London’s Best Alternative Sightseeing Methods – land, sea, air…. and cable

Iconic London taxis and the complex web of this magnificent city’s Tube train system are known the world over.

However, what if you want a different way to explore the streets of London? Can you visit its array of heritage sites, glorious green spaces and head spinning selection of tourist attractions without cabs or public transport?

It’s a wonderful city for walking of course, but getting about London on foot means only focusing on one area at a time. Some of the city’s splendours are well spaced out. If you have a passion to explore London’s fashion, gardens, historic sites or literary connections for example, you will need to cover a lot of ground.

Which is why the team at Merino Hospitality has put together information on alternatives forms of transport in London. Methods to explore England’s capital in new ways, from new angles.

Bicycles

Having seen how incredibly busy London’s roads get, you may imagine that using a bike to get around the capital involves sticking to the abundant parks or taking your life in to your hands on main roads.

In fact, London’s cycle ways are excellent. As part of the city’s determination to encourage environmentally friendly transport and reduce traffic, London has created a network of safe and practical cycling routes.

This includes “cycle superhighways” – direct and quick routes around outer and central London. There are new ones planned too, to make it even more possible to cover larger parts on London by bicycle.

How do you hire a bike in London? There are numerous companies who specialise in short term bike hire, for as little as 30 minutes or for a couple of weeks.

Such is the city’s devotion to this carbon neutral transport system, there is a widespread scheme in London to enable you to select a bike from one place, then drop it off at your destination.   There are two different types of ‘systems’ for these shared bikes.

The original shared bikes employed a docking stations around the city for collection and return.  The newer versions of shared bike are ‘dockless’ meaning that you can collect them from wherever you find them and leave them when you are done.  If it’s a short trip you could pay as little as £2 but prices vary depending on where you are in the city and the length of your ride.  There are several  shared bicycle currently in London including:  Santander Bikes, Mobike, Ofo and Urbo.

Rickshaw

If you don’t want to do the leg work yourself, then one unusual and exciting way to explore London is from within a rickshaw!

This cosmopolitan city offers inspiration and activities from across the globe and that even extends to alternative transport in London. It’s a great way to support environmentally friendly London travel options and local employment too.

The city’s rickshaw operators are largely based in the West End. Their friendly (and energetic) operators can take you from A to B or provide you with rickshaw tours that feature the top London attractions.

There are even options for gourmet, comedy, Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper rickshaw tours.

Note to the wise though, make sure you use a reputable rickshaw or “pedicab” company and that you agree a price in advance.   This is really important as during some times of the day and during special events Rickshaw ‘drivers’ sometimes will charge by the block!

Boats

There’s a great choice of ways to see London using its network of waterways.

One of the best ways to explore the capital in a leisurely way over a period of days, is to hire a colourful barge to meander along the 14km Regent’s Canal.

Or do you fancy something faster and more powerful?  A very popular option for stag and hen party breaks in London is the Thames Jet boat tour.

This supersonic speed boat is a powerful vessel and not for the faint hearted.  However, it offers various exhilarating options for travelling around the capital’s waterways and includes the potential for private hire. Known as “extreme sightseeing”, there is a 50-minute trip to see some of the sights while you experience a huge adrenalin rush.

You could also avoid congestion and join commuters and tourists on the Thames Clippers river bus service.  They are relatively fast-moving boats that run regular services from such places at Canary Wharf, Tower Hill and London Bridge. These streamlined vessels offer a range of additional services including audio tour guides about riverside sights, free Wi Fi and onboard refreshments.

London from the sky

As London has a series of airports and plenty of helipads, it’s also possible to get around the city via the sky; either pleasure flights or super speedy commuting.  Helicopters can land at specific areas in central London and can provide a brilliant alternative for those looking for a truly memorable experience.

This includes options to see the main London sights from a new angle. Or, Helicopter experience tours that travel outwards to beautiful English countryside such as Buckinghamshire too.

This can be a group activity or there are companies offering private helicopter charters too. There are also hot air balloon companies operating in and around London for those who are really not in a hurry and but want a top-down experience.

Horse Drawn Carriages

Some of London’s parks and green spaces still clearly show the wide avenues reserved for lone horse riders and horses and carriages to travel – or simply parade – in days gone by.

Exploring London in this gentle, romantic fashion is still possible and enjoyable.

Horse drawn carriage companies operate in and around several Royal Parks in London. There is even one in Richmond Park that involves being pulled along by magnificent Shire horses.

There are also options that take you on a leisurely tour of top attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. You can even pull up at the doors of the world-famous Harrods in a horse drawn carriage.

Segway Tours

How about zooming (safely) around on a highly manoeuvrable and fun Segway?

These two wheeled, self-balancing motorised scooters are springing up in cities and tourist destinations across the globe, and London is no exception.

There are several companies and places in London you can hire Segway’s from. This includes a chance to ride around the beautiful Battersea Park or Alexandra Palace, after some training and safety guidance.   These tours are all conducted off the streets and safety is paramount.

As Segway tours are done in small groups, if you are exploring London on your own or as a couple, you will need to be ready to share your adventure with other people.

The Emirates Airline Cable Cars

Okay, so you don’t get far in London using this form of transport, but you do enjoy the most incredible views of the city as you glide through the air.

The Emirates Airline is the city’s only cable car system. It connects the two sides of the River Thames at the Royal Victoria Docks and the Greenwich Peninsula.

One of its aims was to ease river congestion and get people across the water quickly.    This is a great way to see London from a height but without the expense of other methods and can be included into your ‘London Experience’.   For first time visitors to London it provides an eagle’s eye view of major regeneration projects in the city and some of the best known sights, including the Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory, Thames Barrier and O2 Arena. It’s also definitely transport with a difference!

If you have any questions about these exciting methods of enjoying London or anything else about your upcoming visit, please don’t hesiate to ask anyone on Team Merino, we are all trained and ready to help you make your trip the best trip!

 

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