Every person has their own unique way of storytelling - photography is mine. Its comes to me naturally like leaves to trees. I have always been an avid observer of human behaviour and now, my camera is enabling me share what I observe with you.
Since you’re ‘down with the kids’ you don’t need me to tell you that YOLO stands for ‘You Only Live Once’! This millennial-popular saying perfectly sums up the selfie culture of ticking off your bucket list, camera in one hand, tube map in the other! So, here’s five essential attractions every tourist should tick off during a visit to the capital.
YOLO (you only live once)! is part of a three-part London travel guide that is based on three different tourist personalities. The other two parts are ‘The Spender’! and ‘The Foodie’!
3. The YOLO
Abbey Road, St Johns Wood
Made famous by ‘that’ album cover by The Beatles; Abbey Lane remains a homage to the fab four, since 1969.
Get a friend to take a picture of you walking over the zebra crossing as you belt out ‘here comes the sun’! More than just a tourist attraction though, the world’s most famous crossing has been given a grade II listing for its cultural significance.
The best way to get there is by tube to St Johns Wood…. You won’t miss the crossing, there’s always someone there taking a snap!
Primerose Hill, the perfect spot to watch the sunset in London
Portobello Market, Notting Hill
There really is something for everyone at Portobello Road. There’s new goods and second-hand goods, antiques ranging from vintage cameras to bespoke silverware, and all sorts of tiffin that you wonder might have belonged to the Rolling Stones at some point!
Fashion is big and you can pick up a bargain from a new designer, or bag a rare vintage item from a bygone era.
While you’re in the neighbourhood, find your way to 280 Westbourne Park Road to see one of London’s most famous front doors. You will probably recognise it from the film ‘Notting Hill’!
The Millennium Bridge
Within walking distance of Waterloo, Millennium bridge is a modern beacon, introduced in the millennial year.
It caused controversy for being ‘wobbly’ and while it’s perfectly safe you can feel a little shudder when you walk over!
It brings you out at St Paul’s Cathedral – a must-see since it’s a symbolism of London’s stoicism, having survived the blitz.
At the foot of the Bridge is The Tate Gallery, a magnificent building in its own right and home to a spectacular collection of modern art. Did I mention its free…
The British Museum
To round off your tourist ‘tick list’, the British Museum (Great Russell Street) is one of the greatest free cultural day’s out you can have in the capital.
Open daily from 10-5.30pm, the revered museum is home to eight million works from around the globe.
This includes art, artefacts and historic collections. Enjoy classic collections from Ancient Greece and Rome, to ceramics from China and Aztec objects from Mexico. A day out in itself – just be sure to take your selfie outside, since many of the items can’t be photographed.
Selfie in the rain (outside Buckingham Palace)
It’s what you came for! There are some things integral to visiting London – riding the tube, having afternoon tea, a selfie in front of Buckingham Palace… and walking in the rain.
Why not combine the best of these, pour a cup of tea outside Buckingham Palace and wait for it to pour down… you won’t wait long!
If a tourist from warmer pastures, the novelty of rain will not be lost on you. It’s great for a ‘wish you were here’ selfie, and great for outdoor sightseeing as queues suddenly evaporate. Make the most of it!
Among the best places for a rain selfie is Hyde Park, outside Buckingham Palace or standing in front of a red bus as it splashes you as it rushes past! Wish you were as they say!
The ‘The Foodie’ is part of a three-part London travel guide that is based on three different tourist personalities. The other two parts are ‘The Spender’! and YOLO (you only live once)!
London’s bustling food scene is to be celebrated in every corner in the capital. Whether you want to scour farmer’s markets for local produce, or seek out the most divine afternoon tea in town, London has it all!
2. THE FOODIE
Start your day with a hearty brunch at The Wolseley in Mayfair. Working brunches are popular here, and it’s a great spot to see and be seen.
Make your way down to Soho (preferably by cab), to enjoy a pastry from one of the many café’s, bakeries and independents in and around bustling Old Compton Street. It’s also a great place to grab a coffee and watch the world go by. With it being a LGBT popular area, it’s extremely friendly and welcoming too.
A few streets away bordering Leicester Square, is China Town – one of the rare places where tourists and locals dine together enjoying oriental cuisine. They are all pretty similar, so go wherever takes your fancy!
When it comes to five-star celebrity spotting, there’s no end of places to visit. The most iconic being The Ivy (5 West Street) and the newest ‘cool spot’ on the block is The Chiltern Fire House in Marylebone –get your concierge to book ahead, tables are not easy to come by.
Of course, England is known for its afternoon tea’s – a treat to be enjoyed sometime after lunch and any time before dinner. The Ritz (150 Piccadilly) might be the most famous, but the Savoy Hotel is most certainly making a comeback. Sketch in Soho meanwhile attracts a much younger crowd, with the pretty petit-fours.
For a good steak, The Hawksmoor (Air Street) is super hip with a suitable price tag to match. Other favourites include the Hawksmoor (11 Langley Street) and The Gaucho chain of restaurants dotted around the capital.
Looking for something more global, then ‘La Bodega Negra’ (16 Moor Street) offers upscale Mexican street food. When you’re ready to wash it all down, Jewel (4-6 Glasshouse Street) is a fun place for a cocktail or Lucky Voice (Poland street) for karaoke is always lots of fun!
There’s no end of family friendly restaurants too; Pizza Express, Giraffe and Nandos are cheap and cheerful options available throughout the capital.
Food with a view? Head to Skylon in Waterloo, offering sweeping views of the river and capital’s skyline. Not far away the recently opened Sea Containers is one of the best Southbank bars and restaurants for a special occasion.
Eat on the street at one of London’s many welcoming farmer’s markets. The best of these can be found in Borough market. Melted cheese, chorizo rolls and fresh oysters can all be found throughout its cobbled streets and arches. Look out for Brindisa, Mountain’s Boston Sausage and Neal’s Yard Dairy, which offers 70 specialist cheeses from the UK and Ireland. Be sure to wash it down with a local ale at the Market Porter pub nearby after!
On the other side of London, Portobello Market in Notting Hill is home to an eclectic selection of eateries. Fresh fruit and vegetable stalls are plentiful and there’s lots of juices and coffee shops including ‘Jake’s Vegan Shakes’. Not to be missed, around Globorne Road there’s lots of restaurants and street food stands, serving everything from Ghanaian to Ethiopian cuisine.
And finally, no London trip is complete without a visit to a traditional ‘boozer’ and London boasts some of the best pubs and bars in the country.
Covent Garden has an abundance of old pubs. Check out The Lamb & Flag (33 Rose Street) – harking back to the 18th this was once known as the ‘Bucket of Blood’! There’s also The Porterhouse (21 Maiden Lane) – a sprawling indoor, outdoor, every-kind of man pub. For something more private, Freud (198 Shaftesbury Avenue) serves surprisingly good cocktails.
For after hour’s you can’t go wrong with the famous Notting Hill Arts Club – a trendy place to dance the night away!
Please note – you must be over 18 years’ old to drink, and smoking is prohibited indoors. If you’re looking to mingle with locals, then Thursday and Friday’s post-work attract larger crowds, especially outside bars in Soho.
There’s a great quote from Samuel Jackson that goes; “When man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” While it is true that London can be all things to all people, there are three definite areas that appeal to tourists. So, which are you?
Using insight from Londoners, we’ve produced three guides for each type of tourist.
If you’ve come here to shop till you drop, find the latest fashion trend or to hit up Oxford Street, you’re most probably ‘The Spender’!
Perhaps it’s about the trendiest spot to have a drink, the best farmers market in the capital or the place to go for afternoon tea? If this sounds like you, then head to ‘The Foodie’ section.
Or maybe it’s all about ticking London’s top spots, historical sights and cultural must-have’s off your bucket list? If so, head to the YOLO section (you only live once)!
1. THE SPENDER
Let’s start with the big one. Harrods in Knightsbridge is made for tourists…but dust off your credit card because it comes at a price! Premium clothing brands, wedding dresses, even cars for your children can all be found here.
Brits love John Lewis and the flagship store on Oxford Street is the ‘go to’ destination for quality goods – from homeware to clothing and all that’s in between.
A mecca for designer brands, you can’t miss Selfridges on Oxford street, which stocks British designers from Victoria Beckham to Burberry… you can never have too many trench coats!
While in the neighbourhood, be sure to visit Liberty’s – one of London’s iconic stores since 1875. Hidden just behind Regent Street, it has great clothes, jewellery and cosmetics, but most impressive of all – a designer vintage garment section.
Not forgetting, if it’s young fashion you’re after then the huge Topshop on Oxford Street is essential! It’s also within easy reach of infamous Carnaby Street, littered with boutiques, plus there’s lots of eateries for when you need to refuel!
Not far away Piccadilly Arcade boasts a boutique luxury shopping experience. The mini mall first opened in 1910 and takes you back to a bygone era with diamond shops and clothing stores all under one quirky roof.
Just over the road is a British institution – Fortnum and Mason (42 Jermyn Street), supplier to Her Majesty the Queen. Here you can pick up quintessentially British produce in its food hall (also great for afternoon tea), you can get some nice gifts for friends here too.
Not to be missed, Covent Garden shops are popular with locals and visitors with an excellent choice from bookshops to jewellers, vintage clothes to record stores. Some favourites include; Urban Outfitters, Apple, Ted Baker,HMV and Banana Republic. Wander down some of its alleys to find boutique shops – head to ‘St Martin’s Courtyard’, off the ‘Seven Dials’ and ‘Neal Street’ for some of the best.
If you want to pick up something original, then Rokit (42 Shelton Street) offers the best affordable vintage clothes in town. Similarly, rifle through new and pre-owned fashions at Westway at Portobello market in Notting Hill – a great way to spend a Saturday!
For everything under one roof, head to Westfield mall. There’s one near Shepherds Bush/White City, the other is out east in Stratford (best coupled with a journey to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park). Westfield is where high street meets high end, with every designer to product you could need, with shops from Marks & Spencer to Mont Blanc.
London is best to divide and conqueror when it comes to shopping – and don’t forget to get a black cab when you’re ready to drop!
If the thought of panini’s overflowing with cheese, donuts oozing vanilla cream and fresh delicious oysters appeal to you, then add ‘Borough Market’ to your list of places to visit.
The capital’s largest and oldest market is open six days a week, attracting people from all walks of life, with one shared love… food! This is the place for those who appreciate artisan produce, fresh foods and locally sourced groceries at their finest.
1,000 Years of Trading
Borough market has a long history, dating back to 1014, having always centred around London Bridge. Originally its close proximity to the River Thames made it a welcoming port for receiving produce.
Today this farmer’s market sells all manner of goods to tourists, locals and workers. While the market itself may be quintessentially British, it celebrates foods from all corners of the globe, and as such welcomes all nationalities to its famous streets.
You will find stalls and shops dotted around Three Crown Square and Green Market… but the best advice is to follow your nose! Borough market is best discovered by foot, as you fleet from fishmonger to cheesemaker, all within steps of each other.
Borough Market Food
First and foremost, Borough Market offers great fresh produce, including many organic fruit and vegetables. Barter your way around grocery stalls, fishmongers (try Applebee’s) and butchers, where they are happy to recommend specialities of the day, or ‘must-try’ products. Bring lots of change with you, as some stalls will charge extra for credit cards.
Although in no way cheaper than a supermarket, this is a great place to stock up on quality and specialist foods, handy if you’re staying in a self-serviced apartment and you’re looking to cater for yourself. There’s many treats to be discovered here that you wont’ find in mainstream stores.
The Lunch Club
From midday onwards local workers spill onto Borough’s streets to eat al fresco. Spain’s Brindisa range is extremely popular, serving delicious cuts of Iberico ham and manchego cheese. Do as the locals and join the queues (a favourite British pastime!) for a hot chorizo roll, best enjoyed on the steps outside.
If you’re feeling extravagant then treat yourself to an oyster from Richard Haward’s Oysters – the company dates back to 1792 and is a firm favourite with visitors.
Another popular lunchtime bite comes courtesy of Mountains’ Boston Sausage – not the American Boston, but the Lincolnshire kind! While you’re there, treat yourself to a sausage roll or sausage pie, yum!
There’s plenty of choice for vegetarians and vegans too. Look out for ‘The Big V’ serving up mouth-watering burgers and bites – the ‘Facon burger’ comes recommended. Meanwhile, the Gourmet Goat serves a selection of Mediterranean dishes, try the halloumi piaf for something unusual.
You won’t want to miss ‘Bread Ahead’ – home to its very own Bakery School, you can expect pristine pastries and fresh donuts filled with creams, custards and fruits.
Want to bring back a gift for your loved ones? The Cinnamon Tree Bakery produces artisan biscuits with a fun selection to choose from – skeletons, skulls, butterflies and bunnies to name a few.
Melted cheese, dripping cheese, shaved straight from the barrel cheese! It’s fair to say, Borough market pays homage to cheese with a smorgasbord of choice on offer.
Start at ‘Alsop and Walker’ – their ‘Lord London’ is award winning and was even served at the Royal Wedding!
For something local, Neal’s Yard Dairy dates back to 1970 and continues to attract crowds with more than 70 specialist cheeses from the UK and Ireland.
Finally, there’s lots of European cheesemakers too – from Bianca e Mora (Northern Italy) to The Borough Cheese company (France) and one of the big favourite – Mons Cheesemongers from France.
Wash it Down…
There’s lots of pubs and bars in Borough market.
A proper old favourite, the Market Porter serves real ales and ciders with many visitors spilling outside when the weather is nice. It’s especially busy with an after-work crowd on Friday night’s.
Meanwhile the Lord Clyde offers a more modern feel to it, as does the cosy Southwalk Tavern, where you can still see Georgian touches in its wonderful architecture.
The full address is: Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL. The nearest tube station is ‘Borough market’ or London Bridge. It’s also a nice 20 minute scenic walk from London Waterloo
Borough market opening hours
There’s a limited market on Monday’s and Tuesday’s, while the rest of the week offers a full market.
Monday to Thursday the market is open from 10am to 5pm.
Friday’s the market is open from 10am to 6pm.
Saturdays’ the market is open from 8am to 5pm.
The market is closed on Sundays – except throughout December.