London, the capital city of England and the largest city in the UK, is one of the world’s most important hubs for finance, fashion, music, and arts. Get lost in its rich history, vibrant nightlife, and amazing restaurants which will be sure to fascinate and intrigue every kind of traveler. Known as the Big Smoke, London features some of the most well-known attractions in the world and is a very international city with many different cultures and religions.
Breakfast and Coffee
When in London, it’s necessary to try their traditional English breakfast, also known as the “fry up.” The best place for this is the Regency Café, a very basic and unpretentious café with an art deco style. It’s been around since 1946 and has been featured in the films Layer Cake and Brighton Rock. The set breakfast gets you an egg, bacon, sausage, beans, and toast. To complete the plate in a traditional way, you can add on tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns, and black pudding.
This is the #1 destination in London for breakfast. This is an elegant and luxurious institution, with stunning décor amid high ceilings and even higher prices. First, they have homemade Viennoiserie (baked goods made to be richer and sweeter than the average pastry). If you want something light to start, try the caramelized pink grapefruit, the porridge with fruit compote, or their Birchermeusli. The Wolseley is famous for their eggs benedict, one of the best versions you’ll ever taste. As for their specialty dishes, nothing beats the smoked haddock kedgeree or the grilled kipper with mustard butter. The Wolseley is so iconic, food critic A.A. Gill even wrote a book about their breakfast!
This unbeatable breakfast has an incredible view from its location on the 40th floor of the Salesforce Tower. What’s even better is this place is open 24 hours, so you can come before you go to bed or as soon as you wake up – it might be around the same time if you’re enjoying London’s nightlife. The main dish you’ll want to try is the signature duck’n waffle – a crispy duck leg confit on top of a waffle, with a fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup. Seriously amazing.
With 4 locations in London, they brew some of the top tier coffees in the entire city. The shops aren’t fancy, just a chill place to stop for a bit, or to grab a quick cup and go. Workshop features outstanding coffees from around the world, and they are experts at making batch brew that’s fresh and delicious. The baristas know their craft, and if you want to be like them, Workshop offers masterclasses on the weekends. If you love their coffee, you can subscribe to have it delivered right to your home or office.
Prufrock is the place to go for award-winning artisan coffee; it is headed up by former World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies. It also happens to be the home of the London Barista Resource and Training Centre, so expect other star baristas to take a turn at making your coffee.
Prufrock offers Square Mile coffee, top notch espresso, AeroPress coffee, and hand brewed filter coffees – we recommend trying the iced filter coffee no matter what the weather brings. The design of the café is very minimalist, but bright and spacious, and coffee geeks from around the world come to taste their world-class brews.
Lunch and Dinner
If you feel like authentic fish and chips, you need to check out this iconic place with 3 locations in London. The servers’ uniforms have a 1950’s vibe and the décor features retro memorabilia from Pop’s childhood as well as a jukebox. The fish is all fresh and fried to order; you can go for cod or haddock and order a side of their homemade mushy peas or jellied eel to complete the experience. The fish even comes in a faux newspaper wrap for that classic take. It’s always really busy here so try to make a reservation or be prepared to wait in line.
This iconic establishment first opened in 1987 by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray. It is a quaint restaurant located on the River Thames with a garden area seating. The menu is mostly Italian fare accompanied by an amazing wine list from every region in Italy. The menu changes daily, and is also based on season. If it’s available, try one of their signature dishes such as the wild mushroom risotto and their amazing lemon tart or chocolate nemesis cake for dessert. Many notable chefs have trained in their kitchen, and Ruth and Rose have written cookbooks so you can try their fare at home!
Bao is a trendy Taiwanese restaurant that started as a market stall in a carpark where they were steaming street buns until opening their restaurant chain in 2015. The main draw here is their signature fluffy bao buns which are steamed and filled with things like beef short rib, dramatic black cod (only at the Fitzrovia location), or slow-cooked pork belly. To go with your bao, try some of their other modern and innovative Taiwanese dishes like the fried chicken chop with soy cured egg, xo sweetcorn with beef butter, or the 21-day aged pork belly rice bowl. Simply amazing! Waiters will hand you a tick box menu…take your time, order one dish at a time, and try as much as your stomach can handle.
An edgy smokehouse in East London with a masculine feel, from its rustic wooden tables to its open fire pit, will surely fulfill all your barbecue dreams. And so many kinds of meat – 15 hour smoked brisket, pastrami, pork belly rib, beef rib, pork and fennel sausage, crispy ox cheek… is your mouth watering yet? And the meat is perfectly cooked; it will melt in your mouth. Pro tip: order a couple of salads or veggie dishes to cleanse your palate in between all the delicious smoke flavours. This place gets really busy, so it’s best to book in advance – make sure you request a table, or you may get seated on a stool at the bar. Also take note that there is a 90-minute limit.
This is Covent Garden’s most historic watering hole, located down an alleyway and still charmingly traditional. Back in the 1800’s locals called it “The Bucket of Blood” because of the bare-knuckled prize fights that used to occur here. And Charles Dickens was once its most notable patron. This place is really popular, so expect large crowds at any given time. There are many different beers to choose from and if you prefer something else, try something from their whisky collection. On Sundays, they have a special menu of roast beef, turkey, or lamb with all the extras – roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and veggies.
The oldest pub located on the Thames River was originally a popular spot for Pilgrim fathers to stop on their way to America, as the actual Mayflower was docked here before it set sail. One word to describe this place: enchanting! Inside are wooden church pews, an open fire, framed antique manuscripts, and all kinds of nautical items such as model ships, ropes and pulleys, and rifles. When the weather is warm, head onto the deck overlooking the river, with the water lapping at the wooden boards and the London Bridge in the distance. As for drinks, you can get anything here…traditional ales, craft beer, local gins, and fine wines.
At Jazz Café you’ll find some of the best jazz and live musicians. Sit back and enjoy the music or dance the night away. A newly designed sound system and remodelled mezzanine have made this club even more spectacular. If you feel like a snack, there is a full restaurant upstairs that looks down over the stage. You’ll hear all kinds of live music (not just jazz) during the week, and the weekends are designated club nights. Some great names in music have played here – Amy Winehouse, Lana del Ray, and other major names in funk, soul, reggae, and jazz. And unlike some other clubs in London, this one is known for its amazing service and friendly staff. In 2020, Jazz café will celebrate its 30th year.
Visit the sites along the Thames River – Start at Westminster Abbey, a UNESCO World heritage site and one of the most famous churches in the world. It has seen some famous weddings (William and Kate), and contains the tombs the likes of Chaucer and Browning. Have a look inside, and then make your way to the Houses of Parliament, where you’ll also find Big Ben. If you’re visiting before 2021, Ben will be under renovation so it may not be as snap-worthy. Across the Thames from here is the London Eye, the giant ferris wheel built for the launch of the new decade in 2000. It’s one of the highest viewing points in London. Then make your way further down to the picturesque Tower Bridge and Tower of London. this historic castle houses the Crown Jewels of England and was once used as a prison. And beware – it is said to be haunted! If you don’t wish to travel by tube or by foot or to actually visit these locations, maybe opt for a scenic river cruise along the Thames just to see them without the fuss.
Take in some of the best museums in the world – First the British Museum, dedicated to human history, art, and culture. It has close to 100 galleries; they have so many artifacts that only 1% of them are actually on display. The most famous artifact is the Rosetta Stone, and check out the many other amazing items from Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, and the Renaissance. And the best part…it’s free! The Natural History Museum has over 80 million items in collections from botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology. Some items were collected by Charles Darwin himself and there are significant displays of dinosaur skeletons. This museum is also free of charge. Also try the National Gallery or the Tate Modern if you’re into artwork from the likes of Da Vinci, Botticelli, and Picasso.
Buckingham Palace – It seems like a trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a visit to this world-famous residence. Peer inside the large iron gates to watch the changing of the guard. It happens every day at 10:45am, so make sure to show up early to snag a spot with a view. In the summer months (when the Queen is away), you can book a tour that takes you through 19 state rooms and the gardens.
As someone once said – “A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else.”