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By Jess Edwards, MSN contributor

Top tips from a local in London

Journalist Jess Edwards takes us on a tour around her favourite parts of London. Watch as she explores art galleries, markets and bars off the beaten track and makes the most of a London that most tourists don't know about.


London is one of the most-visited cities in the world and after living here most of my life I don't find it hard to see why. The multi-cultural city is full of all sorts of shops, markets, restaurants, bars and museums - no two streets are the same and there is always something new to try just around the corner.

And of course, who can forget the main reasons tourists come here to visit; the Queen (she needs to be near the top of the list), famous landmarks like the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus, to travel on the oldest underground railway network in the world or to soak up the history and culture the city just oozes out of every corner.

After all, considering how unreliable the weather can be, there's got to be something about this city that draws in millions of tourists every year.

And believe me, there's lots that goes undiscovered, too.

So here's my idea of a perfect London weekend. Be sure to watch my video tour above too, where I take you around spots in East London ideal for shopping, soaking up the atmosphere and dining out.

Shopping

If you like the sound of East London's Spitalfields Market which is bursting with vintage shops and is a fashion hub for the trendy you will like west London's Portobello market too. As one of the most famous markets in the world, it's also a must-visit.

Spittalfields market

Go here on Saturday to see the market at its best and wander through stall after stall of vintage fashion and a truly vast collection of antiques.

Make sure to pick up a cupcake from Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Road and not far away you can grab a bite of hot food to eat from the Golborne Road international food market, too.

If you prefer to dress in more alternative clothing, Camden Town markets serve a wide range of fashion styles to suit all.

This place is heaving on a Saturday and Sunday and well-worth a visit, just be prepared to have to work your way through the crowds.





Eating and drinking

Londoners are spoilt for choice for places to eat and drink in town. I often stroll down to CASK Pub and Kitchen in Pimlico for a few drinks. The pub is famous for its vast collection of real ales from around the UK and its world-class keg and bottled beer from all over the world.

Or, if it's a nice sunny evening, I like to head to the award-winning Hootananny in Brixton where the large beer garden attracts big crowds and there's often live music later on.

The British love sport, especially watching it and if there are big sporting events on while you're in town make sure to pick a pub where there will be tonnes of atmosphere.

Vibe Bar, which I visit in my perfect weekend video above, has huge indoor and outdoor screens for large football or rugby tournaments and the outdoor BBQ does some tasty Jerk Chicken in the evenings and on a weekend.

The Grand Union in Brixton also puts up large screens in its beer garden which can seat up to 300 people - one of London's largest. You can also hire out special 'tree houses' at the Grand Union if you want to make a day or night of it.

Eat, shop, do at Eat Shop Do (© Eat Shop Do)

Eat, shop, do at Eat Shop Do

For something a little different, consider going for afternoon tea with a few friends. Drink Shop and Do in Caledonian Road is a fantastic spot where during the day you can enjoy afternoon tea or choose from a selection of speciality teas, finger sandwiches and cakes.

In the evening, you can also take part in all sorts of things from having a 50s make-over to playing musical bingo or making your own crafts whilst enjoying a cocktail.

If a Brick Lane curry, like I have in my perfect weekend video isn't what you're after for dinner, try Le Mercury in Islington - a reasonably-priced French restaurant with all the atmosphere you'd want for dinner and of course some really tasty food.

Sightseeing

There are simply loads of art galleries and museums spotted around London to choose from for a bit of culture, but if you fancy going further afield and avoiding the crowds at the National Gallery of Royal Academy of Art I would recommend The Horniman museum in South London's Forest Hill which has been open since Victorian times.

It's a great free day out for the family with beautiful parks to wander in and interesting exhibitions and displays on natural history, photography, musical instruments and the strangest looking stuffed walrus you'll ever see. The aquarium and nature base are fantastic for kids and allow them to get up-close and personal with sea-life and insects and learn about their natural habitats. Although, like me, you don't need to have children to appreciate this place!

When to visit

If you can brave any type of weather then it is always a good time to visit London.

Enjoy a drink in a beer garden (© Grand Union)

Grand Union Brixton

Most attractions are open in the colder and darker winter months and visiting then can be a good way to avoid fellow travellers, but remember prices and crowds tend to swell during the Christmas and Easter holidays.

Warm temperatures might not be guaranteed during the summer months but when the sun does shine it's the perfect opportunity to join Londoners in the capital's many parks and beer gardens.


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