Known for its gourmet sensations and late night temptations, quirky adventures and trendy bar benders, London is the UK’s beating heart and a must-visit for intrepid travellers and culture lovers.
However, with London tourism booming (a record 19 million people visited our capital in 2016) the sheer amount of people flocking the streets can be overwhelming, not to mention the endless things to do and see.
Forever the advocate of an easy life, we’ve rounded up a list of the top attractions you just can’t skip on a trip to the city. From the best dining spots and watering holes to theatres, spas and sports venues, there’s something to suit every appetite.
🍕Where can I eat in London?🍕
London has been hailed as the most diverse and exciting food capital in the world – and with good reason! It’s a melting pot of cuisines; get a taste of India in Brick Lane or head to China Town where intoxicating spices hang in the air. For Turkish fare, head to Green Lanes or Dalston (where famous artists Gilbert and George eat out at their favourite Turkish restaurant. Every day.) and tuck into a succulent lamb shish kebab. Or why not get hot under the collar with great home Caribbean cookin’ in Brixton, tasty enough to rival the great Levi Roots’ ‘rastaurant’ in East London.
For something extra special, how about an afternoon tea that turns tradition on its head? Tucked away in Soho, home to the city’s darling degenerates, sits Ma’ Plucka. This unique eatery swaps scones for Southern soul food and tea for tempting cocktails. Alternatively, head to Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium for a fantastically feline feast… How often do you get to enjoy paws alongside your pastries?
TOP TIP: Angie Silver, the founder of luxury lifestyle blog SilverSpoon London, also gave us her top afternoon tea recommendations:
“For a classic afternoon tea, I’d suggest London’s top luxury hotels such as Claridge’s, The Dorchester or The Four Seasons Park Lane. For something slightly quirky and very fun, try The Ampersand Hotel for the Science Afternoon Tea, themed around the local museums. For an afternoon tea with a view head to Aqua Shard and for the best child-friendly offering, you can’t beat the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea at One Aldwych.”
It’s worth keeping in mind the sacred nature of Sundays in London; people wake up later, move slower and eat bigger. Leisurely risers should head to the acclaimed Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen for a bottomless Prosecco brunch or spend the day feasting on a kingly roast at maze Grill.
🍷Let’s talk about nightlife…🍷
London may not be the city that never sleeps, but it’s the city that stays up pretty darn late (and that’s good enough for us). There’s always plenty to do and see; visit the West End to watch a glittering play, dance the night away at a trendy club, drink fancy cocktails at a local bar or discover London by moonlight with a late night tour.
Aspiring actors and thirsty thespians can dive into London’s dazzling theatre scene with a meal and show for two. Choose from a variety of famous performances and prepare to be blown away by waves of unfettered talent. Alcohol admirers can learn to mix it with the best at a cocktail masterclass at Cabana, a multi-award winning venue that embodies pure carnival spirit. And cabaret connoisseurs won’t want to miss out on an evening at the flamboyant London Cabaret Club!
💆🏽How about something relaxing after that?💆🏽
Okay, okay, if you insist… There are plenty of ways to wind down. London is notoriously indulgent; that’s why so many celebs haunt its freshly shampooed streets. In fact, with famous models such as Kate Moss and Cara Delevinge hailing from the capital, it’s only natural you’d want to engage in a little model behaviour yourself.
For five-star treatment, head to the highly praised Spa Mika for a one of a kind private pampering session for two. With luxury private suites, infrared saunas and a variety of decadent treatments, it’s the crème de la crème of spa experiences. For something a little more exotic, Dolphin Square offers a five-star Moroccan sensation – using age old remedies and precious ointments, expect to leave feeling like royalty.
Pampering isn’t restricted to spas, trust us, there are plenty of ways to treat yo’self. For those who feel like splashing the cash, how about a John Lewis shopping experience? Peruse the store for goodies with a personal stylist at your side – fancy!
⚽Is London good for sporting fans?⚽
Er, is that a serious question? London’s sporting scene is thriving, particularly in the wake of the 2012 Summer Olympics. From athletics and cycling to football and rugby, London breeds rich sporting talent and has a number of brilliant new stars in the ascent.
A must-see for sports lovers is the London Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. Once used as a stadium for the world’s most ferocious gladiators, it has since become the home of West Ham United Football Club and hosts plenty of quirky events such as charity gigs and music shows, as well as being home to the recent World Athletics Championships which attracted the likes of Sir Mo Farah and Usain Bolt. Plus, Stratford is home to The Slide at The ArcelorMittal Orbit – so after getting sporty, get slippy!
Of course, as stadiums go, Wembley is up there. Tour the famous grounds, go behind the scenes in the dressing room and walk the players’ tunnel. With an impressive 90,000 person capacity, its overwhelming size and awe-inspiring structure are certain to impress the most diehard footy fans. For those who prefer two wheels to two feet, a track cycling day at Herne Hill velodrome puts the wind in your hair, whizzing round a world-class track and benefiting from the expert tuition of seasoned racers.
💰This all sounds great but can I have fun on a budget? 💰
You don’t have to break the bank to have a brilliant time in London; in fact, there’s so much to see that’s either budget-friendly or completely free. History geeks should take a trip to the Natural History Museum, art aficionados flock to the National Gallery and The Tate whereas science buffs will be in their periodic element (haha, get it?) at the Science Museum!
Budding architects won’t be disappointed with a Tower Bridge exhibition followed by lunch and if you fancy a tipple how about a London pub walking tour? It’s the perfect purse-friendly way to uncover London’s hidden alleyways and artefacts.
TOP TIP: Donna Vallance, the founder of lifestyle and travel blog Like Love Do, has provided her top tips on exploring the city at no extra cost:
“I love London and my first tip to enjoying the West End would be to walk as much as you can and avoid the tube. It can be very busy at peak times, but most stations are very close together. Leicester Square and Covent Garden are roughly 37 seconds apart, which is approximately a 5-minute walk. You miss a lot by not walking as so much can be seen in between. Just walking through Trafalgar Square you will find Britain’s smallest police station and so many street artists and statues. You could even take an organised walking tour of Jack the Ripper, a street art tour or a blue badge tour. Walking is the key, engage with the locals, visit the old pubs and enjoy the atmosphere of London at its best.”