London is so much more than Mary Poppins, fish and chips and war museums. It’s one of the most bustling, multi cultural epicenters on earth with world class offerings for any palate. It’s one of the best walking cities, it’s one of the best mass transit cities and believe it or not, the food is pretty incredible too. SO much to see, so much to do, so here are ten “must do’s” to maximize your time.
Like A Local: Get An Oyster Card, Seriously
Uber is cool, black cabs in London are iconic, but it’s impossible to beat feeling like a local and saving tons of time taking the tube. You can purchase an Oyster Card at any underground station and it can get you anywhere within London, even all the way to Heathrow. The tube system is super easy to use, especially if you download the Tube Map app.
Postcard View: Golden Jubilee Bridge Sunset
Who doesn’t love a postcard view? If you haven’t done it before, switch this advice for a spin on the iconic London Eye. If you’ve already done the Eye but still want Big Ben, Parliament, the Eye and the Thames all in focus for your Instagram followers take a quick stroll over to the Golden Jubilee Bridge. A favorite for photographers trying to use slow shutter speed to capture the perfect shot. If you luck out and find some semi clear skies, the sunset view dipping behind the buildings can be truly stunning.
Pint Please: Full On Pub Lunch, It’s A Must
Sunday roast? Fish n Chips? Pint of something magic? A pub lunch is a right of passage in British culture. It’s where people come together, it’s where English Premier League trash talk lives and on a visit to London it’s a must for an authentic experience. Try to avoid the chain pubs serving freezer bag chips and find an iconic pub helmed by a famous gastropub chef. Totally worth it. Hampstead is a neighborhood with amazing pubs and very local feel.
Park Life: Regents Park Canal Via Little Venice
Little Venice is a Just out of the hustle and bustle but close enough to the action, grab the tube to Warwick Avenue, walk down to the canal, past all the nifty townhouses, make a left and walk, walk and keep on walking. You’ll take in London in an incredibly authentic way, passing amazing neighborhoods, the London Zoo and eventually ending up in ever hip Camden Town.
Quintessentially British: Afternoon Tea
It won’t take long to figure out that the relationship between the British public and tea is far more than a stereotype, in fact it’s a way of life. It’s almost always time for a cuppa’. For a truly refined and indulgent experience, dress the part and treat yourself to an iconic afternoon tea, complete with canapés, mini desserts, a glass of champagne, exquisite tea and refined service. It’s hard to beat Fortnums, the Langham or the Lanesborough for the top experiences.
Market Heaven: Spitalfields Market
You know all those street fairs in most cities that suck and are full of worthless junk? This is NOT one of them. Spitalfields Market, located in incredibly trendy Shoreditch neighborhood features an amazing collection of local artists, designers, food stalls and nearby boutique shops, bars and trendy hotels, even including the exclusive Soho House with rooftop pool. Hop in on the weekend when the stalls are up and running.
Iconic Shopping: Fortnums, Selfridges, Harrods
Even if you don’t have “royal” money, you can still stare. Fortnums, Selfridges and Harrods are among the most prestigious department stores in the world, each with their own unique twist on the luxury shopping experience. Whether you’re looking for one of a kind jam for your bagel which doubles as a status symbol or a $20,000 Rolex, you’ll find it all. The Selfridges Liquor store is something to marvel at while you’re at it…
Snoop On The Royals: Kensington Palace Gardens
Ok, ok, snooping on the royals is just part of the fun. The home of Prince William, Kate, little George and the new one is just part of the quintessentially classic backdrop known as Kensington Palace Gardens. You’ll walk through incredible embassy buildings, photo worthy stroll gardens and end up in beautiful Kensington Park with close access to the Serpentine Gallery and Hyde Park.
FREE Museums: Tate, V&A, Science Museum And More
Some cities use museums to trap tourists into forking over $20 bucks a pop to stare at walls. Not London. Not only are the museums truly world class, they’re free. For a cultural look at the city art scene, war history, royal galleries and more take a day to map out the bountiful free museums. The Science Museum even has an IMAX theatre if you want to blend a fun day of science with screening the newest sci-fi flick!
Curry Heaven: Brick Lane Or Southall…
Take everything you think you know about curry and multiply it infinitely. That’s Brick Lane. The famous street near Spitalfields market in the hip Hoxton, Shoreditch area of London is an endless sea of curry houses, all competing for your business, throwing in free dishes and other enticements to choose their spot. If you really love a great Indian meal, there are of course some of the finest Indian chefs in the world in London. It’s hard to beat Cafe Spice Namaste and Southall will also offer endless good options.