London, England

Every morning in London, I woke to a gray sky, seagulls swooping around the roofs of the neighboring homes. I’d throw on my clothes and head out like Sherlock Holmes, ready to uncover new parts of this modern city with historic roots. 

First off, make sure to do your research and make any reservations early. I was shocked that, a month out from my most recent trip, I was unable to get reservations at many of the restaurants on my list or tickets at the Globe Theatre or the National Theatre. I’d strongly recommend making any bookings as soon as you’ve purchased a plane ticket. 

Secondly, don’t expect to eat a lot of fish and chips (a goal I’d set for myself). I asked my friend, a born and bred Londoner, for her favorite fish and chips spot and, apparently it’s not as much of a thing as I’d expected! She noted that coastal towns would have the best fish and chips, but most Londoners just have a local spot nearby that they go to for ease rather than quality. What you should plan for instead is a Sunday roast, or a visit to one of the many excellent restaurants (listed below). 

Explore “hip” East London by starting in Old Spitalfields Market, a fun spot with lots of food stalls, artisans, and stores. Just a couple of blocks away is Brick Lane, where you can stop at any number of spots for some of the best Indian food in the city. If visiting on a Sunday, stop by the flower market on Columbia Road. Otherwise, continue north for a stroll on Broadway Market (there’s a food market on Saturday and that’s also where Hill & Szrok is). 

On the South Side of the river, hip meets intellectual. Get the tourist out of your system on the London Eye, then take advantage of BFI Southbank for movies, the National Theatre and the Globe for plays, the Imperial War Museum and the Tate Modern for history and art, and Borough Market for snacking. This is essentially what they call the Queen’s Walk.  

Finally, make sure to head back across the river for a day to explore the more ritzy parts of London. The crowded streets of Soho’s Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus are a stark contrast to Hyde Park, Kensington, and the other quieter residential neighborhoods to the west. 

Looking for more ideas? Consider Sir John Soane’s Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, London Transport Museum, British Museum, or the Museum of London Docklands.


  • Brat: Fantastic Basque restaurant; enjoy a glass of sherry  
  • St. John’s Bread and Wine: One of the best known spots for British food
  • E Pellici: For the full breakfast and art deco vibes; cash only 
  • Hill & Szrok: A little butcher-cum-restaurant in a cozy space
  • The Ship: Most pubs in London seem exactly the same; this one was our favorite
  • Maggie Jones’s Restaurant: Hearty British food, perfectly done, in a cluttered, rural setting 


  • Bletchley Park: About an hour’s train outside of London, this is a fun day trip; time your visit so you can also visit the Computer Museum next door
  • Tate Modern: Fantastic exhibits and incredible architecture 
  • Kew Gardens: Take the train into quaint Richmond, stop for a pastry at Gale’s, then explore the gardens! 
  • Churchill War Rooms: So much to learn here—you can spend hours learning about the war and Churchill’s life


  • Take the Tube! 


  • Bridget Jones’s Diary (film)
  • Rye Lane (film) 
  • London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd (book) 
  • White Teeth (book) 

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