First head to North London and the serenity of Highgate Cemetery. You can walk its east side freely (Karl Marx’s tomb is here), but the west is by tour only (highgatecemetery.org; £12) – its catacombs and obelisks reveal the Victorians’ odd fixation with Egypt and dying like a pharoah.
Next, make your way to Aldgate tube for Unseen Tours’ Brick Lane walk (see ‘The essentials’). From the National Front to street art, integration and Jack the Ripper, tour guide Pete pours out two hours of insight and social history in a paean to the forgotten of London. Beneath Whitehall lie the thrilling Churchill War Rooms (iwm.org.uk; £21; pictured top), where hundreds once lived and worked in secret during the Blitz. Walk its narrow halls and discover how staff bore bombs, rats and the PM’S foul moods – Churchill loathed noise; even the typewriters had to be ‘silent’. It’s a fascinating insight into a long-hidden history. Finish in a kayak on the Thames on an atmospheric Big Ben by Night tour (kayakinglondon.com; £42), savouring a moonlit angle on the capital ( inset) few others see.