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London Tourism: Best of London

About London
London’s a sprawling city at the center of everything: art, history, culture—you name it. But what sets it apart from other major hubs are its distinct neighborhoods, each with their own vibe. Spend an afternoon with the fam in Kensington: It’s got museums, parks, and plenty of other kid-approved things to do. Or check out edgy Shoreditch for cool shops and street murals (perfect for photo ops), then head to Soho where you can grab a pint at a pub or hit a club and party ‘til dawn. Food’s a big deal here: Yes, there’s fish and chips, but also next-level curry houses thanks to London’s thriving Bangladeshi community (take your pick from tons of spots on Brick Lane), plus a growing roster of celebrity chef-driven restaurants in posh Mayfair. There’s always something new going on and we’ve got more recs, below.

Travel Advice

Essential London

The perfect three days in London

From royal palaces to cozy pubs
Read on

A London Pub Crawl

After more years writing about them than I care to admit, I can spot a good London pub faster than you can say “Pint, please.” What’s the secret? Big or small, central or suburban, it comes down to the person behind the bar; if they know what they’re doing, the pub will be somewhere to cherish. Here are my favorites.
  • The Coach & Horses
    With its literary traditions and quirky features—check out the spittoon by the bar—the Coach and Horses is a must-visit, and that’s before you consider the exceptional quality of the beer. Even in Soho, which probably has more pubs per square mile than anywhere else in London, it stands out. My order here: a pint of the traditional English bitter, London Pride.
  • The Harp
    Few places are as enticing on a warm day as this slim Covent Garden pub, when the front windows fold back and a happy atmosphere drifts out into the street. Like all good English pubs, the cask ale here is excellent. No wonder it fills up early on a Friday evening.
  • The Gladstone Arms
    Run by brother-and-sister team Gaurav and Meg Khanna, this pub is exactly what you need after elbowing your way around Borough Market. The bijoux gastropub offers not only a wide-range of taps and an interesting (and affordable) wine list, but also delicious Anglo-Indian food, such as chicken tikka masala pies and Indian-style roast dinners.
  • Blythe Hill Tavern
    The Irish landlord, Con, sets high standards: the staff here wear collars and ties and the beer is always in immaculate condition. That’s not to say The BHT is stiff. Thursdays are my favorite - for the weekly traditional music session - but any day of the week is good for atmosphere, sport on TV, and perfectly-poured pints at this Southeast London gem.
  • Dog & Bell SE8
    Deptford used to be full of pubs, but most have shuttered over the past few decades. The Dog, though, goes from strength to strength, to the extent that it even expanded into a next-door building recently. Come for the bar billiards table, live music, and the best Friday night atmosphere south of the Thames.
  • The Kings Arms
    There’s a huge range of drinks available in this East End stalwart, from Kentish Ale to Finnish gin. Although it’s been modernized, The King’s Arms still retains an old-school ambiance, just the thing for escaping from nearby Shoreditch. I recommend the cheese plates.
  • King Charles I
    Is it possible to find a village pub in the heart of Western Europe’s biggest city? Yes, and this is it. Small but perfectly-formed, the community-owned King Charles I is just a hop and skip from St Pancras station. Don’t forget to check out the jukebox.
  • The Mall Tavern
    Parts of West London seem almost too posh for pubs these days, which is what makes The Mall Tavern such a delight. Modernized but unspoiled, it offers probably the best pub atmosphere in Notting Hill. The excellent beer and food doesn’t hurt either.
  • The Southampton Arms
    The beer-lovers of North-West London swear by this place, and I have to admit they’ve got a point. Excellent drinks from independent producers, high-quality pub snack food (much of it pork-based), regular jazz sessions, and a charming back garden for sunny moments. The perfect place to while away an afternoon.
  • The Sutton Arms
    Run by a father-and-son team, The Sutton Arms is the epitome of a high-class street-corner pub: handsome on the outside and cozy inside. Get a pint of London Black, a delicious porter from local brewery Anspach and Hobday, and soak up the atmosphere of a classic London pub.

Explore London by interest

All about the (afternoon) tea

Sip a “cuppa” and eat a mini sandwich or two

London on a dime

Eats and activities that won’t break the bank

If you’re feeling fancy-ish

Go-all-out experiences worth every penny

Beyond Big Ben

Easy day trips a train ride away

Shop the city’s markets

Food, flowers, fashion—visit the best stalls

For the history buff

Must-see museums, royal landmarks, and more

Do it like a local

Best-kept secrets and hidden gems

A walk in the park

Gorgeous green spaces, right in town