PART 1: London’s must-see list is endless, but here’s what you really shouldn’t miss out on while living in the capital. WORDS: Daniel Landon
By far this is the best place in London for a day trip. Take the Docklands Light Railway from Bank station, which passes through the gritty East End and gleaming Canary Wharf, then get off at Cutty Sark.
Marvel at the glorious architecture of the National Maritime Museum (above), wander through the park, straddle the prime meridian at the Royal Observatory, and end with a pint of locally-brewed beer at the Greenwich Union pub.
The sights and sounds of goths, punks, weirdos, piercings and offbeat shops makes a maiden visit to the Camden markets an amazing experience. Sure, the second time you drop by it feels dirty and nasty, but it’s the most vibrant part of London. Plus, a walk from Camden Lock (the best of the many markets) along the canal to Regent’s Park is always delightful.
Football – the national sport
The English Premier League is rivalled only by Spain as the richest, most prestigious and most skilful national league in the world. London has five Premier League clubs – Fulham FC is the easiest to obtain tickets for.
Or watch one of the nine lower league clubs, such as Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Leyton Orient, Queen’s Park Rangers, Crystal Palace or AFC Wimbledon.
Get drunk in a ye olde pub
There’s nothing more endearingly English than a great pub. For an atmospheric ye olde worlde feel try: The Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (Fleet St, EC4A 2BU), Ye Olde Mitre Tavern (Ely Crt, EC1N 6SJ), Cittie of Yorke (High Holborn, WC1V 6BN), Lamb and Flag (Rose St, WC2E 9EB) or The Blackfriar (Queen Victoria St, EC4V 4EG).
To make your experience even more English, try a pint of ale – England’s brewing speciality.
The City and St Paul’s
The square mile around St Paul’s Cathedral constitutes what’s known as ‘The City’ – it’s the heart of historic London and home to the capital’s banking industry. Take a stroll on a weekday and check out all the suits, and the grand Bank of England as well as Guildhall. Don’t miss the Gherkin and Lloyd’s of London for its bewildering, inside-out design.
West end shows
The West End is the largest theatre district in the world, and there’s something for just about everyone – from Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, such as The Phantom Of The Opera, to dramatic plays, such as The Mousetrap, which has been running since 1952. See officiallondontheatre.co.uk and tkts.co.uk.
A cruise on the Thames is the best way to see London. Cruising from Hampton Court to Woolwich Arsenal (or vice versa) via central London offers a whole new perspective on familiar sights, and a chance to see new areas you haven’t seen before, such as the Thames Barrier and old Docklands. You can check times at tfl.gov.uk.
Tower of London
It’s easy think of the Tower of London as yet another expensive tourist trap. But you will leave saying, ‘That was awesome.’ The centuries-old buildings are hugely impressive, both inside and out, and ooze a tragic, blood-soaked history. The Tower’s Beefeaters run free tours.
Soho after dark
Discover the flipside to the toursity vibe of central London by wandering through Soho on a Friday or Saturday night. The area (bounded by Regent Street, Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road and Leicester Square)
is traditionally home of London’s red-light district. It’s been cleaned up, though, and has dozens of pubs and clubs.
Visit the Natural History Museum, V&A Museum, and the Science Museum. They’re all free to enter and all world-class.
Click here for part two of The TNT 2010 ‘Must-do in London’ list