A Perfect Day in London

A perfect day in London starts with breakfast at the elegant Delaney or Borough Market. Walk past London culture, history and street life along Southbank. Enjoy a birds-eye view of London from a capsule on the London Eye, the top of the Tate or outside the dome of St. Pauls. Indulge in a pint or afternoon tea before ending your perfect day at one of London’s West End shows.

Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, UK
This iconic landmark in London is popular for a reason...it’s breathtaking! Did you know that Big Ben is the name of the bell inside the tower, not the clock? While you are there, check out the Houses of Parliament (if they are in session). Afterwards, stroll across the lovely bridge and rise the London Eye!
Riverside Building, County Hall, South Bank, London SE1 7PB, UK
The giant ferris wheel on the south bank of the Thames is made up of 32 futuristic glass capsules - all of which are sealed, air-conditioned and big enough to house 25 guests. Riding the attraction is effectively being stuck in a bubble, albeit one that offers 40km views in all directions (see if you can spot Windsor Castle in the farthest distance on a clear day). This is the wheel that never stops turning, and while views at the top are stunning, you won’t feel the ascent/descent: the Eye does one full rotation every 30 minutes, and turns so slowly passengers walk on and off at ground level. Curiously there is no capsule 13; since the number is thought to be bad luck, its been replaced in the lineup by the infamous no.33.
Bankside, London SE1 9TG, UK
It’s impossible to ignore the hulking 1950s architecture of the Tate Modern, slap-bang in the middle of the most-walked part of the South Bank. A visionary refurb of this former power station has resulted in an artistic behemoth with multiple gallery spaces (containing both free exhibitions and ticketed exhibitions), including the fantastic Turbine Hall for oversize installations. Outside, the Millennium Bridge leads over the Thames to the City and the great domed St. Paul’s Cathedral.
55 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BB, UK
If there’s a better way to start your day in London than with an Arnold Bennett omelette at the Delaunay, I don’t know it. The Delauney is the latest in elegant, old-fashioned glamour from the group that created The Ivy, Caprice, and The Wolseley, and it’s a beautiful, relaxing place to break your fast. The coffee is fantastic, the tea fragrant, and the omelette a rich eggy treat that will see you through to lunch and beyond.
9 Conduit St, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG, UK
A gloriously eccentric venue, Sketch isn’t a restaurant so much as a collision of ideas, design, food, and frivolity in a large Mayfair townhouse. Its Parlour serves all day breakfast and then evening cocktails in an ambience that’s less Alice in Wonderland and more seriously deranged Hatter. The Gallery is designed by artist and comic genius David Shrigley, meaning that your afternoon tea with one-of-a-kind pastries and cakes come with a side order of wit and a pinch of bitter satire. Upstairs, the Lecture Room and Library delivers a Michelin-starred tasting menu, while there’s breakfast, brunch, and cocktails in the Glade. A trip to the bathroom involves sitting in your own individual egg; try not to be put off by the carpet of red wax oozing down the stairs on your way in.
Covent Garden, London, UK
There is never a dull moment at Covent Garden, a labyrinthine open space peppered with restaurants, vintage markets, craft stalls, and independent boutiques. There is festivity in the air. This is compounded by singers, magicians, and miscellaneous street artists performing at every corner. Explore the rich history of the area by visiting the London Transport Museum or the Royal Opera House. Pick up a unique gift at The Apple Market, which boasts of a variety of quirky craft stalls. For lunch, head to one of Leicester Square’s numerous al-fresco restaurants.
8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL, UK
Over the past two centuries, the covered market at Borough, not far from London Bridge, has become one of the country’s most famous foodie spots. From Wednesday to Saturday each week hundreds of traders gather to sell homemade breads, hand-reared pork, artisan chocolate and all manner of ingredients—plus excellent coffee, fresh juices and organic wine. Plentiful samples add to the convivial vibe, and restaurants around the market’s edge provide additional sustenance for longer stops.
47 Chandos Pl, Charing Cross, London WC2N 4HS, UK
London is famous all over the world for its thousands of pubs. In fact, there are so many of them, it can be hard to pick out the lousy ones from the ones that are absolutely fantastic. The Harp is the latter. It’s small, it’s intimate, it’s beautifully decorated, and its focus is “real ale, real cider and real conversation.” It won the London Cider Pub last year. Don’t be fooled by its tiny size. Here, quality far outweighs quantity. If the ground floor appears to be full, go have a look upstairs, grab a seat, and enjoy your drink.
103 Borough Rd, London SE1 0AA, UK
South Bank has both the best river walk in London and the city’s liveliest cultural centers, so a walk along it is a must. The path takes you from the Globe and the Tate Modern along the Thames—passing Gabriel’s Wharf with its stellar restaurants and bars—to the National Theatre, the Royal Festival Hall, the Hayward Gallery, and the London Eye. A two-mile strip has never held so many different entertainment opportunities; you could spend weeks along it without getting bored. That’s not to mention the regular outdoor performances and the unparalleled views of the bridges over the river, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament.
London, UK
One of my favorite things about London is the mix of old and new architecture. Take this view (from the Tate Modern Museum) of the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral. If you’re an architecture buff, a walking tour (or two...or three!) will help you get to know the iconic buildings’ nicknames, like the Gherkin, the Can of Ham, and the Cheesegrater. And pack an umbrella!
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure