Walking in London, London

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  • Post WWII thick steel and concrete inner lining.
    Post WWII thick steel and concrete inner...
    by Durfun
  • Island Gardens DLR station
    Island Gardens DLR station
    by Durfun
  • Your aim from Island Gardens.. well worth a visit!
    Your aim from Island Gardens.. well...
    by Durfun
  • Check walk time before you get a tube!

    by LondonFan Written Jun 5, 2014

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    The London Underground map is a thing of beauty with all its different coloured lines, but there is a flaw to its design. In order to fit nicely on a piece of paper small enough to pop in your top pocket, there is no realistic scale. This is fair enough, but it also means that you might think you have to get a tube when actually you could easily walk instead.

    I'd recommend using the Google Maps app on your smart phone to put in your current location and your end goal, and checking how long it will take to walk.

    Also, there are other advantages to walking over getting the tube (apart from avoid standing underneath a stranger's armpit in a cramped, hot, smelly carriage!) and that is that you get to see more of London!

    For example, if you arrive into Victoria (perhaps because you've got the train there from Gatwick Airport) and you want to go and check out the paintings at the National Gallery. To get there by tube you'd need to change three times to get to Charing Cross Station (the nearest tube). Forget that faff and instead walk there; it will only take a little bit longer, and you'll get to stroll past stunning Buckingham Palace, through beautiful St James's Park and into iconic Trafalgar Square.

    Now that sounds much more appealing than getting several tubes!

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  • MandeeJC's Profile Photo

    London Tube vs. Walking

    by MandeeJC Written Feb 15, 2013

    I will be the first to defend to the death the versatility of the London Tube. It is by far the best way to get around the city when travelling long distances. It is cheaper than hiring a cab, more navigable than the bus and cheap. If you take a few minutes to check the tube maps at each station, you'll be fine, or pick up a tube map to take with you and note your regular stops so that you don't accidentally miss one. Once you get to the "tourist core", you no longer need the tube. Granted that physical fitness does come in handy, it would honestly be a waste to take the Tube or other modes of transportation. There are so many shops, cafes, and pubs along the routes that walking is a much better way to go! There is so much to see in London that you often forget little things on the bucket list. For example, I have always loved Shakespeare and wanted to see the rebuilt Globe theatre. I would not have seen it had I not opted to walk over the tube. I simply forgot it was there until I stumbled across it after walking. I also stumbled into a local festival on my little walkabout. Keep in mind, I started at Westminster Abbey, walked that side of the Thames to tower bridge, crossed over, and walked back up to the Westminster tube station on the other side of the river. Yes it did take some time, but it was a wonderful way to see the river-front.

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Phyllis Pearsall, dogged creator of the London A-Z

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jul 11, 2012

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    It is a very rare traveller that is not overwhelmed by the sheer size and sprawl of London, and even Central London - which contains the majority of the 'first division' tourist attractions - is large and spread out. Such is the scale that even detailed tour guides struggle to present street maps in a legible format, and chances are that if you're staying for more than a day or two, you'll end up buying your own copy of the London A-Z streetfinder.

    The A-Z is as typical of London as red buses and black taxi cabs, and EVERY Londoner has at least one - usually several - lurking around the house. The cheaper version (which was my Bible as a student in London) has the original black and white layout, which has a distinctive sketchlike quality, but is in fact highly accurate and manages to present a staggering amount of information in a manner that is detailed but useable. The A-Z also debuted the groundbreaking grid reference system (alphabetic on one axis and numerical on the other) that has been used by thousands of city maps ever since.

    The A-Z in itself is extremely interesting, but even more fascinating is the story of its creator, Phyllis Pearsall. Phyllis was the daughter of a map publisher - Sandor Gross - a flamboyant Hungarian who had made (and later lost) his fortune by preparing maps that were used by newspapers to illustrate the conflicts of the First World War. She was well educated and studied as a portrait painter before entering into an illadvised marriage to a friend of her brother whom she subsequently divorced.

    Astonishing though it may seem, the original A-Z maps were compiled solely by Phyllis herself, who spent a year walking and mapping London's 23,000 streets (with a total length of 3,000 miles, although she must have walked several times this distance) just before the Second World War. She transcribing her surveys at night and then handed them over to a single draftsman (a long suffering Mr Fountain) to prepare the proofs for printing.

    She established her own company (the Geographers' A-Z Map Company) and self published the guide in 1936, coining the catchy name 'A-Z', which most copywriters would give their eye teeth to have come up with. It was initially difficult to generate interest in such a book, but - quite literally having done the 'hard yards' - Pearsall was at least as persistent a marketer as she was a mapmaker. Eventually she persuaded (one might speculate, browbeat) the book chain W.H. Smith to take 250 copies, which she delivered in a wheelbarrow, not being able to afford more conventional transport. And, as they say, the rest is history ...

    Like so many who seek to 'demystify' complex arts and professions, serious cartographers regarded Phyllis' work with contempt and disdain, and she was alleged to be a spy providing information to assist the Nazis in their invasion.

    Unlike Harry Beck, who developed London's other cartographic icon, the London Underground Map - and was paid a risible 5 guineas (£5.25) by London Transport for his troubles - at least the entrepreneurial Phyllis got rich on the proceeds of her endeavours, although her workaholic tendencies meant that she never fully enjoyed her wealth. She was involved in a plane crash in 1945 which left her with injuries that would have killed off lesser mortals, but despite this, she lived to the age of 90.

    Because of the subsequent proliferation of A-Z products, I have found it impossible to determine how many editions the A-Z has been through, or how many copies have been sold.

    Nicholas Crane claims in his Map Man TV programme that all A-Z maps include a fictitious 'trap street' that does not exist in reality so that the company can identify breaches of copyright - an innovation that carries all the hallmarks of the commercially minded Mrs Pearsall!

    If you would like to know more about the unique Mrs Pearsall, may I suggest that you consider buying "Mrs P's Journey" by Sarah Hartley, a novel based on her life? It's a colourful romp of a read (even if slightly cavalier with the truth, if certain reviewers be believed), and ideal holiday fodder for that long haul flight, especially if London is your destination!

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  • APIA05's Profile Photo

    Those Feet were made for walking

    by APIA05 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Eye of London

    The best way to discover London is to walk! You can follow the river or head for the heart of the city and lose yourself in it's magic. You can stumble across little walkways and discover part of London even Londoners haven't found yet.

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  • Marpessa's Profile Photo

    Let your feet hit the street!

    by Marpessa Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    I believe the best way to see any city is by foot - because there are some places buses and cars can't go. London is a huge playground to explore, with beautiful streets (a lot of them cobbled - so don't wear shoes with no grip, you'll end up on your butt!), paths and parks.

    For a better idea of walks to go on see the London page below or the London Walks page for a theme tour.

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  • AngelAmanda5546's Profile Photo

    Walking

    by AngelAmanda5546 Updated Apr 4, 2011
    The National Gallery/Trafalgas Square

    Everyone in England walks. Get use to the foot pain, get use to the standing. This might take a while to get use to. Try to take breaks and sit as much as you can. When walking always be sure to bring a backpack/purse that has water and a snack in it. Sometimes all that walking makes you hungy and thirsty. But when carying your back pack be weary of pit pockets and keep your backpack/purse at the front of you.

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  • kenHuocj's Profile Photo

    along or across the Thames

    by kenHuocj Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    this is about a yellow african whose sometimes more Brit than the Brits.
    He is originally from Beira, Mocambique, then Salisbury , S.Rhodesia, now Kent in the UK.
    he and his two sons are involved in Bridges, all international travellers see regularly, a useful site of an EFFREEKAN who has made it.
    Jeeslijk, ons kan maar trots wees ;-)))

    loer so bietjie by
    Yee Associates Architects & Designers

    maar trug na Joeys, daar het ons ook ons nuwe Madiba Bryg tsuuen the rand van die Witsies an the boykies van Newtown University se kos wereld - meer inligting by my SuidAfrikaanse en joburg blaaie

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  • cachaseiro's Profile Photo

    Walk to the airport.

    by cachaseiro Updated Feb 16, 2011

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    On my way to Stansted.

    With budget airlines all over the place it´s sometimes more expensive to take the train from the airport to London than the actual plane ticket.
    I decided to give it a shot at walking from central London to Stansted airport in october 2005 and spend a joyful 2 days walking through the northern suburbs of London before reaching the airport to catch my flight back to Copenhagen.
    On top of getting free transport to the airport, it´s also a nice way to see lesser known parts of London and you will finally convince all your friends that you are totally crazy :O).

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  • Durfun's Profile Photo

    Walks :)

    by Durfun Updated Apr 7, 2010

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    A Bank holiday would affect transport frequencies for sure, so factor that in.

    In Southwark, defo visit Monument, Borough Market and Tate Modern. St Pauls (north of Tate Modern) is an architectural masterpiece, and many famous citizens are interred there. The Whispering gallery is fun, but I found the views from the top are NOT that great, obstructed by all the odd buildings around it. Only the river view south is decent. You get better views from Tate Modern's restaurant :) Or Oxo tower restaurant :)

    Tower Bridge exhibition is cool, insightful, gets into the mechanics, etc. Views from the enclosed top walkway are brilliant :) Also, check their timetable to view it opening to let tall boats come through, you'll be in the neighbourhood, after all!

    You can easily walk along the south bank, from Tower bridge upto Westminster bridge (max 25 minute walk), past the Eye. Again, the Eye is only good for views of the Houses of Parliament, not much else!

    Walk around Parliament Square, the Abbey, up Whitehall (past Downing St) and upto Trafalgar Square. Walk time = 15 minutes.

    From Trafalgar Square turn right towards Strand & Covent Garden for restaurants & theatres galore :) If you turn left you end up in Piccadilly & Leicester Square - shopping, clubs, restaurants & cinemas.

    As another walking trip (recommended when transport is bad), from Parliament Square walk up Victoria St to Victoria & round the right toward Buckingham Palace. 20 minute walk. BTW, you reach Buckingham even from Trafalgar Sqaure (via Admiralty Arch), straight along The Mall - grand frontal approach! That's a 10 minute walk. Include a stroll through St James' Park on the left, off the Palace. On the right is Green Park, and behind that is Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens. These 2 parks are best explored from South Kensington tube after a visit to V&A, Science Museum, etc.

    Top right of Hyde Park is Marble Arch, and right (east) of that is Oxford Street (shopping). North of Bond Street is Baker St (Madame Tussuads - definitely a no, no in my opinion). However, Regents Park is most beautiful, worth a visit.

    A canal tour (www.jasons.co.uk, as mentioned earlier) is an excellent idea, taking you from Warwick Gardens (Little Venice), past Regents Canal, to Camden Lock (market). A great ride. We can meet up at Warwick Gardens for this, if interested!

    North west of Hyde Park is Notting Hill & the famous Portobello Market. Worth a peep for sure :)

    Greenwich would make a fine day out, go further to Woolwich arsenal to see the Barrier museum. National Maritime museum is brilliant, as is the Observatory, park, Queens House. Need a dry day for all this!

    British Museum is near Holborn (or Tottenham Court Road tubes), Holborn being just north of Covent Garden. There's another cool museum on the left just before Holborn tube on Lincolns Inn Fields - Sir John Soanes museum. Most delightful, free entry, but get there early. The Brit Museum is massive, check the website to tackle your main areas of interest first!

    Hampton Court is a good trip, as is Kew Gardens in the neighbourhood.

    Windsor Castle (including return transport) is at least a half day trip, so Bath would have to be another trip, though a sound choice :) Start early in the morning for each!!

    All the above is easily achievable in 6 days.

    Walking around some of the sights will be a highlight of your trip, try that.

    To summarise: I'd skip Tussuads, the Eye, double-decker tour. I've done many hop-on-hop-offs, & found they're great if pressed for time, to get a quick synopsis. But if you have plenty of time, and will be strategically located (eg around Southwark), a lot of the sights can be integrated on the back of many walks; eg get the tube to Holborn, do Brit Muse, Soane's then walk along Kingsway to Covent Garden for theatre (10 mins), walk south to Trafalgar (8 mins), etc :) Another day walk all the way upto Big Ben, Victoria, etc. Easy-peasy :)

    Of course if walking is an issue, get a travelcard for days you intend to travel a lot; or oyster card for short bursts (for instance a single bus trip, of any length costs 2 UKP on-the-spot versus 1.20 UKP via oyster).

    Enjoy my city ;)

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  • Durfun's Profile Photo

    Walking along the river..

    by Durfun Written Apr 1, 2010

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    Hi, It is a fun walk, taking in many sights.

    You could do it either way around, though, for some night pics, you should also go at night.

    Tower bridge is better seen from London bridge, ie further east. Great for night shots of the bridge & the Tower.

    Millenium bridge frames St Pauls Cathedral very well, as it does Tate Modern on the south bank. Once walking from the southbank towards Westminster, you'll pass Waterloo & the London Eye, County Hall, and finally you'll see on the opposite banks the Houses of Parliament. Now this also lends itself well to night shots.

    Walking time (leisurely) from Millenium bridge to W/mister is about 20 minutes. I'd suggest starting from Tower bridge to W/minster. This takes roughly 30 minutes.

    Enjoy the river views, the breeze, the sights.

    You could even opt for a RIB ride from Millenium pier; it circuits from Lambeth Palace to the Thames barriers (passing Canary Wharf, Greenwich). Superb fun, and a different perspective from water-level, and going under the famous bridges :)

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  • Durfun's Profile Photo

    Crossing under the river 'on foot'

    by Durfun Written Feb 21, 2010

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    Island Gardens DLR station
    4 more images

    A fun way to arrive at Greenwich from the north bank of the Thames is walking down the subway (foot-tunnel) connecting Island Gardens to Greenwich.

    The entrance shafts at both ends lie beneath glazed domes, elevators (installed in 1904, upgraded in 1992) and spiral staircases allowing pedestrians to reach the sloping, tile-lined tunnel at the bottom. The cast-iron tunnel itself is 370.2 m (1,217 ft) long and 15.2 m (50 ft) deep and has an internal diameter of about 9 feet (2.7 m). Its cast-iron rings are lined with concrete which has been surfaced with some 200,000 white glazed tiles.

    The northern end was damaged by bombs during World War II and the repairs included a thick steel and concrete inner lining that reduces the diameter substantially for a short distance (photo 4)

    Classed as a public highway, by law it is kept open 24 hours a day. However, the attendant-operated lift service is only open from 7am to 7pm on weekdays and Saturdays, 10am-5.30pm on Sundays, with no service on Christmas Day or Boxing Day.

    Sir Alexander Binnie was the civil engineer who designed it. Opened on 4 August 1902, it replaced an expensive and sometimes unreliable ferry service, and was intended to allow workers living on the south side of the Thames to reach their workplaces in the London docks and shipyards then situated in or near the Isle of Dogs.

    Binnie's design feats included the first Blackwall Tunnel (1897) and Greenwich foot tunnel (1902) (both in Greenwich, London) and, further upstream, Vauxhall Bridge (1906).

    * Alternative: you can always do this journey via the DLR connecting both stops as well!
    As for arriving at Island Gardens, if you want to skip the DLR, you can take a bus (15) from Cannon Street (passing Tower of London) to All Saints, and then another bus (D7) to here! Sightseeing from above!

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  • uglyscot's Profile Photo

    Walking in London

    by uglyscot Updated Apr 4, 2009

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    group with guide during a stop.

    Like Rome, London is best seen by walking around it. The best thing to buy is a copy of the A-Z or a good map of London, which will also show the Underground and bus routes.
    To see the less well -known areas of London, invest in one of the London Walks. , The British Museum, St John 's Wood Tube and other venues; and they give the programme for the season [winter/ summer]. There are many programmes available, all last about 2 hours and cost £7.50 adult, £ 5 concession and full-time students. Children under 15 go free. The walks are conducted by accredited guides, many of whom are renowned actors.
    There are also all day trips to places outside London like Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, Stonenhenge, Stratford and the Cotswalds.
    groups meet at designated tube stations and walks take place as scheduled whatever the weather.

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  • Gili_S's Profile Photo

    Walking

    by Gili_S Written Sep 3, 2008

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    Greater London is very large area, there is no way you can walk everywhere, so just use the public transport and hope in and out for a nice walk where you want to visit, it is very easy as long as it is not raining ;-)

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  • Gypsystravels's Profile Photo

    My favorite way to explore a city

    by Gypsystravels Updated Jun 3, 2008

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    Stopping for a quick pic

    I will always explore a city on foot because it gives me the best option to wander and just stop wherever I want. London is a fantastic city to wander around in because most of the major attractions are located in close proximity to each other. If my hotel is located further away from the attractions I would like to see, I will take the public transportation to a central area and explore on foot from there.

    During this most recent trip I decided to walk from Waterloo Station to the London Eye, Dali Museum, along the banks of the River Thames to the Tate Modern, across the Blackfriar’s Bridge to Victoria Embankment to the Temple Inn and Temple Church then walked along the Aldrych to Trafalgar Square where I visited the National Gallery then walked to Westminster Abbey.

    Phew, my feet were begging for some relief, so I decided to take the tube back to the hotel to get ready for an evening out.

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  • clouds111's Profile Photo

    Best way to see London

    by clouds111 Written Oct 1, 2007

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    The best way to get around town is to walk. This way you get see more of the city, stuff you wouldn't see when stuck on the underground. Just pick yourself up an a-z, wear some comfortable shoes and hit the road. London is full of history around every corner so it would be a shame to miss it ;)

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