It is said that a bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else. Despite London’s notorious overcast skies, everything apart from the weather draws millions of people annually.
Because of London’s rich history, its architecture and culture have withstood the test of time, allowing residents and visitors alike a peek into the past with its towers, churches, and iconic landmarks– some of which date back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries, However, just because its rich history remains, it doesn’t mean the city itself is stuck back in time! London’s close proximity to Europe, the Americas, and Africa make it a global melting pot of ideas and innovation; a cross-continental edginess that is only found in this cosmopolitan city.
A visit to London from anywhere in the world is a must for any traveler looking for the best mix of newness and richness from the past. And, some expert recommendations from us at Buzziler will hopefully provide you with a bit of both! See below for our London picks:
What to Eat
Back in the day, many scoffed at British cuisine suggesting it was, well, lacking in the flavor department. Much has been improved with the mixing and mingling of different cultures into the daily diet of the Brits. And of course, a few English favorites cannot be missed. When in Londontown, be sure not to miss these lovely bites:
HP Sauce – A tomato based condiment that leaves a more tart aftertaste due to the addition of malt vinegar. You may never want to touch ketchup again after tasting its British cousin.
Fish and Chips – A classic take-away item for the English that has been around since the 1800’s. Battered white fish, such as cod, is deep fried and set piping hot alongside fried wedge potatoes, lovingly referred to as chips. You can try this dish at London’s oldest shop, Rock and Sole Plaice, dating back to 1871.
British Curry – Though traditionally this dish originated in India, English people have happily adopted the dish into their diets since the 18th century. A hearty dish consisting of protein (often chicken), vegetables, and curry powder (a blend of spices like cinnamon, turmeric, chili, and many more), slowly simmered with yogurt and tomatoes into a delicious sauce over rice. Head to Dishoom, Rajdoot, and Booma for our favorites!
Scones and Clotted Cream – The crumbly texture of a biscuit meets the light sweetness of a cake in this delicious pastry. Add jam and clotted cream (a soft, spreadable, sweet, and oh-so-creamy condiment), and you will never want to miss tea time!
What to See
London has been written about in novels for centuries, thus evoking a sense of familiarity when touring around the city. The London Bridge, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace, have all famously come alive in our minds, but seeing them in person is, without a doubt, even more magical. The city’s rich history could never be consumed in one go, but if you take advantage of London’s well-connected public transport system, you can definitely see our picks below:
Notting Hill – The set for the 90’s film that shares the namesake, but also a stunning suburb easily accessible to all major attractions. This quaint part of the city is known for colorful homes and beautifully pruned streets. Getting lost here is a blessing in disguise!
Big Ben – The bell located in the clock tower at the north end of London’s Palace at Westminster is lovingly nicknamed after Sir Benjamin Hall (who oversaw the installation), or heavyweight boxing champion Benjamin Caunt. Regardless of its origin, it remains an icon of the city.
Westminster Abbey – Just west of the Palace of Westminster is the gorgeous Gothic abbey church that is responsible for housing most royal ceremonies, such as matrimony and burial.
Tower Bridge – Oftentimes, this iconic bridge is confused with the London Bridge (located half a mile upstream), this bridge’s two towers offer not only a passage for cars over the River Thames, but also a pedestrian path with epic views of the city.
What to Do
Londoners know they are privileged to have so many wonderful cultural activities at their fingertips. A night out enjoying dinner and drinks at one of their globally-famed restaurants before a debut show at the London Theatre, for example, is just a typical weekend for some. Day or night, London offers endless possibilities to keep even the toughest of culture critics satisfied. While we can’t suggest everything we love (we admit, the list is far too long), we rounded up a few London adventures below:
A Night in the West End – New York may have Broadway, but London has the West End. West End Theatre is synonymous with the highest levels of stage acting in the world. Seeing a show in any one of the theaters located in the West End of London is truly a night (or day — which tends to be more reasonably priced) to remember.
Afternoon Tea – Nothing may be more British than the art of having afternoon tea. A warm pot of strong brewed tea with lovely accompaniments to satisfy both the sweet and savory taste buds of afternoon hunger pains. Small sandwiches such as cucumber and cream cheese, scones and the famous clotted cream, and small pastries, all artfully placed on a tiered tray. Experience a relaxing afternoon at numerous tea houses and hotels around London, all offering their own take on this afternoon tradition. *The Savoy and Langham are two hotels that offer exquisite afternoon tea services, or try Fortnum and Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon*
Changing of the Guard – Get a taste of Royal pomp and circumstance with the Changing of the Guard, a ceremony that replaces one set of royal guards with another, marking the shift change. The ceremony takes place between three locations: Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks, and takes about 45 minutes. It’s definitely a spectacle to watch, as music, marching, and ceremonial acts take place. Check the official Changing of the Guard website to ensure times, as schedules may be subject to change.
Pub Crawl – London is filled to the brim with iconic pubs, some of which are covered in our Pub Tour of Notting Hill and Kensington. London local, Chris, will be your guide (and drinking buddy) to the steep tradition of gathering in a cosy pub for a pint. Cheers to that!
For more things to do in London, try one of our fantastic and fun Buzziler tours!