London has long been a regular stopover city of mine. Seeing me come through at least 6 times every year. Sometimes I stay a few hours. Sometimes it’s a couple of weeks. No matter how long or short the visit, London always keeps me plenty entertained. My most recent trip was a short one. I arrived at 6 am and had to leave around 10 pm. So I decided to show you what you could do in London for a day. Although it won’t be cheap, I can assure you that you won’t leave without a memory or two.
Imperialism in Display at The British Museum
Maybe it should be called the “Look at all the cool stuff we stole from other people” building. Geopolitics aside, The British Museum is one of the world’s most beautiful history museums. The British Museum has grown to over 13 million objects since it’s 1753 inception. Amongst those is what’s consider the key to modern language. The Rosetta Stone.
Arrive at 930am. The collection rooms open at ten which will give you time to observe the few pieces not protected by velvet ropes. Given that the British Museum is Londons top tourist destination arriving early is a good idea.
Escape to the Tower of London and Chain Bridge
Often mistaken for the London Bridge from a children’s song, Tower Bridge is one of London’s most recognizable structures. Before taking a stroll across, be sure to stop in the Tower of London. This beautifully maintained castle has been a Royal home, prison, treasury, and now a tourist destination.
Maritime History Lesson Aboard the HMS Belfast Ship
A short walk from Chain Bridge brings you over to the HMS Belfast. Moored on the River Thames in the Pool of London, the HMS Belfast played key roles in the Battle of North Cape, Invasion of Normandy, and the Korean War. It was decommissioned in 1963 and opened as a museum in 1971.
Try the Worlds Best Curries on Brick Lane
Although gentrification has changed this once bustling haven for middle eastern immigrants, it’s still an excellent place to sample some of the world’s best curries. The moment you turn onto Brick Lane you’ll be approached by restaurant staff inviting you to try their restaurants. Many offering discounts. I recommend you walk right past them all and head to Cinnamon or Sheba. I also recommend the Onion bhaji at Standard Balti House
Visit Banksy In East London
It may have been immortalized in the New York City hip-hop scene, but the Brits have made their mark in the Graffiti world. And East London, or the East End, is a perfect place to get a look at some of London’s best pieces. Most notably, several pieces by legendary artists Banksy, London Riley, Eine, ROA, and Phlegm. The list goes on and on. Be sure to grab a guide if you can because some pieces are so subtle, you’ll never find them all on your own.
Haggle With Locals at Old Spitalfields Market
Having had a market on this site for over 350 years, the modern Old Spitalfields Market owes a lot to its glory days of the past. Although not as good as it once was, you won’t be hard up for options. One cool thing the market regularly does is incorporate theme days into its regular market. For example, the first and third Friday of each month adds a record market. Recently they made Saturdays, Vintage Saturdays. I find vendors here a bit on the pricey side, but they offer some great Artisan items you just can’t get anywhere else in the world. Plus, they have a decent food market.
Gatch A Glimpse of the Royals at Buckingham Palace
A visit here goes without saying. But the real attraction is the changing of the guard. Getting a prime viewing spot is key so remember the times. From April to July, and starts at 11:30 am. Every other time of the year it’s held on alternate days. Check the Royal Collection Trust site for details on your visit.
Listen to Time Pass at Big Ben
From Buckingham Palace, walk through the beautiful St.James Park. Walk down the street called Birdcage Walk. This will lead you straight to Big Ben, coming up behind the Winston Churchill Statue. While exploring the area around Big Ben, be sure to check out Westminster Abbey, House of Commons, and Imperial War Museums. You won’t have time for all so pick what suits your tastes.
Catch a Stunning Sunset at The Shard Sunset or London Eye
Another tough choice. The London Eye has become a symbol of modern London. A Ferris Wheel opened to the public in 2008; the London Eye offers beautiful views of London from the River Thames. It costs 22 pounds for a saver ticket and 28 pounds for a fast track ticket. As western Europe’s tallest building, The Shard offers some of London’s best views and is the best place to catch a great sunset. I recommend grabbing a drink at Gong. If you choose to head all the way to the top viewing station, you’ll pay 26 Pound.
Explore Camden Town
Camden has to be my favorite area of London. A mix of the old and new, you’re immediately bombarded with eclectic art, artisan vendors, and a youthful vibe that’s pulled straight from the 1970’s Punk subculture. At its core, Camden Town is a merchant district. With some of Londons more unique shops taking up residence. You can spend days exploring this “town”. I recommend starting at Camden Lock, especially the West Yard at Camden Lock Market where you’ll find the Global Kitchen. A diverse collection of inexpensive street food vendors from around the world. I recommend Olivers Fish & Chips, Azafran for delicious Paella, and the Mac Factory for unique blends of the American classic.
Grab A Pint at Londons World Famous Pubs
London has no shortage of great taverns for you to visit after a long day. Honestly, pick one. You really can’t go wrong. But when you do, make sure it has a cool name like The Dusty Trombone or The Hung Drawn And Quartered. A favorite of tourist is Dirty Dicks.
So what did I miss? Do you agree with my picks?