Planning a trip to London? Five days in the British capital is the perfect amount of time to get a glimpse of the city through more than just tourist eyes. When it’s your first time visiting London, of course you have to tick off some of the most famous attractions in the world. However if you want to see London like the locals do, then make sure you give a good chunk of your five day itinerary to venturing off-the-beaten track. From eating at all the tastiest local haunts to whiling a day away in the west of the city, here’s our guide to spending five days in London like a local while staying at our central London Bridge hostel.
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DAY 1: Central London
If you’ve never been to London before then you can’t miss a few days sticking to central London. The city centre is brimming with incredible attractions with a few nooks and crannies that tourists tend to miss, too.
Tower Bridge and the Southbank
One of the most scenic walks in London is along the southbank of the River Thames and Tower Bridge is a great starting point. If the Tower of London is on your bucket list, now is your time to tick it off. It’s just on the other side of the river and is a must-see if British royal history is your thing. If you don’t fancy it, simply turn left and stroll along the river toward HMS Belfast and Hay’s Galleria, turning around to take in some amazing views of the iconic Tower Bridge.
Lunch at Borough Market
Hungry? While you’re in the area, don’t miss a bite to eat at Borough Market, the oldest and most famous food market in London. Just behind it is another incredibly famous London icon, the Shard. Something you’ll never find a real Londoner doing is paying for the View from the Shard, as it’s actually much cheaper to head up for a drink. Sip a beer or splash out on a cocktail (still cheaper than entrance to the viewing platform) and see London from the highest point in the city.
There’s so much more to do in London Bridge from the Old Operating Theatre to the Fashion and Textiles Museum and Vinegar Yard’s street food haven - you could quite easily spend the day exploring the area while still escaping hordes of tourists.
Carry on your walk along the Thames and you’ll find the Golden Hinde, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern - a free contemporary art gallery with an open viewing terrace. Cross over Millennium Bridge for more unreal views and St Paul’s Cathedral perfectly positioned ahead for the ultimate Instagram photo.
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Dinner and Drinks
After some chill time back at the hostel, head back out for a real London dinner experience. Mercato Metropolitano is just a 10 minute walk from St Christopher’s at the Village in London Bridge and a top spot for locals to meet with friends after work or at the weekend for a casual dinner and drinks. The giant street food market offers dishes from all over the world, perfect for visiting foodies.
Fancy a few drinks after? Belushi’s Bar is right beneath the hostel in London Bridge, so before you roll into bed make the most of 2 for 1 drinks deals for guests all night long!
DAY 2: Central London
Get on the Jubilee Line from London Bridge to spend a morning looking around the attractions in Westminster. Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (even if he is looking a little worse for wear) - these are just a few of London’s main attractions and they’re all just minutes from each other right by the river in Westminster.
A Full English at Regency Cafe
Get a taste of what British breakfast is known for and go for one of the best fry-ups in London. Regency Cafe is a proper old school English cafe that’s not far from Westminster and serves a huge, no frills full English breakfast for only £6 and is the perfect fuel for another day in Central London.
There are a number of amazing places for an affordable full English breakfast in London.
Buckingham Palace and St James’ Park
By the time you’ve eaten breakfast and walked over to Buckingham Palace, it should be just about time for the Changing of the Guard outside the front of the gates. Get a good spot and watch the symbolic ceremony of soldiers marching into the palace grounds with a huge brass band. The best way to marvel at the palace is definitely with a quintessentially British occasion like the Changing of the Guard to go with it.
Right by the palace is St James’ Park which is home to some quite unexpected wildlife for the city centre of London. Walk through, spot pelicans gliding along the ponds and snap a picture of the view of the London Eye. At the other end of the park is Number 10 Downing Street, the Imperial War Museums and Trafalgar Square at the top of the Mall.
Indulge in Afternoon Tea
Carry on a morning of indulging your inner Brit and sit down for an afternoon tea. As you can imagine, there are plenty to choose from in London, but Dean Street Townhouse is both delicious and affordable at just £21, and it’s only a 10 minute walk from Trafalgar Square.
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Window Shopping & Crazy Golf
Walk through the bustling Soho until you reach the extravagant, Tudor exterior of the iconic department store, Liberty London. You could spend hours walking around and creating a wish list of things to deck out your home with.
Just a few minutes away from Liberty is a spot that almost every Londoner has probably heard about. Swingers is a huge indoor crazy golf course complete with street food and a bar. A round of golf on one of their four crazy courses will cost £13, but it’s well worth it for an activity everyone in London loves!
Dinner in Chinatown & a West End Show
If you love Chinese food, a trip to Chinatown is a must. Yes it’s a pretty busy area being right by Piccadilly and Leicester Square, but if you know where to go then you’ll find a tasty restaurant to sit down and enjoy away from the crowds before heading to a West End show.
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Find last minute deals for all the best West End shows via TodayTix. Via this website or app you’ll find seats for all the hottest theatre shows going for great prices. A few shows we highly recommend are Come From Away, School of Rock and the Play That Goes Wrong.
DAY 3: Camden & Greenwich
It’s time to venture out of central London. Take a trip up the Northern Line to the north of the city centre and spend the morning in Camden, London’s bohemian capital. Walk around, take photos of the incredibly talented street art and stroll along the canal. From 10am 7 days a week, stalls in Camden Market open for trade selling all sorts from clothing and jewellery to homeware and music records. Get lost roaming around it all and when it gets to lunch time follow your nose to the street food…
Lunch at the street food market
Nip those hunger pangs in the bud and beat the crowds to the foodie offerings at Camden’s Kerb market. Here is one of the best street food markets in London selling everything from vegan Indian dosas or vegan coconut pancakes to fully loaded macaroni cheese or gourmet meatballs.
One of the best things about London is how you can go from a bohemian haven like Camden to an area packed with royal and maritime history like Greenwich, and them being only a 40 minute tube journey from each other.
There is so much to see and do in Greenwich to easily fill an afternoon. Visit the Queen’s House, explore Greenwich Market, go on board the Cutty Sark ship, walk up Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory and take in fantastic views of Canary Wharf from the top.
Dinner at a pub
You’ll stumble across proper British pubs around every bend in Greenwich. Sit down and reward yourself for being on your feet most of the day with a hearty plate of pub food. Pie and mash, fish and chips, bangers and mash - there are so many British dishes you have to try and pubs are the place to get your fill.
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DAY 4: Richmond & Kew
The most famous park in West London and the largest of the Royal Parks in the entire city is Richmond Park. After a hectic few days of full-on exploring, you’ll no doubt welcome some fresh outer London air into your lungs. Not only is Richmond Park famed for being so enormous, but the best thing about it is it’s home to around 600 red and fallow deer who roam the park in their herd. Watch them graze on the grass or prance across the pathways as they move onto a fresh patch, and try to spot the herd leader with his huge antlers just asking to be photographed.
A River Stroll
From Richmond Park, head out towards the Richmond Hill viewing point and walk down the hill to the river. Venture right along the river and enjoy the pretty views and real west London vibe. As you get near Richmond town centre you’ll come across a number of riverside bars. Stop for a bite to eat and a drink before a spot of shopping in town.
Kew Gardens or Hampton Court Palace
Just a stone’s throw from Richmond is a place called Kew, where you’ll find the world famous botanical Kew Gardens. While entrance isn’t the cheapest it is well worth the price for a stunning walk through the acres upon acres of flora and fauna.
More into history than gardens? Hampton Court Palace was once home to the notorious King Henry VIII and is an easy journey from Richmond train station.
DAY 5: Shoreditch
Street art and Brick Lane
Make your way east to London’s quirky Shoreditch. This area is full to the brim with cool things to do. Start the day with a tour around some of the best street art in the city - you can actually join a free graffiti tour with Strawberry Tours.
Then, spend a few hours on and around Brick Lane. For lovers of vintage clothing and trinkets, you’ll be in heaven with the amount of retro shops there are. Plus, the Old Truman Brewery always has events going on so check out what’s happening there while you’re in London. Be sure to head to BoxPark (just a 6 minute walk away), a cool food and shopping spot made up of old shipping containers.
Spitalfields and Columbia Road Flower Market
Another one of London’s greatest markets is Spitalfields in the heart of Shoreditch. Selling clothing, jewellery, homeware, art and a whole lot of street food. Do a lap around all the food options before you settle on the first delicious stall you lay your eyes on!
Columbia Road Flower Market is another must-see when you’re in the area, a 20 minute walk or 15 minute bus from Spitalfields. This one is open on Sundays only, but if it happens to be for you then be sure to make the trip. The long stretch of multicoloured floral displays is a sight for sore eyes!
Dinner at Smoking Goat
Shoreditch has a whole load of options for eating out on a budget that aren’t just cheap but also seriously delicious. Smoking Goat serves up dishes that’ll make you feel as though you’ve been transported straight to Thailand.
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Drinks and a night out
Shoreditch never disappoints when it comes to a big night out. The area comes to life at night. Start the night at one of the most unusual bars in London, Ballie Ballerson, where you drink cocktails and jump into ball pits. Then end the night at Queen of Hoxton for drinks and dancing amongst London’s coolest crowd.
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