

History

St. James’s Palace was commissioned by Henry VIII in 1531 and construction completed a few years later. The most impressive part of the Palace was the fine gatehouse which is still decorated with the initials “H.A.” to commemorate Henry’s marriage to his then wife, Anne Boleyn. (It is worth noting that the clock on the gatehouse today is a later addition, originally installed in 1731). The entire structure is completed out of red brick which today is not a particularly valuable material but, in the 16th century was extremely costly and luxurious.

It was here that two of Henry’s children died – his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset and his eldest daughter, Queen Mary I (whose heart is buried inside the building!). Later, the Palace was the birthplace of a number of Monarchs – King Charles II, King James II, Queen Mary II and Queen Anne. St. James’s was also the location of Queen Victoria’s marriage to her husband – and cousin – Prince Albert in 1840. Victoria was the last reigning Monarch to live at St. James’s Palace as it was during her reign that Buckingham Palace because the primary Royal residence for the ruling family.

Today

Today, although the Queen does not reside here, St. James’s Palace is the home of the Court of Queen Elizabeth II which essentially means that it is a busy place of business surrounding the Monarch. The palace is used for entertaining guests of Her Majesty and holds the offices of the Yeomen of the Guard and the Queen’s Watermen. It’s also the base of the Royal Collection Department which is the organisation which catalogues and preserves all items belonging to the royal family and it is here that the St. James’s Detachment of the Queen’s Guard mount for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony.

It is also here that the Accession Council meets on the death of a monarch and where the accession of the new Sovereign is official proclaimed to the public. The small chapel inside the building – the exact location of Queen Victoria’s wedding – is still used by the royal family today and it was here in October 2013 that baby Prince George of Cambridge was christened.

Christening

The entire complex of St. James’s Palace also houses a number of other buildings which provide homes for various members of the Royal Family: Clarence House (home to The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall [previously Princes William and Harry, also], York House (home to Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice of York) and also provides households of Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Oglivy, and the Queen’s daughter, the Princess Royal.

Although many Palaces in London are open to visitors, St. James’s Palace is never available for visits by the public.

 

Changing of the Guard and the Queen’s Guard Soldiers

Changing Set Up

For visitors to London from all over the world, taking in the Changing of the Guard is an absolute must-see! And it is here at St. James’s Palace that a contingent of the Queen’s Guard line up in formation to begin the Changing of the Guard Ceremony. The Guards will march from St. James’s Palace, down The Mall, and behind the gates of Buckingham Palace. Many visitors will come down to Buckingham Palace in the early hours of the morning to try to get a good spot to watch the Ceremony, but St. James’s is not as well known, which means it’s possible to beat the crowds by watching the ceremony beginning here at St. James’s! In fact, this is where we take guests on our Royal Westminster Tour to enjoy the Ceremony, since we believe the smaller crowds make for a clearer view, better photographs and a greater experience.

For years, St. James’s Palace was a popular place for visitors to have their photographs taken with the Queen’s Guard soldiers. Previously, they were stationed outside the Tudor gatehouse which meant visitors could literally stand right beside them. Unfortunately, because of security, the Guards have been moved from the gatehouse and now only stand in position inside the St. James’s Palace courtyard whenever the Monarch is in residence at Buckingham Palace. So visitors can still get a great view of the soldiers, but we can no longer get close enough to have our pictures taken next to them!

SJ GUards

Visitor Information

Although guests are unable to enter the building, it’s still worth coming to view the Palace from the outside.

Address: St. James’s Palace, Marlborough Road, London SW1A 1BS

Nearest Underground Station: Green Park

Nearest Bus Route: Number 9

Best London Bars With a View

Posted by & filed under London.

Best London Bars With a View

 

London is a beautiful city and one of the best ways to enjoy it is whilst sipping on a delicious cocktail, enjoying a gorgeous glass of wine, or tasting some authentic English beers and ales! For those of you who are looking for a roof top bar to visit during your stay in London, here is a helpful list of the best bars with a view in town.

[To help you plan your trip and work to a budget, here we will rank the prices of the bars on a scale of £ (very cheap) to ££££ (very pricey).]

 

Duck and Waffle View

 

Dalston Roof Park

Now this one is a bit off the beaten track all the way out in the trendy East-London locale of Dalston. This means that the views here display London’s skyline at a bit of a distance, but definitely good enough to warrant the effort to get here. The rooftop terrace here is plush with faux grass, deckchairs, and the occasional screen showcasing films or even a performance from a live band. East London is now a hub for culture and art and this rooftop terrace showcases that perfectly.

Address: The Print House, 18-22 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL

Nearest Underground Station: [Overground] Dalston Junction

Cost: £

 

National Portrait Gallery Café & Bar

This is the cheaper alternative to the Trafalgar Hotel (located further down the list). Located at the top floor of the National Portrait Gallery, just on the north side of Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery Café & Bar offers a lovely view over the Square and down Whitehall toward the magnificent Big Ben. Guests here can enjoy a cocktail for under £10.00 and coffees come even cheaper with prices under £5! Not as high as the Hotel but with lovely views of the same locations, this is the budget-friendly option to enjoy Trafalgar Square!

Address: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN

Nearest Underground Station: Charing Cross or Leicester Square

Cost: £

 New Change

Madison Bar

Madison Bar gives visitors an up-close and personal view of the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral. During the day, this is the perfect way to get face-to-face with Christopher Wren’s masterpiece and a prime location to watch the glittering Thames flow through town. At night, enjoy the bright lights of the city with views of the Shard, the Millennium Bridge and all the way into Westminster with the illuminations of Big Ben and the London Eye.

Address: 1 New Change, EC4M 9AD

Nearest Underground Station: St. Paul’s

Cost: ££ [Tip: A fizzy glass of prosecco will only set you back £7!]

 

Radio Rooftop Bar at the ME Hotel

This hotel is located on the Strand, on the edge of Covent Garden. The bar is located on the 10th floor and the terrace here is a perfect place to enjoy views of the River Thames and the landmarks that dot it. The view is south-eastern which means incredible views of Tower Bridge, The Shark, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Somerset House and Covent Garden. An often overlooked place for drinks in London, come up here to escape the busy streets of the West End below!

Psst…the bar here is open until 2am making it one of the latest running bars in town!

Address: 336-337 Strand, WC2R 1HA

Nearest Underground Station: Charing Cross

Cost: ££

 

Duck & Waffle

Duck & Waffle is a bar and restaurant located in Heron Tower. We say that there’s no need to go to the restaurant as the views you get from the bar are just as good – if not better. Cocktails here can be a little pricey but there are non-alcoholic drinks and a wine list that is surprisingly affordable considering this bar is located in the heart of the financial district. The views here are pretty-much unparalleled spanning from Canary Wharf in the east all the way out to Battersea in the West and into the rolling hills of Hampstead and Highgate to the North. The lift to get to Duck & Waffle is almost worth the visit itself…a shockingly fast journey from the ground floor up to the 40th in an all-glass lift on the OUTSIDE of the building! For those afraid of heights: this is NOT the place for you.

Address: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY

Nearest Underground Station: Liverpool Street

Cost: ££

 Heron Tower

Vertigo 42

Tower 42 is right in the centre of London’s bustling financial district. The bar, as you may have guessed, is on the 42nd floor of one of the tallest buildings in our city. The sweeping views here nearly cover all of town from the southern part of town, along the river into the west, and all the way into the distant hills of the north. Guests can walk through the bar to enjoy the views from every vantage point.

Address: 25 Old Broad Street, City of London, EC2N 1HQ

Nearest Underground Station: Liverpool Street

Cost: £££

 

Vista at the Trafalgar Hotel               

Atop the Trafalgar Hotel is a hidden rooftop bar that is usually only visited by London locals. The bar here provides a perfect view of Trafalgar Square, putting guests nearly face-to-face with Admiral Nelson, sitting atop Nelson’s Column in the Square. Views also sweep over the white stone facades of Covent Garden with a spattering of pretty church steeples. Right in the centre of one of the busiest parts of London, most guests to the city will find themselves in this area at least once during their visit, so take the chance to head on up!

Address: 2 Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square, SW1A 2TS

Nearest Underground Station: Charing Cross

Cost: £££

 

SkyLounge at Double Tree by Hilton

SkyLounge gives visitors the option of sitting on the North or the South Terraces – views of both sides are excellent, showing the panoramic London skyline along the River Thames, through the glass and steel structures of the City, and into the northern hills. When the weather is good, sitting outside is a real treat and perfect way to see our city.

Address: 7 Pepys Street, EC3N 4AF

Nearest Underground Station: Tower Hill

Cost: ££££

 

Tour Guide Spotlight: Washington, DC’s Kara

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC.

Free Tours by Foot thought yo u should know more about who we are! Our tours would not be so highly rated if it weren’t for our guides – the passion, knowledge and fun they bring to our tours. We’ll be featuring more information about our great guides in each city over the coming months.


Born and raised in Hawaii, Kara is a former beach bum who loves D.C.’s history and humidity. After an extended stint as a professional globetrotter and mapquest extraordinaire, she decided to ditch the backpack and turn touring into a career. When not guiding, Kara spends her days reading 20th century prose, perfecting her headstand, and occasionally talking about herself in the third person.

  •  Why did I become a guide?1de4113

I took a really fantastic walking tour in Berlin, and was keen on the profession ever since. I love history, traveling, and being outside so it seemed like the perfect fit. And so far, it has been!

  • Best tour I’ve ever taken?

A buggy tour along the northeast coast of Brazil. We saved a turtle, went zip-lining into a lagoon, and drove up and down some steep sand dunes after dark — does it get any better?!

  • Places I want friends/family be sure to see in DC?

My neighborhood! DC’s local history is just as important as its national history so I always try and persuade guests to get out and explore beyond the National Mall.

  • Favorite tour group memory?

I’ve had a lot of really great groups, but a personal highlight was the time I was with a school group at the Marine Corps Memorial and we met a veteran who was actually on Iwo Jima the day the flag was raised! He was kind enough to share his haunting story of watching the flag go up on Mount Suribachi. We were all in tears by the end!

  • If I wasn’t a tour guide?

Probably teaching abroad. I love traveling and learning, so it’d need to be something that let me incorporate both!

Guide Spotlight: New York City’s Meredith

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC.

Free Tours by Foot thought you should know more about who we are! Our tours would not be so highly rated if it weren’t for our guides – the passion, knowledge and fun they bring to our tours. We’ll be featuring more information about our great guides in each city over the coming months.


Originally from Long Island, NY, regular trips to NYC was a part of my growing up experience and I became an official city dweller in 1996. Before becoming a tour guide I worked for years as a pedicab driver, pedaling people around the streets of Manhattan on a bicycle rickshaw. Doing this job I greatly increased my knowledge of NYC and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of taking visitors around town, showing them the sights, and sharing their wide-eyed enthusiasm for the excitement of New York City. Becoming a bona fide tour guide was a natural choice for me and I became officially licensed in 2011, and I couldn’t ask for a better job! I love that I get to meet new people from all around the world each day, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than sharing my knowledge and love this wonderfully historic and dynamic city.

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  • Why did I become a guide?

I spent years as a pedicab (bicycle rickshaw) driver in Manhattan and during that time I was continuously learning more and more about the city as well as enjoying the experience of showing people the sites around town. Becoming a bona fide tour guide was a natural next step from there. And because I truly enjoy sharing my knowledge and love of NYC with visitors.

  • Best tour I’ve ever taken?

A five day tour of Cairo and Giza, Egypt. Among other typical things that many tourists do like see the pyramids and ride a camel, I was with a group that got special privileges like exploring inside the Great Pyramid and being down in the excavated pit with the Sphynx. Not many tourists can say they’ve actually touched the Sphynx.

  • Places I want friends/family to be sure to see in NYC?

I love taking friends all over NYC but I’d say my favorite things to show visitors are the artwork of Rockefeller Center and New York Harbor- particularly by boat. Both the Staten Island ferry and Governor’s Island ferry are fun excursions.

  • Favorite tour group memory?

I had a group at Madison Sq. Park on a clear day with a beautiful view of the Empire State Building, so I was telling my group the basic history of the building. I hadn’t planned on telling the story, but a man asked if the clouds ever come down lower than the height of the building, so I went into the story of how in July of 1945 one day the fog was so thick that a B-25 bomber actually crashed into the building at the 72nd floor. Suddenly a tiny, frail, little old lady came up and interrupted me to say she overheard me talking and said she was actually working at Empire State the day that happened! She proceeded to describe the whole event in a soft voice that made my whole group suddenly huddle in close to hear her words and get her picture. Even I had to pull out my phone and ask if I could get a picture too!

  • If I wasn’t a tour guide?

I’d probably still be driving a pedicab and/or possibly working in theater. I enjoy all aspects of the theater and used to work as a stage hand and stage manager.

 

London on a budget 6 days

London Under £100 a Day

Posted by & filed under London.

How to spend 6 days on a £100 a day budget in London

London is notoriously expensive, but it is possible to visit the city on a budget! What follows here are a selection of 1-day itineraries that will have you seeing the best London has to offer, for well under £100 a day! Either follow our schedule, or pick and choose what looks best to you and design your own affordable London holiday!

All itineraries should START at your nearest Underground Station by getting yourself an Oystercard. For those staying only a couple days, simply load the card with around £20.00, which should be enough for your entire stay. For those staying longer, consider buying a weekly Travelcard for £32.10 – for a 7-day stay that works out to unlimited travel for around £4.50 a day. Check out our tips on how to navigate the London underground here.

Day 1 – Highlights of London – London Under £100 a Day

London Walking Tours[This itinerary is great for those who are in London for a very short time, perhaps one or two days. This will see you checking out all the ‘big’ tourist sites in town, as well as give you the most information possible in a short amount of time. Here your money will go toward a theatre ticket – which you can get at discount – as well as money for your guide and a cheap bite to eat!]

8:00  – The Breakfast Club – People queue for hours to get into this Soho hot spot, so make sure to arrive early to bag yourself a fabulous British breakfast – easy to do for around £10!

9:30 – TKTS at Leicester Square – Get to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square early, as they open at 10:00am. See what offers they have on and buy yourself a ticket for a show tonight – oftentimes it is possible to get tickets as cheap as £25!

10:30 – London All-in-One Tour starting at Green Park Station – Meet your friendly London guide just inside Green Park. This tour will show you all the highlights of London, including Buckingham Palace, the Changing of the Guard, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, giving you anecdotes, details and history that you’d never discover on your own, all at a pay-what-you-wish price. You’ll also have the opportunity to eat a traditional British pub on your lunch break, which serves up traditional British pies at £10 each.

5:00 – Tower Bridge and Southbank [FREE] – When your tour is over, walk around the Tower of London onto the world famous Tower Bridge to get an amazing view of London, and stand on one of the most famous bridges in the world! Then walk along the path running the Southern bank of the River Thames, seeing London from a new direction as well as passing popular sites such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern and the London Eye.

6:30 – Covent Garden – Cross the Thames on either Waterloo Bridge or the Hungerford Bridge and walk into Covent Garden. You’re now in the heart of London’s West End and you should be near a theatre for your show! Explore the cobbled back streets and grab a bite to eat and the best margarita in town at a London Favourite: La Perla Bar and Restaurant – with a Happy Hour running from 4pm – 7pm, margaritas are under £5 each, and nibble on delicious chips and salsa for another £3.00 – bargain!

London tower at night7:30 – The Show Goes On! – Most London West End productions begin at 7:30 in the evening.

10:00 – London At Night – [FREE] When your show is over, head to Trafalgar Square and see Nelson’s Column illuminated at night. You can also head to Whitehall to re-visit the Houses of Parliament and see Big Ben, towering over you with lights shining bright! Or even take a pay-what-you-like Night tour that starts on Westminster Bridge.

 

Day 2 – Authentic London Locations – London Under £100 a Day

London Tower[This itinerary will see you exploring “authentic” London, visiting amazing places you will never find anywhere else in the world. You’ll get to grips with London’s 2,000 years of history at the Museum and Tower, and then some of the best food in town all finished by the most LONDON tour you can take – Jack the Ripper!]

9:00am – The Tower of London – An absolute must for a visit to our capital city, the Tower of London holds 1,000 years of history…not to mention the Crown Jewels! Get their first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds and head straight to the Jewel House first thing, so you can explore before others arrive later on. Entry is pricey at £22.00 but worth it for the sheer amount that is hidden inside.

12:00 – St. Katherine’s Docks – Just behind the Tower of London lies hidden docklands, dotted with restaurants, pubs and bars, so uncover the secret and grab a bite to eat here on the water. Lunch with a drink is easy to find for well under £20.00 here!

1:30 – The Museum of London – [FREE] If there’s only time to visit one museum you visit in London, this is the one that will give you the best London-centric experience. Chronologically laid out, this Museum covers thousands of years of London History.  Be sure to check out their exhibit on Londonium and check out a piece of the Roman city wall.  For history fans, read our self-guided tour of Roman London stops.  Be sure to also check out our itinerary suggestions for London museums.

4:30 – Heron Tower – After the Museum, head to nearby Liverpool Street and one of the tallest skyscrapers in town: Heron Tower. With a bar at the top selling cocktails, wine, or non-alcoholic goodies, a drink here will provide you with one of the most stunning views of London – all for the cost of a drink! Soft drinks run around £5, and cocktails come in around £12.00, so think about treating yourself!

Brick Lane in London5:30 – Just around the corner is the East End and Brick Lane, so get yourself some delicious and authentic Indian food for dinner (easy to do for around £10.00 per person), and have a bit of a wander to take in all of the street art that decorates this eclectic part of town. Maybe even consider some East End food bites.

8:00pm – Jack the Ripper Tour – Explore the backstreets of Victorian London with our expert guide and hear the stories about the world’s most famous murder victims…and their killer! A London “must,” this tour encompasses the spirit of London’s evocative East End, all with a pay-what-you-wish price!

 

Day 3 Classic London – London Under £100 a Day

London Greenwich[This itinerary will have you traveling through town on the Thames – a classic way to view the city. You’ll also enjoy a snack at an authentic London market, followed by a British “classic” – afternoon tea!]

9:00 – Boat Trip – Catch a boat from Westminster and enjoy the river views as you travel all the way to Greenwich! Ticket prices run from around £8.00 one-way and £12.00 return. If you’ve already got yourself and Oystercard/Travelcard, you can snap up a discount!  Check out our post on London boat tours.

10:30 – Greenwich – Explore Britain’s naval history and straddle the Prime Meridian! The Old Naval College, the Royal Observatory and the Naval Museum are all worth visiting. Or perhaps you can follow our free Self-guided Greenwich Walking Tour. There is also a market for delicious snacks in the centre of town, all of which are easily affordable – think around £5.00 to satisfy your hunger (but don’t eat too much because soon you’ll be having…

3:00 – Afternoon Tea – For those on a budget, take your afternoon tea at Bea’s of Bloomsbury (either at their Bloomsbury Branch, or the City – both of which will see you spending around £10.00 for a pot of tea and cake, or add a glass of fizz for another £9) and for those wanting the full ‘silver service,’ take your tea at Fortnum & Mason’s – this is a true splash out and will set you back around £40.00 per person, but the experience is long, lingering, and delicious!

BigBen parliament6:30 – Parliament – [FREE] Whenever the House of Commons or House of Lords are in session, it is possible to go inside and sit in the public galleries! Located entirely within the Palace of Westminster, this means you can enter a royal Palace without having to pay a single penny. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays the houses tend to sit late into the night, so avoid the crowds and enjoy the Parliamentary process!

9:00 – See Soho – Soho comes alive at night (especially on the weekends) and is a great place to explore! Cobbled streets and hidden alleys hold interesting buildings, shops, restaurants and bars. Consider stopping to have a drink at a traditional British pub like the John Snow (with pints of traditional British ales, lagers and beers for under £4.00), or sip some cocktails at Milk & Honey, a classic London cocktail institution – drinks are pricey so treat yourself to just one for around £10.00!

 

Day 4 – Taste the Culinary London – London Under £100 a Day

Tour guide Margaret at Borough Market in London[This itinerary will have you exploring the best markets London has to offer, including the largest food Market in town, serving up 100% British snacks, drinks and ingredients. You’ll do some bargain hunting in Camden, stroll through a beautiful park, and get in touch with your inner-Beatle!]

10:00 – Borough Market – Get your day started with some tasty treats from Borough Market. All the goods for sale here are top-quality British specialties, from fresh produce, to wine, to hot pies, as well as desserts, fruit and nut bars, bakeries…etc. etc! It’s possible to shop cheaply here, but give yourself a budget of between £10 – £20 to ensure you can get maximum tastes and flavours!

 

London Camden Market12:00 – Camden Market – An easy ride up from Borough Market, Camden is a great place to spend the afternoon. If our Camden Tour is running, definitely book yourself a space, but if not – there is still plenty to do here! With an antiques market perfect for those who like to rummage, clothing stalls for fashionistas, and a quite exciting high street full of shops selling nearly anything you could imagine. Camden is the hot bed of counter-culture in London so anything goes here (and don’t be afraid to haggle…Camden is all about getting yourself a bargain!). It’s also a great place to people-watch, sit along Regent’s Canal, and get yourself London’s best fish and chips at Poppy’s – a massive sharing plate will set you back under £15.00 for lunch for two people!

3:00 – Regent’s Park – [FREE] Bordering Camden is one of the most beautiful, and less frequented, London parks. Regent’s Park is great for a wander, holds a beautiful rose garden, fountains, and Regent’s Canal runs alongside which means it’s possible to walk directly from Camden into the park via the 18th century waterway.  Read our summary post on London parks you need to visit.

4:00 – Baker Street – Here you can choose to either visit Madame Tussauds (book online starting from £22.50) or the Sherlock Holmes Museum (not actually located at 22B – and tickets are £10.00 for adults!). There’s also a statue of Holmes outside Baker Street Underground Station, for those who may want to get a photograph.

6:30 – Abbey Road – [FREE] One tube-stop away from Baker Street lies Abbey Road…home to the most famous street crossing in the world! Walk in the footsteps of the Fab Four, or just get a picture of the recording studio – Abbey Road is a unique London location worth making the effort to visit.  Read our post on how to get to Abbey Road.

8:00 – The Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street – This is an enthusiastic and personal recommendation from our London guide and City Manager, Margaret. The Churchill Arms in front of a classic, cozy London pub – all kinds of curious newspaper clippings, posters and adverts covering each wooden-panel wall, the ceiling is full of hanging baskets, candles and beersteins, and the carpet is suitably thick and dark, giving the pub a cozy atmosphere. In back, however, is the real treat: the best Thai restaurant in London! The tiny restaurant is set underneath hanging baskets, flowers, and butterflies which makes it an interesting locale, and main dishes are ALL under £10.00 each – so get yourself there!

 

Day 5 – Museums, not just for rainy days – London Under £100 a Day

Self-guided Hyde Park and Kensington tour Victoria and Albert Museum[With this itinerary, the only money you spend is on your daily oystercard to get you through town, then lunch and dinner, both of which are in budget-friendly locations!]

10:00am – Victoria & Albert Museum [FREE] – This museum is one of our favorites. Its exhibits include the “Britain” gallery which has artefacts relating to the history of Britain – including an entire Jacobean room that has been rebuilt inside the Museum. It’s renowned for its decorative arts and design collection and currently holds over 4.5million objects on a rotating collection of fantastic exhibitions.

12:30pm – Have lunch at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The lovely cafe inside serves fresh food and little afternoon tea-style treats.

1:00pm – Natural History Museum [FREE] – This museum has fascinating pieces from all over the world, just to mention a few: extinct animals, a T-Rex dinosaur that moves, a piece of the largest trees in the world, as well as endless collection of spiders and butterflies. You should take a walk through the solar system or get up close to the special gemstone collection that rivals the Queen’s!

3:30pm – Science Museum [FREE] – This museum is great for families. Its exhibitions are very hands-on, and therefore create an awesome interactive experience. Come and see the world’s oldest steam locomotive, the first jet engine, and even an IMAX theatre showing science and nature documentaries.

London Trafalgar square    1Read our tips on other free museums in London.

6:00pm – Once everything closes, take the opportunity to jump on a bus (Number 9) to Trafalgar Square to see the famous fountains and Nelson’s Column. Make your way down Whitehall to see Big Ben, red telephone boxes, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. In certain times of the year this will be in the dark hours, and the dim lights will create a very special atmosphere!

7:30pm – Chinatown – A great place to cheap eats, London’s Chinatown is vibrant, thriving, and delicious! Shops selling Chinese candies and treats, restaurants of various sizes and styles, as well as wonderful bakeries with tasty dessert treats – Chinatown is a gastronomic delight and it’s easy to eat yourself happy for under £20.00 a person.

 

Day 6 Get out of London for the day or walk its many streets – London Under £100 a Day

London windsor castle DAY TRIP – There are a number of London companies that offer day trips to exciting locations within driving distance of London. The most popular is the Windsor (primary home of Queen Elizabeth II and longest continually-inhabited castle in the world), Bath (home to the Roman Baths and Jane Austin) and Stonehenge (England’s best known prehistoric monument). A whirlwind day out, this tour is definitely ‘bang for your buck.’ Check out companies like: Evan Evans and Golden Tours to see which tour suits you best, and get your day-trip ticket for about £75.00 each, which will include entrance to the Queen’s Apartments at Windsor, the Roman Baths, Stonehenge AND some of them even include lunch!

London Ye olde Cheshire CheeseAlternatively, if you still haven’t gotten enough of London, consider exploring some neighborhoods with our free self-guided walking tours or check out our famous pay-what-you-like walking tours if you prefer a live tour guide.

If you’re not too tired when you get back to town, consider grabbing a cheap meal (under £10) at one of London’s oldest and best loved pubs: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. This pub has been serving up drinks and food to Londoners since the 16th century and the current building dates all the way from 1667 – it doesn’t get more authentic than this cozy little pub, tucked away on an alley just off of Fleet Street.

Oyster Card or Travel Card

Should I buy the Oyster Card or Travelcard?

Posted by & filed under London.

When it comes to travelling around London, public transport is the easiest, cheapest, and most authentic way to go. To get the best value for your money when moving through the capital, it’s always worth checking out your options. No matter the length of time you will be in London, whereabouts you want to go, or which mode of transport you wish to take, there are transport ticket options for every one! Detailed here are the most common (and most useful) ticket types.

Be sure to read our Guide to London on a Budget for more money saving tips for your visit.

TIP: If you are considering our All-in-One London Tour, which utilizes the London Underground, we can help you to determine which transport card to purchase at the start of the tour.  Also, check out our blog post on how to navigate the London Underground.

What Are My Options?

In London, there are two options available to visitors: Visitor Oyster Card or Travelcard.

Paper Tickets (Travelcards):  Paper tickets can consist of single-fare tickets, valid for a single journey, round-trip tickets to get you elsewhere and back again, 1-Day-Travelcards and 7-Day-Travelcards (or even monthly and yearly!).

oysterOyster Cards: This is the choice for Londoners themselves – everybody who lives in London has an Oyster card! Oyster cards are plastic smartcards that can be loaded with 1-Day-Travelcards, 7-Day-Travelcards (even monthly and yearly!), or can be pre-loaded with money to spend as and when you need it. Oyster cards are reusable so you can load and re-load your card as many times as you need to while you’re here. Visitors can even take their oyster cards back home with them and either keep them as souvenirs or hold onto them until their next trip to London!

To get yourself an Oyster card you can simply go to the window at any London Underground Station and request one, or use some of the many self-service ticket machines at busier Underground Stations. To get an Oyster card you need to pay a £5.00 deposit, which is held by Transport for London – but can be reimbursed to you whenever you return your Oyster card back to any London Underground Station at the end of your visit. In addition to collecting your deposit, you can also receive any extra money you put onto the card that you have not yet spent.

However! Money you have loaded onto your Oyster card does not expire, which means if you don’t spend it all before you leave, it will remain on your card until your next visit. So if you plan to come back, simply hold onto your card.

For those who like to plan in advance, and don’t mind a non-refundable deposit of £3.00, it is possible to order a pre-loaded Oystercard to be sent to you before you even leave the house! http://www.superbreak.com/go/bp041/oyster-card/index.htm.

So Which Ticket Do I Want?

This depends on what it is you want to do and where you want to go! Note that the London Underground Map is divided into 9 different zones. Zones 1 and 2 are in the centre, where most of the popular visitor attractions are. When travelling across London, it’s worth remember that the further outside of Zones 1 and 2 you need to go, the more expensive your journey can become.

As a general rule of thumb, you can determine which ticket will be best for you depending on the length of time you are in town.

In London for 4 Days or Fewer:

Single Journey: If you have planned ahead and you know that you will only need to use public transport once or twice a day, and you do not wish to get an Oyster card, you can always purchase a single ticket from one part of London to another, which will be issued to you as a paper ticket.

Note: When it comes to single fares on tubes and buses – it is always cheaper to use Oyster Pay-As-You-Go (see below for details on Oyster)!

1-Day-Travelcard: If you know that you will be using public transport quite a bit, you have the good option of purchasing a standard 1-Day-Travelcard that is valid for a 24 hour period (4:30am – 4:30am, regardless of when your ticket was purchased). This ticket is good for Underground journeys as well as bus journeys.  Please note however, that the Underground is not a 24-hour service. After the tube has shut for the evening, your travelcard will still be valid on all bus routes throughout the city. The price you will pay for your travelcard will depend on how many zones you wish to travel in (see pricing overview below).

1-Day-Travelcards can be issued as paper tickets, or can be loaded onto Oyster cards.

If you purchase a 1-Day-Travelcard at a London Rail Station (as opposed to an Underground Station), you will be eligible for 2for1 discounts at many popular London attractions, including the Tower of London and London Eye.  Read our blog post for more information.

Pay-As-You-Go: If you intend to spend a lot of your time walking, or you do not have a specified route of travel in mind when you arrive to London, your best bet is to use the Oyster card Pay-As-You-Go (Pre-Pay Oyster) card. This is when your Oyster card is loaded with an amount of credit that you have chosen yourself. Your bus or tube fare will be deducted as and when you use your card to travel.Red_double_decker_bus_in_London

The best part of Oyster Pay-As-You-Go is that you will never be charged more than it would cost to purchase a 1-Day-Travelcard. Once you have spent the equivalent amount on your Oyster card, that you would have spent for a 1-Day-Travelcard, your Oyster card will stop deducting money from your Pay-As-You-Go balance.

Note: Oyster Pay-As-You-Go can also be used on KPMG Thames Clipper River services!

In London for 5 Days or More:

If you are in London for more than 5 days and you know you will be travelling extensively throughout the capital then a 7-Day-Travelcard is the most sensible choice by far. This Travelcard is good on both London Underground as well as London buses and can also net you a discount on some boat journeys.

You may choose to put your 7-Day-Travelcard onto an Oystercard, or you may wish to use a 7-Day-Travelcard paper ticket – the choice is yours.

What are the Ticket Rates for 1-Day-Travelcards and 7-Day-Travelcards?

Rates vary depending on the time you wish to travel and how many zones you want to cover. 4

Zones: Most London attractions are within Zones 1 – 2 but a Zone 1 – 6 covers absolutely all of them, as well as Heathrow airport!

Time: 1-Day-Travelcards and single fare paper tickets come in two different formats: Peak and Off-Peak. Peak means that you can use your ticket or 1-Day-Travelcard any time to travel on the Underground. Off-Peak means your ticket is not valid on weekdays before 9:30am. If you are fond of lying in – the Off-Peak may be a sensible choice!

Peak and Off-Peak does not apply on 7-Day-Travelcards, Single Cash fares, or bus journeys.

Ticket Type Peak Off-Peak
1-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 2 £9.00 £7.30
1-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 6 £17.00 £8.90
7-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 2 £31.40 N/A
7-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 6 £57.20 N/A
Single Fare in Zones 1 – 2(Cash) £4.70
Single Fare in Zones 1 – 2 (Oyster Pay-As-You-Go) £2.80 £2.20
Bus Journey (Cash) £2.40 N/A
Bus Journey (Oyster Pay-As-You-Go) £1.45

 

Anything Else?

We have some more interesting facts on our blog. This guide is only an overview of the most popular, cheapest, and easiest tickets you may need while you are in London. However, for more information, including tickets for children, travel beyond Zone 6, or bus and tube maps please see the Transport for London Website: www.tfl.gov.uk.

 

 

London Museums banner

London Itineraries for Museum Lovers

Posted by & filed under London.

London Itineraries for Museum Lovers – How to spend up to 5 days in London’s best museums.

London is home to some of the largest and most interesting museums in the world. From ancient artefacts to natural curiosities, British paraphernalia to pieces from around the world – there is a museum for everyone in London! Best of all, most of London’s museums are FREE. For those of you who love to spend your holidays strolling through some of the finest museums London has to offer, here is a suggested itinerary for your visit.

After the museums close, you may want to explore the area or take in some world-famous sights. We’ve put a suggestion on each day for something easily accessible from your final museum stop. We’ve also marked the FREE museums, to help you explore on a budget!

Be sure to read our Guide to London on a Budget for even more ways to save money on your visit to London.

[NOTE: On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, many museum offer late nights with some, like the Tate, staying open until 9:00 or even 10:00pm!]

One Day in London

Itinerary Museums London Day 110:00am – Victoria & Albert Museum [FREE] – The V&A Museum holds the world’s largest collection of decorative arts and design objects! Some of the over 4.5million pieces include music instruments or statues, relating to fashion or history, as well as a rotating collection of fantastic exhibitions. Our personal favourite, the “Britain” gallery with artefacts relating to the history of Britain includes an entire Jacobean room that has been rebuilt inside the Museum.

12:30pm – Lunch break at the V&A. There’s a lovely cafe here with fresh food as well as little afternoon tea-style treats.

1:00pm – Natural History Museum [FREE] – The Natural History Museum is filled with fascinating pieces collected from all over the world: extinct animals, and even better a T-Rex dinosaur that moves while you stand in the shadow of the skeleton, a cutting of one of the largest trees in the world, and collections of spiders and butterflies. You can take a walk through the solar system or take a close look at the gemstone collection that rivals the Queen’s!

3:30pm – Science Museum [FREE] – A family favourite, this museum offers a lot of hands-on exhibitions, creating an awesome interactive experience. From the world’s oldest steam locomotive, the first jet engine, and even an IMAX theatre showing science and nature documentaries, there is a lot to see here.

6:00pm – When the gallery closes why not take the opportunity to jump on a bus (Number 9) to Trafalgar Square to see the famous fountains and Nelson’s Column. Then make your way down Whitehall to see Big Ben, red telephone boxes, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. In certain times of the year this will be in the dark hours, making for great atmosphere!

Second Museum Day in LondonItinerary Museums London Day 2

Day Two

10:00am – British Museum [FREE] – Artefacts here come from all across the globe and the most popular pieces are the Egyptian mummies on display. Perhaps the best known of all the pieces here is the Rosetta Stone (the translating tool that helped us decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics), followed by the Elgin Marbles (pieces of sculpture from classical Greece).

11:30am – Lunch Break – Consider taking your lunch break in the beautiful atrium of the British Museum itself.

12:30pm – Museum of London [FREE] – Take a walk, chronologically, through the history of London. From prehistoric times to a glimpse of the future, this museum will take you along Tudor trails, help you explore Georgian fashion, and walk down a fully recreated Victorian town centre, before leading you along the terrifying and tragic Blitz experience and into London’s future.

3:00pm – London Guildhall and Roman Amphitheatre [FREE] – Even just looking at the Guildhall from the outside is impressive enough, but this is also one of the best places to experience Roman London. Works of art celebrating London are on display alongside the remains of a true Roman Amphitheatre, uncovered during modern day construction in the City centre.

5:00pm – When the museums are closed, consider a stroll along the river Thames from the City to Westminster. Just a short walk from the Guildhall is the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Follow the river west from there, taking in sights like St. Paul’s Cathedral as you go.

Third Museum Day in LondonItinerary Museums London Day 3

Day Three

10:00am – The National Gallery [FREE]  – The flagship gallery of the United Kingdom, there are thousands of works of art here both by little known creators as well as some of the biggest names in history: Monet, Van Gough, Manet, Holbein, Turner…and the list goes on!

12:00pm – Lunch Break at the National Portrait Gallery – Attached to the National Gallery, the top floor at the Portrait Gallery has a lovely little cafe’ with unbeatable views over Trafalgar Square and all the way down to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

12:30pm – The National Portrait Gallery [FREE] – The Portrait Gallery takes you on a chronological journey through time with depictions of some of the most famous (and infamous) figures in history. For those who love their Kings and Queens, you’ll find them all here alongside literary figures, notable politicians and modern-day celebrity figures.

2:00pm – Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace – The Queen’s Gallery is attached to Buckingham Palace and houses an ever-changing exhibition of works from the Royal Collection. Previous exhibitions have seen anatomical works by Leonardo da Vinci, portraits of the Tudor and Stuart royal families, and works by 16th century court-favourite Hans Holbein. The works of art on display are always national treasures and often include great surprises – like a pair of socks owned by King William III!

3:15pm – Queen’s Mews, Buckingham Palace – An often overlooked London museum, the Queen’s Mews is the royal collection of historical coaches and carriages, as well as some of the ones that are still used today – and some you may have seen, like that which carried William and Kate back to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey on their wedding day! It is here that all road travel arrangements for the Queen are carried out. It’s all contained within London’s most impressive working stables.

5:00pm – When the galleries close, take a wander through one of our gorgeous parks. You’ll be easily able to get to St. James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park from Buckingham Palace. In the summer months when daylight hours are longest, you could visit all three.

Fourth Museum Day in LondonItinerary Museums London Day 4

Day Four

10:00am – The Bank of England Museum [FREE] – This museum details the history of the Bank of England, beginning back in 1694. Some of the oldest bank notes in existence are on display here, as well as forgeries from over the centuries, historical artefacts, and a genuine solid gold bar – which you can even try to pick up yourself!

12:00pm – Lunch Break – Travel to Greenwich and take your lunch at the delightful Greenwich Market! With dozens of cuisines to choose from, there’s something for everyone and it’s always light on the wallet!

1:30pm – The Queen’s House, Greenwich [FREE] – Built by famed architect and artist Inigo Jones, the Queen’s House was built in the early 17th century for Anne of Denmark, Queen of King James I. The very first “conscious classical” building to have been constructed in Britain, today it holds fine examples of paintings and portraits related to maritime history.

2:30pm – The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich [FREE] – Designed by famed architect Sir Christopher Wren, the Old Royal Naval College is listed by UNESCO as the “finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape ensemble in the British Isles” – whew! Parts of this site are open to visitors, including the magnificent chapel – with free tours available.

3:30pm – The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich [FREE] – The largest museum dedicated to maritime history in the world, the National Maritime Museum is filled with art and artefacts all dedicated to telling the story of Britain’s naval history. It is just behind the museum and up the hill that you can visit the Royal Observatory – and see where time “began” at the Prime Meridian.

6:00pm – When the museums close, consider taking a boat back to London. You can travel all the way from Greenwich to Westminster.

Fifth Museum Day in LondonItinerary Museums London Day 5

Day Five

10:00am – The Imperial War Museum [FREE] – The Imperial War Museum documents the history of war and the resulting outcomes on the lives of those who are affected by warfare. Famed for its magnificent collection of wartime vehicles and planes, as well as a start but beautifully presented section dedicated to the studying of the Holocaust.

12:00pm – Lunch Break – Think about taking lunch at The Three Stags Pub just across the road, or get yourself to Bloomsbury for a bite to eat in Lincoln’s Inn Fields if the weather is good.

1:30pm – The Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons [FREE] – Named after John Hunter, whose collection of specimens and artefacts form the museum itself. The museum itself is not large but is jam packed of thousands of anatomical specimens including the skeleton of the “Irish Giant” Charles Byrne, and early medical surgical instruments that will fascinate and terrify!

2:30pm – The Grant Museum of Zoology [FREE] – Part of the University College, London, the Grant Museum of Zoology is a collection of zoological specimens and materials previously belonging to a Robert Edmond Grant. With over 67,000 zoological specimens, the collection holds rare pieces such as bones from the extinct Dodo and dinosaur fossils.

4:00pm – The Wellcome Collection [FREE] – Medical artifacts and art pieces that “explore ideas about the connections between medicine, life and art.” The museum for the “incurably curious,” the Wellcome Collection is comprised of an ever-changing program of events and exhibitions that incorporate art, life, medicine and death.

6:00pm – When the museum closes, consider a walk through Regent’s Park, or perhaps a visit to Leicester Square or Chinatown which are easily accessible from this area.

Check out our tips on Museum Sites in the City of London or Free Museums in London.

++Phew! And if you still got the energy, come and join us on our famous pay-what-you-like walking tours!++

Guide Spotlight: New York City’s Garrett

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington DC.

Free Tours by Foot thought yo u should know more about who we are! Our tours would not be so highly rated if it weren’t for our guides – the passion, knowledge and fun they bring to our tours. We’ll be featuring more information about our great guides in each city over the coming months.


As a photographer, Garrett notices things. As a guide, Garrett earns a living from noticing things. One might say that Garrett is a professional noticer of things. A lifelong New Yorker, he brings an innate curiosity for the order and origins of things to his tours and conducts them in such a way that you come to view new york as a great big puzzle with clues scattered about on every block. Together you will examine those clues, trace the DNA of the city, and come to know it as if it were your own home. He is expert at finding the patterns, and articulating how the city’s identity is shaped both locally and by the world around it. Most visitors leave his tours with a better understanding of what New York is than many who live here. The conversational nature of Garrett’s tours create an experience where your questions and interactions augment the experience. Feel free to check out Garrett’s photo blog, where you can follow his urban explorations. http://garrettshore.tumblr.com/

  • Why did you decide to become a tour guide?gtssummerhat2 copy

I became a tour guide in my mid 20s when it became clear that I knew way more about where things were and the history behind them than most people. When people would ask me directions, I would usually throw in a detail about something they might notice on the way. A few friends of mine told me that I would be a good guide. I took the exam on a lark and I took to the industry like a duck to a pond. I responded to industry similarly to Cinderella fitting into the glass slipper. It was quite obvious that this is an industry that my personality matches.

  • What is the best tour you’ve ever taken – anywhere in the world?

The best tour I’ve ever taken is life. That may sound like an evasive answer but we sort of discover ourselves through our travels. I conduct the tour in a way that allows people to discover things more so than simply noticing them. The sense of discovery is most important.

  • When you have friends/family visit, what’s the one place you make sure they see/thing to do?

If a friend were coming from out of town and hadn’t been in town for a while, I wouldn’t be able to take them to old haunts mostly because so much of that New York we grew up with has or is disappearing. But one thing I know will be here long after the apocalypse is Coney Island. I would especially take them there in the winter months, when its desolate and barren. Or maybe Times Sq. at sunrise.

  • Do you have a favorite tour group memory?

I remember on a tour once there was this kid who knew exactly what I was talking about. Sometimes its easy to assume kids aren’t interested in architecture or early American history. One time I had this kid on the tour who I thought was gonna be glued to a cell phone but instead was asking questions that only a kid who reads up on the related subjects would know. I was astonished. I mean, seriously. The kid knew the difference between Doric and Corinthian columns.

  • If you weren’t a tour guide, what would you be doing?

If I were not a tour guide i would be break-dancing on the subway. Badly.

 

Guide Spotlight: Washington, DC’s Matilda

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, New Orleans.

Free Tours by Foot thought yo u should know more about who we are! Our tours would not be so highly rated if it weren’t for our guides – the passion, knowledge and fun they bring to our tours. We’ll be featuring more information about our great guides in each city over the coming months.


Matilda hails from Austin, Texas but has lived all over the world, in Italy, Mexico, and France. After school, she moved to Paris and quickly fell in love with the city’s beauty, history, and baguettes. She became a tour guide to combine some of the things she loved most: meeting new people, spending time outside, and talking about history. After nearly 3 years in Paris, Matilda moved to Washington DC, and has loved rediscovering her own country’s history through this amazing city.

  • Why did you decide to become a tour guide?
  • 1962591_10152304338996015_521102845_n

Both of my parents are professors, so I’ve always been close to education, but the structure of academia isn’t for me. Tour guiding allows me to share my passion for history without being constrained by text books. One of my favorite parts of the job is researching each tour and putting my own spin on the stories.

  • What’s the best tour you’ve taken-anywhere in the world?

Other than our own Lincoln Assassination tour, the best tour I’ve ever taken was of the Gardens of Versailles. Not only is the setting amazing, but the stories behind why the palace was built and how the gardens were designed give you a peak into the mind of the infamous Louis XIV.

  • What’s the one thing you have friends and family do when they visit Washington DC?

I think the Library of Congress is one of DC’s best kept secrets. Maybe people skip it because a library doesn’t sound that interesting, but it is so much more than that. The building itself is beautiful, full of incredibly detailed murals, and functions asa museum with a series of rotating exhibits. Also like so many of DC’s treasures, it’s totally free!

  • Do you have a favorite tour group memory?

I don’t have one in particular because I’ve had so many great tours. But the best ones are always when the group gets involved- asking questions, or sharing their knowledge. I love it when I get to learn new things on my tour.

  • What would you be doing if you weren’t guiding?

Probably either writing about, photographing, or cooking food, which is what I do with most of my spare time now!