When people think of Britain, they mainly think of London. Although London is extremely diverse, with an amazing array of things to do and cuisines to try, it still has an extremely British feel and it is a great place to experience what our little island has to offer. Here’s how I would spend 24 hours in London, soaking up the culture that even locals still enjoy.
Morning: Breakfast in Britain is all about the fry up, and what better setting than to sit somewhere that feels like a set out of Eastenders. Terry’s Café opened in 1982 and has remained a no frills, good food, local restaurant. There are a lot of options on the menu, but they serve up ‘The Works’, which includes all the traditional items: sausage, egg, bacon, black pudding, beans, mushroom and tomato, as well as bubble and squeak. I found the bubble and squeak to be a welcome addition, but this is a huge fry up and one that I would recommend sharing.
Now, it’s time to explore the city. Santander Cycles, or as they are more commonly known, Boris Bikes, are available to hire all over the city. Boris Johnson was Mayor of London when the scheme was launched, and the bikes allow for an easy and accessible way to see London. Pick up a bike from Victoria Embankment and head along the canal towards some of London’s most famous attractions. Catch a glimpse of Westminster and Big Ben before cycling through St James Park, past Buckingham Palace and into Green Park. It’s a lovely cycle through the parks, which lets you take in very British sights, away from too much traffic.
After all the cycling, it’s definitely time for a snack! Fortnum and Mason is an upmarket department store located in the heart of London. It has a connection with the British Royal Family and an extremely grand feel for what is essentially, a grocery store. It has an incredible selection of foods, which I could spend hours browsing, but make sure you head downstairs to the food court. Here you can sample an incredible Scotch egg from the exact place they were first invented.
Once you’ve finished food browsing, you can head to Oxford Street for some clothes shopping. Or back towards Buckingham Palace to 2 iconic London shops: Harrods and Harvey Nichols for a mixture of food and clothes. Harrods is the world’s most famous department store, so it’s a must-visit for tourists, whilst Oxford Street is lined with more casual shops.
An evening in London can be filled with dinner in Soho and a visit to a theatre, or it can be a bit more down-to-earth. The Golden Hind is known for being visited by Barbra Windsor (again the Eastenders vibe), so what better place to indulge in the British classic, Fish & Chips. It’s not a fancy eatery, but it serves up a good-sized portion of fish in crispy batter and chips with plenty of salt and vinegar. Of course, a big scoop of mushy peas is essential!
Just along from dinner, you’ll find the Golden Eagle, which has to be the most British feeling bar I’ve ever been in. Picture a traditional pub, with lots of ale and a pianist surrounded by people singing in cockney accents. It really felt like stepping back in time or visiting a scene that could have been in Mary Poppins (minus the alcohol). There are a lot of great, traditional pubs in London and you will find a lot of people spilling out of them, drinking pints on the street, after work. Round up a great day in London, by grabbing a drink and mingling with the locals.