Exploring the world one bite at a time

Category: London

London off the beaten path

London is a city that never ceases to amaze me. So many things to do and visit. Since I’ve been in London four times now, I thought I’d share some less touristy places to visit. I can guarantee you: you won’t be disappointed.

1. The Charterhouse

This museum site is packed with history and has lots of interesting stories to tell. I liked the fact that the narrative of the museum takes the visitor back in time. Using artifacts (including a skeleton from the time this site was used as a cemetery for plague victims) as anchors for the visitor’s journey. The highlight of the visit to me was the beautiful chapel. So much history condensed in one place, impressive!

location: Charterhouse Square, London
price: free

2. Borough Market

Well, perhaps not really a hidden gem, but no foodie can miss the opportunity to sample the great dishes the food stalls prepare. I would personally recommend to go for the more traditional British dishes, but you’ll find dishes from all over the world here. My personal favorites: the fresh oysters. Lovely!

location: 8 Southwark St, London
price: free (although you’ll want to make sure to have enough cash on you to pay for all that great food)

3. The Old Operating Theatre

To enter this quaint museum you’ll have to climb a steep and winding staircase. Although very interesting, this place isn’t for the faint of heart, because the whole place has kind of a creepy vibe. You’ll find an impressive collection of medical instruments, medicinal plants and some specimens of human pathologies. I personally was both fascinated and abhorred by the historical operating theatre.

location: 9a St Thomas Street, London
price: £6.50

4. Alternative London Walking Tour

Do you love street art? Then this is the tour for you. The Alternative London guides are great and very knowledgeable, which is not surprising because they are street artists themselves. East London is teeming with great street art from the most famous street artists in the world (cough, Banksy). When the tour is finished, you choose how much you want to pay.

location: East London
price: what it’s worth to you

5. Regent’s Park

One of the Royal Parks of London and an ideal place to wind down from the busy city life. This beautifully maintained park is huge and consists of mainly open parkland with a wide range of facilities and amenities. My favorite spots were the Japanese Garden Island and Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens. I also recommend you visit the nearby Primrose Hill for some lovely views on the London skyline.

location: Chester Rd, London
price: free

6. Chelsea Physic Garden

One of the oldest botanical gardens in Britain and definitely worth a visit. The walled garden in itself isn’t that big, but the variety of plants is absolutely impressive. You can visit the garden on your own, but I highly recommend taking a guided tour. The guides will amaze you with lots of interesting facts regarding the garden and its collection. I especially loved the green houses with their beautiful architecture.

location: 66 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London
price: £6.10

7. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Save the best for last? This hindu temple is situated in Neasden. It takes some time getting there if you’re staying in the center of London, but the temple is well worth the travel effort. The temple is built entirely using traditional methods and materials. The carvings and statues on the inside of the building are stunningly beautiful. Unbelievable that this is all man made. Sadly the whole building is concealed from the outside by a big wall and iron gates. So it is kinda hard to take a good picture of the exterior.

location: 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, London
price: free

Fenchurch: “Great views lovely food”

My boyfriend and I had lunch at Fenchurch located in the Sky Garden on a beautiful autumn day. The view was absolutely gorgeous and the food we got served was close to perfect. Every dish was equally beautiful and tasty. Staff was very friendly and professional, as can be expected of such a high end restaurant.

We started our meal off with some lovely (but very expensive) champagne. After that we went for the five courses lunch. The lunch cost 55 pounds, wine pairing was an additional 42 pounds. I liked the fact that the menu also mentioned which wines we got served. I do have to say, the glasses of wine were rather small. For 42 pounds I would also expect a second serving with the main course. We have been to a lot of restaurants in this price range and most of them offer at least two extra servings.

A small warning though, not all the tables have a good view on London and its surroundings. So if that’s the reason why you visit this restaurant make sure to mention this in your reservation. You can of course just go here for the great food, but I do have to say, the view is a nice bonus.

Fenchurch Restaurant
20 Fenchurch Street
London EC3M 3BY
England, UK
+44333 772 0020

Visited October 2016. You can find my review about Fenchurch also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 3/5, service 5/5, food 5/5.

Nine London views not to be missed

London is a city so divers that everyone will find something to their liking. Up until now I’ve visited London four times and I’m sure I will return in the future, for an exhibition, a play, a festival, a stroll along the river Thames, some great local food and/or an evening chatting away in one of London’s pubs.

In this article I want to share with you the best places to admire panoramic views of the London city skyline. And yes, some of those views come at a hefty price tag, but even in London you’ll find places that offer you stunning views for free. This is my list:

1. The Shard

London’s highest sky scraper is truly a landmark building that dramatically altered London’s skyline. The Shard reaches for the sky and offers stunning 360 degrees views on London and its surroundings. On a clear day the view reaches as far as 64 kilometers (40 miles). The open-air Skydeck is London’s highest viewpoint and although the price for a ticket is quite high, I found it money well spent. You can buy some drinks and snacks at the sky deck or just admire the view as such. The View from the Shard also offers a weather guarantee, which means that in the event of bad weather you’ll be able to return for free. If you don’t like paying for a view, you can also go for lunch or dinner in one of the restaurants in the Shard. The view won’t be as spectacular as on the Skydeck, but the lower floors also offer great views and you can enjoy some lovely food with it.

Location: 32 London Bridge Street, London
Price: Starting from £25.95

2. Sky Garden

Sure, the “walkie talkie” (officially called 20 Fenchurch Street) has been a controversial building since it’s conception, but from the outside viewing terrace the Sky Garden offers superb views on the Thames, the Shard and the Tower of London for free. You do have the book a ticket for your visit, but the process is easy and fast. There is a cue, because all visitors need to go through security before entering the building, so make sure to come ten minutes earlier. There are several options to have lunch or dinner at one of the Sky Garden restaurants, if you like. You can also just have of coffee or a tea with some biscuits. The garden in itself didn’t really succeed in wowing me, but the views made up for that.

location: 20 Fenchurch Street, London
price: free

3. The Blavatnik building of Tate Modern

If you don’t like the hassle of booking tickets and go through security checks, just take the elevator to the 10th floor at Tate Modern’s new extension, step outside on the viewing terrace and be amazed. The view on the Millennium Bridge and Saint Paul’s Cathedral is absolutely stunning and totally free. There is a small bar on the viewing terrace. So you on a chilly day you can buy a cup of coffee or tea to warm yourself.

location: Tate Modern, Bankside, London
price: free

4. Vertigo 42

London’s highest champagne bar at the 42th floor of Tower 42 offers a nice selection of drinks and tapas. The bar itself has windows from floor to ceiling and all the seats are nearby a window, so every seat in the bar has great views on London. Drinks are expensive, but that’s to be expected with a view like that. Best to make reservations though.

location: Level 42, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London
price: free, but you’ll have to buy some drinks

5. St Paul’s Cathedral

No introduction needed, I guess. A simply stunning monument that really is worth the entrance fee. The dome is exceptional and the three galleries offer stunning views on London.

location: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London
price: £16

6. Tower bridge

A classic. Not extrtemely high, but such an iconic bridge surely can’t be missed and you’ll have the opportunity to visit the engine rooms! Since my last visit they added a Glass Floor 42 meters above the river Thames, so I guess I’ll have to go back to test out the strength of that floor. 😉 You can even take yoga classes on that floor!

location: Tower Bridge, London
price: £8,70

7. One New Change Shopping Mall Terrace

Saint Paul’s Cathedral really is a marvel and this terrace is the best place to get up close and personal with the magnificent dome. And yes, it won’t cost you a penny. Just take the glass elevator to the terrace and enjoy the view. On a nice day you can enjoy a beer or a cocktail on the terrace of Madison’s restaurant and and bar.

location: 1 New Change, London
price: free

8. Monument to the Great Fire of London

Ok, the view from the top of the monument, built to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City, really isn’t that great and it is hard taking pictures trough the security netting (to avoid somebody would jump down), but climbing the winding staircase with its 311 steps is an adventure in itself. The entrance fee is quite cheap and afterwards you are presented with a certificate that you succeeded in climbing all those stairs. Charming!

location: Fish St Hill, London
price: £4.50

9. Primrose Hill

This lovely green hill is only 65 meter (213 feet) high, but offers a great view of central London. In summer this is a popular place to have a picnic with friends.

location: Tate Modern, Bankside, London
price: free

Did I miss something? What is your favorite place to enjoy London views? Please let me know in the comments.

Lobos: “Great food, interesting location”

Really loved our visit to Lobos, meat and tapas. The restaurant is located under a railway bridge, which gives it a really special vibe. We did not have reservations for the evening and the place was packed, but the super friendly waiter assured us there would be opening up a table in about twenty minutes. So we ordered some excellent cava and waited at the bar.

Lobos has a really authentic feel to it, because most of the staff are Spanish speaking. Great for me, because I love practicing my Spanish. We had such a great time chatting with the bar keeper (who offered us a free piece of lovely jamón), that we were surprised our waiting time was over already.

We got al lovely booth for two persons under a barrel vault. We tried as many different tapas as we could. All tapas were great, but I have to give a special shout out to the herb crusted lamb: perfectly cooked and seasoned. Mouth watering! Only minor issue: the red wine was served a bit too warm. Perhaps they should invest in a storage facility to keep the wines at the right temperature.

Lobos, 14 Borough High Street, London SE1 9QG, England
+44 20 7407 5361

Visited October 2016. You can find my review about Lobos also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 4/5, service 5/5, food 5/5.

Big Chill Bar: “Superb cocktails”

During our London trip we enjoyed some truly great cocktails in Bar Big Chill. The bar tender, a very chill guy from Melbourne, took great care in preparing us our drinks. I enjoyed the ‘gingerbread sour’ very much. Fingerlicking fantastic. The ‘big tea party’ my friend ordered was equally as good. The cocktails were excellent and we enjoyed sitting at the bar observing the waiters.

Bar Big Chill is a hip and trendy place with an industrial feel and a huge bar. Drinks have to be ordered at the bar. You can sit inside or enjoy the big terrace outside. A great place for a drink!

Big Chill Bar, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL, England
+44 20 7392 9180

Visited October 2016. You can find my review about Big Chill Bar also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 4/5, service 4/5, food 4/5.