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London Tourism: Best of 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.
“Hyde park was a dream! Something out of a movie! So much greenery, water ways and animals. The best part of walking through Hyde Park is kind of a secret....near the Peter Pan sculptor is an area full of wild green canaries that roam free in the trees. If you have appealing food to the birds, they will fly to your hands to eat. It was amazing!”
What to do
Iconic places and can’t-miss experiences that define the city.See all
Where to stay
Top spots to rest up—charming to classic to modern.See all
Where to eat
The tried-and-trues, plus local faves and hidden gems.See all
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 & Horses283Even 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 Harp572Few 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 Arms47Run 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 Tavern44The 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 SE844Deptford—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 Arms9There’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 I44Is 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 Tavern347Parts 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 Arms149The 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 Arms19Run 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
The city’s a stage
World-class theater, live concerts, and more