Classic & Royal London, UK

Updated | 17.mar.2014

 "When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
Samuel Johnson

My 2 1/2-day itinerary to explore a little bit of this amazing city, overcoming jet-leg, combining must-see touristic sites with a bar hopping in Camden Town (at least an attempt to stumble upon a hidden gem).

Museums are a must-must in London. Not only because of the extraordinary art collection, but also because all museums and most of the galleries are totally free! No wonder why London is a center of creativity.

Day 1
Be like Johnny Walker, keep walking. Better, take the tube and go to Westminster Abbey.  It doesn't matter how exhausted you are, don't sleep after landing. Take a shower, eat and go for a walk (and hopefully some sun). To cover some of the must-see areas in London, I love to start right in front of the Big Ben. All these places (1-5) are within walking distance:
1) Westminster Abbey
2) Big Ben and Parlamient

3) Trafalgar Square

4) National Gallery, hours 10-6pm
5) The Mall and Windsor Palace
Because of jet-leg at this point we were wide awake and headed directly to Camden Town (Chalk Farm tube stop) and walked around bar hopping ... The Barfly was the chosen one because of live indie rock. 

Day 2

1) Saint Paul's Cathedral, hours 8:30-4pm
2) Tate Modern, hours 10-6pm
3) London Tower, hours 10-5:30pm
4) Tower Bridge
5) Covent Garden

After this long day, we were obviously hungry and thirsty. That's when we realized it was Sunday night and everything closes early. Including the underground ... anyway, we were still able to go on a double deck bus night tour to return to Paddington.

Day 1/2
Still time to cover two of the coolest museums in town:
1) British Museum, hours 10-5:30pm
2) Tate
I didn't have time in this visit, but the Camden Town Fair on Sundays is fantastic. I had a chance to go there the first time I was in London and it's everything I wished to see in the city: punks, people with green hair, classy ladies, foreigners, tourists ... the melting pot you expect for a great metropolis like London.

Where to stay:
The Pride of Paddington - Beer, Food & Bed! Mix of pub and hostel, perfect location right outside of the Paddington train station, super convenient if you're coming from Heathrow. I've been there twice and for the price you pay you can't ask for more.

Getting around:

London has one of the most fantastic public transportation systems, the "tube" is indeed everything we've heard before.

I love this tube map from Information is Beautiful with walking times between stations.

British Cuisine:
I guess it's not a big surprise that the traditional food in London doesn't impress. Pub food like burgers, meat pie, fish & chips and mash & bangs are just ok. I loved the selection of cider, though. I certainly saw more interesting options of booze than food, specially in those little liquor stores in Camden Town. My vote goes to Stella Artois ;)
Check the Borough Market at 8 Southwark Street for fresh vegetables, street food, special cheese and booze. 

Tips for next trip(s):

  • The World's End Camden Pub, at 174 Camden High Street
  • Smithfield Meat Market and Lunch @The Cock Tavern, recommendation from No Reservations
  • Abbey Road, because there's no excuse to miss anything related to The Beatles ...