If you haven’t opened your Instagram for the past month, you might have missed that Euro summer has officially kicked off. So if you’re looking to visit one of the Europe’s most desired destinations but maybe don’t want to worry about a language barrier, there’s no better place to check off the bucket list than London! Plus, did we mention there are flights for less than $200 from JFK!?
And of course, coming from NYC, we’re already city savvy (foreign public transportation you don’t scare us!), but it always helps to have a little inside knowledge about where to go and what to see.
That’s why we’ve worked with our besties over at Secret London to create a New Yorker’s guide to London with all of the best spots to fill up on food and drinks, enjoy nature and sightsee.
Table Of Contents
Best Places To Eat & Drink In London
One of the hardest things to figure out while traveling is where to eat and drink. And in a city like London—similar to NYC—there are never-ending options. That’s why we’re ensuring you’re set up with some well-rounded recommendations, fit for whatever vibe you’re feeling at the time. Whether that’s intimate drinks in under-the-radar bars or a taste from London’s oldest patisserie, we’ve got you covered.
Get a glass at some of London’s best wine bars
Whatever neighborhood you’re staying in, there’s sure to be a fabulous wine bar nearby. From spots that were once a former public water closet underneath Clapham Common Tube station to a “late-night wine cave and restaurant,” find all of the best ones compiled in this nifty list here for you.
Have your drinks delivered via elevator
Waxy’s Little Sister in SoHo (yes, London also has a SoHo if you weren’t aware) is an Irish bar that delivers their drinks directly to you through a mini freight elevator. Try their most popular drink which is their Irish Coffee. Insider tip: you can find the largest Irish Pub in all of London just stone throw’s away from Waxy’s Little Sister called Waxy O’Conner’s. P.S. London pubs are known to close earlier than NYC’s so reference this map of late night pubs if you find that to be the case while visiting.
Support this cafe that gives back to young people with learning disabilities
Fair Shot is a fairly new cafe in London that aims to aid those with learning disabilities who have a statistically high unemployment rate. The non-profit organization hires 12 trainees each year to work four days a week at the cafe and one at their partner college alongside a mentor and job coach. Once the year is up, all trainees are placed at organizations ranging from hospitality groups to corporate offices. If you’re dining at the cafe or working on your laptop, treat your tastebuds to homemade focaccias, toasties, salads and more.
Try a pastry from London’s oldest patisserie
Maison Bertaux is London’s oldest patisserie—about 152 years old—and is still serving sweet treats to hungry customers. Though there is limited seating, we recommend you try and enjoy your pastry inside as the quirky interior offers a great ambience of French antiques. Moreover, there’s a gallery space located above the pastry shop that is definitely worth checking out when you’re done wiping the croissant flakes from your face.
Beyond sightseeing in London, you might want to check out some incredible nature attractions while you’re there. From lavender fields to private islands, these selections will be sure to provide you with some respite from constantly being on the go while traveling, and some incredible pics for your Instagram feed.
Visit a purple paradise at Mayfield Lavender Farm
Similar to Lavender by the Bay, London’s Mayfield Lavender Farm is the Insta-worthy destination of your dreams. Frolic through fields of vibrant purple rows and be sure to snap a pic in front of the red London phone box located in the center of the field.
Relax at this Japanese garden at Holland Park
Sure Central Park is fantastic, but this slice of heaven in Kensington’s Holland Park is definitely a sight to see. It was originally constructed to celebrate the 1992 Japan Festival in London, but has remained a tranquil gem for Londoners. Plus, it’s completely free to enter!
Travel via footbridge to Eel Pie Island
This private island off the banks of Twickenham was once a hotspot for jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Interestingly enough, Eel Pie used to be home to one of the UK’s largest hippie populations. But keep in mind, the island is only open two times a year when the 26 artist’s studios open to the public.
Best Things To Do In London
There are tons of things to see in London, but we’ve curated a select few to not overwhelm you. From a Victorian sewage system (just trust us) to an epic food hall, be sure to add these to your to-do list while visiting London.
Explore Crossness Pumping Station
Miss the stench of NYC’s rotting garbage on the street? Well this is actually a Victorian sewage system—but trust us, it’s an incredible gem just outside of London. Dubbed the ‘Cathedral of Sewage,’ this spot originally opened after The Great Stink of 1858 as part of the Victorians’ plan to rid the city of its putrid stench. And through the project, came a beautiful sight that matches up to any other beautiful museum you might come across.
Eat your way through London’s largest Asian food hall
Bang Bang Oriental in north London was the former Oriental City site. Now, it’s been transformed into a major food hall full of nearly 30 vendors offering delicacies from China, Korea, Japan, India, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia. Definitely go hungry! Beyond the food though, be sure to head to The Mezzanine for traditional Chinese massages, herbal medicines or nail & beauty treatments.
Knockout all of the major sightseeing in the first day
What’s nice about London is that most of its major attractions are all walkable from one another. So instead of having to take a ferry to Lady Liberty then hopping on a train uptown to see Central Park like you would in NYC, you can actually walk about a five mile route that will have you seeing Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, Waterloo Bridge and so much more in around two hours. See the walking route here.
Transportation In London
As a New Yorker, we know you have public transportation on lock. But just in case you prefer a little briefing before jaunting around London’s best attractions, we’re going to give you the lowdown on some things to note.
London Underground (The Tube)
Fun fact: did you know London is actually home to the oldest underground railway system? That’s right, it’s 40 years older than the NYC subway system. That being said, it’s quite simple to figure out—especially coming from New York. In total, there are 11 lines and 272 stations across London. An easy app to help you navigate your way around the city is Tube Map.
You’ve seen the red, double decker buses in the movies, tv shows and music videos, and yes, those are the city’s actual public buses. Same as the Tube, if you’ve ever taken the bus in NYC, you should have no problem figuring out the buses in London. You can find a bus stop or plan a route here.