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London bicycle tour

Give way to the bicycle! (London bike tour)

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

Give way bicycle London

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.

Listening to bicycle tour guide London

Explanation bike tour guide

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.

Big Ben in London

London bicycle tour

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.

Changing guards Buckingham Palace

Bike tour London

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.

Biking London

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!

Bike tour center London

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!

London Eye detail

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…

Three burgers street food London

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)!

On a bike in London

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!).

Bridge to St Paul cathedral

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!

Bike tour London

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!

Red phone booth London

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The Travel Hack May 20, 2014 - 15:55

I absolutely love bike tours, they’re such a great way to see a city. You go slow enough to take everything in but fast enough to see a lot.

Those burgers look amazing too!

Emiel van den Boomen May 21, 2014 - 20:54

Haha, those burgers indeed! And you are so right about going slow but still fast enough…thanks.

World Travel Chef May 16, 2014 - 20:53

Great post. If I get the chance would love to do this tour when in London.

World Travel Family May 15, 2014 - 18:23

I saw a similar London bike tour the other day and was thinking of going. Looks great. We’re ex-Londoners, I used to ride my bike around London all the time but it’s great to have a tour of your home town, there are always new things to learn. I’m actually on a plane on my way to London right now. Can’t wait, London rocks!

Emiel van den Boomen May 16, 2014 - 12:42

We went on the Highlights of London tour, but I know they also have tours of lesser known parts. Have fun!

Heidi Wagoner May 15, 2014 - 10:47

Oh what a great way to enjoy the city and it is fairly flat too. I have walked just about every inch of that city and love it so much. It did look a little cold for you that day.

Emiel van den Boomen May 16, 2014 - 12:41

Every inch, wow! 🙂 It actually wasn’t that cold, just a bit of rain. Typical English weather as we call it…

Farnoosh May 13, 2014 - 13:56

BEAUTIFUL! I was just recommending your blog as THE travel blog to my friends in the mastermind, Emiel. And you are making me miss London oh so much. Rain or sunshine, I LOVE that city!

Emiel van den Boomen May 13, 2014 - 16:23

That’s awesome Farnoosh, thank you so much!! London indeed is such a fab city with so much to see…we quickly forgot about our sightseeing list and just enjoyed the vibe, the parks, the monuments and everything else. You can not see all of London within one single visit!

Dave Briggs May 11, 2014 - 20:10

Always love to read about people doing their sightseeing by bicycle! there is no better way to see a city or country.

Emiel van den Boomen May 12, 2014 - 07:02

Absolutely agree Dave! Thanks for that. Guess you cycle a lot yourself when traveling?


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