10 reasons to visit… London
I’m really excited about this one, London is my absolute favourite city and not only because it has been my lovely home for more than a year but because it’s truly one of the best places in the world.
Here are 10 reasons you should choose London as your next destination for a city break or a longer vacation.
1. The people and the vibe
I’ve put these two reasons together because I think they are related to one another. The first thing that made me have the warmest feelings for this great city is the kindness and friendliness of the people. When I first came here I thought it is very endearing that people here say ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’, ‘I apologise’ as often as they can, and that matters more than you’d think when you are in a city with 8 million other people.
I promised I’d be specific so let’s get down to actual locations of things to see in London. Now, I won’t bore you with Big Ben and the London Eye… If you’ve never been here before, I suggest reserving a day just for the Central London attractions so you can tick them off your list, ’cause, you know, #BigBenSelfie.
When you get there you’ll be in a different world. Richmond Park, the largest of the capital’s eight Royal Parks and the biggest enclosed space in London, is home to the beautiful Isabella Plantation, Pembroke Lodge and herds of Red and Fallow deer.
The city centre is very beautiful as well – take a walk near the river, the bridge and on the high street. If you are lucky to be there on a sunny day, have a look at the local farmers market, the lovely boat restaurants and terraces along the river.
3. Holland Park & Kyoto Garden
Holland Park is a district and a public park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in central London. It has a reputation as an affluent and fashionable area, known for attractive large Victorian townhouses, and high-class shopping and restaurants. The park itself is very beautiful and quiet, with squirrels and peacocks walking around. Inside the park you can find the Kyoto Garden, which is a Japanese garden and can be described as an oasis of tranquility, where you can relax and watch the waterfalls and the rather large orange fish swimming in the pond.
4. Kensington Palace and Hyde Park
These two locations are close together so I reckon this would be the perfect place for spending a lovely relaxed day starting with brunch in one of Notting Hill Gate’s posh cafés and continuing with a walk to Kensington Palace and its amazingly beautiful gardens (no really, the Brits have a special talent when it comes to ridiculously good looking gardens). Passing this, you will find yourself in the biggest park in central London, Hyde Park.
5. Notting Hill Gate and Portobello market
Head to the famous Portobello Road Market for everything from antiques and vintage accessories to street food and fresh veg stalls. If you like walking around aimlessly in an unfamiliar area, I definitely recommend a walk on the streets of Notting Hill, to discover nice boutiques, cafés, restaurants and colourful houses. If you are there on the Sunday and Monday of the last weekend in August you can even take part in the famous carnival that takes place there.
6. Camden Town and Regent’s Park
Camden is renowned for its markets that date from even the 1970s, some of them. It used to be just a small food market serving the local community, but by 2013 all the foodstuff and produce stalls had gone, leaving only touristy stalls. In the vicinity there is the lovely Primrose Hill (also nice cafés in the area), where you can get a beautiful view of the city while sitting on the grass. Going south from there, you will reach Regent’s Park.
You can’t come to London and not check out a West End show. From the classic shows like Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera, to new hits like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, there’s something for everyone. It’s not cheap, but it’s the kind of thing you have to experience at least once in your life. Or if Shakespeare’s more your thing, and you’re in London between April and September, visit the Globe for an open-air performance (only £5 for a standing spot in the yard), and hope it doesn’t rain…
Notable for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time. It is located in South East London and is the home of the National Maritime Museum and University of Greenwich, which has very nice architecture and gardens that go till the Thames bank, and the chance of seeing a great sunset over the river are pretty high. If you feel active, take a walk into the Greenwich Park and go up the hill to get to the Royal Observatory where, besides the renowned Prime Meridian, you get to see a beautiful view over the city skyline.
9. Covent Garden Market
This is a great place especially around winter holidays. It is a covered market, very nicely decorated, with shops, cafés and restaurants. Almost always you’ll see street performers doing their act, some of which have proved to be quite impressive. During winter time you can get mulled wine and other hot drinks and food; during summer you can chill with a glass of wine or pint of beer at one of the outdoor terraces.
10. Thames South Bank
On a day with pleasant weather, take a walk on the river’s south bank, starting from the London Eye (Waterloo) and continuing along the river. There is a beautiful view of the buildings in The City, ships on the river, cafés and terraces. You will pass the Millennium Bridge that leads to St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern museum, London Bridge (you can stop for a snack or a meal at the Borough Market behind Southwark Cathedral), London Bridge City Pier (great spot for photos with the city in the background), London City Hall and finally get to the wonderful Tower Bridge which has recently opened an exhibition for its glass floor in the upper side of the bridge (the bit between the towers). This is a great experience, as you can see from the photo below.
Before you come to London, don’t forget to install uTalk so you can properly order fish and chips and a pint of beer, or nonchalantly refer to the underground as ‘the tube’.