Unmissable walking routes in British cities
Britain’s cities are fabulous on foot. Whether it’s a saunter though London’s creative East End, discovering Edinburgh’s unmissable viewpoints or strolling through Manchester’s industrial heritage, future visitors can dream of an eco-friendly city adventure with our themed walking routes.
Culture and cuisine in the East End
Start: Whitechapel Gallery
Finish: Ten Bells pub
Length: Three miles
Packed with culture, creativity and community spirit, this walking route through London’s East End starts at Aldgate East underground station, a one-minute walk from world-class contemporary art at Whitechapel Gallery. Next stop, via a 25-minute walk through Liverpool Street, is the Barbican, where culture buffs can look forward to packed programmes of cinema, art, music and theatre. Returning to the East End via Shoreditch and Brick Lane, future visitors will be greeted by a creative buzz, unique shops and mouth-watering curries. From there, it’s a five-minute walk to Old Spitalfields Market, home to a labyrinth of stalls and independent artisans. Visitors can finish this dream adventure with a drink in the historic Ten Bells, an East London institution, opposite the market.
Looking for a tour? Visitors can take a London Walking Tour to discover the history of the East End.
Parks and politics in Pall Mall
Start: Green Park
Finish: Westminster Bridge
Length: Two miles
This route reveals London’s towering landmarks and serene parks and starts at Green Park, following the path through the lush lawns until the striking architecture of Buckingham Palace comes into view. After an obligatory selfie, visitors can continue along the route to The Mall, a grand ceremonial route adorned with Union Jack flags. Adjacent is St James’s Park – a picturesque spot for a picnic or café lunch. Further along this grand road, future visitors will encounter Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square, as well as masterpieces within the National Gallery. After taking in the fountains and bronze lions, visitors could head to The Trafalgar St James rooftop bar for a cocktail with a view, before continuing on to Whitehall, which is home to the historic Horse Guards, the opulent Banqueting House and 10 Downing Street. At the end of Whitehall is the political epicentre of England, Parliament Square, where visitors can gaze upon the House of Commons and Big Ben, all just a stone’s throw from Westminster Bridge, which offers striking views of the River Thames and Southbank.
Looking for a tour? Travellers can explore the sights on a private Royal London walking tour.
Creativity and crafts in the Northern Quarter
Start: Newton Street
Finish: Terrace NQ
Length: One mile
Full of quirky bars, unique shops and visual delights, this route around Manchester’s Northern Quarter begins with some stunning street art. First, visitors can spy the Blue Tit mural, the area’s visual icon, before heading to nearby Stevenson Square’s for photo-realistic graffiti of David Bowie. Those feeling inspired can tune in at Piccadilly Records, or pick up a vintage outfit at Afflecks Arcade. After bagging a gem, visitors can snap more eye-catching street art on Tib Street, before refuelling at the nearby Koffee Pot, a local favourite for fry-ups. Next, it’s time to sample local creativity at Manchester Craft and Design Centre before continuing the retail therapy at the stylish Deadstock General Store. Foodies can finish with a trip to V-Rev Vegan Diner or Terrace NQ, a rooftop bar with sweeping city views.
Looking for a tour? Thrill seekers can discover another side of the city on the Alternative Manchester Walking Tour.
History and heritage in central Manchester
Start: Anita Street
Finish: Oldham Street
Length: 2 miles
Future visitors can dream of discovering Manchester’s past alongside modern favourites in Ancoats, the world’s first industrial suburb. Starting on Anita Street, visitors can walk between two rows of Victorian houses built for the local workers of the time before seeing Beehive Mill, one of the oldest mills in the area. Further industrial highlights can be seen along Murray Street and Jersey Street, where the imperious Paragon and Murrays’ Mills dwarf visitors with industrial majesty. Those longing to live like a local can head to Cutting Room Square, home to beloved pizzeria Rudy’s and neighbourhood bar the Jane Eyre. Next, wanderers can continue onto Rochdale Canal and the tranquil New Islington Marina. If heading back into central Manchester, explorers can complement this heritage tour with a trip to the city’s many vintage shops, such as Blue Rinse Vintage and Pop Boutique, both a 15-minute walk from New Islington Marina.
Looking for a tour? History fans can delve deeper on a walking tour of Manchester.
Viewpoints and vistas via Arthur’s Seat
Start: Camera Obscura Museum
Finish: Arthur’s Seat
Length: Three miles
Packed with panoramic views, historic sites and glorious gardens, this vista-filled walking route around Edinburgh begins at Camera Obscura. Located in Outlook Tower, the attraction includes 360-degree city views from the rooftop terrace. Located just across The Mound and into Princes Street Gardens is our next stop, the iconic Scott Monument, which was built to honour writer Sir Walter Scott. Future visitors can climb the 287 winding steps to the top of this gothic-style building, for mesmerising views of Salisbury Crags. Just half a mile away, through the Georgian architecture of Princes Street, is Calton Hill. This gentle peak takes approximately five minutes to climb via a staircase at Regent Road (south-side) or Royal Terrace (north-side), rewarding visitors with outstanding views of the Scottish Parliament, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Royal Mile. Having built up an appetite, explorers can enjoy an indulgent hilltop meal at The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage, before walking two miles to Edinburgh’s ultimate viewpoint - the ancient volcano, Arthur’s Seat, with walking routes to suit varying abilities.
Looking for a tour? Fans of the great outdoors can try a hill walking day trip from Edinburgh.
Mystery and magic in the heart of Edinburgh
Start: Georgian House
Finish: Sandy Bell’s pub
Length: Two miles
This on-foot adventure through Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns starts at the Georgian House, a restored period town house, before heading to the top of George Street, a shopping highlight and key thoroughfare of New Town. Moving on past Edinburgh Castle, visitors will be transported back in time when reaching the Royal Mile, which is home to the eerie underground world of the Real Mary King’s Close. Literature lovers can plan a bite to eat at The Elephant House, rumoured to be a favourite writing spot of J. K. Rowling, and discover Greyfriars Kirkyard, a historic graveyard full of Scottish tales and Harry Potter connections. Afterwards, visitors can explore the captivating National Museum of Scotland, before concluding this walking tour with a refreshing pint and live folk music at Sandy Bell’s.
Looking for a tour? Culture buffs can learn how Edinburgh has changed over time during a private tour of Old and New Town.
Restrictions on travel to and around Britain are in place due to Covid-19. Visitors are encouraged to always check individual attraction websites for the latest information, as details are subject to change.
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.org