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!

London skyline

21 Things to Do in London When It Rains

So, you’ve saved up all your money and you and your bestie have arrived in London. You’ve waited all year for this and you’re going to have the best city break. Nothing is going to stop you.

Then you wake up early on the first morning and are devastated to see that the heavens have opened, and the forecast says it’s going to last all weekend.

But, let’s face it, you haven’t come to London for the weather and there’s still plenty to do, even in the rain.

Make yourself a cup of tea, grab a seat, get comfy and see our top 21 things to do in London when it rains.

James Smith & Sons, Umbrella Shop

Clearly, this has to be your first stop!  The Umbrella Shop was founded in 1830 by the original Mr Smith, who made umbrellas in a small workshop out the back. In 1851, a man named Samuel Fox invented a lightweight steel frame, and James Smith II was one of the first umbrella makers to use it.

His business took off and he moved to 53 New Oxford Street, which is where the shop remains today. And it looks exactly like it did all those years ago. Go grab yourself a beautiful, classic umbrella ready to start your weekend. Just ask the cabbie to take you to ‘The Umbrella Shop’ – they’ll know where to go.

Afternoon Tea

The places to have afternoon tea in London are numerous and iconic. You might not be able to afford to stay in these hotels, but you can certainly waltz in feeling like you do! The Palm Court at The Ritz is one of the most beautiful places to enjoy finely cut sandwiches, teacakes and pastries. Could they have the perfect scone, fresh from the oven with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream? They have 5 sittings a day, 7 days a week, so you can try them out for yourself – no excuses.

Scones

Trampolining

Not just for the kids, these trampoline parks will bring out the inner child in you, and there’s no experience required. Imagine giant airbags, slam dunk basketball, foam pits, dodgeball courts and a resident DJ. Hours of fun to be had by all. Flip Out London has three outlets around London, and Oxygen Free Jumping is at The O2 in Greenwich. You can also get lessons at the School of Trampolining to help hone your skills.

Behind the Scenes Tours

Many of London’s most famous theatres have behind-the-scenes tours. You can choose from the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe and the beautiful Royal Opera House. The Royal Opera House tour will take you to see the inner workings of this Grade I listed building. You will get to go under the stage, see how the technical teams work and you even get to sit in the royal box. If the theatre isn’t your thing, how about a behind the scenes tour of the Harry Potter films?

The Globe Theatre

Grab a Book and Take a Seat

Two amazing libraries to visit are Wellcome Reading Rooms and The British Library.

Wellcome Collection is a gallery, library and event space. The reading space is a beautiful double height room with an eclectic collection of furniture, ensuring you’ll find the perfect spot to relax.

The British Library, built in 1973, is the largest national library in the world with approximately 25 million books – so you’re not going to run out of things to read. They also house an almost complete collection of British and Irish newspapers from 1840, run masterclasses, and hold talks and exhibitions.

Learn to Skateboard at House of Vans

It’s never too late to start learning to skateboard, and where better than the House of Vans? This 30,000 square foot space in the Waterloo Tunnels has been transformed with neon lights and all things American.

This has to be one of the coolest spots in town, with a concert space, café and excellent skate and BMX areas. Or, how about the all female skate nights with cocktails, music and even yoga?

Shopping

Well, who’s coming to London and not doing a bit of shopping? Certainly not me and my bestie!

Why not head down Regent Street to see some of London’s most famous shops? Hamleys is the ultimate toy shop and not just for the kids. It’s been on Regent Street for over 250 years. How about the recently renovated Apple Store, considered the pioneer of Apple’s retail future? Or, the amazing Liberty opened in 1875 and housed in an iconic mock Tudor building? It’s the ultimate place for unique luxury gifts.

Don’t forget the numerous shopping centres, all undercover and waiting for you and your credit card.

Regent Street

Brass Rubbing

Yes, this is a thing! Make your way to St Martin-in-the-Fields situated in the north east corner of Trafalgar Square, and in the basement of the church you’ll find brass rubbing.

Popular in the Victorian era, when visitors to churches wanted to take home a memento of their visit. It’s now been brought up to date and is something all the family can do.

They’ve a collection of over 100 replica brasses from all over the UK, and staff on hand to show you how it’s done. Prices start at £4.50

Electric Cinema

Situated in Portobello Road, Notting Hill, the Electric Cinema is one of the oldest working cinemas in Britain and one of the quirkiest cinemas in London. With a capacity of 83, you get to watch all the current movies from large leather and velvet armchairs, sofas and even beds. Each one with a side table, lamp, footrest and even cashmere blankets if you get cold. To top it off, there’s a bar that serves all types of food and great cake! This is a really special night out and not your typical visit to the cinema.

Indoor Crazy Golf

Did you know that there are no fewer than 11 crazy golf courses in Central London? Not all are indoors but there are a couple that are. Even better, some are in pubs!

Plonk have set up their glow-in-the-dark courses at four pubs around London. Their website has all the details. Swingers has two multi-million dollar courses, one in a WW2 bunker near The Gherkin and one just off Oxford Circus in an old department store. These adult-only venues have great street food from some of London’s favourite vendors and the obligatory cocktails. Check them out to see what all the fuss is about.

Art Galleries

No matter what your taste in art, London has you covered. Impressionists, sculpture, modern or the old masters, there is something for everyone.  If you just have time for one gallery, the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is the perfect choice, as it has one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world. Here you’ll find all the classics including da Vinci, Renoir and Constable. Better still, it’s free.

The National Gallery

Covered Markets

There is something special about wandering round a market. No matter what you are looking to buy, London will have a market selling it.

Borough Market in Southwark Street is London’s largest and oldest food market. It has existed in some form since 1014, and has become the place to go for all things foodie. You name it, breads, cheeses, meat, fish – it’s all here.

If you’re looking more for vintage clothing, books and bric-a-brac, Old Spitalfields Market in the East End is the place to go. If you can get there on a Thursday, you’ll have the extra pleasure of strolling through the antiques market.

Ten Pin Bowling

An oldie but a goodie! No matter what your level, it’s always fun to get a group together for some beer, fast food and a bit of ten-pin bowling.

For somewhere a bit smarter than your average alley, check out The Croc Bowling Alley at The Ham Yard Hotel in Soho.

This original 1950s bowling alley is the real deal, with specially commissioned solid maple bowling lanes, a silver grand piano and three driftwood crocodiles on the walls.

Sea Life London Aquarium

Had enough of the art galleries and museums? Why not try something different and head over to the aquarium. Situated on the banks of the River Thames, this world-class aquarium has over 600 species of fish. You can walk on the glass tanks where the sharks are swimming below or stroke a starfish at the Rockpool.

The aquarium has over 6,000 inhabitants. You can see everything from turtles to penguins to crocodiles, and everything in-between.

Royal Observatory Planetarium

The Planetarium is part of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Perched on a hill with fantastic views over London, the digital show, ‘The Sky Tonight’ is presented by an astronomer from the Observatory. Lie back on the comfy chairs and let them whisk you away to a far-flung galaxy – and all for only £8.

A Matinee at the Theatre

Most of the West End shows have matinees two or three times a week. There is something a little bit naughty about being in the theatre in the middle of the afternoon. It also tends to be a bit cheaper and easier to get tickets.  So, if you fancy School of Rock, The Book of Mormon or Hamilton, hit the matinees.

Ping Pong Bars

It seems they have thought of everything you can do with a drink in your hand! Following in the footsteps of New York, London has taken to the ping pong craze.

It’s become so popular there are now more than 15 places in London to play and have a drink.

Bounce is one of the biggest with two locations in Shoreditch and Holborn. With a combination of pizza, drinks, ping pong and karaoke, what’s not to love?

Alexandra Palace Ice Rink

Know locally as the Ally Pally, Alexandra Palace was first opened in 1875. Now, it’s a whole entertainment complex, which includes the newly renovated theatre that had been closed for 80 years.

Open year round, the ice rink is a stunning place for casual ice-skating or even for some skating lessons.

Museums

Doesn’t matter which London museum you want to visit, any of them will blow your socks off. Some say the Victoria and Albert is the world’s greatest museum of art and design. The works at the V&A span everything from marble sculptures to Art Nouveau and paintings by Britain’s favourite John Constable.

Both the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum are only minutes away, so you can make a day of it and visit all three. Best of all, they are free.

Natural History Museum

Spa Treatment

Ladies and gents, this really should be top of the list of things you want to do when it’s raining in London. Put on your fluffy robe, switch off your phone and just have a bit of ‘me’ time.

No matter your budget, you should be able to find the perfect spot for a few hours of indulgence.

It’s hard to single one out, but the ESPA Life at The Corinthia Hotel looks amazing with the centrepiece being a glass-walled sauna amphitheatre!

Pub

If all else fails, on a rainy day in London where better to go than the pub! It’s really hard to single one pub out, because there are so many great ones to choose from. You will literally find one on every street corner. One of Charles Dickens’ favourite was the Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden, which used to host bare-knuckle fights. Possibly the oldest pub is the Spaniards Inn perched on a hill by Hampstead Heath, which has been open since 1585. Some of its most famous clients included Keats and Byron. Now they have a range of cask ale, craft beers, fine wines and a great Sunday roast. Sit yourself down beside a roaring open fire and relax.

That’s our list of 21 things to do in London when it’s raining. Now there are no excuses to be glum when your city break ends up a bit damp.

If this has ‘wet’ your appetite for a trip to London, Premium Tours runs lots of exciting tours to the nation’s capital, come rain, hail or snow! Contact us to find out more.

Gate in China Town

Everything You Need to Know About Chinatown, London

London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting well over 19 million international visitors a year. The city is split into distinctive areas of North, West, South, and East London, as well as commercial and tourist hubs with each offering unique characteristics. Whether you enjoy sightseeing or shopping, there’s always something to see and do.

Tucked right in the heart of London’s West End is Chinatown – a bustling district that offers a glimpse into East Asian culture, with its wide selection of restaurants and shops.

What makes Chinatown unique is that it feels nothing like London. Tourists are instantly transported to a place that is immediately unrecognisable from the surrounding areas. The streets are lined with red paper lanterns and signs with Mandarin writing. Elements of traditional Chinese architecture are also present, including what’s known as a Paifang or a gateway with an elaborate frame.

If you have any future travel plans for London, you’ll definitely want to add this district to your bucket list. Here’s everything you need to know about Chinatown in London.

China Town London

History of Chinatown

Just like the city of London itself, Chinatown (nicknamed ‘The Imperial City’) has a rich history that’s filled with interesting facts.

The original area of Chinatown wasn’t in the West End. It was actually located in Limehouse in the East End. Chinese sailors from the East India Company had settled near the end of the 19th century and had established a community. Around thirty businesses opened in 1914, mostly to supply goods to Chinese sailors. But a decline in shipping along with destruction to the area during the Second World War forced the district to dwindle significantly.

It was during the mid-20th century that the Chinatown we know today started to develop. A handful of Chinese restaurants opened on Gerrard Street in the West End. Other businesses opened up soon after, and over the next few decades the neighbourhood blossomed into a hub for Chinese culture and became what it is today.

Chinatown is now home to over 80 restaurants featuring a range of East Asian cuisine from dim sum to hot pot, as well as cafes and bars. There’s also no shortage of supermarkets filled with authentic ingredients imported directly from Asia and other businesses that offer an array of services.

What initially started as a small community to cater mainly to Chinese sailors is now one of London’s most vibrant destinations and a must see for any traveller.

Getting to Chinatown in London

Chinatown in London is located right in the West End, and is close to popular attractions such as Soho and Leicester Square. Its central location makes it easily accessible by public transport, as there are several Underground stations and numerous bus routes a short walk away.

Here’s how to get to Chinatown:

Address: 55-57 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0BL, United Kingdom.

Tube: Leicester Square is the closest Underground station from Chinatown, as it’s only about a minute walk away. Ride the Tube to the station, and take exit two. Then turn the corner and you’ll be right in the middle of the district. You can also take Tottenham Court and Piccadilly Circus; both are less than half a mile from the main areas.

Train: Charing Cross is the closest train station and is about a 10-minute walk away. Follow the street signs or ask for directions if you get lost.

Bus: There are numerous buses that drop passengers off near Chinatown, including routes 14, 24, 27, 27, 134, 168, and C2. Note that these routes do not travel directly through Chinatown. Be sure to pay attention to where your bus is travelling to or ask the driver which is the closest stop on that route.

Alternatively, taxis are also readily available, but expect to pay a higher fare than public transport. Simply tell the driver you want to visit ‘Chinatown’ and they’ll know exactly where to take you. Chinatown is a relatively small area in the West End. It’s possible to walk down all of its winding streets in only a few hours but you’ll want to allocate at least a half-day trip for a more immersive experience.

Chinese New Year in Chinatown, London

Chinatown is accessible all year round with most restaurants opening at 12pm and closing at midnight. Have a sudden late night craving for dumplings? Some restaurants are even open 24 hours. It’s a good idea to check business hours first, if you have a specific place in mind you want to visit.

One of the best times to visit is during Chinese New Year – a major Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of Chinese New Year, which falls between mid-January to late-February. The actual days the celebration falls on varies each year, as it’s based on the lunar calendar instead of the more widely used Gregorian calendar.

Chinese New Year in 2019 starts on 5th February and will last until 19th February, running for a total of 15 days. The celebration is said to be the biggest outside of Asia, with most of it taking place in Chinatown.

The dragon is seen as an auspicious animal in Chinese culture, which brings good luck and prosperity. Visitors to Chinatown during Chinese New Year can watch dragon dances. Performers in traditional garb hold up a long figure of a dragon with wooden poles and mimic its graceful movements down the streets.

Even the restaurants and cafés partake in the celebrations, as special menu items are offered during this time. There are also plenty of food stalls and stages set up along Charing Cross Road for musical performances and martial art displays.

If you’re visiting London during these dates, then you won’t want to miss this spectacular event.

Chinese New Year lantern

Best Restaurants

No trip to Chinatown is complete without eating at one of its many restaurants. From Cantonese cuisine to Sichuan specialities and dim sum, there is a wide selection of places to try. Here’s an overview of the different cuisine that can be found in Chinatown, and recommended restaurants:

Cantonese

Cantonese cuisine originated from the Guangdong Province in southern China and is one of the eight culinary traditions. Its prominence is largely thanks to emigrants from the Guangdong region who have set up restaurants outside of China including Chinatown in London. Cantonese cuisine is distinguished by its use of ingredients like soy sauce, cornstarch, vinegar, and sesame oil to enhance flavours. Roast meats such as duck and steam buns are also popular dishes.

Be sure to make a visit to these restaurants for Cantonese food:

  • Four Seasons: Four Seasons has a wide selection of Cantonese cuisine, but travellers come here for their world-famous roast duck with its crispy skin and tender flesh. The Financial Times even rated this restaurant as having the best roast duck in the world.
  • Plum Valley: Plum Valley is another popular destination for Cantonese cuisine with its varied menu. The restaurant is located near Piccadilly Circus and offers a more upscale dining experience with its minimalist style.

Dim Sum

Dim sum (translated to ‘touch your heart’) consists of bite-sized dishes such as dumplings, buns, and rolls that are served in steaming hot baskets. Dim sum is prepared in different ways and is best enjoyed with a group of people to share the dishes.

Here are some restaurants that specialise in this cuisine:

  • Dumplings’ Legend: Dumplings’ Legend serves nine varieties of Xiaolongbao (translated to ‘soup dumplings’) in flavoursome broth and fillings from pork to crabmeat and more. If that’s not enough, the restaurant also serves an impressive 47 variations of dim sum dishes.
  • Leong’s Legend: Can’t seem to get enough dim sum? You’re in luck as Leong’s Legend offers all you can eat dim sum for a fairly modest price. Leong’s Legend offers a wide selection of mouth-watering dishes so you won’t go hungry here.

Hot Pot

Hot pot is another Chinese cooking method and is prepared with a simmering pot of soup. Ingredients including meat and vegetables are placed on small plates, and are then cooked in the broth. Just like with dim sum, hot pot is another example of communal dining so it’s best enjoyed with others.

Here are the places worth checking out for hot pot:

  • Shuang Shuang: Shuang Shuang is the first restaurant in London to serve hot pot and is unique from other restaurants in that it features a conveyor belt. Simply pick and choose the ingredients you want to add to your pot, and ignore those you don’t want. Shuang Shuang offers a fun and enjoyable experience.
  • Hot Pot: Looking for something a little different? Hot Pot is actually the name of a Thai restaurant and is well known for its hot pot. Diners can also choose from other dishes including curry, rice noodles, and stir fry. If you enjoy spicy dishes then you’ll definitely want to put this restaurant at the top of your list.

Sichuan

Sichuan cuisine originates from Sichuan Province in China, and features bold and spicy flavours from heavy use of chilli peppers. There are different local variations within Sichuan Province, which include Chongqing, Chengdu, Zigong, and Buddhist vegetarian. Dishes from each region all have distinctive and complex flavours.

Here are some of the best restaurants for Sichuan cuisine:

  • JinLi: Conveniently located on Leicester Street, JinLi serves authentic Sichuan food including its signature grilled fish in chilli oil dish. Griddled dishes from cooked duck tongue to king prawns are other specialities that JinLi offer. And if you love singing, there are authentic KTV karaoke rooms right upstairs available for hire.
  • Baozi Inn: Baozi Inn specialises in spicy street food including skewered meats and vegetables loaded with lots of different spices. You’ll also want to try their signature Sichuan spicy beef noodles, which pack a savoury broth and large cubes of tender beef.

The first few restaurants may have only served Chinese cuisine in the beginning. But other eateries have since opened up that offer other cuisines including Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Malaysian, and even some European dishes. Visit Chinatown on an empty stomach for the chance to sample a variety of cuisines.

Some of the more popular places are busy especially during rush hours so it’s a good idea to make a reservation in advance. That way you won’t have to wait too long to get seated.

Feel like having a drink? There are plenty of cafes and bars around Chinatown that are perfect for any occasion. Candy Cafe offers Asian desserts and bubble tea – a milk tea drink from Taiwan that contains chewy tapioca balls. Or if you prefer having a cocktail, there’s a speakeasy bar hidden behind a door on Gerrard Street called The Experimental Cocktail Club. Other enjoyable bars include the Opium Cocktail and The Light Lounge. Both offer fun atmospheres and a great selection of drinks.

Dim Sum

Accommodation in Chinatown

It’s possible to walk around all of Chinatown in a single afternoon. But if you want to experience all that this charming district has to offer, you’ll need at least a few days. Accommodation is fairly limited in Chinatown but there are plenty of nearby hotels in Leicester Square, Soho, and Covent Garden.

Some of these hotels include:

  • Radisson Blu Edwardian, Hampshire
  • Hotel Cafe Royal London
  • St Martins Lane
  • Premier Inn London Leicester Square
  • The Savoy, A Fairmont Hotel
  • Royal National Hotel
  • The Piccadilly London West End
  • W London Leicester Square

 

These hotels place you within walking distance of Chinatown, including its many restaurants and bustling supermarkets. Chinese New Year is one of the busiest times of the year so if you plan to visit around mid-January to late-February, be sure to book rooms in advance.

Chinatown in London offers a unique look at East Asian culture and is a must-see. Indulge in some of the top rated restaurants in the world or simply walk around through the many delightful shops. There’s plenty to see and do here.

At Premium Tours, we offer a fantastic range of guided London tours that take you through some of the best spots in the city. Contact us today for booking information and our travel experts will be happy to help.

London at night

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

January can be a cold and dreary affair. The excitement of Christmas has long since passed and the celebrations of New Year’s Eve are over. But in London, despite the grey skies and persistent fog, there’s actually a lot going on to keep your spirits up and to make January an exciting month, rather than a slow month.

If you don’t want to leave the Christmas cheer behind then luckily London clings onto the festive spirit throughout January, with many markets and ice skating rinks still very much in full swing for the first few weeks of the month. The famous January sales will give you endless shopping opportunities across the city, while there are plenty of fantastic exhibitions and shows to experience. Explore the warm interiors of the many museums or palaces and enjoy London at a time of year when most other visitors tend to stay away.

To inspire you to visit the capital at the start of the year, here are the best things to see and do in London in January.

New Year’s Day

Start the New Year in style by witnessing the iconic London New Year’s Day Parade. Held without fail on 1st January each year – no matter how long the city has stayed up for the previous night – this is a colourful and lively experience to get your year off to a great start. With thousands of performers and floats descending onto the streets, it’s a real spectacle not to be missed, and it’s completely free to watch.

Shop at the January Sales

The January sales are, for many, a highlight of the month and London’s many shops go all out to bring in the customers. You can find some incredible bargains along the high streets with many retail outlets offering exceptional deals. Of course, with the cold streets outside not being too inviting, who wouldn’t want to head into the warmth for a little retail therapy? For the true January sales experience, head to Oxford Street, as long as you don’t mind pushing your way through the crowds for the best deals.

Oxford Street

The Last Christmas Markets

Although Christmas has long gone by the time January rolls around, many of London’s Christmas markets don’t seem to ever want to acknowledge that fact, and they stay open for as long as they can, making it a wonderful opportunity to relive that festive spirit. Many of the best, such as Christmas in Leicester Square and Winter Wonderland, stay open until the end of the first week of January and many stay open even longer.

Hogwarts in the Snow

Harry Potter fans can rejoice in the fact that Hogwarts in the Snow also stays open well into the New Year. The popular Warner Brothers Studio keep its Harry Potter world covered in snow, ice and festive decorations right up until the end of January, giving you plenty of time to explore the delights of the wizarding phenomenon in all its glory.

Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard

For many iconic tourist attractions, life in January continues on as it does through the rest of year, with the cold weather and dreary skies being no hindrance to the stoic London spirit. At the world famous Buckingham Palace, you can brave the chilly outside air to experience the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, without fail, every day of the week. Get there early for a good spot, because this is a sight that is always popular, no matter the time of year.

Buckingham Palace

Kensington Palace

Nearby Kensington Palace will also give you a chance to escape the cold, with its warm interiors being a delight to explore during January. You can learn all about the Royals that have called this beautiful palace home over the years, but perhaps more so than this, January is the time to visit because the exceptional Princess Diana Exhibition will only be open until February 2019.

Catch a Pantomime

Pantomimes are a much-loved British institution, providing families with fun and entertainment during the cold months of the year. London’s theatres play host to some of the best pantomime performances in the country, with many stars and celebrities taking to the stage to entertain the crowds in famous productions. Many pantomimes go on well into January.

Enjoy West End Theatre Production

Of course, it’s not just pantomimes being performed at London’s many theatres, as many venues continue to put on dramatic shows of classics, musicals and comedies. For an authentic London theatre performance, head to the West End, but remember to book in advance if there is a particular show you are looking to see.

London Short Film Festival

In January each year, film lovers can enjoy the delights of the London Short Film Festival. This 10-day event sees short films from across the country and internationally being shown in historic and iconic cinemas across London. You can watch some of the best up-and-coming directors and producers showcasing their finest work alongside like-minded film lovers.

Cruise the Thames

Even in cold January, the many boats that ply the Thames never stop operating and you might like to enjoy a cruise along London’s iconic river to see the city in all its glory. Although you might find the fog obscures the view every now and then, in its own way, the Thames and the city in January look remarkably beautiful. Rather than standing out on the open deck though, you might prefer to wrap up warm inside.

A river cruise on the Thames

London International Mime Festival

One of London’s more unusual, but resoundingly popular events, is the London International Mime Festival. Held in January, this festival has been running every year since 1977 and is quite unlike anything else you might attend in the city. In venues across London, incredible mime performances and shows are held throughout the month.

London Art Fair

The London Art Festival returns year after year at the end of January to showcase some of the world’s best and most innovative modern art. This is an exhibition that will leave you enthralled and mesmerised, and not only can you peruse the artwork itself, if you have the cash, you can even buy something.

Winter Lights Festival at Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf’s incredible Winter Lights Festival brightens up the dark January skies like no other event in London. Held in the last two weeks of January, the festival sees huge installations that are more art than simply lights being brought to the docks of Canary Wharf. Modern art mixes with bright illuminations, to create a unique festival that will instantly cure any winter blues that you might be enduring.

The Canary Wharf Ice Rink

As well as the impressive light display put on by Canary Wharf in January, this famous area of London also hosts one of the city’s most popular ice rinks, which is set up amongst the glittering skyscrapers and high rises of this business district. This is one of the longest-running ice rinks of the year, as it begins in November and doesn’t end until February. Strap on your skates and enjoy the pleasure of cruising across the ice at Canary Wharf.

Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum

The iconic Natural History Museum also plays host to one of London’s most popular ice skating rinks during the winter months, and their installations remain very much open during January too. You can skate away in the shadow of one of the city’s most elegant and historic buildings, enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate, coffee or even mulled wine before seeking the even warmer interiors of the museum itself to experience the many wonderful attractions and exhibits that showcase the diversity of our natural world.

Natural History Museum

National Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Also held in the Natural History Museum is the world-famous National Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. This temporary exhibition returns each year to display the best work of photographers from across the world, and has been running for well over 50 years now. A panel of expert judges pick the best photographs of the natural world that have been taken over the previous year, and the winners and runners-up from the many different categories are all showcased at the Natural History Museum. While entrance to the permanent museum is free, this exhibition does incur an extra charge, but it’s well worth it to view the most dramatic photographs of the world we live in.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Photography lovers may also want to enjoy the visual delights of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition, which is held at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The event actually continues until May, so you have plenty of time to visit, but a visit in January is sure to inspire you for the rest of the year. This is an exceptional exhibition, showcasing the best of the spectacular universe that we are part of.

Getty Images Gallery

If you are looking for even more visual stimuli, then head to the renowned Getty Images Gallery in January too, because this is one of the premier locations to enjoy incredible photography. The galleries are open all through the year, but in January, they showcase the best work of Getty photographers from the previous year in one place, and there are sure to be some exceptional pieces on display from across the world.

Museum of London

The Museum of London is a free museum that tells the always-intriguing history of the City of London. From its humble beginnings to Roman development and through to the turbulent medieval and modern eras, you can discover all that it means to be a Londoner here. You can easily spend hours escaping the cold outside, and in January they usually host some temporary exhibitions showcasing particular details of London’s history, such as the Suffragettes fight to earn the vote for women.

London Adventure Travel Show

If the dreary weather is getting you down, then get inspired for an adventure abroad by visiting London’s excellent Adventure Travel Show. Held in January at Earl’s Court, this event sees speakers, writers, adventurers and photographers from across the world descending on London to give talks and to showcase their latest expeditions to the public. You can even find many tour companies at the show, and you might leave having booked a tour to somewhere more unusual, or perhaps somewhere nice and warm!

London Acappella Festival

Musical lovers will revel in the opportunity to hear some of the best acappella acts from around the world as they descend upon London in January to be part of this unique festival. Held at the end of the month at the Kings Place concert hall, you can enjoy acappella music at its best, from some of the most talented singers and exceptional artists who have made the genre their own.

Enjoy London’s Pubs

When all else fails and you still find yourself with the January blues despite London’s many events, then do as the locals do and seek solace in the warming, homely environments of some of the city’s best pubs. Enjoy some hearty English food, warming roast dinners or stodgy pies alongside a few drinks too of course.

The pub

Burns Night

Held on the 25th January, Burns Night is one of Scotland’s most famous national holidays. While London may seem like a long way south to be celebrating this event, actually, the city hosts some of the best Burns Night festivities outside of Scotland. This is the celebration of the poet Robert Burns and you can expect plenty of whisky, haggis and singing at any Burns Night event. Head to the Scottish pubs for the best atmosphere in the evening and be prepared for a long night of merriment, drinking and eating.

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

London Skyline

These Are the Best Places to Eat in London

London is a culinary heaven with a huge array of restaurants, pubs and cafes serving food from across the world. The city’s large multicultural population ensures that you can find almost any dish from any country somewhere in the city, and you can probably dine out at a different restaurant serving a different speciality every night of the year.

As well as a vast range of culinary styles on offer in London, the capital has a wide range of eateries that cater to different budgets. From simple curry houses and food markets offering quality at affordable prices, to mid-range diners and Michelin-starred restaurants run by celebrity chefs.

To help you decide where to dine on your next visit to the capital, we’ve put together this list of the best places to eat in London, for any budget and any taste.

The Best Budget Places to Eat in London

Although London could never be described as a cheap city to visit, there are still a great number of budget options available that can help you to save those hard-earned pennies while still enjoying a delicious, quality meal when travelling to the capital. There are some great food markets and some quality street food alongside more traditional restaurants that offer excellent value meals.

Brick Lane Curry Houses

If you are looking for a great curry house serving up authentic British-style dishes for a bargain price, then head to Brick Lane. This is one of the fabled locations where the idea of a good curry began to take off in England, and you find some of the cheapest and best restaurants still here today. Brick Lane is quite literally full of curry houses, and you can wander along the street taking in the delicious aromas and checking out the many menus before deciding which one to eat at. You can find a huge array of South Asian food, but of course it’s most notable for serving up classics that the British have made their own, from vindaloos to chicken tikka masala.

Curry

Camden Market

Camden Market is a favourite amongst tourists and locals alike for its lively atmosphere and colourful demeanour. This is an energetic place and you can find hundreds of eateries and market stalls serving up quality food from across the world. As long as you don’t mind some rustic seating and a few crowds, then this is the perfect place for budget eaters. You can find stalls selling a variety of Chinese and Thai food – they even let you try before you buy a whole portion – while other street chefs are cooking up everything from burgers and hot dogs to Caribbean curries and New York-style pizzas. There are even a few bars for refreshment, too.

Flat Iron Square

Flat Iron Square is a street food-inspired eatery that takes inspiration from across the world. Found in Bankside, this is a collection of different vendors, street food stalls and bars that are all under one roof, making it a great place to visit with friends or family who might have different tastes. Order what you fancy and then take it back to the communal seating with a beverage. You can find lots of Asian dishes alongside burgers and other fare, and it’s all at very reasonable prices. Flat Iron Square only opened in 2016, but its unique atmosphere has ensured that already it’s become a hit amongst the locals, so get here early if you want to eat in the evenings when it’s at its busiest.

Borough Markets

Borough Markets have become a fixture on many a visitor’s list when travelling to London. This acclaimed marketplace can trace its history back centuries, but despite its age, it’s become one of London’s most contemporary marketplaces, with a multitude of stalls selling fusion food from across the globe. Of course, you can find some real classics, such as English fish and chips or hearty, meat-filled pies, but you can also find Asian street food, macaroni innovators and much, much more at Borough Market. Everything here is incredibly well priced for London too, with sizeable portions that won’t leave you hungry.

Borough Market

Poppies Fish and Chips

If you are on the hunt for the best fish and chips in London, then one of the prime contenders for the coveted title is Poppies Fish and Chips. This excellent restaurant serves up huge portions of crispy, battered fish alongside chip shop-style chips that will certainly leave you satisfied. Everything is well priced and you can find several outlets across London, including a kiosk for when you need a quick takeaway.

Baozhi Inn

For those looking for a more unusual budget restaurant, then a great choice is Baozhi Inn. This restaurant cooks up delicious food that’s taken straight from the streets of northern China, and although it’s not quite as cheap as eating out in Beijing, compared to other London eateries, Baozhi is a real steal.

The Best Midrange Places to Eat in London

If you’d like to splurge a little but aren’t looking to go full-on gourmet when in London, then there are a great range of eateries across the city offering the perfect menus for those looking to spend somewhere in the middle. From unique restaurants serving enormous pizzas to upscale pubs cooking the perfect Sunday roast, here are our favourite midrange places to eat at in London.

Sunday roast

Kiln

The Kiln is an award-winning restaurant that’s located in the heart of Soho. This Thai establishment is so good in fact, that it was given the title of Best Restaurant at the National Restaurant Awards in 2018. It’s not cheap, but despite its popularity it won’t break the bank either, and you can enjoy their unusual take on Southeast Asian cuisine, as long as you can secure a table. The chefs cook most of their dishes in clay pots – the kiln – giving the food a special taste that’s matched by few other Thai restaurants in the capital.

Marksman

Found in Hackney, the Marksman is a pub that quite simply is a cut above the rest of the competition. Yes, you will pay more for your pub grub and for your beers, but the quality is uncompromising. You can choose from the cheaper bar menu, or take on the full dining experience in the restaurant, where you’ll find classic British dishes with a twist. The pub is also an historic establishment, making this a great place to eat or drink out when in London. Visit on Sundays for their well-regarded roast dinner.

Tandoor Chophouse

The Tandoor Chophouse in central London can claim to be one of the best Indian restaurants in the city, despite being relatively new to the culinary scene. The Tandoor Chophouse focuses on the meaty side of Indian cooking, rather than the curries, although you can still get them here too. This is a restaurant that cooks all its meat in a classic tandoor oven after marinating the cuts for hours in Indian-inspired spices and sauces. It’s a great new take on the Indian dining scene in London, but unlike those curry houses in Brick Lane, a trip to the Tandoor Chophouse will set you back a bit.

Sabor

Located in Mayfair, this is an upscale Spanish restaurant serving up some of the best and most authentic Andalusian tapas in the city. Sabor takes authenticity to the next level, and in true Spanish style, certain tapas items are only available to be ordered and eaten at the bar itself, alongside a great wine pairing, of course. The main restaurant serves up an even larger selection of dishes with regional influences from not just Andalusia, but from Catalonia and the Basque Country, too.

Homeslice

Homeslice specialises in one thing: enormous pizzas. Over the past few years they’ve really taken off and there are now several restaurants located across the city. However, most of the time, you can’t make reservations in advance; you just have to walk in and hope there’s space. The pizzas come in every style imaginable, but the biggest draw is their size, at a whopping 18 inches in diameter. You can buy a whole pizza or just a few slices of each. It won’t cost a fortune but it will cost a bit more than that Pizza Hut takeaway.

Pizza

Burger and Lobster

Burger and Lobster is known for serving just two items: burgers and lobsters. This is minimalism at its best, although you can enjoy your burger with different toppings and your lobster can be cooked in several different ways, with different sauces. Everything is a flat price too, so most people tend to go for the juicy, delicious lobsters over the burgers, but if you are not into seafood, the burgers are still absolutely scrumptious. With soaring popularity, there are now several Burger and Lobster restaurants across the city, but be sure to book in advance.

The Best Upmarket Restaurants to Eat in London

London is also home to hundreds of well-established, iconic and famous upmarket restaurants offering gourmet cuisine to those who want to treat themselves. There are plenty of Michelin-starred dining choices in the capital, while many of the world’s best chefs choose to set up restaurants here. Here are the best upmarket restaurants to eat at in London.

Veeraswamy

Veeraswamy is an historic Indian restaurant to visit because it’s been in continuous operation since 1926. This can claim to be the oldest Indian restaurant in the country, and really, this could be said to be where Britain’s fascination with Indian delicacies and curries really began. With such heritage, it’s not cheap and it’s not easy to simply walk in and find a table, so make sure you book well in advance to avoid disappointment. The restaurant delivers when it comes to taste too, and you can find many great regional specialities from across India being cooked up by the excellent chefs on duty at Veeraswamy.

Marcus

Marcus is one of London’s premium French offerings, and it’s located within the luxury realm of The Berkley Hotel in the centre of affluent Knightsbridge. This is a high-end dining experience run by acclaimed chef Marcus Wareing, who was not humble enough to leave his name out of the title of his restaurant. Marcus serves up elegant tasting menus that fuse French recipes and cooking techniques with English influences and ingredients to create a fusion that was deemed worthy of at least one Michelin star.

Alain at the Dorchester

Alain at the Dorchester is one of London’s most expensive restaurants, but if you can afford the high price then it’s worth the cost to indulge in a sublime tasting menu crafted by Alain Ducasse, a world-renowned chef who claims 19 Michelin stars in his repertoire. Located in the Dorchester Hotel, the restaurant has 3 Michelin stars to its name alone, and it combines French influences with seasonal produce to create a beautiful blend of dishes.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Well-known celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has several well-regarded restaurants under his name, but one of his finest is Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Opened in 1998, this was the chef’s first-ever restaurant. Since its success, he’s gone on to become a household name, but the quality has never changed. The restaurant gets rave reviews from critics and is often said to be one of London’s best restaurants. For that reason alone, make sure you reserve a table well in advance.

Aqua Shard

The Aqua Shard is a fine dining experience like no other in London. This gourmet restaurant is found high up on the 31st floor of the Shard, offering its guests unparalleled views over the London skyline while they enjoy world-class dishes. The tastes on offer are as dizzying as the altitude, and you can find a wide selection of British meals that evoke a sense of London’s culinary journey in this most iconic of buildings. The Aqua Shard serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but many will also visit purely for the afternoon tea and for the panoramic vistas of London.

Afternoon tea at The Shard

As experts on all things London, Premium Tours can help you to find the best places to eat in the capital. While you’re here, check out our exciting range of London tours.

London Tower Bridge

27 Things To Do in London in December

When it’s December in London, that means that it’s time for one thing and for one thing only: it’s time to celebrate Christmas. December is one of the most magical times of year to travel to the capital, and in spite of the cold, frosty weather and dark nights you will find that locals and travellers alike revel in the festivities.

Although Christmas is just one day, in London you will see that the Christmas spirit isn’t just contained to 25th December. From the start of the month and well into January, there are Christmas markets, ice rinks and light festivals across the city. Visit the famous Winter Wonderland, watch a Christmas-inspired performance in the West End, and battle through the endless crowds trying to find the best deals in department stores. And of course, on 31st December, don’t forget to hang around for the most impressive fireworks display in the country, as Londoners bring in the New Year in style.

There’s a lot to do in London in December. Here are our favourite ways to enjoy this exciting month.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland is the biggest Christmas-themed event in London. Located in Hyde Park, this is the place to visit to see Christmas cheer at its best in the capital. Most of the events here are free, and you can find everything from Santa’s Grottos to delicious seasonal eating and drinking. There are fairground rides and, in December, Hyde Park becomes home to the largest ice rink in the UK.

Tower of London

Of course, the iconic Tower of London can be visited any time of year. Even in the cold of December, it’s worth braving the chill to explore the ghostly tales and history of one of the most iconic castles in the country. The Tower of London though also becomes the site of a huge ice rink throughout December, and you can skate to your heart’s content in the dramatic shadow of these ancient walls.

Natural History Museum

Escape the cold streets of London by jumping into the warm corridors of the Natural History Museum, a museum that’s always free to visit. See the dinosaur skeletons, the enormous blue whale that now occupies the grand entranceway, and learn more about the natural history of the world around us. Like many of London’s most popular institutions, the Natural History Museum also becomes home to an enormous ice rink for the duration of December. Strap on some skates, and when the chill gets too much just pop back into the museum.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol is one of Charles Dickens’ most loved works of literature. From the end of November right on through to the start of January, the Old Vic plays host to a stage performance of this festive tale of right and wrong. Over the last few years, it’s become somewhat of a staple theatre piece on the Christmas circuit. Performances are held almost every day, but make sure you book in advance still, because it is incredibly popular.

Charles Dickens Museum

If experiencing the tale of Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas on the stage gets you inspired to learn more about the author, Charles Dickens, then look no further than the museum that’s completely dedicated to his life and work. Located on 48 Doughty Street in London, the museum is in the home of the author himself. During December, you can pop in to find out more about not only A Christmas Carol but his other famous novels and stories too.

Hogwarts in the Snow

Another famous literary work that comes to life during December is Harry Potter. At the London Warner Bros Studio, you can experience the magic of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world when it is quite literally covered in snow. You can see many of the film props and sets first hand, from castles to broomsticks and all of it decked out in a Christmas theme. The Great Hall of Hogwarts is home to a huge Christmas tree and the corridors are full of lights and tinsel, making it even more magical than usual.

Hogwarts Express Red Train

London Eye Frostival

The London Eye undergoes a dramatic transformation in time for the Christmas season. The distinctive Ferris wheel becomes the location of a unique Christmas festival, known simply as the London Eye Frostival. The London Eye is lit up with dazzling lights at night, while an ice skating rink is set up beneath the wheel. Enjoy the festive market stalls and sample a few glasses of warm mulled wine to keep away the chill.

Southbank Wintertime Market

Along the Southbank, where the London Eye Frostival is also found, you can enjoy the festive spirit at the Christmas market that is set up here through December. This is one of the best Christmas markets in London, and you can expect a huge variety of food and drink from across the world, anything from minced pies to German bratwurst.

Covent Garden Reindeer

Reindeer are a well-established element of the Christmas experience, and at Covent Garden you can see reindeer first hand. Throughout the Christmas season, Covent Garden is decorated in true festive fashion, with famous chandeliers, lights and of course a tree. There are also giant silver reindeer statues and, on weekends, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the real reindeer that are brought to the market.

English National Ballet: The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is one of the most well-known ballet performances in the world and has become a common fixture in cities during December. London is no exception, and the English National Ballet, the top ballet company in the country, put on a wonderful performance through the Christmas season.

Santa’s Grotto at Westfields

The enormous Westfields shopping centres in London are of course the perfect places to secure all those Christmas gifts you need for friends and family. For the kids though, the shopping centres become home to some of the best Santa’s Grottos in London, and while the adults shop, the children can meet Santa and all the elves.

Hamleys

Hamleys is London’s largest dedicated toy store, and one of the oldest and most well-known toy stores anywhere in the world. Of course, Hamleys go all out during December, setting up themed displays, decking their corridors and windows in festive themes, and inspiring you to buy as many toys as you can take away with you.

Harrods

Adults will perhaps appreciate the delights of Harrods at Christmas time more than Hamleys, as the historic department store gets ready to meet the seasonal rush, with great deals and great decorations to match.

Harrods Exterior with Flags

Oxford Street

London’s most popular shopping street goes all out for Christmas too, with shops setting up their festive displays and the lights being switched on early. It’s a colourful, vibrant place to visit, and in the run-up to 25th December you might find a few bargains too.

Boxing Day Sales

Of course, once Christmas Day is gone, London’s most popular shopping streets and department stalls will inevitably be swarmed come Boxing Day, as the shops put on exceptional sales to draw in the crowds. If you don’t mind a busy, hectic day out in London, you can find some low prices from 26th December onwards.

Christmas at Kew

Christmas at Kew is one of the most popular festive events in the city, and it’s held at one of London’s most popular attractions. Kew Gardens become a winter wonderland in the evenings, and to brighten up the dark nights of December, elaborate light displays become the norm throughout the Christmas season.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace was one of Henry VIII’s residencies and it’s one of the most historic estates to visit in the London area. As well as exploring stately rooms and delving into the royal legacy of the palace, during December, Hampton Court is home to a wonderful ice rink in beautiful surroundings.

Hampton Court Palace Gardens

Chiswick Gardens Magical Lantern Festival

The Magical Lantern Festival is a unique display that’s been held in Chiswick Gardens for the last few years. Spectacular, themed lanterns that take the shape of anything from zebras to traditional Chinese lights are found across the grounds of Chiswick, making for an illuminating and unusual place to visit during December.

Christmas in Leicester Square

Iconic Leicester Square is host to one of the best Christmas markets in London throughout December. The square becomes full of market stalls selling charming Christmas gifts and serving up some warming food and drink. There is a Santa’s Grotto and you will likely be able to catch a few festive performances and shows here too.

Somerset House

Somerset House is one of the most historic and impressive buildings in central London. The house can trace its origins back to the 16th century, in some form or another, and these days you can find many different galleries and exhibitions displayed within the grand halls and stately rooms. During the Christmas period, the huge rectangular courtyard at the front of Somerset House becomes the location for one of the city’s most popular ice skating rinks and Christmas light displays.

Christmas Carols in Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square becomes the location for one of the largest Christmas trees in the country. Every year since the end of World War II, the people of Norway have gifted a Christmas tree to London and it’s set up in the beautiful surroundings of Trafalgar Square. Over the Christmas period, you can catch a free performance of Christmas carols, usually from the 10th December up until Christmas.

Trafalgar Square Water Fountain

Christmas at Kensington Palace

Located on the edge of Hyde Park, Kensington Palace is one of the iconic royal residences in London. While you can enjoy all the usual attractions and galleries in the palace throughout December, there’s also the added bonus of festive events being held in the palace and the grounds. From light shows and Christmas trees to the traditional Victorian-themed events that are held each year.

Santa Run London

The Santa Run has fast become an important regular feature of the December events line up in London. Thousands of competitors suit up in Santa outfits and take to the streets of the city to run either 5-kilometre or 10-kilometre races. Even if you don’t fancy the run, it’s a wonderful event to see and it’s all for a good cause too, with money being raised through the run for different charities. Brave the cold to support the Santas in their bright red outfits.

Santa Claus Pub Crawl

If running isn’t your thing and you prefer to spend the day in the pub, then why not take part in the Santa Claus Pub Crawl instead? You will get your exercise travelling from pub to pub in London, but you have to be dressed up of course, as Santa Claus. The event has been going for well over 25 years now, and can claim to be the oldest continually run event of this kind in the country. Like the Santa Run, the event is used to raise money for charity too, so for once, you can drink all day at pubs across London and claim that it’s for a worthy cause!

Peter Pan Cup

The Peter Pan Cup is a unique sporting event that is held on Christmas Day, in Hyde Park. More specifically, the event is held in the freezing cold, icy waters of the Serpentine, as the local swimming club dive in and spend the morning racing for glory. It’s a great event to watch, although perhaps not one you would like to take part in.

New Years Eve Fireworks

At the end of the month, London hosts one of the biggest and most extravagant fireworks displays in the country to ring in the New Year. Of course, there are events all over the city, but the biggest and best happens right in the centre, with Big Ben and the London Eye as the backdrop.

New Years Eve Parties

And what better way to end the year than by experiencing a classic New Years Eve Party in the capital? London is one of the most exciting locations to spend 31st December, and there are countless opportunities to enjoy the New Year. Most events are ticket only, so be sure to book in advance to avoid missing out.

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

23 Family Attractions in London You Need to Visit

London, the British capital is full of fun family attractions that you really need to visit. From the waxworks of Madame Tussauds to the dizzy heights of the London Eye, there are a lot of great sites to see and attractions to visit. Take the kids to the city’s fun but educational museums, see dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History Museum or explore the dark tales of the Tower of London. Stroll through green parks or spend hours navigating the many packed floors of the giant Hamleys toy shop.

There are a lot of great family attractions waiting for you in the city of London. Here’s our travel guide to the best of them.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is a fantastic place to start any family day out and shouldn’t be missed in any London Sightseeing tours. The iconic palace is a breathtaking site to see, with its extravagant design and opulent grandeur. Children will love the colourful uniforms and giant hats of the red-coated soldiers, while if you time your visit right, you will be able to catch the fun sight of the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Stroll through the green gardens of St James’s Park or carry on to the wide open spaces of nearby Hyde Park.

Buckingham Palace and The Mall

Hamleys

Hamleys is the most famous toy shop in the United Kingdom, and probably the whole world too. This multi-storied shop is devoted entirely to toys, and for kids it’s pretty much heaven. Adults might tire quickly and end up spending far too much money, but for the youngsters, there are hours of fun to be had from just simply wandering around and seeing the incredible range of toys for sale. Any toy you can imagine can be found for sale in Hamleys, and even the parents might be amazed at what’s in store on the shop’s many different levels.

London Eye

The London Eye makes for a fantastic family attraction to visit. This iconic sight is essentially just one giant Ferris Wheel, but a Ferris Wheel that has been constructed on an enormous scale. The viewing pods take visitors high up above the London skyline for amazing views over the entire city. The whole family will enjoy not only the bird’s eye view of London, but the experience as a whole making it one of the top London attractions to visit – assuming no one is scared of heights, that is.

London Eye Pod

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is the world-famous waxwork museum that brings your favourite characters from history and the film screen to life. The unbelievably realistic waxwork models are detailed enough to fool almost anyone, and children and adults alike will love seeing famous celebrities in this mock environment. The displays change regularly, to keep the museum up to date with the world’s most famous celebrities and political figures, ensuring you can come back time after time and still be amazed by the realistic waxworks of Madame Tussauds.

Tower of London

The Tower of London is one of the city’s most historic sites, and these days it’s also one of London’s most popular tourist attractions. You can spend hours exploring the different towers, keeps and museums, and there is always something to be found here for kids and adults. Enjoy the sight of the unique Beefeaters in their flamboyant uniforms or the glinting views of the Royal Crown Jewels in the museum. Learn about the intriguing history of the Tower of London and all the ghostly tales that go with it. With the Tower of London having its own London Underground stop, it’s a very easy attraction to see and visit.

Thames River Cruise

The Thames is a river that’s inseparable from London, and while visiting the city it’s a wonderful place to explore. While you can stroll along the banks and enjoy the vibrant riverside culture, you might prefer to take the family out on the water for an authentic experience along the Thames. There are many great boat cruises which will take you along the length of the river, showing you all of London’s most famous sights from the unique perspective of the Thames.

Warner Bros Studios

The Warner Bros Studios in London are one of the best places to visit in the city for those who love Harry Potter, which, let’s face it, is the vast majority of both children and adults. You can see the film sets up close and really be immersed in the magical world of witches and wizards. See how they brought to life the book’s best characters and scenes, explore Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest and much, much more at the exciting Warner Bros Studios.

Harry Potter Walking Tour

If you are a real Harry Potter fan and a trip to the Warner Bros Studios isn’t quite enough for you, then take the family on a Harry Potter Walking Tour of London. Many of the film’s best scenes were shot on the streets of London and at iconic locations throughout the city, such as the elegant Leadenhall Market, which stood in for Diagon Alley. You can explore the city and all the famous sights while entertaining the kids with tales of magic and Hogwarts.

Harry Potter Tour Store Front

Shrek’s Adventure

If you want to keep the kids entertained by bringing even more big screen characters to real life, then Shrek’s Adventure is another great experience waiting in London. Here you can meet your favourite characters from Shrek, walk through the animated world as it’s brought to life in the scenery and through 4D shows, and learn more about Shrek and the characters that make it such a popular film.

Go Ape Battersea

For a real adventure, then a great place to spend the day is at Go Ape in Battersea. This is for kids and adults, but the minimum age is 10 years old on the higher course. Younger children can take on the shorter, lower, junior course too. Get the adrenaline pumping as you traverse a high rope course in Battersea Park, with views from the top of the giant adventure playground being well worth the effort to get up. Tackle zip lines, climb ropes and take on the heights for a great family day out in London, that offers something quite different from the usual experiences in the city.

London Dungeon

The London Dungeon is one of the creepiest and perhaps scariest days out you can have with the family in London. But for some strange reason, this gory, gruesome and brutal experience is one of London’s most beloved tourist attractions, and kids always seem to love it. The London Dungeon takes the worst parts of human history, the gore, prisons and all the executions, and somehow manages to turn it all into a light-hearted learning experience that is bizarrely compelling.

London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum doesn’t exactly have the most captivating and inspiring name, and of course, children might be put off simply by the fact that this is a museum, but actually, this can be one of the most fun days out for families in the city, particularly for the kids. While tracing the history of transport in London, from horse-drawn carriages to modern Cross Rail developments, the museum gives the kids a chance to drive the trains in simulators, to sit in bus driver’s seats and many more exciting activities. This isn’t the only London we’d recommend you go visits as they are full of fantastic activities for the kids and adults alike.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is one of London’s best museums, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Families will love it here, and while the parents are busy learning about Charles Darwin or exploring the many different exhibits from across the world, the kids will love the enormous dinosaur skeletons and the interactive displays they can enjoy across the many floors of the museum.

Natural History Museum Interior

Crystal Palace Park

If the dinosaurs of the Natural History Museum aren’t enough for the kids, then take a trip to Crystal Palace Park for an exciting sight that will keep them entertained and out in the fresh air. It’s a lovely park in itself, but the real attraction here are the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs. These strange sculptures date back to 1852 when the Great Exhibition came to London, and ever since they’ve been the centrepiece of the park and an amusing and surreal sight for everyone that visits them.

Science Museum

The Science Museum is a great place to spend the day, and while the kids might not be so amused by displays on microbes or theoretical physics, they will love the interactive exhibitions and the areas aimed at the younger generation. There are plenty of hands-on displays, simulations and even more to keep them entertained for hours at the Science Museum. Found just next to the Natural History Museum, combine this with a trip to see the dinosaurs too.

Museum of Childhood

What better place to visit on a family day out than the Museum of Childhood? Found in Bethnal Green, this museum is run by the Victoria and Albert Museum, and you can rest assured it’s a quality establishment. The museum has great displays of toys through history, and children and adults alike will find it interesting to compare their childhoods to those of past generations.

Hackney City Farm

Also found in the Bethnal Green area, the Hackney City Farm is a wonderful place to see farmyard animals in the city. You can get up close with all the animals, from pigs and horses to rabbits and guinea pigs. On Saturdays, the farm runs more interactive sessions, when you can learn how to care for the animals who live here.

Richmond Park

Richmond Park is a fantastic place to take the family to see wildlife too. The beautiful boundaries of the park enclose huge herds of deer, and while the walking paths, trees and greenery make for a great escape from the city, the kids will love being able to see the deer in an almost natural setting. Enjoy the outdoor air and call in at the charming cafes for a break.

Richmond Park Sunset

London Zoo

The ZSL London Zoo can proudly say that it’s one of the oldest zoos in the world, dating back to 1828. It’s also one of the most popular tourist attractions in London and a great day out for the whole family. There are hundreds of different species of wildlife to be found at London Zoo and thousands of individual animals too. At London Zoo, you can find everything from prides of lions to penguins, and snakes to spiders. Get face to face with some of the world’s most fearsome creatures and learn a little bit more about them at the same time.

Sealife London Aquarium

The Sealife Aquarium is another great London attraction where you can come face to face with nature. The underwater world is a distant place, but here the whole family can see the beauty of the oceans first hand. Experience close encounters with sharks, learn more about underwater ecosystems, and discover how we can help to protect the marine world for future generations.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace was the home of the infamous Henry VIII in the days of the Tudor monarchy. It’s a great day out with the family and a day that will be filled not only with history but with awesome activities for everyone. Explore the palace, the grounds and of course, get lost in the expansive Hampton Court Palace Maze.

Ragged School Museum

The Ragged School Museum makes for one of the more interesting days out in London. Found in Tower Hamlets, the museum transports you back to the Victorian era and gives children the chance to see first hand what it would be like to be a school child during the 19th century. Period dress is very much encouraged.

Legoland Windsor

Legoland is guaranteed to be a hit with the kids. Found in Windsor, it makes for a great day trip from the city and offers fun activities for the adults too, after all, who doesn’t enjoy playing with Lego? There are great rides for all ages and it’s always going to be a fun-filled family day out. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, then this is a fantastic day trip from London that’s guaranteed to get the kids excited.

A great way to see some of these sites is to purchase the London Pass. However, as London experts, we know all the best family attractions in the city – don’t forget we run an exciting range of London tours, and London Bus Tours too.

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