Soak up the vibe of a few different London neighbourhoods and join the locals in the eateries and bars they adore during three thrilling days in London.
Take the advice of Londoners and get a sense from above ground instead of taking the Underground, or ‘Tube’ as Londoners say. The number 23 bus travels from Liverpool Street to Westbourne Grove, and goes past some of London’s most iconic landmarks such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Nelson’s Column and Marble Arch. Not only will this journey give you a feeling of London from east to west, you’ll be travelling alongside real Londoners going about their everyday business. After arriving in this west London locality, take a stroll along Golborne Road to grab a cup of coffee and some pastéis de nata at one of the Portuguese eateries, pursue the vintage wares of the market and take in the Ernö Goldfinger designed Trellick Tower, a cult London landmark. Walk along Portobello Road afterwards for the iconic vintage market and a slice of Notting Hill life.
Head back into central London for a street food lunch at Exmouth Market, a locally revered spot by London foodies. Check out the Museum of the Order of St. John nearby afterwards — a lesser known spot on London’s museum scene offering an insight into London’s long and important history. Then visit the old Guildhall and enjoy the grandiose courtyard, before tracking down The Old Doctor Butler’s Head pub squirrelled away along a centuries-old alleyway for an afternoon drink.
As late afternoon approaches, make you way over to the tallest building in Europe: The Shard. Go to the faux grass clad viewing platform at the top or simply admire its height from the shadows below, before going to The Scoop – the sunken amphitheatre by London’s riverside with a year round calendar of free events. Take your pick of one of London’s many foodie gems for dinner. If you want to stay in the London Bridge area, enjoy the sun-splashed flavours of Arabica near Borough Market. For a nightcap, make your way to the speakeasy basement bar at the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, or join a laid back post-crowd at the Provence-inspired Baranis.
If you’re curious about London’s co-working and start-up scene, spend your second day in east London, in and around the Tech City start-up hub near Old Street. Start off with a visit to Google Campus and even hire a desk there at one of the co-working spaces inside. There’s a vibrant calendar of activities going on, giving you the chance to experience the buzz of London’s creative and start-up community. Later on, visit the café/workspace and ‘social experiment’ Ziferblat, where you only pay for the time you spend there. Follow up with lunch at Merchants Tavern, an east London stalwart for entrepreneurial business meetings. Do a little early afternoon shopping at BOXPARK, a series of shipping containers in trendy Shoreditch that play host to some of the latest inventions from creative London start-ups. Follow this up with a browse of the stalls at the relatively newly regenerated Spitalfields Market. Carry on to Hackney as the afternoon goes on to take in the locally loved Broadway Market, then admire the architectural magnificence of the Town Hall Hotel before popping inside for a drink in The Corner Room.
For dinner, go to the affectionately known ‘Pho Mile’ on Kingsland Road for a low-key Vietnamese dinner at Viet Grill or anywhere else that takes your fancy. Carry on to one of London’s arts or cultural institutions such as the Barbican Centre or the Southbank Centre for an evening performance. If you’re looking for a nightcap afterwards, try BrewDog Shoreditch or its basement speakeasy for London crafted beers, or pay a visit to one of design guru Graham Hollick’s favourites: Hand of Glory.
Relax a little on your final day and enjoy some of the wide open spaces the city is famed for. Start off in the leafy north London locality of Hampstead with a coffee in the pavement seating area of Ginger & White followed by a stroll around Hampstead Heath; make your way to Parliament Hill for views over London. Follow this up with a visit to Abbey Park Cemetery for a wander around this overgrown Victorian resting place and a quiet slice of London’s history.
As you pass through the centre of town from north to south, stop for lunch at NOPI by celebrated chef Yotam Ottelenghi, or visit chef Ellen Parr’s favourite restaurant Bao, for a delicious and quick steamed bun. Once you’re south of the river, head over to Tooting Bec Lido for a quick dip — it’s one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in the UK. Pay a visit to Brixton for the locally revered Brixton Village filled with small eateries and quirky shops, and POP Brixton, where start-ups are being given a foot on the business rung inside this venue made of shipping containers. Squeeze in an early evening summertime drink at Frank’s Campari Bar, a Peckham bar on the roof of a multi-storey car park with unexpectedly brilliant views of London.
Do something a little different in the evening, and go to a themed pop-up dinner by The Art of Dining, or find out if any Secret Cinema events are on. Secret Cinema takes over a London space for a few days and creates a themed carnival atmosphere on a massive scale relating to the film it airs on big screen. Think fancy dress and being transported into another reality.
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