I lived in London for over a year and although I feel like I barely scratched the surface (I can’t wait to go back for more) I also got a feel for some really great places to eat, drink and take in some culture. Here is my top ten list of a few of my favourite things to do/places to go in London, that I will definitely re-visit next time I’m in the city!
I wrote about the Honky Tonk in Clapham in a previous post and it is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. Specialising in brunch the food and drinks are delicious, the decor is quirky and cool and it is right in the middle of Clapham so you can go for a stroll around Clapham common after you’ve eaten. Whether you feel like Belgian waffles or a breakfast burger there is something to soothe your headache from the night before. They also do delicious milkshakes (which come in a little glass milk bottle) with flavours such as banana & butterscotch, rum & raisin or mint choc chip; and have an extensive drinks menu if you feel like coming back later that evening.
EDIT: Unfortunately, Honky Tonk didn’t survive the pandemic but I will update this with a new spot soon!
There are four different locations of this French patisserie in London, but my favourite is the one in Covent Garden. At Ladureé you can sample some of the most delicious macarons or sit down and have champagne with sweet and savoury snacks. If you crave something a bit more substantial there are plenty of other cafes and restaurants around Covent Garden but I always manage to buy myself a couple of salted caramel and raspberry macarons. The Covent Garden shop has a website here where you can also easily look at what else is in the area.
I wasn’t a huge bar-hopper during my time in London but I did visit a few, one of which was Waxy O’Connor’s, a huge Irish pub in between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. Featuring four different bars over six levels Waxy’s is huge, but the decor is gorgeous, with beautiful polished wood and even a huge tree inside the building itself. Each bar has a different atmosphere, there is live music four nights a week and they have extensive drinks, bar snacks and set-meal menus. Have a look at their website here.
Gordon’s Wine Bar
If you feel like something a bit more cosy and sophisticated but still a bit quirky then Gordon’s Wine Bar is a good option. Touted as London’s oldest wine bar (est. 1890) this dimly-lit underground establishment gives the feel of a dungeon as you sit in the old wine-cellar with no light but flickering candles and feel the tube trains rumble past. There are historical newspaper cuttings and old photographs on the walls and Rudyard Kipling lived in the building in the 1890s. The bar offers a wide selection of wines (obviously) was well as sherries, madeiras and ports served straight from the barrel. There is also food on offer, a wide selection of cheese for platters, cold plates and hot food. If you don’t like the indoor atmosphere there is also a spacious terrace outside. Explore the website here.
There are so many fantastic markets in London that it is very hard to narrow down a list, but one of my favourites is definitely Borough market. Located in Southwark right by London Bridge Station, Borough market is a foodie’s heaven. It is one of the largest and oldest markets in London and features food and produce from around the world. Here you can purchase vegetables from Yorkshire, game from France, sweets from Turkey and all sorts of other delicious food! I wrote about this market previously here and you can also look at the official website here.
Featuring a few different markets (the Stables, Camden Lock, Lock Village and Union Street) those in Camden are obviously HUGE! I have previously written about my favourite part here, the Stables Market, but the entire area could entertain anyone for days. This is definitely a must-see destination featuring clothing, food, gifts, antiques and more. The Camden markets are great for gifts and you cannot visit without popping in to feast your eyes on the neon glory of Cyberdog. Check out the market website here.
The British Museum
This amazing museum is high on everyone’s lists when visiting London, and it’s not surprising. The building itself is stunning and there are enough treasures inside to keep you fascinated for days! This is where you can see one of the statues from Easter Island, the Rosetta Stone, frescoes from the Acropolis in Athens, Egyptian mummies and so much more. I wrote a more detailed post about the British Museum here if you’d like to see and read more!
Natural History Museum
My favourite museums have always been the ones that feature animals and dinosaur exhibits, and London’s Natural History Museum definitely doesn’t disappoint! With enough dinosaur skeletons and moving replicas to delight any child (and child-at-heart), this museum also holds fascinating bird and animal displays as well as a breathtaking space display where you can ride an escalator into and through a planet! Don’t miss the earthquake simulator as well. A more detailed blog post about my trip to the Natural History Museum can be found here.
Kensington Palace is the official London residence of Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George. Parts of the Palace are open to the public but the part I most enjoyed was the Kensington Gardens. Sharing a border with Hyde Park, the whole area is a lovely place to walk, ride a bike or have a picnic, with acres of beautiful gardens, the Serpentine river and many interesting sculptures; my favourite, of course, is the Peter Pan statue. J. M. Barrie, the author of “Peter Pan” used the gardens as his inspiration for the story, and the beloved character has been immortalised here. For more photos of Kensington Gardens have a look at my previous blog here.
A visit to Greenwich definitely requires at least one entire day, in which to lounge on the grass, walk around the park, visit the Royal Observatory (and stand on the Meridian line) and explore the museums. If you walk up the hill to the Royal Observatory you are rewarded with a view of the iconic buildings of the Old Royal Naval College, the O2 arena, and Canary Wharf in the distance. The park area is huge, and when the sun is shining Londoners come out in droves to walk around, lounge on the grass and play frisbee or football (soccer). I wrote more about this lovely place here if you’re interested.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of my top ten things to see and do in London, maybe it’s given you some ideas of what to do if you’re visiting. If you’ve already been, what are your top ‘must-see/do’ sights or activities in London? Let me know in the comments!