Our favourite bits of London
Discover londoner’s tips for EMBS visitors who don’t want to feel like the average tourist.
Here we are! London, baby! Welcome to the most visited city in the world in 2015, with 18.8 million international visitors (Bangkok came in second with 18.2 and Paris third, with 16.0). This cannot be a coincidence, and the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the wonderful sunny weather (ehem) are only part of the attraction of this cosmopolitan metropolis that has a very special halo around it. Some of you might have been one of those millions of visitors, but we’re going to share with you some secrets that only seasoned “londoners” like us know.
#1 The Breakfast Club
You’ve spent the whole week waking up to that wonderful sound of your alarm. Who wants to do that again on Saturday? And prepare breakfast? Not us, thanks. Here’s a word for you “Brunch” (breakfast + lunch), and here’s another one “TheBreakfastClub” (it’s actually written separately, but it’s still a great place to get together with your friends, or as a couple). Two suggestions from the menu: Guillermo’s favourite, the “Full Monty English breakfast” – skip dinner the day before, and prepare to roll back home like a ball. This calorific bomb includes all the good British classics: sausage, beans, bacon, eggs…and even mushrooms to give it the healthy touch. Alternatively, for the humans amongst you, Karinite’s favourite is “banana bircher”, a nice fresh unusual way of having your porridge with fruits on a lazy Saturday morning. Remember to keep some space for the best treat – pancakes with maple syrup and berries. All this is served in a very special atmosphere, very originally decorated, with friendly and helpful staff. Don’t get worried if you are not ready for so much food in the early morning, you’ll have to spend some time queuing, before getting to order, a place worth waiting for! Discover more about The Breakfast Club
#2 Markets, markets and markets again!
Being London not famous for its food, everybody abroad is always asking me how do I (as a real Italian and food lover) survive here. Well, next time you are around, just try all the amazing food markets we have and then let me know your opinion. You have the unique chance to find food from all over the world and peculiar delicatessen every day. The most famous & touristy market is Camden, which always deserves a visit for its alternative surroundings and the nice walk along the canal.
On the other side of the river, close to London bridge, you can find Borough market instead.. I can here recommend to try the oysters or the zebra, crocodile & ostrich burgers! Combine that with a fresh juice & digest your meal with a nice walk on Southbank. Just remember, you can go every day except Sunday.. where Borough will close but you should be in Shoreditch at Bricklane market! Here you can go back in time with its vintage markets before entering huge tents serving food from all over, take your time to look around & try all free samples, before deciding among all the tasty food!
A great artsy place that lets any hipster heart jump higher. Art, fashion, and a huge variety of different foods to choose from makes Brick Lane and the surrounding area a must visit. Try the delicious bagels there! Also, plan ahead and you can book a session in Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. Tube stop: Liverpool Street
#4 Cycle around with the Boris bikes
Being the major of this chaotic city seems as easy a job as convincing the Queen that a Republic is a great idea. Boris Johnson is the Conservative politician in office at the moment. If you Google him, you’ll find pictures of his funny hair, and one of his best legacies, the so-called ‘Boris bikes’, officially named ‘Santander Cycles’ (previously known as ‘Barclays Cycles’). Boris had a brilliant idea some years ago to reduce the wonderful polluting gases whilst getting Londoners in better shape: public bikes. If you don’t mind risking your life going in between Double-decker red busses, taxies, and crazy drivers, and can cope with an occasional chance of rain, here’s the most efficient way of transport above ground. They’re available across Central London for as little as £2 for 24 hours, for anyone with a credit card, tourist included.
#5 The Lion King Musical in the West End
London’s West End, together with Broadway in New York City is widely recognised as one of the most renowned theatre and musical hubs on the planet. You can see world-class musicals here: Cats, Billy Elliot, The Phantom of the Opera etc… The Lion King’s our favourite. Although available in other cities in Europe, we can only talk about what we’ve seen here, and we can say that it’s brilliantly executed. In fact, it’ll make you remember your childhood and sing ‘Hakunah Matata’ at work for at least a week. For fairly-priced musical tickets the best thing is to go online or to go to one of the discounted ticket sales available in the stores of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
#6 Churchill War Rooms
Can you imagine an event able to change your life and the future of the world even more than the EMBS master? Among the very few of them one happened in the heart of London and is beautifully revived at the Churchill War Rooms, few steps from the Westminsters underground stop and the Big Ben. It doesn’t take a history freak to be fascinated by the thorough reconstruction of the bunker from which Winston Churchill directed the most critical moments of the second World War. Sometimes reality surpass imagination but the numerous interactive corners of this large exposition give you the best chance to put yourself in the shoes of someone working underground in complete secrecy with only weather signals informing you about the outside conditions (Notably “Windy” was used to signal current bombing over the city).
Despite the relatively pricey entrance ticket (£16 adult – £13 student) the place is definitely worth a visit and the proximity to St James’s park makes it an even more attractive target for a relaxed Sunday afternoon. Second item to be put in your visit agenda, right after a powerful selfie in front of Buckingham palace! 🙂 Tube Stop: Westminster
#7 Primark in Oxford Street (a.k.a “The 3 floor Jungle”)
Were the Churchill War Rooms too intellectual for you? Hungry for very cheap clothes surrounded by screaming teenagers and sweaty tourists in an overcrowded store? This is your place! After spending 2 hours in this gigantic temple to “quick fashion” you’ll find heavy metal a peaceful melody to fall asleep to… all while wearing your brand new £3 pyjamas. Discover more about Primark
#8 New Malden
Want to see a different side of London? Well, New Malden is in the South of London. It still looks like a normal London Suburb, but here you find the largest Korean Community. New Malden is very well looked after. Clean streets, flowers throughout the main street (at least during summer) and a vast amount of Korean shops. The once that I want to point out are the food places. Indulge in a wide variety of Korean cousin. You will find Korean supermarkets and stores where you can find all sorts of food, snacks and Korean treats. Go to one of the several restaurants and have Korean BBQ. You can find all you can eat restaurants for 15 GBP. Try Soju (Korean Vodka) and Samgyeopsal (Pork Belly) and enjoy the night out with your friends. If you find that your tongue got a bit looser after drinking soju go to one of the Noraebangs (Korean Karaoke) and chose your favorite songs to sing to your friends.
- Bike around and rent a boat in Hyde Park (or watch triathlon in case it’s the right time)
- Go to a secret bar (like the Callooh Callay were you pass through the wardrobe)
- Enjoy the night skyline from the Shard bar (tallest skyscraper in Europe)
- Go fox-watching during the night in any street
- See hundreds of deer in Richmond
- Sketch bar/restaurant (weirdest place ever)
- Gordon’s wine bar
- Ping-Pong bar
- Air line Emirates to O2
- Greenwich and Blackheath
- Views of London from Hampstead Heath
- Views from Primrose Hill
- London Zoo and Regent’s Park
- A walk in Notting Hill
- Dinner at Sushi Samba or Duck & Waffle
- The British Museum
- The National Gallery
- The Natural History Museum
“Sharing is caring!” THANKS to Karina Sukute, Valerie Pansini, Julia Gaborova, Frank Born, Stefano Giorgetti and Guillermo Fernandez for this article.