While Western civilization was born in ancient Greece, much of modern Western civilization owes a nod to someone in London at some point over the past two thousand years. London is old, and if you’re visiting, there’s a lot to see, which is why you should start out with a tour.
For $32, you can take a tour on one of London’s iconic, red, double-decker buses. Narrated by professional guides, these London tours always provide visitors with something new and informative about England’s capitol, and they also include a cruise on the Thames. You’ll see the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and more. If take a Routemaster Double-decker Bus Tour in the morning, you can pair the tour with a trip to Stonehenge in the afternoon.
Another good introduction to the city is via the London Hop-On Hop-Off tours. These allow you to get off and check out as whatever stop as many times as you like, for under $40, in the case of one particular package. This one includes the usual London attractions (Madame Tussaud’s, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, etc.), a Thames river cruise and three free walking tours. This is where you’ll get to see the Changing of the Buckingham Palace Guard, a walk in Jack the Ripper’s path of murder and my favorite, the Rock and Roll Walking Tour. This last one directs you down the history of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, pointing out significant points and locations in the musician’s lives.
If those tours seem a little, well, real, then lucky for you. London has the auspice of being host to the only Locations of Harry Potter tour. You’ll cruise (or putter, I imagine) in a black and orange taxi to places like Diagon Alley, the train platform where Harry and his mates depart for Hogwarts and even the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. They may not look like they do in your imagination, but they’ll definitely look like the scenes in the movie—because that’s where they’re from. Get a little geeky and take the other magical mystery tour.