From food trends to football, Londoners certainly know how to have a good time. Whether you're partying into the early hours, soaking up culture at after-hours events or exploring markets for vintage treasures, follow our top tips to experience London like a local.
There’s no better way to kickstart the weekend than with a tasty brunch. Do it properly at The Modern Pantry (15 minutes walk from St Paul’s Cathedral), where you’ll find the likes of grilled chorizo, slow-roast tomatoes and plantain fritters. Or head further north to Caravan on bustling Exmouth Market for Welsh rarebit, sourdough, poached egg and onion jam. Worth getting up for.
Londoners are always on the lookout for new, exciting food trends – dirty burgers, bubble tea, the cronut… we’ve seen them all. Head to street food markets such as Street Feast in Canada Water, Exmouth Market and Kerb in King’s Cross to find the latest big thing. For pop-up restaurants, check out London Pop-Ups or The Nudge. Or embrace another trend: supper clubs, by enjoying a meal alongside locals and other visitors at the home of one of Eatwith's hosts.
After a heavy Saturday night out, Londoners love to relax over a Sunday roast “with all the trimmings”. Instead of a top restaurant, look for a friendly locals’ pub such as The Paradise by Way of Kensal Green in west London, where locally-sourced, seasonal food is king; beef specialists Hawksmoor; or The Albion in Islington, which offers an entire roast suckling pig for large groups to order!
East London nightlife
If you want to party with the cool kids, east London is the place to be. Trendy bars, underground clubs, warehouse parties – it all happens here. There are dance music acts and cutting-edge DJs at XOYO; live music and good vibes under the railway arches at Cargo; rooftop views and party nights at the Queen of Hoxton pub… the list is endless.
There’s something deliciously decadent about visiting a museum at night… with a glass of wine in your hand. So it’s no wonder night-time events at top museums and galleries like the V&A, British Library and Museum of London – have proved a hit.
Gaff, pad, yard, place, digs… Londoners have lots of words (and love) for their homes – a calm haven after a busy day. Get the full London experience and stay in someone else’s flat or house for your trip. Airbnb is a good place to start but there are also plenty of self-catering options available for that real “home from home” experience.
Out and about
Local parks and lidos
London is a surprisingly green city, with 47 per cent of the capital made up by green space – including eight beautiful Royal Parks. In the winter it’s all about long, crisp walks and heated lidos. While, in the summer, all of London’s parks are suddenly full of people having picnics, playing rounders, sunbathing… The lidos and pools become our answer to the beach.
The Gunners, the Blues, Spurs… London is home to some top footballing talent. While you’re in town, join the local fans on matchday at one of London’s top football stadiums; or pop into a sports bar to enjoy the atmosphere and inevitable banter. If there isn’t a game on, go on an official tour of one of the stadiums and take a peek behind the scenes.
In the summer, London’s parks host all sorts of music festivals – from small, family-friendly pop-ups to big-name events such as Wireless and Field Day. Whatever type of music you’re into, you’re sure to find something for you. And best of all, there’s no long trek home or tent to dismantle at the end of the day!
London Cycle Hire Scheme
Sponsored by Santander (as the bright red signs point out), the city’s raft of rental bicycles is perfect for sightseeing or if you want to mix and match your transport. It’s £2 for 24-hour hire, and free for the first 30 minutes (£2 per half hour thereafter).
Use Oyster or contactless
It’s no use bringing out your money on a bus these days. It’s all about using a pre-paid Oyster card or contactless bank card. Not only is it cheaper than using a paper ticket, it’s also heaps easier. Buy an Oyster card at a station or newsagents (or in advance online), top it up with some money (or a travel card if you’re staying for a week), and you’re ready to go.
Londoners’ unique sense of style is usually down to a combination of the new and old, fashion and vintage. And there are plenty of places where you can dig out some designer classics, one-off finds and quirky cast-offs, like Rokit in Covent Garden, Beyond Retro, Absolute Vintage and Rellick.
When it comes to buying great gifts, one-off designs and beautiful homeware, creative Londoners head for the market stalls. For colourful blooms it’s Colombia Road Flower Market; for homemade crafts, Greenwich Market; for random items and hidden gems, Brick Lane Market; for antiques, Portobello Road Market… But all of them are perfect for people-watching.