London has just what you need for a quick escape: direct flights; the best live theater scene on the planet; an inviting pub on every corner; and the simple pleasure of conversing with Europeans with (almost) no language barrier. During your week in London, your Rick Steves guide will lead you on a magical history tour through The Tower, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, Churchill's War Rooms and plenty of priceless art — and even take you on a train trip to Windsor Castle. Join us for the Best of London in 7 Days!
You'll get all this!
- An extra-small group, limited to 20-24 people — less than half the size of most tour groups
- Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of London come alive for you
- All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 13 group sightseeing events • London neighborhood walk & Tube orientation • Westminster Abbey tour • Thames River cruise • Tower of London "Beefeater" tour • Whitehall walking tour • Churchill War Rooms • National Gallery tour • St. Paul's Cathedral tour • "City" walking tour • Windsor day trip • Windsor Castle tour • British Museum tour • British Library visit...and more
- All group transportation during the week in London
- 6 nights accommodations in a memorable, centrally-located hotel
- All breakfasts and half your dinners
- All tips for guides
- Free stuff including Rick Steves' London guidebook, map, moneybelt and earplugs
- Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
- Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2013
- 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
- Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
- Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above
- Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
- Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
- Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.
Day 1: Arrive in London
We'll meet at our hotel in central London around 3 p.m. this afternoon to get acquainted. Then we'll set off on a neighborhood walk, Underground/Tube and big red bus orientation, followed by dinner together. Walking: light.
Day 2: Westminster Abbey and the Tower
This morning we'll tour the majestic Westminster Abbey, where England's kings and queens have been crowned and buried since 1066. A thousand years of English history lie within its stained-glass splendor and under its stone slabs. Then we'll hop aboard a boat on the Thames and cruise past monuments, skyscrapers, and cathedrals on our way to the Tower of London, the city's historic "tower of power." We'll join a Yeoman Warder "Beefeater" for an entertaining tour and a peek at the legendary Crown Jewels. We'll finish the day with an Indian dinner together. Boat: ½ hr. Walking: strenuous.
Day 3: Whitehall and the National Gallery
We'll take a history-laced walking tour along Whitehall, from the Westminster Houses of Parliament to the Renaissance-inspired Banqueting House, punctuated by the smartly-dressed, stony-faced Horse Guards. Then we'll get the inside story on the London Blitz and Britain's leadership during WWII on our tour of the Churchill War Rooms. This afternoon, we'll learn about the adventures of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square and have a guided tour of the National Gallery's masterpieces, including works by Leonardo, Botticelli, Turner and the Impressionists. This would be a perfect evening for the theater (book something in advance from the Colonies or pick up a ticket in London). Walking: strenuous.
Day 4: St. Paul's Cathedral and The City
This morning we'll tour England's national church — Christopher Wren's majestically-domed St. Paul's Cathedral — and hear how local "fire watcher" volunteers saved this symbol of British resolve during the bombing raids of WWII. Then we'll continue on with a walking tour of The City, the oldest part of London and now its financial heart. After our pub lunch together at the Counting House (an elegant former bank), your afternoon is free to enjoy one of London's many museums (perhaps the Victoria & Albert Museum) or take a leisurely stroll through one of the many beautiful parks. This is another good night for the theater. Walking: moderate.
Day 5: Historic Windsor Castle
Today we'll catch a train and head out of town to Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest castle residence in the world. We'll spend the morning touring the Royal Family's castle, ornate St. George's Chapel and the surrounding park. The remainder of the day is yours for poking around the quaint town of Windsor or for more sightseeing back in London. Train: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 6: The British Museum and Library
This morning we'll dive into the treasures of the British Library, including the Magna Carta, Gutenberg's Bible — even Beatles lyrics! Then we're off to tour the British Museum and the chronicle of Western Civilization — the Elgin marbles, Rosetta Stone, mummies and more. The rest of your afternoon is free for the Imperial War Museum, shopping around Covent Garden, or other sightseeing. Tonight we'll meet for our "last supper" and raise a toast to London and new friends. Cheers! Walking: strenuous.
Day 7: Tour Over After Breakfast
Following breakfast, we'll say our goodbyes. Heathrow and Gatwick airports can be easily reached by Tube, train or bus from our London neighborhood. For those not ready to return home yet, London is a great jumping off point to Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and many other exciting destinations. Cheerio!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of London in 7 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...
- Carry your luggage up several flights of stairs to reach your hotel room.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate around the city on your own.
- Be able to climb many flights of stairs in and out of the London Underground system.
We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.
Sightseeing On Your Own
If you arrive in London before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' London guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.
Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in London that we will not do as a group: London Eye (observation wheel); Houses of Parliament; Tate Galleries (British or Modern); Imperial War Museum; Shakespeare's Globe Theatre; Victoria & Albert Museum; Kew Gardens; day trips to Cambridge and Oxford.
Many tour members like to attend a play or a concert while in London (see Rick Steves' London guidebook for details on how to buy tickets). Your guidebook will also have plenty of ideas for any extra time you may have and your guide will be happy to help you with post-tour plans.
Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.
London is a major transportation hub, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy. Many budget airlines also serve London. Both Paris and Dublin are about a $100, one-hour flight away. For current deals, see www.cheapflights.co.uk. (Note: prices are shown in pounds; multiply by 1.6 to convert to US dollars.) Also ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."
Read Rick's Guide to Eurail Passes and decide if your travel plans merit a railpass (or contact our Rail Department for advice at email@example.com or 425/771-8303 ext. 214). Britain has some of the highest per-mile ticket prices in Europe; advance-purchase, US-only railpass deals can help keep your costs down.
Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your tour hotel, as well as contact information for your hotel in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.
If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See a chart with monthly rain and temperature information for this tour.
For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Tour Guide Raves
"Gillian was an outstanding guide. She was very knowledgeable about the historical aspects of the sites we visited in London. I enjoyed her sense of enthusiasm, her humorous bits of trivia and quips as well, making the tour much more entertaining and interesting than just a history lesson. I would look forward to having her as a guide on a future tour."
— Diane in Indianapolis, IN
"Roy was a delightful guide. He led our group with enthusiasm, knowledge, humor and genuine kindness. He may be the most calm man I have ever met, and is clearly an expert at what he does. Can't say enough good things about Roy."
— Sarah in Denver, CO
Favorite tour memories from recent alums:
"It was all a 'wow' moment! Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral, Windsor Castle, The National Gallery, Churchill's War Rooms were standouts. I also especially enjoyed striking out on our own for the London Eye, and taking in Evensong at Windsor's St. George's Chapel."
— Douglas in Portland, OR
"It was one 'wow' after another! — Thames River ride; Tower of London; Westminster Abbey; British Museum; Windsor Castle; and all points in between — loved everything. And we had a great tour guide."
— Nancy in Lubbock, TX
"My favorite moment was the cruise on the Thames! I loved seeing the important sights from the river and especially enjoyed the Tower Bridge."
— Janice in Mulberry, AR
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- My Fair Lady (1964)
- Mary Poppins (1964)
- A Hard Day's Night (1964)
- Elizabeth (1998)
- The Queen (2006)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves' Audio Tours
- Britain: Westminster Walk, British Museum, British Library, St. Paul's Cathedral, City of London
Rick Steves' Audio Europe™
- Pop/Rock: Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elton John, David Bowie, Police/Sting, Coldplay, Amy Winehouse
- Composers: Andrew Lloyd Weber, Edward Elgar
- Light Opera: Gilbert & Sullivan
Rick Steves' Articles
(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)
- Rick Steves' London
- London: The Biography — Peter Ackroyd
- Elizabeth's London — Liza Picard
- Letters from London — Julian Barnes
- 84 Charing Cross Road — Helene Hanff
- A Traveller's History of London (Traveller's Histories Series) — Richard Tames
- Pygmalion — George Bernard Shaw
- The Jeeves series — P.G. Wodehouse
- A Study in Scarlet — Arthur Conan Doyle
- London — Edward Rutherford
- Rumpole of the Bailey — John Mortimer