Whether you’re interested in the controversial world of Brutalist architecture or you’d rather spend your time learning about the vibrant queer scene that’s prominent in London, the city is thrumming with alternative and cultural tours spanning all kinds of exciting topics. Whatever it is that pricks your ears, there will likely be a tour about it in the capital, so here’s our guide to alternative London tours where there’s sure to be at least one that’ll interest or excite you.
(WA= Wheelchair Accessible)
Image Courtesy of Rebel
Get to know the rebels of Covent Garden
First on our list of alternative London tours is this Misfits of Covent Garden walking tour, where you’ll get to delve into the intriguing narratives of the city’s most eccentric and vibrant personalities who once called their area their stomping ground. From its beginnings as Westminster Abbey’s vegetable garden, Covent Garden evolved into a bustling market area, a buzzing theatre district and, at one point, even a slum that left a mark on the likes of Charles Dickens. The tour is hosted by Rebel Tours, a female-founded company of professional guides, historians, and rebels who we take great pride in working with. They offer an immersive and engaging experience and really try to get you involved rather than just letting you be a tourist on the sidelines.
Misfits of Covent Garden | Covent Garden | WA
Learn about the Jack The Ripper case from a new perspective
When you Google Whitechapel, you’ll probably find that it’s home to a 100-year-old art gallery, London’s oldest mosque and one of the city’s top Punjabi restaurants, Tayabbs (which is well worth a visit, by the way). But what it’s also unfortunately known for is a series of gruesome murders by the notorious Jack the Ripper. It’s remained one of the biggest murder case mysteries, with Jack the Ripper never being identified and, as a result, the crimes have become somewhat glamorised, overshadowing the brave victims who were cast aside and forgotten. This ethical Jack the Ripper walking tour is setting out to change the narrative, instead giving a voice to the women who were victims and shining a spotlight on their daily struggles in the once-dark Victorian slum of Whitechapel. Explore the streets and alleys of Aldgate, Whitechapel, and Spitalfields with your guide, and gain fresh insights into the Whitechapel Murders from the courageous victims’ perspective.
Jack the Ripper – What about the Women? | Aldgate
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Strut through Soho and Chinatown
Explore London’s iconic Soho and Chinatown areas in a much sassier way than usual on this Drag Queen Disco Diva Tour. Strut through the streets with your silent disco headset, find the best spots to catch the Drag Race girls performing and learn all about the legendary Drag performer Danny La Rue. Leave your prude shoes at the door for this one, as you’ll hear some hilarious and outrageous facts as you make your way through this iconic part of the city, like where Cher decided to, er, do a number two after eating a dodgy kebab. You may not have your prude shoes, but you can certainly slip on your dancing pair as you’ll be grooving to pop hits by Spice Girls, Madonna, Kylie, Lady Gaga and more on your silent disco headset for most of the way. Oh, and you might just be lucky enough to have Hannah Montana as your guide.
Drag Queen Disco Diva Tour | Soho | WA
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Get to know street art in the capital
Graffiti has long been a part of London’s art scene, from political messages and graffiti tags to full-blown murals by renowned artists. The street art movement began making waves in the city streets back in the 1980s, and it never really slowed down. You’ll find colourful murals pasted on many streets in the East End, and the best way to learn more about them is by heading on this half-day street art tour with a workshop, where you’ll hear the stories behind some of the world’s best graffiti. See art by the likes of Banksy, Jimmy C, Stik, ROA and more, and learn all about the meaning behind each piece as your graffiti guide fills you in. After you’ve traversed every corner of the East End, one of the most graffitied areas of London, you’ll have the opportunity to try your hand at street art with a knowledgeable tutor. It doesn’t matter what artistic abilities you possess; all are welcome to try free-hand spray painting, or you can even take an image from your phone or a USB to transform it into a personalised piece of art.
Half-Day Street Art Tour and Workshop | Old Spitalfields Market
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Explore London’s thriving LGBTQ+ scene
London is widely known to have one of the largest gay populations in Europe, so it’s no surprise that the city’s queer nightlife scene is also utterly thriving, and on this private LGBTQ+ Nightlife tour, you’ll experience it for yourself. You’ll be handed a questionnaire beforehand so your local guide can tailor the tour and handpick the bars and sights best suited to your personal preference – it’s also flexible and can be changed on the day if you fancy. Across the three hours, you’ll see the very best of London’s queer nightlife, enjoy two refreshing drinks (you can also purchase more), and truly delve into the English capital’s buzzy LGBTQ+ scene.
London Gay Tour With a Local | Soho | WA
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Expand your knowledge of Brutalism in London
During the mid-1950’s to 1970’s, Brutalism flourished as a rebellion against mainstream architecture, leaving a significant imprint on London’s landscape and people. This Brutalist Architecture and History Tour uncovers the compelling story of this style of architecture in London’s central neighbourhoods. Led by a local guide, you’ll see the distinctive post-war buildings while engaging in interesting discussions about monumental Modernist architecture and the cultural, social, and environmental influence that has occurred on a global level because of it. The tour will also address the ongoing debates surrounding the future of these iconic sites, providing a detailed understanding of Brutalism’s legacy.
Brutalist Architecture & History Tour | Central London
Image Courtesy of Black History Walks
Learn about the Black history and heritage of London
The last spot on our list of alternative London tours (but by no means least) goes out to basically all of the Black History Walks, a must for any history enthusiast. Delve into the city’s vibrant Black history through various tours led by expert guides (often, the founder Tony). The tours cover 15 different areas, from Regent’s Canal and historic St. Paul’s to Mayfair and buzzy Soho, where you’ll get to learn all about a range of diverse topics spanning more than 3500 years. Whether you’re intrigued by the Black performers and productions that graced London’s West End theatres over the decades, or you’d rather learn about the Black presence in the esteemed Wallace Collection, Black History Tours probably has a tour for it. Also, it’s not just walking tours you can enjoy – they also offer bus and river tours.
Black History Walks | Central London
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