Your Local Guide to

London

By
Christina Guan

The Best Markets in London

[Ad] Who loves visiting markets as much as I do?! Hit play to watch me breeze through London’s top markets in 1 minute. (And find out where you can get the best brownies in the city!) . Also, can I just have a quick appreciation rant for the Internet?? 🙌🏼 In preparation for this video, I posted in @Omio’s “The Locals” FB group asking for best market tips from London locals, and within 24 hours I had enough suggestions and insider intel for another ten visits 🙈 I don’t think I would have travelled well pre-Internet... in fact, I’d probably be stuck in a ditch somewhere with a compass and paper map. Thank goodness for technology - empowering useless, directionless fools like me to see the world 🌎 . PS thanks @daniishifman for helping me film bits of this!! ❤️ For a scoop on the best London deals, check out the link in my bio! @goeuro #ad #partner

A post shared by Christina 🇨🇦 happytowander.com (@happytowander) on


Written by
Milly Youngman

Public Transport in London

If it’s your first time visiting, London’s public transport can be a little confusing – but don’t be discouraged by the rather intimidating map of different coloured lines. Once you’ve got your head around the London Underground network (referred to by basically everyone as ‘the tube’), it’s by far the easiest way to get around quickly in the city.
After years of living here, I’m a big fan of how convenient and simple London is to get around. These are the things you need to know about getting around the city on your London visit:


Other ways of getting around London

Night Buses

London Underground services usually run from the early hours until around midnight/1am – however, on Friday and Saturday nights, some of the major lines run a ‘24hour’ service. The night tube fares fit into the usual pricing structure, with a ‘day’ running structure of 4:30am-4:29am. The lines that this currently operates on are: Central, Jubilee, Northern (Charing Cross Branch), Victoria & Piccadilly.

Walking around London

If the place you’re headed to is only a stop or two away, it can actually be quicker to walk – for example, Leicester Square station is just four minutes’ walk from Covent Garden. Transport For London (TfL) have created a ‘walking distances’ map which is really helpful for this. I’d totally advise walking where you can, as you get to soak up the city’s atmosphere that little bit more!

Need a taxi?

On London’s streets, you’ll see plenty of ‘black cabs’, TfL’s licensed London taxi system, which are usually more expensive than apps like Uber or a private hire cab company. Lots of locals use Uber – despite rumours and an ongoing investigation, it hasn’t actually been banned here yet!


Written by
Milly Youngman


Cultural quirks: things you need to know in London

London is a huge, vibrant city which attracts millions of visitors every year. Much of London’s general customs and ways of life are similar to those of other European capital cities, with good technology and infrastructure. If you’re planning on visiting London, here are a few things to know before you go.

Money and card payments

The currency used in London is Pound Sterling (GBP). Unless there’s a ‘cash only’ sign displayed in the window, you can pretty much guarantee a restaurant or shop will take card payments. However, some smaller newsagents may charge a fee of around 50 pence for paying by card.
Quite a lot of London’s street food stalls also accept credit cards nowadays – but if you’re shopping at a market, it’s usually best to carry some cash just in case. ATM cash points are easy to find – most streets will have multiple banks, and many shops and venues have them too. However, some of these may charge a fee of £1.50 or more to use them.
In outlets that accept card payment, all major credit and debit cards (e.g VISA, AMEX, Mastercard) are usually accepted. Many shops and restaurants will display signage in the window, on a restaurant menu or by the pay point with the cards they accept clearly marked. If you’re not sure – just ask!

Tipping

Whilst not enforced in the UK as it is in the USA and some other countries, tipping is a pretty common practice in London for certain services. However, if you choose not to tip, you’re unlikely to face any problems from staff as you would in America, for example. The main places Londoners are likely to tip are in:

Restaurants

Anywhere between 10%-15% is an acceptable amount in service restaurants. Always check your bill first, as quite a lot do include a ‘service charge’, especially if you’re a group of six or more. If this has been included, you don’t need to leave an extra tip. You can also ask for it to be removed if you feel the service wasn’t of good quality, or if you want to choose your own tip amount to leave in cash. In fast food and casual self-service restaurants, you don’t need to tip.

Bars

tipping isn’t that common in bars and pubs, however if you’ve received great service, there are often ‘tip jars’ on the bar, which are usually split between bar staff.

Taxis

The usual practice is to give a pound or two extra and tell them to ‘keep the change’.

London Underground etiquette

Londoners have a bit of a reputation for being unfriendly – something I actually think is pretty unwarranted, especially if you’re in the pub with them on a Friday night! However, the one thing that’s definitely going to put a local’s back up pretty quickly is people who don’t observe basic Tube etiquette. There are some obvious rules to travel by, like giving up a ‘priority’ seat (they’re clearly marked) for those less able to stand – but here are a few that are more London Underground specific…

Escalators

The cardinal rule of the Underground is that you stand on the right and walk on the left. If you do stand on the left, you’ll soon know about it when you’re met with tuts and ‘excuse me’s…

Getting on and off

Basic manners is letting people get off the tube carriage before you get on. And also, don’t stop as soon as you get on or off a tube, as you’ll block people behind you and cause a fair bit of annoyance.

Backpacks and luggage

Obviously, you need to travel with your belongings! However, if you’re travelling with lots of gear, try to avoid ‘rush hours’ (7am-9am and 5pm-7pm weekdays) where possible, as the tube gets VERY busy at these times. If you are on a busy train with a backpack, taking it off and putting it between your legs is the ‘done’ thing.


By
Dave Brett

Free things to do in London

London is one of the most loved cities in the world and is packed full of culture, history, and exploration. It can however be a pretty expensive city to visit, so it’s well worth turning your pennies into pounds by exploring the free places to visit in London to save money on your trip. Here are some of the best things you can do for free in London.

4. Sir John Soane’s Museum

This museum is a hidden gem out of all the free London museums. Tucked away on Lincoln Fields Square near Holborn station in the centre of town (Central line on the Underground), this fantastic museum is pretty much preserved at Sir John Soane left it when he died. It was in fact the house the famous neo-Classical architect and collector lived in and designed himself. Whilst he was still alive, he filled this house with a fascinating collection of artifacts from the Ancient civilisations. You can see a sarcophagus, countless sculptures, and many fine paintings, and the beauty of the house is something to behold in itself. It’s a really interesting insight into a famous London character, and a chance to explore the personal effects left behind by a dedicated collector of art and ancient treasures.

5. Sky Garden

Newly open to the public and located at the top of a skyscraper Londoners call the ‘Walkie Talkie’, you can get the most spectacular vantage point across London from the three floors of restaurants on the top three floors. The building is known formally as 20 Fenchurch Street (nearest station Monument). You could even take a walk across London Bridge towards Borough Market after your trip to the top if you wanted to make the most out of being in the area.

I hope you found this article intesting and enjoy your trip in London!

Written by
Dave Brett

Day trips from London

London is a city you could explore your entire life – and even the people who live there are constantly finding something new and exciting. However, sometimes getting out of the city is just what’s needed, and luckily there are many places close to the capital that can be easily reached by public transport.
If you’re travelling by train or bus, you can book your entire day trip from London with Omio; it makes getting out of London and seeing more of the UK as easy as possible. There are so many amazing cultural centres very close to London just waiting to be explored, so make the most of your time in London by taking a short trip out of it.

Written by
Tania Bulic

24 Hours in East London

East London is considered by many to be one of the most diverse and cultural parts of London and is packed with fun and interesting things to do. To properly explore this part of London, you will need more than 24 hours but here are some must-do local activities if you find yourself in this part of town.

10 a.m. - Breakfast @ Paper & Cup

I would recommend that you start early and pop in to have a coffee and snack at Paper and Cup, located just off Shoreditch High Street on Calvert Avenue. Try the spinach and goat’s cheese pastry for a savoury breakfast treat or one of their amazing cakes for something sweeter while reading one of their many second-hand books available for purchase.

This coffee shop is actually a non-profit social enterprise run by a local charity, so you can help others whilst enjoying your breakfast - a win-win.

11.30 a.m. - East End Graffiti & Street Art Tour

East London is well-known for its art scene; from Paper and Cup I recommend doing a street art tour of Shoreditch. It’s a great way to explore the scene and learn about famous graffiti artists who have works in the area.

Some of these tours are free such as the East End Graffiti and Street Art Tour, which last 2.5 hours and shows you some of the most interesting and innovative graffiti art in the area.

The tour starts at Exmouth Coffee Shop on 83 Whitechapel High Street, a 12-minute bus journey from Paper and Cup. To get there, take the number 67 bus 5 stops from Shoreditch High Street Station to Aldgate East and walk eastwards about 3 minutes down Whitechapel High Street.

1.30 p.m. - Lunch @ Pizza East

The tour will leave you around the Brick Lane area, so pop up to Pizza East on Shoreditch High Street (a 5-minute walk north from Brick Lane) for either a pizza or salad after working up your appetite for lunch.

With a rustic, cosy vibe and a menu that won’t break the bank (pizzas start at £10), this place is the perfect casual lunch joint.

However, if you do prefer something a little more fancy, the Boundary Rooftop, again located on the High Street, offers amazing Southern French cuisine with alfresco dining in good weather. Prices are a little steeper with mains starting at £15, but the sophisticated atmosphere is definitely worth the extra few pounds.

3:00 p.m. - Shopping around Shoreditch Box Park and Brick Lane

From here you can make your way to Shoreditch Box Park which is perfect for a quick shopping tour and is directly across the road from Pizza East. The Box Park features some pop-up stores that sell unusual pieces not available in other boutiques.

After a stroll through the shops, grab an ice-cream at the Soft Serve Society as it’s one of the best in London (the ‘Cloud 9’ Soft Serve Sundae is a must!)

If you walk a little bit further down and take a turn to Red Church Street, you’ll find some more boutiques that will pretty much satisfy any style or taste. I also like spending some time in the vintage stores of Brick Lane which usually guarantee really good vintage finds, including designer wares.

4:30 p.m. - A drink at Broadway Market

East London is a market-lover’s heaven, and one of my favourites is Broadway Market. On Saturday, you will find a farmer’s market here with fresh local food produce, flowers and vintage clothing.

From Sunday to Friday, Broadway Market is perfect for a stroll and a drink in one of the local pubs. I can recommend all of the spots around Broadway Market although The Dove, which is a traditional pub, is the most iconic so ensure to grab yourself a lager (beer) here.

To get to Broadway Market, take the number 338 from Bethnal Green Road to King Edward’s Stop which will take around 15 minutes in total.

6:00 p.m. - Dinner @ Bistroteque

Head to Bistroteque for dinner just off Mare Street, a 10-minute walk north from Broadway Market through London Fields. This converted warehouse is a super trendy spot frequented by locals and it’s a bit of a hidden gem. The food is comforting yet contemporary with starters ranging from £8 - £13 and mains, £17 - £39.

8:00 p.m. - An evening drink @ Callooh Callay Bar

From Mare Street, make your way back to your hotel. Stop for an early evening drink at one of my favourite cocktail bars, Callooh Callay Bar. To get there, hop on the number 48 bus at St Thomas’s Square for 9 stops until you reach Shoreditch Church, about 15 minutes in total. They serve delicious cocktails and the setting is quite quirky - with an option to walk through the wardrobe to access the secret bar.
Written by
Tania Bulic

What to do in London in 48 hours

Day 1

10 a.m. - Breakfast @ 26 Grains

Every adventure starts with a good breakfast and 26 Grains is the perfect spot to start your day. 26 Grains is located in Neal’s Yard, a little, colourful courtyard near Covent Garden. Prices are reasonable with their menu consisting of classics with a slight twist.

Try their Egg and Spinach dish for something savoury or one of their Cold Bowls for a sweet hit (starting from £5).

From Neal’s Yard, head South down Neal Street and then onto James Street to reach your next stop, Covent Garden, which, in my opinion, represents the essence of London in the best way. This lively area has some high-end shops as well as a more traditional market selling one-of-a-kind crafts. I recommend strolling around the area, doing some shopping and soaking up the electric atmosphere.

1.00 p.m. - Lunch @ Petersham Nurseries & a stroll around The National Gallery

After experiencing the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden, head to Petersham Nurseries, a botanical themed shop and restaurant just west of Covent Garden on King Street for lunch. Main courses are priced from £14 to £29.

After lunch, head to Drury Lane, a 6-minute walk from Petersham Nurseries, which takes a left turn onto Bow Street to Broad Court where you can see a row of London’s iconic red telephone boxes which make for a great photo opportunity.

From Drury Lane, walk down Trafalgar Square towards Charing Cross and the Embankment, a pleasant 13-minute walk. The Square is a busy area but it has The National Gallery which is free to visit and is a great way to spend your afternoon exploring portraits and giving yourself an artsy fix.

3.30 p.m. - A drink @ Radio Rooftop Bar

If you feel like all that walking has left you slightly thirsty, I recommend popping over to Radio Rooftop Bar, a 10-minute walk westwards down the Strand from Villiers Street or a 9-minute bus journey if your feet are sore. Take the number 11 from Trafalgar Square (Stop F) for 2 stops to Aldwych (Stop D) and you’ll find the bar just across the road.

This fancy rooftop bar overlooks Somerset House, a Neoclassical building with an arts centre inside. This place is a little upmarket with cocktails costing around £15. However, if you don’t want to spend too much, you can always opt for a glass of wine which costs on average about £7.

Afterwards, since you are right beside Somerset House, pop in to see one of their many exhibitions. Currently, there are many free exhibitions running including Sovereign and the Chloe Lamford: Show Room.

6:00 p.m. - Dinner @ Wahaca

Southbank has so many good food options that it’s hard to choose a favourite, but I recommend Mexican eatery Wahaca for those with a lower budget (main courses start from £8) and Sea Containers, an American-British fusion restaurant if you’re looking to treat yourself (mains starting from £10).

After dinner, head back to your hotel via the Tube, with Blackfriars and Temple and Waterloo stations being the nearest.

Day 2

11:00 a.m. - Coffee or Tea at the Alchemy Cafe

Travel to Blackfriars station (on the Circle and District lines) and walk north up Faringdon Street towards the Alchemy Cafe which is located at 8 Ludgate Broadway. They serve some of the best coffee in the city. Perk yourself up here to get your day going.

After your invigorating coffee, walk 5 minutes down Carter Lane to St Paul’s Cathedral. This stunning cathedral is iconic as it has been the venue for many a royal occasion such as Princess Diana and Prince Charles’s wedding.

12:30 p.m. - Lunch at Borough Market and a drink at Sky Garden

From St Paul’s Cathedral, take the number 17 bus (Stop SK) about 10 minutes to London Bridge Borough High Street and walk down Borough High Street onto Green Dragon Court and then to Borough Market. Borough Market serves some of the best street food in London so grab a bite to eat here. (I recommend the vegan burgers!)

If you have gotten this far, you may feel ready for a drink. From Borough Market you can walk back over London Bridge for about 12 minutes to Sky Garden. Sky Garden is one of my favourite places to have a drink and admire the views of London from above. I would recommend you book your visit (which is free to reserve) in order to guarantee an entry.

3:00 p.m. - Tower Hill and Coppa Club

After a nice beverage, I recommend walking eastwards down to Tower Hill (which takes about 8 minutes on foot from Sky Garden) for another round of gorgeous views and photos. The best view of Tower Bridge is from the main entrance of the Tower. The entrance into Tower Bridge is £22.70 for an adult and £10.75 for a child.

Just a few steps away southwards is Coppa Club restaurant which I can recommend for some food if you find yourself a little hungry. The crab linguine is one of my favourite dishes - give this a try if you pop in. The Coppa Club won’t break the bank as their main course dishes start from £7 and the views of the bridge are worth the visit alone.

6:00 p.m. - An evening in Brick Lane

From Coppa Club, walk North to Tower Hill Station and get the District line to Aldgate East. Once there, head out onto Brick Lane. Brick Lane is the perfect place to experience a bit of East London’s diversity. Here, you can find amazing quirky boutiques, market stalls, and bars, as well as some renowned curry houses.

Brick Lane is also famous for its street art and vintage clothes shopping so if you do want to experience an edgy side of London then you definitely need to come here. One of my favourite stores to shop vintage finds is Rokit 101 on Brick Lane, as you can find some of the coolest fashion items here including vintage designer finds.

If you do feel peckish, try Brick Lane’s infamous 24-hour bagel store Beigel Shop that sells bagels for less than £2 and is frequented by some London celebrities such as Alexa Chung. Their smoke salmon and cream cheese bagel is the best.

8:00 p.m. - Drinks in Shoreditch

If you fancy staying out for the evening, then head to Shoreditch which is one of the trendiest areas in London where you’ll find an abundance of bars and pubs to have a drink in.

One of my favourite is The Red Lion pub on Hoxton Street which is a local pub and not overly fancy - but it has a quirky rooftop which is popular with trendy locals in the area. To get there from Brick Lane, walk north through Boundary Gardens and then West onto Old Street.

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