London’s heart beats in its shopping districts, historical and natural attractions and entertainment hubs. The capital city of the United Kingdom, London, is far more rooted in its culture than the recognition it gets. Being referred to as the trailblazer in tea consumption, there is definitely much more to London than royalty and the weather. Connected by all kinds of means of transport, the city makes sure that each individual is connected via an extensive network of rails, buses and taxis. The emphasis on a healthy lifestyle has led them to introduce cycle commutations in the city.
Known for its Michelin starred restaurants, chic boutiques that showcase the creativity of talented designers and the bulk of natural treasures, London is a complete package and leaves no room for disappointment. While the days are power-packed and Londoners prefer being on time, the nightlife is taken seriously too. So, expats have a bustling nightlife to look forward to!
So, this article covers the best places to visit, eat and shop in London, while leaving room for exploration for the newly arrived.
Things to do
1. London Eye
There might be too many things to do in London, but London Eye holds a special place amongst all of its attractions. Formerly known as the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye is a Ferris Wheel offering 360° views of the entire city. The strategic placement of the wheel on the south bank of the River Thames makes the experience even more magical at night. Several tours combine London Eye rides and one can choose amongst them based on the kind of company one would be having. For instance, going for London Eye and River Cruise would be great when travelling with a romantic interest, while others combining Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE London Aquarium are best for families.
2. National Theatre
Who wouldn’t like catching a glimpse of drama at the National Theatre in London? The National Theatre in London is the UK’s most renowned performing arts locale. During the pandemic, the National Theatre went into digital mode and offered several of its masterpieces to be streamed for free. However, attending a live performance has a charm that no other mode can replace. Hence, the National Theatre is a top-rated attraction in London for a definite reason and is making a grand comeback with new productions like “Paradise” or the musical “Hex”.
London’s own 95-storey sky-scraper has to be featured in the list of best things to do in London. While views from the London Eye are going to remain iconic forever, however, dizzying views of the city’s layout offered by the Shard are no lesser. It is a place for all age groups and one’s not scared of heights, as the floor-to-ceiling windows do make the encounter a little surreal and shaky for the onlookers. The Shard also houses some good restaurants and bars, making a dining experience atop the tower a must-have.
4. Little Venice
Lined by colourful boats, Little Venice is a quaint side of London with scenic waterways that make it an ideal place for romantic dates. Taking a cruise in Little Venice is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in London, as there is nothing more pleasing than the lush greenery and stunning vistas following during the ride. Apart from this, travellers can head to Rembrandt Gardens, sample some seafood at The Summerhouse, or simply take off for Primrose Hill or London Zoo. Travellers with families must not forget to watch the puppet shows, performing traditional folktales.
5. Harry Potter Studio Tour
Harry Potter fans cannot resist the urge to visit the Warner Bros Studios in Watford. And rightly so, the studios in Watford are the best amongst all other Harry Potter themed locations in London. Filled with several Harry Potter hotspots, the Warner Bros Studios in Watford is actually the one that has featured in several movie scenes. With the bulk of photography opportunities, fanatics must get themselves clicked with their broom or in the Forbidden Forest and fulfil their bucket list wish.
6. Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is an iconic landmark and one of the most visited attractions in London. However, it is not to be confused with London bridge. Situated across the Thames River, the Tower Bridge is a magical sight to witness when it opens up. When heavy vessels pass under it, the bridge lifts up into two. In 2014, glass floors were added to the bridge, thereby inviting adventure freaks and tourists with slight more courage to step on the bridge.
Where to eat and drink
London’s food scene isn’t dominated by one cuisine, hence, allowing travellers to sample a range of flavours, aromas, eating traditions and dishes. Below are some of the must-try restaurants to fully capture the essence of food in London.
For a dose of good Sri Lankan, Hoppers need to be on the bucket list of every traveller in London. Sri Lankan specialities are available in several parts of the city, however, what makes Hoppers special is the exclusive menu and Soho touch to the interiors. What guests must not miss here are String hoppers, egg hoppers, coconut sambal, and watalapam in the end.
Address: 49 Frith St, London W1D 4SG, United Kingdom
White, red or mixed isn’t the only variety of pasta that Padella has to offer. While the pasta dishes served here are small, costs generally range between £5-11. Chef likes to tweak conventional pasta recipes and play around with the less popular ones like tagliarini. Travellers can sample their menu with specialities they find appealing, however, a visit to Padella is incomplete without their pasta.
Address: 1 Phipp St, London EC2A 4PS, United Kingdom
3. Smoking Goat Shoreditch
A former Thai barbecue joint, Smoking Goat Shoreditch has transformed into a full-blown restaurant with vibes and music. With too many flavours filling up space in the meals, the Thai restaurant has also made space for excellent drinks and beers. Their signature meals that must be on every traveller’s table include fish-sauce chicken wings, deep-fried shell-on prawns, and noodles.
Smoking Goat Shoreditch
Address: 64 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JJ, United Kingdom
4. Social Eating House
Founded by Jason Atherton, the mentee of Gordon Ramsay, Social Eating House has come a long way since its launch in 2013. Even though the food steals the show, one cannot fail to point out the classy interiors and mirrored ceiling of the restaurant. For a taste of the succulent culinary specialities of Social Eating House, one must try Umami, smoked duck ham, and desserts presented with a twist. At Social Eating House one can truly make sense, why desserts are saved for the last.
At Bright, guests are in for a surprise and that too every day! The restaurant’s classic staples include Katsu chicken, legumes and stews. However, fast foods like deep-dish pastas and appetizing meals with fresh vegetables and meat are served in various forms.
The Thai Barbecue restaurant – Kiln, in London, is a unique place to dine at. Rural Thailand inspired delicacies on the plate, make sure to deliver flavours that eaters won’t find anywhere else. Some of the must-try dishes here include Pork Loin – a pork-based speciality prepared in a savoury and sharp sauce with lemon and chilly, mackerel curry – that is a flavoursome fish curry with the speciality being the fresh fish used and the short-rib curry with the aroma of Burmese spices and pieces of tender beef.
Of course, the list is not complete, however, exploring food outlets based on the restaurant themes can give better insight into the overall food business of the city.
Address: 58 Brewer St, London W1F 9TL, United Kingdom
Where to shop
Carnaby gives an haute-couture vibe to London’s fashion scene. With more than 100 brands and several designers having their boutiques set up in Carnaby, the place is a hotspot for fashion enthusiasts. And after finding a bunch of cute outfits, shoppers can dive straight into a shoe hunt at Irregular Choice for their perfect pair. To feed a growling stomach, travellers can opt for any quaint cafe amongst the variety of cafes and restaurants present there.
2. Regent Street
Let’s be honest, London is expensive and to find prices that fit everyone’s pockets is difficult. While shopper’s won’t get extremely cheap prices for goods in London, however, Regent Street is one such place where a good range of clothing is put on sale at mid-prices. At Anthropologie on Regent Street, shoppers can find both boho fashion and cute home decors at moderate prices. Kids can also find good stuff to buy from Hamleys located on the street.
3. Oxford Street
Oxford Street is the most popular shopping street in London and harbours more than 300 shops and designer stores. Apart from fashion, Oxford Street also has Urban Outfitters and The Disney Store, where shoppers can get everything ranging from home decor to toys. Take a look around LUSH, the biggest Vegan store in London and get introduced to sustainable products too, while exploring the busiest street in the city.
Other shopping streets like St. James, Bond Street and Mayfair, Westfield, Covent Garden and Seven Dials, cater to both niche shoppers and masses in terms of both variety, goods and prices. Knightsbridge and Belgravia are amongst the favourites of Chocolate Lovers and Luxury brand lovers as outlets of Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and Rococo are found here.
Overall, London is a package of a spectacular heritage, scintillating skyline, tempting shopping districts and an alluring food scene. Whether kids, adults or oldies, each age group will find themselves well entertained with a variety of options.