I promised you a London guide post, and I had to deliver. As I said in my previous post, London is a vibrant and contemporary destination which offers an unmatched multifaceted experience.
What the fuck are you on about Matthew? One might ask.
Well, London is roughly twice the size of New York and nearly 16 times bigger than Paris. With this vast stretch of area not a single district in London is like the other. I know many people go to the same three touristic spots in London and feel like they understand the place. Believe me, after visiting London for the 17th time, I still feel I haven’t explored it as well as I want to. In this guide I will give you my top attractions or locations to visit in no particular order..
P.S. I am not going to mention Oxford Street. Let’s not be 90s Maltese folk chasing a bargain in Oxford Street. London has changed from those days and not even Primark has bargains. You can get better bargains from the Sicilian counterpart.
Greenwich is a borough in south-east London with a rich Maritime history. It’s a very traditional location with a shit-tonne of stuff to see and do. This is my top location in London day or night. It offers so much and simply stands out. Just walking through the streets here is enough to boost your serotonin levels.
What to see
- Greenwich Market (Amazing Food and amazing G&T… visit the Greenwich Gin stall)
- Cutty Sark
- Royal Observatory
- The Cable Car
- Maritime Museum
- Planetarium (if you are with kids)
- Meantime Brewery Co.
- Eltham Palace and Gardens
- The O2 Arena
Get here by train stopping at Cutty Sark Station. You will be drop dead in the center. The Greenwich market is split in two; the vintage/antiques market on one side and a food, trinket and drink market across the road. There are some amazing pubs here, most notably the Gypsy Moth which has breathtaking views of the Cutty Sark.
If you never heard about Camden Town, you must have been high on acid throughout your life. This is perhaps the epitome of vibrancy and multiculturalism in London. It is a fantastic and colorful location that oozes an 80s-punk vibe which I haven’t really experienced anywhere else. Camden is most renowned for it’s huge market which spans across the borough and offers visitors amazing street food, booze, and a wide variety of shit to buy.
What to see
The market of course which is split in several ones, but my favorite are;
- The stables,
- Camden lock market,
- Inverness street market,
- and Camden Market.
Any live music establishment like the Underground, Blues Kitchen or Koko
London Zoo (which is close by)
Hell’s brewery (book at least two weeks in advance for the tour) 100% worth-it
Covent garden is basically the entertainment hub of London’s west end. It’s a walking distance from Leicester and Trafalgar square. Covent Garden houses several high-end stores and has a very distinct flair to it. The main market is huge and one can find a wide variety of gifts to buy. The pubs here are very classical, but a little bit on the pricey side. Walking though the streets one can enjoy the amazing vibe and atmosphere with a pint in hand and a cronut in the other.
What to see
- Covent Garden Market
- The transport museum
- Neal’s Yard and Neal’s Street
- Jubilee Market
- and lastly visit Mr Fogg for an amazing cocktail
Make sure to plan your travel dates accordingly and check what Covent Garden events are planned. There is generally a frozen festival, a wine festival and much much more. So make sure to keep updated before going there.
Buckingham Palace and St James Park
Well I had to mention the King’s crib in this article, not because I’m a fan of the Noble Kardashians, but, because the area surrounding Buckingham Palace is fantastic. So let’s start off with the obvious touristic stuff. If you are into it, you can visit certain areas of Buckingham Palace or enjoy the changing of the guards, which happens daily at 10:45am. Moving on to the surrounding areas, there is the gorgeous Royal park by the name of St James park just opposite Buckingham Palace. It’s a stunning public garden that offers breathtaking views. From here you can take a peaceful stroll and make your way to the next location by foot.
To me, the key touristic locations in London are a must see for first timers, and most of them are located here in Westminster. This is basically the London you see on TV and the London you always imagined. You have the most iconic landmarks all within a few meters of each other. I’m not gonna lie, they are all stunning, HOWEVER, they are extremely busy during the summer months.
What to see
- Westminster Abbey,
- the Big Ben,
- the Queen Elizabeth II Center,
- the Palace of Westminster
- the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries
- Westminster Bridge
We have now officially crossed the Thames from the Westminster Side and onto Waterloo. On this side you will find some more touristic stuff and, to me, this is the start of a very long walk by the Thames which can lead you up to Borough Market. The nightlife here is amazing with pop up bars, gin bars and street food stalls all year round, but during the day one can find amazing entertainment to cater for everyone.
What to see
- London Eye
- London Aquarium
- London Dungeons
- Jubilee Gardens
- Shakespeare’s Globe
- The entire waterfront basically
Do not buy separate tickets for the London Eye and the the Dungeons. You can get a bundled ticket for all the attractions there which can save you up to 30% of the cost, especially if you are in a group or family.
Dating back to the 12th century, and located in the South bank of London, is the Borough Market. This market can only be described as every foodie’s wet dream with a Victorian touch. This food and fresh produce market is one of the oldest and largest food markets in England. You will literally find every type of food or drink from around the UK and the world. This market is also extremely inclusive with a wide variety of dietary requirements catered for. You have to come here on an empty stomach and spend half a day here simply admiring the views and devouring everything you encounter.
What to see
- The market obviously
- The Clink prison museum
- The Golden Hinde
Walk along the Thames from the London Eye to Borough market. It’s a long walk mind you, but you get to see the city-scapes change around you and enjoy the view. I walk this stretch every time and then over-eat at the market… makes me feel less guilty.
Hyde park holds a special place in my heart. I have been to amazing concerts here and witnessed some of the greatest musical acts. This massive public garden spans across 350 acres. Throughout the year several concerts and festivals happen here, most notably, the British Summertime Festival.
What to see
- Marble Arch
- Kensington Gardens
- Kensington Palace
- Peter Pan’s Statue
- The Royal Albert Hall
Kingston Upon Thames
Yet another beautiful borough in London is Kingston Upon Thames. This borough seems to be stuck in Victorian times with beautiful architecture all around. This place is renowned for being the place where Saxon Kings were crowned, and in fact, here you will find the Coronation Stone. This quaint borough gives you a glimpse into the history of London. There are two massive gardens which you can explore after enjoying a stroll through the town center and plenty of places to eat or drink.
Gin and Tonic is synonymous with England, and London is the Epitome of Gin distilling. G&T has become a very popular drink nowadays, after briefly falling out of fashion. In the past, London, was at the heart of gin industry, and during the late 1600s and early 1700s, this spirit’s popularity resulted in the catastrophic gin craze. Such was the popularity of Gin, that the government had to intervene to control the rampant debauchery which was fueled by gin. Fun times I say. Any who, I got a bit side tracked…
Today the Gin and Tonic experience in London is more posh. Several craft and large distilleries and bars offer G&T experiences. I myself went to the Beefeater experience, and although this is not a premium gin brand, the museum and tasting experience were top notch and I had a blast learning and drinking G&T in the distillery. I also suggest the City of London Distillery and the East London Liquor Company for amazing gin experiences. Again, BOOK AHEAD!
Other Notable Attractions to see
- The London Zoo
- China Town
- Leicester Square
- Trafalgar Square
- Regent’s Park
- Sherlock Holmes Museum
- Tower of London
- Portobello Market
- Coronation street
- Sky Garden
- Tower bridge
- Charles Dickens Museum
Being Maltese, I always try to take cash with me when traveling outside the euro-zone. I made the mistake of taking £400 in cash to London, which, unbeknownst to me, turned cashless following the pandemic. I mean really cashless. You can’t even buy a simple bar of chocolate with cash… which is a good thing (if I didn’t have that cash with me). Everything is Apple Pay and Google pay compliant, so you can also leave your cards at the hotel. I suggest using Revolut as your main Apple / Google pay account as the conversion rates are way better.
The underground here is top notch, and you can get to every corner of London with the tube. Get your hands on the official Tube app which will give you the exact timings of the underground, important announcements, and real-time route planning. Uber and Bolt both work here, but I suggest either using the Uber Boats when traveling along the Thames or using the Tube instead. London has miserable traffic so it will take you longer by car.
VERY IMPORTANT: Do not buy single tickets through the machines. Swipe your phone at the entrance and exit gates and use Apple or Google pay. All tube and bus gates are Apple and Google pay compliant. At the end of the day you will be charged the cheapest rate possible, depending how much you traveled. This method will save you a tonne of money.
Pick-pockets are active on trains, busses and high tourist traffic areas. Do not flash your phone around and always be vigilant of your surroundings. Do not let people stop you in the street, just ignore them and keep moving. Londoners talk to no one, so you are definitely going to be mugged or scammed.
I tried to cram as much info and attractions as I possible could, but in all honesty London has too much to offer to fit all of it in one article. In my opinion you should keep my suggestions in mind and walk as much as possible. Explore London as much as you can and try new experiences. There is a lot of stuff to see and do and I can honestly say, you will never get bored here.