Other Things to See and Do in London
- Grab some food in Borough Market: With more food stalls than you can imagine, Borough Market has something for every eater. It is home to some of the best British and international produce and dishes. Come here hungry and leave satisfied. Already ate? Nibble the free samples being given out at most stalls. Open for lunch Mondays and Tuesdays, all day Wednesday-Saturdays and closed on Sundays. The crowds are terrible on Saturdays, but if that’s the only day you can fit it in, I’d go anyway!
- Go museum-hopping: London has more museums than you could see in one visit, and many of them are free. From the Tate to the City Museum to the National Gallery to the Historical Museum, you'll be able to spend days here without spending a penny! At the Natural History Museum, you'll find over 80 million items, including specimens collected by Charles Darwin. It also has a great collection of fossils, making it a fun and educational stop if you're traveling with kids. The Victoria and Albert Museum (named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) is another favorite of mine. It’s home to over 2,000 works of art covering over 3,000 years of human history.
- Visit the London Dungeon: The London Dungeon calls itself “the world’s most chillingly famous horror attraction.” It covers 2,000 years of London’s gruesome history and is a morbid but interesting museum to see about England’s past. Although you’ll learn about popular torture methods in Old England, to be honest, this place has turned into more of an “amusement park” type attraction. But if you like things like escape rooms and scary boat rides, you’ll enjoy it.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
- See St. Paul’s Cathedral: St. Paul’s is a striking cathedral with a world-famous Dome. Inside you’ll find glittering mosaics and elaborate stone carvings. You can also climb to the Whispering Gallery or higher still to the Stone Gallery or Golden Gallery for panoramic views over surrounding London.
- Go to Shakespeare’s Globe: An integral part of England’s history, the Globe Theatre is a must-see for lovers of Shakespeare. The performances here are considered to be a near-perfect replica of Elizabethan staging practices. You can even sit in front where the groundlings did, for shouting and heckling! The theater is open-roofed, so bundle up in the winter.
Things to do are: Exploring the Camden Market, See the Royal Observatory, walk around the Strand, Drink beer at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, See the Churchill War Rooms, take a Jack the Ripper tour Explore Covent Garden, Stroll along Brick Lane, Ride the London Eye.
As the UK’s capital and one of the world’s most popular tourist locations, London acts as a representative of everything British to a wide array of visitors from around the world. What many visitors don’t realize, however, is the extent of the city’s ethnic diversity. London gastronomy is teeming with a smorgasbord of different cultural influences and tastes that offer locals and visitors a fantastic culinary experience. The city has a rich history when it comes to food, and many eateries reflect this in their representation of the nation’s favorite cuisines and tastes. If you want a genuine British dining experience, expect vibrancy and variety, both of which can be found in abundance in London’s dining scene.
Fish & Chips
- Fish & Chips: For any international visitor, fish & chips is a must-try. It has been a British favorite for well over 150 years and remains one of the most British dishes on any restaurant menu. The originator of the dish is contested – some credit a northern England native named John Lees, while others credit Joseph Malin, a Jewish immigrant living in East London. Nevertheless, the dish has become a popular takeaway meal across the country and, much like the Full English, is beloved in all corners of British society.
- Pies: Despite not originating in Britain, there’s absolutely no doubt that the meat pie has come to be heavily associated with the British Isles. The proliferation of pies was actually born out of a problem – storage issues. With boat crews needing to be sustained during trips, but not being able to accommodate livestock, pies were created as an economical (and delicious) way to store and preserve meat.
- Sunday Roast: Another tradition of the British Isles, the Sunday roast is an incredibly filling dish that – as the name suggests – is almost always consumed on Sundays. While many variations exist, the standard components include roast meat, stuffing, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings (a savory, batter-based pastry), roast vegetables and gravy.
- Roast Duck: While roast duck might typically be associated with Chinese cuisine, it is enjoyed around the world every day with Britons enjoying their roast duck just as much as the next country. Done in a number of different ways, Brits consider roast duck a treat for special occasions, and if you’re visiting London, that more than meets the criteria for a special occasion!
- Vegan Cake: We’ve focused on a lot of meaty dishes, but it’s time to give the vegan and vegetarian travelers some recommendations. London is a great place to be vegan with animal rights group PETA even dubbing London the “most vegetarian-friendly city in the world”. Demand in the UK capital has seen a number of specialty vegan shops and restaurants appear in recent years. Within this boom there has been much demand for sweet vegan treats – and many businesses have been keen to oblige.
- Chicken Tikka Masala: Considered a national dish, this gloriously delicious Indian curry is wildly popular across the entire UK. While many stories surround its origin – it’s thought to have been invented somewhere in Britain (possibly Glasgow in Scotland), or in Punjab (Northern India and Eastern Pakistan) – Britain has a long relationship with the Punjab area and the dish can be celebrated as a creation that likely came into fruition because of that relationship. In London, you can’t go wrong with sampling chicken tikka masala.
- Afternoon Tea: If you’re coming to Britain for the first time, there are definitely a few traditions to partake in – one of which is afternoon tea. Tea has been enjoyed around the world for thousands of years, but ‘afternoon tea’ became a phenomenon during the mid-1800s thanks to the 7th Duchess of Bedford, Anna. She would leave a long stretch of time between lunch and dinner – with the gap being filled with tea, a sandwich and some cake.
Gin & Tonic
- Gin & Tonic: Britons love a good drink – and one of the country’s most loved beverages is gin & tonic. Gin was feverishly imported from Holland by many in the upper classes during the 18th century, while tonic water was a key part of British colonialism in the 19th century, most notably as it helped Britons deal with tropical climates during their travels.
- Craft Beer: London has a long history in the act and art of brewing – becoming the undisputed British capital of breweries during the 18th century. Despite being prolific throughout the 20th century, London’s brewing industry had collapsed by the 21st century – with there being only 14 breweries in the city by 2010. However, the craft beer movement has rejuvenated London as a brewery hub and it’s now thought that there are 80 breweries across the city today.
London is a big city and with all big cities comes it's traffic, so getting between neighborhoods can take a bit of time. London has excellent public transportation, and getting a travel pass is cheaper than buying single tickets all the time. A one-way fare on the tube will cost you so much, but getting a Visitor Oyster Card will reduce tariffs per ride. No matter how many trips you take per day, your Oyster Card will cap at £7. This is applicable across all public transit, including buses and trams.
- Master the night bus – In London, the tube closes around 12:30 am. To avoid taking expensive taxis, make sure you get a map of the night bus routes so you can get back to your hotel/hostel on the cheap. These buses go all over the city and into the suburbs. You can also use your Oyster card on these buses. Buses are always the cheapest public transportation option!
- The tram system in London works the same way as the bus system.
- Bicycle: London’s public bike-sharing program is Santander Cycles, and you can find docking stations all over the city. You can rent a bike from as little as £2. Keep in mind, however, that London isn’t the bike-friendliest city in the world!
- Taxis: London's "black cabs" are all over and run off a meter, but tend to be the most expensive form of transportation. Most accept credit cards! Taxis are everywhere and cost about £6 per one mile, but the price decreases the further you go. For example, a six-mile journey will cost you around £24 but more during peak hours). You can also use an app such as “my taxi” to order your ride.
- The Tube: The best way to get around London is the Underground, or "the Tube." You can even take the Tube from Heathrow Airport (LHR) into the city center, which I would
recommend. It is easy to navigate and you can get to all the sights you'll want to see. Be sure to buy an Oyster card that you can reload and use on both the Tube and city buses.
- Helpful Tip: The Tube is great but sometimes the Tube map is deceptive and stations are a lot closer together than they look. There's a handy map with walking distances between
stations that will help you decide whether it's worth the wait for the train or quicker to walk.
Get the London Pass: If you get the London Pass, you can enjoy access to 80+ London attractions like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. This pass makes for good savings, and you’re planning on doing a ton of sightseeing!
London Is separated into many different boroughs and neighborhoods; each offering a unique flavor of the city! The most popular areas worth visiting are:
- Covent Garden: Covent Garden is one of the most popular areas of the city with some of the best theaters. Neal Street is a shoe lover’s paradise with a series of shops catering to every sole.
- SoHo: A vibrant and exciting part of the city that is home to an amazing range of pubs, jazz and blues bars, and the heart of London's gay scene. This is where many of the fashion-forward residents of the city come to party.
- Kensington + Chelsea: This borough is home to some of London’s most posh shops and luxurious residents. It’s also home to Notting Hill which has become an up-and-coming, trendy neighborhood.
- Camden: Famous for being the alternative center of London where hippies and punks tread the streets together. It is home to a lively mix of music venues, markets, eateries, tattoo parlors, and boutiques.
- Westminster: The tourist center of London, sights include the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey. Visitors can see the British Government in action by visiting the Strangers' Gallery at the House of Commons.
- Shoreditch: Known as the creative hub of London’s trendy East End. Come here for great food, nightlife, street art, and vintage shopping.
When to Go to London
London doesn’t get too cold, but it’s notoriously foggy and rainy. Summer is peak tourism season, and temperatures are the warmest during this time – but rarely ever above 86°F (30°C). London is bursting at the seams during this time, but the city offers a great, lively atmosphere. People make the most of the warm weather, and there are constantly tons of events and festivals happening everywhere.
Spring (late March to June) and autumn (September to November) are also fantastic times to visit, as temperatures are mild, and it’s drier than other times throughout the year. Winter lasts from December to February, and tourism crowds will thin out dramatically during this time. Temperatures rarely dip below 41°F (5°C), and prices are slightly lower as well.
London Public Holidays:
Christmas and Easter are very important holidays in London. The city also celebrates additional bank holidays in May and August during Summer.
Interestingly the Queen’s birthday is not a public holiday in London.
||New Year's Day
||(the date changes from year to year)
||(the date changes from year to year)
||Early May Bank Holiday
||First Monday in May
||Spring Bank Holiday
||Last Monday in May
||Summer Bank Holiday
||Last Monday in August
||(St. Stephen’s Day) 26th December