3 Days in London: What to Do, See, and Eat!
Vacation is just never long enough, is it? And when you have a limited time in a new city, you want to make every second count — because in a snap, it's over. For my recent trip to the UK, the best thing I did was ask my friends for recs on what to do. Thanks to these tips — some of which came from locals — I was able to pack in my top priorities in short time and enjoy a few under-the-radar delights. Here are a few suggestions for enjoying London's sweetest offerings in three days. And if you're a Harry Potter fan, check out these recommendations!
Day 1: Morning
Although it's crowded (and touristy), it's worth walking through the Portobello Market in the pretty Notting Hill district for inexpensive shopping complete with lots of local flavor. The food options all looked great, but the winner had to be the raclette stand. The cheese-melting process is seriously mesmerizing and drool-worthy. After the cheese wheel starts to bubble and brown, the top layer is scraped off onto a plate of potatoes, cured meat, and pickles. SO GOOD.
Day 1: Morning
If weather permits, walk through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, but don't feel like you necessarily need to do the tour of Kensington Palace unless you're a huge royal fan. I'll admit, it was cool to be right where Will and Kate live, but we didn't feel the need to pay for a tour since the park is so beautiful.
Day 1: Afternoon
Harrods is a must-visit department store and one of those places that takes longer than you expect to really explore. The book section is incredible, and it sounds weird, but be sure to take the Egyptian Escalator. Here's my biggest pro tip, though: don't have tea in The Tea Room, as it's dark and crowded; instead, enjoy it out on the terrace of The Conservatory on the top floor. (Or better yet, have a glass of Champagne.) There aren't as many options, but you can still do an afternoon tea with scones, and the views are much better.
Day 1: Afternoon
Walk around the Marylebone neighborhood, including St. Christopher's Place, where there's plenty of cute shops and restaurants to check out. Definitely stop in Oliver Bonas, a uniquely London chain that had a similar feel to Anthropologie with its selection of feminine furniture, clothing, accessories, and gifts. I got almost all my friends and co-workers souvenirs from there.
Day 1: Evening
If you make one reservation ahead of your trip, make it for Chiltern Firehouse. It's tough to get in but totally lives up to the hype. (We made reservations a week ahead of time and got in, so it just depends on the day and season.) From the light and airy crab doughnut appetizer (pictured here) to the sweetly bizarre yet delicious frozen apple panna cotta, the entire experience was perfection and a highlight of the trip.
Day 2: Morning
Spend some time walking around Soho, a less-crowded (and crazy) shopping area near Oxford Circus. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the HUGE Liberty store — there's so much to see, and it's a truly unique shopping experience.
Day 2: Afternoon
Have afternoon tea at Sketch — the most Instagrammable restaurant in London. This photo is from "the parlour," the front cafe that's open to anyone and easy to grab a quick bite or cup of tea in. The real gem is the pink room, technically called The Gallery, but you'll want to book reservations to ensure you can get in. No matter where you go, be sure to check out the bathrooms. . . . They are out of this world (seriously).
Day 2: Evening
I can't recommend Dishoom enough. Even in our limited time in London, we ate at this Irani-cafe-inspired Indian restaurant twice. It was THAT good. Don't let the long line to get in turn you away. We were told it would be a two-plus-hour wait, and it was much faster. Stick it out; it's worth it. The ambiance is incredible (there are several locations — we went to the Soho one) and everything we ordered was delicious, including the cocktails.
Day 2: Evening
Walk off your dinner along Carnaby Street to see a very cool rainbow light installation.
Day 3: Morning
Visit the Tate Modern, a free contemporary art museum right on the River Thames with views of the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral. While it is free to visit, keep in mind that you will have to pay for special exhibits. Give yourself some time to meander.
Day 3: Afternoon
Walk through Borough Market, and grab a bite to eat. This massive sandwich — "The Borough Club" — was from Hash, and it was a mouthwatering combination of grilled chicken, smoked bacon, and salty halloumi cheese.
Day 3: Evening
Pick a show ahead of your trip and book tickets for it. We chose Lés Miserables, which is showing at the gorgeous Queen's Theatre, and while it can be pricey, it's worth doing. The theater district is a little nuts, but we stumbled upon a great Italian restaurant called Forty Dean Street. I'd highly recommend it for a preshow dinner!