10 Top things to do in West London
London, my hometown.
There are so many things I want to write about the wonderful city I grew up in that I have decided to separate it all into different articles for ease of read. London is a very big city so if you're visiting for the first time then I recommend dividing it into areas. In this article I'm focusing on Central-West London, one of the areas I know best.
1. Go to Notting Hill
I think everyone remembers the film Notting Hill with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts which captures the charm of this area so well...
This is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in London as there is so much to do: cool shopping, the famous market on Portobello Road on Saturdays, wandering around the streets with all the colourful houses, The Notting Hill Carnival (last weekend of August) and, of course, the amazing street food.
2. Eat a 99 Flake in St James Park
I've had one every summer since I was a child – it really is a summer tradition in England and, most importantly, it’s delicious! The reason behind its name is not very clear, some people say it's because it used to cost 99 pence and others say that it comes from a Scottish ice-cream maker who had a shop on 99 Portobello High Street and who would split flakes in half and put them in his ice-creams and that it was representative from Cadbury who took the idea. We will never know for sure...
3. Visit Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament
Big Ben is one of the most iconic monuments of London and of course cannot be missed. Together with the Houses of Parliament they form a stunning piece that will impress you from every angle.
Interesting fact: the four-faced chiming clock of Big Ben is the second largest in the world. The Houses of Parliament were nearly blown up by Guy Fawkes on the 5th November 1605 before he was caught and this is why we Brits have the tradition to celebrate the 5th of November every year with a bonfire and fireworks.
4. Live the dream in Chelsea
The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is one of the fanciest neighbourhoods in London. You can walk around for hours admiring all the beautiful white or red brick houses with their charming front gardens and, who knows, this could be your house one day... South Kensington is like a little French quartier and is where you will find some lovely French bakeries, restaurants and even a French cinema at the French Lycée.
5. Walk around Kensington Gardens
The Sunken Garden is one of the most beautiful spots in Hyde Park together with the Serpentine. Kensington Palace is where Prince William and Kate live whilst the Queen resides at Buckingham Palace during the week and at Windsor Castle in the countryside on weekends.
6. Have lunch at a pub
You cannot go to London or anywhere in England without eating at a pub. Although we're not renowned by our gastronomy like other countries, I still think that everyone enjoys a good Fish & Chips, a Shepherd’s Pie or a Sunday Roast, amongst others. The Running Horse in Mayfair (open since 1738) is one of my favourite pubs that serve amazing dishes– not all pubs serve decent food so please follow my advice here.
7. Go on the London Eye
You are guaranteed amazing views over the whole of London. Opened in 2000 to celebrate a new millennium, this gigantic Ferris wheel has become a symbol of London which I'm sure you have seen in many films. I remember going many years ago but unfortunately it was pouring with rain and it got a bit steamy so try to go on a sunny day despite the unpredictable weather…Buy your tickets here.
8. See a concert at the Royal Albert Hall
This concert hall is absolutely fabulous and holds a large variety of shows (music concerts, operas, ballets, film screenings, etc.). I really do recommend checking out their program and enjoying a show of your choice.
9. Cycle along the Thames
Rent a Boris Bike (named after our previous Mayor Boris Johnson who put the bike scheme in place) and spend an afternoon cycling along the river. FYI - they are now red bikes: Santander Cycles.
10. See an exhibition at the V&A
The Victoria and Albert museum is one of my favourites in London due to the great number of fascinating exhibitions they hold. These photos are from a past exhibition which showcased all of Alexander McQueen’s designs (Savage Beauty). I was extremely impressed with the whole creative set-up. Find out more about what’s going on at the V&A here.
Have you already done any of these things?