Please sign in to post.

Blue Badge guides in London

Hello, I am sending my parents (who are in their 50s) on a trip to london and i was wondering if it would be worth it to get a blue badge guide to tour them around for 1 or 2 days? I noticed their daily rates are quite expensive, is there a huge added benefit to having a blue badge tour guide vs just going around on your own?

Posted by
317 posts

I took the RS London city tour and our tour director was a Blue Badge guide. He really made a great difference during the "talking" times. Spontaneous discovery is good .. self researched exploring time is good .. but so is being in the presence of a quality guide. Perhaps pay for a 1/2 day slot?

Posted by
3821 posts

You need to go to: http://www.walks.com/ and look at their walks, all done by blue badge guides. The London Walks have been in operation for at least 20 years, and receive rave reviews in Rick Steves' London guidebook. As you can see from their website, there are all types of walks from which to choose. "London's best guided walks." says Time Out magazine. "London Walks is the best bargain in London." says another travel writer.

Posted by
3 posts

Have you been on the london walks? The website says that there may be anywhere form 20-40 people on these tours, does it get difficult to ask questions/hear? Are they able to take you into the musuems and talk to the group about the art and such? The london walks tours are very reasonably priced, but I wonder if my parents' tour would just be more efficient with a private guide. any thoughts?

Posted by
3821 posts

Yes, we went on the Canal Walk (Regents Canal path). It was lovely. The tour group can be 20 people or 40, depending upon the time of year (summer tourist season=very large groups) and also depending upon how popular the subject of the tour is (Beatles Walk is always crowded). You did not say what time of year your parents will be going, so if it is in the off season (fall or winter) the tour groups will be much smaller. London Walks offers private walks also: http://www.walks.com/London_Walks_Home/Private_Walks_/default.aspx

Posted by
1986 posts

Obviously a qualified guide should be able to give you information about what you are seeing. however "in their 50s" parents are not in their dotage and should be quite capable of reading up on London and deciding what interests them and be able to get there and see it on their own. Maybe certain elements (lets say touring Westminster Abbey) they may want to join a guided tour- but that should be up to them and their personal style and preferences I most enjpy London walking around on my own seeing what interests me, and taking whatever time i want. I do agree a Hop On Hop off (or similar ) bus tour on the first day is a great way to get an idea of where things are, and what sights they may want to go back to and what they can skip

Posted by
5688 posts

I've been on at least 25 London Walks over the last 20 years. The group size varies. For example, last year I took the Little Venice walk on a weekday morning and there were only about 8 people. On the other hand, I've been on some walks with 40+ people which is too much. Most of the guides are quite good and deal well with large groups. I'm partial to the ones that go to neighborhoods that you might not visit otherwise. Two of my favorities have been the Hampstead Village walk and the Somewhere Else walk. However, they do a real variety of walks (pub walks, museum walks, etc.). I would recommend that your parents look at the schedule and choose one that interests them. It is a small investment (8 GBP each) ... if they like it, they can choose to do more. If they don't, they haven't spent much.

Posted by
964 posts

Would your parents actually like a guide? Some people don't. The language isn't going to be a problem and they might prefer to find their own way.
I'd ask them first. Hope they have a lovely time!

Posted by
317 posts

Tara asked about a blue badge guide. The people found at http://www.blue-badge-guides.com/ are not necessarily London Walks people, which doesn't mention being a Blue Badge guide for more than a couple of its guides. Two very different things. Yes, blue badge guides could be considered expensive, £127 - £150 for 1/2 day (http://www.blue-badge-guides.com/Fees.html), but each person decides the worth of a product's quality. Find a guide with a specialty matching your parents' interests and it's a lovely travel gift ... IMO. Happy travels.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks to everyone for your replies and information. One of the main reasons I was considering getting a private tour guide was because my parents will only be in London for a little less than two full days not giving them much time to explore. They are also going during the summer so I'm sure there will be a lot of crowds. Since I'm planning the trip, I'm trying to figure out the best options for them to see the city in the limited time they have. For the private blue badge guides do people usually book in advance or is it generally easy to find someone the day of?

Posted by
5688 posts

Tara, I've never gone the private guides route in London, but if you plan to do this you would probably be wise to book in advance. While I do think you can gain a lot with a good guide in any city, London is also a city that is quite easy to tour on your own (loads of good guidebooks, explanations in English, guided tours available at many sites, etc.). Whether or not to hire a guide could also depend on your parent's interests. For example, there are some sights where you can take a guided tour at the sight (e.g. Tower of London, most of the museums, Westminster Abbey, etc.) and others like the Cabinet War Rooms that include an audio guide.