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London Tourism: Plan Your Trip to 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. And of course, the place itself needs to have some personality, too. Here are my favorite pubs.
  • The Coach & Horses
    285
    Even in Soho, which probably has more pubs per square mile than anywhere else in London, the Coach & Horses stands out. With its literary traditions and quirky features—check out the spittoon by the bar—this is a must-visit, and that’s before you consider the exceptional quality of the beer. My order: London Pride, a traditional English bitter.
  • The Harp, Covent Garden
    577
    Few places are as enticing on a warm day as this traditional British ale house in Covent Garden—the front windows folded back and a happy atmosphere drifting out into the street. Like all good English pubs, the cask ale is excellent. Heads up: This slim space gets packed after work. Come during the day if you want to get a seat at the bar.
  • The Gladstone Arms
    50
    Run by brother-and-sister team Gaurav and Meg Khanna, the Gladstone is exactly what you need after elbowing your way around nearby Borough Market. The bijoux gastropub stocks a wide-range of taps—though if wine’s your thing, there’s an interesting (and affordable) list. There’s also some decent Anglo-Indian pub grub—think chicken tikka masala pies and Indian-style roast dinners.
  • Blythe Hill Tavern
    45
    The Irish landlord, Con, sets high standards at this unpretentious neighborhood pub in southeast London: The staff wears ties and the beer is always perfectly poured. Thursdays are my favorite for performances by local musicians, but you can’t go wrong any day of the week thanks to the friendly, welcoming vibe.
  • Dog & Bell SE8
    44
    Deptford—an up-and-coming area on the south bank of the Thames—used to be full of pubs, but most have shuttered over the past few decades. The Dog, though, goes from strength to strength—it even did a recent expansion. Come for the billiards table, live music, and the best Friday night atmosphere south of the Thames.
  • The Kings Arms
    9
    There’s a huge range of drinks available in this East End stalwart, from Kentish Ale to Finnish gin, not to mention killer cheese plates. Although it’s been modernized, the King’s Arms still retains an old-school ambiance, just the thing if you need an escape from the hipster scene in the surrounding Shoreditch neighborhood.
  • King Charles I
    45
    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
    350
    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
    149
    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
    19
    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