I remember when I first moved to London from rural Essex. Everything was new and exciting, I would run around town every weekend agog at the vast array of festivals, theatres, galleries and restaurants. Nothing was too niche for me to go and check it out. Then as I stayed here for longer I got more blasé. World class museums got ditched because y’know they’d still be there next weekend and this weekend I could sit in a sunny garden with my friends in our local pub. I think this gradual sneaky creep of parochialism is familiar to many Londoners, I definitely know North Londoners who know Paris better than they do South London. Everyone gets attached to their own little patch and stays there. But then I got overseas visitors and it reminded me how fun it is to be a tourist in your own city.
So for anyone who’s got stuck in a London rut, here’s a guide to help you rediscover your inner tourist and reconnect with some of the reasons you fell in love with this city in the first place. This is a two hour leisurely stroll that takes you past some of London’s most famous landmarks and, in deference to the tight budgets that a lot of us function on, as many activities as possible are free.
I would kick off with breakfast on the roof terrace of One New Change (hey it’s my perfect London day I’m making it sunny okay!). I would pick up some croissants from Paul, the best in London as far as I’m concerned, head up to the free roof terrace and have my own breakfast at Tiffany’s moment, enjoying the incredible views where the wedding cake dome is so close you feel you could reach out and touch it!
I would then walk across the Millenium Bridge to Tate Modern. Turning right along the river, I would head up past Shakespeare’s Globe and the replica of the Golden Hinde, the famous galleon that Sir Francis Drake used to circumnavigate the globe.
After this, I would walk to Gabriel’s Wharf and do a well earned stop for lunch. I would recommend the Oxo Tower brasserie for traditional English fish and chips with a great view of the river.
Keep walking to the Southbank one of my favourite places just to wander around, so much life and vitality, watch the skateboarders in the undercroft, check out the markets and the streetfood traders. But one of my top tips is to catch a free gig at the Royal Festival Hall:
They have a regularly changing programme and if you’re there when the swing dancing troupe is around you’re in for a treat.
After you’ve rested your weary feet, head across Westminster Bridge stopping to admire the great views of Augustus Pugin’s high Gothic masterpiece.
If you’re a British resident and you’ve been super organised you can write to your MP and request a free guided tour of the Palace of Westminster about 6 months in advance. Sadly, they don’t allow you to take photos inside so you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s well worth seeing.
Finally, go one stop on the tube to St James’ Park. London is the greenest city of it’s size so you can’t miss a visit to the Royal Parks. I would finish up my day with afternoon tea at Inn the Park, a cute little hobbit-esque structure that look like it has organically grown out of its surroundings with beautiful views over the lake. Enjoy the cream cakes you’ve earned them!