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Victoria
Riga

Victoria from Riga asked

First time. Most kingdomly vivid places to see in 4 days. During holidays.

My first time in London, I do not want to run everywhere to see EVERYTHING. I'd rather prefer to take my time and feel the vibe.

So in four days, what are the things to see for real British Kingdom impressions? What are restaurants to eat with atmosphere, tea and scones, interior, view? What are the best places for breakfast? Best bakeries?

Any walking itinerary suggestions during Xmas time?

London

9 Answers
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top answer by
Philip

So, you've got four days, and you want to live like a Londoner and see proper British stuff? Cool :) I'll avoid the main tourist stuff - you can get that from any guide book. Here goes:

1)  You want to be in the countryside, in a city? Go to Hampstead Heathstation and go for a winter walk. I'd suggest walking from the station to Highgate Pond, then to The Spaniards Inn, which is a traditional pub (where highwayman Dick Turpin used to hang out). Drink ale here :) After that, walk down into and go to The Holly Bush - a lovely old village pub.. a good place to get dinner.

2)  You are going to end up in the West End at some point. For some night-life, go to Gordon's Wine Bar, which is on Villiers Street, next to Embankment London Underground Station. It is an underground cellar, full of people and wine. It is a bit touristy but actually still frequented by real city dwellers.

3)  If you want a really, really old school English dining experience, get a booking at the classic restaurant, Simpson's-in-the-Strand (located very close to Gordon's - maybe combine these!). Order the roast beef, and drink claret and port!

4)  Don't let those posey West Londoners tell you what's up!  Make your way to the City (Bank station), and join all the diamond geezer bankers. See the ruins of the Old City Wall on Noble Street .. it's right next to the Museum of London, which is free, and full of good stuff. Go to The Counting House on Cornhill, which is an old bank, now a pub. There are Roman ruins you can visit under the The Guildhall on Gresham Street. Oh, yes, and there is Saint Paul's Cathedral, but I've never been in there :)

5)  For scones, you could visit the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington. The tea rooms here are beautiful Victorian dining rooms, restored to their original function. The museum is free, and there is a massive amount of art to see.. but really you want scones! The big issue is what do you put on first.. the cream (Devon style) or the jam (Cornish style) ?

6)  Greenwich - it's your one-stop shop for stuff to do. OK - it's touristy, but I live here, so had to plug it :) Surprisingly easy to reach from Waterloo East or London Bridge stations.  It has the lovely Cutty Sark - The Sailing Ship tea clipper, right next to the free National Maritime Museum and the famous  Royal Observatory - there is a free museum up there too. Feed the grey squirrels in the park. Go for beers afterwards in a pub where the locals drinks - The Greenwich Unionon Royal Hill or Davy’s Wine Vaults on Greenwich High Road (also great for dinner).

Other cool stuff:

Wapping London Overground Station Overground Station - three good pubs nearby, old warehouses, nice riverside walk to Tower Hill

Hyde Park - has a Bavarian Christmas Market in December, so, er, now you can pretend you are in Germany when you are in Britain.. it's quite fun though!

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and Ye Old Mitre - both lovely old pubs within walking distance of each other... you really cannot get enough pubs with 'Ye' in the name.

I could go on and on ;)




Comments (8)

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Caroline
Hello! I like some of the suggestions above, but if you go to London without visiting St. Pauls Cathedral at sundown...you've missed the best part. Climb to the very top, it will be worth it, and just as the sun is going down the boys choir typically starts singing for services in the evening. The songs echo throughout and come out the top. Truly magical moments. :)
 

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Victoria
Philip, thank you so much for those tips and time you spent writing. I really appreciate it. Scones, the big issue and pubs yes yes! PS Can you still feed the grey squirrels during winter?) Caroline, thanks a lot, will def add St. Pauls to the list!
 

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Victoria
PPS Will going to/from airport on public transport be an issue around Xmas?
 

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Philip
Squirrels are always hungry and don't hibernate, so yes :)
 

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Philip
Which airport are you flying to? I can't see there will be any problems with transport except on 25th & 26th December.
 

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Courtney
I totally agree with all this!
 

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Victoria
Philip, I was planning Stansted on the 25th or 26th) Anything I need to be aware of?
 

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Philip
Well, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (26th) are major holidays. There are no trains, no tube, no buses at all on the 25th. On the 26th, it looks like limited services on the Stansted Express and the buses.... basically you do not want to travel on either of these days unless you absolutely have to! Taxi would be, like, £200..
 
 
 

Mentioned in this answer:

VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Hampstead Heath (attraction)
  2. Highgate Pond (attraction)
  3. The Spaniards Inn (attraction)
  4. The Holly Bush (attraction)
  5. Gordon's Wine Bar (restaurant)
  6. Embankment London Underground Station (attraction)
  7. Simpson's-in-the-Strand (restaurant)
  8. Museum of London (attraction)
  9. The Counting House (attraction)
  10. The Guildhall (attraction)
  11. Saint Paul's Cathedral (attraction)
  12. Victoria & Albert Museum (attraction)
  13. Greenwich (attraction)
  14. Cutty Sark - The Sailing Ship (attraction)
  15. National Maritime Museum (attraction)
  16. Royal Observatory (attraction)
  17. The Greenwich Union (attraction)
  18. Davy’s Wine Vaults (attraction)
  19. Wapping London Overground Station (attraction)
  20. Hyde Park (attraction)
  21. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (restaurant)
  22. Ye Old Mitre (attraction)
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answered by
Bessie from Boston

I'm much of a walker so I highly suggest walking all over. It is also the cheapest way to mobilize. If you want to save time I'd go for the tube over a taxi, and you'll also save money.

I find that visiting Selfridges or Liberty during the holiday season shows how the Brits do holidays. I love everything about it, simple opulence- as much of an oxymoron as that is. You can't go wrong spending an evening walking around to do some "window shopping."

If you'll just stay in London, and you've never been before, you should walk along the Thames and see the sights without standing in line with the tourists and going into the sights.

I used to work by the Kensington Gardens and a lot of people don't take the time to walk along these as well and truly enjoy the view/peace/beauty. In the gardens is The Orangery Restaurant, where I had the most delicious brunch. It's not the cheapest option but it's good. I believe they're still open and it's a very chic setting. The Victoria & Albert Museum and area is a whole part of the city worth exploring as well, with various shops and restaurants. Getting to Notting Hill on the tube from South Kensington to High Street or Notting Hill Gate.

If you want to take a little farther tube ride I had friends living in New Cross and we'd go to Greenwich for views from the Old Royal Naval College , dinner and drinks, again local small shops and boutiques and good diverse restaurants. Cafes and clubs in Camden Town and Chinese food plus several bars in Soho.

Aside from all the suggestions from us, I'd also encourage you to get a London map and plan your days per neighborhoods; pinpointing the places with the most/best things to do first and finalizing your itinerary with a list of the things you'd most want to do. It's a wonderful city so you'll have a great time!

 


Comments (1)

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Victoria
Bessie, thank you so much - amazing tips! I usually use Tripadvisor's City Guides app, point and save all the places I need. It is the best so far and the map works offline. Totally looking forward to stroll along the river. I am a walker, too)
 
 
 

Mentioned in this answer:

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VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Kensington Gardens (attraction)
  2. The Orangery Restaurant (restaurant)
  3. Victoria & Albert Museum (attraction)
  4. Notting Hill (neighborhood)
  5. South Kensington (neighborhood)
  6. Greenwich (attraction)
  7. Old Royal Naval College (attraction)
  8. Camden Town (attraction)
  9. Soho (neighborhood)
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answered by
Louise

One thing I love to do is walk from Waterloo along the Southbank to Borough Market

Stopping off at the Tate Modern for a cup of tea on the top floor looking over the London skyline, maybe taking in a few exhibitions whilst there. At Borough Market there are so many good place to eat - my favourite being the stand that sells scallops with bacon and stir-fry, presented in a shell - Amazing! Also the warm spiced apple cider, perfect for a Christmas stay! London Bridge is close by so I finish my walk there 

Drinks in the evening at Gordon's Wine Bar really old bar underground candle lit and atmospheric.  


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Victoria
Thank you so much for your tips! Will def do that!
 
 
 

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  1. Borough Market (attraction)
  2. Tate Modern (attraction)
  3. London Bridge (attraction)
  4. Gordon's Wine Bar (restaurant)
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answered by
Courtney from Los Angeles

I'm not sure how literally you mean "Kingdomly" but if you mean it very literally I would make sure to see the  Tower Of London. It's not a cheap attraction but it is beyond incredible, especially if you're into British history (which it sounds like you might be). There is so much to see and do that you could easily spend a whole day there. 

This is a little on the square side but I LOVE the  Household Cavalry Museum. The Cavalry is the organization that protects the Queen (they're the ones you see on horseback at every royal celebration) and this museum is very interesting if you're into that kind of stuff. 

I would also check out  The Old Curiosity Shop. It's now a shockingly expensive shoe store but it was the actual shop mentioned in Dickens's novel. 

Great advice above to see  Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. That should be among your top three places to visit--and do not miss going downstairs! The food here is pretty good as well. My other favorite pub in London is the  Princess Louise. Adorable little Victorian pub that's recently been remodeled. 

This is a tad touristy, but I would try  Rules. The food is good (not fabulous), but the atmosphere is insane. There are all kinds of crazy English-themed murals and artwork and general English-y stuff on the walls and it's a lot of fun. 

I also LOVE  Lock & Co which where royalty gets its hats. The last time I was there, there was a receipt on a table from a loaner hat they sent to Camilla. 

There's always something interesting going on at  Kensington Palace and the staff they have working there is unbelievable--they're all walking textbooks of British history. 

Do NOT miss the  Regency Cafe for breakfast! Aside from serving fabulous food, the Regency looks like it hasn't been touched since the 1950s. Also, the guy who calls out the orders is such a character that I recorded his voice on my iPhone the last time I was there. You'll see what I mean. 

Even if you don't stay there, don't miss seeing  St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel. Nothing I could say could ever describe this place adequately--you have to see it for yourself. 

Ordinarily I wouldn't recommend this for someone with just four days, but if you love royalty, you might want to check out the  Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising. They have a lot of royal memorabilia on display. 

This is wildly touristy, but I would not miss the famous  Harrods Food Halls. The food isn't cheap and it's not all that great, but wow, is it gorgeous. And do NOT miss  Liberty & Co. It's really faux-Tudor but super cosy and interesting. 

This suggestion is a little bizarre and not sure one I would make a priority, but you might enjoy the  Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garrett just because it's so out of the ordinary and authentic. 

Yes on Saint Paul's Cathedral for sure but be sure to get a guide book on it or take a tour because there are all these funny little secret things hidden in the architecture and great stories behind them. 

Have a blast!!!


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Victoria
Courtney, THANK YOU! I meant Kingdomly pretty literally. I really appreciate the time you spent writing those! I do love history and everything sounds perfect, especially the Old Operating Theatre Museum. Looking forward to my trip, the sights, the museums, and the food, which I happen to love, too). Great restaurants suggestions. Next time I'll in LA, I wil definitely get back to you.
 

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Courtney
Oh, good! I can't wait to hear all about it! What a great time of year to be there!
 
 
 

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answered by
colleen

Get a tube pass for the 4 days - this is good for tube & bus anywhere in London Metro area.  Take the Heathrow Express from the airport (buy your ticket before you board the train - it cost more if purchased on the train).  It is only 15 min to the city - there you can buy a tube pass & go to your accommodations in St Johns Wood.

London is crazy during Xmas week - but delightful.  Oxford Street & Regent Street (major shopping streets) will be nuts but if you go early in the day or later at night it will be less congested.  Every shopping area has wonderful street lights & decorations.  It is fun & magical after dark. 

If you want to see the historic sights - you really don't need to pay admission.  Most are very visible from the outside.  You can map out a nice tube & walking tour of Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Parliament, Big Ben, London Eye, Tower of London & the Tower Bridge.  The museums are mostly free - Check out the British Museum near Trafalger Square.  

UP at the The O2 Arena on the Thames - you climb to the top of the dome and have a 360 view of all of London.  Pick a sunny day if you can in December.

You are just a couple of tube rides from Knotting Hill & Portebello Road Market (weekends).  Also - Camden Town can be fun if you want to see punk is still alive & well in London.  Shoreditch Market (east)is new & hip - but a bit of a haul from your place.  

Patty & Bun 54 James Street off Marylebone High St, is really yummy - go early as there will be a que!

The Breakfast Club 33 D Arblay St, Princi 135 Wardour St, are both great food and reasonable cost. 

For eating out - what are you looking for?  Italian, thai, etc?  $ - $$$$? 

I can narrow the list  a bit. 

More later --- have to get back to work :)  

 

 

 

 

 


Comments (1)

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Victoria
Colleen, thank you so so much for your amazing tips, pls share with me your fave shopping spots for something unique, like little gift/ clothes/jevelry shops. As for eating out, I want British (surprise-surprise), and maybe something really amazing Chinese for one night. I have no idea if there is a proper British restaurant, but fusion will do, if the food is heaven:) and not super expensive. Btw, where do British people buy the best tea?
 
 
 

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  1. The O2 Arena (attraction)
  2. Camden Town (neighborhood)
  3. Patty & Bun (restaurant)
  4. The Breakfast Club (restaurant)
  5. Princi (restaurant)
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answered by
Ama from London

The Southbank. The Southbank is a great stretch on the south side of the Thames River which is in close to  Waterloo Station You can walk along there at Xmas time and visit the Christmas market, taste the delights on the southbank. If you don't find any of the festive food that you are interested in maybe visit  Young Vic Theatre theater which is beside Waterloo station and has the best burgers and it takes you away from the chain restaurants along the the southbank.

The Southbank Centre always has something to do and most of it free. http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/

You can visit the London Eye, Big Ben, London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

Tip: Although Big Ben are walking distance from the Southbank and The London Eye is on the Southbank you should buy a River boat ticket from London Eye Pier and visit London Bridge and Tower Bridge and you can take the river boat all the way to Greenwich and see the Royal Observatory and Maritime Greenwich. The river boat commuter boat is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than buying a tour boat ticket. 


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Victoria
Thanks so much Ama! Love your tips!
 
 
 

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  1. The Southbank (metro area)
  2. Thames River (attraction)
  3. Waterloo Station (attraction)
  4. Young Vic Theatre (attraction)
  5. Southbank Centre (attraction)
  6. Big Ben (attraction)
  7. The London Eye (attraction)
  8. London Eye Pier (attraction)
  9. London Bridge (attraction)
  10. Tower Bridge (attraction)
  11. Greenwich (attraction)
  12. Royal Observatory (attraction)
  13. Maritime Greenwich (attraction)
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answered by
Anand from Leeds

you would def need to see the famous landmarks in london taking into considerations it your first time.. a one day hop on and off bigbus tour will be more than enuf to see around most of london. with regards to places to breakfast it will depend on what area of london you are planning to stay 


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answered by
Sushmita from London

Victoria Inn is a popular hotel in Central London.


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answered first by
colleen

Victoria - What part of town will you be staying?  That will help me to narrow my answers.

Cheers


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Edward
Are you only spending time in London? Also, when? You said around Xmas. Some places you'll want to avoid at that time!
 

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Victoria
Colleen, near St John;s Wood metro. Edward, yes the Xmas week and yes, London only. Please share what to avoid, especially in transportation (around the city, to/from airport). Much appreciated.
 

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Philip
St John's Wood is on the Jubilee Line - which is fast and means easy access East & West.
 

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Debbie
Hey all, Community Manager here to drop a friendly note -- for future reference, there's a "add comment" option right underneath the question where you can add comments and ask for clarifications. Thanks for helping out a fellow traveler! Glad to have you all in the Trippy community :)
 
 
 
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