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A Guide to the Main Royal Palaces in and Around London

London is a city awash with royal history, and the British Royal family continually capture the imagination of the world. If you’re looking to delve deeper into the inner workings of this unique historical legacy, then a tour of the royal palaces in and around London is the best place to start.

Of course, there are the city’s most famous royal establishments, from iconic Buckingham Palace to the old walls of the Tower of London. But there are many more palaces in London and in the surrounding area that have long and intriguing associations with the Royal family. From the leafy gardens of Hampton Court Palace to the historic defences of Windsor Castle, there’s a lot waiting to be discovered in London’s many palaces.

To help you decide which ones you should visit, here’s our guide to the main royal palaces in and around London.

Buckingham Palace

No guide to London’s palaces would be complete without Buckingham Palace being placed firmly at the top. This is the palace the entire world associates with the British Royal family, because this is the Queen’s official residence in London. The palace dates its origins back to 1703 when it was built for the Duke of Buckingham, but over the years, it was remodelled, redesigned and extended, and became the primary residence of the Royal family, when in 1837 Queen Victoria moved in.

Buckingham Palace, as well as being the Queen’s household, is where many royal events are held including ceremonies and banquets, while every day, visitors congregate outside the gates to watch the elaborate Changing of the Guard ceremony. The guard is changed 11 am Monday to Saturday, while on Sundays the ceremony takes place at 10 am. Get there early for a good spot.

Although the palace itself is off bounds to visitors for most of the year, every summer the doors are opened to the public for short tours through a selection of the stately rooms, but of course, with limited tours and much interest, these sell out extremely quickly. If you aren’t lucky enough to get inside Buckingham Palace, then the view from the outside is still marvellous, while the setting next to glorious St James’s Park and the walk along the Mall is equally wonderful.

buckingham palace
‘Buckingham Palace’ by Jimmy Harris – https://flic.kr/p/4RVae3

Clarence House

Clarence House is a private royal residence, and today is home to the Prince of Wales, the successor to the throne, and the Duchess of Cornwall. Previously, it was the home of the Queen Mother, and of many other notable royal figures since its construction in 1825. Clarence House is found in Westminster and is, in fact, an extension of St James’s Palace, even sharing the same outside grounds.

Unlike St James’s Palace, however, Clarence House can be visited, if only within a short time window each year. During summer, the doors of the house are opened to the public, usually in August. The short tours take visitors through several of the rooms used by the Royal family and even give them a glimpse of the palace grounds. Spaces are extremely limited, and spots are likely to go extraordinarily quickly once the dates are announced and tickets are put on sale each year, so act fast to be able to enjoy a tour of a usually very private royal residence.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is one of the city’s most recognisable sights, and one of London’s most historic locations. The castle and its extensive grounds, walls and turrets are now all part of an attraction that easily takes an entire day to truly appreciate. The Tower of London was built on the banks of the River Thames by William the Conqueror, during the Norman conquests of 1066. He built it as a way to solidify his rule over London, and over the ensuing years of his reign, he laid the foundations for the White Tower, the most prominent tower to be found today within the fortifications.

The Tower was used as a royal residence by several monarchs through English history. In the brutal medieval era, many dark events occurred with its walls that have given the Tower of London the reputation for blood and torture it has today. It was used as a prison for undesirable nobility and important criminals – including Guy Fawkes – and several infamous figures met their fate here. The Tower of London has served variously as a Royal Mint, a garrison, a zoo and even today, the tower continues to hold the valuable Crown Jewels. Visitors can explore the grounds, the museums, the history and be enthralled by the sight of the distinctive Beefeaters, the lavishly dressed, ceremonial guards of the tower who patrol in their bright uniforms with their tall pikes in hand.

Tower of London
‘Tower of London from Thames’ by August – https://flic.kr/p/mjMHp

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace dates its origins back to the early 17th century when it was constructed by an English nobleman, before passing into the hands of the monarchy in 1689. Since then, it has been used as a residence by many notable members of the Royal family and today, the current Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live in a house within the Kensington Palace grounds.

The main palace can be toured by visitors, who are allowed to walk through the many lavish, stately rooms all through the week. There are many temporary exhibitions held throughout the year at Kensington Palace, usually of course, with a royal theme that delves into the history of prominent members of the family through history. The main, permanent exhibition is dedicated solely to the iconic figure of Princess Diana and, in particular, her fashion sense. The exhibition is open daily and is called ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’, and through displays of her clothing and dresses, it traces how her style changed from her early years through to her unfortunate death in 1997. It’s an intriguing insight into the life of one of the most well-known figures in recent royal history.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace was one of the infamous King Henry VIII’s many royal palaces, and today it’s one of the best preserved that still stands from the Tudor days. Found in the borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, a location that was once very much the English countryside but is now surrounded by London’s huge expanse, a visit to Hampton Court Palace makes for an excellent day out.

The palace is no longer a royal residence; the last monarch to live here was King George II in the 18th century. It has a host of different architectural styles, and remnants from the different eras it has seen and the different designs it has undergone along with a wealth of artefacts are on display, from Tudor through to Georgian times. While the rooms and corridors are fantastic to wander around, don’t miss the extensive gardens surrounding the palace. The green, leafy grounds are the site of the famous Hampton Court Maze, which was planted as far back as the 17th century. Many events are held here too, including the Hampton Court Flower Show and spooky ghost tours that allow visitors to delve into the darker history of the palace at night.

Hampton Court Palace
‘Outside Hampton Court Palace’ by Edwin Lee – https://flic.kr/p/oAqyB

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is found on the outskirts of the city itself, in the town of Windsor in the county of Berkshire, but is easily reached from London. The castle is an imposing place to visit, and a place that conjures up images of a medieval era long since past, with its towering walls and impressive turrets. Windsor Castle has long been a royal residence and its origins date back to the early years of the Norman conquests when it was built as a simple wooden fort to defend London. Since then it has of course expanded into the huge structure that can be visited today and is still used by Queen Elizabeth II herself, who enjoys spending long weekends away from the city.

The castle is found on the banks of the River Thames, and there are many separate towers and wings to the layout, making it a huge place to enjoy for the day. Not everywhere can be visited of course, as this is still a palace used by royalty, but tourists can enjoy leisurely strolls through the perfectly pruned grounds, admire many of the delicately designed staterooms and even visit St George’s Chapel, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married.

St James’s Palace

Located in the heart of Westminster, St James’s Palace is one of the lasting constructions of Henry VIII. Built in 1536, it was intended to be a small home, a getaway almost from his larger palaces. Although hardly small, the palace is still somehow hidden away from the streets of bustling Westminster and is still officially the highest-ranking royal residence in the country, despite the fact the Queen lives elsewhere, because this is the official headquarters of the Royal Court.

Consequently, the palace is home to many other members of the Royal family, including the Princess Royal, the Queen’s eldest daughter. Because of its current importance and because so many members of royalty reside here, like Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace is off limits to visitors. The grand Tudor architecture can be seen from outside the gates, however, and is an excellent sight to see. From the gates too, visitors are welcome to observe the traditional Changing of the Guard ceremony. Of course, it’s very similar to the same ceremony that’s held at Buckingham Palace, but at St James’s Palace, it’s a much more intimate affair to observe.

St James's Palace
‘St James’s Palace’ by Paul Robertson – https://flic.kr/p/6nMpiD

Kew Palace

Kew Palace is found within the beautiful grounds of Kew Gardens, to the west of London in Richmond. Although this was once a sprawling royal complex, dating back to the early 17th century, over the centuries its status diminished and today just a fraction of its original buildings have survived. It’s no longer a functioning royal residence, as the last royal to live here was as far back as 1844.

The Dutch House is the main, surviving attraction within the grounds, a grand multi-storied house that has many a royal story to tell. Next to the Dutch House, are the royal kitchens, which have been well looked after, despite the fact that the last time anyone cooked for royalty here was in the 19th century. You can explore the kitchens, as they would have been used over two hundred years ago, a fascinating insight into the daily life of the old royalty who once lived here.

Within the grounds too, can be found Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, a quaint and charming little house that is hidden away in Kew. This little hideaway was meant as a rest stop during long walks in the grounds, and today it can be toured and enjoyed as it would have looked in the late 18th century.

Bushy House

Found in the area of Teddington, around the Richmond area of Greater London, Bushy House is the charming former home of King William IV, who ruled until 1837. The house dates back in some form to the early 17th century when it was built as a house for the chief ranger of Bushy Park – which was a prestigious title to be given – a huge royal park that was formally kept for the sole preserve of the monarchy.

The house was gradually improved and rebuilt over the years and remained the residence of the Bushy Park Ranger. Many royals have held this title though and lived in the house, including the future William IV, who was, in fact, staying here when he received news that his father had died and that he was now the king. After his death, the house changed hands and was even given to exiled French royalty for a time.

Aside from visiting Bushy House, the huge grounds of Bushy Park make for a wonderfully picturesque place to spend the day exploring, with many interesting and historic lodges to visit, as well as the chance to spot deer roaming across the paddocks.

Bushy House
‘Bushy House, Bushy Park’ by Peter C – https://flic.kr/p/7XzRXV

Here at Premium Tours, one of our most popular tours is of the two official residences of the Queen; Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. If you’re interested in visiting London, do have a look at all of our London tours which can make your visit extra special.

christmas decorations

Things to Do in London in November

For some, the slow march of winter may be too much to handle after the usually short, but inevitably intense English summer. But in London, the gradual onset of colder weather need not deter you from enjoying great days out all through the month, because there are plenty of activities in the city that can help take your mind off the weather or help you to embrace it.

From strolling through the museums and unique attractions that can only be found in London, to experiencing the unique winter-themed events that begin in November on the lead up to Christmas. There’s a lot to do in London, and November can be one of the best times to enjoy a different side of the city.

Experience Fireworks on Bonfire Night

Remember, remember, the 5th of November! The start of the month sees the English tradition of Bonfire Night being played out loudly and brightly across London. In the evenings, parks throughout the city play host to huge fireworks displays to remember the events of the 5th of November, 1605, when the infamous Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the English Parliament and King James I in the gunpowder plot. There are many great events you can attend to watch the fireworks displays, but one of the best is held at Alexandra Palace, where not only can you enjoy fireworks exploding across the night sky, but you can enjoy the funfairs and ice rink too.

fireworks Alexandra palace
‘Alexandra Palace fireworks’ by James Cridland – https://flic.kr/p/5AqJ4F

Watch Christmas Lights Being Switched On

Some people may assume that November is far too early to begin thinking about Christmas, but these days, the build-up to the festive holidays starts far in advance of the 25th December. London starts early, and the city slowly becomes decked out with Christmas lights, displays and pop-up festivals partway through November. Rather than simply enjoying the lights once they have been switched on though, you can actually experience the celebrations that turn them on, as there are countless events across the city that countdown to and switch on the lights that stay brightly lit for weeks to come afterwards. Some of the best can be found on the famous Oxford Street and on Regents Street.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park is a glorious place to visit any time of the year, but in November, it can be a particularly mesmerising place. Towards the end of the month, Hyde Park opens up its Winter Wonderland Extravaganza. It’s a festive treat, where not only can you find theme park rides, ice skating rinks and food stalls galore, but where you can enjoy Christmas themed shows, Santa’s Grotto and a cool Ice Bar. Some of the attractions and shows are ticket only and sell out quickly, so plan in advance if you want to experience the best of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland in November.

hyde park winter wonderland
‘Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park’ by Tianna Spicer – https://flic.kr/p/e8FDJs

Richmond Park

Richmond Park is one of the most beautiful places in London. It is a verdant park of tranquillity in an otherwise urban world, where huge herds of deer can be seen wandering through the fields and through the forest. In November, the park is at its most colourful, as the many trees begin to turn shades of brown and red as autumn sets in. It’s a wonderful time of year to visit Richmond Park, and as long as you wrap up warm to fight the cold weather, you’ll find that it’s a spectacular display of British nature.

Borough Market

Borough Market is one of London’s best markets. It is one of the oldest and most historic marketplaces, traders have set up shop here for hundreds of years and, today, the market is as bustling and busy as it ever has been. Found next to London Bridge close to the banks of the River Thames, this is a great place to enjoy the predominantly food-based shops and stalls. There’s an incredible diversity of culinary treats on sale from across the world, from Indian curries to Southeast Asian-style street food and plenty of cheese and cakes too. For London, the prices are more than reasonable, and the only trouble will be choosing what exactly it is you want to eat here, from all the many choices that are available. In November, the stalls begin to display their festive treats and you can expect to find everything from mince pies to mulled wine.

Borough Market
‘Borough Market’ by Aurelien Guichard – https://flic.kr/p/geGhMU

Leadenhall Market

Found right in the heart of the City of London, Leadenhall Market is another of London’s most historic marketplaces. Dating back to 1321, these days the market is a boutique haven, with shops lining the brightly lit, undercover hallway. Leadenhall is just as famous for the role it played in the Harry Potter movies. This was the setting for Diagon Alley. In November, Leadenhall plays host to one of the best Christmas Lights displays, and midway through the month you can catch the switching on ceremony and admire the extravagantly decorated Christmas tree that will take pride of place here.

Covent Garden Market

Covent Garden is a lovely, charming market hall in central London. A grand, Victorian-era building houses a range of small, independent shops and cosy restaurants and cafes, while street performers and musicians provide plenty of entertainment for visitors. Covent Garden, like many places in London, hosts its own Christmas markets towards the end of November. There are a great many stalls selling Christmas gifts and cooking up festive food, while there’s usually even a pop-up ice rink to skate around.

Covent Garden christmas
‘Covent Garden’ by Aurelien Guichard – https://flic.kr/p/aMmJCc

Leicester Square

Leicester Square, London’s most famous theatre and cinema district, never misses out on the start of the festive fun when it reaches November. The huge, open square becomes home to a multitude of Christmas market stalls, complete with dazzling lights and festive themes. There are grottos, a huge Christmas tree and of course, plenty of warming and delicious food being cooked up in the cold evenings.

Oxford Street

Any time of year, you can guarantee that Oxford Street, one of London’s most iconic shopping areas, will always be busy. Even November is no exception, and you can expect the pavements to bustle with shoppers trying to get in their pre-Christmas bargains in the inevitable autumn sales. And of course, at some point during the month, the Christmas lights will come on, too.

oxford street
‘Oxford Street Lights’ by Paul Robertson – https://flic.kr/p/aYkYHD

Enjoy a Pantomime Production

A pantomime is a very British tradition, where during the Christmas period, theatrical performances are put on to entertain the audience in a festive or fun-filled way. Although historically, pantomimes were held after Christmas for the most part, in London these days, they begin in November. They are family friendly and light-hearted – usually! – with anything from Snow White to Dick Whittington being performed at venues across the city. Make sure to book in advance, as a pantomime production can be a tremendously popular performance to attend.

Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is one of London’s best-known museums, famed for its enormous dinosaur skeletons and a vast array of exhibitions that showcase the natural history of the world. As early as October, and right through to January, people begin to visit the museum not just for the dinosaurs though, but to strap on some skates to hit the ice rink. Every year the Natural History Museum sets up one of the city’s most loved ice rinks, complete with a centrepiece Christmas tree and plenty of festive decorations. And of course, you can still see the dinosaurs inside the actual museum too.

ice skating
‘Natural History Museum Ice Skating Rink’ by Matt Brown – https://flic.kr/p/ZtMa62

The British Museum

The British Museum is one of the world’s most famous museums and, best of all, entrance is always free to the main exhibits. November is as good a time as any to explore the displays here, especially given the chilly weather out on the streets. Escape the cold and stroll around the many floors for a few hours, or better yet, check the events schedule and see what unique exhibitions are being held through the month.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is the biggest and most diverse botanical garden in the United Kingdom. The enormous, glass pagoda is just one big greenhouse, and it’s full of strange and wonderful plants from across the world. The surrounding, more English style gardens are just as beautiful to wander around too, particularly when the autumn climate begins to turn leaves from green to brown. Kew Gardens also play host to their very own ‘Christmas at Kew’ festival, which begins in mid-November. You can see a spectacular display of lights after darkness falls, with laser beams lighting up the night sky around the gardens.

Christmas Kew
‘Christmas at Kew’ by Jan Kraus – https://flic.kr/p/DnswCB

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square, home to Nelson’s Column and built in commemoration of the famous Battle of Trafalgar, is always a busy and lively place to visit when in London. Towards the end of November, the people of Oslo, the capital of Norway, donate a huge Christmas tree to the people of London, and each year since the 1940s it’s been placed in Trafalgar Square. You can see it being readied and set up, with the extravagant light display too, before the big light switching-on ceremony that takes place at the start of December.

Attend the Remembrance Day Parade and Service

Every second Sunday in November, the streets of London make way for the solemn march of the city’s Remembrance Day Parade and Service. The events commemorate November 11th, which is the official Remembrance Day of the United Kingdom, when the guns on the Western Front during World War I fell silent. The streets are always lined with people paying their respects as veterans and others parade past, on their way to a service that is given at the Cenotaph in White Hall, in respect of everyone who has given their lives in conflict. It’s a moving experience to be a part of.

Remembrance Sunday
‘London November 10 2013 028 Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey’ by David Holt – https://flic.kr/p/hr1bNR

Backyard Cinema

The Backyard Cinema in London is one of the most unique and unusual cinema experiences to be found anywhere in the city. The Backyard Cinema literally began in the founder’s back garden, but it became such a successful concept that now it travels around the city, to different pop-up venues, offering themed cinema nights and unusual screenings. In November, it’s a great experience for film lovers, as events begin to take a festive turn, with showings of Christmas movies in Christmas attired locations. It’s incredibly popular, as it really is a step above your average cinema experience, so make sure you book tickets in advance for the few showings that are held each month.

Cosy up in a Warm London Pub 

In summer, the people of London will spend the occasionally hot, summer days and long evenings basking in the warm outside air of a beer garden at the many pubs are found in London. Come November, and the age-old tradition of visiting the pub never stops. With the cold winter evenings moving in though, the people of London simply stay inside, and many of the older, historic pubs have a cosy interior, with the occasional roaring log fire to sit by while you enjoy a warm glass of mulled wine or a mug of hot apple cider to beat the chill. There are many gastropubs to choose from where you’ll find an array of delicious warming food.

pub
‘Inside The Garden Gate Pub In Hampstead – London.’ by Jim Linwood – https://flic.kr/p/UJGSMZ

The London Jazz Festival

In November, the city hosts the epic sounds of the London Jazz Festival. It lasts for almost two weeks, and across London, different venues will be holding jazz-themed music events and concerts, as part of a citywide festival that has been held continuously since the 1970s. The Jazz Festival sees musicians from across the world descending on the bars and concert halls of London. While there are many great and established stars that come to play, it’s also a great opportunity to see rising talent and learn more about the unique sounds of jazz music.

St Andrews Day in London

St Andrew is the official patron saint of Scotland and St Andrews Day is the official national day of Scotland. But even in London, this Scottish holiday has started to have a big following and plenty of celebrations are held across the city. It falls on the 30th November, and it can be a fantastic way to round out the month in London. Scottish pubs will inevitably put on the best shows, but be prepared for a long night of antics.

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

bread

Here Are the 19 Best Markets in London

If you have time to explore for a few hours after your London tour and want to see something truly unique, why not see what the city has to offer in the way of markets? Some of the oldest markets in London have been established for centuries, and with new offerings popping up frequently, there has never been a better time to indulge in London’s market scene.

Of course, there are lots of places to shop in London, but if you’re interested in bargain-hunting, perusing antiques, or simply doing some serious people-watching, the many markets throughout London have got everything you could possibly need – and more!

Here is our guide to the 19 best markets in London to keep you busy.

1. Old Spitalfields

With its central location tucked between trendy Shoreditch and vibrant Whitechapel, Old Spitalfields Market is a great choice if you want to be impressed. Set in a huge Victorian market hall, it really does have something for everybody. Whether you’re in the mood for luxury designer clothes and one-off pieces, books, homewares, music or food, there is plenty to see and buy.

With a ‘New Weekends’ initiative starting this year, now is a great time to visit Old Spitalfields to show your support to new stalls and up-and-coming brands. The market is open every day, with plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars for a quick bite or lazy lunch. Mark this one in your diary and make a day of it!

‘Spitalfields in London’ by La Citta Vita - https://flic.kr/p/kebvWD
‘Spitalfields in London’ by La Citta Vita – https://flic.kr/p/kebvWD

2. Brick Lane Market

In an area that rose to notoriety due to being the scene of Jack the Ripper’s crimes, Shoreditch’s Brick Lane is vibrant with multicultural life, attracting an artistic and hipster crowd.

Sunday markets galore, Brick Lane is actually home to five different markets, selling everything from secondhand bargain furniture, vintage pieces and artworks, to handmade jewellery, electrical goods and touristy trinkets.

A bonus of the area’s cultural diversity is the food on offer, with many permanent restaurants and cafes in the streets surrounding the markets, as well as pop-up stalls selling unique street food. Whether it’s Pakistani or Bangladeshi curries, or bagels from the famous 24-hour Brick Lane Beigel Bake, there’s plenty to choose from, whenever you decide to visit.

3. Greenwich Market

If you like all things hand-crafted, Greenwich Market in South London is sure to be high on your list of places to visit during your next trip to the capital. The market, London’s only set within a UNESCO World Heritage site, is open 7 days a week, with particular focus on Saturdays with 100 stalls selling the best in arts and crafts. From boutique fashion houses, handmade jewellery and antique trinkets, to artisan candles, original local artworks and unique homewares. With 50 street food vendors to keep you energised throughout your visit, this is sure to be a great day out.

Greenwich market
‘Greenwich Market – Greenwich Church Street, Greenwich – sign’ by Elliott Brown – https://flic.kr/p/dnh7Df

4. Borough Market

A long-time foodie favourite, Borough Market is a close-knit group of restaurateurs, café owners and wholesale food sellers on the South bank of the Thames, near London Bridge in Southwark. It is one of the oldest food markets in London, with historians finding records of markets on the site dating back to the 12th century. With this history comes a great reputation and the crowds to go with it, so expect it to be busy if you’re planning on a bite to eat at a popular time like Friday evening or over the weekend. If you’re looking for farmers’ markets in London, then you’ll love Borough market as it has lots of fresh organic produce.

5. Maltby Street Market

Relatively new to the street food scene having been established in 2010, Maltby Street is one of South East London’s brightest new destinations. Packed into a small laneway, there are food and drink vendors galore, with a particular nod towards upcoming and small-scale producers. Open Saturday and Sundays, a tasty visit is guaranteed!

Maltby street market
‘Maltby Street Market’ by Alexander Baxevanis – https://flic.kr/p/cFxZpd

6. Broadway Market

Since the 1890s there have been records of markets in this area, in the heart of Hackney, East London. Open from 9am to 5pm every Saturday, there is only a brief window to quench your appetite for all things street food, with the most current trends catered for in one of London’s hippest locales. From loaded doughnuts and fruit bowls to burgers and global delicacies and more, there are tasty treats for everyone. Alongside all the food options are stalls selling the most interesting and unique clothing, arts and crafts. You can see their interactive map here. 

7. Camden Market

One of the most famous and legendary of London’s markets is Camden. Technically a sprawl of various different markets, Camden welcomes around 250,000 visitors a week, so expect the hustle and bustle of a thriving destination.

Best known for its punk influence, Camden Market, which incorporates Camden Lock, Buck Street Market, the High Street and Stables Market, is unique and always buzzing. It is the place to go if you have plenty of time to be amazed by the wares on sale. If you’re after some edgy jewellery, band t-shirts, quirky furniture, global trinkets and trawling through stacks of vinyl, this is the place to be. It really is an eye opener with great atmosphere and a multitude of tasty food stalls to boot.

camden market
‘London: Camden Market’ by Jorge Franganillo – https://flic.kr/p/23VYdWy

8. Canopy Market

If you’re looking for a way to combine your loves of food and art, then Canopy Market in Kings Cross is the place for you. A specifically curated range of local, artisan producers cater this weekend market with all the good stuff on offer. Handmade chocolates, cannelloni, charcuterie, local cheese producers and bakers selling a top-notch selection of street food including, we’re told, the best cheese toasties in town.

Alongside the foodie heaven is a rotating selection of local artists and craft producers, selling original artworks, jewellery and fashion. It’s a great way to see the best of London’s local and artisan producers and artists.

9. South Bank Food Market

Known for being a cultural hub, South Bank is also home to a great global foodie treat. On the forecourt behind the Southbank Centre, you will find foods from around the world including Thai, Mexican, Mauritian and Greek, to name a few, as well as amazing baked treats and hot drinks. With its central location, it is a great spot for lunch, with plenty of bench seating around to take in the sights and delicious smells while you eat.

cupcakes south bank market
‘Cupcakes’ by Garry Knight – https://flic.kr/p/9GzHBt

10. Alfie’s Antique Market

If vintage is your style, the largest undercover antiques market in London, Alfie’s, will have you swooning over vintage clothes, homewares, collectables and designer wares from the 1930s and 1940s. Housed in an impressive Art Deco building, this is Marylebone’s biggest and best vintage destination.

11. Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market is probably one of London’s most photographed spots, and it’s easy to see why. Open from 8am on Sundays, this is the place to go to stock up on fresh cut flowers, bedding plants and even mature trees! Perhaps not the easiest buy to take home with you, but an interesting sight nonetheless.

Supported by sixty independent shops lining the road, selling everything from cupcakes and coffee, to high-end artworks, the Columbia Road Flower Market is a one-off.

Columbia Road Flower Market
‘116 365 Columbia road flower market’ by Upupa4me – https://flic.kr/p/ruUp3p

12. Brixton Market

In the pedestrianised centre of Brixton, Brixton Station Road, Electric Avenue and Pope’s Road unite to put on an exciting market experience. The markets are open all week long, with special retro and vintage markets and flea markets making regular weekend appearances.

Market stalls selling a range of wares from handcrafted bags and soaps, to retro bric-a-brac and vintage clothing will keep you busy, whilst street food vendors will keep you fed on Spanish Paella and authentic Ethiopian cuisine, among many, many other choices. Just a minute from Brixton tube station, this is well worth a visit.

13. Camden Passage

Not to be confused with the aforementioned Camden Markets, Camden Passage is an altogether more relaxed affair. Based in Islington, North London, Camden Passage is a narrow, car-free street of contemporary and vintage shops selling a manner of interesting items such as clothing and handbags, antiques, books and furniture, with a relaxed vibe. Market stalls appear on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, which liven up the area selling secondhand furniture, vintage goods and collectables. With cafes and pubs galore, it’s a lovely local spot to enjoy the good weather.

Camden Passage
‘Camden Passage’ by Dun.can – https://flic.kr/p/MQKNpo

14. Netil Market

Located in trendy South Hackney, East London, Netil Market is made up of a small but perfectly formed group of food traders, permanently set up in shipping containers. With great eats from around the world including Caribbean soul food and modern African cuisine, there’s plenty to set your taste buds alight, and if it’s coffee and cake you’re after – you’d be in the right spot too! Saturdays are market days with a range of pop-up stalls selling their homemade wares, and with music and entertainment too it’s a great spot to while away the hours.

15. Leadenhall Market

This place is sure to be a treat for the architectural enthusiasts and Harry Potter fans alike. Set in a stunning Victorian covered precinct, restored in the early 1990s, with market heritage dating back to Roman times, Leadenhall Market is as beautiful as a market setting could be. And for eagle-eyed Potter fans, you’ll even recognise it as where many of the Diagon Alley scenes were filmed for the world-famous wizarding story.

Whatever your reason for visiting, Leadenhall won’t disappoint with a quintessentially British array of high-end fashion boutiques, an award-winning pub and various restaurants and cafes of the highest quality. A truly luxurious market experience.

Leadenhall Market
‘Leadenhall Market’ by Kevin Spi – https://flic.kr/p/gw5Kgp

16. Northcote Road Antiques Market

Based in London’s South West, Battersea’s Northcote Road Antiques Market is a must-see if you want to snap up some classic pieces. With antiques ranging from grandfather clocks and fine china, to retro homewares and vintage jewellery, this place is an Aladdin’s cave of all things from a time gone by. Open seven days a week, it’s a mecca for antiques lovers from across the world.

17. Covent Garden Market

With a grand, historical centrepiece, Covent Garden is a must-see if you like a taste of history. With a slightly European vibe, its open central piazza and pavements lined with cafes are full of places to watch the world go by. If you’re visiting London with children, then the regular street performers and magicians will ensure the whole family is entertained.

Covent Garden Market has become a serious shopping destination with a range of high-end permanent retail outlets, such as Mulberry, calling it home. If you are looking for something unique, you can also find some gems in the stalls, with Mondays being best for antiques, then Tuesday to Sunday offering a wide range of everything from books and homewares, to handmade jewellery and fashion.

Covent Garden
‘Inside Covent Garden market building’ by Charles D P Miller – https://flic.kr/p/nRKpb8

18. Flat Iron Square

A relative newcomer on the market scene formed only in 2016, Flat Iron is an exciting mix of music, food and market stalls based around seven railway arches in Bankside, South London. The mood is relaxed and trendy with ‘The Garden’, an open-air area, home to a stage for regular live music performances and weekend flea markets, where there are sure to be interesting and unique pieces to snap up at bargain prices. With regular events in the schedule, Flat Iron is sure to be a lively choice for your London market visit.

19. Portobello Road Market

Open every day except Sunday, Portobello Road is a London institution in the market world. Known for excellent second-hand furniture and quirky one-offs, Saturday is the best day to visit Portobello Road Market at its fullest. You will find a range of antique stalls, fashion boutiques, second-hand goods and fruit & veg from local suppliers all in one place.

Lined by the multi-coloured facades of the road’s townhouses, it is a photographer’s delight and an entertaining day for all the family with weird and wonderful street performers dotted around too.

Portobello Road
‘Portobello Road’ by Shadowgate – https://flic.kr/p/aMSiGa

With so much to see and do in London, planning your visit can be overwhelming. Contact us to help you make the most out of your next visit to the big city. With a range of London tours to cater for any budget, our expert guides can show you the best our city has to offer and offer guidance to help you discover your perfect London experience.

haunted-castle

Paranormal Geography: The World’s 35 Spookiest Countries

Halloween is fast approaching, and with it comes a lot of sweets, a lot of costumes and, most importantly, a lot of scary activities. Think sleepovers in a churchyard, scary movie marathons, haunted house tours and you’re well on your way to a typical 21st century Halloween.

Typically voted one of the best holidays of the year (second only to Christmas, of course), it’s not hard to see why: the weather is just autumnal enough to enjoy the colours of the landscape without being too cold, the decorations are nonsensical and easy to put together (even if carving pumpkins always becomes a massive competition), and, let’s face it, it’s just full on fun. And undoubtedly one of the best Halloween traditions is hunting out the scariest, spookiest, most haunted places you can find, and seeing how long you can last there on Halloween night. That’s why here at Premium Tours we put together the Paranormal Geography ranking, looking at the world’s spookiest countries – so no matter where you are in the world, you can find out the best haunted locations to explore on 31st October.

In order to put the ranking together, we thoroughly analysed an array of devilish data for every country around the world, including haunted location, horror movies, UFO sightings, and native mythical creatures and ghosts. We then ranked the countries around the world who offered the best for each of these categories, giving them a score out of ten for each category.

The number one location was, unsurprisingly, the eery USA, followed by the ultra-terrifying UK in second place and irksome Ireland in third place. Considering how old each of these countries are, and how many archaic religions, fables, myths and legends are embedded in the local culture it’s not shocking to see these countries place so high.

On a personal note we were thrilled (and slightly scared) to see the UK rank so highly, likely as a result of the numerous haunted locations around the country. For instance, the headless ghost of Anne Boleyn is rumoured to appear at Blickling on the anniversary of her execution, and people have reported seeing floating lights, strange apparitions, and skeletons chained together in the dungeon of Dunster Castle in Somerset. Not only this, but Edinburgh in Scotland is commonly known as the most haunted city in Europe thanks to locations such as Mary King’s Close, where plague victims were sealed up to die – while they were still very much alive.

Results

Spookiest Countries Ranked

Note that the figures listed in the table above relate to the country’s score out of 10 for each category, with 10 being the highest score.

The USA ranked number one for haunted locations and horror movies, and also ranked in the top 5 for UFO sightings. Thanks as well to countless fights and wars, and the very distinct burial process carried out by Native Americans (for example, the Plains Indians commonly practiced above ground burials using trees, scaffolds, canoes, and boxes on stilts, and left the bodies there to decay over time), the idea of spotting a ghost is not entirely dismissed.

Almost all of America is built on top of a potential burial site, giving residents reason to believe the spirits have been disturbed and are thus haunting the location.

There is at least one haunted spot in every state, and most likely every town, village, and city in the USA. These include the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – which was known to house criminals like Al Capone and “Slick Willie”, and the Lizzie Borden B&B in Fall River, Massachusetts which was the scene of the gruesome murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, found in 1892 covered in blood and beaten to death with an axe. It’s possible to stay in the room where Abby was murdered, and guests have often reported seeing apparitions in Victorian clothing, and hearing the sounds of weeping, footsteps, and conversations in supposedly empty rooms.

There’s also the LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana, which was featured on season three of American Horror Story. The story goes that Madame Delphine LaLaurie lost her sanity after her third husband left her, and starting torturing the slaves who lived and worked there; a fire at the mansion caused police to come across the mutilated bodies of multiple slaves in the attic, where it is believe LaLaurie tortured the slaves by drilling holes into their heads, breaking their bones, and removing their intestines. The ghosts of her victims are said to have remained in the mansion, where visitors claim they can still hear their screams.

Following the USA, the top 10 countries are:

  1. UK
  2. Ireland
  3. Japan
  4. Germany
  5. Puerto Rico
  6. Philippines
  7. Portugal
  8. Netherlands
  9. Colombia

The UK ranked highly for UFO sightings, mythical creatures/ghosts, and haunted locations. Indeed, the country is reported to have 146 haunted locations – not bad for a country that is only the 78th largest country in the world, at 242,496km2 just making it into the top half for all the countries around the globe. It also has 410 horror movies, coming second only to the USA, and again came second for mythical creatures, beaten only by Japan. Again, this is unsurprising considering legends like the Loch Ness Monster are famous all over the world.

Japan ranked particularly highly mainly as a result of the number of mythical creatures that are embedded in their local culture. The Japanese culture embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions, as well as agriculturally based folk religion, so the list of mythical creatures is incredibly vast, stemming from the abura-akago (an infant ghost who licks oil out of andon lamps) to the yato-no-kami (deadly snake god which infested a field), and everything in between.

The results by continent are as below:

Spookiest country in Europe: UK

Spookiest country in Oceania: New Zealand

Spookiest country in North America: USA

Spookiest country in South America: Colombia

Spookiest country in Asia: Japan

Haunted Locations

Countries with most haunted locations

The USA topped the chart for the most haunted destinations, boasting over 200 supposedly haunted locations, and that’s just the ones that have been reported.

Also ranking highly for haunted locations are the UK, Mexico and Colombia. 

Horror Movies

Horror Movies Set Around the World

The USA also came out on top with a massive 1290 scary movies having been filmed or set in the US. The UK, Canada and India are also home to some of the most thrilling movies.

UFO Sightings

Countries with Most UFO Sightings

Ireland has reported the most UFO sightings, with 101 unidentified flying objects reportedly having been seen in Ireland’s skies. Also popular for UFO sightings are Puerto Rico, the UK and Portugal.

Mythical Creatures

Countries with most mythical creatures

Japan is the country which is home to the most mythical creatures and ghosts, with the UK, USA and Ireland also telling of many creepy local legends.

Methodology

To compile the Paranormal Geography ranking, we used the following methodology. We analysed a variety of studies and surveys of spooky lovers in order to find out what was needed from each destination in order for it to be considered “spooky”, and we then gave them a score out of 10, with 10 being the best. The elements we found to be important were:

  • Haunted Locations
  • UFO Sightings
  • Horror Movies
  • Mythical Creatures/Ghosts

In order to identify exactly what each destination had to offer, we searched through a variety of different sources. One source we looked at in particular was a UFO Hunters site, which documented how many UFO sightings had been recorded in each destination, as well as when and where it was, and what shape the sighting was in. We also used IMDB to discover the number of horror movies, looking at where the film was based rather than which country made it.

The full dataset is available upon request.
Sources:
http://www.ufo-hunters.com/sightings/index
https://www.imdb.com/
http://www.castlesandmanorhouses.com/summary.php
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_reportedly_haunted_locations
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Legendary_creatures_by_culture
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ghosts
beers

7 of the Best Pubs in Kings Cross

The Kings Cross neighbourhood in London has undergone big renovations in recent years due to the addition of large companies such as the Guardian, Facebook, and Google. As a major rail hub, Kings Cross station is easy to get to from each corner of London and now offers a wide variety of trendy bars, pint-sized pubs, and top-notch restaurants.

Here are the 7 best places to drink ale in Kings Cross.

1. King Charles I

King Charles I is a traditional single room pub with wood-panelled walls located on a side street off Caledonian Road. Though the pub may look deserted from the street, step inside to discover the very popular little bar that serves a good selection of local ales. The walls are decorated with funky signs, old stuffed animals, and large ornate mirrors, which create a wonderfully unique environment.

2. The Driver

On Cally Road, The Driver gastropub is rumoured to be named after the many cattle drovers who passed by on their way to Smithfield Market. Today, the pub offers plenty of red meat on a large menu that accommodates all five stories of this trendy scene. The first two floors contain a vertical garden – supposedly the first in the UK – while the upper floors offer event rooms topped off with a rooftop terrace.

the_driver_kings_cross_restaurant_pub

3. Parcel Yard

Located in the Kings Cross tube station, Parcel Yard is one of the many decent station pubs to pop up around the city. The pub spans two stories, offers a full menu with delicious food, and boasts lovely views of the bustling station below. Parcel Yard also holds a unique licence – the ability to host wedding ceremonies with up to 80 attendees.

4. The Fellow

After their recent renovation, The Fellow is a well-kept gastropub located on York Way. The space is decorated with a subtle nod to horse racing and contains a heated and covered rooftop terrace, which is the perfect place to cosy up on a cold winter day. The menu offers craft beers from many of London’s breweries, specialty cocktails, and a delectable menu of small plates.

5. The Scottish Stores

The Scottish Stores on Caledonian Road was recently renovated and restored to its original name after a number of years spent as a questionable strip club. Now, the handsome wood-panelled pub has fully hopped onto the craft beer train with ten rotating taps pouring brews from Kent to Iceland! The new space is perfect for train-goers and tourists alike.

The Scottish Stores

6. Queen’s Head

The cosy and quiet Victorian-style Queen’s Head pub on Acton Street is a particularly small space with a well-crafted beer and whisky selection. Though it can be difficult to find a comfortable place to sit, the delicious bite-sized menu and perfectly curated drink menu makes a visit worthwhile.

7. Big Chill House

The Big Chill House on Pentonville Road is one of the largest pubs in the neighbourhood with several floors, private rooms, a basement, and a rooftop terrace. With street food carts on the roof, specialty gin cocktails, craft beers, and a variety of popular DJs, the Big Chill House attracts a big crowd of young adults.

If you are visiting Kings Cross to visit Harry Potter’s famous magic platform, or if you are going on a journey, you should certainly stop off at one of these great pubs.  As local experts, we would love to help you find your new favourite London pub. Contact Premium Tours today to find out more about our London tours centred on great food and even better drinks.

london-big-ben

17 of the Best Walks in London

London is a very large city with more than enough to see for locals, let alone short-term visitors. By far the best way to see large portions of the city is to take a stroll. Take a themed walk to focus on history, architecture, or even pubs. For the truly ambitious, there are very long walks that cover upwards of 50 kilometres in and around the city.

Here are 17 of the best walks in and around London to enjoy on your next adventure in this wonderful city.

1. London LOOP Walk

The London LOOP, or the London Outer Orbital Path, covers 242 kilometres over 24 distinct sections between Erith station and Purfleet. Though the path is extremely long in entirety, the sections are manageable enough to accomplish in a morning before teatime. For the highly motivated, complete the entire LOOP to receive a special certificate of completion.

The LOOP weaves through central urban areas, natural parks, and rural neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city. Some of the sights along the walk include Hall Place, Addinton Hills, Bushy Park, and Bentley Priory. To find the path, follow clearly marked signs with white discs that point the way.

2. Royal London Walk

Exactly as it sounds, the Royal London Walk will take you through the must-see royal destinations throughout the city. The route is a loop that starts and ends at Westminster tube station, so it is easy to begin no matter where you’re staying. Popular sites along the walk include Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and Piccadilly Circus.

The walk will take a typical group about two hours and is best to start in the morning to coordinate with the Changing of the Guard. However, the walk can easily be spread out as a full-day activity with tea and scone stops along the way. This handy tube guide will show you the best tube station for visiting Buckingham Palace.

big ben

3. Jack the Ripper Walk

Also called Whitechapel Murderer and the Leather Apron, Jack the Ripper is a world-famous unidentified serial killer that was active in the 1880s. The Ripper Walk explores the portion of London’s East End where Jack the Ripper committed most of his murderous crimes, of which most of his victims were female prostitutes.

Today, this walk will lead you through the magnificent multi-cultural areas of Whitechapel and Spitalfields. Both of these areas are off the typical tourist track and are perfect for the local traveller, or frequent visitor. Since many of the areas on this three-hour walk are less popular and poorly lit, it is advised to complete this walk during daylight hours. Find out more about our Jack the Ripper tour here. 

4. East End Ramble Walk

Though the East End Ramble Walk follows a similar route as the Ripper Walk, it has an entirely different historical focus. Starting near Aldgate Station, this walk was created by historian and author Richard Jones as a means to better understand the famed author, Charles Dickens.

During Dickens’ lifetime, the East End was known for dire poverty, as referenced in Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. Today, the area is in full transition and contains hipster coffee shops near immigrant-rich neighbourhoods. Using your imagination, wander the area to better understand the best Victorian author there ever was. This short walk only covers a few kilometres and is best completed during daylight.

5. Tree Trail Walk

The Tree Trail Walk was created by the Trees for Cities foundation and the City of London Festival. With over 2,500 individual trees of over 70 different species, the city of London has a lot of nature to explore within its urban limits.

To start the trail, go to St. Paul’s Cathedral garden to find your first tree. The walk should only take about an hour and highlights 11 notable trees within the Square Mile. To take full advantage of this particularly beautiful nature walk, pack a picnic and settle into any number of the parks.

6. London Bridges Walk

Starting at the Westminster tube station, the London Bridges Walk will lead you over the River Thames repeatedly as you explore the famous bridges of London. With six total bridge crossings and a number of bridge sightings, this walk will satisfy any bridge-lover’s dream. The walk includes the famous Westminster Bridge, Tower Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, London Bridge, and Millennium Bridge.

In addition to famous bridges, this walk will provide sightings of the London Eye, the South Bank Centre, Templar’s Church, Tate Modern, Winchester Palace, and more! The walk can be done in about three hours. If completing the walk in the winter months, aim to go around lunchtime to avoid high winds on the bridges.

tower bridge

7. Lights, Camera, Action Walk

The City of London created the Lights, Camera, Action Walk to highlight a number of famous locations throughout the city that were featured in dozens of popular films. This walk is perfect for movie-lovers and celebrity fans alike. Many of the featured locations are famous in their own right and warrant a visit for any tourist.

The two-hour walk features locations from Harry Potter, Love Actually, V for Vendetta, Mission Impossible, Shakespeare in Love, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and 101 Dalmatians – which covers nearly every category of film that exists!

8. Riverside Pubs Walk

If ale is your preferred beverage, then the Riverside Pub Walk is the one for you! This journey can be completed at the pace of a crawl to enjoy the food and beverage offerings along the way. The route crosses back and forth over the River Thames to visit some riverside pubs and historic sites like Brunel’s Engine House.

Your journey begins at Rotherhithe Station and wanders to four nearby pubs – the perfect amount to have a light drink at each! It is advised not to do this walk alone at night, as the pub areas are not well lit.

9. Writers Walk

The London Writers Walk begins at Tottenham Court Station and wanders through the Bloomsbury area of the city. The tour will highlight locations that inspired world-famous authors such as George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, and many other authors of a variety of genres including the aforementioned Charles Dickens.

The two-hour walk also passes the British Museum. This nationally famous museum not only has free entry, but is a perfect escape if the weather turns during your walk, since there is little shelter along the route. Here are some other great museums to visit. 

British-Museum

10. Designs of the Times Architecture Walk

The Designs of the Times Walk is perfect for any architecture lovers that visit London. The City of London designed this route to showcase modern architectural feats. Traditionally, London has been known for its Gothic and Victorian architecture. But as a global leader in business and finance in the modern world, the city has also made remarkable leaps forward in contemporary architecture. This tour will walk you through some of the most recent developments throughout the city featuring high rises, reflective buildings, and unique shapes.

11. City Gardens Walk

The City Gardens Walk is not just one single walk, but a collection of walks scattered around London. The gardens in the city are all part of a network of open spaces, gardens, and parks intended to sustain London as a world-class city. Each space has a unique function for its neighbourhood and for the conservation of wildlife and historic landscapes.

One of the most well known parks in this network is Bunhill Fields Burial Grounds. The name is thought to be derived from ‘Bone Hill’, as it was used for burials over thousands of years. By the time burials ceased in 1854, historians estimate around 123,000 people were buried on these grounds. Today, there is a lovely, shaded path to weave through the head stones.

12. Kenley Airfield Heritage Trail Walk

Another trail with British historical significance is the Kenley Airfield Heritage Trail. The English Heritage group claims this area is ‘the most complete fighter airfield associated with the Battle of Britain to have survived’.

The trail runs around the area and is dotted with history boards, which explain the significance and influence of the pilots, the ground crew, and the local communities during the two World Wars. While meandering along the trail, look up! You won’t see fighter planes today, but you are likely to spot one of the many gliders that silently float over the landscape.

13. London Ghost Walk

The London Ghost Walk is a collection of walks that was created by historian and author Richard Jones. As one of the oldest cities in the Western world, it should be of no surprise that London is full of haunted buildings and eerie spirits. Richard claims that these trails will show you everything paranormal that London has to offer.

Some of these walks can be self-guided, while others are best done with a tour guide to help identify the unnatural spirits surrounding you. The self-guided walks begin at Bank Station and wander through haunted banks, supernatural pubs and mysterious happenings, and is best done on a weekday night, when the streets are nearly empty and extra spooky.

14. Shopping Walk

It is not surprising that the Shopping Walk through this fashion-forward country is one of the most popular. Many tourists are likely to meander this path in search of trends at some point during their London holiday.

The walk begins at Piccadilly and will take about three hours of just walking. However, if you plan to shop along the way, this should be started at breakfast and may take all day long. The route visits some of the city’s famous shopping areas such as Regent Street and Carnaby Street. Historical stores such as Smythson, Hamleys, and Fortnum and Mason can also be visited along the way for a well-rounded day of shopping.

If the Shopping Walk peaks your interest, take a peek at our full London shopping guide.

london shopping

15. Legal Walk

If there are any lawyers or history buffs in your entourage, then the Legal Walk should be your top choice. This walk will emphasise many buildings that have had important associations with the English legal system. Some of the highlights include Ludgate Hill, Fleet Street, Chancery Lane, and Blackfriars. However, the Temple Church is another favourite – where the Knights Templar met and ruled.

The walk starts at Blackfriars tube station and will take about two hours to complete. This walk should be completed in the late morning, before lunch, on weekdays. It is important to note that portions of this walk will be closed on the weekends.

16. Jubilee Walkway

Similar to the London LOOP Walk, the Jubilee Walkway was created by the British government and is a well-marked designated path in London. The Jubilee path is divided into five circular sections including the Western Loop, the Eastern Loop, the City Loop, the Camden Loop, and the Jubilee Loop. In total, the walkway is 63 kilometres long.

All five portions of this walk highlight some of London’s most famous tourist destinations including Tower Bridge, City Hall, Trafalgar Square, and St. James’s Park. The walkway is marked by discs featuring the cross of a crown pointing in the direction of travel. Gold discs will also pop up along the path to identify historical events. If you happen to complete all five sections of the Jubilee Walkway, you will receive a special certificate of completion to commemorate your favourite travel destination.

17. London Wall Walk

In 200 AD, the Romans built a defensive wall around what is now the city of London. Throughout many changes, the wall remained surrounding this city until the 17th century. As the population of London rapidly increased, the city no longer relied on the wall for protection and began to expand beyond the walls. Large portions of the wall were demolished in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Today, short sections of the wall remain for historical significance. The Museum of London created this three-kilometre walk for visitors to witness the remaining portions of the wall and the sites of the gates, which are now buried deep beneath the city streets.

Are you ready to get walking? Contact one of our London travel experts at Premium Tours today to organise your perfect tour of London, including a wide range of walks!

burgers

7 of Our Favourite Burger Places in London

Nowadays, food vans, gastropubs, and high-end restaurants all over London are serving their unique take on the classic American dish – burgers! Some are packed full of meats and cheese and smothered in sauce, while others are simple with just a few excellent ingredients.

With so much variety and so many offerings, seeking out the best burgers in London is no easy task. Here are our seven favourite burger spots in London right now.

1. Honest Burger

For the best variety in both flavours and locations, Honest Burger is the spot. Honest Burger started with a single location in Brixton in 2011, but has since grown to 20 locations all over London.

Munch on a traditional burger, a Korean burger, or a vegetarian fritter burger. But don’t forget a side order of rosemary-salted chips to share.

burger & chips

2. Mac & Wild

Mac & Wild is a Scottish steak and burger restaurant with two locations in London. All their meat is sourced directly from the Highlands.

Their most popular burger is the ‘Veni-Moo’, a monstrous burger with beef, venison, candied bacon, cheese, béarnaise, and caramelised onions on a brioche bun.

3. Burger & Beyond

Located in the Camden Lock Market, the Burger & Beyond food van shines amid a plethora of other meat vendors. All the beef comes from the farm they own in Colchester.

Burger & Beyond focuses on a few simple ingredients with fantastic flavour. A local favourite is the Cliff – a chuck and brisket patty aged 90 days with pancetta and tarragon mayonnaise.

burger

4. Burger & Lobster

The name says it all here. Burger & Lobster is an up-scale burger joint with truffles on their list of available toppings.

Their infamous lobster burger is smothered in garlic-butter, though the rest of the menu is simple with only a few different options.

5. Joe Allen Restaurant

Originally from the States, Joe Allen Restaurant came to Covent Garden in 1977 and has been a local favourite for American dishes ever since.

But there’s a twist – there is no burger on the menu. It is a local secret that must be ordered off-menu. It it’s available, this simple burger lets the flavour of the meat shine through with only traditional toppings and no seasonings.

halloumi burger

6. Stokey Bears

If you ask anyone in the Stoke Newington neighbourhood for a burger recommendation, you will end up at Stokey Bears with a crowd that never tires of this cool restaurant.

They are known for their extremely tall, decadent, mouth-watering burgers. The Grizzly Bear, multiple beef patties topped with double oak smoked bacon and smothered in Burger Bear bacon jam, is always a crowd pleaser.

7. Dip & Flip

Originally from South London, this small chain has spread throughout London and gained approval in each neighbourhood.

Upon first impression, the Dip & Flip menu offers straightforward burgers. However, each burger has the option to add a slice of roast beef or lamp atop the beef patty. As the name says, each burger can also be dipped, double dipped, or soaked in gravy.

Our team of London experts can point you to the best burger, breakfast, or beer in London. Contact Premium Tours today for more information on our fantastic London tours.

women shopping

Here’s Where to Shop in London

As well as being an incredible place to visit for history and architecture, London is also one the most fashionable cities in the world and is an extraordinary place to shop. Across the many boroughs, you’ll find classic British style, luxurious international designer names and hip vintage threads.

Shop some of the most expensive brands in the world under a richly decorated facade, or step into a record store basement for a one-of-a-kind mod look. The shopping opportunities in London are endless.

If you’re planning to shop in this store-dense city, read this guide for everything you need to know about where to shop in London.

The West End

The West End of London is comprised of west and central London, and it houses the largest and most diverse range of shops in the city. In the West End, you’ll find mid to high-end luxury covering a full range of budgets, from modest to limitless. The area is posh, luxurious and elegant.

Mayfair

Oxford Street

Oxford Street has over 300 shops and is known as the busiest shopping street in all of Europe. From fascinating department store window displays to affordable fashion stores, Oxford Street has some of the best variety in London stretched over two kilometres.

Oxford Street first established itself as a shopping epicentre in 1909 with the opening of Debenhams and Selfridges. Selfridges, known for its famous clock, also boasts an incredibly wide array of footwear and denim.

The locally renowned John Lewis department store has a low-price guarantee with over 20 departments on seven floors. Shop here for toys, kitchenware, fabrics and clothing at the best prices around.

Flagship stores of many international brands including Topshop, UNIQLO, Zara and Gap dot the area. If your purse strings are tight, browse Primark for fashionable bargains.

Shop on weekday mornings to avoid the typical chaos of this busy street. Note that the crowds are especially dense during the legendary January New Year Sales.

busy-london

Regent Street

Perpendicular to Oxford Street, Regent Street offers more large outlets with mid-range glamour. There are over 75 flagship stores of international brands including Banana Republic, Ted Baker, and many more.

Turn just off Regent Street onto Great Marlborough Street for a view of Tudor style on the exterior of the legendary Liberty London department store. After travelling through Asia, Arthur Liberty opened his store in 1875 to sell oriental fabrics to the people of London. Today, you will still notice a sprinkling of exotic products amidst the English ambiance.

Looking for a dose of fun? Check out Hamleys, the world’s best toyshop. Enjoy miniature trains chugging by your feet whilst model planes zip around above you. There are six floors of entertainment for every age.

Bond Street

The luxurious Bond Street is comprised of both Old and New Bond Streets, connected by the pedestrian-only South Molton Street.

Bond Street is where the rich and famous go on shopping sprees. This area is home to some of the world’s most exclusive designer names such as Prada, Armani, Versace and Louis Vuitton. In addition to expensive clothing, you’ll find exquisite jewellery on Bond Street including Cartier, Tiffany & Co. and Asprey.

For something different, check out the nearby Dover Street Market. Japanese designers created this anti-luxury space to mix art with high fashion. Though the prices are still high, perusing the all-white, ultra-modern space will provide entertainment and perhaps inspiration.

Marylebone

St. Christopher’s Place

The charming St. Christopher’s Place north of Oxford Street in the Marylebone neighbourhood is off the beaten tourist track. Meander the quaint, tree-lined pedestrian streets for an eclectic selection of boutiques.

This specialist shopping area is full of independent brands offering high-end fashion and some iconic British products. Shop for clothing and accessories at Jigsaw or Whistles. If you want something more unique with a twinge of history, buy yourself an impeccably crafted hat from Christys’, which was established in 1773.

With over 20 eateries, St. Christopher’s Place is also the perfect place for a shopping break. Take your lunch outside to sit in the courtyard and enjoy the al fresco charm around you.

Soho

Carnaby Street

In the 1960s, Carnaby Street in Soho was where teenagers rebelled from their parents in favour of the mod style. Time magazine coined the term ‘Swinging London’ with this trendy area in mind.

With over 140 shops, bars and restaurants, this colourful street is still iconic and appealing to young adults today. Great shopping events, pop-up shops and live music gigs draw in the hip, young crowd, while the collection of edgy stores keeps them coming back.

Among the boutiques selling bold vintage clothing, you’ll find brand stores such as Muji, American Apparel, Puma and Diesel. Visit Kingly Court for three storeys of delectable eateries if you need a bite to eat.

carnaby street

St. James

St. James Street

St. James Street has been the epitome of English gentlemen class since 1661. With some of London’s most well-known gentlemen’s clubs including Brooks’s, White’s and the Carlton Club, it is no surprise that this neighbourhood epitomises traditional English style.

Stop by John Lobb for high-end, luxury shoes. This family-run business offers impeccably made shoes paired with traditional English flare.

St. James Street also offers some of the oldest stores in the city. James J. Fox is the oldest cigar store in the world and Lock & Co. Hatters is the oldest hat shop in the world. Both shops even supplied their products to Sir Winston Churchill!

Jermyn Street

Want to continue exploring quintessential English gentlemen’s style? Take a turn onto Jermyn Street. Henry Jermyn, the Earl of St. Albans, developed this area in 1664 to offer menswear close to St. James Palace.

The area is still renowned for sophisticated menswear and is perfect for masculine gifts. Here you will find tailor-made shirts, smart suits and fine leather goods.

For the perfect bespoke shirt, look no further than Budd Shirtmakers. For the ultimate noblemen’s experience, shop the menswear in Hackett alongside their private gin bar.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

In the Covent Garden neighbourhood, you’ll find an array of clothing stores plus three well-known markets. Walk through the quaint streets among vine-covered buildings and stroll into each of the three covered markets featuring arching skylights.

Jubilee Market contains the widest variety of goods and the East Colonnade Market sells handmade products. You will find children’s clothing, hand-knit scarves and even some magicians’ stalls for handmade tricks. The offerings change daily so keep an eye out for something special!

Lastly, the Apple Market focuses on artwork and household goods Tuesday through Sunday each week. On Mondays, the Apple Market sells a wide selection of beautiful, one-of-a-kind antiques.

apple market

South Bank

Gabriel’s Wharf

On the outskirts of the West End, escape the hustle and bustle in favour of the refreshing Gabriel’s Wharf in South Bank. This picturesque area hosts a variety of independent designer shops and art galleries.

There is an artsy, relaxed vibe despite the plain buildings. With a wide variety of cafes and restaurants, it’s the perfect place to stop for a cup of tea and enjoy the view of the River Thames.

Explore the nearby Oxo Tower for more small galleries and shops. What was once a power station to supply the Post Office with electricity is now an artsy tower with unparalleled views.

East London

Historically a dangerous part of town, East London is now hip, young and trendy. Shop this side of town for vintage clothing, quirky gifts, and retro antiques. You can see the best breakfast spots in East London here.

Hackney

Chatham Place

On the east side of London, Chatham Place runs north and south in the town of Hackney. As a newer shopping destination, the area is clean, sleek and modern.

Chatham Place houses a variety of luxury fashion brands at discounted prices. However, it’s best known for the Burberry Outlet. With up to 80% off, it’s no wonder that crowds flock here to stock up on this classic British brand. Try to arrive early to avoid the busloads of tourists.

This new area hosts a few other well-known brands as well. Shop Aquascutum for suits and outerwear. Check out Pringle, the classic Scottish knitwear designer, or shop quirky accessories at Anya Hindmarch.

Hackney Walk

On Morning Lane, perpendicular to Chatham Place lies Hackney Walk. This luxury outlet centre is the result of a major urban development project that was completed in late 2016.

Shop this impeccably organised area for up to 70% off a variety of designer clothes. You will find classic British wear at Joseph, luxury cashmere at Colombo, or menswear at Gieves and Hawkes. On one end, Nike has set up a superstore selling their famous sneakers and eye-catching athletic wear.

South Hackney

Broadway Market

Nestled between Regent’s Canal and London Fields in South Hackney is Broadway Market. Since the 1890s, this street has been a popular place for traders. Now every Saturday, a large market gathers where you can shop for everything from scotch eggs to vintage leather handbags. You can see more about London’s best farmers markets here.

The rest of the week it’s still possible to visit the many independent shops and pubs that line this street. There are a wide variety of exotic foods at the restaurants and unique goodies at the local shops.

On the canal side of Broadway Market, Broadway Books has NY Review titles, many small publishers and an impressive London section for travellers. For footwear, head to Black Truffles. They have an impressive range of quirky women’s and children’s shoes.

Stoke Newington

Church Street

Church Street in Stoke Newington is a hidden gem without a tube stop nearby. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Stokey’ by locals, this neighbourhood has a bohemian atmosphere, full of independent niche shops.

For the truly local experience, seek out the secondhand record store, Lucky Seven. Step into the basement for the true treasure – the hidden vintage clothing store, Lily Pad. For more retro clothes, check out Ribbons Taylor and Dirty Blonde.

Dalston

Dalston

Dalston is a young, funky area full of some of London’s best vintage shops alongside well-loved hair and nail salons. This neighbourhood oozes style.

The avant-garde fashion of LN-CC hides behind a long wood-lined hallway. For quirky vintage home goods, shop at Pelicans and Parrots. If possible, shop here in the late afternoon so you can end the day at the rum shack underneath with a happy hour drink.

For more hipster finds, Beyond Retro is a vintage superstore offering styles from the 1960s to the 1990s. Finally, stop by Oxfam. Although they have locations all over London, the Dalston Oxfam is somewhat legendary. Locals are known to stop by daily in search of the newest used designer threads.

Tower Hamlets

Brick Lane

In the Brick Lane neighbourhood, you’ll find buildings covered in soot and dust with walls covered in detailed murals. Everything in Dalston is edgy and artistic, making it a great place to shop for vintage bargains.

As home to London’s large Bangladeshi community, you will notice the street signs are in both English and Bengali, and will point you to the many well-known curry houses. In addition, there are trendy coffee shops, 24-hour bakeries, and the new Vibe Bar beer garden.

On Sundays, Brick Lane Market brings out the area’s vintage charm. Locals line the streets with stands selling a wide array of vintage bargains that rivals the selection in Dalston.

brick-lane

Old Spitalfields Market

Over 350 years old, Old Spitalfields Market is the original East London market. The market offers a wide range of goods from fresh produce to designer makeup and everything in between.

Inside the large airy hall, you’ll find independent stalls selling quirky, unique gifts, whereas the more established and well-known brands line the building outside. Among the vintage clothes and handmade jewellery, there are also well-made burgers and fancy cocktails in the nearby bistros.

Though the market is open every day, there are specialty days throughout the week. Sundays are always the busiest with the widest variety of unique goods, Thursdays are for antiques and Fridays are for art and fashion. Plus, a few days each month the market offers vinyl days, ideal for old record lovers.

Want to hit as many neighbourhoods as possible to get your fashion fix in London? London specialists Premium Tours know where to find all the best shopping in the capital. We also offer private cars for hire so you can enjoy your shopping experience in privacy and comfort. After a full day of shopping you’ll be in need of a pick-me-up so be sure to visit one of these lovely riverside pubs for refreshments.

park

7 Quiet Places in London to Get Some Peace

London is one of the busiest, most vibrant cities in the world, and life here is never short of excitement. After a fun-filled day exploring, why not recharge your batteries by taking a break from the hustle and bustle? Tucked away in the capital are some wonderfully relaxing, quiet places – here are seven of the best.

1. Kyoto Garden

Surround yourself with the beauty of Kyoto Garden in Holland Park, one of the jewels in stylish Kensington’s crown, and let your worries melt away. There are few more soothing places in London than this gem, which was inspired by Japanese promenade gardens. Stroll past blossom trees and pause by the waterfall to discover true calm.

parakeet in tree london

2. Museum of Happiness

Filled with floor cushions and lanterns, Camden’s Museum of Happiness is a relaxing space where periods of silence and stillness are encouraged. One of the museum’s key values is mindfulness, which is why it provides mindfulness meditation sessions. In a quiet, calm atmosphere, you’ll learn how to let go of stress and enhance your wellbeing.

3. Barbican Conservatory

Behind the Barbican’s concrete exterior lies an enchanting oasis just waiting to be discovered. The Barbican Conservatory is a tropical glasshouse that gives you the opportunity to find peace where you’d never expect it: in the middle of London’s fast-paced financial district. Experience silence broken only by birdsong and flowing water, and then relax with afternoon tea.

4. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Whether you’re most drawn to the awe-inspiring shrines, mesmerising carvings or manicured gardens, you can’t fail to find peace in London’s Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Spirituality and tranquillity are central to this Hindu place of worship, commonly known as Neasden Temple. Meditate under the dome to fully immerse yourself in the calm, soothing atmosphere.

5. Russell Square Gardens

Bloomsbury is as famous for its elegant garden squares as its literary heritage. Some of the green spaces are closed to the public, but Russell Square’s Grade II listed gardens are open to all, and they just so happen to be the biggest and best! The tree-lined pathways give the area its magical mood, with dense foliage acting almost like a soundproof barrier, shielding you from the traffic beyond.

london park

6. The Victorians Display at the NPG

While some parts of Covent Garden’s National Portrait Gallery are busy, silence and serenity reign in the display devoted to the Victorians. It’s filled with portraits of the people who shaped the UK during one of its most significant historical periods. Why not spend time with the Brontë sisters (their famous triple portrait graces the wall in room 24) and swap the pressures of modern life for peace and quiet?

7. St Paul’s Cathedral

Seated on Ludgate Hill, St Paul’s Cathedral is not only an iconic London landmark but also the perfect place for quiet contemplation. The combination of Sir Christopher Wren’s stunning architecture and magnificent views makes St Paul’s truly breathtaking. A trip there is bound to reawaken your sense of wonder. St Paul’s is a key part of several of our tours, including the bestselling Total London tour. Our guides never tire of seeing the amazement on people’s faces when they enter.

Premium Tours will help you make the most of your time in London, whether that involves finding quiet spots or something completely different. For professional guides and VIP access to top attractions, book one of our fantastic London tours today.

 

sushi

5 Sushi Cafes in London You Need to Check Out

Food lovers have been flocking to London for years, thanks to its reputation for showcasing the finest cuisine from around the world. No wonder the capital is home to some of the best sushi cafés and informal sushi restaurants this side of Mount Fuji.

Head to the following eateries for Japanese dishes that are exactly as they should be: incredibly fresh and full of flavour.

1. Sushi Café

When you’re looking for popular London sushi cafés, how about visiting the Sushi Café in trendy Battersea? Just like its name, this eatery is straightforward and unpretentious, in the spirit of Japan’s informal izakaya venues. The café aims to provide one of London’s most authentic sushi dining experiences. Expect expertly prepared, classic dishes, such as salmon nigiri, sweet prawn sashimi and tuna hosomaki. Famous for its generous portions, the Sushi Café is ideal if you’ve worked up an appetite during a day’s sightseeing in London.

sushi-boat

2. Sticks’n’Sushi

We love Victoria – it’s not only the starting point for many of our tours but also the place to go for sushi with a twist! Sticks’n’Sushi boasts a unique combination of fish-based dishes and yakitori (i.e. skewered meats, including mouth-watering wagyu beef). So even if some of your loved ones aren’t fish fans, you’ll all find meals to tempt your taste buds at this relaxed eatery. For a platter that’s bound to please everyone, try the amusingly named Mixed Emotions, which features shrimp nigiri, chicken with chilli and other delights.

3. Itadakizen

There’s a gem of a sushi café near King’s Cross that proves you don’t necessarily need seafood to create fantastic dishes. What makes Itadakizen stand out is its focus on vegan, organic Japanese food – it’s proud to be the first eatery of its kind in Europe. Order a selection of vegetable and seaweed sushi (there are options for large and small appetites) and you’ll see that each piece is a work of art. Free food workshops support Itadakizen’s efforts to enrich people’s understanding of the relationship between diet and wellbeing.

sharing-sushi

4. Jugemu

Tucked away in Soho, you’ll find Jugemu, which shares its name with a Japanese folktale. Appropriately enough, this rustic venue is full of charm and wonder. Pass through the traditional noren curtains and make a beeline for the counter, where you can watch the skilled chef prepare sushi, temaki and other delicacies that are hard to beat. The halibut nigiri has even earned praise from a Michelin Guide inspector. Jugemu may be small, but it’s certainly making a big splash in London.

5. Sushisamba

If you love London as much as you love sushi, don’t miss Sushisamba in Bishopsgate. This vibrant venue has an unforgettable setting on the 38th and 39th floors of Heron Tower – but that’s only part of its appeal. The stunning menu, which brings together Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian culinary influences, is certainly capable of competing for attention with the panoramic views. The choice is phenomenal – you can feast on everything from snow crab to freshwater eel. If you can’t decide what to order, request the sushi omakase and let the chefs select delicious dishes for you instead.

salmon-sushi

Premium Tours knows the capital’s culinary scene inside out. That’s one of the many reasons why you can rely on us to make your trip extra special. For expert guides and VIP access to top attractions, check out our unmissable London tours.