Our second stop during the Europe Train Challenge was the wonderful city of London. We felt like London was a small town which had exploded with people, the buildings were cute, everything was close and we really felt at home even though everyone around us was sprinting around, stressed out of their minds. The fact that London had so much nature within the city, really gave you a chance to sit down and relax even with all that chaos around you.
London UK Video
What To Do In London – The Mini Guide
What To Do In London – So you have a ticket to London, now what? London is a city that basically has it all, but for many it’s often hard to know where to begin. It has great shopping, beautiful architecture, awesome nightlife, parks, markets and lots of things to look at! A weekend in London will be packed with stuff to do – here is my all inclusive holidays guide to a great weekend trip to London:
Getting Around:Many of the places of interest are concentrated in one area so you can walk between them, however, the public transport is quite good and by using the subway you save a lot of time. A day pass is a good idea to get, it costs 6£ and is valid from 9.30 am and lasts all the day until 4.30 am the next morning – you can use the pass both on subways as well as buses.
Things to do:
Parks And Speakers Chair
London is full of beautiful parks to hang out in on a nice day or stroll along the green alleys, so take some time to slow down the pace in the parks between shopping. St James park and Hyde park are two big parks located right in town which are both very nice. In Hyde park they have something called ”speakers chair” every Sunday, where people stand on a stage and talk about whatever they want in a microphone for whoever wants to listen. If you have the guts, you’re welcome to get up there yourself! St James park is a beautiful park to check out after or before a visit to the Buckingham palace.
Changing of the Guard
The changing of the guard at Buckingham palace at 11.30 every morning is a big tourist attraction. Don’t hold any high expectations on the actual ”show”, especially not in bad weather (which isn’t too rare here), but it’s worth a look just to experience the crazy crowds.
The London eye actually gives a great view over London, and it’s especially beautiful at night. But even the area itself is worth a tour, there is a pretty cool area full of Graffiti art right nearby. The best view of Big Ben is from the Westminister bridge going between the London eye and Big Ben, and who doesn’t want that iconic photo shot?
Oxford street is the place for shopping. There is something for everyone here, and for most budgets. But for an actual experience, head to Harrods. Perhaps buy something really small as a souvenir from this place, or just window shop around this historic, exclusive shopping complex.
London has HEAPS of markets; Small, big, famous and unknown. Camden market is one of the more popular ones, and it’s a fun place to buy things from local unknown designers. Covent garden also has a market, and after some shopping you’re likely to see some awesome street performers on the square. This is the square where famous street performers do their acts.
For a beer at a cosy pub with good atmosphere and intimacy, The Cittie of York on High Holbourn is a good choice. The pub has a very traditional design, and you sit in little wooden booths. For the cheapest beer in town, Ye Olde Cheesire pub on Fleet street is the place to go. The pub is the oldest in London, and they brew their own beer out of town. For a real club experience, Cafe 1001 is a cafe and DJ bar on a side street in Brick Lane which we got a tip about from a local guy. Many tourists don’t know about the place, but it’s a huge hits among the people living in London.
Where And What To Eat:
It’s almost more “typical” to eat international food than the traditional British food in London. Cuisine from all corners of the world can be found here, so make the most of it! Restaurants that are located a bit out of the central areas are of course a lot cheaper. The smaller streets around Kings Cross have some good deals, but chances are that you will be in the center for lunch. There are a lot of “all you can eat” buffets spread around the city center in London, especially Chinese cuisine, but also a lot of Indian restaurants. For good Mexican food, Chilango is a great Mexican eatery located at five different places across the city. We ate at the one in chancery lane 6, and the burritos and nachos were awesome.
Where To Sleep:
We recommend Clink 78 hostel, a hostel right next to Kings Cross. It’s located in a nice area with a village feel to it, with small streets and cozy cafes and pubs. The staff at the hostel are very helpful and informative, and more than happy to share their local tips and favorite spots around the city. Ask them anything and they will know, if not they will check it up for you. You get a big breakfast buffet included in the stay, and they also have a pub downstairs which is very popular with the guests. If you want to cook your own food there is a big kitchen there as well. A pretty cool detail about the hostel is that it’s actually a restored 200 year old Courthouse with a few authentic prison cells. and a courtroom used as an internet room. Get out: Take the scenic train to Wales, and experience the Welsh culture only a few hours away. And since London is, well, London, cheap flights leave the airport every minute!
Weekend in London UK in the Capitals Coolest Spots
When you think of London, you probably think of Big Ben, red buses, Buckingham Palace, shopping at Oxford Street and the many theatres of the West End. But this is only just the beginning. London is a vibrant and fascinating city, steeped in layers of history and culture.” Like any international city it’s also constantly changing, and finding the newest spots can tricky for a visitor. So if you’re keen to scratch beneath the surface of this captivating city and have an extra insight into all the coolest happenings, check out some of our suggestions:
Where to Eat in London
A decade ago London’s King’s Cross was one of the city’s biggest problem areas with drug addicts and prostitutes working the streets and bringing an unwelcoming feeling to the area. Today though, this has all changed and the area has had huge sums of money spent on it.
As a result King’s Cross is rapidly becoming one of London’s most exciting new places to hang out and amongst other things is now home to a whole host of fabulous restaurants; we love Caravan at the Granary Building for Mediterranean style foods, Kerb for street eats (very on trend at the moment!) and the fabulous Plum + Spilt Milk at the Great Northern Hotel, which serves up a mix of modern British cuisine in chic surroundings.
Go For Coffee
Hanging out in Coffee shops can be a great way to get a feel for how the locals live and Dalston, in London’s trendy East End, is undergoing a revival right now. It’s home to many artists and creatives and as a result you’ll find plenty of funky and interesting places to go for coffee.
Café Otto, a specialist music café, is a great choice for a latte and a slice of cake and also worth visiting in the evening for one of their gigs. Tina We Salute You makes the best cappuccino we’ve found and we also love Betty’s for a relaxed yet funky atmosphere.
Hit the Shops
When Olympic fever took over London in 2012 the area around the Olympic park benefitted in many ways. One was the building of the fantastic new Westfield Shopping Centre, which makes shopping in London easier than it has ever been. The centre has all of the major stores, as well as a few welcome surprises and basically is a whole lot less crowded that Oxford Street on a Saturday!
When you’re there head up to the top floor of John Lewis – no not for any pairs of striped pyjamas or 12 piece dining sets – they have a special viewing platform where you get a great view over the Olympic Stadium and on to the rest of London and it’s well worth a look.
Where to Stay
The newly renovated Great Northern Hotel at King’s Cross Station is really topping it as London’s coolest hotel right now. This gorgeous luxury hotel has 91 rooms, all wonderfully chic and beautifully designed and the hotel itself has many quirky reminders of its railway heritage. There’s a replica train carriage acting as a corridor from the main stairway to the loos and the beds in the most compact size of guest room evoke the classic continental railway sleeper carriage. All rooms have USB charging points, free in room entertainment and there are pantries on every floor where you can help yourself to home-made cakes and the day’s newspapers. It’s a fun twist on the traditional railway hotel and we love it.
Stoke Newington is rapidly becoming one of the coolest ‘villagey’ places to hang out this side of well… Clissold Park (Stokey’s lovely green space). Church Street, the main street there, has many nice watering holes ranging from English Pubs, to smart cocktail bars and beyond.
Try the Baby Bathhouse, the Jolly Butchers and Auld Shillelagh. A night out there is always fun, can be unexpected and you won’t be far from your lovely hotel when you want to jump in a cab home. Has this article tempted you to take a few steps off the tourist trail on your next trip to London? Or do you know of any great up and coming spots that we haven’t mentioned? Please feel welcome to get commenting – we’d love to know!
Visit London for the Street Food Scene
It would be fair to say that in the last year or so, street food has officially become a ‘thing’ when it comes to travelling. Going to Goa? You won’t want to miss out on the samosas, chicken and cool drinks from the street vendors on the beach. Jetting off to Vietnam? It’s all about Banh mi sandwiches. Visiting the big apple? Well, while you’ve pretty much got your choice of anything, you’ll definitely want to sample a serious hot dog or two. What about London? The street food scene in London has taken off in the last year or so. Everywhere you look, people are selling food from market stalls, vans and open air bars.” So, if finding fabulous places to eat on trendy streets and at pop up stalls galore is what you’re craving, London could be your perfect travel destination. There are loads of places to try, but a few top picks include:
Kerb is a street food collective based at Kings Cross – perfect if you’ve just arrived from somewhere else in Britain, or hopped off the Eurostar at St. Pancras.
Kerb rotates its traders, so even if you visit every day of your stay in London, you’ll be able to try something new each day! Check out the selection here.
As the coolest East London weekend hangout around, Broadway Market in Hackney is home to some well-established food traders.
Try the quintessentially British bites at Eat My Pies and the beautiful handmade chocolates and cakes at Cocoa&Me to start off with.
Real Food Festival
Once you’ve hit the London Eye, strolled along the river bank and caught a show at the National Theatre, check out the plaza behind the Southbank Centre (a couple of minutes’ walk from Waterloo station). Feeling flashy? Go for lobster and chips from the Whitstable Shellfish stall, or, if you’ve had quite enough fish and chips, try a tiny taste of India at the Horn Ok Please van.
A trip centered on street food really makes you feel like a local, so check out some short stay London apartments and sort yourself out with your very own crash pad. That way, when you come back laden with cheeses, breads and other treats from all the amazing markets you’ve been to, you’ll have a fridge to put them in. Plus, no one will judge you when you decide that a midnight snack really is a great idea!