London is the world in one city. The sprawling megalopolis may be steeped in history but if you scratch beneath its Victorian architecture and cultural institutions you’ll find countless examples of its modern heart. The British capital plays host to everything from eateries dishing up high-voltage curries and oddly addictive Jamaican dishes to colourful weekend markets and pocket-sized galleries showcasing offbeat art.
It’s a hive of flavour, colour, rhythm and texture – once you’re there, it’s truly difficult to depart. Here are the best ways to experience London.
Hire a Bike
Graffiti-etched and gritty, London’s free-wheeling East End is best explored on a bike. Rent a fixed-wheel version and explore Shoreditch High Street, a buzzy thoroughfare that served as a canvas for Banksy, before spending some time in Hoxton Square, an electric neighbourhood heavy on shoebox cafes, artful pubs and sleek burger joints.
Make sure you coast along Brick Lane, a one-of-a-kind strip that’s home to vintage emporiums, edgy boutiques, curry houses and a cult bagel shop or two you won’t want to miss.
Stroll along the River
London is truly a pedestrian’s paradise thanks to its hidden alleyways, miniature villages and cobblestone streets. However, nothing demonstrates the pleasures this city offers the serial walker quite like navigating the banks of the Thames by foot.
Starting at Bankside, an ancient enclave east of Blackfriars Bridge, stroll along the river and make sure you call in at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and The Anchor – a historic pub frequented by writer Samuel Johnson – before spending a few hours at Tate Modern, a striking contemporary art gallery housed in a converted power station. Bonus points if you make like a London commuter and walk across Millennium Bridge.
Jump on the Bus
Think those red open-air buses are a tourist trap? You may want to reconsider. Spending a drizzly morning drinking in the spires of Westminster Cathedral, Tower Bridge’s famous turrets and Big Ben’s face from the upper deck of one of these London icons ranks among the city’s defining experiences. You’ll feel like you’re part of a postcard, but it will be worth every second.
While you’re bus-hopping, make like a local and catch a ride on one of over – according to Transport for London – 7,500 red buses that service more than six million Londoners every weekday. Night buses also make for an affordable way to get home across the city, should you enjoy a late night out in the Capital.
Take the Tube
London’s underground system is the speediest way to sample the city – especially if you are scouting out the city’s magnetic West End. Spend a morning circling Charring Cross tube station – an area that takes in theatre-crazed Leicester Square and Soho, a mix of cool cocktail bars, live music venues and bohemian haunts, before alighting at Oxford Circus, an intersection that’s home to the country’s most fabled mega retailers. Finish your West End sojourn with an underground ride to Baker Street, a tube stop that’s a gateway to elegant and expensive Mayfair.
This article was written by Neha Kale.