London is an enthralling city with so many sights to see, delights to discover and treasures to explore. It can be difficult to know where to begin with so much choice but the best way to get the most out of any city is to put on those sneakers and get out the trusty google maps to navigate your way around. If you are pressed for time or want to get the touristy stuff out of the way, as well as experience a few local gems pull up this guide to a superb day out in London.
You’ll need to start off with some delicious sustenance and what better way to start off with an full English breakfast at the English Rose Café, just 10 minutes away from the Queen herself? Located centrally by Victoria Station, this award winning quintessentially British café will remind you exactly where you are and you’ll be able to have an array of foods from scrambled eggs, to avocado. If you’ve already had breakfast, it’s never too early for a dessert at the pretty in pink Peggy Porschen.
Loved London Landmarks
Walk the seven minute distance to gaze at Buckingham palace and if the flag is up, that means old Queenie is home! If you arrive by 10:45 on certain days in summer, you’ll get to see the Changing of the Guards ceremony (did we mention it’s free?).
Luckily for your feet, most of the landmarks featured on the tee-shirt you’ll be buying your dad are in Westminster. Stroll through St James Park, one of our many green spaces in the city until you reach Parliament Square to pose with the likes of Mandela, Churchill and other Key historical figures.
Surrounding the square, you will find Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. Whilst the famous church where royal weddings and coronations take place is one of the most visited landmarks, I definitely recommend the Houses of Parliament tour which fewer people know of, if you are interested in politics, architecture or history.
Feel free to spend an extra 10 minutes skipping down to 10 Downing Street, to see where the Prime Minister and more importantly, Larry the Cat, lives. For more updates on this chief member of our cabinet office, follow Larry the Cat on Twitter.
Walk over either Westminster Bridge or the Golden Jubilee Bridge and skip the London Eye you spy with your eye by any means necessary. This overhyped sluggish costly Ferris wheel is so commercialised that Coca Cola owns it. There is a Namco arcade next to it if you – I mean your kids of course – are getting restless to drive some bumper cars.
Over the bridge is the Southbank area which is home to numerous restaurants, theatres, street performers, a skate park…and the list goes on. There are small pop up festivals in summer too but if it’s a regular weekend, you can visit the world food market for a delicious and affordable (for central London) lunch. If you’d rather go to the more famous Borough Market for some tasty worldwide cuisine, this is a 20-30 minute walk or 15 minutes on the tube.
You might have realised or heard that there is one building you can see from most places in a given radius, because it is so special that even its view has a protected status. You may need a bus to get to St Pauls Cathedral from South bank, but it is a mere 18 minutes away on foot from Borough Market. It is worth basking in the glory of it from inside and although you need tickets to visit the whole area, it is free if you are going inside to pray and at certain times. Combine this with a trip to the One New Change building for an amazing view of the outside of St Pauls at classy rooftop bar Madison and have a cheeky afternoon drink. You’re on holiday after all and can sober up on your way back to the London Bridge/Monument area.
A Bridge Too Far
You may strain your neck to see Europe’s tallest building, The Shard, just by London Bridge. You can go to the top for some amazing views, or just go half way to the bar for free for some picturesque selfies. The famous London Bridge is here – the ugly one – but just remember it’s Tower Bridge about 10 minutes down, you’re gazing it with admiration. An American bought the original London Bridge in the belief it was Tower Bridge and tourists have been confusing the two ever since.
If you’d like to see the crown jewels, you can pop into the World Heritage Site that is the Tower of London for an obscene amount of money – or just read about all of the rich history on Wikipedia. I wouldn’t judge you for skipping this and walking around the area instead, or visiting on of our many world class museums, be it history, science or art for free. Just make sure you use the tube here to go to South Kensington and back where the majority of our well-known museums are, or go to a smaller art gallery within the Tower Hamlets area.
You can’t visit London and not visit a Harry Potter related attraction, so luckily for you Leadenhall Market, the inspiration for Diagon Alley is just 15 minutes away from the Tower of London. Although in real life, you’re more likely to find fine wine instead of wands in this retail market, you can still feel the magic.
Continue the magic at either (or both) The Alchemist for some fantastic drinks featuring fire and dry ice (this bar is a personal fav of mine because of the magical concoctions!) or at the Sky Garden (they take walk-ins but it’s best to book the free tickets in advance) to witness breath-taking views over dinner or a drink. The Sky Garden is one of the best places in the city to take in the stunning skyline; food is expensive but as it’s free to enter, it books up very quickly.
After this spectacular day, check your step count before you have either Happy Days or Poppies Fish & Chips for dinner. You’ll see you’ve earned the right to pig out on some fatty goodness. One day is never enough in this thriving city that’s bursting with experiences to be had, but after this tour you’ll be able to tick off some of London’s most frequented landmarks and other treasures in the bustling metropolis.