Explore London: dine by borough

By Vanessa Teo

Want a unique tour of London? Keep reading... London is a city rich in culture, history and flavours. As a tourist and newcomer to London, we know it’s hard enough getting your bearings let alone finding somewhere really decent to eat. Let's be honest, the UK's not well known for it's cuisine, is it? However - London's a different kettle of fish. Here, the city's culinary offerings make the rest of the UK seem unseasoned and bland. So to make it easy for you to find a hearty feast – and it's fun, too – we’ve thought of a different way of doing London: dining by borough. To get a well-rounded experience of the city, we went 'outside the box' for a new tour of London and all it involves is you and a healthy appetite. We challenge you to throw away the guidebook, ignore your recommendations and be led by taste and smell. We promise you won’t be disappointed! Camden Camden is synonymous with the outlandish, the garish and the out-of-this world. Although nowadays it’s slightly more commercial it still prides itself on being one of the most popular boroughs in London, boasting a plethora of pubs, bars, restaurants and food stalls. If you go to Camden you can’t miss Camden Lock and Camden Market. Made up of hundreds of artisanal shops, trinket traders and crazy fashionistas the market is also home to some of the best street food. Enter into the chaos of Camden Lock and embrace the food frenzy in the urban wilderness. There’s Chinese noodles, Mexican burritos, Japanese dim sum, French crêpes, American donuts and Lebanese falafel to dine on. Take in the smells and tuck into the delicious array of culinary delights that there is to offer (just don't forget small change). If you’re veggie – there’s plenty of options as well, you’ll even find a vegan and gluten free café on the bridge, too, to cater to more selective palettes. City of London Home to the bankers, the financial district, aka the City, isn’t your average borough. With clean lines and high-rises, reflecting windows and revolving doors, this area is the opposite of colourful Camden. Expect haute-cuisine, chic and sleek dining and usually child-free zones (an unwritten rule, of course). If you’re looking for something a little more at the top of end your budget, then head to the hub of the City of London. Look out for authentic delis, fresh-cut sushi, champagne bars and Michelin stars. If you look hard enough, though, it’s not all high-end and haughty. Tucked in between the glass-walled office blocks are old traditional pubs that ooze London life. Echoing the working world of the past, listen to the old ‘geezers’ and their tales and tuck into some proper pub grub. You can’t go wrong with Fish and Chips, if ever you’re in doubt. Note: the City is out of action on the weekends as it mainly caters to the busy bankers in the week. Soho and Chinatown Another one of London’s more colourful and vibrant areas, Soho is renowned for its eccentricity and somewhat seedy undercurrent, however, in terms of food – there’s nothing frowned upon here. From exclusive eateries to celebrity hot-spots, there’s everything from tongue-in-cheek themed bars and restaurants, to high end haute-cuisine with a waiting list as long as your arm. But, in between these ‘know before you go’ places, you can find the best individual nooks to settle down for a quiet bite or some something a bit more wild. Sample simple Thai to rich Swiss cheese fondues – there’s something for every taste. Right in the heart of Soho you’ll find London’s Chinatown, too. Draped with red lanterns and gold dragons guarding the entrances of authentic Far Eastern restaurants, you’ll enter into China’s home away from home. Explore the markets of fresh produce, herbs and tea galore and take a seat in one of the many restaurants all vying to provide you with impeccable service. There’s nothing more persuasive than knowing you'll be dining amongst the locals, too – always a good sign! Richmond One of the more expensive boroughs, Richmond is arguably one of the most beautiful. Set on the bank of the Thames, in the most western part of London, enjoy this leafy borough for all its convention and class. The high street is lined with your typical cafes and restaurants but down by the river you’ll experience some of the best of London’s offerings. If you’re after a pre-dinner drink, stop in at one of the riverside’s pubs for a pitcher of Pimms to share. The ultimate British summer drink, there’s no better place to indulge in a refreshing tipple than in Richmond. Take this tour of London offshore and dine on the roof of a fishing boat and enjoy some local caught seafood with views over the river. If you’re after something a little more meaty and upmarket, why not indulge in a succulent Argentine steak right on the bank of the Thames as you rub shoulders with some of London’s elite. Hackney Take it down a notch and head to Hackney for those with a smaller budget. We’re not sacrificing on quality though, this tour of London is all about the best. Hackney is home to the hipster, trend setter and experimentalist – and we’re talking about food not fashion. With pop-up restaurants, street food and a world of the ‘just opened’ and exclusive, get involved with some of the newest names and most exotic flavours in the city. Kingsland Road is home of the Vietnamese dish. No Londoner would go anywhere else for a spring roll or chicken dumpling. Box Park has a wealth of newly opened eating joints and promises healthy and hearty Caribbean meals and American diner style burgers. If you’re around the area at the weekend – or plan to be – head down to Brick Lane and try one of the area’s famous curry houses. The hub of the Indian area, Brick Lane isn’t shy or two of some real mouth-watering flavours. We dare you... Note: expect some strong spices! Southbank and Bankside Although not technically a borough, Borough Market is London’s oldest and largest markets and is nestled just behind London Bridge. Open every day except Sunday this market is ingrained in London’s food and trading history. Active since the 11th century when it was selling fish, livestock and fresh produce, now there are over 100 independent stalls and sellers selling everything from French cheeses, exotic truffles, Italian ice cream, Scottish fudge and good old BBQ sausages. A foodie haven, it’s the ultimate go-to for a culinary tour of London – just be sure to go on an empty stomach. With the London Pass & Travelcard you can use this ticket to travel the city from top top bottom - including Richmond out in zone 4. Discover London by borough and treat your tastebuds in this unique tour of London.

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London skyline

The Shard Vs Sky Garden - Which Is Better? | The London Pass®

by Mia Russell Battle of the Views: The Shard vs. Sky Garden - Which is the Best? London is a city that never fails to amaze, and what better way to take in its spectacular sights than from high above? When it comes to breathtaking views of the city, two iconic landmarks immediately come to mind: The Shard and Sky Garden. Both offer unforgettable experiences, but which one is worth your time and money? Let us take a closer look at both buildings and help you decide which one is the best fit for your next London adventure. Get ready to soar high and see London in a whole new light! The Shard This towering skyscraper boasts the title of the tallest building in the United Kingdom, standing at95 stories tall, and is an iconic feature of the London skyline! The views from The Shard are nothing short of incredible - you will see some of the most iconic landmarks in London, such as the Tower Bridge, the River Thames, and St. Paul's Cathedral. From the observation decks on the 68th, 69th, and 72nd floors, you can see all the way to the horizon on a sunny day. The views The Shard boasts several different viewing platforms, each with a unique perspective of London. The Skydeck on the 72nd floor provides panoramic views of the city and lets you feel the wind in your hair as you take in the sights. The elegant champagne bar on the 68th floor is a fantastic spot to sip a glass of bubbly and drink in the views! Dining The Shard in London is not just a place to enjoy breathtaking views; it's also a hub for delicious dining experiences. From high-end restaurants to casual cafés, there is something for every taste at this iconic landmark. Look no further than Aqua Shard if you are in the mood for an unforgettable fine dining experience. Located on the 31st floor, this restaurant serves modern British cuisine with the freshest and finest ingredients. The menu is as breathtaking as the view, with dishes like seared Orkney scallops and salt marsh lamb loin. Their extensive bar menu of cocktails will not disappoint either. For something more casual, head to the 32nd floor and grab a bite at Oblix. This modern European restaurant boasts a lively atmosphere and serves dishes like grilled octopus, roast Cornish brill, and wagyu beef burgers. It's the perfect spot to catch up with friends or enjoy a romantic evening out. You have two great options if you're looking for a quick bite or a cup of coffee. The Sky Coffee on the 68th floor is perfect for a mid-morning pick-me-up, while the L'A mina del Gusto on the ground floor serves Italian pastries, sandwiches, and gelato. Attractions For a totally unique and thrilling experience, head to The Slide on the 72nd floor. This 40-second ride down the building's exterior is not for the faint of heart, but it is sure to get your adrenaline pumping and provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime memory. The Shard can be a bit on the pricey side. Tickets to the observation decks can be expensive, especially during peak tourist season, and the champagne bar is on the higher end of the price scale. Sky Garden Located in the heart of the city, Sky Garden is a beautiful public space that offers 360-degree views of the city's skyline. Also known as the Walkie Talkie building, Sky Garden has a spectacular curved glass façade, which gives it a distinctive look. The Sky Garden is located on the top three floors of the building, and its floor-to-ceiling windows provide panoramic views of the city. The Sky Garden is divided into three levels. The first level is the main entrance, and the second level is the Observation Deck, which offers a 360-degree view of the city. The third level is the Sky Garden itself, which is a beautifully manicured space with an indoor garden. The views As you might expect, the views from Sky Garden are breathtaking. From the Observation Deck, you'll see some of London's most iconic landmarks, including the Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Thames River. Dining If you're feeling peckish, several dining options are available at Sky Garden. From casual cafés to upscale restaurants, there's something for every taste and budget. Located on the 36th floor, Darwin Brasserie is the main restaurant at Sky Garden and offers contemporary British cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients. The menu features a range of dishes, including seafood, meat, and vegetarian options, all prepared to the highest standard, emphasizing sustainability. For a more upscale dining experience, head to Fenchurch Restaurant. Located on the 37th floor, this fine-dining establishment offers stunning views of the city alongside a delicious modern European menu. Expect sublime dishes like roasted scallops, duck breast, and poached rhubarb. If you're looking for a more casual dining experience, Sky Pod Bar on the 35th floor is the perfect spot. Boasting a relaxed atmosphere and a broad selection of drinks and snacks, it's the ideal place to unwind and take in the spectacular views of London. Located on the 36th floor, City Garden Bar offers handcrafted cocktails, fine wines, craft beers, and bar bites. The outdoor terrace is a trendy spot in the summer, with its relaxed seating and gorgeous views. Attractions Sky Garden isn't just about the view - there's plenty to see and do inside as well. Take a stroll through the exquisitely landscaped gardens and admire the carefully curated tropical greenery and blooming flora. You'll feel like you've been transported to a lush oasis in the heart of the city. You can also enjoy live music performances throughout the week, making it a great place to take in some entertainment while taking in the views. From jazz to acoustic, there's something for every music lover. One of the remarkable things about Sky Garden is that it's completely free to visit, which makes it a popular spot with locals and tourists alike. The atmosphere inside Sky Garden is more relaxed and laid-back than at The Shard, which some visitors might appreciate. Final thoughts The Shard and Sky Garden offer incredible views of London and are worth a visit. If you're looking for a high-end, luxurious experience, The Shard might be more up your street . On the other hand, if you're after a more relaxed, budget-friendly option, Sky Garden could be just what you're looking for. Ultimately, the choice is up to you!
Go City Expert

Our bucket list of things to do in London

As part of a new series, we’re asking people to give us their top 10 London bucket list of things to do in London. Some things are ‘off the beaten track’, other things are standard sightseeing favourites – and some are definitely personal preference! We’ve looked within our team to find out some of our top bucket list things to do in London to help inspire you to make the most out of your trip to London. Let us know if any of these are on your bucket list, too! Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London The traditional Ceremony of the Keys has been held at the Tower of London for centuries (700 years to be precise!) and takes place every night of the year. It used to symbolise the safe keeping of the monarchy, locking them away from harm for the night. Now, it represents the old duty although the tradition is maintained to protect the crown jewels and other precious historic artefacts. Witness a Trial at the Old Bailey Ever wanted to witness the fate of one of the world’s most notorious criminals? Well, head down to the Old Bailey and you might be in luck. Access to the public galleries is free so if you fancy dropping in, just turn up early as it’s first come first serve. If you want in on some action (you never know, it could make headlines) the galleries are open Monday to Friday 9:55 - 12.40 and 13.55 - 15.40 (last admission). Complete the Maze at Hampton Court Palace Hampton Court Palace is home to the oldest surviving hedge maze in the world. So if you fancy yourself like Alice and Wonderland, go and recreate the experience in West London’s prolific royal residence. Once home to King Henry VIII, it’s one of London’s best haunts if you’re a fan of the British Monarchy. The maze itself was commissioned around 1700, and covers a third of an acre. Open daily, there’s no excuse – go on, we dare you (try not to get lost!) Fly on the Emirates Airline, Greenwich London’s only cable car, the Emirates Airline is a great way to get 360° views of London’s East end and City. Travelling at 90m high the trip lasts 10 minutes and departs from Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula. It’s a novel way of travelling across the River Thames and a great way to link you up with Greenwich, where you can explore the Maritime history of London. Go ice skating in Somerset House Hurray for Christmas! Another reason we’re looking forward to Christmas time is when the ice skating rinks come back to London. Our best bucket list one is Somerset House. The iconic Neoclassical building, on the famous Strand, has a history in itself steeped in nobility dating back to the 1700s. This year, from 11th November – 11th January the inner courtyard will be transformed into a skating rink for members of the public to enjoy a seasonal skate. Food stalls hosted by Fortnum & Mason, and club nights for those with enough stamina, will take you into the evening and make sure you’re plenty fed, watered and entertained. Take a walk in Kew Gardens If you go to any gardens in London, make sure they’re Kew Gardens. There’s almost no limit to what you can discover in this secret sanctuary, waiting to be explored at your heart’s content. From tree top walks, to tai chi, there are so many events and activities going on you’ll never be bored. To explore it properly it warrants a few visits, so you can’t really ever say you’ve ticked it off the list! Hire a Boris Bike Biking in London has now become much more popular thanks to the introduction of the Boris Bike, aka, Barclays Bike and cycle lanes. The pay as you go hire bikes are dotted around the city and are a favourite of local Londoners and tourists alike. A handy way of nipping around the city, just take one and off you go. If you’re not convinced, read our interview with two London cyclist veterans to find out more. See a match at Wimbledon We’re already looking ahead to next summer; and that means Wimbledon! The sporting tradition that takes place in the esteemed Wimbledon grounds in South West London is a sell-out affair every year, yet if you time it right you can get cheap tickets, or even ones for free. Head down around 4-5pm and catch those who are coming out of the earlier matches who often hand out their unwanted (but still valid!) tickets to lucky bystanders to catch the later matches. If not, Henman Hill – now renamed Murray Mound – is free of charge where you can watch the match on the big screen. Go vintage shopping around Brick Lane There are a wealth of places in London where you can indulge in a bit of shopping, but if you want something more than air-conditioned high street shops, head to Brick Lane on the weekend where you will be overwhelmed by vintage stalls and sellers selling everything from clothing to antiques – and everything in between. It’s a great place to go for budding designers to get inspiration, as well as to indulge in some delicious street food. The food stalls there are amazing, too, so make sure you visit the indoor pop up food court. Delish. Have afternoon tea at The Wolseley Afternoon Tea is a true British institution and where better to uphold it than at the iconic Wolseley. Famed for its tradition of tea, scones, finger sandwiches, sweet pastries and champagne – it takes the menu up a notch with celebrated home baking and an ever-changing menu. You need to book in advance though, as it’s a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. But don’t worry, it’s worth the wait.
Vanessa Teo

Changing seasons: Autumnal walks in London

Come autumn, as the leaves turn and an earthy hue spreads over the city, temperatures drop and London becomes a new city. It is many Londoners’ favourite season and it’s not surprising, as the months of October through November and into December, see stunning sunsets and cool sunny days – perfect for sightseeing in London and enjoying the city at (arguably) its finest. We thought you’d want to enjoy the new season with a walk through London for a true sense of the changing landscape. Here are some of our favourite places to go to really experience autumn in the city: Kew Gardens One of West London’s leafiest retreats, Kew Gardens is a wonderful place to go to experience autumnal London. As London’s Royal Botanical Gardens, it is home to the world’s largest range of species within in 121 hectares and is the perfect sanctuary to experience the changing season. The tree top walk will give you an unparalleled aspect of the browning leaves and winter plants; and you can also explore the vast arboretum with its changing trees. If you’ve got kids, Kew is a great place to go conker hunting and stock up for the winter season. Bring wellies and splash around the fallen leaves for some innocent autumn fun. The lake comes into its own in autumn as the ducks, dragonflies and swans enjoy the still, flat water and cooler temperatures. Even if it’s raining there are plenty of glasshouses and cafes to seek shelter in - plus, the cakes they make are pretty good, too! River Thames Our winding River Thames is a great place to go for a quiet stroll and a spot of sightseeing. As it spans the whole width of London, you can be sure to get a unique perspective of the city from any every. Starting at Battersea you can even walk all the way to Greenwich (if you have the stamina!) but one of our favourite walks is along the Southbank, where you can walk from Tate Britain and Mi5 offices near Vauxhall Bridge, along past the Houses of Parliament to see Big Ben in all its glory. A little further down the river you’ll come to the main hub of activity as street performers and entertainers are vying for your attention; here you can enjoy the smell of roasted chestnuts and wrap up warm against the backdrop of Westminster (a great place for a selfie). Past Southbank, up towards Bankside, you’ll pass the beach and independent quay where you can warm up with a steaming mug of coffee or even some mulled wine in the really cold months. If you’re after some more culture, carry on to the Tate Modern for some contemporary and modern art – one of London’s finest galleries and great for expanding your mind. Greenwich One of East London’s most popular boroughs, especially in the autumn, Greenwich is a haven for Londoners and tourists alike who want to explore local London. Greenwich Park, on the hill, is great for a verdant stroll and a hit with joggers and dog walkers. One of the least crowded parks, it’s a great option for a bit of peace and quiet, out of the city. Head to the river where you can see the Cutty Sark and marvel at the old naval ship, as well as other Old Royal Naval College and Gardens and National Maritime Museum. With a past steeped in maritime history it’s great for those who want to learn about this 19th century tea clipper and to walk among the cobbled streets of this quaint area. We recommend you stop off at the best pub in Greenwich, the Gipsy Moth pub, too, for one of their special home brews (potato vodka!) to warm up and indulge in a Sunday Roast at the weekend. With a view overlooking the historic ship, you can’t beat it as a place to rest up and fill up. Enjoy London with The London Pass and make huge savings and discounts from the outset. Add on a Travelcard to make life even easier - find out more, here.
Vanessa Teo

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