Sight & museum tours

A tour of the British Museum (Photo courtesy of Context Travel)
A tour of the British Museum

Guided visits to Britain's sights—museums, cathedrals, castles, palaces, ruins—can help make them come alive, deepen your understanding, and enrich your experience

Whether led by learned volunteers, hired guides, a dusty professor, or a rotund old monk, a 30- to 120-minute tour of an individual sight can do the same thing for a cathedral or art gallery that walking tours do for a city.

Guides can spin stories and give insightful commentaries on the meanings of every tiny detail of a sight or painting, conjuring up the past and enriching the experience of your visit tenfold.

I'm not just trying to sell you a line here. I love sight tours. I've discovered what it took to become a knight on a Beefeater guard tour of the Tower of London, delved into the stories behind the Old Masters masterpieces at the National Gallery, and learned more than I ever needed to know about Scotch in Edinburgh (though I recommend not doing that one on the eve of the opening of the first Scottish Parliament in 292 years, because boy! did they want to celebrate; I think I still have a hangover, and that was in 1999).

Do I need to book guided tours ahead of time?

You can often hop on the next guided tour at any museum, and some major sights, just by showing up, but there are two caveats here.

  1. Tours may be offered only at certain times and/or on certain days, so it pays to poke around the museum's or other sight's website (or call a few days ahead) to find this out. 
  2. Reservations are essential for a few top-notch tours, which can book up way in advance (as can entry to some sights that don't even come with a tour, just an admission ticket).

You can choose to book tours of some of the more popular sights ahead of time via one of our partners:

Activities, walks, & excursions