Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.
London is a city of diversity, interesting history and a rapidly rising nightlife. With so many cultures living in the capital, the food options are endless, making it a perfect place to spend a weekend. There’s something new happening here every day, from parades to markets and street parties. It’s the city to be in any day of the week.
So if you only have 24 hours in this lively place then have no fear because there is plenty to do and see not matter what time-frame you have!
It’s time to start the day off right with a visit to the Breakfast Club in Soho. This place is famous for their good, hearty meals. From a full English breakfast to eggs benedict (with lots of vegetarian options available too), they have a wide range of choices for everybody to enjoy. This café is actually the first of 13 Breakfast Clubs, opening in 2005 and growing from then. All you have to do is look for the little bright yellow café that most likely has a line of people standing outside because it’s so popular. That’s when you’ll know you’ve picked the right café for breakfast!
Soho is one of the liveliest spots in London and is where the famous Broadway shows are situated. Make sure you head to the south of Soho, where you’ll find Chinatown overflowing with loads of delicious Asian cuisine located down the cobbled streets. There are many popular touristy things to do here which are to be avoided if you want the real local experience!
Now make your way to the British Museum, regarded as one of the best museums in the world. There are over eight million pieces including ancient artefacts and historic paintings; it’s the perfect place for a history buff to be. It’s definitely worth visiting and spending an hour or two just diving into the fascinating past. You’ll find the Rosetta Stone, the controversial Parthenon marbles and tons of Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian treasures.
Now that you’ve discovered the beautiful lights of Soho it’s now time to make your way to Covent Garden. It has to be one of the most beautifully decorated parts of London which is filled with gorgeous shops, lively restaurants and street performers at your every glance. Head to the Covent Garden market where you’ll find delicious food and handmade goods from local sellers. Most people don’t know this but Covent Garden is where the oldest street sign in London is situated. Get your phone GPS or an old-fashioned map and make your way to Tavistock Street. Between numbers 34-36, just above Café Murano, you will need to look right at the top of the building to a white plaque. The writing is pretty hard to see because it’s so old but it states ‘Yorke Street 1636’.
It’s time to discover one of the most iconic places in London—Buckingham Palace—which is home to the Queen of England. Don’t forget to try and make the guards smile; I bet you can’t! If you come at 11.30am you can see the Changing of the Guards ceremony. The ceremony lasts for 45 minutes and is daily from the months of April to July and then after that it is on alternate days.
You’re probably hungry after all that sight-seeing! Hop on the tube at Victoria Station and get on the circle line towards Notting Hill Gate Station. Notting Hill is home to the Portobello markets which really come alive every Saturday. It’s world-famous for its beautiful antiques, artwork, street food and flowers. It really is one of the best markets in London and has been running since the 1800s. You will definitely find a delicious bite to eat and there’s bound to be a fresh coconut waiting for you, too.
Spend a good hour or two walking around the markets while you weave in and out of the little antique shops. You will also notice the wonderfully coloured homes on the way. Make sure you get your camera out for that perfect Instagram shot in front of these houses!
After you’ve had a good browse through the markets then make your way to St Pauls Cathedral. It’s a beautiful Anglican Church set in the middle of a concrete jungle. Near the cathedral, there is a little oasis amongst the tall buildings called Postman’s Park. This place is dedicated to the people who died while trying to save others. Their plaques are really inspiring and it’s a peaceful place to sit and give your respects to them.
Now you need to take those iconic shots of the Tower of London right? Not far from Postman Park you can take a look at the historic castle situated in the very heart of the city. Make sure you dive into the history of the old times; it’s rather intriguing. You can even find the oldest toilets in London there!
It’s time to stuff yourself silly with the best food there is. Make your way to the area of Hoxton and find the restaurant called Red Dog Saloon. It does delicious burgers and if you’re brave enough then try to complete the Devastator Challenge. There are a number of good places you can have a few drinks after your meal including Happiness Forgets which has been named the sixth-best bar in the world.
Into the night
Put on your dancing shoes and head to Kings Cross. One of the best clubs in London is called Egg. It hosts some of the most popular DJs in the country and from around the world. You can dance the night away with three floors of music and an outdoor setting, too. Open until 7am and sometimes even 10am the next day you’re bound to have a great time. No hours in London should be wasted so make sure you make the most of your trip and head here to listen to some of the hottest house music. Plus, you will get a real feel of the fashion that is the London rave scene!
Into the wee hours you are probably hungry from all that dancing so make sure you stop off at one of the food trucks out and about on your way back to your hostel!
Where to stay?
SoHostel is about as central as you can get. It’s set on Dean Street in Soho, putting you within a short stroll of many of the sights mentioned above. And with free breakfast and Wi-Fi and a clean, modern and spacious layout, it’s no wonder this stylish hostel gets such high ratings on Hostelbookers!