I get this question a lot, particularly from flight attendants. London is one of those great cities where you could do something new every day and never run out of ideas – but that’s part of the problem: where to start?
I’m going to share some of my favorite ways to spend a day out in London (new comer or not), no planning required! Today, my hands down first suggestion:
#1 – Walk the South Bank
In one lovely afternoon you can hit a high percentage of London’s most famous landmarks and find the best of what makes city life great. You can make this walk last all day long, or do it in a little as 2 hours. Totally up to you. Just walk until you’re bored (you won’t be) or run out of time.
Start at the Palace of Westminster (District Line/green). Walk across the bridge, then take the waterfront walkway, and just keep on going. You’ll pass the Aquarium, the London Eye, Southbank Center*, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Coin Street (an adorable, renovated niche of shops and restaurants)…then you’ll reach a charming Dickensian area, all narrow and cobblestoned, a ruined Abbey, the Golden Hinde (a 16th century galleon ship museum), the HMS Belfast (WWII ship museum), Southwark Cathedral (etc, etc) …until you reach an area of glassy new modern buildings (including the quirky London City Hall), running right into the awesome Tower Bridge. You’ll see the Tower of London directly across.
That’s the main walk. If you’re not pooped yet, you can continue to explore straight on towards the Design Museum or veer to the fantastic Borough Market (just ask someone). We usually choose to walk across the bridge: to the left you’ll be right at the feet of the Tower of London, to your right you’ll find the hidden nook that is St. Catherine’s Wharf.
*What’s Southbank Center? Basically it’s a giant arts center. If you have no idea what you want to do on a day in London, SBC is a great bet. Just go. Something will be going on. Concerts, dance performances, markets, special exhibitions, museum quality gift shops, a beachfront play area, an outdoor book market, the British Film Institute is there. Pop-up restaurants and bars, a Wahaca experimental kitchen (that’s an amazing Mexican restaurant, this one made out of stacked cargo containers), and one of our favorite (but pricy) cocktail bars in the city – Skylon – featuring floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the riverbank. Have an overpriced cocktail and enjoy the view!
*See more of my photos of London here.*
More London suggestions are coming, but this post got a little long. Stay tuned for Part 2…