5 Days in London- how to enjoy it as a first-timer

Stroll along the Thames, listen to buskers on the street, and come across boutiques selling the the most random things you can ever imagine.

The essentials

I am going to recommend a few walking routes below, each of them will take up more or less a day, with some leeway to fit in some other half-day/ evening time activities. I have also embedded the Google Map of the routes right at the bottom, feel free to download it!

Day 1

 

Day 2

 

Day 3

 

  • London Bridge
    • Borough Market– they have the best cheese raclettes in town, and the seafood + brownie stalls at Borough Market are amazing
    • The Shard- Unless you are dining at one of the restaurants at The Shard, I wouldn’t recommend spending £25 for the view. You can go to Sky Garden which I will be mentioning below
  • Tower Bridge
    • Walk the iconic Tower Bridge, and visit the Tower of London if you’re into history
  • One Fenchurch Street
    • Sky Garden– One Fenchurch Street was nicknamed “Walkie Talkie” because of the shape of the architecture. Sky Garden at the top of Walkie Talkie offers amazing view of London, and it’s free to enter!
  • Spitalfield’s Market
    • A market full of food stalls, restaurants and boutiques
    • This is where you will start find more and more unique or expensive hipster clothing labels such as Albam, A.P.C, Y.M.C, or…. a massive All Saints
  • Brick Lane
    • Famous street full of Indian restaurants, and lots of vintage boutiques
  • Shoreditch
    • Boxpark– shops made out of shipping containers
    • Dishoom– trendy Bombay cafe
    • Graffiti- Shoreditch is famous for its artsy graffiti
    • Kingsland Road- the street in Shoreditch full of authentic Vietnamese eateries
    • Cafes- where there are hipsters, there are good cafes. Check these out
    • Bars- If you like drinking, Shoreditch is also the place for bar hopping
    • Food market- Dinerama is a food market that is built in this construction-site-like containers filled piece of land, it’s cool, it’s hipster

Day 4

 

  • Knightsbridge
    • Famous for the expensive shops, namely Harrods
  • South Kensington
    • Check out this bakery: Maitre Choux
    • MUST check out museums (free entry):
      • Victoria and Albert Museum- a beautiful art and design museum in a beautiful Victorian architecture. A new wing has also been built recently, merging the new with the old
      • Natural History Museum– also housed in a beautiful architecture, learn about human evolution, fossils and more here. Instead of a T-rex skeleton, now you’ll find a 25-meter blue whale skeleton hanging in the main hall of the museum
  • Kensington Palace
    • This is where the Royal Family lives, but sections of it are open to the public
    • Get traditional English afternoon tea at the Orangery at the Palace
  • Hyde Park
  • Notting Hill
    • Visit Portobello Street Market, it’s famous of vintage clothing, arts, antiques, food and more. See Vogue’s guide here
    • Why not finish your day at Pergola on the Roof?

Day 5- consider these:

  1. Harry Potter Studio (full day)
    • This place is both educational and fun, you really get to learn how the movies were made! Don’t forget to book your tickets in advance
  2. King’s Cross (half day)
    • Visit Harry Potter’s 9 3/4 platform at Kings Cross
    • Go to the plaza near Central Saint Martin’s, walk to Islington/ Camden along the canal, and enjoy a coffee along the way
    • If you feel like something extremely educational, go to Wellcome Collection for their exhibitions, or visit the British Library
    • Walk down towards Bloomsbury Square and visit the British Museum
  3. Day trips
    • Kew Gardens– Trains from Waterloo Station
    • Bicester Village– if you fancy shopping for luxury brands in an outlet, trains from Marylebone Station
    • Cambridge, trains from King’s Cross/ Liverpoool Street
    • Oxford, trains from Paddington Station
    • Bath and Stonehenge, join a day coach tour from Victoria Coach station
    • Brighton, trains from Victoria Station

Other things to consider:

I have mapped out all the walking routes on Google here:

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6 thoughts on “5 Days in London- how to enjoy it as a first-timer

    1. Awesome! Hope you’ll find it useful 🙂 Let me know if you have other questions too, I lived in London for 9 years before relocating to Hk 1.5 years ago. I still visit the city every year!

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