101 things to do in London: bloggers' picks

Find the best of London with our ultimate list of things to do in the capital

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Find out what other London insiders rate as their essential experiences of life in the capital. Scroll through the lists below for top tens specially compiled for us by the Big Smoke’s most respected writers and bloggers...


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Annie Mole - www.londonunderground.blogspot.co.uk

Have a Chinese Afternoon Tea Ceremony

Learn how to serve and drink tea in the authentic Chinese way at Teanamu. Tell Pei Wang how you're feeling and he will 'diagnose' the tea to suit your mood. Snack on delicious vegetarian dim sum and Chinese petit fours at the bargain price of £2 or £3 too.

Watch the pigeon's board the tube at Hammersmith station

Go to Hammersmith station at the end of the Hammersmith and City line - you'll see pigeons bold as brass jumping on and off the tube train.

Buy books at Southbank book market

One of the few outdoor second-hand and antique book markets in southern England. Perfect for browsing while enjoying views of the Thames.

  1. Riverside Walk (outside BFI Southbank under Waterloo Bridge), SE1
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See the Alfred Hitchcok mosaics at Leytonstone tube

Even better than the mosaics at Tottenham Court Road. Alfred Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone in the East End of London in 1899, and in 2001 a series of mosaics illustrating his life and scenes from films were installed at Leytonstone Tube Station. They’re rather badly lit, but a fascinating glimpse of some of his most famous films.

Visit Postman's Park

This green space in The City just off Little Britain (the street not the TV series) is home to walls of decorative tiles, recording the heroic deeds of ordinary Londoners who lost their lives saving others. Erected to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. Great spot to spend an hour or so, even if not you’re not fans of Jude Law or Natalie Portman (it was their meeting place in the film ‘Closer’).

  1. King Edward St, EC1A 7BX
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Visit Kew Gardens

  • Critics choice

More than 300 acres of land and 250 years of history. Climb to treetops, delve into rainforests, explore greenhouses or just sit and enjoy the serenity one of the world’s most famous gardens.

  1. Kew Rd, TW9 3AB
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Cate Sevilla - www.cupcate.com

Bowling at All Star Lanes

  • Price band: 1/4

Dine on American-style cheeseburgers and sip Oreo milkshakes and plenty of potent cocktails while you bowl the night away to sweet tunes from live DJs.

  1. Victoria House Bloomsbury Place, WC1B 4DA
Book online

Brekkie at Breakfast Club

  • Rated as: 2/5
  • Price band: 1/4

For those who love apple and cinnamon pancakes for dinner and tasty comfort food all day long, this is the place to be. It’s perfect for when you’ve had a heavy night or much-too early morning.

  1. 33 D'Arblay Street, W1F 8EU
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Tea at Liberty

  • Critics choice

Just a small pot of English breakfast at the tea room in Liberty feels so luxurious, it’s almost naughty. Meet your best mate for lush treat, or give yourself a break from shopping with the afternoon tea.

  1. Regent Street, W1B 5AH
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Master class at The Old Brewery

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4

For those who love both beer and London, a beer master class with the crew from The Old Brewery and the Meantime Brewing Company will walk you through everything you’ll ever want to know about beer, as well as the history of the brewery itself.

  1. Pepys Building, Old Royal Naval College, SE10 9LW
Book online

Get creative at Drink Shop & Do

  • Rated as: 2/5
  • Price band: 1/4

In this clever café, you can buy (almost) everything you see, enjoy a variety of delicious foods and beverages, and take part in number of their regular quirky classes and experiences.

  1. 9 Caledonian Road, N1 9DX
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Make stuff at The Make Lounge

Ever wanted to make your own knickers or a soya vintage tea cup candle? Join a workshop at The Make Lounge and find out how.

  1. 49-51 Barnsbury Street, N1 1TP
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Live better with The School of Life

Learn more about yourself and life in general at The School of Life. They hold regular workshops, classes and Sunday Sermons on topics such as “How to Stay Calm” and “How to Make Love Last”.

  1. 70 Marchmont St, WC1N 1AB
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Bust a tune at Lucky Voice

  • Rated as: 3/5

Karaoke is so much better when you’re in the privacy of your own booth with your friends, isn’t it? There are no intimidating “professional” karaoke singers or unforgiving critics to worry about – just you, your mates and some crazy wigs.

Christmas party bookings have begun! Book your room now and don't miss out on an unforgettable Christmas party!
  1. 52 Poland Street, W1F 7LR
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Cinnamon buns at The Nordic Bakery Soho

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 3/4

The Scandinavian treats at The Nordic Bakery in Golden Square are amazing, but their cinnamon buns are the absolute best. Grab a bun (or two) and a cup of fresh filtered coffee, and enjoy them in the fresh air of Golden Square.

  1. 14A Golden Square, W1F 9JG
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City Girl Diaries

Indulge in old school glamour

The epitome of timeless elegance in the heart of Mayfair, Claridge’s hotel transports visitors to a decadent dream of clandestine love affairs and dazzling parties. Cocoon yourself in the covetable Art Deco interiors (including original features from the 1920s and 1930s) and enjoy an award-winning afternoon tea in The Foyer or cocktails in The Fumoir.

  1. Brook Street, W1K 4HR
Book online

Find sanctuary in the city

With majestic St Paul’s a short distance away, visitors may overlook City of London church St Mary-le-Bow, despite its famous Bow bells being mentioned in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons. Discover its breath-taking beauty and a fascinating history: like St Paul’s, it was restored by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire.

  1. Cheapside, EC2V 6AU
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Go mad for meat

In Smithfield in the heart of Clerkenwell, a livestock market has stood since the tenth century. Supplier to butchers, restaurants and shops, this world-famous market is a must-see. Arrive before 7am (that’s right) to peruse the stalls and experience the camaraderie of animated traders while shopping around for the best-priced steak. You will not forget this vibrant scene or its meaty smells.

  1. Charterhouse St, EC1A 9PQ
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Let's go to the movies

Film enthusiasts go crazy for The British Film Institute. With its main location on the Southbank, the BFI has diverse film seasons and high-profile screenings, talks and interviews all year. Ever been a student of film or television? This will take you back. Slouch into the Benugo Bar’s comfy seats for a post-screening debate with friends. The BFI also runs The London Film Festival each autumn.

  1. Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT
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Breakfast in style

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Breakfast at The Wolseley is a wonderfully civilised, English affair: well-dressed diners, pristine china and an excellent English breakfast tea. Still, it has an enviable European elegance, featuring Italian interiors and Parisian brassiere-style furnishings in what was originally a 1920s car showroom. The Wolseley has a history that is as colourful as its clientele, and, despite regular celebrity sightings, prices are very reasonable.

  1. 160 Piccadilly, W1J 9EB
Book online

Be entertained by the best

Frank Sinatra. The Beatles. Nelson Mandela. Sir Winston Churchill. Many of the history’s most famous figures have taken to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall. And what a stage it is. With 6 million red bricks and 80,000 blocks of terracotta, the amphitheatre-inspired design creates a magnificent platform for talks and performances year-round. Check out the ‘Front of House’ and ‘Afternoon Tea’ tours for a special peek inside.

  1. Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP
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Spend a day at the park

London’s Royal Parks have been open to the public for 160 years, and it is difficult to choose a favourite park. If you have a free day, The Regent’s Park (its official name) offers a wealth of activities for all ages and is arguably the most beautiful. Walk the rose-filled Queen Mary Gardens, enjoy a picnic on ever-trendy Primrose Hill, meet 650 animal species at London Zoo, then watch a play at the exciting Open Air Theatre (open May – Sept).

Duke of York Square

Shop on the King's Road

If you stand still for a moment, you can still imagine Mary Quant strutting down the King’s Road in a trend-setting miniskirt. As cool now as it’s ever been, the King’s Road mixes high fashion with high street favourites in that never-too-crowded, village-y, Chelsea way. After your window-shopping (or spending), there are many bistros for lunch and spas aplenty. Nearby Sloane Avenue is home to the world-famous Bliss Spa.

Get down by the river

Walk or get a taxi over London’s many bridges at night for a panoramic view of London in lights. The city’s history and beauty never seems so clear, as you gaze in all directions at monuments, offices and homes, shining brightly against the dark blanket of the night sky. Start at the Millennium Bridge, camera and companion in-tow.

Eat cakes at the cinema

Soho is crammed with hidden treasures that we hope will remain so, even though we want to tell the world about them. Konditor & Cook at the Curzon Soho is one such place. Of the London-based baker’s six shops, this location, perfectly placed within a cinema chain known for its unique and homely ambience, is especially worth sharing. Enjoy comforting favourites like a fruit crumble or Bakewell slice, or try inventive alternatives like the ‘Brownie Bar’ (3 brownies for £5). A delicious hang-out, whether you are watching a film or not.

  1. 93-107 Shaftesbury Ave, W1D 5DY
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Colouring a Corner

Jamboree

In Limehouse, tucked under a wedge of artists’ studios, Jamboree Live Music Bar hosts incredible musicians and performers from all over the world. Dance between the tables, visit the resident painter or just look interesting in a darkened corner.

  1. Jamboree, 566 Cable St, E1W 3HB
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Watch the big screen in big style

Throughout the summer, you can munch hot dogs, drink beer and watch your favourite movie, all with the wind blowing through your hair. The Rooftop Film Club can be found on the rooftop of the Queen of Hoxton, high above the chaotic Shoreditch streets.

  1. 1 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3JX
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Discover a secret dining room

  • Rated as: 3/5

At the Coach and Horses in Soho, you can slip behind the bar, up a twisting staircase and into a private dining room that for over forty years has laid on the Private Eye lunch. Drink tea and scoff cake while listening to the scratchy sounds of a record player in this hidden room.

  1. 29 Greek Street, W1D 5DH
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Bang your gun

  • Critics choice
  • Free

A stand up poetry night “for those who don’t like poetry, especially the stuff about thwarted love and daffodils”. Try to catch it on a Thursday when it takes over the upper floor of lovely old boozer The Roebuck in Borough.

  1. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP
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View an exhibition by candelight

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Watch the light flickering against the possessions of celebrated architect Sir John Soane at Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Take a candlelit tour through the Sir John Soane Museum’s curious collection of art and antiquities, and discover the stories behind each piece.

  1. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP
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Brave a little shop of horrors

Upon descending into Viktor Wynd's Little Shop of Horrors, the traffic of Hackney’s Mare Street seems far away. Here you’ll forage through “natural and human curiosities”, including period medical props, supernatural and wax effigies, stuffed rats, winged cats and flying bats.

  1. 11 Mare St, E8 4RP
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See the nicest view

Climb Primrose Hill to see London spread out like a rug before you. Look out for the “and the view’s so nice” graffiti on the way up. Painted by a Blur fan, it influenced the group’s decision not to disband when Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon stumbled upon the lyric and took it as a sign.

  1. Primrose Hill Rd, NW1 3NA
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Cringe

Peek between your fingers at the uncomfortable performances laid on by Cringe. The brainchild of New Yorker Sarah Brown and now based in London, the group is made up of an unconventional bunch who gather to read out their teenage diaries, letters and poems.

  1. Redcross Way, SE1 1HG
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Bowl her over

Unlike traditional bowling lanes with their stained carpets, processed food and battered arcade games, Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes will impress your date. Located off Russell Square, it’s a stylish venue complete with sleek cocktail bar, karaoke and London's only private bowling room.

  1. Basement of Tavistock Hotel Bedford Way, , WC1H 9EU
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Curiocity

Swim in Highgate Mixed Pond

Nothing else in this city is as wild or exhilarating as a morning dip in this delightfully secluded bathing hole.

Hug a guinea pig at Spitalfields City Farm

  • Free

You’ll love petting Pants the Sheep and friends in this relaxing oasis off Brick Lane.

  1. Buxton St, E1 5AR
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Munch on salt beef at Gaby's Deli

  • Rated as: 2/5
  • Price band: 1/4

Enjoy their deliciously no-frills Jewish cuisine while you still can. After half a century this iconic family-run lunch stop is under threat of closure.

  1. 30 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DE
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Stroll along Regent's Canal

Head from Little Venice and you’ll pass exotic animals in London Zoo. Look out for the Pirate Castle just before Camden Lock.

  1. at New North Rd, nr Shoreditch Park, N1
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Get pickled at the Grant Museum of Zoology

  • Free

We love this crammed assortment of bizarre exhibits: jars and cabinets display brains and bones. Somewhere for your imagination to run wild.

  1. Rockefeller Building, University College London, WC1E 6DE
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Drink cocktails at Brunswick House

  • Free

Sample their delicious drinks menu amongst an extraordinary array of reclaimed furniture, chandeliers and old stage sets.

  1. 30 Wandsworth Rd, Vauxhall Cross, SW8 2LG
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Drift through Granville Arcade

This Victorian arcade is now throbbing with renewed life: Thursday to Saturday evenings the cafes, bars and galleries are spilling over with people, music and live events.

  1. Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PS
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Drisk

Have a drink at Milk & Honey

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

As a city we’ve always been a little saddened by the fact we didn’t experience the joyous drinking occasions of prohibition, but with all the secret drinking dens popping up we’re certainly making up for it now. Milk & Honey hides behind a nondescript black door in Soho and, for members and those in-the-know (non-members can still book at certain times), serves quality drinks in a classic speakeasy setting.

  1. 61 Poland Street, W1F 7NU
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Watch a gig and drink tea at Union Chapel

Union Chapel was recently voted London’s best live music venue and with good reason; it shows a great variety of artists in a beautiful church setting. Being a church you can only drink alcohol in the bar area, but drinking tea while watching bands makes the experience all the more charming.

  1. Compton Terrace, N1 2UN
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Window shop at Dover Street Market

  • Critics choice

Union Chapel was recently voted London’s best live music venue and with good reason; it shows a great variety of artists in a beautiful church setting. Being a church you can only drink alcohol in the bar area, but drinking tea while watching bands makes the experience all the more charming.

  1. 17-18 Dover Street, W1S 4LT
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Visit the Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House is one of London’s most beautiful landmarks, both inside and out. And it’s well worth a visit, whether it’s for the behind-the-scenes tour, an opera or ballet. Those willing to stand can get tickets to see some of the world’s greatest performances for as little as £5.

  1. Bow St, WC2E 9DD
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Immerse yourself in cinema

For film fans, Secret Cinema (despite no longer being all that secret) is a must, whether it’s donning a dressing gown in a ‘mental asylum’ for ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ or your best oversized pinstripe suit and splurge gun for ‘Bugsy Malone’, there’s no finer cinematic event in London.

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InFormed London

Take the Alternative London Tour

  • Free

Discover the London you won't find in the guidebooks. The Alternative London Tour takes you on a two-hour walk through the East End. Like other tours in the area it covers some of the interesting history and culture of Spitalfields, Banglatown and Shoreditch. But unlike those other tours, it also shows you what is happening now in London's creative hotbed.

  1. Old Spitalfields Market Brushfield St, E1 6DT
  2. Fri Oct 24 - Sat Dec 20
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Visit one of London’s most atmospheric restaurants: Busaba Eathai

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4

Ten years after its inception, Busaba is renowned for its cult following of loyal customers. The combination of a stylish interior, chattering atmosphere and mouthwatering food provides London with a youthful yet sophisticated dining venue – and it continues to be one of the city’s hottest tables.

  1. 106-110 Wardour Street, W1F 0TR
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Watch a cult movie at the Prince Charles Cinema

The Prince Charles Cinema shows a rotating programme of cult, arthouse, and classic films alongside recent Hollywood releases – typically more than ten different films a week on two screens. The cinema has achieved a cult status among fans, flying the flag for independent cinema in the West End.

  1. 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP
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Pop in to the Wilton Way Café for coffee and radio

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Nestled in central Hackney, just north of London Fields and east of the Hackney Empire, Wilton Way Cafe is a beacon for café society in this part of town. Serving smooth coffees using a bespoke blend of roasted beans from local roasters Climpson & Sons, Wilton Way Cafe maintains its links with the local creative community by showcasing artistic talent on the walls and broadcasting London Fields Radio from a booth in the corner of the café.

  1. 63 Wilton Way, E8 1BG
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Benji B

Go to Deviation: king of London's club nights

Club nights like this one are hard to find, even in a city like London, which boasts thousands of talented DJs. Luckily, the Deviation club night brings you the best in hip hop, house, electronica and soul music. Benji B (BBC Radio DJ), head honcho of Deviation, invites the most forward-thinking international DJs to join him behind the decks once a month. The crowd is energetic and music savvy – so make sure you bring your best moves.

Dance till the early hours at Fabric

Fabric is a 1,500-capacity nightclub. On Saturday nights you can enjoy underground DJ talent, internationally renowned electronic music legends and accomplished live acts. Its music policy is dedicated to cutting-edge house, techno, electro, disco and dub-techno. For excitement and thrills, no other nightclub touches this one. In addition to the venue, Fabric has a record label, which has put out a series of celebrated mixes which showcase the variety of sounds that have graced the club over the years. Oh, and be prepared for unisex toilets.

  1. 77a Charterhouse St, EC1M 3HN
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Join the loose tea movement

  • Rated as: 2/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The first Yumchaa tea shop opened in Camden Lock’s West Yard, where you can get comfortable within the premises’ hand-finished interior or gaze leisurely over the market and Regent’s Canal with a lovely cup of tea. What more – other than cake, which is also available here – could you ask for?

  1. 27-28 Chalk Farm Rd, NW1 8AG
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Go vintage shopping in Brick Lane

You’ll find great stuff including T-shirts and vests, cool jackets, unique shoes, vintage jeans and smart dresses. Whether you’re a vintage clothes collector seeking a rare original, an authentic retro specimen or a designer piece, or someone who just wants to find cheap, inspired and individual clothing, Rokit offers an eclectic shopping experience full of vintage treasures to suit everyone.

  1. 101/107 Brick Lane, E1 6SE
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Brighten up your wadrobe with clothing from Lazy Oaf

Lazy Oaf is a pop-graphic, print-focused label bringing you arrays of new clothing, accessories and stationery. Lazy Oaf is famous for its bright T-shirts, reversible sweats and accessories collections

  1. 19 Fouberts Place, W1F 7QE
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Taste the salt-beef bagels at Beigel Bake

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Drunk or sober, hungry or just peckish, if this is within a mile radius of your current location, you must visit. Order the salt-beef bagel (a steal at £3.50) with all the hot mustard and salty goodness you could hope for.

  1. 159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
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London is Cool

The Connaught Bar

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Experience the famed Connaught Bar's Martini Trolley, which is one of life’s truly decadent five-star pleasures. It’s an ultra-stylish hotel bar, with prices that are not for the faint hearted.

  1. The Connaught, Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
Book online

Notting Hill Arts Club

Every Saturday afternoon from 4pm to 8pm the Notting Hills Art Club plays host to Rough Trade record shops’ legendary RoTa sessions. Listen to the best new music around, including indie-pop, electronica, new wave, post-punk and much, much more. Free entry.

  1. 21 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3JQ
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The Monument to the Great Fire of London

Not only is the Monument a real piece of London history – it was opened in 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City – the 61m-high structure also offers amazing panoramic views of London from its viewing platform which is reached by climbing 311 steps.

  1. Monument St, EC3R 8AH
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The view from Greenwich Park

  • Free

People rave about the views from Primrose Hill and Parliament Hill, which are pretty good – but in my opinion the best free views in London are from the viewing platform in Greenwich Park. In the middle distance you will see the Millennium Dome and Canary Wharf, but what makes this view truly special is the spectacle of the River Thames leading the eye into central London and beyond.

  1. Park Row, SE10 8XJ
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Al Arez Lebanese restaurant

Edgware Road is home to dozens of Middle Eastern eating places and one of the best is the Al Arez restaurant. Great food, excellent service, wonderful ambiance and excellent value for money.

Ye Olde Mitre Tavern

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Critics choice

Quite possibly the most difficult pub to find in London. Hidden down an alleyway near Holborn Circus, this centuries-old tavern is a real sanctuary from the hustle of the City. Perfect for a relaxing beer or two.

  1. 1 Ely Court, (Ely Place side of 8 Hatton Garden), EC1N 6SJ
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The Royal Air Force Museum

  • Free

This is home to more than 100 aircraft from around the world, including some very old planes, modern-day jets and military aircraft. The thrill of seeing planes such as the Avro Vulcan B2 bomber, Harrier Jump Jet and the de Havilland Tiger Moth II make the journey up the Northern Line to Hendon a worthwhile trip. Free entry.

  1. Grahame Park Way, NW9 5LL
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Museum of London

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Built around the surviving fragments of the London Wall – built by the Romans some 1,800 years ago – the Museum of London holds a fantastic collection. It provides a fascinating journey through the history of London, from prehistoric times to the present day.

  1. 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN
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Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park

  • Free

A real hidden gem of a park, located next to the Thames and only ten minutes’ walk from the O2 Arena. A true slice of nature, which offers peace and tranquillity in beautiful surroundings.

  1. Thames Path, John Harrison Way, SE10 0QZ
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LondonOnTheInside

Hang out at Broadway Market

London has great markets. Broadway Market on a Saturday is great for people watching, food, barbecues in the park and outdoor drinking until late! A real taste of young east London.

  1. Broadway Market, E8 4PH
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Efes pool and snooker club

Get down to this club in Dalston for a crazy night out with trendy east Londoners who like to party.

  1. 17b Stoke Newington Rd, N16 8BH
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Eat at Cirrik Bros

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

For authentic, Turkish shish kebabs – huge portions at reasonable prices.

  1. 34 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XJ
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Hampstead Heath

For a day of celeb spotting in the park, followed by a photo op at the top of Parliament Hill and roast in the Stag.

  1. East Heath Road, NW3 1TH
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Victoria Park Village

For a day when you need to get out of the city. Potter from restaurant to pub to café and eat and drink your way round.

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The London Word

Visit a Sotherbys auction

Sotherby’s auction house is an institution in London and has been putting items under the hammer for hundreds of years. Members of the public are welcome to come in and see what might be of interest to them. It’s not just antiques and jewellery that are auctioned off – some of the items are well within the budget of a canny buyer. Just be careful not to get too carried away when bidding!

Eat at the Rootmaster bus

If you’re wandering around the markets and curry houses of Brick Lane, you might come across what appears to be a stranded bus. But don’t worry, it’s not a 219 that’s lost its way, it’s actually a vegan restaurant. All of the ingredients that are used in the dishes are sourced locally, which is part of the restaurant’s mission to promote sustainable living. You’ll get a healthy portion of whatever you choose, whether it’s stir fry or pizza. Booking is recommended as the limited space means that the restaurant does tend to fill up quite quickly.

Have a dance at Cecil Sharp House in Camden with the English Folk Dance and Song Society

Camden is synonymous with live music – but if you’re tired of watching indie bands fall out of the Barfly, head along to Cecil Sharp House. There you’ll find the English Folk Dance and Song Society. This is a group who are committed to keeping tradition alive. To this end, they run various classes and events and they are always keen to pass on England’s old customs to eager learners.

  1. 2 Regent's Park Rd, NW1 7AY
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View great art at the Wallace Collection

  • Free

One of London’s most underrated museums, the Wallace Collection has a wide range of exhibits including paintings by old masters (Titian, Rembrandt and Velázquez). It is also gives you the chance to see ‘The Laughing Cavalier’ by Frans Hals. It also has one of the best collections of French paintings and porcelain and gold boxes outside France itself. Entry is free and the museum is open seven days a week.

  1. Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN
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Have a laugh at the Canal Café in Maida Vale

The Canal Cafe in Maida Vale has a great pedigree for producing comedy. The sketch group The League of Gentlemen had a residency here before going on to conquer the world with their unique brand of twisted humour. It’s the venue for the world’s longest-running satire show, ‘The News Revue’, which picks apart the week’s goings-on in politics and entertainment. You can also find ‘Test Tube Comedy’, a monthly night which comprises top-level stand-up, sketch groups and character acts.

  1. Delamere Terrace, Little Venice, W2 6ND
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Get active at the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre

It’s very easy to forget that in among the mass of traffic and the congestion, London has some wonderful open spaces and expansive bodies of water. One of these is down by the Docklands. The Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre offers a range of activities as well as tuition to help you develop your skills at a number of disciplines. The courses covered involve dinghy sailing, kayaking and yacht theory. There is also the possibility to enjoy all of these activities as the sun goes down.

  1. 235a Westferry Road, E14 3QS
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Blue Anchor

One of the joys of summer is enjoying a late night pint outdoors. One of the ways in which this experience is made even better is by having that drink by the river. The Blue Anchor near Hammersmith Bridge takes you right to the edge of the Thames. You’ll need to get in early as places on the river terrace tend to get taken very quickly. But if you’re unable to find a space, you can always come indoors and drink beneath the rowing paraphernalia that decorates the inside. It’s also worth sampling the wide range of ales.

  1. 13 Lower Mall, W6 9DJ
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Kensington Gardens

  • Free

In Kensington Gardens, you’ll find a statue of a very famous boy. Although he has been here since 1912, he has not aged one day. This is because it’s of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. He is an inspiration to the large crowds of people that the statue draws, reminding them it’s never too late to rekindle the spirit of childhood. The gardens themselves have great open spaces as well as trees that can be used for climbing and hiding.

  1. W2 2UH
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Get your east London art fix for free with First Thursdays

Shoreditch has a diverse range of galleries, showcasing the work of the many artists that populate the area. On the first Thursday of every month, these spaces open up their doors and invite anyone who has an interest to come along and view to their hearts’ content. There tends to be an art gallery crawl going on, but if you stick around in one place long enough, it’s likely you’ll bump into the artist – who will often be only too happy to talk about their work.

Brave the crowds of Columbia Road Flower Market

If you’re up and about on Sunday morning, one of the best places to be in London is Columbia Road in Shoreditch. It has a magnificent flower market with a diverse collection of flowers. If you’re lucky towards the end of the day (the market finishes at 3pm) you might pick up a bouquet for next to nothing. A little further down, just off the main street is The Yard on Erza Street. Drop in here for the chance to pick up a vintage bargain or two.

  1. Columbia Road, E2 7RG
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The Londoneer

Tripping the light fantastic in the heart of the East End

One of London's oldest theatres, the Theatre Royal Stratford East is an architectural gem. Built in 1884, it gained its reputation for ground-breaking performances during the 1950s when Joan Littlewood established the Theatre Workshop Company there. The theatre is now well known for hosting multicultural plays and musicals which accurately reflect the life and character of London's East End. They also host free open mic nights, comedy and jazz in the popular bar. For fans of theatre history, the Theatre Royal Stratford East has one of a pair of elaborate chandeliers hanging over the main auditorium. Its twin can be found in the Wyndham theatre in London's West End.

  1. Gerry Raffles Square, E15 1BN
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Stealing the scene in the eaves

The Greenwich Playhouse is one of London's smallest theatres. Home to the Galleon Theatre Company, it occupies the attic of a popular American-themed bar next to Greenwich railway station. Expect to get up close and personal with the actors during performances, as the seats in the auditorium are in just a few rows on three sides of a minute stage. If it all gets too much for you, retire to the bar downstairs for a cocktail during the interval.

  1. 189 Greenwich High Rd, SE10 8JA
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Old and new on the Olympic trail

One of London's most overlooked walking and cycling paths, the Greenway runs from Bow to Beckton and follows the path of Joseph Bazalgette's Northern Outfall Sewer. It is experiencing a new lease of life as the best place to witness the ongoing construction of the London 2012 Olympic Park: a set of refurbished sea containers, the View Tube, offers a commanding view of the Olympic Stadium. Nearby, you can see a slice of London's wartime past on the route, where tank traps and a machine gun emplacement were established to thwart an invading German army.

  1. Stoke Newington High St, N16 0LN
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Just like Matka used to make

London has been welcoming immigrants for centuries, and these days Poles and Lithuanians are making their mark on London's East End, with shops and restaurants that cater to their tastes springing up all over Bow, Stratford, Leyton and the surrounding areas. One of the best examples is 'Londek', a little Polish cafe on The Grove in Stratford (Londek is the colloquial way to refer to London in the Polish language). Here you'll be able to try many traditional Polish staples such as pierogi (dumplings), bigos (sauerkraut and meat stew) and golumpki (cabbage leaves stuffed with mince in a spicy tomato sauce) without spending more than a fiver. They have a large selection of rich, waist-thickening cakes as well.

Communing with the dear departed in N16

One of London's most poignant treasures is the Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington. Managed by the Abney Park Trust, this gently decaying Victorian cemetery was established in 1840 as one of the 'Magnificent Seven' – a group of large cemeteries planned across London to alleviate overcrowding in existing parish burial grounds. Visit the cemetery to discover its spectacular Egyptian-revival entrance, a Gothic chapel at its centre and row upon row of beautiful monuments to long-departed Londoners draped in ivy. The cemetery is also a designated local nature reserve and is home to a range of woodland birds, mammals and butterflies.

Vegetarian spice with Hindu flair

  • Rated as: 2/5
  • Price band: 1/4

Pass by the wealth of independent restaurants along Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park and eventually you'll arrive at Jai Krishna, an understated temple to Indian vegetarian cuisine. Ignore the wonky tables and mismatched plates and cutlery, and tuck into some of the best food you'll find this side of the Ganges. Highlights include the deep-fried vine leaves, sliced and served with a tamarind sauce, and the earthy okra curry. Wash it all down with one of the spicy or sweet lassi, or bring your own. It is popular with a rather bohemian crowd, and it's also amazingly cheap - a meal for two is likely to leave you with change from a £20 note.

  1. 161 Stroud Green Road, N4 3PZ
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Exploring the past with Comrade Lenin

  • Free

Established in mid-2008, the official museum of the London Borough of Islington can be found on St John Street. With a focus on local history, the museum is jammed with exhibits on Islington's domestic life, architecture, fashion and immigrant communities. Taking pride of place is the bust of Vladimir Lenin that formed the centrepiece of a monument proudly erected by the people of Islington in 1942. After being attacked by vandals in the 1980s when it was on show at Islington Town Hall, Comrade Lenin now enjoys a more peaceful existence in this small space in the basement of Finsbury Library.

  1. 245 St John St (below Finsbury Library), EC1V 4NB
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Wandering through the Walthamstow Reservoirs

Situated close to Tottenham Hale tube is the public entrance to the network of ten Walthamstow reservoirs, managed by Thames Water, which provide a large percentage of the fresh water supply for London. Cross the palm of the man at the gate with £1, and you can spend a few hours enjoying some fishing, bird watching or simply strolling around one of London's most quiet and peaceful open spaces.

Exploring your dreams with Doctor Freud

Cross the threshold of 20 Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead, and you'll find yourself in a shrine to the man who coined the term 'psychoanalysis', Sigmund Freud. What is now the Freud Museum was both the home and consulting rooms of Freud during the final year of his life, after his escape from persecution in Nazi Germany in 1938. The building contains much of his fine art collection, many of his research papers and even the famous psychoanalytic couch. Now, tell me about your feelings towards your mother...

  1. 20 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 5SX
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Mixing it up at Rich Mix

At the centre of the trendy arts and culture scene in Shoreditch is the Rich Mix arts centre. The building, converted from a garment factory, opened in 2006 and now hosts live music events, dance performances and plays. It has a popular cinema which shows both Hollywood blockbusters and foreign films, and there's also a gallery which has regularly changing exhibitions. While you're there, check out the funky industrial-style cafe which serves some of the most indulgent Swiss ice cream to be found in London.

  1. 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6LA
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Londonist

Luxury Cinema

The Everyman chain offers something a little more classy to cinema-goers. Try the Hampstead branch for luxurious sofas and table service while you watch the latest blockbuster or art-house film.

  1. 5 Hollybush Vale, NW3 6TX
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Street art tours

Wander around Shoreditch to see the best of London's street art. Guided tours are available if you'd like to know more about the artists.

Secret City

The ancient City of London is peppered with quiet parks tucked away between the corporate office blocks. In particular, seek out St Dunstan in the East, a bombed-out church with a beautiful peace garden.

Pancakes

  • Price band: 1/4

No need to wait until Shrove Tuesday. My Old Dutch serves king-sized pancakes all year round. Treat yourself to three courses of hand-crafted batter. Branches in Holborn, Kensington and Chelsea.

  1. 131-132 High Holborn, WC1V 6PS
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Go for a walk

London is a surprisingly green and pleasant place. Take a stroll along the Thames Path, or head further out for the London Loop walk.

Find out how the world works

Stretch your brain and enjoy a glass of wine at the Dana Centre, the Science Museum's adults-only events venue. Meet some of the country's top scientists and technologists, and learn something wonderful at one of the centre’s regular evening talks.

  1. Wellcome Wolfson Building, 165 Queen's Gate, SW7 5HD
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Olympic view

Walk along the Greenway to the 'View Tube' building for a ringside view of the emerging Olympics site.

  1. The Greenway, Marshgate Lane, E15 2PJ

High rise celebrity spotting

  • Price band: 2/4

The Heights in St George's Hotel, just off the northern end of Regent Street, is a little-known bar with a great view (15 storeys up). It's next to Broadcasting House, home of BBC Radio, so you're almost guaranteed to see a famous DJ or two.

  1. Saint Georges Hotel 14 Langham Place, W1B 2QS
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Sci-fi with style

  • Free

Type on Bethnal Green Road is an ultra-stylish café-cum-design shop with a surprising sideline in vintage pulp fiction and sci-fi. One of London's quirkier outlets.

Londonist

Luiz Hara - The London Foodie

Picnic on Hampstead Heath

The hill beneath Millfield Lane, overlooking Highgate Ponds, is the best place for a catch up with friends over some good food and a few bottles of bubbly. A dip in the Mixed Pond (or Men’s or Lady’s ponds) is also a fun thing to do and will help to cool you down whilst at the Heath.

  1. East Heath Road, NW3 1TH
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Dine at a London supper club

Everything from Japanese to Singaporean, Italian or Modern European cuisines is being served at London’s supper clubs. This personal dining experience is an unmissable opportunity for visitors to be welcomed at a London home and encounter Londoners who share a passion for good food and meeting new people.

Take afternoon tea

There is possibly no better way to celebrate our Queen’s Jubilee than to enjoy afternoon tea at one of London’s top hotels. The Ritz and Claridge’s Hotels and The Wolseley are some of the top places to try, but for a more intimate experience with the most fantastic views of London and the Thames, head to The Petersham Hotel in Richmond where a special Queen’s Jubilee High Tea is also available.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market is one of my favourite London places, and on a Sunday morning it’s where I’m usually to be found. The smells, colours and buzz in this narrow street from the hundreds of flower stalls and independent shops and galleries make this a unique and very London experience not to be missed.

  1. Columbia Road, E2 7RG
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Enjoy a fry up at E Pellicci

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

A fry-up breakfast at E Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road is a great way to follow a busy morning’s shopping at Columbia Road Flower Market. An institution in the East End of London, this is a charming café serving local residents for more than 100 years.

  1. 332 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AG
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