Portrait of A City – An Exclusive London Private Walking Tour

Portrait of A City – An Exclusive London Private Walking Tour


One of my favourite ways to explore a city is on a walking tour, as you learn so much in a short space of time. So we were excited to be invited on a historic London private walking tour with a GoBe expert local guide. They’re a worldwide travel company with tours in 97 countries and 896 cities, so we knew that we were in safe hands. Our tour was of the City of London where we actually live – I was intrigued as to which hidden gems we would uncover during the tour, as we like to think we know the area a little!

London Private Walking Tour – Logistics

Before our walking tour, we received full details by email of the meet up point, as well as useful information on what to bring. That included a camera, water, a hat, sunglasses and spending money, although it was specified that there were no entry fees to the attractions that we would visit. We were also advised to wear comfortable shoes and layers in case the weather changes. It’s true that in the UK, the weather can change at any minute. Let’s begin the tour, shall we?

Private Walking Tour of Historic London with GoBe Travel

Wonderful private walking tour of the City of London with GoBe Travel – I'll be posting about it on the blog soon so stay tuned! #ExperienceEverywhere #GoBe #GoBeCurious #London – how many tourist attractions can you spot?

Posted by LuxuryColumnist on Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We met our guide, Peter, at The Sundial on Tower Hill, commissioned by London Transport and unveiled in 1992. Despite being Londoners, Paul and I hadn’t noticed it before. To be fair, the surrounding area nearby was recently renovated and you can now see it in all its glory.

City of London sundial
Peter, introduced himself and straight away we felt his passion for history and genuine interest in people. Many of GoBe’s guides, or docents as they are known, are scholars with a Ph.D or MA degree and most importantly, extensive knowledge of their local area. Peter caught the history bug from his Father and has been fascinated by it ever since. It’s one thing though to have that knowledge, but another talent to be able to bring it to life for others. Peter adapts his tours to each group’s areas of interest. Some want to see the most photogenic attractions, whereas others prefer more detail and off the beaten path sights. Children are welcome on the tour, and participants are encouraged to advise their ages and interests during the booking process so that you can be matched with the most suitable guide.

London walking tour GoBe
The Sundial is adorned with bronze panels depicting the history of London. One good reason to go on a walking tour is that you’d be highly unlikely to spot details such as these on your own…Can you guess who the Maggie in question is?

City of London sun dialFrom here, we made our way to All Hallows by The Tower, the oldest church in the City. Dating from 675 AD, it has an interesting museum in the crypt containing a Saxon arch and many eclectic curios. For example, William Penn’s baptismal certificate…William was the founder of Pennsylvania, and his father, Admiral Penn, is credited with having saved All Hallows from burning in the Great Fire of London by creating a fire break around it. Admiral Penn and Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire rage from the steeple of All Hallows.

William Penn's baptisimal certificatePeter had lots of other fascinating anecdotes to tell us – for example, the Romans built anti-hurricane protection into their walls despite there being no hurricanes in the UK, as they were in the habit of doing so in Italy. We then headed to Guildhall, the administrative powerhouse of the City since the Middle Ages. It has a fascinating art gallery with many Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite treasures, as well as a Roman amphitheatre in the basement.

The Guildhall, City of LondonI’m going to keep some of the London private walking tour attractions as a surprise for participants, but you’ll discover one of Sir Christopher Wren’s finest churches…Its dome is based on his original design for nearby St Paul’s Cathedral.

St Stephen Walbrook, London
On our London private walking tour, we also gained an understanding of how the City works, with Peter giving us an overview of institutions such as the livery halls. We learned how coffee houses were instrumental in the development of the City’s financial institutions. Even in 1680, people loved coffee and the first stocks and shares were traded from Jonathan’s Coffee House, now a private member’s club. Jamaica Wine House was the first coffee shop in London, opened in 1652 and visited by Samuel Pepys in 1660. It’s been a popular wine bar and restaurant since 2009.

London city coffee housesVisitors to the City shouldn’t miss the Victorian splendour of Leadenhall Market, dating from the 14th century. Its pubs, restaurants and shops are a hive of activity at lunchtimes and after work.

Leadenhall Market, City of LondonPart of Harry Potter was filmed here and it also featured in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Its architecture is certainly very atmospheric!

Leadenhall Market London City
One of the most surprising aspects of the City is the juxtaposition of the old and the new. Lloyd’s of London is located right next to Leadenhall Market and what a contrast it makes. Known as the Inside-Out-Building as it maximizes interior space by having placed duct work and elevators on the exterior, its a striking sight.

Lloyds of London building
A short walk from here leads you to The Royal Exchange, a superb 16th century building with a good selection of luxury boutiques and restaurants.

Royal Exchange London
Next to The Royal Exchange, The Bank of England stands proud. It’s one of the largest gold vaults in the world and you can actually touch one of the gold bars in its free museum!

Bank of England, City of LondonOur tour was coming to an end but Peter had a final surprise in store for us – a charming little church square with some intricate wooden benches. The Romanesque style benches were carved by the City & Guilds of London Art School – notice the Gherkin and London Eye buildings on this one, and some characters burning in a cauldron! I’d heartily recommend a GoBe London private walking tour, you learn so much and yet it’s never dry or dull. History came to life in our guide’s expert hands and we thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

City of London park
This post was brought to you in association with GoBe

Loved our exclusive London private walking tour with so many historic sights

  • Well I like to think it’s not me in that bronze panel haha 😉 I love the Guildhall – when I used to work at Schroders, I would quite often pop round the corner and sit and have my lunch outside the Guildhall. I came across so many weird and wonderful people – the most fun was Joan Collins and her Peruvian husband Percy!

    • Ha ha that could be you immortalized in that plaque, Maggie! I’d have loved to see Joan Collins and I agree, there are some very interesting characters in the City

  • One thing that I love about London is how eclectic the architecture is. There’s some really beautiful contrasts here!

    • That’s true and in particular, Leadenhall Market and Lloyd’s of London right next to each other

  • Wow the architecture looks incredible

    Beauty Candy Loves

  • You’ve taken such lovely photos, London has some seriously stunning buildings!

    • We were blessed with a rare sunny day! London looks even better when the sun is out

  • This sounds like such an amazing tour! I’m such a nerd and love a good walking tour, especially when it comes to architecture and history!

    http://thecourtneydiaries.com

  • what a great tour!

  • Hayley Rubery

    I love this idea Suze! I’m forever saying that I never get to play tourist enough in London and this tour is the perfect way to get around that!

    Hayley xo
    http://www.frockmeimfamous.com

    • There are so many places that I still need to visit in London, and this was the perfect opportunity to see a few of them!

  • hands down my favorite city to live at! I loved that photo of yours with St. Paul’s and the phone booth- it’s the perfect London themed background.

    The Fashion Matters– Travel & Fashion Blog

    • I just couldn’t resist a photo with the booth and St Paul’s in the background, and London is also my favourite city to live in

  • Looks like a really great tour! I always like to walk around when I go to London. You see so much more.

    Gemma x
    http://www.jacquardflower.uk

  • Hi Suze, what a treat reading this post. I remember living in London and finally doing a tour, shamefully after a long time. I enjoy walking tours! London is always so much fun to do do a walkabout. <3 /x.Madison
    http://fashiontalesblog.com

    • It’s funny isn’t it, how long we can live in a city without seeing all the popular sights. I was the same when I lived in Paris!

  • I love walking tours…I always feel like they are a great way to get to know a city! This one of London sounds wonderful! I’m loving all the beautiful photos!

    http://roadesque.com
    http://ourruins.com

  • Reshma

    I liked the Royal exchange and the Cathedral, which look so opulent and ornately decorated. Thanks for this virtual tour of London. Loved your gorgeous pictures!

  • Great post & need to try out this. Have heard so many great things about it!
    http://marginbusiness.com/

  • I love walking tours but I’ve never tried one in my home country! Next time I’m in London… 😊

    – Sarah
    http://www.moonandforest.co.uk

    • It’s funny but we often know our own country less than we know places abroad – definitely fun when you’re next in London

  • Gorgeous photographs! And Peter is a cutie, haha. I’m dating a history buff and he makes the perfect tour guide wherever we go! I recommend always traveling with one ;D Beautiful photographs.

    Best,
    Rebecca
    http://bexpeditions.com/

    • I’m sure Peter will be pleased if he’s reading this! Nice that you can always travel with your own tour guide, Rebecca 😉

  • Mike C

    I’m moving back to London this weekend, it’s great to see my city is still so loved by others. I can’t wait to get back and explore it once again.

    • Oh that’s great, I reckon you’ll find that it has changed quite a bit but in a good way!

  • Walking tours are such a great way to discover a city – so much history I did’t know about! Gorgeous pictures!

    • We really learned a lot and I’ll look at the buildings around me with new eyes now!

  • jin chu-ferrer

    i personally love walking tours! it’s a great way to get introduced into a city and receive insider’s tips! great photos, btw!

    • I’m pleased that you like the photos, Jin and I agree that walking tours are a really nice way to explore

  • Amy Rebecca Krigsman

    I love exploring cities on foot, especially when I get lucky enough to have a private guide. 😉

  • Kyntra Strickland

    Walking tours are my favorite way to be introduced to a new city! I’ve never been to London, but this sounds fantastic. Lovely pictures, thank you for sharing!

  • Leslie Walker

    These are some incredible photos! I’m glad you had a great experience on your private tour, I love getting in-depth information about the city. The fact about the Romans building anti-hurricane buildings was so interesting!

    • Yes they really were forward-thinking, weren’t they! The tour was a mine of information

  • Ha Lef

    I love these walking tours, and I always try to find one when I’m traveling. Thanks for sharing – I will definitely do one in London in October. Travel safe and keep up the great work. Your photos are amazingly beautiful!

    Halef (the Round The World Guys)

  • Marinel de Jesus

    A walking tour of the city is always great as it teaches you in a more interesting fashion about the place. It sounds like this one was definitely worth it.

  • I found your article very refreshing. It is good to see a focus on the City of London. If you are looking for history; this is where you should be heading.

    -D
    http://www.stepintolondon.com

  • So many great sights of London that I haven’t seen yet. Would have enjoyed this tour a lot.

  • I am such a history nerd and it is heartwarming to see Peter’s passion for history in his eyes! I love your photos and definitely think that the private tour is so worth it when you want a deeper understanding of a place as versatile as London

  • Fábio Inácio

    I am in London right now, it is a city that I came many, many times because just loved and even I think that I know a lot about the city it is not true, I should do a walking tour like yours, you learned a lot.
    The pictures are great 😉

  • Cat Lin

    You visited so many cool sites on this walking tour! What a fantastic way to learn about the history of the city! The architectures are stunning too!