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If you ask a Londoner what to do in London, they’ll get all excited and write you a lengthy list of all the places you should go and things you should see. And then argue about the best pubs and where to get “proper” fish and chips.
We’re rightly proud of our capital city and the fact 20 million of you lovely people choose to visit London each year (just don’t expect us to talk on the Tube). So here’s ten things to get you started:
Buckingham Palace (The Queen lives there), the Tower of London (because it’s soooo old) the Houses of Parliament (and don’t forget Big Ben) St Paul’s Cathedral (still the most famous building) The London Eye and The Shard (you get the best views from here), The Ritz (because you have to have afternoon tea there once in your life), The National Gallery & Tate Modern (art IS life) and The Southbank (as it is just totally cool). Let us be your tour guide and you’ll discover below more of the best things to do in London
If you’ve come to London to shop - congratulations, you’re in the right place. Want to browse in one of the most famous stores in the world? Put Harrods, Fortnum & Mason (get your tea here) and Hamleys (toys) on your shopping list. It’ll take you an afternoon to stroll along Oxford Street and across to Bond Street, but don’t forget to detour down Regent Street.
At night Theatreland comes alive, with brash, neon signs flashing and the buzz of people trying to contain their excitement at seeing a show of their dreams. And we’ll find a show for you. With musicals we have The Lion King, Matilda and Wicked! and are perfect for families. Adults will find Chicago, Dreamgirls and The Book of Mormon nicely naughty and there’s the classics like Mamma Mia and Les Miserables.
The first thing you should know about London’s award winning museums - is that most of them are free. This comes in very handy if it rains. Even if it’s sunny you should go. Here’s why. The British Museum is the busiest and possibly most beautiful. Save time and money by going to the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum (cool stuff for the kids and parents) and The V&A - the world’s best museum for art and design (and where all the pretty stuff is). With more than a hundred museums to in London - you’ll need to come back.
The Old Police Station
This abandoned police station in Deptford now houses artist studios, exhibition cells and social spaces for East London’s thriving creative set. Out in the courtyard you’ll find a black shipping container turned gallery space which exhibits around 6 projects a year. Fri-Sat 12-6pm and by appointment; 114-116 Amersham Vale London, SE14 6LG
The Crypt Gallery
Once used as a burial place for Londoners, the Crypt beneath St Pancras Church makes a dramatic background for displaying art and photography. Check out this atmospheric gallery’s year-round programme of modern art exhibitions. Opening times vary for each exhibition; Euston Rd, London NW1 2BA
Viktor Wynd Fine Art
This quirky little shop (home of the Last Tuesday Society) in hackney is packed with curiosities including some unusual taxidermy. Meanwhile, upstairs you’ll find a changing collection of surreal artwork in the Viktor Wynd Fine Art gallery. Open Sat 11am-8pm; 11 Mare Street, E8 4RP
The Horse Hospital
This independent arts venue celebrates individualism and its anti-conformist ethos is reflected in the programming of its gallery. Be sure to check out underground art and fashion at its Chamber of Pop Culture. Open Mon-Sat 12-6pm; Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1JD
The train will deliver you right to the door of Banner Reporter, found on Platform One of Hackney Downs railway station. This artist led reading room and project space holds an inspiring exhibition programme of contemporary art. Rush hour opening times attract commuters and for the rest, it’s open 6 days a week. Platform 1, Hackney Downs railway station, London E8 1LA
Whitecross Street Market
Try tasty dishes from around the globe at this street food market in the heart of London. Pick from a heady mix of homemade pies, savoury tarts, specialty scotch eggs, German sausage, Indian curry, burrito, falafel and a ton of veggie options. Thursdays and Fridays 9am-5pm; Whitecross St, London EC1Y 8NR
Nestled between Farringdon and St John Street in Clerkenwell, a bundle of stalls line pedestrianized Exmouth Market, selling enticing street food to Londoners on their lunch break. This area has a villagey feel and you’ll find everything from barbequed sausages to curries, burritos, and salads. Mon – Fri 12-3pm; Exmouth Market EC1R 4QE
Lower Marsh Saturday Market
Just a few minutes’ walk from Waterloo the new Lower Marsh Saturday Market is London’s latest foodie hotspot. Established traders and the next generation of stallholders have all set up here; including family run Lockie’s Fish, artisan meat traders Cannon & Cannon and booming social enterprise Bad Boys Bakery. Saturday 10am-3pm; Lower Marsh, London SE1 7RG
Created by the community, this east end street market running from London Fields to Regents Canal has blossomed over the past few years. Trendy locals gather here to meet, natter, sip coffee and browse specialist food stalls filled with artisan bread, cakes, cheese, meat and fish. Saturdays 9-5pm; Broadway Market, E8 4QL
The granddaddy of London food markets, Borough Market dates back to the 13th Century, making it the oldest in the city. This is the place to come for fresh fruit and veg and gourmet goodies from around the globe including cheese, bread, cake, fish and meat. And, there’s plenty of opportunity to try before you buy. Open Thurs – Sun; Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL
Depicted in countless films such as Sherlock Holmes and the James Bond and Harry Potter series, London is vibrant and contemporary yet remains steeped in history and tradition. Experience for yourself why this city holds a special place in every visitor’s imagination with our London city breaks.
London has an amazing selection of parks where you can take a break from the hustle and bustle, including Hyde Park, Victoria Park, Regent’s Park, and Richmond Park (home to over 600 roaming deer). Have a picnic, hire a rowing boat, or take a river boat along the Thames and visit the stunning Greenwich Park and the nearby National Maritime Museum. Oxford Street is a must for shoppers, with its parade of high street fashion stores, including big names such as Top Shop, Top Man, Primark, and John Lewis. Also, be sure to take advantage of the endless entertainment options in London's Theatreland. Don't miss out on some of the West End's most popular shows, including Wicked, Beautiful, and School of Rock.
SCP’s flagship store is a destination shop for design fans. Its two spacious floors are bursting with furniture, lighting, rugs and plenty of smaller items including kitchenware, bathroom accessories, stationary, luggage and knitwear. 135 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3BX
Fuss over gorgeous design objects and retro furniture in SMUG. You’ll find colourful kitchen accessories, 1950s furniture, geometric pattern stationary, and some quirky bits and bobs to add a cheerful touch to your home. 13 Camden Passage, London N1 8EA
If you like to stay one step ahead of the trends, then MINT is a great place to start. This stylish shop is filled with cutting edge interior products, shelves packed with handcrafted glassware, ceramics and textiles; and you can even get your hands on some one-off and limited edition pieces. 2 North Terrace, Alexander Square, London SW3 2BA
Darkroom is the highlight of the independent shops found on Lamb’s Conduit Street. It’s filled with geometric treasures and an eclectic blend of furniture, lighting, art, textiles, mirrors and fashion. You can pick up work by emerging and unknown designers from around the world. 52 Lamb’s Conduit Street
London WC1N 3LL
Thornback and Peel
What happens when a florist and theatre designer team up in business? You get Thornback and Peel, a design shop with a touch of English eccentricity. They sell furniture, kitchenware, tableware, fabric and quirky screen-printed pieces for the home. You can even pick yourself up a deckchair. 7 Rugby Street, London WC1N 3QT
The Prospect of Whitby
The Prospect of Whitby is London’s oldest riverside pub, dating back to 1520. A pewter top bar, original flagstone floor and reports of ghost sightings all add to its historic ambience. 57 Wapping Wall, Wapping, London E1W 3SH
The Spaniard's Inn
Sitting at the edge of Hampstead Heath, this C16th boozer was built as a tollgate inn and has strong literary connections – Keats and Dickens both drank here. Inside, oak panelled walls, low beams and fire places keep things cosy. Spaniards Rd, Hampstead, London NW3 7JJ
This Victorian East End pub welcomes both old regulars and newcomers through its doors. Inside the unassuming facade you’ll find walls decked in dark mahogany and a 100 year old piano that still gets a tinkering. 254 Hackney Rd, London E2 7SJ
Ye Old Cheshire
In the heart of the city, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of London and maintains its C17th charm. Navigate its warren-like interior and creaking staircases, following in the footsteps of past literary legends. 145 Fleet St, London EC4A 2BU
The Black Friar
Built on the site of a medieval Dominican friary in 1905, this Grade II listed pub was remodeled in the Arts and Crafts style – intricate friezes, elaborate tile work and scenes of jolly looking monks hang above you while you sip your pint. 174 Queen Victoria St, London EC4V 4EG