Photo from Flickr by Simon & His Camera
City breaks can be a great way to break up the monotony of ‘normal life’. But, do it wrong and you can end up with a weekend long headache drinking in overpriced tourist restaurants and queuing for hours to see stuff you don’t really want to see.
London is the perfect city to spend a weekend away, but with the warren-like tube system, smog and millions of visitors every day of the year, you need to make like a good boy- (or girl)- scout and prepare. Just a little bit. Fortunately for you, we have a very handy 48-hour guide to London.
Evening #1 (Let’s call it Friday Night)
The first thing you’re going to want in London is a hotel that is close to the city centre and has easy access to the tube. We’re not going to tell you exactly where to stay, coz’ that’s your choice, but there’s no shortage of really great hotels in London. Check out Hotel Direct to find the right place for you.
Once you’ve checked in, it’s time to freshen up before heading out for dinner. Head towards Goodge Street Tube Station, to enjoy dinner in the charming-yet-trendy Fitzrovia. The upmarket cousin to Soho, Fitzrovia has a host of small yet exceptionally good restaurants. Personal favourites include spicy tacos at Wahaca or dim sum at Dim T.
After dinner, it’s time to enjoy London’s famous nightlife. You’re going to take it kinda easy for your first night, and enjoy the laid back atmosphere of Soho. Home to London’s flamboyant gay scene and the almost-too-cool-for-school media darlings, Soho is a living breathing late-night street performance.
Take your time wandering through the streets, making sure you stop off at Barrio Central for margaritas- this Mexican bar is colourful and lively and always good fun. If you do end up getting carried away, you want to end your night at The Social. A bar upstairs and small club downstairs, The Social has decent music, relaxed atmosphere and no real dress code.
Day #1 (Saturday)
It’s a busy day today, so you’re going to get up fairly early and head to The Breakfast Club. There’s one in Soho and one in Islington, so you can take your pick. There’s normally a wait for tables, but the breakfast is worth it. The Huevos Al Benny is particularly good.
Next, you’re going to navigate the tube system (it’s easy really) and make your way to Westminster Station. The next few hours will be your most touristy. All along the Thames are some of London’s greatest landmarks. Take in Big Ben before crossing over the bridge and heading past the London Dungeons and the London Eye. If you really want to, and your budget stretches to it, both the Dungeons and the London Eye are worth paying for, but expect long queues at busy times of year.
Keep heading along the south side of the river until you get to the Southbank. Home to the Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre and BFI, there’s normally something exciting (and free) going on here. Past events have included large-scale art exhibitions that saw trees covered in polka dots and fairy lights, and outdoor trapeze performances. You’ve got time to stop for a coffee now if you want. Sit outside at the BFI and see how many stars of independent British cinema you can recognise- there’s normally one or two hanging about.
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