Our capital city is jam packed with sights, museums, parks, galleries, shops, restaurants, cafes and theatres and it can be challenging to know how to spend your time, especially if your time is limited. Read on for our guide of how best to spend 24 hours in this iconic city to really experience the very best of London.
A Morning Shopping
After a hearty breakfast (we recommend the Duck & Waffle in the city or 26 Grains in Covent Garden), it’s time to shop. And London is the place to shop, I find it very hard to visit without dedicating at least some time to this pursuit. Choose from the national institution that is Harrods and surrounding Knightsbridge or perhaps High Street Kensington for a slightly classier experience than Oxford Street. For some real trend-setting shops, check out the up and coming area of Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields, the boutiques here are utterly fabulous; even better visit on a Sunday when Spitalfields Market is in full swing.
Shopping can occupy an hour or half a day but if you’re efficient with your time, you might be able to fit in an historic tour. Getting the insider’s view of London is fascinating and a lot of fun with the tour guides at Talk of the Town; take the High Society Tour through Mayfair, see how the elite lived in years gone by and grab some lunch at the secret English Tea Room at the end of the tour.
An Afternoon on the South Bank
A lazy afternoon strolling the South Bank of the River Thames is the perfect London experience. Start at Waterloo and you can tick off the major sights of the London Eye as well as great views of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament across the river. One of my favourite things to do in London is browsing the book stalls under Waterloo Bridge. Open daily, it’s one of London’s best-kept secrets; the only outdoor secondhand and antique book market in southern England jam-packed with classics, hardbacks and paperbacks. Passing by the Southbank Centre is often tricky, throughout the summer there are regular festivals here and the Hayward Gallery is an excellent celebration of contemporary art, try not to linger too long! Next stop is Gabriel’s Wharf, grab a coffee and a cake at one of the French and Italian cafes here and then head down to the Oxo Tower for a little more shopping in the designer boutiques. If your legs allow head onwards to the area known as Bankside and you’ll hit the fabulous Tate Modern, creativity thrives in this area; lose yourself in the quirky streets and of course the world-famous gallery itself.
It’s not just known as the coolest bar in London because of the temperature! The UK’s only permanent ice bar is a truly unique venue that serves a fabulous ice cocktail and a delicious dinner though this bit is not in the ice itself! The bar is in Mayfair, a stone’s throw from Regent Street. The entire bar is made from crystal clear Torne River ice sourced from the pristine winter-wonderland of Jukkasjarvi in Northern Sweden and I really do mean the entire bar – the walls, the bar itself and even the glass which holds your cocktail are all made of ice. Being in the realm of ice is such a different, sensory experience; as it’s -5 degrees you are given designer capes and gloves to snuggle up in. Admire the ice sculptures, the theme varies so there’s always something different to spot and if your time at the Tate Modern has left you feeling creative, you can even create your own ice sculpture masterpiece in an ice carving session! In the summer, the cold here is extra-welcoming as London, particularly after a busy day shopping and sightseeing, can get very hot and stuffy. When your 40-minute session is up and you’re properly chilled, head to the warmth of the cocktail lounge in the basement; come on Friday and Saturday evenings when the DJ plays up-tempo tunes, then book a table at the modern British restaurant for some dinner, the seasonal menu is innovative and delicious. A totally cool end to a cool 24 hours in London.
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