Street Art

21 Fun (and Free) Things to Do in Shoreditch

Shoreditch, the liveliest part of London’s East End, is a hub of creativity and alternative culture. It’s a great part of the capital to explore and luckily, compared to much of the rest of London anyway, there are a lot of free things to do in Shoreditch.

The area has earned itself the reputation of being the ‘hipster’ capital of London, and in Shoreditch you’ll find a vibrant street art scene meaning that a simple stroll around turns into an experience in itself. There are markets and free museums to visit while you are in Shoreditch, alongside galleries and plenty of parks, too.

Put your wallet away, because to help you to plan your trip to this artistic, happening part of London, here are 21 fun (and free) things to do in Shoreditch.

Explore the Street Art

Shoreditch is a hive of artistic activity and you’ll see this reflected on the very walls of the borough itself. Walking through Shoreditch, you’ll find art on every corner, plastered across buildings and painted across fences.

It’s not just graffiti either, as some of the world’s top artists make an appearance here to paint murals, including famous works by Banksy, one of which can be found on Rivington Street. Head to Great Eastern Street to find two decommissioned rail carriages transplanted onto a rooftop and spray painted with art, or walk to Shoreditch High Street to look for sculpted faces left on the walls by an artist.

There’s a lot out there, and the best way to see it all is to simply wander through the streets of Shoreditch.

Street Art

East End Graffiti and Street Art Tours

Of course, if you’d rather be guided around in search of the best street art in Shoreditch, then don’t fear, because there’s a free walking tour that does exactly that. This pay-what-you-feel tour takes you not only through Shoreditch but through much of the rest of London’s East End too, as you hunt out hidden masterpieces in the care of a local enthusiast.

You won’t miss those famous Banksy murals and, along the way, you’ll be given an intimate look at just how the streets of Shoreditch became the creative, artistic canvas they are today. The tour lasts around two and a half hours and, at the end of it, if you enjoyed yourself you can give a tip to your guide, but there’s no obligation, making this one of the best free things to do in Shoreditch.

Visit the Geffrye Museum

Found on Kingsland Road, the Geffrye Museum is one of Shoreditch’s hidden historical gems. It’s not particularly well known, particularly given the vast number of infinitely more famous museums to be found in London, but it will give you an unexpected insight into London life from the 1600s through to the present.

The best thing is it’s free to enter, meaning there’s really nothing to lose by swinging by the Geffyre Museum. It’s housed in a heritage listed building dating back to the 18th century, and inside you’ll find a mixture of displays and exhibits that will take you on a journey that demonstrates the evolution of simple home living through the centuries.

Browse through Antique Shops (Just Don’t Buy Anything!)

Shoreditch has an unusually high number of antique shops, representing the rich cultural history of the borough in the vast number of antiques collected across the district. With the ever-evolving hipster scene taking styles back to bygone eras, antique shops have a seen a resurgence too, as people look for quirky and interesting items to buy.

Browsing through old memorabilia and classics is a great way to spend some time in Shoreditch, and as long as you don’t actually buy anything, then it’s totally free too.

Brick Lane Market

Brick Lane Market is one of the best markets to visit in Shoreditch. Located along Brick Lane, a place famous for its excellent curries and multicultural nature, the market can trace its origins far back to the 17th century.

Ever since it humbly began as a small farmers’ market, it’s grown and diversified and is now one of the most interesting markets in London. There are shops and restaurants and cafes and bars here through the week, but on Sunday you will find street stalls and pop-up stands all over the market place. Even if you aren’t looking to buy anything, it’s a great place to simply wander around, soaking up the atmosphere.

Market

Brick Lane Gallery

Brick Lane Gallery is an art space for contemporary artists to showcase their best work. It’s an exciting place to visit, and you’ll frequently find the gallery hosting excellent exhibitions displaying up-and-coming artists from across the world.

The exhibitions change constantly, so check which events are going on beforehand, but many will be free to enter.

Vintage Markets

The vintage markets are found in the Old Truman Brewery, a part of the wider Brick Lane Market, and they are fantastic places to browse through old retro clothing and vintage wares. The vintage markets attract sellers from across London and are open every day of the week.

It’s great fun looking through and trying on some of the old fashioned costumes, some dating back a century, while the vast collection of retro gear is unbeatable.

Columbia Road Flower Market

The Columbia Road Flower Market is held every Sunday, just off Hackney Road. Columbia Road is a small street, but it becomes absolutely packed with tourists and locals who descend here to soak up the lively atmosphere and admire the market stalls overflowing with colourful flowers.

You’ll find street musicians, boutique shops, great little cafes and food vendors too alongside the masses of flower sellers, making this a great place to spend a Sunday morning.

Flower Market

Hoxton Street Market

Shoreditch is the place in London to visit if you enjoy a good market, and another great one to explore is Hoxton Street Market. This market dates back to the late 17th century, and unlike many of London’s markets which have in recent years grown into more hipster-minded establishments, Hoxton Street Market has stayed true to its humble beginnings and offers you an authentic look at East End life.

Here you’ll find clothing stalls, bakers, fruit and veg stands, second-hand sellers and much more lining Hoxton Street every Saturday.

Hackney Museum

The Hackney District is an integral part of the wider Borough of Shoreditch, and at the local museum you can learn more about the area’s intriguing history.

The Hackney Museum is completely free to enter, and with Hackney being one of the most multicultural parts of London, you’ll be taken on a journey far back to the medieval era, as you discover the many different people from across the world that have emigrated here.

It’s a small museum, but it offers a fascinating insight into the cultural makeup of Shoreditch.

Meet the Animals at Hackney City Farm

You might be surprised to find a farm in the middle of London, but actually, Shoreditch is home to several of these City Farms, that offer a quick escape into the countryside in the heart of the concrete jungle.

One of the best to visit is Hackney City Farm, not only because it’s free – which is always a bonus of course – but because you can find a wonderful array of friendly farmyard animals in a setting that aims to educate both children and adults alike on the virtues of farming.

Chickens

Enjoy Greenery at Haggerston Park

You’ll find Haggerston Park right next to Hackney City Farm, so once you’ve met all the farmyard animals, head into the park to enjoy the peace of this wonderful green space.

This is a real escape from the city, as the large park is home not only to playing fields and football pitches but to a nature reserve too.

Uncover the Hidden History Behind Altab Ali Park

Another great park to visit on the edge of Shoreditch is Altab Ali Park, part of Whitechapel, which is where the chapel that gives the area its name once stood. It’s a nice open area, but the story behind its name is perhaps more interesting to discover when you visit.

Until 1998 the park was known as St Mary’s Park, but the local council decided to rename the space in honour of a local citizen of Bangladeshi origin who was murdered in a racist attack here in the 1970s. Wandering through Shoreditch, you’ll realise that things have changed a lot since then and the area is now a haven of diversity, but a visit here will remind you that it wasn’t always this way.

Find Fashion at Petticoat Lane Market

Petticoat Lane Market has long been a hotbed for fashionistas looking to sell their latest styles. The market dates back to the 17th century, when newly arrived Huguenot refugees from France began to sell petticoats to Londoners here.

The market has remained a clothing market since, and you can find bargain clothing stalls alongside trendy, independent designers and a vast array of other stands and shops too.

Box Park

Box Park is one of Shoreditch’s newest market and retail areas, but it well and truly conforms to both the borough’s historic legacy of marketplaces and the alternative hipster scene. Box Park only opened in 2011 but has already become incredibly popular. It’s a pop-up market but is really much more permanent than that suggests, because the shops and market stalls are all found within recycled shipping containers.

It’s a great concept. At Box Park, you’ll find everything from cafes and bars to independent shops and retailers to peruse.

Discover the Roman Ruins of Shoreditch

Despite its modern outlook, Shoreditch can still trace its origins back to the Roman days, when this was the edge of the City of London.

Although little remains today, you can find some sections of preserved Roman walls on Noble Street, just a short walk from Shoreditch by the Museum of London. In Shoreditch itself, you can trace the outline of the Walbrook River along Curtain Road, which was the boundary of Roman London.

Old Spitalfields Market

Yet another fantastic Shoreditch marketplace to visit is the Old Spitalfields Market. It’s hundreds of years old and has long been serving the East End community with local produce, handicrafts and excellent food.

Any day of the week it’s a busy affair and a great place to soak up the Shoreditch atmosphere.

Market

Spitalfields Houses

In the Spitalfields area, head to historic Fournier Street for a historic walk along a historic lane. The street is famed for the large number of 18th century buildings and houses that are still found here.

The Spitalfields Houses, as they’ve become known, are a great collection of colourful Georgian architecture to admire.

Rivington Place

In the heart of Shoreditch, Rivington Place is a public gallery that offers the chance to explore an international array of work by visual artists, including photojournalists and photographers.

It’s a unique space, and it’s totally free to visit the exhibitions.

V & A Museum of Childhood

Although this is technically Bethnal Green, a distinct area next to Shoreditch, the two areas overlap and it’s worth a visit to the excellent V & A Museum of Childhood.

This is for kids and adults, and you can take a trip through childhood and see how different generations grew up in London.

Shoreditch Park

Found in the north of the borough before you reach the canal, Shoreditch Park is a great place to escape city life.

This large green area is perfect for walking or exercising, and you’ll find the open area and the fresh air a great relief from the urban confines of London. Bring a picnic, bring some friends and relax on the green grass in the summertime, or perhaps walk through briskly in the chill of winter to stay warm!

As London experts, we know a thing or two about the hip and creative area of Shoreditch. While you’re in the area, check out Premium Tours’ great range of London tours.

Yorkshire Dales

17 of the Best Train Journeys in the UK Everyone Should Try

The United Kingdom is home to some of the best railway journeys in the world, with beautiful scenic trips that take you through some of the country’s wildest landscapes.

It’s also the most historic place in the world to travel by train, because the UK was the first country to build a public railway line when the famous English engineer George Stephenson designed and built the Stockton and Darlington railway, which although it was only in use from 1825 to 1863, set a precedent for the future of locomotive transport in the UK, a legacy that continues to this day.

From comfortable classic overnight rail journeys on the Caledonian Sleeper journeying from London to Scotland, to restored steam engines taking you through incredible mountain passes in the Highlands, here are 17 of the best train journeys in the UK that everyone should try.

The Caledonian Sleeper

With faster trains and small distances to cover in the UK, sleeper trains these days are few and far between. A classic overnight journey that you can still take today though is the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Scotland.

This train ride sees you leaving London in the evening, and you’ll wake up the following morning far up north in Scotland, with the possibility of alighting the carriage at most major cities, including Edinburgh and Glasgow.

There are comfortable sleeper cabins, including premium first class suites, or much cheaper sleeper chairs. Although you won’t see much in the dark, you’ll get a good night’s sleep and be fresh and ready to explore in the morning.

Edinburgh

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman is perhaps the most well-known and historic rail service in the United Kingdom. This fast service whisks passengers between London and Edinburgh in a journey time of just over four hours.

The Flying Scotsman began life far back in 1862 as a steam locomotive, and back then it took over 10 hours to make the journey – still an enormous improvement on other modes of transport in the Victorian era. Today, you’ll find a modern passenger train, but one that tries to live up to its history and reputation for speed.

West Highland Line

The Scottish Highlands are one of the most spectacular locations in England, and they are still as wild and untamed as they have always been. A great way to explore the western highlands and the rugged coastline of Scotland is on the West Highland Line.

The line connects Glasgow in the south, with the ports of Oban and Mallaig, and plenty of rural stops in the Highlands in between. While there are countless opportunities to explore this part of Scotland, the best portion of the line to ride is the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a marvellous feat of engineering that gives you incredible views over the surrounding areas from the carriage.

The viaduct was most famously featured in the Harry Potter movies, and in the summer you can even take The Jacobite, a classic steam-powered engine complete with antique carriages, for a unique experience.

The Snowdon Mountain Railway

Not to be outdone by the Scots, the Welsh also have their own classic, scenic railway line, one that since 1896 has been making the journey to the summit of Mount Snowdon much, much easier.

The Snowdon Mountain Railway takes thousands of tourists up this iconic mountain each year, but given the harsh weather conditions of Snowdonia, it doesn’t operate in winter. Locomotives – some of them still steam powered – power single carriages up a five-mile track, offering incredible panoramic views on the way.

Mount Snowdon

The Welsh Highland Railway

Another spectacular train ride to try in Wales is the Welsh Highland Railway. This is one for the tourists, as the line uses a restored rail track that links the two coastal towns of Caernarfon and Porthmadog using a heritage steam engine.

The route is just 25 miles long, but it will take you through spectacular Welsh scenery, including the Aberglaslyn Pass, and many tunnels hewn from the rock. Caernarfon is home to an iconic medieval castle built by the English to subdue the Welsh, while Porthmadog has wonderful coastal scenery to enjoy.

The Cotswold Line

The Cotswolds is one of southern England’s most charming areas, comprising the beautiful rural surrounds of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and other nearby counties. It’s a place of quaint, scenic villages, idyllic country pastures, rolling hills and sandstone rocks.

The Cotswold Line connects Hereford to Oxford and passes through much of the spectacular landscapes on its 86-and-a-half mile journey. You can stop off in towns and villages, or enjoy the sights of historic locations such as Worcester and eventually Oxford, or simply sit back and enjoy views over the River Severn and the Malvern Hills as you ride on through.

The Night Riviera Sleeper Train

The Night Riviera is the second of the United Kingdom’s two remaining sleeper services – the other being the Caledonian Sleeper of course – and this modern train takes passengers from London all the way to Penzance in Cornwall.

Great Western Railway recently gave this classic overnighter a massive makeover, and today its carriages truly live up to its fancy title. The journey takes around eight hours if you are travelling all the way from London Paddington to Penzance (or vice versa of course), but you’ll be travelling in new carriages and in incredibly comfortable surroundings.

There are large seats in economy class with plenty of space and room to recline, but the real highlights are the sleeping cabins, which even give you access to the on-board lounge, where you can eat and drink the night away or rise early for a gourmet breakfast before your arrival.

St Ives Bay Line

Although it’s short, at just four miles in length and lasting for just 15 minutes of total travel time, the St Ives Bay Line is one of the most spectacular short distance rail lines in the United Kingdom.

This rail route takes you from the charming coastal village of St Erth to the larger seaside town of St Ives, both found along the beautiful shores of Western Cornwall.

You’ll pass right along the coast with magnificent views out over the St Ives Bay and the white-sand beaches the area is known for. Make sure to get a window seat facing out towards the coast for the best chance to enjoy the scenery. To truly appreciate the seaside lifestyle of Cornwall, you’re best travelling along the St Ives Bay Line in summer, so you can enjoy the sunny Cornish weather and the beaches.

St Ives

The Dawlish Coast

Part of the so-called Riviera Line that stretches from London to Cornwall along England’s beautiful southern coastline, the Dawlish Coast is one of the most impressive parts of the rail network in this part of the country.

Here you will find classic seaside towns such as Torquay and Dartmouth, which in summer have beaches that are heaving with holidaymakers and covered in colourful parasols – a strange sight to see anywhere in England! You can ride the trains between scenic coastal towns and villages, stopping off all along the Dawlish Coast to experience the best of the English Riviera.

You can continue onwards to the city of Exeter, or cross the narrow strait that connects Dawlish to Exmouth by boat to visit another historic English city.

Crewe to Holyhead on the North Wales Coast Line

Holyhead is found at the end of the North Wales Coast Line, situated on the Isle of Anglesey overlooking the Irish Sea. Your journey will start in Crewe, the beginning of one of the oldest lines in the United Kingdom, which dates back to 1840 and connects England to North Wales.

Along the route, you’ll follow the coast, crossing over spectacular gorges and rivers spanned by Victorian feats of engineering like no other, including the Britannia Bridge. This huge structure connects the Isle of Anglesey to mainland Wales, across the Menai Strait, and was conceived by none other than Robert Stephenson, the same engineer who opened Britain’s first public railway line.

The Settle-Carlisle Railway

Found in England’s North West, the Settle-Carlisle Railway takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the country. The line takes you from Settle, in Yorkshire, across the Yorkshire Dales and through the Pennines, on a 73-mile journey across beautiful landscapes and past many iconic sights.

You can stop off in small towns and rural idylls in the Yorkshire Dales, cross the daunting Ribblehead Viaduct, and then explore the scenery of the Pennines on your way through to Carlisle. You can do it all in one trip – they even have heritage steam engines running the route periodically – or you can turn the trip into a multi-day excursion through God’s Own Country.

Railway

Newcastle to Edinburgh

Travel between England and Scotland on the classic East Coast Mainline, and journey from the city of Newcastle to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, while enjoying blissful views along the way. The whole East Coast Mainline actually connects Edinburgh all the way south to London, but the portion from Newcastle to Edinburgh is perhaps the best section of the route.

You’ll be taken along the dramatic coastline of Northumbria, before crossing the border to Scotland at Berwick-upon-Tweed, one of the most historic places in the United Kingdom, and a place that changed hands between the warring Scots and English many a time in the medieval era. You’ll even get to see Lindisfarne from the window, the infamous isle that was raided by the Vikings, which marked the start of the Norse ravaging of Europe.

The Whitby and Pickering Railway

The Whitby and Pickering Railway was built in 1836 and is recognised as one of the first railways to be constructed in Yorkshire. It closed when it fell into disuse, but its unique heritage was preserved when it was reopened again as a tourist attraction in the late 2000s, allowing travellers to ride the line on historic carriages pulled by steam engines.

The railway takes you through spectacular scenery, from Pickering, near the city of York, through moors and dales, until you reach the famous coastal town of Whitby, purported home of English Fish and Chips. Enjoy the sea breezes, eat some deep fried fish, and explore a town famous for being the home of the navigator, Captain Cook.

Inverness to Wick

This four-hour train ride will take you along the United Kingdom’s most northerly line, as you travel from the Scottish city of Inverness to the small, coastal town of Wick, which looks out over the North Sea.

The journey takes you past rugged coastline, and from Wick you can travel a little further north by road to reach John O’Groats, the last piece of land on the British mainland.

Dingwall to Kyle of Lochalsh

Also found in the north of Scotland, this route takes you from Dingwall, just north of Inverness, to the Kyle of Lochalsh, which is located on the far western coast.

The train line is impressive, taking you through the real heart of the Scottish Highlands, past incredible mountain scenery and overdramatic passes, until you reach the equally compelling coastline.

The Royal Scotsman

A journey on The Royal Scotsman is a rail journey like no other in the UK. Making use of vintage, heritage carriages that have been redesigned and modernised, The Royal Scotsman takes passengers in luxury through the Scottish Highlands on multi-day trips that offer fine dining and even spa facilities while on board.

The London Underground

Although not exactly an overground train ride through spectacular scenery, the London Underground is nevertheless an integral part of the British Rail Network. When you’re in the capital, riding the Underground is unavoidable, but make the most of it by learning a little of its history and by visiting classic stations.

This is the oldest underground rail system in the world, and there are plenty of heritage-listed tube stations, such as Baker Street or Aldwych.

London Underground

To find out more about our unique tours, both in London and around the UK, contact Premium Tours today.

Mary Poppins Selfie

Mary Poppins Returns…to a 2019 London

Mary Poppins Returns is already one of the most talked about movies of 2019. The world’s favourite no-nonsense nanny is back in London, this time checking in on a grown-up Michael Banks and his own children.

Mary Poppins is one of the most classic movies of all time, and as well as the wonderful Julie Andrews, another star of the show is undoubtedly the beautiful city of London.

The first Mary Poppins movie is set in an Edwardian London, while Mary Poppins Returns takes place 20 years later, but as our beloved Mary returns to our screen (this time embodied by Emily Blunt), we wondered what would it be like if Mary Poppins returned to a modern day London.

Undoubtedly, the capital has changed drastically since the 1910s and 1930s, with many of the city’s most iconic buildings having not arisen until almost 100 years since Mary Poppins’ time.

Buckingham Palace, built in 316, was of course a part of Mary Poppins’ London, as was Big Ben built in 160, however modern landmarks such as the O2 (famously built for the Millennium), the Gherkin, and the London Eye would be almost alien to Mary.

So, what would Mary Poppins make of our modern day London? We took to Instagram to find out.

Caught in the Rain

Mary Poppins illustration

No matter the era, Mary Poppins would certainly always still be carrying her trusty umbrella everywhere with her, and in the charming but often rainy modern day London, it would certainly serve her well.

Brunchin’

Mary Poppins Illustration Having Brunch

The dining market has certainly changed since the Edwardian era, and Mary would most likely be sceptical of London’s hipster hangouts at first – but even she couldn’t resist a delicious stack of pancakes from one of the city’s most popular brunch haunts.

Ready for Work

Mary Poppins Mirror Illustration

Hey, London isn’t a cheap place to live – so Mary would still need to work to pay her bills. Plus, we all know that work is about much more than money for Mary, it’s about enriching the lives of the children and families she works with. We’re sure she would be teaching today’s Gen Z kids the forgotten joy of flying a kite.

A Spoonful of Sugar

Mary Poppins at rooftop bar illustration

Even Mary needs some time to chill out after work, and where better than at one of London’s stunning rooftop bars? Here Mary can indulge in a ‘spoonful of sugar’ mixed up into a delicious cocktail.

Hitting the High Street

Mary Poppins shopping illustration

The hustle and bustle of Oxford Street is a world away from the Edwardian streets Mary Poppins travelled. While Mary might enjoy hitting the shops, we’re not sure she could find a replacement for her magical bag in any high street store.

Going Underground

Mary Poppins on London Ungerground

After testing out London’s modern transport system, Mary might decide she’s better off sticking to her flying umbrella.

Mary-Go-Round

Mary Poppins carousel illustration

We all know that Mary loves a carousel ride, and so South Bank’s famous carousel would surely be one of her first stops in modern London. Sadly, the horses here don’t come alive like they do in Bert’s paintings.

Selfie Love

Mary Poppins Selfie

One thing Mary doesn’t lack is self-confidence, and this pretty lady is sure to be partial to the occasional selfie.

 

 

Skyline London The Shard

These Are the Best Things to See and Do in London in February

February is one of the most vibrant and lively months of the year to visit London, because there is a lot going on in the capital.

Love is in the cold London air throughout the month, as on the 14th February it’s Valentine’s Day and the city goes all out to express itself. Chinatown has its own celebrations, as they welcome in the Chinese New Year with parades, fireworks and festivities, and some excellent food too of course.

There are wonderful events to visit in London in February, from classic car shows and fashion festivals to unique exhibitions hosted in the city’s most famous museums.

To inspire you to visit the capital, here are the best things to see and do in London in February.

  1. Valentine’s Day

A visit to London on Valentine’s Day is the perfect trip for any couple. The city is full of charming locations and attractions that are wonderful for enjoying with your partner on the 14th February. Take romantic strolls through leafy gardens and parks, enjoy the elegance of the royal palaces, marvel at views over the city from the top of the Shard, or take a cruise along the river.

In the evening, enjoy London’s many restaurants, bars and romantic venues together, but remember to book a table in advance, as this could well be the busiest night of the year in the city.

  1. Enjoy the London Nightlife

Of course, February isn’t just for lovers. Even singletons will have plenty to enjoy in London throughout the month, particularly on 14th February when everyone is out in force, visiting bars, restaurants and pubs across the city. It’s a great night for partying, but you will find that the whole month is just as frantic and that London’s nightlife is at its best all through February.

London Nightlife

  1. Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year falls on February 5th in 2019 and this year, it’s going to usher in the Year of the Pig, the last of the animals in the 12-year Zodiac cycle. With its impressive multicultural diversity, London is a city that celebrates the most important Chinese event in the calendar and you will find parties, fireworks and parades being held across the capital.

The best place to celebrate is always in Chinatown, but the colourful parade stretches through the West End and Trafalgar Square too.

  1. Explore Chinatown

There’s more to Chinatown though than just Chinese New Year celebrations and parades, and February is the perfect month to explore this diverse part of London.

Found right in the heart of the city, Chinatown is a cultural feast waiting to be explored. Here you can find the best Chinese restaurants in the city, not just the standard English-style fare found in many places, but authentic cooking and traditional recipes from the Far East.

Enjoy great food, and be transported from the drab streets of central London to the colour, noise and sounds of China.

  1. Climb the Shard

The tallest building in the European Union offers visitors the chance to gaze out over London from 300 metres above, and February is a great time to ascend to the lofty heights of the Shard for an excellent view.

While things might still be a bit grey during the day, at night you can see the city below lit up spectacularly, and on Valentine’s Day, the Shard could well be the best place to take a date in the capital.

  1. London Fashion Week

Mid-February, the best of the fashion world descends upon the capital for the extravagant and prestigious London Fashion Week.

This renowned event sees the best fashion being showcased across the city, with shows, performances and parties, alongside a fashion festival that can be attended by the general public too. It’s a week of style and good looks, and where better to host such an event than the most stylish city in the country?

Fashion Week Catwalk

  1. London Shopping

If the London Fashion Week gets you in the mood for a new look or a brand new set of clothes then London is the best place in England to spend the day shopping.

With thousands of shops and retail outlets, the capital’s shopping opportunities are endless, and you can spend hours browsing through such famous locales as Oxford Street or Harrods, in the hunt for great deals.

  1. Gin Festival

Gin lovers won’t want to miss London’s ever-popular Gin Festival, which is held over several days at Tobacco Dock. This excellent event will see gin producers from across the world displaying their best bottles for those over the age of 18 to sample at will.

Try some of the most innovative and unique gins out there, alongside a wide range of gin-based cocktails and drinks. There are history lessons, gin distilling workshops and much, much more at this rowdy festival.

  1. London Classic Car Show

Those with even a fleeting interest in motor history will want to book tickets to the excellent Classic Car Show in London. Hosted at the Excel Arena, this multi-day event sees car collectors and motor enthusiasts from across the world arriving in the capital in their finest classic vehicles.

See some exceptionally well preserved and maintained motor vehicles from the last century on display, with many even being test driven in front of the cheering audience. You might even spot a few Formula 1 celebrities racing in classics too.

Classic car

  1. Six Nations Rugby

The enduring Six Nations rugby tournament kicks off in February in stadiums across Europe, as the best national teams on the continent go head to head in a series of matches that will decide the year’s winning team.

Matches take place across several weeks, and in London, you will find that weekends are quickly devoted to rugby, with pubs and bars televising games and the capital cheering on England. If you are lucky, you could even secure yourself a ticket to an England game at Twickenham Stadium, but these sell out very quickly.

  1. Watch a Football Match

Not everyone in London will be a rugby fan though, and while some are cheering during the Six Nations tournament, many more will still be following the country’s favourite sport, football.

Every weekend and on a few weeknights too, stadiums across the capital will be packed with roaring crowds of football fans watching their favourite teams battle it out on the pitch. Head to the pubs or bars to watch matches on television in a classic English atmosphere, or get hold of some tickets to be there in the stands.

Arsenal Stadium

  1. Ice Skating at Canary Wharf

You might associate ice skating with the festive, Christmas period, which in February, should be long gone, right? Not exactly.

At Canary Wharf, the popular ice skating rink is still open and catering to high demand well into February, and you can enjoy skating in this iconic location until the middle of the month. Strap on your skates and hit the ice at Canary Wharf!

  1. Cutty Sark at 150

The Cutty Sark is one of the most iconic sights to be seen in Greenwich, and the image of this wooden ship against the backdrop of the Thames is a classic. The Cutty Sark, a fast, wooden ship that dates back to the 19th century, is celebrating its 150th birthday, and this couldn’t be a better time to learn more about it.

Throughout February you can find some great events and exhibitions in honour of the most famous ship in Greenwich, and at the Royal Museums Greenwich, you can see the ship in all of its restored glory. Explore the museum and discover how this wooden-hulled sailing ship became one of the fastest boats in the world before wind power was overtaken by steam.

  1. The King of Assyria at the British Museum

History fans will want to call in at the British Museum’s excellent King of Assyria exhibition, which is ending its run at the end of February 2019. The exhibition focuses on Ashurbanipal, the King of Assyria, who reigned over a vast empire in the 6th century BC and styled himself as the King of the World.

With archaeological exhibits that date back thousands of years, this is a historic display that few others in the capital can match. Learn about this ancient warrior king, before exploring the rest of the British Museum’s extensive collections from history.

  1. Life in the Dark at the Natural History Museum

Also coming to an end in February is the fantastic Life in the Dark exhibition, which can be found at the iconic Natural History Museum in London. This brilliant exhibition delves into the unknown lives and habits of creatures that live and thrive in the world’s darkest locations.

You can learn about the curious creatures that call deep caves and perpetual darkness home, see how sea creatures survive in the deep blue where no light can penetrate the water, and discover how scientists have studied these evolutionary miracles over the years.

Natural History Museum

  1. Superbugs at the Science Museum

If you are in the mood for excellent exhibitions then call in at Superbugs at the Science Museum, which is only on until March 2019. This free show is a demonstration of the microscopic world and the wonders and faults of the microbes and antibiotics that have allowed doctors to fight disease and save lives.

The exhibition focuses on the Superbugs that are now evolving resistance to traditional antibiotics and the implications that this is having in hospitals around the world. Learn more about the fight against superbugs and what the future holds for this intriguing and important field of medicine.

  1. Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens are a charming attraction to visit any time of the year, but particularly so in February, when you can enjoy the wonderful Orchids Festival. Located in the famous botanic gardens in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, this festival is a celebration of colourful orchids in the cold winter.

Focusing on the diversity and colour of Colombia, thousands of orchids show the vibrancy of the South American nation, alongside other unique features such as a model jaguar, which demonstrates the country’s enormous biodiversity and beauty.

  1. Video Games: Design/Play/Disrupt at the V & A Museum

An exhibition for the modern generation at one of London’s oldest museums is a must-see in February when visiting London. Pop into the V & A to see this unusual display of video game culture. Learn how modern games are designed and see how they have evolved into much more than just simple time wasters but are now integral parts of our society in the 21st century.

Even if you don’t play video games, this is a truly fascinating look at contemporary culture, and you have the opportunity to learn just why video games have become such an integrated part of life and just why they are so popular.

This incredibly visual exhibition at the V & A is quite unlike any other museum exhibition in London, so be sure you don’t miss it.

  1. Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V & A Museum

Also held at the V & A Museum and open through February is an exhibition that focuses on world-famous fashion designer Christian Dior. Through unique exhibits and original clothing and designs made by the fashion maestro, the V & A takes visitors through the life and work of this influential 20th century character.

Explore collections dating back as far as 1947 and learn why the Frenchman loved Britain as much as he did his own country, in this unique exhibition that tries to demonstrate just how exactly Christian Dior and his unstoppable fashion brand took the world by storm, and continues to do so many decades after his unfortunate death.

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

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.