Food tours and tastings are one of my favourite things to do when I’m travelling – from Thai street food tours to Swiss chocolate tastings they’re a great insight into a new destination. But some of the most interesting food and drink tours I’ve done have been in London.
The UK historically had a bad rep for its food, but things have changed and it’s now home to a huge array of top-quality food producers. And more of them are offering tour and tastings to show off what they have to offer. From neighbourhood walks and market tours to cheese tasting and sweet treats, there’s the perfect London food tour for you. So here are my picks of London’s best food tours and tastings featuring favourites from me and six other food-loving bloggers.
Read more: Alternative things to do in London
10 of London’s top food tours and tastings
1. Taste of Borough Market
Borough Market is one of London’s top food markets, with produce from across the UK and beyond. But if you don’t want to just wander around and pick up a few samples, you can join a tour and feast your way around the market. Food writer Celia Brooks is the only guide licensed by Borough to run tours, which start early on a Friday morning when it’s quietest. We stopped off at different producers who pulled out plate after plate of rare-breed meat, freshly seared scallops, British cheeses, Spanish charcuterie and handmade chocolates.
There’s time to talk to the producers and learn about how the produce is grown or made, and you can buy as you go along or ask the stallholders to hold it for you. For a rest from the eating we also stopped off at Bedales wine bar for a wine tasting, laden down with bags. Celia really knows Borough and its producers and by the end you get a real insight into the place.
The details: Celia Brooks’ Taste of Borough Market tours run on Fridays from 10am to 1pm, and cost £75 per person. She also runs London food tours in Covent Garden and Portobello.
2. Twilight Soho food tour
Coming to London, our perception of British food was fish and chips. So we thought it would be useful to sign up for a London food tour and see what else the city has to offer. The Twilight Soho Food Tour wanders through the one of London’s most famous neighborhoods, mixing stories of the Beatles and ladies of the night with some incredible cuisine and satisfying drink. As a neighborhood, Soho is really a microcosm of the world, and the food tour reflects that fact.
There are shrimp tacos and margaritas from Mexico, British gin and meat pies, Spanish delights of Iberico ham and tapas, Chinese dim sum dumplings, and the finest chocolates from the continent. Strolling through Soho is like seeing the world without leaving the city. The four-hour tour features really generous portions (so pace yourself) for £99.
The details: Eating London’s Twilight Soho Food Tour runs at 4pm and 4.30pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays, and costs £99 (minimum age 18).
Recommended by Lance and Laura Longwell from Travel Addicts.
3. Secret Food Tour of London Bridge
I love taking food tours wherever I travel, but I admit I was sceptical about taking a British food tour in London, given that I am British myself! However, I was intrigued by what the food would be, and what would be deemed the best British food by our guide. I wasn’t disappointed, and I certainly wasn’t hungry after eating all of the delicious food. Our Secret Food Tour of London started with a bacon and egg bap from a stall in Borough Market.
We wandered around the market, sampling other foods from the stalls, from creamy cheeses to chewy fudge, waiting for our guide to bring our freshly cooked fish and chips. After that we tried a meaty sausage roll, then a selection of British cheeses and English beer and cider. A shot of honey mead and a cream filled doughnut by Tower Bridge almost ended the tour, but it wouldn’t be complete without another British classic – sticky toffee pudding and a cup of tea.
The details: Secret Food Tours’ London Bridge Tour runs from 11am to 2.30pm on Mondays to Saturdays. It costs £59 per person, and you can add an upgrade to a special drinks package including a house special cocktail and 10-year-old aged port if you like.
Recommended by Claire Sturzaker from Tales of a Backpacker.
4. Seafood School at Billingsgate market
Billingsgate fish market in east London is the UK’s biggest fish market, and has been running on various different sites since the 16th century. As well as the market they also have their own seafood school, a charity run to promote healthy eating and help people learn how to prepare and cook fish. They do a whole range of courses, including the Morning Catch. You arrive at the market when it opens at 6.15am for a market tour and a lesson in identifying and choosing fish, then pick a couple for your breakfast which their chefs show you how to cook.
Or if you don’t fancy the early start, they also run an evening seafood school. Starting after work on a Friday, the focus is on easy-to-cook dishes you can whip up using just one pot, like a seafood laska or a French bouillabaisse. If like me you don’t cook fish much it’s a great opportunity to get more confident in choosing, preparing and cooking it.
The details: Billingsgate’s Seafood School courses normally run once a month. The Morning Catch tour runs from 6.15am to 9.30am and costs £60 per person. The Friday Evening Seafood class runs from 6.30pm–6.30pm and costs £89 per person.
5. East End Food Tour
The East End is really a fantastic foodie area to explore and covers the gamut of London’s amazing ethnic and international foods, markets and street food and local pubs that serve typical English specialties. I did a fantastic food tour of London’s East End with Eating Europe, and love how diverse the food tour was. We visiting a variety of food specialty markets, pop up eateries to traditional pubs and fish and chip joints that are very popular in the area, if not the entire city.
I also loved exploring all the wonderful food courts that seem to be bursting with so many choices of international foods for sale at very affordable prices. Among the delicacies along the route were bread and butter pudding, cheeses, bagels in Spitalfields and the famous curries of Brick Lane. An East End food tour with Eating Europe is perfect those wanting to get a better understanding and taste of all the wonderful venues in this part of London.
The details: Eating Europe’s East End Food Tour runs at 10am, 10.45am and 11.15am daily and takes four hours. It costs £80 for adults, £64 for 13–17 year olds and £52 for 4–12 year olds.
Recommended by Noel Morata from Travel Photo Discovery
6. Sunday Market Kitchen
A patch of Italy in Marylebone, Cucina Caldesi is the only Italian cookery school in central London. We headed there to try out their Sunday Market Kitchen. It’s a mix between a market tour and a cookery class, where you shop for ingredients before cooking a pranzo della domenica, aka an Italian Sunday lunch. Chef Stefano Borella took us on a whirlwind tour around Marylebone farmer’s market first where we picked up local seasonal produce.
What you cook varies depending on the time of year – on our menu was pea and broad bean bruschetta, salmon and prawn skewers, and a fruit and meringue concotion. Everyone gets involved in preparing different parts of the menu under Stefano’s watchful eye. You’re talked through how to do everything, and a few hours later, the group gathers to taste the end results, along with a few glasses of wine. The simple ingredients come together to make something delicious, and you get copies of the recipes so you can recreate it all at home.
The details: La Cucina Caldesi’s Sunday Market Kitchen classes run every three weeks, starting at 10am and finishing around 3pm, and cost £110 per person.
7. English Tea and Desserts
A taste of the city’s sweet treats is on offer during this tour of London’s luxury stores and establishments. If you have a taste for the sweeter things in life, then you’ll love indulging in this delicious London food walking tour. Feast on chocolates, cakes, desserts and macarons in London’s sweet spots, some by royal appointment no less. As you treat your taste buds you’ll be guided on a moveable feast garnished with snippets of London gossip and insights into the lives of the rich and famous, topped with a taste of London trivia.
Expect to sample a choice of chocolates from sea salted caramels to tempting champagne truffles and fruity ganaches. Indulge your French fancy with a patisserie of pleasure and home-grown baked desserts. The tour ends on a quintessentially British note with afternoon tea and scones in a secret London location including a choice of rare blend tea or barista-made coffee.
The details: Urban Adventures’ English Tea and Desserts tour runs from 11am to 1.30pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays, and costs £89 for adults and £79 for children (minimum age six).
Recommended by Suzanne Jones – find more food tours around the world at The Travel Bunny
8. The Afternoon Tea Bus
What do you get when you add a double-decker bus and afternoon tea – two quintessentially ‘London’ things – together? You get the Afternoon Tea Bus! Offered in conjunction with B Bakery (AKA Brigit’s Bakery, located in Covent Garden), the Afternoon Tea Bus tour has you riding a converted double decker bus around central London as you sip your tea and eat your scones. It’s definitely one of the more unique afternoon tea experiences you can have in the city.
As you enjoy all the normal afternoon tea trappings (savory sandwiches, scones, homemade cakes and tarts, and hot Betjaman & Barton tea served in a souvenir travel mug), the bus navigates in a big loop around Hyde Park, passing London icons like Big Ben, Harrods, and Oxford Street. A recorded narration accompanies the 1.5-hour ride, making this a great introduction to London if it’s your first visit. Prices for the tea bus tour vary depending on where you want to sit – it’s definitely worth it to splurge for a table on the upper deck for the views.
The details: The Afternoon Tea Bus tour runs daily at 12.30pm and 3pm from 8 Northumberland Avenue (off Trafalgar Square) and at 12pm, 2.30pm and 5pm from Victoria Coach Station. Lower tables start around £45 per person, while the front top tables can run up to £75.
Recommended by Amanda Williams from A Dangerous Business.
9. Chocolate Ecstasy
One of the most delicious food tours in London is the Chocolate Ecstasy tour. Jennifer Earle, who is very knowledgeable about all things chocolate, takes you on a fabulous jaunt around some of London’s best chocolatiers and patisseries. Her tours are in small groups of not more than eight, so there’s lots of time to chat and taste along the way. In the cooler months, the tour kicks off with a hot chocolate in one of the chocolate shops which sets you off before you explore more. Every tour takes about three hours and stops in multiple artisan chocolate shops.
There are lots of chocolate and confectioneries to taste. I did the tour around Belgravia which took us to some exquisite shops. At Pierre Hermes, we even a little something extra which the public doesn’t get. Our tour ended at Rococo Chocolate where we got an education about how chocolate is made and how to taste chocolates while tasting a delicious tray of truffles. Chocolate Ecstasy Tours is not just about chocolate. You get to explore different areas of London too. It’s definitely a London food tour not to be missed.
The details: Chocolate Ecstasy Tours’ Mayfair Chocolate Tour runs from 10am–2pm on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, and costs £44 per person.
Recommended by May, a freelance food and travel writer and blogger at Eat Cook Explore.
10. Cheese tasting at Neal’s Yard Dairy
Neal’s Yard is London’s best-known cheese shop, with branches in Covent Garden and Borough Market. They stock cheeses from 70 small-scale producers across the UK and Ireland, and know who makes every cheese. As well as selling cheese, Neal’s Yard also run cheese tasting evenings where you can try their produce. Each has a different theme – our ‘Modern Traditionals’ tour featured new interpretations of classic British cheeses like Red Leicester and Stilton.
With nine cheeses to taste, as well as bread and chutney from Borough Market and red and white wines, make sure you go hungry. Our tasting started with goats and soft cheeses, moving on to Caerphilly, Red Leicester and Cheddar, and finishing off with blue cheeses. For each one we learnt about how it was made and who the farmers and cheesemakers were. It’s a great way to discover some more unusual cheeses – though watch out for strange dreams after.
The details: Neal’s Yard Dairy’s cheese tastings normally take place in the evening from 7.30pm–9pm and cost £40. They also do Sunday brunches from 12pm–1.30pm for £40.