The pound’s post-Brexit crash might not have made London cheap exactly, but it’s definitely made the British capital more affordable. And with more direct flights than ever between Canada and the U.K., it’s the perfect time for a hop across the pond. Ready to explore? Here’s how to see the best of London with a three-day itinerary.
10:00 a.m. FUEL UP
You need energy for sightseeing, so start your trip with breakfast or brunch at the Fitzrovia location of Australia-influenced cafe Lantana. You can pay homage to Britain’s dining past at the cafe by ordering the “full Lantana” – eggs of any style with sourdough toast, bacon, roasted mushrooms and ham hock baked beans – or to its globally influenced and more plant-based present by noshing on smashed avocado and poached eggs on toast with labneh cheese, salad and the Middle Eastern nut and spice mix called dukkah.
12:00 p.m. GET CULTURED
Great news! You were clever enough to pick a restaurant that’s just a 12-minute walk away from the British Museum, a must-visit for its extensive collections and special exhibitions devoted to human history, art and culture. (Bonus: entry is free.) Follow a guided tour (free 30-40-minute excursions focused on different parts of the museum run throughout the day) or splurge on “Around the world in 90 minutes,” which gives you a whirlwind tour of key exhibits (think the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon Frieze) for £12 (around $20 CAD). Be sure to leave time to explore the museum shop.
4:00 p.m. AFTERNOON TEA
Hop on the tube and head westward to Notting Hill, home to the the famous Portobello Road Market. Stop in at Gail’s Artisan Bakery for a cuppa and a snack – a lemon tin cake, perhaps? Or a triple-layer slice of carrot cake – to fortify you for what’s to come.
5:00 p.m. BACK TO SCHOOL
Just up the road from Gail’s is the Portobello Star, a cosy bar that’s perhaps best known for its Ginstitute, a gin education workshop. Join a small group of other gin lovers for a G&T in the bar before heading upstairs to learn about the history of gin in London. After, you can create your own variation on the trendy spirit – which will be bottled and sent home with you. (Don’t forget to check your luggage – you don’t want to have it confiscated at security.)
8:30 p.m. FARM TO TABLE
Back near the Notting Hill Gate underground station where you arrived is The Shed, whose diverse seasonal menu draws in the crowd (you remembered to make a reservation, right?). Start with a “mouthful” – a bite-size dish like wild trout mousse on a squid ink cracker – then dig in to some of their shareable dishes such as pan-fried goat’s cheese with walnuts, honey and thyme or beef cigars with mustard and tarragon. Note: it would be a tragedy not to order some of their sourdough bread, served warm with the best of butter.
11:00 a.m. BIKE TOUR
Jet lag getting you down? It’s nothing some exercise and fresh air won’t fix. Meet your guide from Fat Tire Tours for the Royal London Bike Tour, which covers top sights like Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey. The four-hour outing includes a stop for lunch at a traditional English pub, where you can dine on your favourite classic dishes and get travel tips from your guide and other tour-goers.
3:00 p.m. SHOP TILL YOU DROP
Now’s the time to really test that exchange rate by getting to know some of London’s best shopping districts. Pick your destination based on your interests: you’ll find brand-name and designer shops (including well-known department store Selfridges) on Oxford Street, vintage and antiques back in Notting Hill, and trendy boutiques on King’s Road in Chelsea.
7:00 p.m. NAME-BRAND MIDDLE EASTERN
Known worldwide for his beautiful cookbooks like Plenty and Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi also runs a string of restaurants scattered across the city. If you’re near Soho, grab a table at Nopi (reservations recommended) to sample his flavourful, Middle East-rooted cuisine. Menus change frequently but might include roasted eggplant with sorrel yogurt, turmeric radish and almonds or octopus with preserved lemon, Jerusalem artichoke and spring greens; drinks are a must whether you’re going with alcoholic (a glass of Malvazija from Slovenia, perhaps, or a coriander and ginger martini) or not (fresh carrot, ginger and apple juice or a lychee and grapefruit cooler).
10:00 a.m. GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL
Among the touristy sites worth seeing is the Tower of London, which was established by William the Conquerer in 1066. Its history includes housing a polar bear in the 13th century as well as holding the infamous trial and execution of Anne Boleyn. Give yourself at least two hours to get your money’s worth and see the main attractions: the Crown Jewels, the Medieval Palace and the White Tower, which now holds items from the Royal Armouries’ collection. Live re-enactments (in full costume, natch) bring the UK’s tumultuous past into vivid colour.
12:30 p.m. TIME FOR A FEAST
You’ll find something for everyone at Borough Market, where street food stalls run the gamut from Indian vegetarian and pork pies to artisanal Scotch eggs, with your choice between Italian gelato or goat’s milk ice cream for a frozen dessert. Consider picking up some food-oriented souvenirs or gifts, too, like small-batch preserves (there’s nothing like a jar of marmalade to remind you of Olde England) or Punjabi chutneys and pickles.
2:00 p.m. THE WORLD IS A STAGE
You’re just minutes away from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, which despite being a modern reconstruction, is still a moving experience in the famed playwright’s hometown. Take in an afternoon performance of one of his best-loved works; the summer calendar includes Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
6:00 p.m. DINNER AND DRINKS
If you’re staying at the recently opened Mondrian, you’re just a 10-minute walk away from a quick nap before dinner. Then, head downstairs to Dandelyan, named one of the world’s top bars and is the perfect place to people watch as you sip on premium cocktails and dine from the bar menu, which might include blistered padron peppers with sea salt and olive oil, a classic ploughman’s platter with English cured meats and cheddar, or flatbread topped with seasonal ingredients like broad beans, baby zucchini and radishes. End your evening by stepping out the back door for a walk along the riverside promenade to take in the city skyline and start planning your next visit.
WATCH: We bet you’ve never seen London like this before!