5 Ways to do a Day Trip to London
Squeezing London in one day can sometimes end in tears. It is a sprawling, many-faced kraken that will boggle your brain if you don’t have a plan. Don’t worry – we have five days out in London all taken care of.
A little word of thanks, and a stamp of authenticity: all of the above tips were extracted from close friends of mine, and astoundingly, no one told me the same insider tip. So if you want to live it up like a Londoner, here are some refreshingly local tips for days out in London.
Option 1 – Foodie Heaven & Film Night
My sister (and any right-minded person) would start her day out in London at Brixton or Borough market. Both are labyrinths of arcades. Only in London could you feel entitled to see Japanese and Ethiopian food under the same roof.
If you haven’t exploded from overeating, make your way up to the river. The mammoth (and free!) Tate Modern gallery or the hyper-contemporary Southbank Centre are ideal for whiling away the hours immersed in art.
In the evening, you can stand for £5 in the stalls of the Globe itself, just metres from the Tate Modern, you don’t even have to leave the Southbank Centre to go to a concert. Cross the road and see a masterpiece at the National Theatre. Or – my favourite – see a timeless classic or cult ripple-maker at the British Film Institute.
Option 2 – Down by the Docks
If you like it old-school, Greenwich market is for you; browse dazzling antiques whilst munching on a pastry. Down the road is Cutty Sark, the only surviving tea clipper and the fastest of its peers. You can actually walk under its suspended thousand-tonne girth and touch the planks whilst dreaming of all the tea it carried.
Did someone say tea? Have some in the middle of a farm. Yes, a farm in the shadow of Canary Wharf, with pigs, sheep, and the happiest name ever: Mudchute Farm!
For dinner, go the Floating Lotus, an authentic Chinese restaurant that literally floats in a boat on the water, and which cuts a surreal sight gleaming under the skyscrapers. The Crossrail Place Roof Garden does too – take a stroll under leaves, a glass roof and with great views, and become hopeful for the future of cities.
Option 3 – The Canal to Mayhem
Power up with American pancakes at the Breakfast Club at Angel. Then walk it off along the canal, stopping at Draughts board-game cafe on the way. Eventually the canal will lead to a place that takes hoarding to extremes: the highlights of artist Viktor Wynd’s Museum of Curiosities are a two-headed lamb, Happy Meal toys, and celebrity poo.
This visit will probably put you in need of a drink. Hackney’s bars are rough diamonds, and none will offer you more fun or karaoke than the Dolphin.
Option 4 – Music & Medicine
Start your day out in London right at Dishoom, a restaurant that marries Indian flavours with the British brekkie. If you think that’s novel, wait till you see Camden Market – where multiculturalism and cult-life meet. A browse in Cyberdog’s underground shop could turn into a daytime rave.
If you ever want to leave Camden, there are two choices: the stunning Regent’s Park for nice weather and open-air shows, or the Wellcome Collection, which takes an artsy microscope to the human body and mind – you can also see royal hair locks or Napolean’s toothbrush. End this weird and wonderful day trip to London with live modern music under the stunning arches of Union Chapel.
Option 5 – Party like it’s 1949
Get your caffeine and social justice fix in one cup at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, then head to the John Soane Museum to admire his private art collection, or maybe just how much stuff a human being with funds and passion can amass. Or for a walk down memory lane Victorian-style, peek into Pollock’s Toy Museum.
For refuelling, the Fleet River Bakery is just steps from the Soane. For the evening, there’s the inexhaustible fountain of yummy, authentic, and cheap food, Chinatown. End your day trip to London at Bourne & Hollingsworth, a 40’s cellar bar in Soho which serves cocktails in tea cups.
But Days Out in London Don’t Stop Here…
The great thing about these days out in London is that they’re super flexible. All the neighbourhoods above are jam-packed with discoveries waiting to be made. You can also check out the areas around London here. If you make any trips yourself, share them in the comments!