Famous the world over, London black cabs are iconic symbols of our city, right alongside red telephone boxes and Big Ben. It is estimated that today there are over 22,000 black cabs operating in London and, despite the name, they don’t necessarily need to be painted black and you will see cabs of different colours throughout the city – even baby pink! But did you know that your taxi driver may also double as a tour guide? There are actually many London black tours available and we list a few of the top choices below.
Black Cab Tours
Not only are these cabs an iconic part of London, they are also a great way to explore London as many drivers operate as tour guides as well. Many cab drivers offer guided tours of London from the luxury of the backseat of their taxi cabs. While the idea of your cab driving giving you a tour may sound a bit strange, you’ll find that the amount these men and women know about London is staggering, all thanks to their training process, known as The Knowledge.
Which London Black Cab Tour is Best?
London Historical Taxi Tours
There are many different black cab tours to choose from, of course, but our favourite is run by our friends at London Historical Taxi Tours!
All London Historical Taxi tours offer full commentary with photo opportunities along the way. You can also personalize your London tour to fit in with any special requests you may have such as music tours, tours of parks, the West End, etc. Whatever your preferences are, they can make a tour for you.
Their London Taxi tours will collect you from your hotel or place of residence, and take you on your personal tour of London. Your driver, who has completed the world famous "Knowledge," has been able to memorize 25,000 of the capital’s streets and as well as 10s of thousands of landmarks.
Your tour guide will be a qualified London licensed black cab driver who will provide fascinating facts about London and and all the landmarks that our city has to offer. Once your tour has finished, you can be dropped anywhere in central London to carry on with the rest of your day.
The London Taxi Tour starts from £150 for 3 hours and can accommodate up to 5 persons - with other rates available on request. All their prices are fully inclusive and you only pay for the taxi not per person.
Just e-mail us to book!
Specialised Black Cab Tours
Night Taxi Tour of London
If you want to see London at night, but don't fancy taking a walk with Free Tours By Foot, then this tour is for you!
Let London Historical Taxi Tours take you round the sights of London including Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, st Paul's Cathedral and Waterloo Bridge.
All our tours come with driver commentary and opportunities to take photographs of all the landmarks. This experience can accommodate up to five passengers and includes pick up and drop off at your hotel.
This tour can be booked from 1-4 hours long and prices start from £59.
The London Monopoly Tour
Why not join us for an exciting drive around the streets of London that appear on the world famous Monopoly board? This is the totally unique Monopoly Tour of London - from Old Kent Road to Mayfair and everything in between!
This tour will see you visiting every place on the Monopoly board from the "Old Kent Road to Mayfair, and we will even throw in a jail and some free parking.
This experience can accommodate up to 5 people, and takes approximately 3-4 hours.
Your experience includes pick up and drop off and our driver will provide expert commentary throughout your journey. You will also see most of the iconic landmarks that London has to offer.
Or maybe you just want an iconic ride from the airport to your hotel!
London Historical Taxi Tours provide a professional, competitive and reliable airport transfer services to and from Gatwick, Heathrow, Stanstead, Luton and London city airport.
They can also provide a "meet and greet" service at the airport. What we quote you is what you pay.
Check out our Airport Transportation pages, or e-mail us for a quote.
Aside from Black Cab Tours – How Do Black Cabs Work?
How to Hail a Black Cab
Firstly, see that the orange ‘taxi’ sign is illuminated on top of the cab. This means that the cab is free for hire.
Although shouting ‘taxi’ is an acceptable way to hail a cab in other cities, it is actually against the law in the U.K! Here, you must stick your arm out when the taxi is approaching to let the driver know you wish to use their cab.
When the cab pulls up to the curb, go to the front window and tell the driver where you want to go. After the cabbie (colloquial term for the driver) has acknowledged what you’ve said, take your seat in the back.
Talk…or not! Black cab drivers are occasionally up for a good bit of chat and a conversation, but are also happy to let you sit in silence if you’d prefer.
Once you arrive at your destination your driver will tell you the total your journey's cost. You can actually keep an eye on how much your journey is adding up to because the fare meters are displayed in the centre of the windshield where both driver and passenger can see.
Pay! Cash is best but some cabs are able to accept card now-a-days. Tipping is suggested/expected if you feel in the mood, but is not mandatory. Read our post on tips for tipping in London.
- Legally, London black cabs must be tall enough to accommodate a passenger wearing a bowler hat.
- Women taxi drivers account for only 1% of London taxi cab drivers.
- Most cabs have a turning circle of 25ft. This ensures they can navigate tight corners – as well as manage the tiny roundabout in front of the Savoy Hotel, which originally was the reason why this standard was set.
- Since most cabs are owned by the driver, you are technically entering a shop every time you get into a black cab. The cabs are run as independent businesses – worth remembering when it comes time to decide whether or not to tip!
The Knowledge is the in depth study of London streets, routes, and places that black cab drivers must have memorised before they are allowed to obtain a license. Initiated in 1865, the idea is that black cab drivers should be able to act immediately in deciding which routes to take, where to go in case of obstruction, and to be able to accommodate any request or question posed by their passengers. This involves becoming intimately involved with over 25,000 roads and 50,000 points of interest.
It’s widely regarded as the most demanding training course for cab drivers anywhere in the world and, on average, it takes around 34 months for a driver to learn all that is needed to pass the final exam. Part of the final exam involves sitting in an empty room and detailing a journey from a randomly selected point to another. The would-be driver needs to list the names of all roads used, junctions crossed, notable roundabouts, when to make turns, and to list which notable buildings are on either side of the road they are taking in their potential route.
This means that these cabbies know more than most (aside from our guides, of course!) about our capital city and a surprising amount of the history that comes with it. Some drivers have been exploring London from behind their wheels for decades and are more than happy to share their facts, tips and stories with you.