view from the shard

17 Rooftop Bars You Need to Experience in London

London has an unbeatable skyline; there’s little better than winding down at a rooftop bar with a refreshing drink in hand and a beautiful view over the British capital.

Although London may be more well known for its historic pubs than its cocktail bars and the English weather may not always seem to lend itself to outdoor institutions, the city has a growing reputation for its rooftop bars.

Hidden away on the rooftops you can find some of London’s quirkiest eating and drinking establishments. Enjoy a cold beer with a view over St Pauls, head to the terraces of Shoreditch for late night partying, or travel to the top of the Shard for the highest view in London.

There are some great rooftop bars in London. Here are 17 of the best you need to experience, with something for every budget.

Budget Rooftop Bars

London isn’t home to the cheapest of drinks, but there are a few hidden gems in the city where you can enjoy a beverage and a good view without paying a fortune. Don’t expect bargain prices, but here are the best budget options for budget drinkers in London.

  1. Frank’s Cafe

Anyone looking for a budget rooftop bar in London needs look no further than Frank’s Cafe. This is the ultimate in both budget-ness and in terms of rooftop-ness. Located on the rooftop of Bold Tendencies, a bar found in Peckham, it’s a bit out of the way for central Londoners but it’s a great experience.

The drinks are priced low, but that’s because of the location and the fact that this is bare bones and it’s a rustic set up. There are just a few tables – arrive early if you want to secure one in summer – but there’s plenty of floor space. You may find yourself standing or sitting all night long on the concrete rooftop, but that’s all part of the experience at Frank’s Cafe.

  1. Queen of Hoxton

The Queen of Hoxton is an enduring feature of Shoreditch that has pride of place amongst lovers of a great rooftop bar. The bar has heaps of atmosphere, but given its popularity it’s surprisingly cheap with a great range of beers, cocktails and food available.

The Queen of Hoxton hosts regular late-night music sets on the rooftop, drawing in crowds from across London that also spill downstairs into the enclosed areas, particularly in summer. More than this though, the venue hosts outdoor BBQs serving up great grills and they even host the odd cinema night when the London weather decides to agree with the organisers. It’s a popular place, and there is always something new and interesting happening at the Queen of Hoxton.

Alcohol for cocktails

  1. Golden Bee

Also found in Shoreditch, the Golden Bee has great drink deals and weeknight happy hours with some cracking views over the city to go with them. With regular 2-for-1 deals on cocktails and a great selection of drinks, it’s a popular place and you may struggle to find a table on the rooftop, particularly in summer.

The Golden Bee also has fire pits to keep you warm, so heading here in the cold isn’t such a bad idea either. Wrap up in winter with a scorching fire and a warm blanket, or head here on the weekend and dance the night away to stay warm in the chilly evenings.

  1. Alfie’s Rooftop Kitchen

If you are looking for a fantastic rooftop cafe away from the crowds and with great value food, then Alfie’s Rooftop Kitchen is the place to go. Found in Marylebone, the prices are incredible given the location, and you will find that the serene and peaceful outdoor atmosphere is absolutely relaxing, particularly in the sunshine.

Alfie’s Rooftop Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea – it’s definitely café-style, not bar-style here and they close by 6 pm most evenings – and you can enjoy the extensive coffee selection alongside some English classics such as a Full English Breakfast, Steak and Ale Pie or some hearty Jacket Potatoes.

  1. Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales is an energetic, budget venue in Brixton that’s not quite sure if it’s a pub or a club, not that anyone particularly minds. With multiple levels, the Prince of Wales has a great outdoor terrace boasting two tiers alone. It’s here that you can party the night away listening to DJs, with outdoor events on the rooftop that carry on throughout the year, and not just in summer.

Check their events list for the weekly line-up, and you can even enjoy some quirky karaoke nights or regular club nights on the weekends.

  1. Bar Elba

Found in Waterloo – right next to the station, if you are ever after pre or post-train cocktails – Bar Elba is one of London’s classic rooftop establishments. With generous happy hours and excellent offers on throughout the week, this is the perfect budget venue to enjoy a few relaxed drinks with friends, particularly as cocktails can be served by the jug!

True to the laid-back nature of Bar Elba, the food menu isn’t extensive but it will fill you up and not break the bank, as they serve up a small range of perfectly grilled burgers with some ingenious toppings.

Waterloo Bridge

Midrange Rooftop Bars

If you can splash out a bit more to enjoy the rooftops of London, then there’s a lot more choice out there in the capital, and many more options available closer to central London. Here are some excellent midrange choices that won’t break the bank, but that will amaze you with their views.

  1. Radio Rooftop

Radio Rooftop is a firm favourite on the London rooftop bar scene. Given that its location is incredibly central and the venue has excellent views of the Thames, the Shard and much, much more, it’s excellent value.

Enjoy great cocktails and beers in the evenings, or splash out and indulge in some rather more expensive champagne. The extensive food menu has everything from bar snacks to steaks, and it’s a fantastic place to enjoy a relaxed lunch with a brilliant view and comfortable seating.

  1. Aqua Spirit

Aqua Spirit is a classy cocktail bar in the heart of London. Located on Regent Street above Soho, this is the perfect place to unwind in relaxed yet refined surroundings after a hard day of sightseeing.

Cocktails and bar snacks are served all year round, but when the weather is optimal – i.e. summer in London! – the rooftop terrace opens for business. Space can be limited outside, so get here early to secure yourself and your friends a spot above the city. The cocktail menu is limited, but each is individual and carefully crafted to provide a range for all tastes. Besides, when there are fewer items on the menu, you know the bar staff will be experts at making them.

  1. The Aviary

This classy rooftop bar and restaurant is as lofty as its name suggests, but the value is still very much grounded. Found high up above Finsbury Square, the restaurant serves a fine selection of gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner items in plush surroundings, while much of the meat is expertly grilled over charcoal ovens.

The views are exceptional, but it’s popular, given the price and the superb quality of the food, so it’s best to reserve a table in advance for this option, even during the week.

  1. Madison

With supreme views of St Paul’s Cathedral, Madison could well be the best find in central London that won’t cripple your bank account. The large restaurant has a wonderful menu that includes plenty of sharing options, making this popular for work dos and parties, especially given the well-priced drinks.

Dine inside at the restaurant before heading out onto the outdoor terraces for excellent views out over the city at night, or head straight outside and enjoy a few bar snacks while you indulge in the extensive cocktail menu. On weekends, they open the terrace up to revellers, and you can listen to late night DJs in a cracking setting.

View of St Pauls

  1. Rumpus Room

With unbeatable views of the River Thames, the Rumpus Room is a great place to enjoy some classy cocktails in a distinctively fashionable atmosphere. It’s certainly not cheap here, but it’s not going to wipe out your savings either, and it’s worth it for the excellent cocktails and wine selection on the very extensive drinks menu.

It’s not the highest bar in London, but the river-facing terrace offers the most wide-ranging panorama of St Paul’s Cathedral that you will find anywhere on this side of the river. Turn up for their famed Sky Line Sessions, to enjoy London-themed cocktails at a ridiculous price.

  1. Skylight at Tobacco Dock

Only open in the summer months when the weather is at its best, Skylight is located on top of an old car park in Tobacco Dock. Despite only having been around for a few seasons of sunlight, it’s fast become a favourite fixture during London’s hotter days.

Skylight host many events too throughout the year – you may even find they open an ice skating rink in the winter in the future – while the large open space allows them to put out such delights as lawn games, bowls and croquet for a quintessential English summer.

Luxury Rooftop Bars

Of course, London is a city where it’s possible to spend a fortune if you so desire, and there is certainly a wide range of lavish rooftop bars catering to high-end customers looking to splurge on drinks and food, and enjoy a wonderful view at the same time. Here’s our pick of the top luxury rooftop bars to experience in London.

  1. Jin Bo Law

This unique, Asian-inspired rooftop bar is found at the top of the Dorsett Hotel and offers excellent views out across London, with Tower Bridge and the Gherkin forming an mesmerising part of the skyline. There’s a great selection of Japanese beers and spirits, and some brilliantly mixed cocktails that evoke a sense of the Far East in central London.

Cocktails

  1. Coq d’Argent

The Coq d’Argent provides a wonderful, outdoor, covered terrace that’s open all through the year. Right in the heart of London, the Coq d’Argent has beautifully landscaped gardens sat on the rooftop, with strangely out-of-place lawns that are perfectly cut and shaped. It’s an opulent environment where you can enjoy a great selection of wines and cocktails in unusual surroundings, before dining in the Coq d’Argent restaurant and tasting the fine range of French-inspired cuisine on offer. Alternatively, simply enjoy some bar snacks on the terrace.

  1. Rooftop St James

The Trafalgar St James is a boutique, luxury hotel run by the Hilton brand, and atop the hotel you can find the beautiful confines of the Rooftop St James, an equally luxurious, yet carefully refined cocktail bar and restaurant with exception views over Trafalgar Square.

There are few other offerings that allow you such a wonderful of Nelsons Column below, but on top of this, you can enjoy fine cocktails and even finer dining in a resplendently chic atmosphere.

  1. Angler Terrace

This Michelin-starred restaurant is located at the top of the South Place Hotel, with exquisite views over the city below while you dine on the gourmet delights of this fine establishment. With a handcrafted seafood menu, the Angler Terrace is open all through the year, but in summer, the veranda is opened up to the glorious sunshine of London, so you can enjoy your exquisite seafood creations in the open air.

  1. Aqua Shard

Although it’s not technically on the roof, the Aqua Shard is still higher than most other restaurants and bars in London, because it’s found on the 31st floor of the Shard, the tallest building in the United Kingdom.

Enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner or a wonderful afternoon tea selection at the Aqua Shard, while you gaze out over the incredible skyline of London far below, yet all around you.

view from the shard

As London specialists, our tour leaders at Premium Tours know a thing or two about where to find the best rooftop bars in the city. Check out our great range of London tours while you’re here – you’ll pick up lots of other wonderful London tips along the way…

Kew Gardens

These are the Best Things to See and Do in London in March

Spring has almost arrived when March rolls on through the ever-brightening streets of London. With the bitterly cold weather far behind us, there’s just chilly weather to deal with this month, and you may even be lucky enough to enjoy the city in the year’s first real rays of sunshine.

Head out to London’s great gardens and parks to enjoy the fresh March air and to see the trees and plants slowly blooming into life and colour again. March is a month of important national days and events in London, and you can enjoy the delights of St Patrick’s Day, Beer Week and famous rowing races. Perhaps more importantly though, it’s International Women’s Day and you can find some fascinating exhibitions being held across the city.

It’s a great month to visit the capital. To help you to plan your trip, here are the best things to see and do in London in March.

St David’s Day

The 1st March is St David’s Day, a celebration of the Welsh patron saint and a celebration of Welsh culture and history. While London doesn’t celebrate quite as intensely as Wales itself, the capital has a huge Welsh population and you will find that the city has some excellent events showcasing the Welsh spirit at the start of the month.

Head to Welsh pubs and restaurants to enjoy a good party or to try some of the national dishes such as Welsh rarebit or Welsh cakes amongst much more. Although St David is by no means as popular as the Irish St Patrick whose saint day is celebrated later in March too, it’s still a wonderful opportunity to indulge in all things Welsh and to learn more about their unique culture.

Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens

The Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens runs into the first two weeks of March, so don’t miss out on visiting this acclaimed celebration of botany and orchids. It’s a guaranteed way to brighten up the start of the month, as Kew Gardens becomes home to thousands of orchids in their annual festival that also highlights the biodiversity of Colombia this year.

Alongside colourful orchids, you can find exhibitions about the South American nation and the importance of their vast and intricate tropical ecosystems to the wider world. There’s even a jaguar, although not a real one.

Kew Gardens

London Beer Week

Another fail-proof method of brightening up your March month will be to attend the acclaimed London Beer Week. That’s right, the city puts on a whole week of events devoted to the celebration of beer and ale.

Pubs and bars across the capital will be offering discounted drinks and new brews to the general public, who have yet another excuse to hit the beer – if they ever needed one before, that is.

Pancake Day

Pancake Day is the peculiar British celebration of pancakes. Okay, so it’s not a celebration of pancakes as such, but rather the day when a lot of pancakes are eaten to mark Shrove Tuesday, which falls on the 5th March in 2019. Traditionally, this day was when all the leftovers in a house were put together and eaten, to clear out the cupboards before Lent and the start of fasting in the run up to Easter.

In Britain, pancakes represent this clearing out of fatty goods, and on Pancake Day it’s a national requirement that you indulge in at least a few of these treats. These days, there are plenty of specialist desert restaurants in the capital to find a great pancake, and even a few dedicated restaurants serving pancakes and pancakes alone, with sweet or savoury fillings to try.

Pancake Day

St Patrick’s Day

The celebration of Ireland’s patron saint is perhaps the most well known and energetically celebrated day of the month. This is a celebration of Irish culture and traditions but with the huge Irish diaspora, it’s spread across the world too. London has a huge Irish community and St Patrick’s Day is most certainly a lively affair in the city.

London hosts a parade on 17th March, and you can expect to be part of a sea of green-flag-wavers enjoying the day. This a celebration that carries on long into the night and it’s a chance to stay out late enjoying more than a few pints of Guinness and celebrating all that it means to be Irish – even if you’re not Irish!

International Women’s Day

Another important day in March is International Women’s Day, which is held across the world on the 8th March each year. This is a wonderful chance to promote equality and to celebrate the work and achievement of women in life and the world.

There are some excellent exhibitions and events taking place across the capital, and March is a month that’s dedicated to women in London.

Women of the World Festival

The Women of the World Festival is one of the best events held in London through March that celebrates women. Found in the Southbank Centre on International Women’s Day and the day after, this festival showcases the work of activists fighting for gender equality. There are talks and discussions with important women working against discrimination, and with political leaders who debate the future landscape of gender equality.

The festival aims to inspire the next generation to strive for equality – be you male or female – and it’s a wonderful way to learn more about what you can do to help.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is another chance to celebrate one of the most important women in most people’s lives: their mother. In 2019, Mother’s Day falls on Sunday 31st March, so you can end the month by treating your mum to a wonderful day out in London.

However you would like to honour or treat her, there are plenty of opportunities in London, from great restaurants and cafes to theatrical performances, visit to parks or museums and much, much more. The opportunities are quite literally endless on Mother’s Day in London.

Richmond Park

Richmond Park can be a fantastic place to visit any time of the year, but call into this vast outdoor space on London’s doorstep in March to experience the famous park as it transitions from winter to spring. It might be a bit chilly still, but you can enjoy the fresh air while walking around the many paths that lead you through this historic royal park.

Stroll through the wide fields on the lookout for the many deer that will begin to emerge into the ever-brightening sunshine after the cold of winter. Watch as the leaves slowly regain their strength and vibrant colour as things warm up, and spring waits to burst forth again.

Richmond Park

Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens, another royal park, is a wonderful place to experience the transition from winter to spring in the heart of the city. The gardens are located very centrally, as they were once the private gardens of the royal family who live at Kensington Palace next to Hyde Park.

Kensington Gardens form a beautiful escape from the crowded streets of the capital. In March, you can enjoy the blooming colour of the plants and flowers as they burst into life throughout the month.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is the old residence of the monarchy, including the infamous Henry VIII. Found in the London suburbs at Richmond-upon-Thames, the palace dates back to the 16th century and was used extensively by royalty through to the Georgian era.

Today, the grand halls and elegant bedrooms are wonderful to explore, and at Hampton Court Palace you can learn much about the opulent lives lived by the royalty in past centuries.

The palace is also home to extensive grounds and, with the warmer air, you can enjoy them in comfort as March progresses. Explore the vast outdoor maze – try not to get lost! – and experience the colourful winter-to-spring transitions of the varied flora found around Hampton Court.

Hampton Court Palace

Bedrooms of London

In stark contrast to the lavishness of the royal family, past and present, and the grandness of the royal palaces are the day-to-day lives of many of London’s poorer families. A new exhibition though is attempting to highlight the poor living conditions of many of these families, particularly the children, and it’s an opportunity to learn more about an often forgotten aspect of life in modern London.

The Bedrooms of London exhibition is found at the Foundling Museum, a museum that focuses on children through British history, and this extraordinary photographic display shows the worst living conditions of children and families across the capital with an intimate look inside different bedrooms. It’s a moving look at the struggles faced by low-income families in a city that on the outset seems to be vastly wealthy.

Chelsea Antiques Fair

A unique event held in Chelsea every March is the Antiques Fair. This traditional fair gives you the opportunity to browse through historic offerings that are for sale, and to learn a little bit about the country’s and the capital’s history through the items and their sellers.

Browse through dusty and historic artefacts, get nostalgic and have a great time at this unusual and often eccentric March event.

Six Nations Rugby Final Games

The Six Nations is Europe’s best rugby tournament, as the national teams of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy compete against each other for the championship every year. It’s an incredibly popular event, and from February through to March when fixtures are held across the continent, you can join Rugby fans pouring into pubs, bars and stadiums to cheer their teams on.

March is when the tournament really picks up, as the last few games are played. Watch the final deciders with the crowds in London cheering on England or their respective national teams, or perhaps if you are lucky you can even find an elusive ticket to a game at Twickenham Stadium.

Head of the River Race

Every March, one of the most iconic rowing races in the country is held in London. The Head of the River Race is a 4-mile long course that takes rowing teams along the wide River Thames from Mortlake to Putney. Over several days, different teams compete in different categories for the prestigious prizes in this professional race.

Alongside the racing, you can find the banks of the river lined with cheering spectators in a lively and loud atmosphere, making this a wonderful sporting event to turn out for. The course is actually the same as the perhaps more famous Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, but the Head of the River is held in the opposite direction and is played out by more rowing teams. This is a timed event and teams leave independently of each other, at different intervals. It’s simple; whoever completes the course fastest is the winner.

River Thames

London Landmarks Half Marathon

This fantastic running event sees racers competing over a half marathon course that winds its way through central London’s most iconic sights and attractions. It’s a wonderfully picturesque running event and helps to highlight the city’s best landmarks to the crowds who turn out to watch the racers and cheer them on, whilst having the chance to explore London.

Of course, the race is open to the public, and it’s a great race to be part of if you can secure a spot in this most popular of events.

Where’s Wally? Fun Run

A much less professional race to be part of, and a race focused more on fun and raising money for charity, is the Where’s Wally? Fun Run. This magnificent running event takes place in March over 5 and 10-kilometre courses, which take runners through Clapham Common. If you’re taking part, dress up as Where’s Wally? If you’re spectating, why not dress up too? Or just watch a mass of Where’s Wally? runners fighting their way around the course in full costume.

To find out more about the exciting things to do in London during March or to book one of our exciting London tours, contact Premium Tours today.

21 Cultural Things to Do in London

London is one of the world’s most visited cities, and not without reason. This is one of the world’s best tourist destinations, largely because London is absolutely packed with culture. From endless museums and history to the charming quirks of the Royal Family, there are unique sights and even more unique experiences awaiting you in London.

From riding the underground to catching a red, double-decker bus, even simply travelling around London is a wonderful cultural encounter in itself. Throw in some fish and chips, a visit to a charming English pub or even a performance of Shakespeare at the Globe, and you have yourself a day out that can be rivalled by few other cities, anywhere.

Get ready for a fantastic time in the capital, as here are our 21 favourite cultural things to do in London.

Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard

Nothing much else says Britain quite like the Royal Family and in London, Buckingham Palace is the quintessential Royal destination. The residence of the Queen is one of the most iconic sights in the world, a palace that’s instantly recognisable and that millions of visitors flock to every year to see. Buckingham Palace is a building that’s ingrained in the image of London, and it’s a place that can’t be missed when in the city.

Make sure you coincide a trip to Buckingham Palace with the Changing of the Guard Ceremony because this is a unique event that will leave you in awe. Watch as red-coated soldiers in full dress uniform troop along the resplendent avenue outside of the palace to the sound of a marching band. It’s a cultural feast.

changing of the guard

Join a Beefeater Tour of the Tower of London

The Tower of London is one of the most historic buildings in the capital, as it dates far back to the Norman conquests of England in the early medieval era. The towering walls and impressive keep have long stood guard over the city, and within the castle the splendidly dressed Beefeaters have long stood guard over the Tower of London.

These halberd wielding Londoners were historically tasked with guarding the Crown Jewels, which are still kept in the Tower of London to this day, but now they have a rather more ceremonial role. They do, in fact, guide tours around the grounds of the tower, a wonderful experience for anyone visiting London.

Watch Shakespeare at the Globe

Who could possibly be more classically English than Shakespeare – other than Queen Elizabeth II herself? In London, you have the opportunity to see Shakespeare’s classic works being performed in a most authentic fashion and setting at the Globe Theatre.

Found in Southwark overlooking the waters of the River Thames, the Globe Theatre as it’s seen today is a detailed reconstruction of the original Elizabethan-era theatre built by Shakespeare’s company. Catch a performance throughout the year and be part of a true cultural experience in London.

Ride a Red Bus

Another cultural experience not to be missed is the simple act of riding a London bus. The distinctive red buses are famous the world over. Throughout the decades, although their designs and engines may have changed and been modernised, the overall look of the bus fleet has stayed true to its original models. To learn more about London at the same time, take a hop on hop off bus tour, or visit the London Transport Museum to see the famous bus through the ages.

Ride the London Underground

Perhaps more iconic – although that’s very much debatable – than the red bus, is the London Underground. The world’s oldest underground rail system may be aged in places, but it’s still classic, and riding the Underground is an experience in itself. Take your picture by the well-known station designs and remember to keep hold of a map for a great London souvenir.

London underground

Visit Abbey Road for Beatles Nostalgia

Britain has produced some of the world’s best music acts, and no one has been more beloved than the Beatles. They took the world by storm in the 1960s, and in 1969 at Abbey Road Studios in London they recorded their No. 1 album of the same name, Abbey Road.

Ever since, Abbey Road, a quiet, unassuming lane in central London, has become a tourist attraction in its own right. The simple zebra crossing, where the band created their equally simple album cover, has become a must-visit photography spot for fans.

Eat and Drink at an English Pub

Whenever you need a break from sightseeing in London, then jump into a charming English pub for some local refreshment. Pubs have been a mainstay of the English economy, culinary scene and local life for centuries, and London has some of the best in the country.

Along any street, you are likely to find a historic establishment when you are in central London. Enjoy the quirky names and the simple, yet hearty English food along with a few pints of the local brew too of course, before heading off to sightsee once again.

Fish and Chips

At the pub or at any of London’s markets, try England’s most famous dish: fish and chips. There are chip shops on most street corners, so don’t fear finding a suitable eatery when you are in London. This iconic dish is just battered fish and well-cooked chips, but the simple recipe is beloved across the nation and a must-try culinary experience when visiting the capital.

fish and chips

Museums, Museums and more Museums

London is a city of museums. The British public have long been keen on preserving both their own culture and history, and the history and culture of other nations, past and present too. London’s best museums are a treat to explore and the vast majority of them are free to the general public, giving you no excuse to not call in for a visit.

There is plenty of choice too, but top of the museum list must be the British Museum. Here you can see ancient artefacts from across the world, including Greek, Roman and Egyptian exhibits from thousands of years ago.

Dinosaur lovers can’t miss the Natural History Museum, while there are plenty of cultural and artistic displays waiting at the renowned V and A Museum. Then you have the Science Museum, the British Transport Museum, the Imperial War Museum – the list goes on and on. There’s almost too much choice in London when it comes to museums.

Watch the Tennis at Wimbledon

Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. Ever since 1877, players have wowed the crowds in the English summer with their racket skills. Generally held in June, this classic sporting event is attended by the best players in the world, and the London crowds love to be a part of the action too.

Enjoy strawberries and cream in the sunshine, watch the games from the stands or if you can’t get hold of one of the elusive tickets, head to the Mound to watch on the big screen with the rest of Wimbledon. It’s atmospheric and it’s wonderful to be a part of.

Run (or watch) the London Marathon

The London Marathon is another of the city’s iconic sporting events that see thousands turn out, rain or shine, to cheer on runners through the streets. The marathon takes competitors through the most recognisable of London’s landmarks, with the finish line being found along the famous Mall, near St James’ Park.

While it’s difficult to secure a spot in the marathon itself, such is the popularity, turn up to show your support and to be part of one of the city’s biggest and best events in the springtime.

Attend a Rugby, Football or Cricket Match

Londoners love their sport and the capital is the best place to catch a game of one of the three most popular sports in the nation, rugby, football or cricket. Most weekends throughout the year you will find a rugby or football match in full swing, while during summer, the quintessentially English sport of cricket becomes the city’s first sporting choice.

Notting Hill Carnival

Since 1966, Notting Hill Carnival has attracted revellers and partygoers from across the world. Held every August Bank Holiday, a whole weekend of festivities, colour and culture is found in Notting Hill. One of the busiest events of the London calendar, this is a must-visit festival, with vibrant parades and musical performances that showcase the best of the city’s multicultural diversity.

Eat and Shop at Camden Market

For a taste of London’s diverse culture any time of the year, then head over to Camden Town to visit the city’s best market. Food lovers will be in heaven, as here you can gorge on different cuisine from around the world, with anything from Thai to Pizza being on offer across the packed market stalls and restaurants that are found in a picturesque setting by the canal.

Camden market

Explore Chinatown

It quickly becomes apparent that London is an incredibly multicultural city to visit. Chinatown in Westminster is a shining example of this and it’s a wonderfully diverse place to explore. Discover the most authentic Asian food in the capital, visit Chinese temples and, if you are here in the Chinese New Year, then this is the only place to be in London.

Dine on English Curry at Brick Lane

Brick Lane is an equally multicultural part of the city and famous for one thing: curry. This is the legendary home of the English curry, a fusion of spices and flavours from the Indian subcontinent that has been refined over time to suit the local tastes of the English population. A favourite local pastime is dining out for a curry, be it the weekend or a weeknight. It’s a cultural thing and something not to be missed when visiting London.

Lavish Shopping in Knightsbridge

For a look at the lavish lifestyles of the London elite, in what can be one of the most expensive cities in the world, then head to Knightsbridge, home to expensive flats and upmarket shopping. Call into Harrods, where you can stroll through opulent departments and sample some fine dining in London’s most exclusive department store.

Catch a West End Show

London’s West End is the city’s premier theatre district, home to great shows and musicals throughout the year. Spend the evening watching a performance of classics or new shows in the West End, after enjoying a meal out in this always-lively London area. Even if you don’t have a ticket booked in advance, then you can simply show up and during the week to get yourself discount tickets to some of the best performances on the night.

A Night at the Proms

For eight weeks in summer, London puts on orchestral performances like no other city in the world. The Proms are held daily at the Royal Albert Hall – London’s best concert hall – and attract listeners from around the world. A night at the Proms is a wonderful musical experience, and towards the end of the run, you may even be lucky enough to secure a ticket for the Last Night at the Proms, the most extravagant of all the performances laid on each season.

Royal Albert Hall

Leicester Square Premiere

Film lovers won’t want to miss the opportunity to catch a premiere at the world-famous Leicester Square. Although not quite as iconic as Hollywood, this is the closest you will get in England, and even just walking through the square will give you the chance to see red carpets rolled out and actors and actresses in their finest.

St George’s Day Parade

On 23rd April every year, the English celebrate their national day. St George is the nation’s patron saint and in London, you can enjoy some fantastic cultural parades, as people dress up in national colours and bring out their patriotism for the day.

As London specialists, the team at Premium Tours knows a thing or two about the fantastic cultural opportunities in the city. Check out our list of London tours while you’re in town!

Christmas Tree

A Guide to the Best London Christmas Markets

When it comes to the festive period, Londoners go all out to impress. The Christmas season is one of the most exciting times to visit the capital, when locals and tourists alike can be found revelling in the holiday spirit at the many events held across the city. The streets are lit up with bright and colourful lights, the shops and department stores are decked out in festive designs, and Christmas carols can be heard throughout the city. Most importantly though, the festive period is when the many Christmas markets are open for business.

London has a multitude of markets that open over Christmas, many starting as early as the end of November and carrying on right through to the New Year. Deciding which ones are actually worth visiting can be a challenge, especially when you might only have a few spare days to visit during the busy holidays leading up to 25th December. To help you out, we’ve put together this guide to the best London Christmas markets, from the classic stalls of Winter Wonderland and Leicester Square to a few unusual and lesser-known events happening across the city.

Here are the best London Christmas markets.

Winter Wonderland Christmas Market

Winter Wonderland takes place in Hyde Park and becomes London’s premier tourist attraction over the Christmas period. Hyde Park is quite literally transformed into a playground of Christmas-themed fairground rides, winter events and festive decorations that few other attractions in the capital can match. As well as all these exciting shows, demonstrations and of course the classic ice skating rink, Winter Wonderland is also home to one of London’s best Christmas markets.

Alongside wooden cabins and market stalls serving up warm mulled wine and mince pies, Winter Wonderland puts on an extensive German-themed market where you can try Bratwurst and sample a few beers from the continent. The markets at Winter Wonderland are free to enter, although certain attractions – such as ice skating for instance – will cost extra, and might even need to be booked in advance. Winter Wonderland opens in the last week of November and stays open all the way through to January.

Ice Skaters on an Ice Rink in Hyde Park, London‘Winter Wonderland 2011’ by Gary Knight – https://flic.kr/p/mjMHp

Christmas by the River at London Bridge

London Bridge is one of the capital’s most iconic locations, so what better place could there be to hold a Christmas market when the festive season rolls on by? The stalls here are numerous and are in the charming log cabin style that Londoners have come to expect from their festive markets. You can find all the usual seasonal delights, from mulled wine, warm apple cider and hearty English or German ales to handmade mince pies, hog roasts and turkey sandwiches. Alongside the food, there are always stalls selling some handcrafted or unique items that make great options for those much-needed stocking fillers or gifts for friends or work colleagues.

Alongside the varied food, drink and gifts for sale, the real attraction of Christmas by the River at London Bridge, is the very fact that the event is held by London Bridge. This is one of the most historic places in the city, the centre of life in London for many locals, and a must-visit location for tourists. From the market stalls, you can sip on a mulled wine in the cold evening air while you look out across the bright skyline of central London. Along the river, you can see the silhouettes of Tower Bridge’s famous archways and of course the illuminated shape of the Tower of London itself. Nearby, you can explore the City of London, visit the top of the Shard and much, much more.

Christmas by the River at London Bridge is free to enter and is open from the end of November until the start of January.

Southbank Centre Winter Market

Also found along the banks of the River Thames is the excellent Southbank Centre Winter Market. Located next to the London Eye, which is turned into a glittering, glitzy Ferris wheel of Christmas lights through December, the Southbank Centre Winter Market offers you market stalls galore alongside cuisine from across the world.

Along the river, you have chalet after chalet offering you the chance to find those much-needed gifts and to take part in a little bit of Christmas shopping in lively surroundings. Enjoy the smell of festive eats, with all the classics on offer here, but save room for some of the more unique offerings you always find here, as the food market tends to attract vendors from far afield, looking to show off international dishes to Londoners.

Throughout the Christmas period, the Southbank Centre also hosts many interesting performances, many of which are free to attend. Watch Rumpelstiltskin or enjoy the famous circus that has been performing here since 1903. The events are on at different times throughout December and into early January and are, for the most part, all free to attend.

Covent Garden Christmas

Covent Garden is one of London’s most popular shopping areas, and these days is full of luxury shops, boutique retailers and upmarket cafes. Covent Garden has more humble beginnings than you may realise, as this was one of London’s original marketplaces, where farmers and vendors would buy and sell fruit and vegetables on the cobbled stones. Although this is no longer a market in the traditional sense, at Christmas time the shops and retail outlets still go all out to ensure they are exuding a real sense of the Christmas spirit to everyone who walks along the redesigned cobbles of Covent Garden. You can shop in the boutique stores for quirky Christmas gifts, source out some unique presents or enjoy a festive-themed drink in a bar or cafe, while pondering how this old fruit and veg market grew into the designer marketplace you see today. Amongst the glittering Christmas lights, you will even find the famous reindeer statue, which keeps returning to Covent Garden year after year.

Convent Garden Christmas Deer‘Covent Garden Deer’ by Gary Knight – https://flic.kr/p/mjMHp

Greenwich Christmas Market

Greenwich is one of the most historic parts of the city. This is where Greenwich Mean Time is defined, it’s the home of the iconic Cutty Sark ship and it’s where you can find the Greenwich markets. This traditional marketplace has been in business since 1737 and is open all year round. The market has a reputation for unique food and arts and crafts, with inspirations for the market stalls coming from across the world and helping to add to the unique multicultural vibe that’s found here.

At Christmas time, the Greenwich Market becomes one giant Christmas market, as the usual stalls and vendors bring out their festive-themed goods and start cooking up Christmas treats. The marketplace is decked out in an extravagant light display, while every Wednesday from the start of December right up until Christmas Day, the market stays open 8 pm every evening. You can enjoy Christmas carols, send the kids to Santa’s Grotto and try all sorts of wonderful food and drink.

Winterville on Clapham Common

Winterville has become one of London’s much-loved Christmas events in recent years. Located on Clapham Common on the south side of the River Thames, it’s a bit further away from the central areas more frequented by tourists, and not exactly as well known or as well advertised as bigger events like Winter Wonderland. This Christmas market is a more local affair, but every bit as exciting as anywhere else in London.

Winterville is more than just a market too. On Clapham common throughout December you can find an ice-skating rink, fairground attractions, a roller disco and even the Backyard Cinema. The event bills itself as London’s Alternative Festive Experience and it’s perfect for anyone who is looking for something a little bit different this Christmas. Delve into the huge array of street food, have a few drinks, and stay into the evening for live DJs and music too. Winterville has a small entrance charge and some of the events are ticketed, but it’s well worth the admission costs to experience one of London’s more unusual Christmas markets.

Christmas in Leicester Square

Leicester Square hosts a more traditional Christmas market over the festive season, and it’s the perfect place to find gifts and to try some great food in a central location in London. This is a free event to attend and Christmas in Leicester Square begins early too, with the market stalls opening for business right at the start of November and carrying on into the first week of January. You can find some great gifts and festive treats to purchase while the large tent in the centre of the square hosts some great events, from circus performances to Christmas shows.

You could even hang around to catch a few performances at the nearby theatres too. Through December, there are plenty of pantomimes and Christmas-themed shows on throughout the month, and they make the perfect complement to a day at the markets.

Crafty Fox Christmas Market

The Crafty Fox Market is one of the newest markets to be found in London, having only been established in 2010. This isn’t your traditional marketplace either and from the start, they’ve been shaking things up in the city. The Crafty Fox for starters moves around and they hold events across London rather than having established locations.

In December, they host specialist Christmas markets, and the emphasis, as it always is, is on independent traders selling handcrafted goods. Everything here is quality and unique, and the Crafty Fox Christmas Market makes for a fantastic place to find some personalised presents for friends and family that you will struggle to find elsewhere.

Christmas Wednesdays on Columbia Road

Columbia Road is one of East London’s most famous market streets, being the home of spectacular flower markets and being full of small, independent shops and cafes offering quirky goods and great products.

The popular flower market is only open on Sundays. However, during the festive holidays from the last week in November up until Christmas Day, Columbia Road plays host to one of the best Christmas markets of the week every Wednesday evening from 5 pm until 9 pm. The cold streets of the East End are lit up by Christmas lights while carol singers fill the air with music and singing. It’s a wonderful atmosphere and, year on year, Christmas Wednesdays on Columbia Road are becoming enduringly popular.

Tate Modern Christmas Market

A little-known fact about the iconic Tate Modern Art Gallery is that this famous London institution hosts a Christmas market throughout the festivities. Overlooking the Thames, along the front of the gallery you can find a huge array of wooden chalets that are selling all sorts of Christmassy themed gifts. There’s plenty of mulled wine, a few craft beers and of course, a lot of food being cooked up too.

Shop for a few Christmas gifts, have a drink or two and of course, enjoy the visual delights of the Tate Modern after you’ve finished pursing the market stalls. From here, you can easily carry on along the river towards Southbank and Central London, where you can find even more markets waiting for you too.

Tate Modern Christmas Fair‘Tate Modern Christmas Fair’ by Chas B – https://flic.kr/p/mjMHp

Borough Market at Christmas

Borough Market is always one of the busiest and most bustling marketplaces in central London. Found right by London Bridge, this the perfect place for foodies, with endless stalls selling produce from around the United Kingdom and from the rest of the world. Although a visit to Borough Market is sure to leave your food cravings satisfied at the best of times, visiting in December becomes a more spectacular experience than usual.

The market gears up for Christmas in style and the brick archways and iconic alleyways become covered in bright lights and mistletoe for all of December. You can hear carol singers between the food stalls and all the traders will be sure to bring out their own festive specialities to try. Just for the Christmas period, Borough Market is open every single day of the week, including Christmas Eve.

While you’re in London browsing the very best Christmas markets the city has to offer, don’t forget to check our exciting range of London tours.

 

Featured image: ‘Leadenhall’ by Jack Torcello – https://flic.kr/p/mjMHp

flowers

Guide to Alexandra Gardens in Windsor

A beautiful and well-kept green park by the River Thames, Alexandra Gardens is well worth a visit on a trip to Windsor. The traditional Victorian park is perfect for picnics, and there are often events going on to entertain the whole family. The park is painstakingly maintained with beautiful floral displays and pruned trees, and there’s ample grassy space for everyone to find their own area, perfect for letting kids run around in.

Presiding over everything to the east is striking Windsor Castle, which you can see from everywhere within the park. It’s a tranquil spot to come on a sunny day to relax by the river and take a break from seeing the sights.

windsor castle

‘Windsor 06-06-2012’ by Karen Roe – https://flic.kr/p/bVkr88

Alexandra Gardens

Inside Alexandra Gardens you’ll find walking paths that meander past the river, perfect for riding a bike or a scooter. Perhaps their most important feature is the wonderfully restored bandstand, commemorating the close ties between Windsor, the British Armed Forces, and the Queen, as well as celebrating Queen Elizabeth as the longest-reigning Monarch in British history. There are six plaques on the bandstand that explore the role of the Armed Forces in the UK.

The Jubilee Fountain at the eastern end of the park is a great place for kids to have a paddle on a hot summer’s day. For refreshments, you can head to one of two cafes found in the gardens: Riverside Café near the eastern end near Windsor Castle, and Extreme Motion, which doubles as a bicycle rental shop.

Jubilee Fountain

‘Diamond Jubilee Fountain’ by Matt Brown – https://flic.kr/p/22spUyP

At the western end of the gardens, you’ll find a small amusement park, perfect for toddlers to have some fun in, plus a skate park for older kids. You can buy candyfloss and hot dogs here to stave off hunger pangs.

During the Christmas months, there is an ice rink set up for skating called ‘Windsor on Ice’, and a small but lively winter wonderland with food stalls serving tasty treats. Summer brings a local theatre group to the gardens to perform live shows, plays, and comedies during the balmy evenings.

sunny day windsor

‘Windsor’ by Dmitry Dzhus – https://flic.kr/p/YiSwak

Location

Located immediately next to the rushing River Thames in Windsor, Alexandra Gardens enjoys a close proximity to popular Windsor Castle. The main shopping area of Windsor is just a short hop away, with numerous pubs, restaurants, cafes, and of course public toilets. The riverfront on either side of the park is also generously sprinkled with ice creameries, fish and chip shops and pubs.

Getting to Alexandra Gardens

Windsor is just over an hour from Victoria Station on the train. If heading out from the city, it’s easiest to make your way to Victoria Station first, then take the Southern Rail (in the Brighton direction) to the next stop, Clapham Junction. From here you can jump on the South Western Railway and ride it all the way to Windsor, alighting at Windsor and Eton Riverside. From here, it’s a short 10-minute walk to the park. It can also be easily accessed from Windsor Station.

As London experts, we know how to make the most of a visit to Alexandra Gardens and Windsor. To find out more about exploring London, you can have a look at our range of tours here.

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Retro Travel Posters Bring Old Memories Back to Life

The sun is shining and the summer holiday season is well and truly upon us at home and abroad.

With the summer vibes taking over Premium Tours HQ we have been reminiscing about some of our favourite summer holidays of years gone by.

Our tales of past travels have also reminded us of some of our once beloved holiday traditions (when did you last send a postcard?)… and frustrations (we’re looking at you travellers’ cheques).

Thinking back on these old holiday habits, we were filled with both nostalgia and also fascination at how quickly and unremarkably many of these changes happened; can you even imagine not being able to connect to wi-fi at your hotel now? Do you remember the day you stopped bringing a compact camera with you, relying only on your phone?

So, we decided to bring some of these old traditions back to life in our animated Travel Back in Time illustrative series.

Have a look at our illustrations below and reminisce about some of these retro travel items.

Walkmans

Walkman

Before the days of streaming, before the days of downloads, even before the days of CDs there was cassettes, and with cassettes came Walkmans. The Walkman was a must have for long journeys or sunbathing on the beach. Of course you had to bring along each cassette too in your portable carry case. Skipping songs wasn’t an option, unless you wanted to gamble with the fast forward option.

Developing Photos

Developing Photos

Ah the days before you could take hundreds of selfies until you got the perfect #travelgoals shot. Nope there was no sneaky previews of your travel snaps back in the day, and with a limit of how many photos you could take per spool you had to be extra selective in deciding what to capture. After your holiday you would take your photos along to be developed, the actual finished results remaining a total surprise and often a total disappointment, with a good portion of your snaps including a rogue finger covering the lens. The acceptable shots you did have would be stuck in an album or brought to the office and family gatherings for the next six months.

Travel Brochures

Travel Brochures

While travel brochures do of course still exist they are in no way the main planning tool for holidays that they once were. While nowadays we browse social media and online booking sites for our travel inspiration, up until a mere 10 years ago we would stock up on a selection of travel brochures from around the world flicking through page after page of exotic hotels and dreaming of our next getaway.

Travellers Cheques

traveller-cheques

Once the go-to way of spending money abroad, travellers cheques seem to have almost disappeared into oblivion. While travellers cheques were deemed a safer option than carrying cash over time more convenient options arose making travellers cheques less popular. As the use of travellers cheques declined it became harder and harder to find places to accept or exchange them, and many of us will have memories of traipsing around an unknown city looking for a bureau to exchange our cheques. While much less popular, travellers cheques are still available today.

Phone Cards

Payphone

Nowadays public payphones are rapidly on the decline, either being eradicated entirely or given quirky new leases of life, such as a pop up phone box library. However, before mobile phones were the norm public payphone were important in keeping us connected and safe while travelling. In many countries we also needed to use a phone card when calling abroad which we loaded with credit, and could even use to reverse charge the call to whoever we were calling. However, using phone cards was a task often filled with frustrations as you typed in unnecessarily long codes while juggling your bags only to be cut off mid-dial…or was that just us?

Internet Cafés

internet cafe

As the world progressed to favour online communications over telephone, internet cafés became the way to stay in touch during our travels. Many of us will remember setting out to find the nearest internet café to our hotel. In fact, even up until the very recent addition of mobile boarding passes, internet cafés were often still needed for a last minute printing mission, but as more of our life becomes mobilised the thought of having to search for a special internet café to stay connected seems almost alien.

Postcards

sending-postcards

With the evolution of our online life, another long-standing holiday habit fell into decline – postcards. It used to be the case that we would pick out ‘Wish You Were Here’ postcards to send smug tales of our travels to our parents, colleagues, friends, neighbours, great Aunt Doris, and whoever else was stuck back home. Now with the invention of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram it’s so much easier to be smug with one just one quick click.

Digital Cameras

compact digital cameras

Ok, we’re not talking about high quality DSLR cameras here. If you are a photography enthusiast with a pro camera chances are you still bring this on your travels today, but for us novice photographers our once beloved compact cameras are a thing of the past, with our phones being perfectly capable of capturing the highlights of our week in Marbella. Not too long ago it was standard practice to bring our mini digital camera along with us on holiday, loving our new spool-free freedom we would snap shots of everything throughout our holiday and upload every single image into a massive Facebook album upon arriving home. Now, compact cameras seem pretty irrelevant as camera quality becomes an ever bigger selling point of smartphones, and large Facebook albums are also rather extinct, as we instead favour the instantaneous and temporary nature of tools such as Snapchat to chart our holidays.

Paper Maps

Paper Maps

While it may seem impossible to believe now, there was a day when Google maps didn’t exist. Rather than using our phones to navigate we’d unfold our paper maps, larger than our own heads, turning this way and that looking for a recognisable landmark and our desired route. Was this really any more difficult than deciphering Google maps’ directions? We’ll leave that one up to you.

Phrase Books

Phrase-book

While every word we could possibly want to know is now at our fingertips with a plethora of translation apps available, we once had to pack a whole phrase book with us to aid in international conversations. The advantage of the phrase book was that rather than searching the words we wanted to know it suggested to us the words we never even knew we wanted to know. Many guide phrase books also included useful city tips and menu suggestions – and some even came with their very own massive fold-out map.

wine glasses

9 Great Places to Go Wine Tasting in London

Tasting your way through the wines of the world doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get on a plane; in fact, you can learn to fine-tune your palate right here in London.

There are several venues in the capital that hold enjoyable and social wine tasting events, giving you the chance to taste an interesting variety of local and international wines while learning a thing or two along the way.

Here are nine great places to go wine tasting in London.

1. Winemakers Club

Atmospheric and intriguing, the Winemakers Club is located within the exposed brickwork vaults of a Victorian wine cellar beneath Holborn Viaduct. Specialising in organic, biodynamic wines from small, traditional wineries around the world, the venue holds regular wine tasting events.

Guests are invited to try six to eight wines focusing on a specific theme. Tastings take place around a large communal table, and emphasis is on informal fun rather than education.

2. Cork & Bottle

Tucked away in a basement in the heart of the theatre district, the Cork & Bottle wine bar offers a fantastic menu of sharing platters and a range of fine cheeses to complement their selection of wines.

Every month they hold one or two bespoke dinner and wine tasting events hosted by winemakers and industry experts. Themes include American wines, cava and champagne tastings.

wine tasting

3. Cavas de Gaucho

As well as a host of events and special dinners, this delightful wine bar in Piccadilly holds wine tasting masterclasses focusing on their fantastic collection of wines from Argentina. The masterclasses are conducted by the head sommelier, who guides you through the carefully curated selection.

4. Vivat Bacchus

South African wine specialist, Vivat Bacchus, has two venues at Farringdon and London Bridge where they regularly host a range of enjoyable and informal wine tastings events, such as ‘winter steak reds’, wine and cheese evenings, and even a wine knowledge quiz.

5. Copa de Cava

This gorgeous, atmospheric brick-vaulted wine cellar hidden in the alleyways off St Paul’s is London’s first dedicated cava bar.  Tastings and classes feature a range of cava and other Spanish wines accompanied by delicious, authentic tapas.

wine sampling

6. Bedales of Borough

This intimate wine bar situated in the heart of Borough Market specialises in rare and unique wines.  They hold a variety of wine tasting classes including a blindfolded tasting to get all your senses working!

7. The Wine Tasting Shop

The ‘try before you buy’ motto of this wine shop and wine bar specialist in Balham extends to weekly wine tasting events and classes including blind tastings. Tastings are accompanied by canapés and cheeses to complement the wines.

8. Cheese at Leadenhall

Another wine tasting experience in a famous London market can be found at Cheese at Leadenhall. Their cheese and wine tasting experiences focus on pairing fine cheeses with wines, ports and sherries.

wine and cheese

9. London Cru

Finally, you can even visit a winery right here in London! London Cru in SW6 holds winery tours including tastings that are educational and fun. You can even book a ‘winemaker for the day’ course.

Our London experts can advise you on the best places for wine tasting in the capital. Contact Premium Tours today for more information on all our London tours.

london night

27 Fun Things to Do in London in the Evening

Historic landmarks, royal palaces and attractions galore, London is also full to the brim with fantastic eateries offering an array of international cuisines from across the globe, lively bars, gastropubs, and a wealth of museums and galleries to explore.

But the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. In fact, it just gets better. The UK capital really is the city that never sleeps, with a variety of fun activities to enjoy until the early hours.

Whether you want to continue your cultural experience, try innovative, quirky and fun places to eat and drink, or simply want to soak up the lively and buzzing atmosphere of the capital in the dark hours, London offers one of the best nights out you’ll ever have.

Here are 27 fun things to do in London during the evening and even into the small hours.

1. The Tower of London, Ceremony of the Keys

Every night at 9.50pm, the Ceremony of the Keys takes place at the 950-year-old Tower of London. Although you need to plan ahead and get tickets, the event is free to watch. The brief ceremony, which has been taking place since the 14th century, is performed by the Beefeaters and marks the official locking of the Tower.

But don’t worry about being locked in for the night. Once the ceremony is over and ‘all’s well’, they’ll let you out through a small side door.

2. London’s Museums

If you fancy visiting one of London’s museums after dark, there are plenty to choose between. Many museums have a weekly late night opening and most are free of charge, such as the British Museum Spotlight Tour that takes place every Friday evening. The Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum all have monthly after-hours access and special evening exhibitions.

For a more atmospheric visit, you can take a candlelit tour of Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn on the first Tuesday of every month.

natural history museum

3. Art Galleries

Housing one of the world’s most extensive collections of modern art from 1900 to the present day, the Tate Modern is one of the most visited galleries in the capital. If you haven’t got time to fit it into your day, you can visit the Thames Side gallery in the evening. It’s open until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

The National Gallery, home to a world-class collection of art from some of the greatest artists in history including Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Renoir and Turner is open until 9 pm on Fridays. If you’re feeling creatively inspired, The National Portrait Gallery holds drop-in drawing classes on Friday evenings.

4. Haunted London Bus Tour

Step back in time and explore the dark and haunted streets of London from the safety of a vintage open-top double-decker bus. Then retrace the steps of Jack the Ripper in the sinister East End, and learn about the body snatchers while walking through the deserted Smithfield Market. Finish off with a comforting drink at the warm and inviting Sherlock Holmes pub.

5. Twilight Open Bus Tour

See the beauty of London lit up in the evening sky. Take an open top bus tour around some of London’s most popular landmarks such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral, and see them illuminated in all their glory.

6. Walk along the South Bank

If you prefer to stretch your legs, a gentle evening stroll along the South Bank will give you a stunning view of the River Thames and London’s landmarks twinkling in the night sky.

london south bank

7. The London Eye

A ride on the London Eye will give you spectacular far-reaching views along the River Thames and across the sprawling capital. But watching the sunset and the city light up from up high is a truly special experience. You can even buy ‘Day and Night Experience’ tickets to enjoy the ride during the day, then once again in the evening.

8. Views from the Shard

Europe’s tallest building also offers ‘Day and Night Experience’ tickets to see the fabulous views during the day, and the sparkling lights illuminating the River Thames at night.

9. The Sky Garden

Another fantastic place to get sunset and night-time views of the capital is from the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street. Spanning three storeys, London’s highest garden can be visited for free and the atrium stays open until late at night. The 360-degree views are lovely during the day, but at night they’re spectacular. Enjoy an evening cocktail at the Sky Pod or City Garden bars while you’re there.

10. Thames River Cruise

Enjoy a closer look at London’s illuminated landmarks while sipping champagne and savouring a delicious dinner on a Thames dinner cruise. Whether you want a sunset cocktail or want a five-course meal with music, entertainment and dancing, an evening cruise along the Thames is an unforgettable experience.

the london eye at night

11. Late Night Shopping

Enjoy a spot of retail therapy among the bright lights of the West End. The department stores, designer boutiques and high-street brand stores on Oxford Street are open until 10 pm on Thursdays.

12. Piccadilly Circus

A popular tourist attraction during the day, Piccadilly Circus really comes into its own at night. Soak up the bustling atmosphere and the bright neon lights before taking a stroll around nearby Soho, Chinatown and Leicester Square.

13. Jazz and Italian Coffee in Soho

As well as its risqué red-light reputation, Soho is also famous for its vibrant nightlife. You’ll find some great bars and restaurants here, ranging from casual and quirky to high-end fine dining venues. Head to the iconic Ronnie Scott’s for a great evening of jazz before savouring a late night espresso at the buzzing Bar Italia.

14. Covent Garden

Covent Garden is just as lively and vibrant in the evening as it is in the daytime. Head to the cobbled central piazza and enjoy the amazing talents of the street performers, from the famous ‘living statues’ to magicians and musicians, before grabbing a bite to eat in one of the nearby eateries.

15. A West End Musical

London’s West End is famous worldwide for its theatre scene. Grab an early pre-show dinner, then enjoy one of the iconic musicals such as The Lion King, Les Misérables or Mamma Mia!

16. Hippodrome Casino

If you fancy a flutter in sumptuous surroundings, then a night at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square is definitely on the cards. This magnificent venue has four gaming floors, six bars, a music and cabaret theatre, and a fantastic restaurant that claims to serve the best steaks in London.

roulette

17. The Globe Theatre

Enjoy a night of Shakespeare at the faithful reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre on Bankside. The Bard’s most famous plays featuring some of the world’s most talented actors can be seen at incredibly affordable prices. You can buy a standing ticket for just £5!

18. Comedy Clubs

Not only can you laugh the night away enjoying some top comedy acts, but you can do it for free! The Angel Comedy Club at Camden Head and the Top Secret Comedy Club in Drury Lane host a range of top-class stand-up acts and shows with free entry and incredibly cheap drinks for a great value night out. Comedy clubs are extremely popular and tickets sell out quickly, so be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.

19. Immersive Theatre

Alternatively, if you want to get in on the action, you can take part in an immersive theatre show.  From murder mysteries and battle-against-the clock escape rooms to Agatha Christie courtroom dramas, there’s a range of thrilling shows and events that will have you battling your wits and visiting other eras in a fun night of escapism.

20. After Hours Shrek’s Adventure

The adventures of the loveable green ogre aren’t just adored by kids. Shrek’s Adventure London, near the London Eye, hosts after-dark adventures for adults only. Release your inner child with 10 live interactive shows peppered with hilarious adult humour and take a 4D bus trip driven by Donkey. Then finish up your evening with a tipple at the Poison Apple Pub.

21. Quirky Bars

London is full of quirky bars! Drinking out has never been such fun. Step back in time to 1920s Chicago and choose from a range of ‘prohibition’ cocktails at Bart’s on Sloane Avenue. Dress in a vintage outfit and dance along to music from the 40s and 50s in an underground station bar at Cahoots in Soho.

For a truly bizarre experience, spend a night out in a lavatory! The WC underneath Clapham Common station is a 100-year-old former toilet, and now serves a fantastic range of fine wines and cheeses on cubicle door tables, while offering live music on Sunday and Mondays from 8-10 pm.

vintage outfits

22. Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea

Many London venues serve Afternoon Tea. But how about an ‘Evening Tea’ with a difference! Every evening the Sanderson Hotel hosts the quirky Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea with an Alice in Wonderland theme.  Enjoy a delicious indulgence of savoury and sweet delights such as smoked salmon scotch eggs, vodka and cranberry tartlets and aged rum trifle, while sipping on speciality cocktails. The Hot Bouquet cocktail is a must try during cold winter evenings.

23. Pub Theatres

Enjoy a pint and a play in one of London’s pub theatres. Venues such as The Finborough Theatre in Earl’s Court and Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate offer a great value night out featuring fringe theatre, comedy acts and edgy drama as well as discount drinks.

24. Haunted Pubs

Considering London’s long and turbulent history, it’s no surprise that there are a few haunted pubs around. Enjoy a pint and soak up the atmosphere while listening to spooky stories at the following pubs:

  • The Ten Bells in Spitalfields was the famous stalking ground of Jack the Ripper. Unchanged since the autumn of 1888, the pub is said to be haunted by the ghost of a Victorian landlord who was axed to death there.
  • The ghost of highwayman Dick Turpin is said to haunt the Spaniards Inn at Hampstead Heath, once his local pub.
  • The Viaduct Tavern near St Paul’s, once a gin palace, sits on top of former underground prison cells. It’s said to be haunted by the ghosts of previous inmates.

25. A Brick Lane Curry

If you’re a curry fan, then a trip down iconic Brick Lane is a must for a great night out. The vibrant and colourful Bangla Town, full of the unmistakable aromas of heady eastern spices, really comes to life in the evening.

As well as the main strip, there are lots of tiny side streets to explore with a wealth of lively bars and restaurants, not to mention the famous curry houses. Cinnamon and Sheba are two of the best known, with a wonderful selection of authentic Bengali dishes.

And if you’re feeling peckish after a hard night’s partying, be sure to grab a hot and fresh beigel from the famous Brick Lane Bakery.

26. A Late Night Dinner

London really is the city that never sleeps. No matter how late it is, you can enjoy a delicious meal with views at the Duck and Waffle in Bishopsgate. The restaurant, located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, is open 24/7 and offers a special late-night menu featuring sharing plates of snacks, generous main dishes and champagne cocktails.

eating dinner

27. A Dino Snores Night at the Natural History Museum

A fun night out in London doesn’t just have to be for adults. Kids from ages 7 to 11 can enjoy the thrilling experience of a sleepover with the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. Once the doors have closed, set up camp in the famous Hintze Hall gallery and spend an action-packed night exploring a torch-lit trail and taking part in workshops and science shows before settling down to sleep (if you can) at midnight.

You can find more information on our range of London tours here. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Dining London

7 Funky Restaurants in London You’ll Love

London is one of the culinary capitals of the world with a vast choice of eateries covering every type of cultural cuisine from around the globe.

If you’re tired and hungry after a long day of exploring London, going for a delicious dinner is the perfect way to feel rejuvenated. Don’t just go to a chain restaurant, instead, why not go somewhere a little offbeat and quirky, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. London is full of funky restaurants that put the fun and unusual back into dining.

Here are seven of the best funky restaurants in London you’re sure to love.

1. The Cheese Bar

Located at Camden Stables Market, The Cheese Bar is an absolute must for cheese lovers. The indulgent, cheese-centric menu features oozy delights such as smoked sausage fondue, four-cheese rotelle pasta, as well as their trademark cheese toasties.

The restaurant prides itself on using only the very best British cheeses.

2. Attendant

The Attendant in Fitzrovia offers a seasonal, fun and fresh menu as well as serving great tasting coffee reflecting the style of Australian brunch cafes. It’s the perfect place for breakfast, brunch or lunch.

But the quirky feature of this cafe is its location. It was once a Victorian gentlemen’s public toilet! Beautifully restored, Attendant has a quaint underground entrance and features urinal seating booths and white tiled walls.

3. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co

‘It’s all about the shrimp.’ If you loved Forrest Gump, don’t miss a trip to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co in Soho. Based on the two characters from the film, the Old South eatery features a delicious menu of Alabaman favourites such as ribs, steak, jambalaya and of course, shrimp!

shrimp

4. Beach Blanket Babylon

Situated in an old Georgian mansion in the heart of Notting Hill, the incongruously named restaurant has a wonderfully eclectic mix of colonial British, French Chateau and gothic decor and furnishings.

Serving seasonal modern European cuisine, the elaborate restaurant has a wonderful choice of intimate spaces for a decadent and private dining experience.

5. Dans le Noir?

Dining at the Dans le Noir? in Clerkenwell is a sensory experience you simply must try. Sight-impaired waiters serve the fantastic menu, taking you on a culinary journey where your sense of taste and smell will be challenged in total darkness!

6. Rainforest Café

The Rainforest Café just off Piccadilly Circus is the perfect venue to bring the kids for a fun-filled dining experience. Animatronics, tropical fish tanks, waterfalls and special thunder and lighting effects add to the thrill of the Amazonian Jungle right in the heart of the West End.

The American-based menu features family-friendly classics such as ribs, steaks and burgers, as well as a dedicated kids menu and activity packs.

Rainforest Café

7. Fifteen

Sleek and stylish, this flagship Jamie Oliver restaurant not only produces fabulous dishes from local and seasonal products but most notably is a non-profit training ground that has been turning disadvantaged and unemployed young people into professional chefs since 2002.

The kitchen is front of house and open plan so you can see the young chefs in action. You may even spot the ‘cheeky chappy’ himself if he’s around.

 

As London experts, we know all the best places to eat in this delicious capital city. For more information on our London tours, get in touch today.

sherlock

5 Places for Sherlock Holmes Fans to Visit in London

Sherlock Holmes, Britain’s most famous detective, has been portrayed in various films and TV shows, some faithful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, others more contemporary.

The one uniting factor, however, is Sherlock’s connection with London. Whatever version of Holmes and Watson you prefer, London is a mystery just waiting for would-be sleuths to explore.

So, don your deerstalker, grab your magnifying glass and discover these five places in London that every Sherlock Holmes fan should visit.

1. 221b Baker Street

221b Baker Street is the fictitious address of Britain’s best-loved sleuth, where he is lovingly looked after by the long-suffering Mrs Hudson.

In real life, it’s home to the Sherlock Holmes Museum which displays a range of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia and antiques from the Victorian period.

If you’re arriving by tube, don’t miss the Sherlock Holmes statue just outside Baker Street underground station.

sherlock museum

2. New Scotland Yard

In the recent TV series, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is often called upon to visit New Scotland Yard on Victoria Embankment. You can’t enter the building, but it’s a great place to grab a selfie in front of the iconic sign.

3. Speedy’s Cafe

Fans of the BBC TV series will instantly recognise one of Holmes and Watson’s most popular haunts: Speedy’s Cafe at North Gower Street in Camden.

The street was actually used as Baker St in the series to avoid all the references to Sherlock on the original street. The black door next to the familiar red awning of the cafe was used for exterior shots of 221b.

The cafe itself is adorned with production photos and serves delicious food and fantastic coffee. There are a range of Sherlock specialities and the English breakfast is a real treat!

sherlock statue

4. Bart’s Hospital

St Bartholomew’s Hospital in West Smithfield features in the very first Conan Doyle story, A Study in Scarlet. It’s where Holmes and Watson meet for the first time.

The hospital itself dates back to 1123 and is the oldest functioning hospitals in Britain. The exterior is beautiful, and it’s considered one of the most architecturally important buildings in the country.

Fans of the BBC series will recognise the rooftop from the infamous episode The Reichenbach Fall, where Sherlock was perched before staging his fake death. There are still notes left by fans who believed the famous sleuth had died, stuck to a nearby telephone box.

A tribute plaque to Holmes and Watson can be found in the hospital’s museum, which also displays exhibits that explain the hospital’s fascinating history. It’s well worth a visit.

sherlock holmes

5. The Sherlock Holmes Pub

This delightful Victorian-styled pub on Northumberland Street is a homage to the great detective and features an exact replica of the Baker Street sitting room that houses a permanent exhibition of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia.

The food is delicious and considered some of the best pub food in London. The menu is themed and features classic dishes such as The Hound of the Baskerville Toad in the Hole, as well as a great selection of traditional English ales and ciders.

As London experts, our tour guides know a thing or two about Sherlock Holmes and have many other interesting stories to share with you. For more information about our London tours, get in touch today.