Cristina Criddle is a travel and lifestyle blogger from the UK who blogs over at Criddlemethis.com. She has written a fantastic guide to our wonderful capital.
London is the heart of Britain. Yes, it will bleed your bank account dry and kill any dreams of home-ownership but it’s all worth it because where else in the world would you find such a diverse mix of people, sounds, smells, food and shops, all on your doorstep?
I’m from Devon originally, so when I first moved to London I was overwhelmed by all the busy, vivid happenings. I wanted to swallow the whole place up. Because it’s London, you can basically do or see anything you can think of. I have no means done it all, but here are some of the favourite sights.
Cruise along Notting Hill
Notting Hill and Portobello Road market are full of beautiful pastel coloured, grand Victorian houses. During the week, it is a peaceful haven but, on the weekend, a bustling market opens with street food, vintage clothes and antiques. It’s the most Instagrammable place in London and a wonderful place to get lost (and search for your own Hugh Grant).
Hit the museums
There are loads of museums in London, so you’re spoilt for choice. If you’re into science hit up the Science Museum, or if you like something quirky, the Crime Museum at New Scotland Yard. The British Museum – full of rooms and rooms of history from the dinosaurs to Egyptian mummies to medieval knights – is my favourite.
Or the art galleries
If you fancy a bit of culture for free, there’s no better way to spend a day than wandering around an art gallery. My picks? Tate Britain (which is the one place that’s reasonably quiet on the weekends!), National Portrait Gallery and the Saatchi. There’s always pop-up art shows too, so just see what you can find if you’re visiting.
I still don’t know my way around London, but what I do know is my way around the shops. Oxford Street, Regent Street or Mayfair for high street (and posh) treats, or Camden, Shoreditch and Brixton for lively markets.
Paint the town red
There are so many types of night out in London. Like your classic pubs? Sam Smiths are dotted around the city with good and cheap ale. Wine bar? No problem, hit up Covent Garden for all sorts. If you’re looking for cocktails, The Cocktail Club is your place (go figure!).
Get some greenery
Yes it’s London and it’s polluted and busy but if you need a bit of downtime, just hit one of London’s beauty spots: Hampstead Heath, a pedalo at Hyde Park, or a trip up to Greenwich, where you can see across all of London.
No, not like that. You’re in the home of high-rise buildings, make the most of it. Take a trip up the Shard, which is more than 1,000ft, or a good back-up (and slightly cheaper) visit the OXO Tower.
London is the home of civilisation, so learn about its roots. Visit the impressive Houses of Parliament, built in the 11 century and have been the centre of our democracy ever since. If politics isn’t your thing, get royal. Hit up Buckingham Palace and see the changing of the guard. If you manage to make a beefeater laugh, let me know.
Everything. London has all kinds of cuisine from around the globe, so make the most of the variety. I’d recommend a curry on Brick Lane, where you have to barter with the restaurant owners for the best deal or, for the British experience, have afternoon tea at a swanky hotel like The Ritz and celeb spot.
The best way to discover London is stumbling upon unique little areas, unlike any place you’ve been before. So get lost, walk around and explore.