City of London offers wealth of history for visitors

What to expect if you want to stay in historic City of London

The Gherkin City Of London

The Gherkin offices is a major landmark in City of London

The City of London as defined by the old city walls sits on the north side of the River Thames to the east of the area where most visitors go.


The heart of the City of London is now and always has been the commercial heart of London. The riverfront between the Tower of London and Blackfriars used to be the port of London.


This has long vanished but the dense network of alleys and lanes behind the shore still remains, including the infamous Pudding Lane, starting place of the Fire Of London.

The history of the City of London is interesting, stretching back to the Roman times when the river was three times the width it is now. The London Museum, north of St Paul's Cathedral at Barbican, is recommended (free admission), as it tells the story of London to the present day.

The central commercial area around Bank is quite atmospheric with much fine architecture and olde worlde pubs and half forgotten churches. During the week this area is throbbing with activity, but at weekends it's like a ghost town with many shops closed. There is little accommodation in this area of the City of London.


As one of the main financial districts in the world, there is an awful lot of affluent people working in the area and nearly all the businesses are geared up to extracting their cash rather than from the tourists. It's an historic area with narrow alleys and lanes to explore and some of the most atmospheric pubs in London, well worth a visit to savour, completely different to what you will find further west in London where there are more visitors.


The Bank of England has a (free) museum that is interesting if you are half interested in money.

The main area of interest to the visitor is around the Tower of London. There are several large 4 star hotels in the area and a few budget chains. This area, and the area on the opposite side of the river has been developed in the last couple of decades from an area of old dock warehouses to one of the nicest areas of London for visitors to relax.


On the south side of the river there is a great riverside walk, atmospheric streets and a great choice of restaurants as well as a couple of shopping centres housed in restored buildings. The Tower of London is also a popular starting place for the Jack the Ripper walking tours, that explore the scenes of the murders in the east of this district around Aldgate.


City of London in relation to the rest of Central London

London Hotel Districts

The City of London commercial area

City Of London Pub

Typical pub in the City of London

The business area or the square mile as it is called is the oldest part of London and is well worth exploration.


The main gateway to the area is Liverpool Street Station with commuter services to the north and east of London, London Bridge, Cannon Street and Waterloo stations provide the same function for those living south of the river.

For the visitor the most fertile area to explore is around the Bank area, the bank being the Bank of England.


We have a self guided short walk that although not long crams a lot into a short distance. By following the section between the Tower of London to St Paul's Cathedral you will experience much of the best the district has to offer.


The walk contains main attractions plus a lot of hidden gems as well. Part of the delight of the City Of London is exploring your own hidden gem. Walking is by far the best way of getting to know the district.


City of London self-guided walk details


The Tower of London area

Most of the hotels in the area and the only real area where the tourist industry impacts on your experience is around the Tower of London.


At the weekends room rates crash as the financiers retreat to the country. You can at this time get the best of both worlds, a very nice hotel at a competitive price with lots to see and do all around.

In the immediate vicinity, places you'll find in your guide book include the Tower of London itself, Tower Bridge, the London Dungeon, the Monument, Leadenhall Market and St Paul's Cathedral.


Tower Bridge London

Tower Bridge

There is good Underground links as well to the rest of London and using some form of river transport from one of the piers should be sampled at least once to give a different perspective of the city.

In the evening, Jack the Ripper walking tours are popular, as is Brick Lane and the area around Spitalfields and Leadenhall Markets, now atmospheric venues for restaurants and bars.


On the opposite side of the river is Butler's Wharf of a similar ilk and you can walk along the River Thames South Bank as far as you want - the London Eye and Big Ben are less than an hour away, but you won't do it in anywhere near that time as there is so much to see and experience on the way.


Getting around London from the City of London

Although the City Of London is very interesting there is no denying much of London that the visitor wants to see is the other side of Central London,

certainly in the evening for theatre and nightlife.

For most, the London Underground is the way into and out of The City Of London to the rest of the centre. This means going west, either along the north bank of the River Thames all the way to Westminster on the Central and District lines or the Central line running a little north of this route.

If you are a night owl, there are many night buses that connect the area direct to the rest of Central London when the Underground is closed.

A very popular option for visitors to get orientated with London is to use the hop on, hop off tour buses. There are two major operators, the Original London Tour and the Big Bus. Both of course visit the Tower Of London, with other stops for the London Dungeon by London Bridge, the Monument and St Paul's Cathedral.

One other delightful alternative is to use the river transport. There are two piers either side of Tower Bridge with various schedules both ways down the river. On some services you can even use your Oyster Card or get a discount with a Travelcard. Most popular for visitors are probably City Cruises (pictured below) who have the contract for both of London's major hop on, hop off sightseeing buses that include a free river cruise.


The most popular route is Tower Pier to the London Eye or Big Ben opposite, a river journey of about 40 minutes. In the opposite direction, City Cruises are one of several river boats going to Greenwich, famous for the meridian line.

City Cruises River Boat In Front Of The Tower Of London
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