101 things to do in London: bloggers' picks

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

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...

Have your say: on Facebook | on Twitter using #ultimatelondon | in the comments below

Annie Mole - www.london-underground.blogspot.co.uk

  • 1. Go on a Duck Tour

    Of all the touristy things to do in London, this is the one I think is the most fun for Londoners. One minute you're on land in a big, yellow duck-shpaed bus, the next it turns into a boat and your cruising down the Thames. It's like 'Inspector Gadget' meets those Big Red Sightseeing tours.

  • 2. Have a Chinese Afteroon 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.

  • 3. Watch the pigeons 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.

  • 4. Buy books at Southbank Centre's 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.

  • 5. See the Alfred Hitchcock 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.

  • 6. 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’).

  • 7. Visit Kew Gardens

    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.

Cate Sevilla - www.cupcate.com

  • 1. Bowling at All Star Lanes

    Bloomsbury Place, WC1B 4DA

    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.

  • 2. Brekkie at The Breakfast Club

    2-4 Rufus St, N1 6PE | 31 Camden Passage, N1 8EA | 33 D’Arblay St, W1F 8EU | 12-16 Artillery Lane, E1 7LS

    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.

  • 3. Tea at Liberty

    Great Marlborough St, W1B 5AH

    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.

  • 4. Master class at The Old Brewery

    Pepys Building, Old Royal Naval College, SE10 9LM

    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.

  • 5. Get creative at Drink Shop Do

    9 Caledonian Rd, N1 9DX

    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.

  • 6. Make stuff at The Make Lounge

    49-51 Barnsbury St, N1 1TP | 41 1/2 Barnsbury St, N1 1TY

    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.

  • 7. Live better with The School of Life

    70 Marchmont St, WC1N 1AB

    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”.

  • 8. Go Retro with The Lomography Gallery Store

    117 Commercial St, E1 6BG

    If you want to get into Lomography or need more things to photograph with your Lomo camera, join The Lomography Gallery Store’s series of monthly and weekend workshops. Particularly fun are their awesome “Lomowalks”.

  • 9. Bust a tune at Lucky Voice

    173-174 Upper St, N1 1RG | 52 Poland St, W1F 7NQ

    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.

  • 10. Cinnamon buns at The Nordic Bakery Soho

    14 Golden Square, London, W1F 9JG

    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.

City Girl Diaries

  • 1. Indulge in old-school glamour

    55 Brook Street, London, W1K 4HR

    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.

  • 2. Find sanctuary in the city

    Cheapside, EC2V 6AU

    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.

  • 3. Go mad for meat

    Charterhouse St, EC1A 9PQ

    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.

  • 4. Let’s go to the movies

    Belvedere Rd, London, SE1 8XT

    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.

  • 5. Breakfast in style

    160 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9EB

    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.

  • 6. Be entertained by the best

    Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP

    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.

  • 7. 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).

  • 8. 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.

  • 9. Go 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.

  • 10. Eat cakes at the cinema

    93-107 Shaftesbury Ave, London, W1D 5DY

    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.

Colouring a Corner

  • 1. Mingle with the soulful set

    566 Cable St, E1W 3HB

    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.

  • 2. Watch the big screen in big style

    1-5 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3JX

    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.

  • 3. Discover a secret dining room

    29 Greek St, W1D 5DH

    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.

  • 4. Bang your gun

    50 Great Dover Street, SE1 4YG

    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.

  • 5. View an exhibition by candlelight

    13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP

    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.

  • 6. Brave a little shop of horrors

    11 Mare St, E8 4RP

    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.

  • 7. See the nicest view

    Primrose Hill Rd, NW1 3NA

    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.

  • 8. 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.

  • 9. Catch the Winchester Geese

    18-22 Redcross Way, SE1 1TA

    Abandon Borough Market for the nearby backstreets of the Cross Bones Graveyard. An unconsecrated burial ground for paupers and prostitutes (or “Winchester Geese”) until 1853, it’s now a shrine, its railings twisted with ribbons, flowers, wooden geese and notes to the “outcast dead”.

  • 10. Bowl her over

    Basement of Tavistock Hotel Bedford Way, , London, WC1H 9EU

    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. 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.

  • 2. Hug a guinea pig at Spitalfields City Farm

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

  • 3. Munch on salt beef at Gaby's Deli

    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.

  • 4. 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.

  • 5. Get pickled at the Grant Museum

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

  • 6. Drink cocktails at Brunswick House

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

  • 7. 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. Have a drink at Milk and Honey

    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.

  • 2. 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.

  • 3. Window shop at Dover Street Market

    The fashion concept store from Comme des Garçons’ designer Rei Kawakubo is sure to fill people with wonder and dread in equal measure. The shop itself is amazing and filled with wonderful clothes, but the prices may make you swallow hard – in which case retire to Rose Bakery on the top floor and allow yourself to daydream.

  • 4. 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.

  • 5. 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.

InFormed London

  • 1. Take the Alternative London Tour

    Old Spitalfields Market, Brushfield St, E1 6DT.

    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.

  • 2. Visit one of London’s most atmospheric restaurants: Busaba Eathai

    8-13 Bird St, W1U 1BU.

    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.

  • 3. Watch a cult movie at the Prince Charles Cinema

    7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY.

    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.

  • 4. Pop in to the Wilton Way Cafe for coffee and radio

    63 Wilton Way, E8 1BG.

    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.

  • 5. 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.

  • 6. Dance till the early hours at Fabric

    77a Charterhouse St, EC1M 3HN.

    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.

  • 7. Join the loose-leaf tea movement

    27-28 Chalk Farm Rd, NW1 8AG.

    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?

  • 8. Go vintage shopping in Brick Lane

    101 Brick Lane, E1 6SE.

    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.

  • 9. Brighten up your wardrobe with clothing from Lazy Oaf

    19 Fouberts Place, W1F 7PZ.

    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.

  • 10. Taste the salt-beef bagels at Beigel Bake

    159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB.

    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.

London Is Cool

  • 1. The Ghost Bus Tour

    Designated bus stop on Northumberland Avenue, WC2N 5BY.

    Take a journey on the London Necrobus and enjoy the spookiest ride in town. Learn about the dark, sinister and ghostly side of the city aboard a haunted Routemaster...

  • 2. The Connaught Bar

    The Connaught, Carlos Place, W1K 2AL.

    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.

  • 3. Notting Hill Arts Club

    21 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3JQ.

    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.

  • 4. The Monument to the Great Fire of London

    Monument St, EC3R 8AH.

    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.

  • 5. The view from Greenwich Park

    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.

  • 6. Al Arez Lebanese restaurant

    101 Edgware Rd, W2 2HX.

    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.

  • 7. Ye Olde Mitre pub

    1 Ely Court, Ely Place (side of 8 Hatton Garden), EC1N 6SJ.

    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.

  • 8. The Royal Air Force Museum

    Grahame Park Way, NW9 5LL.

    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.

  • 9. Museum of London

    150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN.

    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.

  • 10. Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park

    Thames Path, John Harrison Way, SE10 0QZ.

    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. 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.

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Eat at Cirrik Bos

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

  • 4. 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.

  • 5. 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.

The London Word

  • 1. Visit a Sotherby's auction

    34-35 New Bond St, W1A 2AA (020 7293 5000).

    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!

  • 2. Eat at the Rootmaster bus

    Dray Walk, E1 6QI (07912 389314).

    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.

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

    2 Regent's Park Rd, NW1 7AY (020 7485 2206).

    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.

  • 4. View great art at the Wallace Collection

    Manchester Square, W1U 3BN (020 7563 9500).

    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.

  • 5. Have a laugh at the Canal Cafe in Maida Vale

    Delamere Terrace, W2 6ND (020 7289 6054 ).

    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.

  • 6. Get active at the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre

    235a Westferry Rd, E14 3QS (020 7537 2626).

    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.

  • 7. Enjoy a Thamesside pint at The Blue Anchor

    13 Lower Mall, W6 9DJ (020 8748 5774).

    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.

  • 8. Play in the Peter Pan Gardens

    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.

  • 9. 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.

  • 10. 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.

The Londoneer

  • 1. Tripping the light fantastic in the heart of the East End

    Gerry Raffles Square, E15 1BN

    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.

  • 2. Stealing the scene up in the eaves

    189 Greenwich High Rd, SE10 8JA

    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.

  • 3. 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.

  • 4. Just like Matka used to make

    198 The Grove, E15 1NS

    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.

  • 5. Communing with the dear departed in N16

    Stoke Newington High St, N16 0LH

    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.

  • 6. Vegetarian spice with a Hindu flair

    161 Stroud Green Rd, N4 3PZ

    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.

  • 7. Exploring the past with Comrade Lenin

    245 St John St (below Finsbury Library), London, EC1V 4NB

    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.

  • 8. Wandering through the Walthamstow Reservoirs

    2 Forest Rd, N17 9NH

    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.

  • 9. Exploring your dreams with Doctor Freud

    20 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 5SX

    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...

  • 10. Mixing it up At Rich Mix

    35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6LA

    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. Luxury cinema

    5 Hollybush Vale, Hampstead, NW3 6TX.

    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.

  • 2. Street art tours

    84 Great Eastern St.

    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.

  • 3. 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.

  • 4. Pancakes

    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.

  • 5. Speedboating

    Embankment Pier, Victoria Embankment, London, WC2N 6NU

    Catch an RIB speedboat from beneath the London Eye and enjoy a white-knuckle journey along the Thames.

  • 6. 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.

  • 7. Find out how the world works

    165 Queen's Gate, SW7 5HD

    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.

  • 8. High-rise celebrity spotting

    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.

  • 9. Olympic view

    The Greenway, Marshgate Lane, London, E15 2PJ

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

  • 10. Sci-fi with style

    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.

Luiz Hara - The London Foodie

  • 1. 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.

  • 2. 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.

  • 3. 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.

  • 4. 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.

  • 5. Enjoy a fry-up at E Pellicci

    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.