Get high (by ascending The Shard)
How better to enjoy the incredible London skyline than by ascending this jagged glass giant and letting the view take your breath away? With 360° views 244 metres from the ground, the Shard is one of the city’s very best vantage points. It houses restaurants, a 72nd floor SkyDeck and endless events; from music, to yoga, to a summer garden installation. Get on up.
The Shard, 32 London Bridge St, London, England +44 (0) 844 499 7111
Enjoy some old school entertainment at the Globe Theatre
Back in the early 1600s, Shakespeare’s Globe was the centre for down and dirty power-to-the-people entertainment. Unfortunately it got burned down in 1613, was rebuilt and was finally torn down in 1644. Luckily for us, a stunning recreation of the original was built in 1997 so you can go and enjoy Shakespeare’s work the way he would have wanted you to: standing with the rest of the riff-raff.
The Globe Theatre, Cardinal Cap Alley, London +44 20 7401 9919
Take a last glimpse at some stolen treasures at The British Museum
We’ve been hoarding some of the world’s most marvellous artifacts here for decades and if Amal Clooney had her way, we’d be returning a few of them to their rightful owners. This place is so full of treasures though that we’d be left with plenty to gawp at. With mind-blowing items of interest from Ancient Iran, Greece, China, Egypt and Roman Britain, you’re absolutely spoilt for choice.
The British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London, England +44 20 7323 8299
Lose yourself at The V&A
A British institution housing cultural artifacts from around the world. You can effectively track the cultural progression of the human race by perusing the galleries of this vast museum. The 150 galleries on seven floors display thousands upon thousands of pieces of furniture, ceramics, sculpture, paintings, posters, jewellery, metalwork, glass and textiles, spanning several hundred years. Set aside a few hours and really get stuck in.
The V&A Museum Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London, England +44 20 7942 2000
Get in touch with your wild side at the Natural History Museum
The famous Dippy the Diplodocus skeleton is off travelling the country, but there are still a million and one natural wonders to take in at this fantastic free museum. The building itself is grand enough and a true feat of architecture, but the Aladdin’s cave of animal magic inside is sure to wow you. The Blue Zone hosts animatronic dinosaurs and a giant model of a foetus in the womb. The Green Zone is home to a cross-section through a Giant Sequoia tree and hundreds of stuffed birds. In the Red Zone, take a escalator ride through the centre of the Earth to pay a visit to the earthquake simulator. You’ll stagger away reeling from all the amazing natural wonders this planet has to offer.
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London, England +44 20 7942 5000
Feel the gravity of the situation on the Big Slide in the Olympic Park
Otherwise known as the ArcelorMittal Orbit, this massive twisting and turning red scaffolding tower is home to a huge helter skelter. Designed by the artist Anish Kapoor and structural engineer Cecil Balmond, it stands 114.5m tall. There are 455 steps to take you to the top or (thank goodness) a lift. As you whizz and whirl back down to Earth, you might glimpse The Shard, St Paul’s and Wembley. Big, big fun.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 3 Thornton Street, London, England +44333 800 8099
Live out your 90s fantasies in the Crystal Maze
Thanks to Kickstarter, the cult classic has been brought back to life and you can take your mates to challenge the maze and hopefully emerge victorious! Sprint your way through the various zones, taking it in turns to play physical, mental, skillful and mystery challenges, earning your crystals as you go to buy you more time in the dome finale. No pressure.
10-14 White Lion St, London, England, +44 844 871 8805
Take Ping Pong way too seriously at Bounce
This neon and ultra violet den of ping pong will definitely bring out your competitive side. Hire out a table for an hour slot and get your game on, while ordering drinks that you can holster in handy table-side drink holders. There are 17 bespoke tables and a private room, so it gets pretty hectic. There’s also a restaurant serving pizzas to replenish your strength after a tough game.
Eat your weight in salt beef at Brick Lane’s Beigel Bake
This 24 hour bagel hub has become an East End institution. The production line is a picture of efficiency as the brusque staff take your order, carve your wobbly, warm saltbeef off the big slab in the window, stuff a generous handful of it in your bagel and take your money. No frills, no airs and graces, just top nosh.
Beigel Bake 159 Brick Ln, London +44 20 7729 0616
Shhh, someone’s in the British Library
This astounding collection of literature has more than 150 million items and adds up to 3 million new items every year. A copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland is sent to The British Library, so it’s no wonder that the shelves are a little crowded. You can apply for access to the reading rooms, or just enjoy the permanent and temporary exhibits on display. Among the millions of tomes, you’ll find Shakespeare’s first Folio, Handel’s Messiah, the Gutenberg Bible, drafts of the Magna Carta and the Beatles’ manuscripts.
The British Library, 96 Euston Rd, Kings Cross, London, England +44 330 333 1144
Eat a little piece of Britain at Hawksmoor
If you’re looking for top quality, well sourced, perfectly cooked British beef, then you could do a lot worse than Hawksmoor. The menu focuses on amazing beef from the renowned London butcher Ginger Pig. You’ll learn everything you need to know about the meat you’re chewing on, from its particular breed, to where it grew up. Other meats and seafood as well as some spectacular desserts are all on offer. Delicious.
Hawksmoor, 11 Langley St, London, England +44 20 7420 9390
Get classical at the Proms
This ever so traditional British institution takes place from mid July to mid September. With so many concerts available, it showcases not just classical music but jazz too. This year there is a tribute to Scott Walker with Jarvis Cocker and Stax records with none other than Tom Jones. If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket to the famous final night, it’s time to wave your Union Jack and toot your horn.
Get to grips with the goats at Spitalfields City Farm
Born out of a swinging 60s squatters allotment, this is the place to get a little taste of the countryside in the heart of the city. With a motley collection of animals such as a parrot, sheep, goats and delightful donkeys, it may be just the respite you need from the every day London rat race.
Spitalfields City Farm, Buxton St, London, England +44 20 7247 8762
Go green at Kew Gardens
This simply stunning collection of plants in a beautiful setting is another perfect way to escape the urban jungle and re-centre yourself. The UNESCO-listed site comprises 326 acres of beautiful scenery with rare plants from around the world. There are several vast greenhouses recreating tropical conditions, stunning grounds to stroll around and an exhilarating treetop walk, where you can look down on it all in amazement. You’ll never want to leaf (sorry).
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, London, England, +44 20 8332 5655
Eat a duck’s tongue in Chinatown
Transport yourself to the steamy streets of Shanghai in London’s hub of Asian culture. You’ll know when you’ve arrived as the street signs are in two different languages and the pagodas, lion statues and grand red and gold gates are also a bit of a giveaway. Located between Leicester Square and Shaftesbury Avenue, the area is packed with restaurants and shops devoted to all things Oriental. A great way to spend the afternoon, sampling delicacies from the East, buying unknown delights in the supermarkets or kicking back in a teahouse.