Despite its size and sprawling nature, London is actually a very walkable city. The network of parks, canals and purpose-built footpaths allow for visitors and locals alike to explore the lesser-known sides of the capital - in addition to the central, well-trodden ones - at their own pace and ease. We’ve outlined some of the most scenic routes that take you to and past iconic landmarks and behind the scenes of the fantastic facades.
It might not be the first area you’d think of for tree-spotting and basking in nature’s urban glory, but the City of London Tree Trail is a fantastic way to expand your local horizons as well as your oxygen intake. With over 2400 trees scattered around the area, some hundreds of years old, this route will introduce you to 11 showcase species - the Sweet Gum, London Plane, Judas and Foxglove, Handkerchief, Tulip, Fig, Maidenhair, Elms, Swamp Cypress and Silver Lime - as well as generally showing off more than 70 others meanwhile. Created together with Trees For Cities and the City of London Festival, the aim is to provide access to some of London’s heritage areas, as well as encouraging residents and tourists to think more about the ecological impact we are having on our environment - by demonstrating how it can flourish of given the chance.
History buffs will get a satisfying dose of learning with the London Wall Walk. Formerly known as Londinium, the capital was a defensively walled city, enclosed within around a square mile area stretching from Tower Hill to Blackfriars. The wall was originally started by the Romans, though is was for the large part dismantled in the 1700s and the only parts left to visit nowadays are along this 1.75 mile route from the Tower of London, where one of the most imposing remains still stands, right through to the Museum of London. With information panels along the way, you’ll come away with a wealth of factoids and photos to boot.
Jubilee Greenway is one of the newest arrivals on the scene of the Walk London routes, set in place by Transport for London in celebration of the Queen’s anniversary of her reign and running, appropriately, for 60km. Linking all the key Olympic Games sites, it adds to the original Jubilee Walkway - a 25km route carved out in 1977 to mark her quarter century on the throne and spanning sites Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. As the loop is a little long, it’s recommended you break it up into separate parts such as the Jubilee or Western Loops, which will also deliver you to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and St James’ Park - all beautiful historic landmarks that shouldn’t be missed on any visit to London.
To truly appreciate the becalming qualities of the city’s waterways, the most charming and picturesque route to take is through Little Venice. Traversing London by means of the beautiful Regent's Canal, along past London Zoo and up to Primrose Hill and St John's Wood, then on through to Camden Lock, this is an area rich in history. It’s small wonder the artistic and famous have traditionally flocked here, given not only the creative atmosphere of this corner of London, but most of all the green quietude and sheer desirability of some of the white stucco mansions you will be gazing at. Designed, as Regent’s Canal itself was, by John Nash, there had originally been 56 mansions planned for construction, but concerns were raised over the potentially offensive language of the barge folk, which would potentially have been too coarse for the sensibilities of the new (moneyed) residents. Wander between the houseboats, stop for a drink at one of the hidden little gem cafes along the canals, and wonder at how you would enjoy soaking up the morning sunrise with your coffee and cat for company. It’s enough to make the romantic in you soar and dream of setting sail… even just for the day, even if in the middle of a huge metropolis.
Now let’s get properly into the spirit of things and stalk up to The Queen's Walk. This route mainly concerns the inspiring South Bank, crossing as it does firstly over Westminster Bridge, East along the Thames and back over the Millennium Bridge to the majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral. Taking in sites such as the Barbican, Smithfields Market and the Old Bailey, the walk will take no more than an hour of your time - depending how much extra you invest in stopping for coffees, photo opportunities and general space-gazing. If you have more time, dropping down by the Thames Path will reward you with hidden extras (and potential detours) such as the Embankment, Temple Gardens and the unmissable Tate Modern gallery.
With all of this nature, architecture, culture and wonder at your feet, the only plan left to make is choosing your dates and making sure you don’t miss out on any of our amazing offers at Amba Hotel Charing Cross - itself just steps away from London’s most breathtaking sights.