Starting at Gabriel’s Wharf on London’s South Bank we headed off for a fabulous bicycle tour. A bit uncertain as London is not really known as a safe place for bicycles. We were told that most taxi and bus drivers actually hate cyclists…. On top of that we (from the continent) are used to ride on the right side of the road, not the left. Adding that all up, how on earth would we manage on a bike in busy downtown London?
London by bike
Our tour however was perfect. Guide Alissa clearly explained some rules on how we were to cross a busy street or roundabout. Alissa was a perfect guide. She enthusiastically explained about the most important sites in London; stories from the past (that are sometimes really boring) became seriously interesting and funny. Alissa always added a smile and a laugh.
It was raining a bit at the start of the tour but we didn’t mind. The tour lasted for 3 hours which went by very quickly. We could have cycled for a whole day as it was both fun as well as interesting. We actually learned a lot about the Houses of Parliament, the Big Ben (or actually Elisabeth Tower) and all other highlights of London.
One of the best things to me was the just-in-time arrival for the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham Palace. On our bikes we could actually see the guards marching towards the Palace. Alissa told an amazing story about a drunk man who entered the Palace grounds in 1980 without being noticed. He actually made it into the bedroom of the Queen! When the Queen woke up she quickly noticed the man was drunk and harmless. When asking what he wanted, he answered: a cigarette… Guards were alarmed and after being arrested no one has ever heard of the man again…. The kids (and we) loved the story.
Highlights of London
Our tour was called “Highlights of London”. After Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the Palace we drove towards Trafalgar Square. Again we learned interesting things about a blue chicken on the corner of the square (there is a link with the national symbol of France), and the smallest police station in the world. This square has more to offer than you might think.
In between the highlights you will pass lesser known areas. These quiet streets are a real treat: the grandeur of old houses, churches and monuments. What a city!
Another highlight: The London Eye. During the tour you will have a short stop at the Eye and after gazing upwards for a couple of minutes we decided to book our tickets for the next day…no regrets about that. This is becoming the new iconic landmark of London!
Moving on to Covent Garden where we had a 20 minute break. I didn’t know about Covent Garden to be honest, but the food market and small shops were great; look at these burgers! During the break we walked around a bit by ourselves, buying drinks and snacks. The kids hurried down to the Disney Store…
From Covent Garden we covered quite a long stretch through the city and ended up at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Dome reaches a height of 111 meters (366 feet) and was built on the highest point in the City of London.
I have said it before and I will repeat it again: bikes are the best way to explore a city. In the meantime we have been on bicycle tours in Bangkok, Delhi, New York, Rio de Janeiro and now London. And without a doubt we will do it again (and so should you)!
London bike tour
We were invited by Baja Bikes to explore the city by bike. The tours start at Gabriel’s Wharf on the South Bank that is actually walking distance from the Waterloo underground station. After the tour you can easily walk (back) to the city by crossing the Millenium Bridge. For modern art lovers it’s good to know that you will pass the famous Tate Modern museum (entrance is free!).
Baja Bikes offers bicycle tours in 30+ cities around the world. After your booking you will get a confirmation by e-mail showing departure time and a map to the starting point. Click here to learn more about the tours in English or Dutch. Thanks for a great tour!
Searching for less expensive hotels in the very center of London? Check this post (Dutch) offering 16 possibilities!
By the way, you probably noticed I am not to be found on any of the above pictures… Well, maybe I was just too busy making phone calls!