Mark Bibby Jackson takes a look at a couple of London guidebooks released earlier this year that make navigating the myriad streets of London slightly easier.

Like London buses just as you are waiting for a handy guide to the capital to come along two arrive at the same time.

Earlier this summer, Frances Lincoln, part of The Quarto Group, published Free London by Yolanda Zappaterra & Sarah Guy, and London’s Museums and Galleries by Eleanor Ross.

London Museums and Galleries

London Guide Books

One of the best aspects of London Museums and Galleries is its size. This is no bulky coffee table book meant for display, but a practical London guidebook you could easily slip into your handbag or backpack without weighing you down. Not that this means it is some basic pocket guide, as the excellent photography and clean design invite you to discover these highlights of London’s cultural scene.

The book is sub-divided into areas – from Central to West London – meaning that you can carry out some research before setting off on your daytrip to London. Alternatively, there is an excellent index at the back sub-divided into categories so you can easily find the listing for the place you intend to visit, if you know where you are going. Next to that is a series of maps with the museums and galleries marked to prevent you getting lost.

The listings themselves are contained on single or double pages with a compact description followed by essential details – address, telephone number, website, opening hours and nearest public transport. It also indicates which venues are free.

Author Eleanor Ross, who has also penned London guidebook Outdoor London, has gone to great lengths to compile this extensive collection which includes mainstays of the capital’s cultural scene, such as the Tate Modern, Royal Academy of Arts and the V&A as well as some hidden gems such as the Garden Museum in Lambeth and the Museum of Brands.

Free London

London guidebookFree London adopts the same design as London Museums and Galleries, which means it is as equally pleasing on the eye and handy to carry. It also is sub-divided into easy to follow sections, such as Tings To Do Outdoors, Performing Arts and Seasonal London, with the same useful index and map at the back of the book. Also, the individual listings carry the same basic information as London Museums and Galleries, with the inevitable exception of whether the venue is free or not – they always are.

However, where Free London differs is that the pages are literally jammed pack full of ideas of free places to go in London. Sometimes there are several to the page as authors Yolanda Zappaterra and Sarah Guy flood the book with their personal insight into the best places to visit for free in London.

There are also handy tips such as London’s Best Views and Five Free Festivals for London, meaning that whatever your interest you are sure to discover something applicable to you. And one thing is for sure, you know it won’t break the bank.

Zappaterra has authored dozens of books and written for publications such as Time Out, and Design Week, while Guy the author of London on Sea.

London Guidebooks

London’s Museums and Galleries

By Eleanor Ross. Published by Frances Lincoln, 4 May 2021 | £9.99 paperback. London Museums and Galleries can be purchased online here.

Free London

By Yolanda Zappaterra & Sarah Guy, Published by Frances Lincoln, 4 May 2021 | £9.99 paperback.