City Guide: London


A city of culture and character, London was recently named the best city in the world. For me, it’s a magical place. Made up of various boroughs and with one of the most accessible transportation systems, London is a place of endless exploration and discovery. Days can be spent at the various historical sites, picnicking in it’s plethora of public parks, or shopping at the various food, vintage, and flower markets. Evenings can be spent walking along the winding river Thames, seeing some of the best theater, and dining at world-renowned restaurants.

London is a cultural capital with over 300 languages spoken regularly and accessible by six international airports. Boroughs, or districts, divide the city. Each of these districts has a unique feel and vibe, so it’s worth trying out a few. When visiting a city, I love taking in a few tourist attractions and then attempting to be as much of a local as possible. Because of London’s fantastic transportation, hopping around the city is a breeze.

The Tube and Buses | You can purchase single tickets, or if you’d like to save a few dollars, purchase an unlimited pass and ride as much as you like. The tube and buses will get you just about anywhere in London.

Barclay Bikes | If you’re feeling more active, borrow a bike from the city. It’s only a few quid and you can spend the afternoon exploring the city on wheels.

Walking | London is incredibly accessible by foot. Grab a map from a local tube station!

There are so many places to try in London, but here are a few of my favorite tube stops and places to check out:

Clapham Junction | South of the river and populated by a younger crowd, Clapham has great restaurants, is near some lovely parks, and has a good nightlife scene. Try the Breakfast Club for a delicious brunch. Or if you head over in the evening, head to Northcote Records for some dancing, or to The Ship for a great outdoor scene overlooking the river.

Battersea Park | Walk over for a picnic, or paddle boats in the lake. There is also a small zoo in the park! If you’re an animal enthusiast, stop by the Battersea Dogs & Cats home. Hop on a Barclay bike or walk through the park to check out the Doodle Bar, a great after work scene with various food vendors and ping-pong tables.

South Kensington | This stop is bustling during the day with locals hopping in and out of shops, lunching, and heading to work. Grab a quick lunch at Muriel’s Kitchen, then head to the VA Museum, the Natural History Museum or any of the other many local free museums. Grab a gelato at Scoop—their flavor selection is divine.

Sloane Square | Just east of South Kensington, Sloan Square is full of shopping, restaurants, and day life. For a quick bite, try Chelsea Quarter Cafe. If you’re craving a lounging afternoon, have a glass of wine outside at Bluebird Cafe. Window shop along Kings Road, and make sure to walk through Partridges to check out their incredible condiment and spice selections.

London Bridge | On the south end of the river, this stop leads you to the edge of the London Bridge. During the day, walk through Borough Market, an ideal place for foodies. Take a walk across the bridge at night—the bridges are beautiful and lit during the evening.

Leicester Square | In the heart of Soho, this stop leads you out in central London to a world of dining, theater, and shops. Check out Flat Iron for an incredible affordable steak and great cocktails. Polpois the place for Venetian tapas. Barrafina, while always busy, is worth the wait and boasts of fresh ingredients and Spanish tapas. Make sure to find your way to Experimental Cocktail Club. French-owned and hidden on a street in China Town, this speak-easy cocktail club mixes up some tantalizing libations. If you have time, grab tickets to a show—there’s always a large selection playing.

Liverpool Street | East London has become a scene of its own, with a fun, young, and creative demographic. It’s often called the home of London hipster culture. Spitalfields Traders Market is great for wandering and shopping for some take home souvenirs. Allpress Espresso makes a great breakfast. Check out Poppies for fantastic fish and chips. If you’re around on a Sunday, make sure you head to Columbia Road Flower Market. For a night out, try Oslo which has a great 2nd floor dance room.

Other notable tube stops to explore:
Notting Hill Gate
Picadilly Circus
Covent Garden
Oxford Circus

Have you been to London? What’s your favorite borough?

Image via soverypretty on Tumblr

Kara Elise is an experience curator and hostess who works in the food and event space. Her greatest joy is to create spaces and experiences that cultivate community. Kara's expertise in hosting, recipe creation and food styling establish a culture of invitation through holistically designed, welcoming environments.

  • Alessia October 13, 2014

    Seeing the whole of London lightened up from Ally Pally is quite an experience. Au contraire I wouldn’t know why anyone would willingly go to Oxford Circus. Maybe Soho and Carnaby Street, Liberty is a lovely building and lovely place, or on the other side Mayfair from Bond Street Tube (Catholics and those who like church architecture should definitely stop by Farm Street Church which is lovely). I like that area around Curzon Street, you can get to it by entering the church in Mount Street Gardens and exiting it on the opposite side.
    And St Katherine’s Docks is another favourite area of mine, tube is Tower Hill and you get there from Tower Bridge which at night is a delight. I definitely agree about bridges at night, the only thing I miss about living south of the river.
    My favourite pizza place is the one at Gabriel’s Wharf, the South Bank is worth it regardless and there’s a nice pub at the back of the restaurant areas at Gabriel’s Wharf too.
    I have so many suggestions I could go on for ages and it’s already a long comment, I should go back to blogging.

  • Jennifer October 10, 2014

    I loved London! My husband and I were only there for 3 days (not uncommon for us to take short trips) but I would do it again. My favorite place was Picadilly Circus. I also enjoyed The London Eye because it provides fantastic views. London is definitely a place I would go back