The best way to get around England would be to book your stay in its magnificent capital city, London. Of course, your stay here might be slightly more expensive than in other places, which aren’t so main stream. But you will certainly appreciate the ease with which you will find frequent transportation to all other parts of the country.
Best Time To Visit
Best time to visit London is from May to July
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
The London Eye
One of London's most famous landmarks, and a once in a lifetime experience-but not worth trying more than once. However, the views are amazing-especially when the weather is clear and beautiful. I was lucky to go for it during London's heatwave, which meant perfect weather.
Buckingham Palace is the residence of the Queen of England. No matter what time of the day you show up at the palace gates, it will be packed. Although the iron gates always stay bolted shut, a glimpse at the Queen's residence is enough to have you gaping. Plus, the change of guard is something worth checking out, though I'm not too sure of the exact time of day it happens.
From here, you can end off your day by walking down to Trafalgar square before the sun sets during the winter days. It's a public square with Nelson's column in the centre, and surrounded by four lion statues on the four corners; often used for demonstrations, celebrations (e.g. St Patrick's day celebrations!) or community gatherings. Loving the purplish pink gradients which adorned the sky, looking back it looks extremely surreal.
Contrary to popular belief, Tower bridge is not London bridge. London bridge is an ordinary-looking bridge that was built in 1973, and is walking distance from borough market. Tower bridge on the other hand is located at Tower hill tube station and is painted in white, blue and red for Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee in 1977. And because it spans across the River thames, it's extremely windy and cold during winter (there's a Starbucks on the lower south side of the Thames if you need to grab your cuppa warm joe to bear the chills).
This place is the heart of Central London. With all the street shows happening and people walking around and the souvenirs shops - every tourist in London must experience this place. Tip: best time to visit this place is post midnight because that's when this places is alive with the people partying and the pub crawls happening.
St. Paul's Cathedral
Even if you have left none of these unexplored, it is another thing to appreciate their grandeur at nights. So you can also choose to spend the evening at the tower bridge. High rise buildings like the Shard and St. Paul's Cathedral are visible from the bridge. All these are well lit in the evenings and quite enticing. Further, to spice up your visit, walk to the haunted tower of London from Tower Bridge. Belief has it that its appearance grows spookier by the night. But during my first visit to the tower, I wasn't even aware of such facts. And nothing seemed abnormal.
London has some of most famous tourist attractions of the world. You should not miss the British Museum, which includes collections like mummies in the Ancient Egypt, Parthenon sculptures, and Rosetta Stone. Other popular museum includes Natural History Museum, Science museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, and Royal Museums, If you are an admirer of classic art then you should surely visit the National Gallery.
The best way to get around Central London is to just walk. The alternative to walking is the National Rail/ Underground and Buses. Taxis can burn a big hole in your pocket and is highly not recommended. It takes some time to figure out the National Railways and the Underground routes however the the below two apps/ website provide accurate information with respect to the route and the timings for trains/underground/buses:Google Maps; or https://tfl.gov.uk/Another website that provides useful information with travel information, events and tickets is www.visitlondon.com.Trip Itinerary:Day 1: Tower Bridge, London Eye, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Soho, Liecester Square, Picadilly Circus, Pub Crawl
Get off at Canary Wharf and change over to the DLR. Hop off at Cutty Sark, climb out the station and you will be transported to a completely new place away from the buzz and crowds that define city of London. Here at Greenwich, you see quaint tea rooms, proper pubs and the vibe of a little seaside resort. Ideal as a day trip from London, it is amazing how 15 minutes on the DLR can bring you to a whole new place.
Taking the tube down to London bridge, Borough market is definitely one of the places in London that I miss greatly for it's wide range of gourmet treats and alluring carts of delicacies (missing the Banoffee pie immensely, if only R could pack it back from London). I'm no food connoisseur myself, but even if you're full from lunch, you can always score some free samples before making your purchase decision or get nuggets of trivia from the friendly store owners.
And if shopping is one of things on your mind, make sure you visit Camden Market. Its practically a maze, a gigantic maze, with stores that sell almost anything that you can think of. Books, clothes, cameras, posters, handmade goods, costumes, memorabilia, art, jewelry. Old things, new things. Strange things you may never have seen before. An old camera. A Banksy print. And then, the food market. The place is a congregation of cuisines from across the world, and I am not exaggerating. You can take your pick from Italy, Spain, Africa, India, China, Vietnam. Or you can dig into a home-made cake. Or sit down on the pavement for a cup of coffee, or a glass of cold beer. Camden is like a jigsaw puzzle with bits and pieces of London all joined together to form an eccentric, exuberant whole. Like the city itself. Eccentric. Exuberant. Impossible to contain in words.
Portobello Road Market
Portobello Market is one of the best markets in London, you definitely have to check it out! It is a short walk from Notting Hill Gate station which runs on the District and Circle Line. If you want to get nice antiques stuff, it is best to visit them on Saturdays as antiques and bric-a-brac stalls only opens on Saturday. Portobello Road literally has everything! You can find many vintage items here if you are a fan!
The Museums: London houses some of the best museums of the world and most of them don’t have an entry fee. The National Gallery is home to more than 2000 works of art. The plush Tate Modern and Tate Britain are also jaw dropping. Once in London the Science Museum is also worth a dekko which has seven floors of educating and entertaining exhibits.
Harrods is an upmarket department store located on Brompton Road. A quick stole to indulge in the luxury. This store also houses the Godiva chocolates (Godiva is a manufacturer of premium chocolates) A hot chocolate here could be worthy.Don't miss to take a picture with the Harrods Bear.
Primrose Hill is a very small park just adjacent to Regents Park on its north-east end. There is nothing too impressive about it except that in the middle of the park there is a hill where you can get a birds eye view of London. This place is again a favourite of mine, its great to sometimes just sit there and look at the city - very quiet, very relaxed and very calm!
Moving on, we enter the station platform and are ready to board the train to go to Leicester Sq. With 2 big bags and 2 hand bags, it was a cakewalk to board the train; moreover it was afternoon so it wasn't rush hour. The train journey was quiet comfortable and smooth and we reached our destination in exactly 1 hour 10 minutes, at around 3 pm. We called up Sugandha after reaching the station, our friend in London and the person we are supposed to stay with for the 4 days we are in London. She came to pick us up; her office was walking distance from the station.We dropped our bags in her office and went for some coffee. Over coffee, Sugandha suggested us places we can visit over the next 3 hours in and around Leicester Sq, since after 3 hours Sugandha was supposed to get off from work and we were supposed to go to her place in Lime house (DLR Line).
London marked one of the best culinary experiences in my trip! The metropolis has so many dynamic shades to experiencing food that one trip also seems short. Its food scenes seemed to have been changing before my eyes so rapidly, that while one day Aldwych was the hub, another day the street food at Charlotte Street attracts the crowd. While I roamed with a foodie heart all around London, I discovered all sorts of gastronomically exuberating experiences! From East End to Convent Garden, from having the best of English afternoon teas to basking in the summer sun on rooftop bars, from enjoying secret speakeasies on rainy gloomy days to exploring the best bars and underground gin palaces... I just could not get enough of London. And to add to this are the ever evolving food trends like molecular gastronomy to the quirkiest of cafe-concepts and all of this in one city, where, of course, I did not miss a single chance to gorge on the culinary excellence at Michelin-starring world’s best restaurants!
Kings Cross SU Bar
The Baker Street tube station has walls painted with excerpts from the Sherlock Holmes novels and is, in itself, a place well worth a visit. Take the tube now to King's Cross. This is again a place which needs no introduction. The crowds at Platform 9 3/4 are massive and you will find queues waiting to get a photo with the trolley half mashed into the wall. Instead, walk into the Harry Potter store, and marvel at the Firebolt and the Elder Wand, indulge your inner nerd and splurge on Gryffindor jumpers. Then take the escalators to the food court upstairs, grab a bite and look over the magical place where The Boy who Lived, once took the train to Hogwarts.
Last week, Singapore Day 2014 was held at Victoria Park in London! It is basically a reunion for Singaporeans in Europe/UK! I was quite surprised that we all Singaporeans are indeed enthusiastic! There are close to 9,000 people attended. Some of them even flew all the way to London for this day! It was amazing, despite the long queues to get some local food that we all miss so much! The best part is, everything is FREE? Its a no brainer. Each of us received a picnic mat, a bottle of water, some heat pack ( if bad weather approaches) , wet tissues, and an umbrella! The overseas singaporean unit is really thoughtful!
However, the best way to see London, I believe, is like a local. Give a miss to the fast forward guided tours, let yourself be swept away by the massive crowds at the tube, avoid the queues outside the London Eye, climb instead to the Royal Observatory and enjoy the stunning views of Canary Wharf, pig out at the Greenwich food markets and shop for bargains at Camden! By the time you are done with London, you will find that you are not quite done yet, because London is all this, and much more. Here below my ideas for exploring London like a local. - Walking Central London
Hampstead Health is again a huge park in the northern part of London. Surprisingly, all the parks have a different character to it. Hampstead is almost like a jungle - with hills and dense forests and so on. It has a couple of ponds which are quite popular for swimming in the summer.
Lord's Cricket Ground
Day 4 in London: I'm a big cricket fan and if you're cricket fan in England, there's one place you just cannot miss. The Mecca for all cricket lovers; The Lords Stadium. I went in for the tour at 11 am (They have hourly tours in the morning and afternoon from 10 am - 2 pm). The tour started with the Long hall, proceeded to the players' dressing rooms & balconies, and ended in the media center. The entry fee and tour is £18/person.
Kensington Palace Gardens
Kensington Gardens has loomed large in my imagination ever since, and when I went to London on a recent trip with my family I urged them to stop by.Now you should know that Kensington Gardens are huge. Running seamlessly into Hyde Park they combine in a total 625 acres. There is so much to see, and we barely scratched the surface. We arrived in the late afternoon of a gorgeous May day. Wandering down a wide asphalt path, we came close to a hub of activity where joggers and families out for a stroll swirled around a collection of fountains and water flowers.
I love visiting these parks. Whenever the sun is out (and sometimes when it isn't!), its a pleasure to walk around the parks, taking in all the freshness! So I thought it would be a good idea to pen down my thoughts about the ones visited in recent years. When I am in a park, I don't take many photographs, as it seems so mundane. But now when writing the blog, I realied how few pics I have of them. Still found some pics of the ones close to my house which were visited more often ;-), so at least there is something to post!
St Pancras Old Church
Yet, there it stands. A miracle made possible only by the relentless activism of church leaders and history lovers in the community through the years. St Pancras Old Church is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in England, dating back to a time when London had not yet spread so far North; a rural oasis until modernization took over in the 19th century. Many believe that the church could date back to as far as 314 AD, and there are several references to the parish in the Domesday Book. Walking through the gilded wrought iron gate, the surrounding noise doesn’t exactly fade away, but you quickly forget about it all the same. This little church has ties to hundreds of famous writers, philanthropists, musicians, and London giants. Their remnants are scattered throughout, although most are easily missed- so do pick up a map inside. (You should leave a donation!)
We like to walk through the various areas of the greater London area. One of the best walks was from the subway station in “Mile End” (Eastern London), along Regent’s Canal, to Islington. We went through old industrial areas, an old landfill, through the beautiful Victoria Park and ended up in the posh area of Islington.
William Shakespeare is one of the most recognizable names across the globe, so it comes as no surprise that Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a recreation of the playwright’s original London theatre, is one of the city’s most popular attractions. There is something so magical about standing beneath the stage of The Globe, and the fact that the theatre only dates back to 1997 doesn’t seem to matter. After meeting with the group, we were taken to the pit- the area directly below the stage that functioned as the cheap seats back in Shakespeare’s hey-day. (Although there were of course no seats, standing room only, which remains today.) This was my favorite part of the visit, as standing under such a famous stage really made the imagination run wild. The entire theatre was built without modern tools, using the same designs and materials that were used in the original buildings. There were two Globe Theatres before the current one actually. The first was built in 1599 but was destroyed by fire after an accident involving a cannon on the stage. (I’d hate to be the guy behind that one.) The second was built in 1614, but closed and destroyed by the Puritans- our guide called them ‘the boring people’. It wasn’t until an American actor by the name of Sam Wanamaker, brought his dream of re-creating The Globe Theatre to London in 1970, that the third theatre was built. He envisioned visitor’s coming to the Globe, and watching the same plays that Shakespeare put on, in the same ways. For that reason, microphones are still not used in the theatre- the incredible acoustics enable an audience to hear a pin drop, even when filled to capacity. These details are still very evident as you take in the stage, from the same type of trap-door that was used back in 1599, to the beautiful murals adorning the stage ceiling. There are lights installed for the night shows, but these do not light up the stage in any fashion- and only function to ensure that the actors and people of the audience can
Royal Observatory Greenwich
The main goal was to climb up to the Royal Observatory, perched on a hill overlooking Greenwich with spectacular views of London. There stands the Prime Meridian Line, that invisible line of longitude that separates our earth into two hemispheres. The highlight of the Royal Observatory is the Prime Meridian Line, but it is also home to Greenwich Mean Time which is why it has been given the nickname ‘the home of time’. Flamsteed House is another worthwhile attraction, which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and once functioned as the home of some of history’s most influential astronomers. Unfortunately, the Royal Observatory is no longer an official residence of astronomers as the lights from London have become too bright.
Yauatcha is not the type of Chinese restaurant where you eat duck and dumpling soup. There is quite a ceremony around each dish and every plate arriving made me more curious and excited to know what was inside! The first surprise was the Dim Sum looking like cotton balls :p Wondering what’s inside? Well, you’ll have to taste to find out. The goal of an evening at Yauatcha is to awake your senses and taste a few plates of dim sum before having the duck (which you MUST try). The price was pretty decent considering portions fill you up and service and quality or perfect and… it is a Michelin restaurant. We had 2 cocktails, 4 plates of dim sum and one duck to share and ended up with approximately £70 bill. You can chose to dine upstairs which is more casual or downstairs, which is more high-scale
Day 5 in London: This day as pretty relaxed, as I wanted to prepare for the Ireland trip, which was starting with my flight to Dublin next day. We started off my visiting the Museum of Natural on Cromwell road. The wait in the line was about 2 hours to get in, but it was worth the wait. The entry is free here. The museum exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. We need the day with some photos taken at the magnificent Tower bridge.I then traveled to Dublin, Ireland and did a 3 day tours of southern Ireland, with Paddywagon tours, to the cities of Galway, Kerry in Cork country, Blarney castle and then back to Dublin.Four Courts in Dublin
Big Easy Bar BQ & Crabshack
It is located a stone throw away from Covent Garden station! You won't miss it when you arrive at Maiden Lane :) We were greeted warmly throughout our whole dining experience! The servers are all dressed in checkered shirt, a huge smile at all time! Thumbs up!! Im loving the whole concept of BE Covent Garden. This is not the only bar! The other is at the lower ground, which looks pretty cosy! Overall, it was fantastic! Great atmosphere, food and service! Thank you Big Easy for the experience of dining in.
I finally had the chance to try this amazing address this winter thanks to my friend Margaux and definitely recommend you to book a table asap. As Margaux is a regular (wink wink), she would highly recommend you to go there before 12:00 in order to get the breakfast menu. We went there after 12:00 and had the lunch menu which we had nothing to complain about :) We went for some healthy options and shared a little savoury treat, parmesan and truffle chips! I would like to draw your attention to the beautiful colours layered in our plates and on our table :)
The New Linden
When we arrived at The New Linden Hotel our room was ready, and we were greeted by name. I instantly fell in love with the Asian influenced decor, as I am obsessed with all things Eastern. (ie. I am an Asia geek.) We were given the key to our ground floor room, and were asked to leave it at the desk anytime we left the hotel. I have noticed this is quite common in London, and has something to do with fire regulations- it was definitely a little bit strange the first time I was told I couldn’t keep my room key. The hotel is small, however, and the desk in manned 24 hours a day so it was never a problem. Our room was gorgeous, with elegant fabrics and beautiful furniture. (How awesome is the bed?) If you compare it to an American hotel you would be very disappointed, the room was cozy (small!) but this is typical London. I loved the faux fur throw and pillows, generally not my style, but perfect for afternoon naps and cuddles. The bathroom was roomy and modern. I appreciated the his and hers sinks, and am happy to report that the shower is to die for. There was also a caddy with the usual instant coffee, tea, creamers, and sugar- as well as a water boiler for all your hot drink needs. Overall, we had a wonderful time at The New Linden Hotel. I love boutique hotels because they usually take really great care for their customers, and don’t overlook the simple touches that can make a stay extra special. I would recommend The New Linden Hotel for anyone looking for a mid-range boutique property for themselves or as a couple, I probably wouldn’t recommend it for families with small children. They did drop the ball on breakfast, but if you are unhappy with toast and yogurt there are plenty of great options in the area to choose from. We saw probably five pubs between the closest Underground station and the hotel that offered up Full English Breakfast.
ICEBAR London is right off London’s Regent Street, a stone’s throw from Picadilly Circus and home to some of the best shopping in the city. I was relieved to find it almost hidden from the hustle and bustle of the area, and not at all touristy like I expected. (I went to the Icebar in Amsterdam, and though it was fun, it was very touristy.) Walking in I was surprised to find an upscale lounge, with draping fabrics, cozy seating, and a private bar. Our event was sectioned off with a curtain, giving it the feel of a VIP room while still enjoying the energy of the room.
Only because I went in the wrong season, when there was a trance festival going on and the month was peak summer June :(, I got the only reasonable place of stay at slightly expensive, but peak timing justified rate of 900 rupees per day. The room was good and spacious, with a good big bathroom and a very powerful geyser. Though initially skeptical, I actually chose the best place to stay in Kasol as through my room I could hear the flowing of the river sound. For the peace seekers among us, it gives a very natural night sleep. The sound of the river at night is almost hypnotizing, like mother nature grasping you to it's glory and the quiet. Ask for the room with balcony and you would see all your tensions flow away with the river in the endless starry night.
Seldom do I get to drink great coffee that I can write about. Here it was at Lantana Cafe, A small yet packed cafe on Charlotte Lane, a cute little lane just a couple of turns off the busy (and ugly) Tottenham Court Road. After the first sip of my cappuccino, I wanted to kiss the barista. Ah!! Decent coffee at last. Coffee lovers will know how important this is! For brunch (as we had missed the breakfast service) I had the corn fritters with crispy bacon, fresh rocket, slow roast tomatoes, chili jam and crème fraiche (10 pounds) and added a fried egg. It was all delicious which was evident since no one said a word till the meal was over! We ended up ordering another cappuccino. Couldn't resist! The service was quite relaxed. We were greeted and seated straight away and given water promptly without asking. Other tempting menu items included grilled haloumi and roast beet-root salad (7.50 pounds), Crispy pork belly ciabatta roll with cress and chili mayo (12 pounds), smoked haddock, pea and lemon risotto (10 pounds), and Confit duck leg w/ red cabbage, fennel and raisin coleslaw (9.5 pounds).