Camden Market is filled with funky finds. // (c) 2010 Skye Mayring
Inhabited since around 43 A.D., London is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It has a rich and colorful history that cannot fully be matched anywhere else, a unique blend of both the ancient and modern. While it is impossible to entirely explore this complicated city in just a couple of days, what follows is an ideal itinerary for those who want to extend their layover in the capital of the U.K.
Start the day off with breakfast and tea in one of Primrose Hill’s cozy, intimate cafes, such as Chamomile — a quaint, traditional English cafe selling meals and snacks. Chamomile is located on 45 Englands Lane, a 10-minute walk from Primrose Hill Park. Primrose Hill Park is a small park that offers picturesque views over the whole of London, with the towering buildings of the city serving as a backdrop for the sweeping green hills of the park. The surrounding area of Primrose Hill is extremely affluent, fashionable and home to celebrities such as Sadie Frost, Jude Law and Kate Moss.
A short walk from Primrose Hill, Camden Market is a venue that is both quirky and unique. Located along Regents Canal and just outside Camden Town Tube Station, Camden Market is a collection of indoor and open-air markets selling a range of vintage fashion, jewelry, gifts and curios. Attracting a diverse crowd, Camden has been described as London’s Venice Beach, and visitors are sure to meet a range of interesting characters there. Check out the Electric Ballroom, a music venue turned market that is part of the same building as Camden Tube Station and has hosted bands such as The Clash and Oasis.
Lunch at Strada
A chain popular throughout England, Strada offers quality Italian food and great service at a reasonable price. The London Bridge location, at 2 More London Place, is an ideal spot to people watch and take in expansive views of the Thames River. Menu highlights include pumpkin and butternut squash risotto with pancetta and freshly prepared pizza margherita.
Tower of London
Located a stone’s throw away from Strada at London Bridge, visitors should definitely check out the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. A former fortress, palace and prison to some of England’s most notorious figures, such as Ann Boleyn, the Tower of London is a must-see attraction for anybody who appreciates London’s turbulent history. Through November, the tower is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays. November through February, the tower closes at 4 p.m.
River Cruising Down the Thames River
From just outside the Tower of London, clients can hop on a Thames River cruise to get a great view of iconic attractions such as Shakespeare’s Globe, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Westminster area. Cruises leave every half hour and cost around $20 for an unlimited adult pass and approximately $10 for an unlimited child’s pass.
Dinner at the Bengal Clipper
A trip to London would not be complete without sampling some Indian food. Try the English take on authentic Indian fare at the Bengal Clipper, which offers delicious yet reasonably priced cuisine in a fun, relaxed setting. The restaurant is located just off the Thames River at the Cardamom Buildings on Shad Thames, and it offers two-course meals for approximately $16.
Clients should visit this renowned Knightsbridge store for a taste of upper-class London life. Owned by a private Qatari company, Harrods offers a huge array of some of the most expensive clothing, jewelry and food in London. The surrounding areas of Kensington and Chelsea are also worth walking around to window shop and experience a taste of the high life in London. Harrods is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., except on Sundays when it is open from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Traditional English Fish and Chips
After visiting Knightsbridge, take a short tube ride to London Bridge and, then, a short walk to Spa Fish Bar (on 88 Spa Road, just off Tower Bridge Road). For the quintessential English dining experience that this small, traditional fish and chip store has to offer, visitors should order cod and chips.
The Tate Modern
The Tate Modern may, at first, have the appearance of a large warehouse. Formerly a disused power station, the Tate is now a home for cutting-edge contemporary and modern art, with a permanent collection featuring Picasso, Matisse, Pollock and Rothko. Admission is free for the permanent collection, while the temporary exhibitions typically cost around $15 per person. Upcoming temporary exhibitions include French post-impressionist, Paul Gauguin, and Chinese sculptor, Ai Weiwei. The Tate is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Show at Shakespeare’s Globe
Watch a 7:30 p.m. performance of one of Shakespeare’s legendary works as it would have been seen in the London of the 1600s. For the frugal, a show at Shakespeare’s Globe costs just $8 to stand as the groundlings once did, which is recommended for the able-bodied who want the best view of the stage and an experience that they won’t soon forget.
Drinks and Late Night Bites at J.D. Wetherspoon
Spending an evening at a pub, such as J.D. Wetherspoon, gives travelers a true taste of local culture. There are many Wetherspoons in London, but the one closest to the Globe theater is located on Tower Bridge Road. With a traditionally dark, wooden interior, this is a great place to unwind and chat with locals after a long day of sightseeing. A range of snacks and meals are available from gluten-free raspberry crumble and Wiltshire cured ham with free-range eggs to roast chicken and gravy. Beer flows freely here, so order the bittersweet Greene King Abbot Ale ($6) to cap off the day.