Immerse yourself in London diversity
Museums, historical monuments, festive districts, markets of all kinds, vintage clothes …
London doesn’t make everyone dream … Personally, Romain wanted to, and me, not that much. Well I was wrong, London is a beautiful city where there is something for everyone. On the other hand, you have to realise that London is really big … so plan at least 4 or 5 days to visit the city or just chose some districts.
Our advices to visit London in 4 days
Day 1) Westminster and Knightsbridge districts
If you want to see the London from the postcards, please do not miss Westminster and Knightsbridge districts. There are the chic and touristy neighborhoods (not what we prefer), but that’s where all the London symbols (or at least, a big part) are situated.
Westminster (touristic and chic district)
- Buckimgham Palace and its gardens: St-James and Green Park. Try to watch the Changing of the Guard at the royal palace, even if the guards prevent you from passing your hands through the large gates protecting the entrance of the palace.
- Big Ben : the inevitable Big Ben Tour. This clock is for most of us the English symbol par excellence.
- House of Parliament: one of its towers of in fact the tower which houses the Big Ben clock.
- Westminster Abbey: classed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, it is here where the royal coronations take place and where the England queens and kings burials rest.
- Tate Britain: a little further south, the Tate Britain (formerly Tate Gallery) collects collections of British art.
- London Eye: join the Big Wheel of London crossing the Thames close to Big Ben. Personally, we did not have the budget but we would have liked it (20 € / adult).
Knightsbridge (under the Hyde park)
- Natural History Museum (free): a superb museum where you will find huge dinosaur skeletons, reptile fossils or everything about human biology.
- Victoria & Albert Museum (free): nearby is the Museum of Decorative Arts from around the world. 6 floors to discover, a nice interior garden and a huge glass chandelier at the entrance.
- Harrods shop: it’s a bit like our Parisian Printemps Lafayette. Luxury shops and design with a very nice covered market inside (the Food Hall). We wanted to go there because of the book “Christian the Lion”. This is where the two Australians had, at the time, bought their … baby lion!
- Hyde Park: just above Knightsbridge, London’s largest park, Hyde Park. You can find the memorial of Prince Albert and Princess Diana as well as the Serpentine Gallery…
Day 2) Soho and Camden districts
Not far from the center of the touristic London, go up to Soho. You will see in this bohemian district all the diversity of London. People have all a different style, but this joyful mix goes very well. Bars, restaurants for all tastes and small covered markets to find what you need.
- Picadilly Circus: it’s like the Londoner Time Square.
- Trafalguar Square: you will not be able to miss this place guarded by 4 big lions of bronze.
- Covent garden market (between Soho and La City): a very famous Londoner covered market (and recommended by Anita, our 2cd European metiss.
- Lots of theaters: fan or not, walking in these streets will surely make you want to go see a play or even a musical comedy, Les Misérables, the Lion King …
- British Museum (free): a little further north of the Soho district, the British Museum is famous for its superb collections of antiquity.
Still further north, there is Camden. The very famous Camden market burned 2 weeks before our passage (June 2017), let’s hope it will be reconstructed.
- Madame Tussauds (below the Regent’s Park): the equivalent of our Grévin museum (about 35 € / adult, reduced price on line).
- Regent’s Park: beautiful park where you will find the “London Zoo” (about 26 € / adult).
- Primrose Hill: park with a beautiful view as it overlooks the Camden Town.
- Docks: stroll along the banks of the Regent’s Canal and envy the lives of people who live on barges all more original one from the other.
- Haché Burger: we really loved their excellent truffle burger … very close to the Camden Town subway, so we share.
Day 3) La city and Southwark districts
Like Westminster, La City is a very touristic district with some of the London’s “must do”.
- Saint-Paul Cathedral: it is accessible in part, you can go up to the 2nd floor to have a view of the district. If you are at least 2, test the gallery of whispers. By whispering inside the dome, your acolyte will hear you on the other side (34 meters all the same).
- London Tower: for those who like us, would confuse it with the Shard, it is actually a fortress. And it is where the Crown Jewels can be seen! If you put the price …
- Tower Bridge: a neo-Gothic bridge over the Thames takes its name from its proximity with the London Tower.
- The Shard: a skyscraper inaugurated in 2013. From its 310 meters, it is a little bigger than our Eiffel Tower.
- Tate Modern (free): still a superb free museum to discover in London. Modern until the end of the bricks, since it was built in an old power station.
Day 4) Bricklane and Shoredich/Hoxton districts
Certainly the part of London we preferred. At the time, these districts were not the best one in London. But more and more, they attracted artists who were looking for cheaper rent still close to London. Today, they are more trendy / hipster neighborhoods at affordable prices, and you can street art at every street corner. Markets (world food, flowers), vintage clothes shops, hype and original bars …
- Bricklane Market: this market is composed with many different « parts ».
- Street Food – food from all over the world. Prices are equal than the ones in town, but the choice and quality can’t be compared. (you should taste also the perfect bagels from Beigel Bake).
- Vintage Market (covered) – find what you need among all the crazy things of the Vintage Market.
- And the Sunday up market, Backyard Market and Boiler House.
- Flowers market : going down from the Hoxton subway to the Bricklane Market, you come across the Columbia Road market. Very nice market in a nice neighborhood.
- Every kind of Bars: after making deals all day, it’s time to go party in Shoreditch. At every street corner, you will find nice and original bars in this industrial district.
A real British alternative
You want to immerse yourself in London customs? Attend a Greyhound race.
Where to see a Greyhound race
Look at the website for opening days and times and prices. We personally went there on a Saturday morning (free) and we are caught up in the game. From 10am to 2pm we bet on 7 races (and win at 5, small sums of course).
Circulate in London – Transportation
As said before, the capital of England is great. Here are some tips if you need to circulate in London. On our part, in terms of means of transport we tested: on foot, train, subway, uber and bicycle.
- Car: very hard to drive in London center. And there are some congestion fee (more than 10€/day)…and you have still your parking to pay.
- Train and subway: convenient for sure, but a bit expensive… especially the subway.
- Uber: not that bad, prices are reasonable and its very convenient (even with our dog).
- Bike: Uber is still a budget, so we finally opted for walking and bicycle.
Rental bike in London
We strongly advise you to rent a bike in London. Despite a major disadvantage, the city’s bike network is rather good is very reasonable in terms of price.
Indeed, it is only 2 € / per day (for 24h) and then you take when you want throughout the day. BUT for a maximum duration of 1/2h. If your journey lasts 1 hour, you will have to put your bike to a terminal halfway to recover a new one.
Good deal: download the application to know the nearest terminals, the number of bikes available per terminal or if the terminal to the place to make yours. If you arrive at the end of the 1 / 2h, but the terminal is full, you can recredit 15mins which lets you time to find 1 place at another terminal.
We hope that we gave you some good advices, and Enjoy London!
You want to visit London with some local music? Discover our playlist 100% British on our Youtube channel!