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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.

buckingham palace garden

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 beautiful 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 to view the royal collection of art & antiquities, 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, is the birthplace of Queen Victoria 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 Hampton Court Palace 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 you can book online and will help 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!