London is a must-visit city for any traveler if they find themselves in Europe. Not only is it the capital of England and one of the biggest cities in Europe, London is considered a mega-city on a global scale. It’s in the same conversation as cities such as Tokyo, Moscow, and New York City. It’s a big and expansive city, home to over 13 million people, with people from all over the world and all different walks of life. While there are a plethora of things to see, we’ve compiled a list of the 6 places you have to experience in London:
Unless you’ve lived under a rock, you’ve probably heard of London’s trendiest East End neighborhood, Shoreditch. There’s so much to see in the area, it’s almost hard to fit it all in. You can start with the amazing street art that can be found on the streets of Shoreditch. Start your self-guided tour on Brick Lane and make your way to Shoreditch Triangle where some of the best work lies. You could always take a guided tour, but save some “quid ” (British slang word for money) for what’s to come. Once you’ve walked around and gotten hungry, visit one of Shoreditch’s many food markets. I’d recommend going to Dinerama. They have awesome food and drink options all under one roof (something that comes in handy in London with all the rain). If you happen to be in Shoreditch when it’s sunny, head to one of the many rooftop bars such as The Queen Of Hoxton for after dinner drinks. You won’t be disappointed. Drinks with a view. Nothing better.
Watch this video below for a virtual tour of Shoreditch.
2. The Shard
The Shard, built in 2012 on the shores of the River Thames, is now the tallest building in the city (310 meters) and one of London’s most recognizable. The building was meant to look like a shard of glass and hence where the name originated from. It now hosts offices, bars, restaurants, and a hotel. The Shard also has the best view of London. At the top of the building, on the 69th-72nd floor, is The View From The Shard where it’s possible to see all of London and some of the surrounding towns. If you get hungry from all that sightseeing, grab some food at Hutong, one of five restaurants located in The Shard. It’s an outpost of a famous restaurant in Hong Kong. It’s atmosphere and being 33 floors in the air definitely make the food taste better. You can’t go wrong with a whole Peking Duck. It’s to die for!
3. Big Ben
I know every traveler likes to see things off the beaten path, but sometimes tourist destinations live up to their hype. Not going to visit Big Ben in London is like going to Bangkok and not eating Thai food. It’s a mandatory stop. Located at the north end of Westminster Palace, the clock tower is a globally recognized British icon. Big Ben is actually the bell inside the tower, not the public facing clock, and is notoriously tough to visit. You need to have connections if you hope to be able to walk up the clock tower and see Big Ben. The tours are usually reserved for British citizens if they message a parliament official, and the waiting list is up to 6 months long! Who knows? Anything can happen if you send a message!
4. Richmond Park
Located just outside London city limits lies former royal hunting grounds. Today, Richmond Park is a nature reserve that is home to thousands of deer and other animals. Richmond Park is a great place to go and hang out on a beautiful, summer day to escape the frenetic pace of London city center. You can fish, play sports, have a picnic, run, bike, and walk among many other things. Be sure to keep an eye out for the endangered Stag Beetle.
5. Baker Street
Calling all Sherlock Holmes fans! If you love all things Sherlock Holmes, Baker Street is for you. Located in the Marylebone District, Baker Street was once home to Holmes’ and where he solved many of his mysteries. You can even visit the Sherlock Holmes’ museum to learn more about where and how he lived. Beyond a Homes’ pilgrimage, there is still plenty to do on Baker Street. Comb through Daunt Book Shop for a new travel read. Be sure to check out the farmer market that takes place every Sunday from 10 AM to 2 PM. Walk around the different stalls and sample local food and produce. Finally, walk through the Wallace Collection, home to over 5,000 art objects and sculptures. Besides the incredible collection, the museum is free and open to the public 7 days a week. This is always a great option for any budget minded traveler. That way you can save your quid for an extra pint at the pub after.
6. Piccadilly Circus / Carnaby Street
After Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus is the second most famous place in London. It has been London’s commercial hub since the early 17th Century. Today, much like New York’s Time Square, Piccadilly Circus is known for its brightly colored digital billboard ads. However, centrally located in London’s West End, Piccadilly Circus has become more than just bright lights and the beating heart of the cities economy. It’s become the main area for all things food and drink and is a must-see place you have to experience in London.
Nearby Carnaby Street is where all the action is happening. As you enter the area, you’ll be greeted by the famous arch sign that lets you know exactly where you are. You can’t go wrong with any restaurant in the area, but be sure to check out Dirty Bones. Found on the second floor overlooking a beautiful courtyard, Dirty Bones is known for its incredible steak and eggs. Don’t be afraid to try their delicious macaroni either called Mac Daddy. End the night with a drink at Cahoots, a bar in a former air-raid shelter where you order your drinks from a newspaper menu. Piccadilly Circus and Carnaby Street combine to make a great team that will surely leave you planning your next visit to the area.
Suggested next reading: 9 Weird & Wonderful Places To Dine Out In London
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