Beat that jet lag with a vitamin-charged smoothie at Joe & The Juice—their ginger-grapefruit-apple Energizer or strawberry-banana-vanilla milk Power Shake is guaranteed to jump-start your day. Pair it with a hearty serrano ham or avocado panini (multiple locations).
Ride the Tube (London Underground), the world’s oldest metro network, to The British Museum. Soak in the sunlight streaming through the magnificent glass-and-steel roof of the museum’s two-acre courtyard, Great Court. Dig deeper into centuries-old Egyptian and Roman artefacts or trace the origins of Buddhism in the Amaravati gallery. Fans of Edvard Munch—the artist who inspired the scream emoji—are in for a treat with a limited-time exhibit until July 21 (www.britishmuseum.org).
Take a stroll through Borough Market in Southwark (closed Sunday). Explore the street food stalls serving Mediterranean, Ethiopian, Balkan, German, and Indian (for the easily homesick) cuisines.
A 10-minute walk winding by the Thames leads to the imposing brick facade of Tate Modern, London’s definitive home of modern art. Spend the afternoon with Dalí, Picasso, and the Andy Warhol masterpiece on Marilyn Monroe. Step into the dimly lit room holding Rothko’s dark paintings to experience the curious, melancholic pull of his art (www.tate.org.uk; free entry; daily guided tours every hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
Another 10-minute riverside stroll leads to Oxo Restaurant, whose menu features mouthwatering lamb, duck, and fish. Vegetarians can enjoy pumpkin tart with blue cheese (www.oxotower.co.uk). For more veggie options, head to Ping Pong Southbank which offers a variety of dumplings (www.pingpongdimsum.com).
Catch a show at Shakespeare’s Globe, on the same spot as the renowned playwright’s original theatre (www.shakespearesglobe.com).
The Tower Bridge is a 10-minute cab ride from the theatre, and a night stroll allows you to see the city’s most iconic landmark glittering above the Thames like a dream. Drown out the traffic noise, and you feel transported from a metropolis into a Victorian fairy tale.
One of London’s trendiest haunts, Camden Market is a great place to find hip clothing and accessories or browse books. Brunch at GoodFare for its Italian specialities like penne primavera or grilled lamb cutlets.
Feel like an authentic British dish? Poppie’s Fish and Chips (opens at 11 a.m.) is the place for you (www.camdenmarket.com).
Make your way to Daunt Books at Marylebone High Street (www.dauntbooks.co.uk), a charming independent bookstore with intricate oak interiors. While it’s best known for travel books, you can find works by British legends like Woolf and Wilde, or contemporary stars like Zadie Smith. Walk to the neighbouring Regent’s Park for some quiet time with your new book. Don’t want to slow down? Check out the Park’s Open Air Theatre. Travelling with kids? A visit to the zoo will make for the perfect afternoon.
Covent Garden’s Infinity Chamber will light up your day with thousands of colour-changing LED lights arranged along the gallery of arches. Stop by Steampunk Glass at the Apple Market for their Pyrex glass pendants with dainty flowers and shimmering galaxies within (Tues-Fri 10 a.m.-6 p.m.). Wood letters in all shapes and sizes, and picture printing blocks with animals and symbols line The Old Printing Shop (www.theoldprintingshop.com). Fasten your seatbelts at the London Film Museum (londonfilmmuseum.com) for the Bond in Motion exhibit, featuring the original vehicles from the James Bond franchise.
Make your own pizza at MOD Pizzaat Leicester Square. Drop by at the world’s largest Lego Store at 3 Swiss Court (www.lego.com). Walk to Trafalgar Square five minutes away, and take sunset shots with the bronze lions.
Admire the detailed interiors of the Sherlock Holmes Pub (10 Northumberland St; 11 a.m.-11 p.m.), a five-minute walk from the square. The place is modelled on Holmes’ and Dr. Watson’s sitting room, and favourites include dishes named after the duo.
Potterheads can delight in placing their bags in the trolley ‘disappearing’ into the wall at Platform 9 ¾ of King’s Cross Station, where the Hogwarts Express departs from. Diehard fans can head to Euston and further to Leavesden for a half-day tour to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour London. Walk through superbly detailed sets of the Great Hall and Diagon Alley, peer at props used in the films, and learn how Rowling’s magical creatures were brought to life (www.iwm.org.uk; average visit lasts 3.5 hours).
For those who skip the Potter tour: How can you miss the extravagant department store that has used a cobra to guard jewelled shoes? Whether or not you intend to swipe that credit card, Harrods, a 20-minute commute if you take the Tube from King’s Cross is worth a visit (www.harrods.com). Indulge in one of its on-site restaurants—Harrods Roast & Bake for a sandwich or Mezzah Lounge for a Middle Eastern platter— followed by a decadent treat at Café Godiva.
Drop by Buckingham Palace to see the original Victoria Memorial and perfectly manicured gardens.
You might even spot on the balcony Duchess Meghan Markle with her newborn!
Get inside the mind of Britain’s wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the World War II command bunker at the Churchill War Rooms (www.iwm.org.uk). Don’t miss the Map Room, which has remained untouched since 1945.
Tuck into delicious duck kebabs or foie gras at Duck and Waffle (duckandwaffle.com). Not on a budget? Head to one of London’s Michelin-starred restaurants like Gordon Ramsay (Chelsea), The Araki (Mayfair), Core by Clare Smyth (Notting Hill).
Dance the night away at Café de Paris, Piccadilly Institute, or Tiger Tiger in the Piccadilly Circus area.
Aanchal Anand is a travel addict who has been to over 50 countries across 5 continents. When she isn't travelling, she is typically coaxing her two cats off the laptop keyboard so she can get some writing done.