London has everything for everyone Fossil hunting in the Natural History Museum, reaching for the clouds on the London Eye, shop ‘til you drop on Oxford Street, or see if royalty are at home at Buckingham Palace … the list is quite literally endless, although I wouldn’t recommend calling in for a cuppa with Her Majesty, you’re not likely to get very far.
The range of things to do can be quite daunting, and if you’re in the capital for just a weekend, a short break, or even for just the day, you’ll to make the most of your time. So read on for a quick list of our best five ways to spend a leisurely afternoon in good old London town.
Grab a bargain on Portobello Road
Haggle, haggle! Hip and fashionable Portobello Road is a hive of colourful and vibrant activity, with stalls selling everything from glistening antiques, to rare fashion finds, and even the odd banana and orange on the fruit stalls!
Easy to get to on the Tube from Ladbroke Grove or Notting Hill Gate, the markets stretch into each other, and you might be best dedicating a whole afternoon here, so you can really dig and see what bargains you can find.
The Original London Sightseeing Tour
Now before you roll your eyes and put it down as clichéd and touristy, if you’re wanting to see the best of London in a short space of time, so what better way than by bus? Add to that, you won’t ruin your shoes either, as London’s major landmarks aren’t that close together!
This hop on-hop off bus offers audio commentary in a variety of languages, so you not only get to see the sights, but learn about them too. Choose your route, depending what you want to see, and your ticket, costing around £32 for an adult, includes other extras, such as a Thames cruise and walking tours if you feel like using your feet.
So, cliché it may be, but if you want to see the best of London and you don’t have days on end to do it, this is the perfect option. Official Website
Gaze down from Parliament Hill
Many Brit-flicks of recent years have shown the famous green grass of Parliament Hill, with the stunning landscape of the city sprawled out below. If you want a perfect photograph moment – this is it. Choose a sunny day and you can see for miles. This is perfect for a relaxing afternoon; take a picnic and enjoy the view. Sometimes London is less than relaxing, but this is one place you really can kick back and enjoy. If you have kids with you, even better, as there’s a very popular playground, as well as the water pool for use on the warmer London days.
Visit the gorillas at London Zoo
London is the world’s oldest and best known Zoo. The Gorilla Kingdom takes pride of place and is a recreation of an African Rainforest that let’s visitors get breathtakingly close to the zoo’s colony of gorillas.
There’s over 760 colourful, loud and diverse species of animals, and over 16000 individual animals, and visitors can wander through the reptile house, aquarium and insect house. There are talks by the keepers regularly throughout the day and you can learn all about the species you’re visiting. Official Website
Visit the East End
The East End is the area to the east of the original City of London now known as the square mile, and took it’s name as the city expanded in medieval times. The area has always been the first port of call for immigrants, from Huguenot refugees in the 17th century to Jews and Bangladeshis and well, everyone else. Subsequently it’s an area that’s always been associated with poverty.
However, recent years have seen a huge resurgence, and the East End now has a vibrant arts scene, and is the coolest and most unpretentious area of the capital. Try Spitalfields Market for Antiques, clothing, handicrafts, food and more; the market is one of the most popular in London. There’s also the Christopher Wren designed Christchurch Spitalfields at the end of Brushfield Street.
Check out the beginning of time in Greenwich and relax in the park looking down over the Royal Naval college and the Cutty Sark. If you are hungry head to Brick Lane for a great curry. Brick Lane is a hugely multi-cultural road (even for London!) and is filled with curry houses, bars and clubs. Take in the who’s-who of British and international cutting-edge art at the White Cube gallery on Hoxton Square, and relax afterwards with a drink at the bars on Old Street.
Photo 1: Garry Knight
Photo 2: Adrian Scottow
Photo 3: Heather Cowper