You decided you want to go on a weekend get-away to London. A great idea! A nice city with a lot to see and to do. But without a plan you will definitely get lost and miss out on some great things you simply didn’t know about. Don’t get me wrong, wandering around is fun. And if this is what you want to do in London, I certainly don’t stop you. But because of the limited time I think it’s more fun to get most out of your weekend. It’s not like you’re going to London every year. So where to start this weekend? Don’t worry, I’ll help you get ready. In this post I’ll give you a short itinerary om my weekend in London.
Friday: Discovering the history in the City & Southbank
I recommend you starting off the weekend in the old heart of London, the City. Actually this part of London is not that old anymore as it is today’s business district full with skyscrapers. But still, this is the area where the Romans started to build their London. Sadly, the medieval fires and the World War II bombings put a great part of this into ashes. Except for two sights, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London.
St. Paul’s Cathedral. One of the most beautiful structures in London, and mainly known because of its dome. At night this cathedral is beautifully lit and reminds visitors of the American city Washington. But also here modern London is not that far away. Turn a corner and you’ll probably see the Millenium Foot Bridge. A true Harry Potter fan will certainly recognize this set…
Tower of London, the former treasury of old London. This castle was the home to the crown jewels of the royal family. It’s kind of a strange sight. Such an old castle against a background of skyscrapers. Still, it’s a must see when you’re in London. And don’t forget to take a peek behind the castle to see the Tower Bridge. This was the old pedestrian bridge for the common citizens to get to the castle. Today the two towers of the bridge accomodate a tiny museum. Fun, but more fun is the glass floor above the museum. At a 42 meter height you will get a great view over London whiles the ships under you cross the Thames. Are you up for it?
Borough Market, the ideal spot to gather an afternoon lunch. This market is one the oldest food markets in London. I really recommend you visiting it. A true sight for sore eyes. Interested in the food markets of London, check out this post.
A couple of tips:
- Take a stroll down the river Thames and spot the tiny Globe theater. This wooden theater is the place where Shakespeare showed his plays. On the outside you won’t think much of it, but the inside is breathtaking beautiful.
- Go to a rooftop bar (i.e. Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden) and get a drink with a view.
Saturday: Spot the British icons in Westminster, St. James & Notting Hill
Rise and shine! Today is the day to spot the icons London is famous for. The district of Westminster is the perfect area to do this. Go to Trafalgar Square and walk down to the Westminster Bridge. Along the way you will see White Hall and Downing Street. Downing Street is a world famous street, because of one special door: the door of the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street. Although this street is not open for public, it’s still fun to walk past it.
Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and London Eye. The three icons that represent political London. My favorite is the Big Ben. The name itself makes me smile and refers to the heavy clock inside the tower. The tower itself is names the ‘Clock Tower’, which is kind of a boring name. So we’ll stick to the Big Ben. Right across the Parliament you’ll find the characteristic London Eye. A ride on this wheel will cost you 35 euros and will take about 30 minutes. If you ask me I think it’s fairly expensive, but if you’re interested I recommend you buying a ticket online. This way you’ll avoid the long queue.
Buckingham Palace. A sight you’ll have to see once in your life. The palace itself is not that interesting. It’s the British atmosphere that makes it fun. Just watch the typical clothing and behaviour of the strict guards. To get to the palace, take a stroll down St. James Park. This is the front yard of Buckingham Palace and is full of all kind of fun animals. Take for instance, the squirrels. Buy some peanuts and feed them, or see other tourists trying and failing.
Notting Hill, one of the most photogenic districts of London. An area with pastel-colored Victorian houses, little boutique shops and sweet-smelling bakeries. And on top of that, each saturday this area hosts on the largest antique markets in Europe, Portobello Road Market. Antique is hip and happening. You’ll see old globes, retro camera and leather boxing balls. All pieces that gives a home something extra. And did I say there were a lot of food stalls? No? Well there are! Interested in finding out more about Notting Hill, read my post.
A few tips:
- Take it easy and join a bike tour. An easy and fun way to spot all the British icons in less than a couple of hours.
- Grab a bite at Wahaca, a Mexican restaraunt that serve tapas style food. The taquito with sweet potato is delicious!
- Looking for something cheap? Go to Chinatown and fill up your plate at Young Cheng for less than 10 euros.
Sunday: Relax at Neasden & Shoreditch
Sundays are for some peace and relaxation. No more running from sight to sight, but kick back and enjoy the sunday rhythm of London.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple located in the multi-culti district of Neasden. An ideal spot to get away from busy London. Moreover, the temple itself is a marvellous piece of art. People are so friendly and gladly show you all the Indian customs. Interested in this temple, read my post on this piece of India in London.
Shoreditch and Bricklane. On the sunday afternoon the youth of London gathers in East End for the local food and vintage markets. Join the crowd and fill up your belly. The best locations are Shoreditch and Bricklane. Every kitchen in the world is represented here. From Japan to the Moroccan and Thai cuisine. My favorite is the Sunday Up Market. It has a perfect location in an old beer brewery factory, which makes it different and unique. Compose your lunch and eat it on the curb just like the locals. Interested in the food markets of London, check out my post.
A few tips:
- Shoreditch and Bricklane also offer some great pieces of streetart. Discover them one by one. You can also join a Walking Tour with a local guide that takes you along the master pieces.
- Get brunch at Byron Burgers. Here they serve hamburgers American style. And they also offer some vegetarian options!
And then the weekend ends. Keep in mind that this mini guide shows you a fraction of what London has to offer. There’re so much more. Think about Camden Town or Colombia Road Flower Market. London is such a divers city.
Let me know how you like to spend your weekend in London!