Places to eat
Although England isn’t famed for its cuisine, London is home to cooks from every corner of the globe, and these days there is nothing you can’t eat in London. For a variety of cheap eats, check out some of London’s best markets. Borough Market by London Bridge has superb organic produce and delicious seasonal dishes made from local ingredients, and at the weekends you should head to the markets of Camden Lock for all manner of international cuisines, or to Brick Lane’s food halls if you like your lunch with spice.
Restaurants range from the fantastic (if minute) Afghan Kitchen on Islington Green to Zizzi Ristorante, a growing chain of Italian restaurants you’ll find spread across the capital. As a rule of thumb, you will find the best Indian restaurants around Brick Lane and Commercial Street, and also in southwest London in Southall. There are numerous Turkish and Middle Eastern eateries on the Edgware Road, and Soho is synonymous with Chinatown. There are great places for fish and chips in Spitalfields, and the Golden Hind in Marylebone has been serving up Britain’s national dish for more than 100 years.
Of course, there may be occasions when you want to splash out on a truly memorable meal, and in London you’ll be spoilt for choice. Maggie Jones’s is a Kensington institution with excellent meats and a rustic feel, and if you fancy a more sophisticated menu but still in unpretentious surroundings, you won’t do better than 10 Greek Street, which takes its name from its address.
On Sunday mornings, the place to be is Columbia Road, home to one of London’s most popular flower markets. You can buy flowers and plants by the armful, street musicians perform on the curb side, and there are plenty of chic cafes, shops and stalls to browse for knickknacks and souvenirs.
Richmond Deer Park in southwest London is the best place for an afternoon walk. Once a royal hunting ground, this huge open space is still home to more than 600 red and fallow deer, and you will also see numerous species of birds. There is an ornamental garden in the centre of the park, and it is a superb place to run, cycle or ride if you want some exercise.
The Victoria and Albert Museum has one of the finest collections of applied arts in the world, and yet is often overlooked by first time visitors to London. It is free to enter, and the displays of fashion and textiles, jewellery, stained glass and renaissance architecture are quite extraordinary. You could easily spend days inside.
History lovers should head to Hampton Court, which was once the home of Henry VIII. This magnificent palace in Richmond upon Thames was built in 1514 and is set amidst 60 acres of gardens. Highlights include the royal tennis court, the world’s most famous maze, and William III’s state apartments, and there are fascinating temporary exhibitions too.
Last but not least, see the Thames from the water. You can use your Oyster card on scheduled river boat services between Hampton Court and Woolwich Arsenal, jumping on and off at convenient stops along the way, or get a ticket on a Duck Bus tour, driving the streets and then plunging into the water in your WWII amphibious vehicle.
(By Sophie Ibbotson)
Sophie Ibbotson is a director of Maximum Exposure Productions, a company which promotes emerging markets. She's the author of five Bradt Travel Guides.
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