Three days in London – a view from the bridge - day 1

Without a doubt, London is one of the most exciting and diverse cities in the world. Your trip around the UK capital should be as much about catching a glimpse of those major attractions you’ve heard so much about, as well as finding out about how Londoners enjoy their city. Spanning 20 miles from north to south, two-millennia-old and home to more than eight million people who speak more than 300 languages, London is full of history and internationalism all at once. Your three days in London will be the starting point for your desire to come back again, and again, and again…

08.30 – London Bridge

London Bridge by Dave StravenStart the day off at London Bridge, one of the most iconic spots in London. It was previously famous for its medieval bridge crossing the River Thames, but is now more well-known for the recently constructed Shard (the tallest building in London) and the foodie haven of Borough Market. Begin by grabbing a coffee and a pastry from Monmouth Coffee (you may notice it’s a Londoner’s favourite as they queue out the door for their morning fix). Then take a wander around Borough Market, combining the best of London’s market history with superior food producers from across the UK.

Next, take in the view from The Shard, the tallest viewing platform in London at 244 metres (book tickets in advance if you want to ensure a slot at a certain time, as well as for cheaper rates). Once you’re back down on solid ground, go up a few floors in the Exchange Building and have brunch at The Rooftop Café. It’s a hidden London favourite (think unmarked buildings and secret passageways) and you’ll be glad to have found a true Londoner spot away from the crowds.

11.00 – Buckingham Palace and Westminster

Westminster Abbey by VT_ProfessorWhile walking around London is the best way to really get to know the city, using the London Underground (or ‘tube’ as Londoners call it) will help you save time on your 3-day London trip. It’s a slice of history in itself as the world’s oldest underground railway system. Take the tube to St James’s Park station and make your way to the Queen’s official residence - Buckingham Palace - before 11.30am, when the changing of the guards ceremony takes place every other day (make sure to check the schedule in advance).

Continue on to Westminster to take in the stunning architecture of the Palace of Westminster, the Parliament buildings and Big Ben. Tours inside are sometimes available. Westminster Abbey next door is also filled with religious history and Gothic architecture, and visitors can look inside every day except Sundays. Also nearby is Downing Street. Number 10 is the home of the UK Prime Minster – have a peek as you walk by and you might even spot the man himself (or other well-known figureheads).

13.00 – Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly-Circus-by-AndyRobertsPhotosJump on the tube or bus towards Covent Garden, where you’ll find the iconic square filled with small boutiques and street performers wowing the crowds with a diversity of unexpected, and sometimes unconventional, skills. For a bit of respite from the crowds, make your way into St Martin’s Courtyard for a light lunch or reviving refreshment. SUDA Thai, Bill’s or Jamie’s Italian (by Brit celebrity chef Jamie Oliver) all hit the nail on the head perfectly.

Once you’ve been fed and watered, wander over to Leicester Square, a mere 5-minute stroll away. Here you’ll find an opportunity to buy cut-price tickets for theatre performances for the same evening. The West End is an iconic part of London, with a range of theatres showing the world’s best productions, so this is a must-do for your London stay. You can buy tickets from one of the ticket booths such as the official TKTS stand or the Leicester Square Box Office. (Note you’re likely to get a better deal by booking a show in advance of your trip from a website such as Lastminute.com; where there are some theatre and meal deals too).

A further stroll away is Piccadilly Circus (walk via Chinatown to take in one of London’s many pockets of multiculturalism) and the much photographed statue of Greek God Anteros, set against the neon backdrop of flashing corporate signage.

15.00 – Shopping in Regent Street and Oxford Street

Piccadilly leads you straight on to Regent Street and various other iconic London shopping areas. Even if you’re only window shopping, there’s plenty of fun to be had along these streets. Wend your way through the fairy tale world of Hamleys for toys and games that capture the imagination of those of all ages. The Apple store is every Mac-lover’s dream and the quirky Foyles Book Store (on Charing Cross Road) is a haven for book lovers, with frequent author book signing events, a jazz café and a piranha tank in the children’s section.

17.00 – Dinner and West End theatre

Les Miserables in London by Foto CaptorYou’ll need to have an early dinner to get to the theatre in plenty of time. While there’s no shortage of restaurant options in theatre-land, with many that do pre-theatre menus for good prices, this is not the area in London to go to if you’re a real foodie. There are a few exceptions, including the best steak and seafood in London at Hawksmoor Air Street. If you fancy a pre-theatre show, try Circus. Acts such as fire-eaters and trapeze artists surround you as you enjoy your meal. Next stop: head to the theatre and enjoy the show. If you want a nightcap afterwards, head to the maze-like Porterhouse, or the cavernous Gordon’s Wine Bar – London’s oldest win


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