by Roma Patel
Photo courtesy of Carina Lee
Ah, nothing is more enchanting than the bustling streets of London. With its rich history and, perhaps most notably, diverse population, London is a city you can visit a million times and never get bored. The streets contain something new around every corner, like a quaint special goods shop, a unique takeaway vendor, or even the birthplace of your favorite author. Whether you’re there for 24 hours or 24 days, the capital of the U.K. is exhilarating.
8:00 AM: Beginning at an early hour is always a good idea, especially in a busy city with traffic above ground and along the underground railways of the tube. Moving around on foot is always a fun way to get to see a city, but with London being expansive and including so many boroughs, it is often easier and quicker to make use of the bus and the tube. Buying a Visitor Oyster Card can be incredibly efficient and cost effective, as one-way distances on the bus only cost £1.50 and one-way tube rides are usually £2.90; however, the fare depends on the distance you travel. Regardless of which you take, using London’s public transportation is incredibly convenient and a great way to immerse yourself in the life of the city.
9:00 AM: Head over to Notting Hill, the home of my favorite Hugh Grant movie. Notting Hill is a quaint borough filled with colorful homes, specialty shops, cafes, bookstores, and the famous Portobello Road Market, which is the world’s largest antique market. The main antique market is on Saturday, but Notting Hill is sure to be a fun stop regardless of time or day -- it’s a great place to stop and get souvenirs for friends and family!
“Exploring Notting Hill on a Saturday is a ton of fun,” said Ryan Pagois (CAS ’20). “Vendors sell everything from vintage maps, watches, and sports goods to all sorts of foods and flowers to art by local artists.”
11:00 AM: After walking around Portobello Road, head on over to Uxbridge Road for Eggbreak. Eggbreak is absolutely a must when visiting Notting Hill, with its Aussie-vibe and offerings of both traditional and eclectic dishes. Stop there for a delicious coffee, a delicate banana, raspberry, and coconut French toast, or a Feta and Za’atar green shakshuka.
12:00 PM: After a filling breakfast, head over to Knightsbridge to explore London’s high fashion scene. A nice alternative to Oxford Street and Regents Street, experience Harrods and Harvey Nichols’ never-ending showrooms and see the beautiful displays of Europe’s most notable department stores. Their inventory includes everything, including: the latest technology, designer furniture, unique makeup, every type of shoe, freshly-made foods, and more! Harrods and Harvey Nichols can be quite intriguing. If you’re daring enough, try some fun things on and try not to spend all of your money! Next, explore the dozens of flagship stores for major high fashion designers. From notable London designers’ enormous stores to the city’s poshest clientele shops, Knightsbridge is certainly a dreamy stop. If you’re hungry for a snack or a light lunch, stop by Ottolenghi, a renowned Israeli café that serves delectable pastries and unique salads.
4:00 PM: In the afternoon, visit the Tower of London, the city’s most interesting attraction for history buffs. Built in 1078 by William the Conqueror, the structure has been used by monarchs for over 500 years and today houses the Crown Jewels. Follow a Beefeater, an individual who is a protector of the Tower, to receive a tour of the grounds and learn the history of the magnificent structure. Then, visit the Crown Jewels, and see the vast luxuries of the British monarchy.
6:00 PM: For an early dinner, Dishoom, an Indian restaurant in the style of a 1920s Bombay café is an absolute must. Serving every type of Indian street food in both traditional and innovative forms, the restaurant is a favorite amongst locals.
“Dishoom is always an adventure. With its fun drink menu and its delicious curries, like the Pav Bhaji and the Dal Makhani, it was easily a favorite of mine when I was studying abroad,” said Olivia Rolnik (CAS ’20).
Dishoom has a number of locations all around London, so go to whichever is the most convenient for you.
7:00 PM: After a busy day of exploring, there are still plenty of things to see in this city, including a variety of fun activities at night. Two of my favorites are the West End, which is London’s personal version of Broadway, and the Jack the Ripper Tour in the East End. The West End is located near Leicester Square and Covent Garden, and it has a number of theaters that are playing all sorts of shows. A classic that was born in London’s West End is Mamma Mia!. Filled with Abba songs, the story of the girl on the brink of marriage searching for her dad is an absolute blast.
“I have seen so many shows in the West End and on Broadway, and Mamma Mia in London is by far my favorite show,” said Olivia Rolnik (CAS ’20). “I have seen it four times, and even still, I’d go see it again. Everyone gets up, sings, and dances -- it’s a blast!”
For an eerie alternative, journey to the East End, to walk the path of Jack the Ripper’s violent murders in the neighborhood that is historically notorious for filth, poverty, and gruesome crime.
“I went on the Jack the Ripper tour with a bunch of my friends, and it was so fascinating to hear the guide talk about the murders and potential theories and then actually go to the places,” said Matthew Knowles (COM ’20). “It’s a must!”
Whether you’re yearning to go to London or have time for a trip coming up, these stops are an absolute must when visiting this vibrant city. By exploring these drastically different boroughs, you will get a taste of London’s dynamic people and culture, a glimpse of its notable history, and experience its hegemonic cooking and fashion industries.