London: a melting pot of food and fashion, history and culture
London’s calling – a melting pot of food, fashion, culture, history and shopping recognised as among the best in the world.
Here’s our guide to some of the best places for sightseeing, eating, drinking and shopping in London…
Things to do in London
Ever wondered whatlife is like among the coral reefs deep below the world’s tropical waters? You can now find out without leaving central London. Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea brings this beguiling, wondrous world to the Natural History Museum.
Look wide-eyed at the live coral reef, recoil from the venomous blue-ringed octopus and learn about Charles Darwin and his work on board HMS Beagle.
Things to see at the Natural History Museum:
- Meet the dinosaurs: The diplodocus lived 150 million years ago and was 26 metres tall. The skeleton is displayed in the entrance hall
- Earthquake room: Get an idea what an earthquake feels like as it tears through the Kobe Supermarket in this simulator
Spend an afternoon improving your knowledge of art and culture at the National Gallery.
Some of the finest paintings in the world hang here – use its list of 30 highlight paintings to find some of the best.
Paintings to see from the 30:
- The Hay Wain, John Constable (1821): The defining image of rural England from one of our most celebrated landscape artists.
- Sunflowers, Vincent van Gogh (1888): This iconic still-life of a vase of wilting sunflowers was painted by van Gogh to decorate the property he rented in the south of France
Interested in Ancient Egypt? Visit the British Museum to see coffins and mummies from the Land of the Pharaohs, alongside artefacts such as jewellery, tools and pottery – giving you a wondrous insight into life as far back as 2686BC.
Shopping in London
London is one of the world’s top three shopping cities, according to CNN Travel. Here are 3 areas that’ll give you a taste of everything:
Carnaby Street: Mods transformed this backwater into a major fashion hub in the early 1960s and it remains just as relevant today. Walk beneath the famous arch to find heritage brands like Barbour and Fred Perry nestled alongside contemporary hipster fare from American Apparel and Albam.
Oxford Street: The best place in London for high street and department stores. Find oodles of high street regulars such as Next, H&M and Monsoon – plus flagship Topshop (8), John Lewis (13) and Selfridges (1) named among the best 20 shops in London by TimeOut.
Regent Street: Regent Street has plenty of high-end heritage labels and independent boutiques but the jewel in its crown is Liberty. This unique department store dates from 1875 and is housed in a mock-Tudor building. The place to come for gifts for those who see themselves as cool, quirky or a little bit different – everything from leather satchels and shirts to homeware and knitwear in distinctive Liberty prints. Named London’s second best shop by TimeOut.
Food and drink in London
Eating in London? The capital is a true mixed pot of cooking styles, cultures and cuisines. Here are a few of our favourites.
A proper burger. Looking for a proper, old-fashioned burger after a hard day’s retail therapy? Meat Liquor just off Oxford Street has burgers that’ll send you weak at the knees but not the wallet. We love the classic cheeseburger - a beef patty with cheese, red onion, pickle, lettuce, mustard and ketchup. And remember, it’s fries here – not chips.
Sumptuous street food. Want to grab a sandwich to eat on the go? Borough Market – one of London’s best known food markets - has some great street food stalls.
Lip-smacking lunches at Borough Market:
- Brindisa: This Spanish deli does a mean sandwich of hot, spicy chorizo and rocket with grilled peppers.
Kappacasein: Experience a cheese sandwich like never before – sourdough, melted cheddar and sautéed leek and onion.
An intimate dinner. With Beagle in Hoxton you get good food in hip surroundings. Built into the railway arches at Hoxton station, Beagle delivers exposed brickwork, warm lighting, chalkboards and sumptuous seasonal grub.
The menu changes daily: expect duck-fat chips, roast cod with steamed mussels and braised veal shin with butterbeans. No wonder it regularly crops up in London’s best restaurants lists.
Here are three spots in London you might not have heard of…
The Harp: A real, real-ale gem. Harp was once voted pub of the year by CAMRA – step inside and you’ll see why. Choose from 10 different real ales on draught, and take in the beguiling collection of Victorian portraits adorning the walls as you sip your pint. Buzzing with chatter and warm with the ale, this is a bit of a home from home.
Lower Marsh: Find quirky independent shops and a thriving food market at this off-the-beaten track location. Lower Marsh is a short walk from the rear exit of waterloo Tube station. At the Saturday market find organic artisan bread, Somerset cheese, and gourmet baked beans. A hidden gem.
Highgate Cemetery: One of the world’s most well-known cemeteries, Highgate is the final resting place of philosopher Karl Marx. Charles Dickens’ wife and folk legend Bert Jansch are also buried here. Spend a reflective afternoon among the trees, wildlife and memorials.
Enjoy your trip to London.