Original article written for News 24 Travel.
London is one of those gateway cities that offers travellers the full house experience. But if you’re up for experiencing all things British, it’s crucial to your mental health to understand that there is way too much to see everything in a quick few days.
The best bet is to go for your favourite highlights of the 2-day itinerary and make a plan to come back again and again.
– Borough Market
Borough Market is a jumble of well organised artisans of food. Cheeses are designed to make you swoon from Neil’s Yard Dairy. Monmouth Coffee is roasted daily to a bold perfection. And, home-made goods around every corner are made, not just with love but, with hands of trained bakers and superior makers of deliciousness.
– The Bridges
Walk off a big breakfast of tastings and head toward the London Bridge, which never fell down and is actually very average. The more famous and well referenced Tower Bridge is a few blocks down and way more exciting to cross.
– Tower of London:
Meet a Beafeater and learn about the dark times of London. If you have some extra time or would prefer a rich historical experience instead of something else, The Tower of London will not disappoint.
– Walk the Thames
Stroll along the Thames river to the Millennium Bridge from the Tower of London.
– Tate Modern & The Globe
Cross the Millennium Bridge and spend an hour or two in the Tate Modern. Then, skip on over to The Globe Theatre, theatrical home to England’s most famous playwright; William Shakespeare. Shows are still held at the Globe daily and ticket prices can be fairly reasonable for an authentic Elizabethan production.
– Detour to the St Paul’s Cathedral if you have time. Unlike many other sites in London, St. Paul’s is not free.
– Oxford Street, , Leicester Square, West End, Piccadilly Circus
Then cruise around town towards Piccadilly Circus towards the West End, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and finally Piccadilly Circus. Mostly sites to see, these squares run into each other and are close enough to walk back and forth between, with galleries and museums along the way.
Spend worthwhile funds on a professional theatre production on the West End.
Luxury Accommodation: One Aldywich
The One Aldywich is one of six hotels in the world to be awarded as “Luxury Eco Certified”. This is what influences the One Aldywich to keep a down to earth profile but retain a modern and luxurious appeal. Everything at this place is detailed; it’s a splurge but will be well worth the unique experience.
If you don’t manage to stay here, be sure to catch one of their movies old school style with comfy seating and popcorn included. And, check out Axis, a modern cuisine restaurant on the premises.
– Royalty and Government
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben cannot be missed in London, be sure to see them. For politics fiends, Parliament allows people to sit in on sessions, but lines can be long in tourist season.
Westminster Abbey is worth the visit, but you need at least an hour to explore and during peak times it will be at least an hour wait to get in. Go before breakfast.
Buckingham Palace is just a walk away from all of the above, stand in front of it and think of how many important people have been through those gates, or you know, just think about all the movies it’s been in.
If you have spare time, toss in a stroll at the royal Hyde Park, just a walk away from Buckingham Palace.
– Duck and Waffle
Daniel Doherty, head chef at Duck and Waffle, brings you his signature dish; a piece of crispy duck partnered with a soft, fluffy waffle, accompanied by a sticky syrup and a gorgeously cooked duck egg placed gently atop, like a bow of savoury. The menu has other dishes as well, for those who might be less hungry.
The location of Duck and Waffle is something to gawk at; it’s on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, and boasts 360° views.
– Brick Lane, East End London, Liverpool Street
Cruise down this hipster haven with a Brick Lane Street Coffee in your hand. Keep the other hand free for sifting through vintage treasure shops.
Then wander around Liverpool Street and pay tribute to a South African sibling Brew Dog with a beer.
If you are hungry and/or want some of the best Indian food in London, this is it.
– Covent Garden
Street performers are found behind every corner in Covent Garden, so you could spend as little or as much time as you want here. There are food stalls and markets that pop-up around different times of year and a constant flow of uniquely British shops opening up in an effort to keep the area without too many chain stores.
Then meander down to Beak Street and eat dinner at Polpo, which features Venetian tapas and a vibey atmosphere.
– Bring an umbrella. Even though the sun is never supposed to set on the British Empire, it still does. London can be gloomy and rain during its best times of the year.
– Save up. London is expensive. Like really really expensive for South Africans (and pretty much everyone else too).
Hosted by British Airways. BA flies to New York from London Heathrow’s Terminal 5, 10 times a day. South African customers arriving on any of the airline’s double-daily Cape Town or Johannesburg services can transfer directly to these flights through the flight connections centre in Terminal 5.