Three days in London
Monday, 13 August 2012
It's been a while since I left. But London still has a homely feel to me. I left a lot of friends behind when I made the move to Canada, and a lot of fun areas untouched.
I've been thinking about going back, just to catch up with friends and because I love the city. This got me thinking of what I'd actually do if I had a few days to myself in London. This is what I came up with. Some things aren't exactly what I'd do, but if I weren't me, I'd probably want to do them.
General tips ------------
- Arriving in London. I'd try to get in mid-morning, nothing is really happening too early. So arriving around 9-10 will be fine.
- Take the Heathrow Express (or any of the other express services from the other airports in London... except for Luton, avoid Luton.) straight into the heart of town.
- Since this is only for a few days I would only have a light backpack so I would be in no rush to get to my accommodation.
- Stay in a hotel/hostel in central, or at least near a tube stop. Pay attention to tube exchanges: how far away you are from them and what lines you can easily transfer to.
- London is full of museums, they are all free to go to (except the gimmicky ones like Madame Tussauds and Ripley's). Head to South Kensington and walk north, from there you'll find the Science museum, Victoria & Albert, Natural History and the National Art Library. The National Portrait gallery is right on Trafalgar square, and the British Museum is half way between Holborn and Goodge Street.
- There are markets all over the place as well: Portobello Road, Borough Market, Spitalfields Market, Camden Loch Market and my favourite (mainly because it was around the corner from my house) Duke of York Square Market
- the hamburgers sold here are amazing.
- The Tube is your friend, it will take you everywhere. Pick up an Oyster card when you arrive and keep it loaded, everything I suggest here is very easily accessible via the tube.
- You'll have an easier time if you have a smart phone with GPS as it can be a bit tricky keeping your bearings around the streets of London
- Breakfast at Flat White café in Soho. I have yet to find a better source of caffeine than this place, the baristas are phenomenal, and the food is amazing.
- Check out Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden, they're all so close together from Soho to Leicester Square is no more than a 5 minute walk. There's plenty of sights to see in Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, and shops galore in Covent Garden. There are some great pubs and restaurants around the area as well.
- This should take you through to the afternoon, a quick stop at Pret a Manger for lunch should keep you going through if you get a bit peckish.
- If you're going during summer and the weather is nice, grab a couple of bottles of cider (and a bag of ice, if there's enough of you) and head to Hyde Park to sit and relax.
- Grab a bite to eat for dinner in Covent Garden, there's plenty of places to choose from and you'll be hard pressed finding a bad one
- After dinner head to Porterhouse on Maiden Lane, just behind Covent Garden Market
- There's a few pub crawls that run through this area, there's always people handing out flyers for them if you're in the mood for that. Otherwise there's plenty to be found on your own, the B@1 bars are all over the place and are always fun if you're in the mood for cocktails. Buy your bartender a shot of Patron XO and they'll be very grateful. Zoo bar in Leicester Square is great for a bit of messy fun.
- Start the day with breakfast at The Breakfast Club in Shoreditch, have whatever you want to eat but I'd definitely recommend a Bloody Mary (no virgins here) to wash it down. There might be a line-up, but it's definitely worth the wait
- Grab yourself a curry for lunch on Brick Lane, there will be plenty of restaurant owners vying for your business, play your cards right and you should get a good meal for fairly cheap. If you want a drink over dinner, see if you can find a place that will let you BYO your own drinks and grab some from the closest off-license (convenience store).
- Play foosball over some beers at Bar Kick
- Grab some dinner at Thai Thai on Old Street, the best Thai food I've had anywhere (n.b., I've never been to Thailand...)
- There's plenty of bars and clubs around the area so take your pick. Electricty Showroom, The Queen of Hoxton, Book Club and Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen are all great places to get you started. Head to one, and there will be plenty around to keep you going all night.
There are some things you just need to see and take a photograph of in London: Big Ben, a red telephone booth and a bobby, to name a few. Take the opportunity today to try and fit them all in.
- Start off with a hearty breakfast anywhere that tickles your fancy, if it were me I'd probably be heading back to Flat White :)
- If you're still in the shopping mood head back to Covent Garden and check out Carnaby Street.
- You may notice that I have left out Oxford Street, for a good reason that almost anyone will give you - it's a nightmare. All the shops you can find elsewhere (though Selfridges is worth a look-in if you're brave), and the street is just too busy to be enjoyable.
- Get down to Embankment and check out Big Ben, the houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey (all within 5 minutes of each other)
- Take a tour around Shakespeare's famous Globe theatre
- Have lunch and a pint in a pub along the Thames or pick up something to eat at the Borough Market
- If you have a half hour to spare, take a ride on the London Eye
- Tour around the Tower of London (guided or not, personal preference)
- Check out the Imperial War Museum
- Finish off with a few pints in a Sam Smith's and recount the awesomeness of London.
That's probably all you could fit into three days, but there is so much more to see in London, I'm starting to think now I may need to book a few extra days...
Other things you might want to check out if you have the time...
- Camden. Nothing specifically in Camden, just get there.
- Watch the sun go down from Primrose Hill
- If you're Australian...
- The Church in Clapham Junction on a Sunday if you're looking for a messy way to spend your day
- Any of the Walkabouts around the place.
- You'll also probably have a friend or two in Shepherd's Bush or Acton, so maybe go pay them a visit.
- Harrod's if you're in the mood for high tea or spendings lot of money.
- Ministry of Sound - speaks for itself.