By Phill Othen, MSN contributor

Top tips from a local in London

Join Phill as he takes us on a tour of the art galleries, theatres and parks that makes for a classic day in the capital

Being born and bred in London, historic landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Kew Gardens and Tower Bridge become slightly run-of-the-mill and humdrum, meaning one needs to find breathtaking culture, tradition, good food and fine drink off the beaten track.

With the above in mind, this Londoner was asked to pen a guide to his perfect day in the capital avoiding glitz and glamour, focussing instead on the ancestry and beauty locked up in this historic Roman settlement, built on the majestic River Thames.

London is known globally as a capital city packed full of historic sights, and it is little wonder that it attracts over 14 million international visitors per year, making it Europe's most visited city. But if you want to avoid the crowds on famous shopping road Oxford Street or fighting for space in the popular museums in South Kensington, then follow this advice for unique sights, restaurants, bars and shopping experiences.


Regent Street shoppers (© AP Press Association Images)

Avoid the crush on Regents Street

Saturdays in London are locally known as shopping days, and while you might know Regent Street, Camden and Covent Gardens, if not being squashed in the race for Nike trainers or a tangerine is your aim, then let me take you further afield with some secret delights.

First up, London markets offer a real snapshot of historic bartering within the capital, and there are so many from which to choose. Brixton Market is one of Europe's biggest for Caribbean food and Chelsea Antiques Market is brimming with collectables.

If the rain falls and you need cover, then small shops are the order of the day; Beyond Retro near Bethnal Green is a world leader in second-hand goods and the excellent Claire de Rouen Books, tucked away on Charing Cross Road, is the heart of London's book trade.

Or head to Couverture & The Garbstore in Kensington, a double-decker boutique heaving with independent men and women's wear labels.

Eating and drinking

For those searching gastronomic delight, every form of food is on offer, unsurprising considering the multicultural nature of the city with more than 300 languages spoken within its boundaries. And if celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver don't rock your boat (not exactly refined if you ask me), then there are hidden gems pocketed all over the metropolis.

Lounge Bohemia

Sip molecular cockatils at Lounge Bohemia

For Spanish food, how about Fino in Soho for a smart night out (although book in advance if possible)? After some great Indian cuisine? No problem, Veeraswamy on Regent Street is an absolute joy.

The area of Stoke Newington specialises in Turkish fare for those not up for the whole sitting down thing, although more stylish eating can be found centrally at the wonderful L'Autre Pied on Blanford Street, W1.

With over 7,000 pubs in London, drinking is a specialty in England's wonderful capital. There are plenty of cheerful boozers about but a more refined experience of supping alcohol is never more than a couple of streets away.

Grown-up drinks can be found in more ways than one in Lounge Bohemia, Shoreditch, complete with 1960s décor and molecular cocktails, and Notting Hill's Ruby & Sequoia offers similarly tasty mixers but with a New York bar feel.


Once your belly and head are full then it is time to wind down with a stroll to numerous sights that don't appear in your average tour guide.

The history enthusiasts among you will enjoy the London Underground Lost Property Office behind Baker Street underground station, a staple in the city since 1933, or if you desire exercise AND tradition, then how about Monument, which commemorates the Great Fire of 1666, containing 311 steps to the top and no lift.

Wiltons Music Hall

Faded glory at Wilton's Music Hall

As mentioned in the video above, the Design Museum near Tower Bridge is a haven to intelligent invention but if you want something less modern, then how about Wilton's Music Hall, a crumbling grand music hall located about ten minutes away?

When to visit

Being the capital of England, weather is often a consideration in choosing when to visit London so summer tends to be the most popular time, although December is also a huge draw around Christmas time.

In truth though, this amazing city is a fantastic spectacle throughout the year and there are always a huge range of attractions for a perfect weekend of culture steeped in tradition.

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