Given all the extra attention the city’s getting this summer, I’ve had a lot of people ask me what the best way to see London’s many sights is. Of course, your favourite way of seeing London will depend a lot on your personal preferences. But my number one way of exploring London is by foot.
Sightseeing in London by foot
For a lot of people who live outside London – and even those who live in the city – the tube is treated as the only way to get around. In truth, it’s sometimes quicker to walk between two points in London than it is to get the underground.
If you’re new to London, I’d recommend starting your journey at Westminster. The Gothic façade of the Houses of Parliament is seen on the news nearly every day. But while the people who work within it may be routinely maligned and criticised, the building itself is a triumph – and the majestic Big Ben the icing on the cake.
From here, it’s a short walk to Trafalgar Square, whose marvellous statues of lions and the towering Nelson’s Column in the centre are a monument to Britain’s most famous naval victory. Duck under Admiralty Arch in one of the corners of Trafalgar Square and you’ll find The Mall, a scenic road that leads right up to Buckingham Palace.
The West End and the South Bank
The route I take next depends largely on my mood. If the sun’s shining and I want to relax, I usually walk up to Hyde Park, which is not far from the Palace. But if I’m up for a mini adventure, I might walk along Piccadilly and on to the sights and sounds of Leicester Square and Covent Garden. Here, you’ll find lots of central London hotels and their convenient location means they’re just steps away from the city’s main attractions. Naturally, accommodation here can be expensive, so look elsewhere for cheap hotel deals and offers.
Personally, I like going to Covent Garden for its vibrant selection of bars and restaurants. My favourites in this area are Hawksmoor Seven Dials, a mouth-watering steak and cocktails place, and Mishkin’s, whose take on a New York Jewish deli makes for a chic yet relaxed night out. After a meal in Covent Garden, I might go down to the river and cross to the South Bank at Embankment Bridge. You get fantastic views of London here, with the London Eye to your right and the dramatic City skyline to your left, walk over at dusk for the most romantic view. If there’s something on the National Theatre or the Royal Festival Hall I might end my evening there. But most of the time, I’ll sit on a bench, people watch and marvel about how much I like London, and how walking is absolutely the best way to appreciate it.