Your guide to Londoners’ local favorites
London is a bucket list city for nearly every traveler, whether they make a serious business of seeing new places or simply indulge in a vacation every few years. A melting pot in its own right, it’s a Piccadilly circus of sights, sounds, arts, culture, museums, and food. If you get to hop across the pond, spend your vacation living life as a true Londoner by visiting all their favorite spots. From local secrets to all Londoner favorites, you can’t go wrong with this guide.
Eat up at Ozone
Naturally, you’ll want to enjoy some local cuisine in London, but before you start salivating for the fish and chips or shepherd’s pie, you’ll want to plan your breakfast. Ozone is near Old Street Station, and it’s a wonderful place if you don’t want to eat at the typical tourist spots. You’ll love coming here for a weekend fry-up, especially if you spent the previous evening at the pub. The restaurant is actually a warehouse, which adds to its authenticity.
Pick flowers at Columbia Road
The Columbia Road Flower Markets are gorgeous and the price is always right. So if you adore fresh flowers, then you should definitely make a stop. Columbia Road is a treasure trove of antique shops, art galleries, cafes, and excellent eateries as well. Because London has a bad reputation for rain, you may want to bring an umbrella any time you visit an open air market. Add some wellies and you’ll look like a local in no time.
There are several other markets to consider, as well. Borough Market is a 13th century marvel, but in addition to being the oldest market in London, it’s also the busiest. You’ll find more than flowers, such as cheese, bread, cake, chocolate, wine, and a stunning view of the Thames. Broadway Market is close to the flower markets, and it’s full of gourmet delicacies from Italian and French cuisine. The food is practically art.
Tour the Tower of London
Well, you have to do a few touristy things. The Tower of London will call to you the moment you set foot in the city. It has so much history that few visitors can resist visiting this UNESCO World Heritage site.The tower includes 20 towers with 900 years of history waiting to be explored. From royal palace to fortress to prison to museum, the tower has played a diverse range of roles, and it’s hosted many different visitors and occupants. You should also take in the Yeomen Warders and Traitors’ Gate through a guided tour.
Explore the Natural History Museum
There’s something special about exploring history where so much of it actually happened. At any given time, London’s Natural History Museum overflows with amazing exhibits, some rotating and some long-lasting. From historical explorations of the entire human story to true-to-life models of some of the biggest creatures that ever walked the earth, you’ll leave breathless and impressed.
Better still, you can often get in free. That goes for some of London’s other marvelous museums, such as:
- The British Museum
- The Science Museum
- The Museum of London
- The Tate Modern
- And the National Gallery
Head to Hyde Park
Hyde Park is practically iconic, and being there will send you back to countless British films, books, and television shows. Although it’s the perfect spot for relaxing or having a picnic, especially on those precious sunny days, the park offers more than nostalgia and peace.
The park, opened in 1637, encompasses 142 hectares and it’s filled with gorgeous flora and fauna. There’s a meadow, a sizable lake, two places to eat, and stunning flower gardens. You’ll find monuments dotted throughout Hyde Park as well, including the fountain, Joy of Life, the Diana Memorial, the statue of Achilles, and The Serpentine Bridge.
Head to the Shopping Districts
There are far too many of these to limit yourself to just one, and they’re must-sees not just for spending some money but also because of their historical and cultural significance. Piccadilly, for example, is universally recognizable, and there’s nothing better than visiting the Arcade. It’s out in the open, like Old and New Bond Streets and Sloane Street.
If you head to the west end, Chelsea waits. In addition to galleries, small boutiques, chip shops, and upscale restaurants, you can really shop the high street. It’s almost worth it just to say you did. Besides, you need any excuse possible to visit the Saatchi Gallery and to explore the gourmet markets.
You can’t get away from the Notting Hill area, either. Going to a London village is essential, if only to pretend that you might spy Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant nearby. On a serious note, Notting Hill, Wimbledon Village, Hampstead, and similar spots are private, cozy, quaint, and simply gorgeous. It’s more about seeing the Georgian and Victorian architecture than anything.
Wind up at the Wolseley
There are many chip shops in London, places to get a great brunch, and amazing food trucks featuring anything from kabobs to inventive curry takeouts. However, if you’re looking for an authentically upper crust kind of dining experience, you have to book a reservation at The Wolseley, and you will need a reservation.
The restaurant was once a showroom for cars and after that it was a bank. It features vaulted ceilings, marble and gold accents, and art deco style. It’s the place to go when you want to dine in high luxury. Besides, if you want to do a little low-key spying on the celebrities in and around London, it’s the perfect place.
If tradition is your thing, the restaurant always serves a proper English breakfast. Otherwise, consider the Cornish chicken or the poached lobster. There’s even caviar, if you want to take the taste factor up another level.
London has far too many attractions to name just a few. It’s always a good idea to plan and map out key places to visit. However, London’s charm might entice you to unplanned visits, so enjoy the impulse. What’s always on your must-do list when you cross the pond?