One of the most culturally cutting-edge, iconic cities in the world. London is a thriving metropolis that boasts more inspiring art, music, dance and culture per capita than any other city on this planet. A hive of nationalities, where minds from the world over converge. Where counter-culture sings as loudly as pop history. Where you could be dining on Korean for breakfast, Turkish for lunch and Argentinian for dinner.
A long weekend in London is the perfect introduction to a city you are sure to have a life-long love affair with. When you touch down in Heathrow Airport, make sure you don’t waste a second with a taxi transfer to your accommodation. Spend your first evening in the city getting to grips with the geography, with a cocktail in hand, from the architectural spectacle that is the Shard. Thirst quenched, head down into Borough Market to nibble at charcuterie and cheese boards and sample some English sparkling wine.
Start your first day with a full English breakfast at a nearby greasy spoon cafe, you’re going to need the energy for the day ahead. Begin your exploration at the Tower of London to learn more about the city’s grisly history. Cross the iconic Tower Bridge, posing for as many photos as possible, before continuing along the South Bank.
Pause for coffee, taking in that famous skyline across the river. Next stop is the Tate Modern for the latest from rebellious British artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Be sure to head to the top of the new wing for more fantastic views over the city. Mind suitably boggled, a short walk will take you to the London Eye, where you can watch the city unfold beneath you from one of their signature pods.
Cross the river again and grab an early meal of dim sum or Peking duck from bustling Chinatown, before catching a West End show. Whether you want to sob through Les Miserables, dance along with Mama Mia or enjoy the world-class visual spectacle that is the Lion King, this is sure to be an evening to remember. Head to Covent Garden for post-show drinks and atmosphere, if you’re lucky you’ll catch a few street performers on your way between bars.
Next day, feast in some British tradition with a visit to the royal residences. Your luxury coach will pick you up, and deliver you safely to Windsor Castle, home to the Queen and many monarchs dating back to William the Conqueror. Having immersed yourself in the fantasy of being a royal, hop back on the coach for a visit to Buckingham Palace. As the Queen’s city residence and offices, you’ll learn about the day to day workings of the royal family, enjoy a glimpse into their daily life and lay eyes on some of their most treasured possessions. Your day will end with a relaxing turn about the royal grounds. If you have time, head to the Serpentine Lake to enjoy some very British rowing in a beautiful scenic setting.
This evening, it’s time to feast on that British staple, the curry. Head to Dishoom for an authentic take on Bombay street food that will have your buds tingling. Our top tip is the chili margarita and the black dahl.
Your final day should be spent learning about the other great British institution: Harry Potter, of course. The Warner Brothers Studio Tour is a short train ride from the city center, and gives you the opportunity to see sets, costumes and special effects from the movies that have captured the imaginations of people the world over. Grab your wand and cloak and experience how it feels to ride a broomstick. You can even sample Butterbeer and leave with some chocolate frogs in your pocket!
Back in the city, spend the rest of the day browsing Spitalfields Market for souvenirs. You’ll find hand-made clothes, accessories and jewelry, quirky homeware and delicious treats. Keep an eye out for the handmade fudge, a perfect gift if you can restrain yourself from eating it all on the way home! Once those shopping bags have mounted up, end the day by grabbing traditional fish and chips and a pint of ale from a nearby east end pub.
Your long weekend in London complete, you’re sure to have begun a must see, must do, must eat list for your next visit. London is the kind of city you can never get enough of.
Sally is a freelance writer who left Britain’s cold shores in search of sun and adventure. Promising loved ones she’d be home within a few months, she’s still on the road over a year later. You’ll usually find her browsing local markets, photographing fabulous temples, or seeking out the coolest spot to watch the sunset.