London is a diverse and beautiful city and it is impossible to limit to just 5 things to do hence these are my top 5 favourite things to do… by all means do more.
- Visit London’s Southwark. The Southwark district is just south of the Thames and includes the south bank of the Thames. Any given day or night, you will find plenty to do. Most importantly it is extremely walkable and along the bank you are likely to find concerts, or other entertainment. It has food trucks, art institutions (Tate Modern) riverside pubs with rooftop patios, and more. walk from Westminster to Tower Bridge you can do the London eye, visit a public rooftop garden that serves alcohol, visit Borough Market and end at Butler’s wharf a shopping and food haven featuring new and trendy shops and restaurants in converted warehoused. My personal favourite is the OXO tower bar. It has some of the most inventive cocktails and best view of London. http://www.oxotower.co.uk/who/oxo-tower-restaurant-bar-brasserie/
- St. Paul’s Cathedral. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675, St Paul’s dominates the London skyline. By far of all churches I have visited it is one if not the most beautiful. It is visually stunning and well worth the price of admission. The dome dominates the design and if you are so inclined, you can take the stares to the top of the dome and visit the whispering gallery. St Paul’s does have a worshiping congregation so taking pictures during a service can be considered rude. The service times are well posted so it is best to avoid that if you are just touring. https://www.stpauls.co.uk/
- Find a pub, authentic and local.The very thing i was most excited about the first time I visited London was finding a local pub. So much of what I had read or watched about British culture seemed to emphasize the importance of pubs. I wanted to have a local beer and food and enjoy all the pub culture I could find. Finding a pub in London won’t be a problem but finding one that serves great food can be a challenge. Several pubs cater to tourists or to the convenience food crowds. But finding a pub that serves local ingredients is a good sign. A few standouts for me have been the Red Lion, Ship and Shovel, Bear and Staff (touristy but good), Duke of York and my favourite St Stephen’s Tavern. St Stephen’s is just across the street from Westminster Palace (parliament). Still independent it serves the best cheese sandwich (with local cheeses of course) I have ever had. Could a cheese sandwich be that good you ask? Actually yes. http://ststephenstavern.co.uk/food-and-drink
- Go Horseback riding in Hyde Park. @benton8tor and I were visiting Europe once with my parents and I decided to give my my mom a belated birthday present riding horses in Hyde Park. She is obsessed with Hyde Park, horses and Royalty so this seemed the perfect gift. Hyde Park’s Rotten Row a horse riding trail in Hyde Park is where we went. Corrupted from Route de Roi, it became known as Rotten Row. Though not as widely used today, Rotten Row is still used for riding. The horses at Hyde Park stable are available for riding 6 months and then they have a 6 month vacation. Helmets and boots are provided so I felt authentic. It took me a bit to adjust to the English saddle my my horse and I bonded in no time. My horse was either afraid of pigeons as well or very empathetic as he seemed to take great lengths to avoid them. I wish I could say the same for those pesky birds which did not seem to want to share the space. Either way, our instructor led us on a beautiful ride and it is a wonderful way to experience a beautiful park. @benton8tor couldn’t join us due to his horse allergy, so he and my dad cooled their heels at the Swan pub on the north side of Hyde Park. The Swan is infamous for coining the phrase ‘one for the road’ as it was stop for prisoners on the road to the gallows. Despite the macabre history the Swan is a lovely pub to visit post ride! https://www.hydeparkstables.com/
- Cheese tour in Leadenhall. Leadenhall is the perfect stop for any history buff or Harry Potter fan. Leadenhall located in the city of London and has been operating as a market since the 14th century. Leadenhall is the backdrop for the Diagon alley scenes in Harry Potter. I have to admit, this was my main reason for wanting to visit and Leadenhall is worth it. It is beautiful with much of its old character on display. The Lambs Tavern is a great place for a drink while you wait for your piece de resistance, the Cheese Tour!!!! Yes Leadenhall has a cheese tour featuring some of the best local and international cheeses available. You can have a straight up cheese tour or with wine ( Obviously the one I chose) or even beer, port ect… The guide knows her cheeses and wine and you can taste many cheeses you probably don’t even know existed. Well worth it. http://cheeseatleadenhall.co.uk/tours/
London is a wonderful city and these are just a few highlights. There is so much more to do in London but that is for another blog. Honorable mentions include: going to the theatre or enjoying high tea. Oh and for the wine lovers, don’t forget Gordon’s Wine bar South of Charing Cross!