Fortunately, a burgeoning community of tour operators is ready and waiting to lead you through the streets of London. Ten of the many options – including the mainstream and the more offbeat – are suggested below. Check the websites for full details, as most walks require pre-booking.

New company Fox & Squirrel prides itself on knowing the best lifestyle venues in the capital. Regular walks explore London's fashion, arts, vintage, architecture and food scenes. On a typical arts walk, you'll visit three contemporary galleries. A curator or artist will not only explain the work on show, but also the oft-bewildering nature of the London arts world. 

Nearly all tour guides thrive off London's unrivalled history. Ken Titmuss, AKA the Old Map Man, goes one step further by physically conjuring up lost London using historic maps. For example, he'll not only lead you to Charles Dickens' former home, but also show you a 19th-century map with a gap where this house was about to be built. Tours operate all over London, but there's no fixed rota so check the website for details. 
• Tour starting points vary, next tour 19 October at 11am. Most walks cost £8 and last two hours


All eyes will be on London in 2012 for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Public access to the main Olympic Park is restricted during the build-up, but a guided walk around the perimeter offers a tantalising preview. Blue Badge guides from Tour Guides Ltd provide daily outings. The tours begin in the Lower Lea Valley, where you'll learn about the area's still-visible industrial heritage. You'll finish up on the Greenway, a raised walkway through the middle of the Olympic Park with spectacular views of the main stadia. 
• 11am every day from Bromley-by-Bow tube station, adults £9, children £6, walks last around two hours maximum,

Explore the history of London's African populations with these regular tours in the City, West End, Docklands, Elephant and Castle and Notting Hill. You'll hear how much of England's wealth was built on African labour and resources, discover the streets that carry African names, and learn to spot African architectural influences. There's no regular rota of walks, so check the web site for upcoming events. 
• The next City tour is on 9 October at 2pm, £7 adults, £3 children, around two hours,

There's much more to street art than Banksy. Graff guide Griff knows many of the artists personally, and will open your eyes to this vibrant subculture. By the end, you'll be able to tell your Roas from your Malarkys and your Eines from your Sweet Toofs. And Banksy? You'll also be shown a few of his lesser-known pieces, hidden from general view. Tours usually focus on the Shoreditch area, this being London's main hotbed of street art. Weekend tours will also take you up to Hackney on a more extended expedition.

• From Old Street tube station every Tuesday (10am) and Thursday (6pm), £10, two hours. A four-hour tour costs £15, on Saturdays at 11am,


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