London Sightseeing – To Tour Or Not To Tour?


As a city spanning 1500 square kilometres, it can be tempting to take a guided tour of London. The detailed history and many districts make it an almost overwhelming city to holiday in, especially if you only have a limited amount of time to spend there. But Hotels near Central London make for perfect accommodation because they place you right in the heart of the action, giving you a chance to enjoy sites and attractions on your very doorstep, all through your own wandering.

That being said, it can be easy to miss details and sites if you don’t know where to look. London is teeming with nuance and layers, and without proper guidance you could miss vital context to some of its most historic attractions. This blog will explore some of the ways that guests of the Montcalm spa can dive into the heritage and culture of the city, and when the right time is to enjoy a guided tour.

Guided Tours And London

Guided tours are popular in London because of how many stories and myths there are surrounding the city, as well as the very breadth of its museums and historic sites. Amidst the shopping centres and nightclubs, it’s easy to forget that the English capital has a history spanning nearly 2000 years. Just enjoying a Montcalm afternoon tea is an act that in and of itself is steeped in history. You might not know it, but a tour could spark intellectual curiosity and broaden your understanding of the city, it just depends which ones you choose to book onto.

Experiential Tours

Some tours are all about experiencing the city, rather than learning about it. These tours focus on those elements of London that you might have imagined before visiting for the first time. Those landmarks and settings that are burnt into the mind of anyone who’s ever heard about London are what experiential tours evoke. These tours are less about an authentic experience, and more about conjuring the spirit of the city.

River Cruise

London’s many river cruises utilise the stunning landmarks along the River Thames. You may be speeding on an RIB Thames Rocket, or cruising leisurely, a glass in hand past the Houses of Parliament and the South Bank, but these experiences can really let you feel the wind in your hair. Furthermore, London seen from the river provides a new perspective, even if the commentaries from the guides are relatively simplistic.

Vintage Red Bus Tours

Again, don’t expect a huge amount of detail on this whistle stop tour, but do expect to see the most famous landmarks in London in just 3 hours. This tour is perfect for those who want to get the big hitting attractions off of their bucket list quickly, and all from the comfort of one of the city’s most famous vehicles – the red double decker bus.

Spooky Tours Of London

For the ghost hunter in all of us, these tours capitalise on the many murders, alleged hauntings and atmospheric landscapes you’ll find in London. With churches that date back almost a thousand years, the settings of the Jack The Ripper Tour and the Ghastly Ghost Walking Tour match with expert storytelling to create an experience, rather than an empirical history. But London is all about the vibe, and ghost and murderer tours, if you can brave the night’s chill, are all about atmosphere.

Museum Tours For When You’re Short On Time

There are many free to visit museums in London, and especially close by if you’re a guest of the Montcalm Marble Arch. The trio of museums that make up “Albertopolis” in South Kensington are amongst the most revered in the world, as is the extensive collection at the British Museum in Holborn. Tours of these museums can help visitors to get an overview of the collections in centres like the Natural History and Victoria & Albert Museum. Otherwise, you could spend several full days wandering the galleries. Expert guides can whisk you through a whole history in just an hour.

Or For A Specific Interest

Institutions such as the National Gallery and the British Museum often put on tours that focus on a specific gallery, aspect or artefact within a museum. In the case of the British Museum this might be a certain era of history, or at the National Gallery a specific art movement that is showcased within its collections. Tours of these museums might be a great way for visitors to focus their learning in on the things they care most about.

Cultural Tours

From history to the culture of London, the Shoreditch Street Art Tours, Hidden London tours with the London Transport Museum and tours focused on famous landmarks from films such as Harry Potter can help you gain a wider understanding of London and its heritage. With so many to choose from, these tours are often great ways to get to know the character of the city, rather than just facts about it.

Don’t Tour If…

All that being said, taking a tour of the city isn’t for everyone. It completely depends on the kind of experience you want to have in London. As such a large city, there are different attractions for many different tastes, and taking a guided tour doesn’t suit everyone’s needs.

If You Have Children

You can’t expect a 3 year old to care about the works of the Dutch Masters, so why would you take them on a tour of such at the National Gallery? Often, taking children on holiday is a balancing act of catering to both parties’ needs, so think twice before booking them onto a tour, especially if it runs late.

You’re Short On Money

Some tours can be rather expensive, and not all of them are worth it. If you’re visiting London on a budget, consider creating your own walking route, especially if you book in the time to plan your London trip ahead of your visit.

Want To Explore The City On Your Own Terms

Let’s face it, pretty much everything you’ll learn on a tour can be discovered from a few internet searches. If you’re the kind of person who likes to take each day of their holiday as it comes, then tours may not be for you. Indeed, straying from the flock could lead to you learning much more about a city by simply stumbling upon hidden secrets, and sometimes that’s the best way to approach a holiday – as an adventure.