Famous and somewhat infamous, we start this early morning relaxing, strolling tour at one of the United Kingdom’s most recognizable landmarks – the Tower of London. Formerly a fortress, a prison, and the macabre execution site of three Queens of England, you will have privileged early access to the Tower before it opens to the public and will witness the Opening Ceremony performed by the Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters as they are better known.
On this pre-booked early morning tour, you will bypass the crowds that form later in the day and be among the first to see the Crown Jewels. These official regalia and vestments used by the Sovereign of the United Kingdom have been held in the Jewel House for the last 600 years and include swords, crowns, scepters, orbs, rings and more.
From here we escort you on board a relaxing river shuttle up the Thames to enjoy the beautiful scenery as your expert local guide points out notable landmarks. Once we arrive at the Embankment, we will take a leisurely walk to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace or the Horse Guards Parade, depending on the day. You’ll be ushered to a prime viewpoint for the best photo ops of this very popular and crowded event, your guide enlivening your experience even further with vibrant and entertaining stories about the history and pageantry behind this traditional ceremony (note that this experience is subject to weather conditions).
Your morning concludes at Buckingham Palace - it looks like a grand bastion to the rest of us, but to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, it is home sweet home. Here you’ll recognize the famous balcony where the royal family does their well-practiced slow hand wave during major events. It is a quintessential London experience, and we know the best places to stand to take the most memorable photos.
After a break for lunch on your own (your City Wonders guide will provide recommendations for nearby restaurants), you’ll re-join the group for a fun and informative stroll around the city’s most iconic buildings and monuments.
Your next stop will be the home of the National Gallery and Nelson’s Column - Trafalgar Square, then on to Whitehall, the center of Her Majesty’s Government. Lined with government departments and ministries, including the old Palace of Whitehall which burned down in the 17th century, you'll see the only original building still standing - the Banqueting Hall where King Charles II stepped onto the scaffolding to be executed in 1649. You will also view the Horse Guards in their sentry boxes, wearing feathered silver helmets and mounted on noble steeds.
But the excitement doesn’t end there! We then pass by Downing Street, where the British Prime Minister lives, on our way to Parliament Square. Here you will be awed by the most spectacular views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Your expert local guide will give you an insider’s perspective of the Palace of Westminster, headquarters of the British Parliament before you continue to Westminster Abbey, which you will instantly recognize from televised royal events such as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the recent wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.