Hi guys, as a Londoner, I want to share an insider's perspective on what to see in the Big Smoke! If you want to visit the mainstream attractions like the London Eye, Tower of London and Madame Tussauds then, of course, you should go for it! They're lots of fun.
But there's another fascinating side of the city that goes far beyond the usual tourist highlights. I want to share some quick tips that real Londoners enjoy to make your time there truly memorable!
Friday Afternoon by the Thames
Friday: First things first, get accustomed to the TFL (Transport for London) website and buy an oyster card from your nearest station: it's the most affordable way to travel.
You arrive early afternoon and want to see as much as possible this weekend! Head towards Greenwich to see the Cutty Sark ship, hire a Boris bike and cycle under the Thames. At the other side, enjoy the view and take a left towards Canary Wharf to get a sneak peak of all the city's penguins (the crowds of businessmen in suits). If shopping and city life is your thing, the Canada Water shopping centre is your new best friend. Enjoy all of the main high street shops, in addition to some more fancy brands! The restaurant ROKA in Canary Wharf has a beautiful view of the city from a great height, and serves delicious food and cocktails.
If you prefer the scenic route, continue along the river you'll reach some cobbled streets (difficult for cycling: it's going to be a bumpy ride!) with quaint English pubs before arriving at St Katherine Docks. Dock your Boris bike somewhere and catch your breath before the evening adventures begins. There aren't many places I'd recommend more highly than Frank's bar in Peckham on a warm evening to really appreciate the atmosphere of London. Opposite the station lies a formerly disused multi-story carpark, which now hosts Frank's Bar on the roof! Affordable drinks (for London) and a view over the whole city!
Covent Garden on Saturday: Cultural Hub of London
Saturday: Grab brunch or food from every country you could think of at Borough Market (get off at London Bridge station) and wander around the stalls and old backstreets. Head down the steps on London Bridge and walk left along the river, passing lots of cute English pubs, the Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern gallery (many free exhibitions for lovers of the creative). Stop by the National Theatre mid-afternoon for any last-minute discount tickets, or sit and enjoy the view of Big Ben or the London Eye from the South Bank. There are often pop-up bars or street performers there too!
Now you can carry on over the Jubilee Bridge towards Trafalgar Square and the West End. On sunny days I would highly recommend taking a left turn before Covent Garden and checking out St James's Park, where you can find most people in London enjoying the weather and nature. If rainy England is sticking to its infamous title, head towards the National Gallery: free entrance and some of the most breath-taking paintings and sculptures you've ever seen!
Covent Garden is the perfect place for an evening out. From Sushi to Greek, Burgers to Quinoa, the choices are endless. There is also the option of trying out an old English pub or one of the trendy new bars the city is popular for. If you're planning a late night, Oxford Circus is only twenty minutes away by foot, where you can party until your heart is content!
A Traditional Roast Dinner on Sunday
Sunday: The perfect day for a relaxing walk around the local parks. Check out Dulwich's Horniman Museum, a small childhood favourite of mine with beautiful botanical gardens, before riding on the banana bikes through the peaceful Dulwich Park. Then take a well needed rest and sit in the garden of the Woodhouse pub, sipping your ale (if you dare) and enjoying your roast dinner. If you still have time after doing all of this, then firstly, congratulations; you're super efficient! Brick Lane, Camden and Liverpool Street would be my next recommendations. If there's a day to spare, you can't pass up the opportunity to go to the Harry Potter Studios cast some spells!
Tips for German, Spanish, Italian and French Visitors Missing Home
DE: If you're German and feeling some „Heimweh“, there's a Bierkeller close to Borough Market called Katzenjammer! All the Bavarian favourites can be found under one roof!
ES: When you're feeling a bit of „morriña” then Borough Market offers a Spanish Festival in the weeks leading up until June, or check out Boqueria in Battersea.
IT: London offers a huge variety of popup Operas if you're feeling „sentire nostalgia del propio paese“ or visit la festa della madonna del Carmine for something that reminds you of home.
FR: Take a walk along the Thames between Putney and Hammersmith. It has been likened to the Loire region near Angers, or visit the Soiree Pompette cabaret to combat your „mal du pays“.
Of course I'm biased, but I think South East London has the most edge and energy! Send us an email if you tried and enjoyed any of these activities while in London!