Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful day whether enjoying a little extra cuddle from your special someone, or spending a beautiful Sunday surrounded by friends.
Since we’re on the topic of romance, I wanted to talk today on Aurora Stories about a few things we can do to fall in love with beautiful London. I’m sure those of you who visit would wonder why you wouldn’t be totally enamoured every minute living in one of the coolest cities in the world. Sometimes, though, life gets in the way, you get caught up with work, lose track of time and forget all the small things that make up why you love this city.
1 – VISIT ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
It’s funny that I mention this at the top of my suggestions of things to do in London, because I’ve never actually been inside myself! I’ve heard the ceiling fresco is magnificent, and I’m a huge fan of Italian churches which nearly all have breathtaking frescos, so St Paul’s is high on my list to visit some time soon…
2 – GET A VIEW FROM THE TOP
Seeing London from above really puts into perspective how vast and diverse the city is. From world-renowned sky-scrapers, to iconic rows of colourful Victorian townhouses, you can see just how the city has grown to become the powerful metropolis that it is today. The spots I would recommend with the best views are:
- Breakfast – The Duck & Waffle – You can dine here at 6am, 10am, or even 3am – it’s a rustic French brasserie open 24 hours.
- Lunch – Madison – Set overlooking the City of London, this chic restaurant/cocktail bar boasts an incredible terrace a stone’s throw from St Paul’s Cathedral.
- Drinks – Oblix @ The Shard – Located in Europe’s tallest tower, Oblix has gorgeous live jazz sessions and unbeatable cocktails.
- Dinner – City Social. Run by Michelin star chef, Jason Atherton, here you can find delicious food and breathtaking views.
3 – GO TO A WEEKEND MARKET
Whether you like food, vintage goods, flowers, buskers, or just a morning stroll, visiting one of London’s markets will always add a sparkle to your weekend.
- Saturday markets: Broadway market (farmers market, vintage), Maltby Market (foodie!), Spitalfields market (Both Sat/Sun, great if it’s raining)
- Sunday markets: Columbia Road (flowers), Brick Lane (vintage, food), Borough Market (one of the best food markets you’ll ever experience)
4 – HAVE AFTERNOON TEA
There are hundreds of places to enjoy afternoon tea in London, in all corners of the city and to suit all budgets:
- Under £20: The Wallace Restaurant (Near Bond Street)
- £20-£30: The Kensington Palace Orangery (Hyde Park), The Wolseley (Green Park)
- £30-£40: The Waldorf (Covent Garden), The Chesterfield Hotel (Mayfair)
- £40+: The Dorchester (Mayfair), BB Bakery Bus Tour (Victoria), Sketch (Mayfair)
5 – VISIT GREENWICH
I’m sure many of you who live in London or are coming to visit have never been to Greenwich. From a stunning university, to a sweet little market and of course the Greenwich Royal Observatory, there is so much to see in this town. It’s perfect to spend a morning exploring, as unlike the rest of London everything is in walking distance!
6 – GO ON AN OUTDOOR ADVENTURE
Last year I discovered this awesome organisation, Secret Adventures, run by a group of people who want to bring the outdoors to central London. From canoeing down the Thames, to camping and full-moon swims, you are guaranteed to find an adventure that adds a bit of action to your weekend.
7 – VISIT THE COLOURFUL HOUSES OF NOTTING HILL
As many of you will see from my Instagram, I’m a huge fan of doorways. Being a photographer, I’m always stumbling upon new colourful streets, but Notting Hill is hard to beat. Go for a cake and coffee at Biscuiteers and then enjoy doorway hopping your way home!
8 – TRY A NEW RESTAURANT
London has to be one of the food capitals of the world. You have an infinite choice of top-class international food all over the city. I’m constantly having to stop myself from eating out too often, but being a huge food-lover it’s so hard not to! Some newly opened spots:
- Billy and the Chicks – Restaurant in Soho specialising in chicken.
- Coin Laundry – Retro, rustic diner in Finsbury.
- German Gymnasium – A German restaurant located in a Grade II listed building outside King’s Cross Station.
9 – GO TO THE THEATRE
It’s been a while since I went to the theatre, but when I do go, I always try and see as many different shows as possible. From musical theatre to the opera, which I went to three times last year, you can find world-class theatre to suit all dramatic tastes. What’s on right now:
- Theatre: Matthew Perry starrs in The End of Longing at The Playhouse.
- Opera: La Traviata is currently on at the Royal Opera House. If you’ve never been to the opera, this show is a beautiful way to introduce you to the opera world.
- Musical: Motown the musical has just hit the streets of London at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Get your dancing shoes on!
10 – GO TO AN EXHIBITION
From fine art to photography to history, you are never lost for choice with exhibitions in London. We have a number of world-class touring shows that come to the city, but you have to get in there quick before tickets sell out. Some of the current exhibitions you can visit right now:
- Royal Academy of Arts – Currently exhibiting pieces from Monet to Matisse. An unmissable exhibition for art lovers.
- National Portrait Gallery – Showing a collection of photos from Vogue over the last 100 years. A show I’m definitely not going to miss!
- National Maritime Museum – A history of Samuel Pepys and London’s Plague, a fabulous way to find out a bit more about our city’s history.