I always enjoy exploring cities on foot. So I was pleased to get the chance to review a city walks app, GPSmyCity. This is a collection of apps for IOS and Android featuring walks in almost 500 cities across the world, and I was about to road test the app for London.
What Does GPSmyCity Do?
GPSmyCity allows tourists to follow guided city walks without actually joining an organised tour. The walks are self guided, using maps and GPS so that you can follow the route without getting lost. The London app has eighteen sightseeing walks, covering popular tourist areas like Covent Garden or Buckingham Palace and more specialist tours such as Shoreditch Nightlife. Then there are seven “discovery walks”, described as allowing you to “wander about trendy streets and posh areas” – these are ideal for anyone who wants to indulge in a bit of specialised shopping or celebrity spotting.
As well as the pre-defined tours, the app gives you the opportunity to create custom walks by choosing sights from the map, or by using the search function to find the places you want to visit. And you can track your walks too, creating a personalised itinerary (useful if you want to revisit the places you have found or to share your walk with others). Because it is GPS based the app works best when you are actually in the city, but you can access the walks before you arrive to help you plan your visit.
Using GPSmyCity in London
I did the historic pubs walk, a selection of pubs from different periods of history. According to the app, “whether you fancy half timbered, rambling watering holes or small but perfectly formed pubs in central London you’ll be spoilt for choice with the selection of historic pubs in the capital”. Of course, anyone who is familiar with London pubs will have their own favourites but I found this an interesting mix of the new, old and very old. I didn’t get to them all (it was a Sunday, when lots of City pubs close) but I was pleased to discover some places that I hadn’t known previously. Even my brother, a Londoner for 30-plus years, admitted to not knowing all the pubs on the list.
And there are snippets of information about the places, too. I discovered that one of my favourite pubs, the 17th century Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, was built on the site of an even earlier pub, the Horn Tavern. And that, like many buildings round here, the earlier building was destroyed during the great fire of 1666.
I think this is one of the strengths of this app. Newcomers to a city can find plenty to explore and use the maps to find their way around. And those who know a city well can discover something new – I’m already planning Shakespeare’s London and the Harry Potter Trail for my next visit.