shakespeare mural in london

An awesome, offbeat London walking tour

As a (very lucky) 14 year-old, I had the chance to visit England and France on a school trip. It was one of those 10-day whirlwind tours where you wake up at 6am and go to bed at midnight (if you’re a chaperone; if you’re a kid, you go to bed at half-past never because you’re with a bunch of friends in a foreign country).

We touched down in London in mid-April of that year, and immediately, on our first day there, I knew that I’d never be the same. I loved the differences in the familiar language, I loved the old, magnificent churches, nestled below the towering, modern buildings, I loved the general feeling of adventure and newness.

So when I had the chance to go to London for a few days last year, I jumped at it. Having seen all the major sights on my first trip and again on a subsequent school trip a few years later, I decided to create a walking itinerary for myself that hit some quirky, hip spots in the Big Smoke, and of course, some foodie spots, too. I’m happy to share it with you today.

Ready to see some lesser-known sights in England's capital city? Check out this awesome, offbeat London walking tour! Stroll the city's streets and admire some of London's best hidden gems!
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Luggage and Life’s awesome, offbeat walking tour if London

First, a note on the “walking” part of this walking tour

Any of you who have visited London know that it is GIANT and absolutely bursting with things to see and do. When I started researching for this post, I came across many, many lengthy lists of “hidden gems” in London, and I felt overwhelmed. I decided to write down some of the things I wanted to see for sure, and then took Google Maps to see what was reasonable to hit on a one-day walking tour.

If you’re familiar with the blog at all, you know that my main interests when traveling are exploring on foot and eating. London on foot is a bit daunting, and when I told people how far I had walked there I was met with some pretty shocked faces.

I tried to keep this tour to a maximum of 15-20 minutes between sights, but it might get a bit longer depending on how fast you walk, the crowds, the weather, etc.

Because London is so big and the Tube is so totally awesome and extensive and runs regularly and just plain WORKS (I’m not a Roman who is disgruntled by the Eternal City’s public transportation at all, guys), I’ve decided to include Tube stops for those of you who might have bad weather, or just don’t want to walk as much as I did.

Free map!

Click here to get your free map of this walking tour, which I made on Google Tour Builder. If you use it, I’d love to hear what your experience is, since this tool is new to me!

Southbank Centre Book Market

Tube stations: Embankment, Temple, Waterloo

Address: 337-338 Belvedere Rd, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

Opening hours: daily from 10am – 7pm

My sweetheart and I had some trouble finding the Southbank Centre Book Market, and it took about 10 minutes of wandering around to realize that it was actually closed on the day we were there (#nailedit). This appeared to be because there was a film premiere that night right across from the market at BFI Southbank.

I was disappointed, both because the market was closed and also because it was a movie starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellan and they weren’t just hanging around the theater so I could meet them, but that’s life.

I’d still recommend checking it out, even though I didn’t get to. Long tables are full of second-hand books, prints, and maps. It sounds like there’s something for everyone.

southbank centre book market in london
The site of the book market

Foodie tip: Get a coffee at Espresso Bar

The book market is in front of the National Theatre, which is also worth popping into. The coffee at Espresso Bar, to the left of the theater’s lobby, was one of the best cups I’ve had outside of Australia (yes, Australia is my gold standard for coffee, fight me, Italy).

view from london's southbank walk
Another bonus is that you get great views while walking from the book market to the Globe!

Bonus sight: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Walking time from previous stop: ~17 mins

Tube station: London Bridge

Address: 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT

Opening hours for tours: 9:30am to 5pm on Mondays, 9:30am to 12:30pm (Tuesday through Saturday)

This one isn’t exactly offbeat, but it’s quintessential London (also you’re going to walk right by it, so I wanted to include it here). I did a tour of the Globe on my first trip to London, so I didn’t do it this time, but you can book a visit or tickets to a show here.

shakespeare mural in london

The Borough Market

Walking time from previous stop: ~8 mins

Tube stations: London Bridge, Southwark

Address: 8 Southwark St, London  SE1 1TL

Opening hours: Monday through Thursday, 10am to 5pm, Friday, 10am to 7pm, Saturday, 8am to 7pm, closed Sundays


The Borough Market dates back to the early 11th century. Yes, it’s that old.

I easily could have spent a day wandering the stalls of the Borough Market, eating until I passed out, and then waking from my nap to eat some more. Sadly, I couldn’t, because I was on a mission to complete my walking tour.

inside london's borough market
Shoppers at the Borough Market

The Borough Market is a foodie’s delight, with cheese, sausage and cold cuts, produce, wine, seafood, and just about everything else yummy that exists in the world. You can also buy prepared foods at their super impressive food court and enjoy it at the community seating.

cheddar cheese stand at london's borough market
I’ll have one of everything, please

St. Dunstan in the East church garden

Walking time from previous stop: ~15 mins

Tube Station: Monument

Address: St. Dunstan’s Hill, London EC3R 5DD

Opening hours: 8am to 6pm daily

St. Dunstan in the East is one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever seen. When I clapped eyes on it, I wanted to simultaneously have a photo shoot there, go back in time to my childhood so I could pretend to be a princess, and cry because it was so cool and beautiful.

st. dunstan in the east church garden in london

A church was built on the site in Saxon times, and it was restored by St. Dunstan in 950. Christopher Wren, one of England’s most celebrated architects, rebuilt it after London’s Great Fire of 1697. It was destroyed again during World War II; however, the Wren tower was spared and remains standing today. In 1971, a garden was created throughout the remains of the church, which brings us to the St. Dunstan that you can visit today.

Read more about Christopher Wren’s most famous designs here.

Read more about St. Dunstan in the East here.

st. dunstan in the east london

All Hallows by the Tower

Walking time from previous stop: ~5 mins

Tube station: Tower Hill

Address: Byward St, Tower, London EC3R 5BJ

Opening hours: Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm

History and/or church buffs will love this stop, because it’s the oldest church in London, dating back to the year 675. Artifacts and architectural elements, including a Saxon-era arch and a Roman floor, are found in the church’s lower level.

a saxon cross in all hallows by the tower, london
A cross from 900 AD

Leadenhall Market

Walking time from previous stop: ~8 mins

Tube station: Monument

Address: Gracechurch St, Langbourn, London EC3V 1LT

The market might look familiar to any Harry Potter fans – it was used at the set for Diagon Alley in the first film. 

The original Leadenhall Market was built on the remains of a Roman forum. The market as it stands now was constructed in 1881 by architect Sir Horace Jones.

Leadenhall is a covered market, which is a good thing, given London’s weather. Today, the interior is lined with upscale shops, bars, and restaurants.

leadenhall market in london
Which way to Borgin and Burkes?

Brick Lane

Walking time from previous stop: ~20 mins

Tube station: Aldgate East

Historically associated with slums and Jack the Ripper murders, Brick Lane is now known for being home to some of London’s best curry restaurants and salt beef bagel shops, as well as being a hub for artists of all types.

curry house on brick lane, london
I wish I had multiple stomachs so that I could eat everything everywhere

Live music, art shows, markets and festivals are always on in the neighborhood, and the street art is very impressive.

street art on brick lane, london

Nomadic Community Gardens

Walking time from previous stop: ~5 mins

Address: Fleet Street Hill, Shoreditch

Opening hours: every day until sundown; closed Mondays

This was our second strike-out of the tour, because it was closed when we tried to go, but I’m hoping I can check it out on another trip to London.

The Nomadic Community Gardens provides 100 raised beds of soil for local residents to cultivate. Since they started the project, they’ve created a children’s play area, installed a café, started growing British wildflowers, and have created a bee enclosure. They host a variety of live music and other events.

They run other projects in different areas of London that turn unused areas into community garden spaces. Check out all the details on their website.

nomadic community garden london

Foodie Tip: Viet Grill

Walking time from previous stop: ~17 mins

Tube station: Shoreditch High Street

Address: 58 Kingsland Rd, Hackney, London E2 8DP

Opening hours: Monday through Thursday, 12pm to 10pm, Friday and Saturday 12 – 11:30pm, and Sunday 12pm to 10:30pm

We had already had curry on our trip, so instead of stopping to eat on Brick Lane, we decided to wander a bit further and check out the Viet Grill in the area known as “Pho Mile.”

I got the traditional Pho, which was awesome (they have a ton of different kinds). Jeremy hit it out of the park with the Hawker Plate that he ordered, which consisted of a grilled pork chop that was the perfect balance of sweet and salty, a serving of white rice, a fried egg, a fried pork roll and a delicately dressed salad. He shared it with me, because he is a sweet angel.

I want to eat it again right. now.

hawker plate at viet grill london shoreditch

That brings us to the end of our awesome, offbeat walking tour of London! Questions? Thoughts? Did I get the Tube Stations wrong?! Let me know in the comments!

Here’s the map, again, just in case you missed it up top 🙂

Ready to see some lesser-known sights in England's capital city? Check out this awesome, offbeat London walking tour! Stroll the city's streets and admire some of London's best hidden gems!
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