London is one of those metropolis cities that must be seen to be believed. Bustling with activity and people the city is one of the most diverse and culturally significant in the world. Whether you’re looking for a killer food scene, a wide range of best-in-class museums or you just want to sip on some craft cocktails and watch the world go by. London has it all on offer. We have compiled a comprehensive London travel guide to make planning your trip that little bit easier.
Located in the South East of England this capital city has a surprisingly good climate for the UK. Its summers are nice and balmy and its winters never get too cold so no matter what time of year you’re visiting you won’t be put off by the weather. Although we would recommend that you pack a raincoat for your visit.
- Get an Oyster card – London has a complex and wide-ranging transport network and when you visit you should make use of it. It’s cheap, convenient, and in most cases quicker than getting a taxi or Uber.
- Want to see a Westend show then visit TKTS to get discount tickets – With locations throughout the city, TKTS is the best place to get discounted musical tickets on the day. Most musicals tickets are sold here and it’s a great way to save some cash.
- Make the most of the wide range of free attractions throughout the city. A large portion of the crown owned museums in the city are free of charge. From the National Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts to the Science Museum. There is something for everyone’s taste.
- See the city from a bike – Make use of the bike rental scheme aptly known as Boris bikes by the locals. There are many parks and bike lanes throughout the city so make the most of this scheme when you visit.
Best time of year to visit
Spring is the best time to visit as the weather is fairly mild and the place isn’t overcrowded with tourists. You’re going to get the best weather in the Summer months, but with temperatures reaching 30 degrees it’s not the ideal weather for wandering through the city. So, go between March and April to beat the tourists.
London is a sprawling city, so walking distances can be pretty long. So, make sure that you bring some comfy running shoes. There’s some good news though. Public transport is really good in London. As suggested in our top tips you should get an Oyster card. The tube goes all around the city and is easy to navigate.
Uber does exist in London and you can still order one in the city. Uber has been battling to keep its license to operate in the city for the past number of years and for the time being it’s still available. Of course, if you want the traditional London to feel you can always jump in a black cab, but you will pay a premium for a black cab.
Where to stay
There are many options when it comes to accommodation in London. No matter what your price range there will be something that meets your needs. Whether you are going all out in the Savoy or enjoying your weekend break in a Travel lodge. Below are our favorite spots at three different price ranges.
I’m feeling fancy
London is full of 5 starred hotels, so if you want to indulge yourself and stay in a luxury hotel. Your options are endless. You can go down the safe route and stay in the Savoy or the Ritz, but for a more boutique experience, we recommend staying in the Sea Containers on the Southbank. Aptly located in the center of the city close to all of the main sights is the Sea Containers hotel. With great views of the Thames and a nautical theme, it almost feels like you at sea. For a premium option, the sea container’s is on the lower end of the price scale, but you won’t be disappointed with the accommodation and the service. It really is top class.
Luxury at a decent price
If you are looking for a 4 star hotel at a reasonable price, then look no further than the Hoxton in Shoreditch. It’s a chic hotel that has individually decorated rooms and a super chilled out vibe.
Shoreditch is located in the East end of London and is a very trendy area so there’s no shortage of hopping bars and some of the finest restaurants in the city within walking distance.
Looking for a bargain
London has a huge amount of hostels and 2-3 star hotels on offer. If you are looking for a hostel then look no further than Wombats Hostel. This chic hostel is the perfect place to base yourself to explore all that London has to offer. All of the rooms and commons areas are spacious, modern, and clean. The Wombats hostel is perfect for solo travelers and couples with a range of rooms on offer. The modern design and friendly make this a top choice if you’re looking for a cheap and perfectly acceptable option. Be sure to grab a bar in the cave bar with an intimate feel and is quite a unique spot.
What to Eat
London is an extremely diverse city and there is no better show of this than the food scene in London. From Indian, Thai to southern BBQ. The choices are endless. It is widely considered one of the top culinary cities in the world. One of the biggest complaints we get from people visiting London is that there is too much choice. So, make sure to plan ahead of time. Below are some of our tips places to sample, but if your looking for an in-depth overview check out our London food guide.
Top foods to sample
- Scotch Egg – What is more British than a scotch egg? This delicious treat is traditionally served as a snack in pubs. It’s a hard or soft boiled egg that is covered in sausage meat and coated in breadcrumbs. The egg is then deep-fried or baked. The best place to sample these is at a local pub.
- Afternoon Tea – This afternoon snack is synonymous with London, so you have to experience it when you visit. Typical a selection of sandwiches with fillings such as a Salmon, egg + crest, and crab are served. This multi-layer platter also contains a layer of scones with the obligatory creams and jam selection. Buns, cakes, and biscuits are typically served as well. Of course, Afternoon tea isn’t finished without a piping hot cup of earl grey tea.
- Take part in the tradition that is a Sunday Roast – Roasts usually come with a choice of meats, potatoes, vegetables, beef drippings, and the glorious food that is Yorkshire puddings. The tradition of Sunday roasts is great in itself. Friends and family typically get together on a Sunday and break bread. Most pubs do a Sunday roast, so you’ll have no problem finding one.
Top Restaurants picks in London
High Priced Option
Hawksmoor Seven Dials
11 Langley St, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9JG
If you are looking for Steak, the Hawksmoor is the place to go. Widely considered one of the best steakhouses in the city it warrants this title with the quality of dishes it puts out consistently. Every time we have visited any of the Hawksmoor locations we have not been disappointed. This is a high priced option, so expect to pay a premium. Especially if you’re ordering one of the finer cuts of beef. There are also great fish options on offer, so even if your not a steak lover this spot is still worth a visit.
The Hawksmoor also serves up a mean Sunday Roast, so if you’re looking to treat yourself to a fancy Sunday Roast this is your spot.
10 Poland St, Soho, London W1F 8PZ
This BBQ joint has several locations throughout the city and does some serious eats. They serve up the authentic taste of the great American outdoors. The succulent brisket is our favorite, but you really can’t go wrong with any order at this North American establishment.
31 Peter St, London W1F 0AR
If you’re a fan of Japanese food… Bone Daddies is the place for you. This joint has several locations throughout the city, but we highly recommend the Soho location. It’s the perfect spot for a quick lunch or a pre-theatre Ramen infusion. The restaurant has a bustling vibe and the food being served is straight out of Tokyo. Some of our favorite dishes here are the Tonkotsu Ramen and the Korean fried chicken wings.
Flesh and Buns
41 Earlham St, West End, London WC2H 9LX
A sister restaurant of Bone Daddies, Flesh, and Bun continues with the Japanese theme. This izakaya-style spot serves up a mix of sushi, small plates, and some of the best-steamed baos on offer in the city. The original Convent Garden location is the best to visit. The basement set-up lends to a very intimate dining experience. The restaurant is a little on the pricier side for a mid-priced option, but be aware that the portion sizes are pretty generous.
Low priced Option
202 High Holborn London WC1V 7BD
This restaurant does exactly what it says on the tin. It serves chicken and really good chicken at that. Chicken and chips (fries for you North Americans) are a typical English meal and is a very popular dish. Chicken shop aligns closer to Portuguese cooking though. It serves rotisserie chickens that are marinated overnight, steamed, and then spit-roasted over charcoal and served with perfectly cooked chips for the perfect meal.
205 Victoria Street London SW1E 5NE
For us, at InspoVacay the most important thing that any good burger joint has to deliver is a simple cheeseburger. Forget about the toppings, the chicken sandwiches, and even the fries. If it can’t deliver on a cheeseburger we won’t rate it.
If there’s one thing that Bleecker burger delivers on. It’s a good cheeseburger. They have locations in Victoria and Bloomberg, so if you’re around these areas make sure to pop in for a cheeky lunch.
Things to do in …..
There is much to see and do in this historic capital city that is bulging with places to see and experience. Below we have compiled our top list of attractions in the city. With all recommendations at InspoVacay, we try to compile some hidden treasures with the more widely appreciated things to do.
London cocktail club
With several locations throughout the city, the London cocktail club is a great place to get some pre-theatre drinks or to house yourself up for a night of boozing. There is a wide range of cocktails on offer, so no matter your tipple the experienced bartenders will have something for you.
Some of our team’s favorites are the Bramley apple smash which combines Beefeater gin, San Germain Elderflower liqueur, apple sauce, sugar, and mint. It’s a sweet and delicious drink. The reggae rum punch served in a Tikki jar is another great option.
The Shaftesbury Avenue location is the best spot and this place is hopping on Friday and Saturday nights. If you visit the LCC make sure you make the most of the happy hour. It runs from 4-7 pm daily and is just two cocktails for £12.
Visit Borough Market
Markets are very popular in London and there are markets dotted throughout the city. One of the best markets is the Borough Market which is located on Southwark Street very close to the London bridge. This market is one of the biggest food markets in London.
Opened in 1756, the market is the perfect place to pick up some of the best food and drinks in the city. Be sure to grab a coffee at MONMOUTH COFFEE. They do one thing and they do it well and you guessed it, it’s coffee.
Pop into Lizzy for a spot of tea and crumpets
For you, Royal fans, a trip to London is not complete with some stalking of the Windsors. We joke, but going to Buckingham Palace and admiring the sheer size and extravagance of the Queens London living quarters is a must.
The mall which is the road leading up to Buckingham Palace is well worth a wander up. This leafy archway is a lovely walk and a great way of revealing the palace at the top of the street. The royal parks located right in front of Buckingham palace are another great place in London to have a picnic and sip on some delicious Pims.
Enjoy Craft Beer? Bermondsey is the place to visit
The Bermondsey craft beer mile is a great place to visit if you are a fan of some small-batch brews. Located in SouthEast London there is a mile stretch that is located under elevated train tracks. Some of the finest beers that London has on offer are brewed here.
Some of our favorite spots that we at InspoVacay consider must-stops on this beer mile are the Fourpure Brewing Co. which serves over 40 varieties of beer and serves up some mean hot dogs to accompany their craft brews. Brew by Numbers Tasting Room is also a great choice. Make sure to try the 19 Gose which has flavors of Kiwi, Pear & Lime and perfectly combines sweetness, salinity, and sour fruit flavors.
Have a picnic in Hyde Park
Located right in the center of the city, Hyde Park is a sea of green and it offers a great refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s the perfect place to sit down and chill out with a picnic and a bottle of Pimms. We recommend popping into a local Marks and Spencers and picking up some delicious treats or a day in the park.
You can also rent boats to cruise across the Serpentine lake that is located in the center of the park. There are also always events, festivals, and gatherings that take place in the park. So, be sure to check and see if anything is going on on the days you’re visiting. Hyde park is also the perfect place to make use of the Boris bikes.
Immerse yourself in all things Harry Potter
Although this attraction is located in Watford, it’s only about an hour’s journey by train from Euston station. There is a complimentary bus that runs from the train station in Watford out to the studio tour, which is very convenient.
You’ll be taken through all of the familiar areas related to the world of Harry Potter. From Hogwarts great hall to 4 Privet drive the tour encompasses all of the areas of the Potter universe. It’s an in-depth look into the Harry Potter movies as well as the filming techniques of a Hollywood blockbuster. There’s even the chance to chug down some butter beers. So, if you’re a Potter fan. This is a must-visit.
Do as the locals do and enjoy a boozy brunch
Here at InspoVacay, we love a drink, and although a lot of our activities we have listed here do include drinking it’s not what it looks like. Britians as a society have a long and storied relationship with alcohol. From the traditional English pub to the infamous gin and tonic that originated in the UK. Drinking is an integral part of British culture.
So what better way to celebrate the historic British cultural activity of gathering with friends for a drink than pairing that with some eggs benny. Our top recommendation for brunch in London is the Ivy Chelsea Garden.
Take in some of the best museums in the world
London has a ridiculous amount of museums, so if they are your vibe. You are spoiled for choice. The imperial war museum and Natural history museum in London are two of the top museums we at InspoVacay have visited throughout the world.
They are interesting, immersive, and educational. Everything that a museum should be and what’s even better news is that these two are free of charge. The imperial war museum was set-up to detail the military war effort of the British Empire during the first world war.
The natural history museum is probably London’s most visited and historic museum. Located just off Hyde Park in Kensington it’s a must visit. If you’re a fan of David Attenborough this is the place for you. The blue whale skeleton hung from the main Hinzte hall is epic. The museum is a great day out for both adults and kids.
Take in the quirkiness of Camden
Camden town is a sea of quirky shops, food stalls, and a vibe that’s super laid back. If you like thrift shops this is the place to pick up a bargain. Camden market is the place to get some great street food. There’s nearly too much choice of tasty things to eat, but some of our favorites are the following.
- The Cereal Killer Cafe
This widely publicized spot serves one thing only and you guessed it….. Cereal. The epitome of hipster heaven. As massive cereal fans, we’re itching to try this place the last time we visited London and we’re not disappointed by the range of choices, toppings, and flavored milk. It’s probably not the most healthy breakfast, but it’s every kid’s perfect idea of a meal.
- Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Restaurant
Although a lot of vegan restaurants get a bad wrap we at InspoVacay know that Vegan restaurants can pack a serious punch. Rudy’s produces top-quality dirty meals. What is a dirty meal you may ask? Well, a dirty meal is one that has too many calories to calculate but is unbelievable to eat. Rudys is up there as one of the top Vegan offerings in the city. Our recommendation is the crispy chicken satin burger. You won’t be disappointed.
Go for a pub crawl around one of the many routes across the city
If there is one thing the English are good for, it’s a great pub. The Brits just understand how to create a great watering hole. From the pickled egg to the pints of bitter, a pub experience is a must-visit. As we spoke about above a Sunday roast is also a must when visiting London, and the standard of food, in general, is pretty good in pubs.
The most popular pub crawl route is the Monopoly route which brings you throughout the 26 locations that are on the London edition of the Monopoly board. The only locations that are not represented are the Waterworks and the electricity plant.
26 pubs you say, that may be too many pubs to visit in one sitting, but not to worry. It’s a great way to see the city as it does bring you through the four corners of London. For detailed instructions on the famous Monopoly pub crawl check out this website. http://monopolyboardpubcrawl.com/index.html
Take in some of the best views of the city from a….. cocktail bar
The Shard is London’s tallest building and offers panoramic views of the city. But who wants to pay only for a view when you can get a cocktail and a view for the same price. Located on the 32nd floor of the Shard is the cocktail bar and restaurant called Aqua. Here stunning views of the city can be taken in with a drink in hand. Tables can be booked on Opentable and depending on the time you’re visiting you may be able to chance it on the day.