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London events in september - London design festival

Things to Do in London in September

By London Planning Tips 2 Comments

When visiting London in September, be prepared for a transition in the seasons. The summer is wrapping up and autumn is on its way. This can mean a mix of warm days and cool nights, and of course there is always a chance of rain. It’s London, right? The average high temperature is 19 C/67 F and the average low is 12 C/55 F. No matter the weather, there is still plenty to do in London in September.

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London in September - Open House London

Open House London

Open House weekend is a celebration of architecture in the city. Many buildings that are usually private are opened to the public – for free! Some venues require tickets, so book in advance as those ones sell out fast. It usually happens on a weekend in mid- September. Visit the Open House London website for more information and to order their guide.

Watch the video below for a preview of what you could see…

Open House London website | Mid-September | Free

 

September London events - Totally Thames Festival

Totally Thames

This festival celebrates the River Thames for the whole month of September. There are many events including shows, exhibitions, and boat parties. From the world’s oldest boat race to hip-hop inspired poetry, to musicians and storytellers, this festival has a ton going on. To see what’s happening when you’re in London, visit the Totally Thames website.

Watch the promo video below to get a better idea of what happens during the festival.

Totally Thames website | All of September | Free and paid events

London Fashion Weekend

If you’re visiting London in September and have an interest in fashion, the London Fashion Weekend allows you to shop more than 150 of the top British and international fashion brands at discounted prices, at the iconic Victoria House in Bloomsbury. You can also get tickets for industry talks and special events.

London Fashion Weekend takes place mid- September (check the website for this year’s dates) and is more accessible than London Fashion Week itself (which happens before the weekend festival). Tickets for some events sell out fast so visit the London Fashion Weekend website and order tickets early to ensure you get to check out whatever interests you.

Watch the video below to see more of what it’s like.

London Fashion Weekend website | mid-September | free to £££

London events in september - London design festival

London Design Festival

Similar to Fashion Week Festival, the London Design Festival happens throughout the city with a purpose to celebrate and promote London as the design capital of the world. There are many design events and exhibitions (both public and private) to explore during the week-long festival. Listings of the various exhibits are available on the London Design Festival website.

See the video below for a visitor’s experience going to the festival.

London Design Festival website | mid-September | Free and paid exhibitions

Things to do London Sept - Buckingham Palace Summer Opening

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening

The Buckingham Palace Summer Opening continues into September, during which London visitors can get access inside Buckingham Palace and experience that year’s special exhibition. Ticket prices, opening times, and directions are available on the palace’s website. If you’re into history and the royals, this might be worth the ticket price for you.

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening website | July – October | £££

 

 

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Oktoberfest in London

Munich’s world-famous Oktoberfest actually mostly takes place in September every year, and London likes to get involved as much as possible without having to deal with the massive crowds and jacked-up hotel prices they’d get in Munchen…

Lots of pubs and venues around the city will put on special Oktoberfest celebrations, and there are even a few “Oktoberfest-style” pubs and beer gardens that are open year round anyways.

You can find out events and parties happening around the city as it gets closer to Oktoberfest time by checking the listings on Time Out London and Design My Night. I personally love celebrating at German Kraft, a brewery located next to the Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle. They have a German-style drinking atmosphere in their stunning beer garden all year round, but during Oktoberfest time, they do special treats like oompah bands and dancing on tables… you’ll feel like you’ve been drunkenly transported to Munich!

Oktoberfest in London | Most of September, weekends | £-££

BBC Proms

The BBC Proms finishes up in the first half of September. Each year, the BBC Proms host two months of concerts over the summer, aiming to bring the finest classical music to as many people as possible at affordable prices and in an informal atmosphere, with standing tickets or high-up gallery tickets from just £6.

“Proms” is short for “promenade concerts”, which tend to be informal and offer affordable tickets. The tradition of “promming” happens when you take part by buying one of those inexpensive tickets, with up to 1,350 of these usually being on offer for each BBC Proms show, which happen at the famous Royal Albert Hall.

If you want to get involved, you can find more info and tickets on the BBC Proms website. The promming tickets are usually sold online the morning before the show, and also at the door on a first-come-first-served basis. Check out Visit London’s guide on how to be a top Prommer so you can make the most of the experience.

Watch the video above for a preview of one act from the 2019 Proms…

BBC Proms website | July – mid September | £-£££

For more tips about visiting London, sign up for my free London 101 Guide. It has everything a first-time visitor to London needs, and you can grab it for free! You’ll get helpful tips about airport transportation, what type of power adapter you need, and how much to tip for all those pints of beer. You’ll be well prepared to make the most of your visit.

More tips for your London visit:

Important Things to Know Before Visiting Pubs in London

What to Pack For London: A London Packing List

Cool Things to Do When Visiting London in the Fall

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What to do in London in September - a list of events in London in September. If you're visiting London in September, here are some interesting things to do.

What to do visiting London august

Five Things To Do When Visiting London in August

By London Planning Tips No Comments

If you’re visiting London in August, tourist season is still in full swing, and so is summer, if we’re lucky the average high temperature is 22ºC/72ºF and the average low is 14ºC/57ºF . Feel free to pack those shorts, yet still bring a light sweater or rain jacket (also check the forecast before you arrive, because we can get sudden heat or cold waves).

As for things to do, London is full of activities for adults and kids. Below are five things to do when visiting London in August.

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August Bank Holiday

The last Monday in August is a bank holiday– woohoo! This means that much of the city has the day off, and therefore, a three-day weekend. There are always tons of things happening, like music festivals, parties, pop-up markets and more. To see what’s happening around London during the August Bank Holiday weekend, check sites like Time Out London and Londonist, which are updated with more information and listings as the weekend gets closer.

One thing that I personally don’t recommend to visit is Notting Hill Carnival. It gets very crowded and I personally find it very unenjoyable… I prefer Hackney Carnival, which celebrates the same cultural values with a parade with colourful costumes, sound stages with live performances, and more. It’s just a bit more spread out and quiet 🙂 It happens just after bank holiday weekend, and you can find more info as it gets closer to August on the Hackney Carnival Facebook page.

Southbank Festivals and Events

There’s SO much to do along the Southbank in the summer, including some annual festivals of music, comedy, art and more. For example, check out the Underbelly Festival for live shows and performances, or the various shows that the Southbank Centre puts on. Visit the Southbank Centre website for more information.

There’s also a couple of things for kids, one year there’s a man-made “beach” as well as a water fountain that both children and adults were welcome to play in.

Check out this video for what you can expect at the Southbank Festival, including live shows till 1am, drag queens, and more…

Kids Week

This one is cool for your kids and your budget. During Kids Week, little ones get a free ticket to many popular West End shows with a purchase of one adult ticket, plus discounts for extra kids tickets. A show is a great way to cool off during a hot August London day or can entertain if rain is in the forecast.

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What to do in London in August. Cool events and special holidays in London to check out if you're visiting London in August.

Summer Opening at Buckingham Palace

In July, the Queen goes on holiday, so if you’re visiting London in August, the lavish State Rooms are open to visitors, plus a themed summer exhibition is on each year. Book tickets in advance as they can sell out fast for the summer months.

See a bit of a preview…

BBC Proms

Are you into classical music? You can hear a wide range of classical selections in a season of informal concerts with the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and in venues across London.

Each year, the BBC Proms host two months of concerts over the summer, aiming to bring the finest classical music to as many people as possible at affordable prices and in an informal atmosphere.

If you want to get involved, you can find more info and tickets on the BBC Proms website.

Here’s a preview of one act from the 2019 Proms…

Get my Free London 101 Guide

Will this be your first time in London? If so, sign up to get my free London 101 Guide. It’s everything a first time visitor needs in one easy to reference guide. Find out all the things you should know before you arrive in London, for free. Get helpful info on airport transportation, tipping, how to get and spend currency, and more.

More tips for your London trip:

How to Prepare for your First 3 Days in London

10 Things to do in London in the Summer

5 Reasons Not to Use a Free London Itinerary

london packing list

What to Pack For London: A London Packing List

By London Planning Tips, London Travel Tips 2 Comments

Love and London community members ask me all of the time for tips on what to pack for London. Beyond the obvious items (jeans, tops, underwear, etc.), these are the things most people visiting London don’t realise they need to have on their London packing list, plus some tips on how to choose the best items to bring.

Check the weather in London

Weather is an important thing to look into when figuring out what to pack for London. A month or so before you hop on the plane, check what the typical weather is for the month you’ll be visiting. This is as easy as typing “London weather in MONTH” into Google. See what the averages are, and you’ll have an idea of what you might be able to expect.

Unfortunately, London weather can vary SIGNIFICANTLY, so you’ll need to check the forecast 1-2 days before you leave for London, and then choose clothing according to what the weather is predicted to be.

Also have a watch of this video which covers how to figure out the weather for your trip.

You can get stuff here

Please don’t stress about what to pack! You can buy almost anything here in London if you need it. Or just make do with what you have, that’s the fun of travel 🙂 Also, use what you have, there’s no need to go buy a whole new wardrobe just for a few days in London.

What to pack for London: Clothing

A jacket

Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, what type of jacket will depend, but even in the summer, unless you visit London during a “heat wave”, you might want to have a light jacket with you in the evenings.

In the winter, the temps vary but you can expect to need a down jacket, something to keep you nice and warm between stops at restaurants and attractions. I recommend something waterproof.

You could choose to bring a rain jacket, but as long as your normal jacket is fairly waterproof, that’s totally fine.

Water-resistant shoes

Even if it’s not forecasted to rain, bring some water-resistant shoes, just in case. These can be leather boots, some durable tennis shoes, or you can go ahead and spray water repellant on whatever type of shoe you want. You won’t typically find Londoners wearing rain boots (aka “wellies”) in the city but if the weather gets really bad you can always just buy a cheap pair from a shop on Oxford Street.

Nice outfits for dinners and evenings out

I hesitate to tell anyone what to wear on their holiday, but a tip for Americans is that Europeans, especially in major cities, tend to dress nicer than we are used to back in the states. So depending on what you plan to do in the evenings, you might want to dress a little nicer than you usually would or you might feel a bit underdressed.

When going to a nice restaurant or bar, my husband typically wears casual dress shoes (pretty much anything but trainers), as well as dark jeans or trousers and a collared shirt. I would typically wear a nice blouse, dark jeans/trousers/a skirt, and shoes with a bit of a chunky heel.

My advice is to put a couple of nicer evening options on your London packing list, and see how you feel once you arrive. Then you’ve got them if you want them, or if you think dressing more casual works for you, then just leave them in your suitcase.

Layers

Because the temps can vary widely from day to night here in London, and because it can get so hot on the underground, even in the dead of winter, layers are important. Bring plenty of options for layering, such as scarves, sweaters/cardigans, tights, and light jackets or blazers.

Hats, gloves, scarves

In autumn and winter, you’ll need hats, gloves, and scarves to keep yourself warm while exploring the city.

What to pack for London: Everything else

Travel adapter

Don’t forget that there are different plugs here, so for your electronics that are dual-voltage, bring a power adapter. Find out how to tell if your electronics are dual voltage. Items like phone chargers are typically dual-voltage. Things like hair dryers may or may not be.

If you have an item that isn’t dual voltage, I recommend leaving it at home. You can technically use it with a power converter, however in my experience, they either don’t work very well, or damage the electronic.

Note that plugs are different in the UK from the rest of Europe, so you’ll need separate adapters. This all-in-one adapter will cover you for most of the world.

Compact umbrella

Even if it’s not meant to rain while you’re in London, it’s a good idea to bring an umbrella along just in case you get stuck in any unexpected showers.

Need links to specific items for what to get for your London trip? Check my London Packing Guide.

What NOT to pack for London

Sweatshirts and sweatpants

Londoners don’t wear these in public, except to the gym, so don’t bring them with you with the intention of wearing them around the city because you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
T-shirts with writing on them

I never noticed how much Americans wear t-shirts with writing on them, like college shirts, until I came to London and no one was wearing them EXCEPT Americans. Again, they make you stand out as a tourist pretty majorly and also aren’t fashion forward, in case you care 🙂 My dad is a big fan of college T-shirts, but when we comes to visit, he goes with simple t-shirts or collared shirts when we go someplace nice.

Sundresses and tank tops

Even if you’re visiting in the summer, there’s a decent chance that it won’t be warm enough to wear your teeny little sundress or tank top. This is why it’s so important to check the forecast right before you get here before you choose what to pack for London— it COULD be really hot, in which case, your dresses and tanks will be perfect, but it could be chilly and rainy too, and you’ll end up freezing your little butt off.

Let me know in the comments if this helps you choose what to pack for London. If this is your first visit, I’ve got a free London 101 guide that gives you all the basic things you need to know for your visit here, including info on where to get some currency, how to get to the city centre from the airport, and more.

These are the things you’ll definitely forget to pack for a London trip…

More London tips:

London Heathrow Airport Guide: 10 Things to Know Before Visiting

How to Prepare for your First 3 Days in London

3 Great Areas to Stay in London For a Local Experience

 

*Some of the links in this article will earn a very small commission if you click them and then purchase something.

How to use your US phone in London

How to Use Your US Phone in London (or any phone really)

By London Planning Tips No Comments

If you’re visiting London and want to use your US phone in London so that you can get calls, texts and use data, here are a few ways in which you can stay connected when you’re here in the UK. These tips can also apply for London visitors from outside of the US!

*Some of the links in the article are affiliated and help support our free content.

1. Check with your provider about an international plan

Some cell providers have reasonably priced international plans for limited amounts of time. This is the easiest way to use your map, and to be as connected as possible. Even having the option to use a little data, for times when you get stuck without wifi, is helpful!

Call your cell phone provider to see what options they can offer for using your US phone in London while you’re visiting.

How to use your US phone in London (or any phone really.) Four affordable ways to keep your cell phone connected while visiting London. Great cell phone SIM card options for London tourists.

2. Use a SIM

When I travel outside of Europe, I usually end up buying a cheap SIM so that I can easily stay connected, for cheap. You can do this in London if you have an unlocked smartphone, just check with your mobile provider to see if you do.

When you arrive, visit a supermarket, convenience store, or a mobile phone shop to pick up a pay-as-you-go SIM. You can also get them at the airport, I’ve heard they’re more expensive but I don’t know if that’s true. It’s probably easier to wait until you check into your hotel anyways, I think, than to faff around with it before you get on the train.

Probably the easiest way to be able to use your US phone in London as soon as you step off the plane is to order a free SIM ahead of time from Giff Gaff. They’ll send it to you at home, just follow the instructions for set up and you’ll be good to go.

3. Use a wireless data device in London

If you have a few people in your travel party that won’t be splitting up much, it might be more economical to get a wireless data pocket device, as multiple people can connect to it at one time. It essentially acts as a wifi that you put in your pocket. Try TEP Wireless for this (I haven’t used it myself, just FYI.)

4. Find wifi around London

Wifi is fairly easy to find around London if you’ll need it to use your US phone in London. First off, you’re almost guaranteed to have free wifi in your hotel or Airbnb. I recommend mapping out your day over breakfast while you have the connection.

When you’re not at your home base, all coffee shops around the city will have wifi. Pop inside for a coffee or tea, rest your feet, and connect your phone.

On top of that, some restaurants, museums, shops, and other places around London will also offer free wifi. If you see a network pop up on your phone, just ask a staff member if there’s a password you can use.

Many tube stations also have wifi– if you’re not a Virgin Media or O2 customer/SIM user, you can get a week-long pass for £5. Finally, if you find yourself near an Apple Store, you can pop in there for some free wifi too.

Remember that if you have my 3-Day London Itinerary, that the digital map works best with a data connection when you’re out and about, so the first three options are the best for you.

So the above options mentioned are the best ways for tourists to be able to use a US phone in London. Which option will work best for you will depend on your situation.

More London planning tips:

How to Keep Planning Your London Trip (even if you don’t know when you’ll visit)

How to Prepare For Your First Three Days in London

5 Common Mistakes Tourists Make in Their First Three Days in London

How to Keep Planning Your London Trip (even if you don’t know when you’ll visit)

By London Planning Tips

No matter what’s happening with your trip to London, there are still things you can do to keep yourself excited and on track to plan the trip of a lifetime to this amazing city, even if your trip isn’t for another few months or gets postponed (and please postpone– don’t cancel!)

BTW, we are no longer answering questions about London’s current travel situation, please see our founder Jess’s latest statement. Now… enjoy the article!

Take advantage of flexible cancellation policies and low prices

The cancellation terms that travel companies are offering are unprecedented, especially for airlines, which usually make it so hard to cancel or change your bookings once they’re made.

If you do your research and are an informed consumer, you can plan a trip to London that can be fully refunded in case anything happens, plus you’ll likely get a very good discount.

The Points Guy has a guide with updated US airline cancellation policies, plus a list of hotel chains’ cancellations policies. These of course can update quickly so always check the fine print yourself before you book anything.

When booking a hotel, Booking.com makes it really clear which properties have free cancellation, and until what date you can cancel for a full refund. Again, just be sure to read the fine print before booking. Also check if booking directly with the hotel gives you a better cancellation policy.

Also read this article from a travel expert saying why he’s not putting off booking travel plans this summer.

See some of our preferred partners’ offers (these are affiliate links and help to support us during a difficult time):

Devour Tours does food tours in London and has 15% off tours booked before 20th March 2020. Their tours are restarting 1st May and you can also purchase gift cards for your future trip that can be used on any of their tours around Europe.

Eating Europe also does food tours in London and has a new Flexi-pass which essentially gets you 30% off their tours. Alternatively you can book individual tours for 20% with promo code SPRING2020. They will be restarting their tours on 1st May as well.

Research the hell out of your trip

If your trip has been pushed off a bit, that stinks, but also gives you a ton more time to research things to do, where to eat, etc. You can make your trip even better than it was going to be!

I of course would recommend that your first point of call would be all things Love and London. This website, our Youtube channel, Instagram account, email list and other social media accounts have tons of content that you could spend hours watching and reading, helping you piece together your perfect trip.

I personally think Youtube is the best platform for travel planning, as the more content you watch about visiting London, the more that Youtube suggests other London-related videos that it thinks you’ll get value from. So you can pull a ton of great tips from one good couch session on the Youtube app.

You can watch the video below to see how I make the 3-Day London Itinerary step-by-step, so with all of this extra research time, you can make your own if you’d like.

Buy things that can be used in the long-term

There are other things you can get to start to get ready for a trip to London, that won’t go to waste even if your trip gets postponed.

Travel guides– books and digital ones– can be used for years down the line. So even if you, say, buy the 2020 version of our 3-Day London Itinerary and your trip gets postponed to 2021, you can still use it then, no problem. Obviously, the same goes for things like Lonely Planet guide books. Some information may be a bit out of date but it will mostly do the job just fine.

Even getting things like special clothing items or a new suitcase will help support the travel and retail industry but can still be used even if your trip gets pushed off a few months. Check out our What to Get for Your London Trip page for some ideas, and also our London Packing Guide.

Finally, here are some things you might forget to bring on your trip, that you could pick up now…

No matter what’s going on with your trip, you can keep yourself excited and take advantage of lots of perks coming from a negative situation. Plus, you’ll do your part to help keep travel businesses operating. Let me know in the comments what else you’re doing to keep your planning for your trip going.

Founder’s COVID-19 Statement: 16 March 2020

By Uncategorized

Hi there, thanks for sticking with us. In light of the last couple of weeks, I want to put a full statement regarding the state of travel to London. Please see it below.

Follow government advice only

Your country’s foreign travel department, which is the State Department for the US and the FCO for the UK (for UK outbound travel) is where you should get your official recommendation for whether it’s safe to travel or not. Unfortunately, many news outlets are incorrectly reporting the situation, so always go back to the government travel advice and follow that.

If you still want to travel to London, at the moment, that’s great.

Many countries are not limiting entry or exit to or from the UK at the time of publishing this. That could of course change, but the decision to come to the UK is a personal decision, and yours to make. The city needs your custom more than ever, so you will be welcomed with open arms, less crowds, and discounts.

We’re not answering any questions about the current situation.

My team and I are not able to provide any information to you about whether or not you should choose to come to London, at any point in the future. We also can’t provide “on-the-ground” information to you about the state of the city. Things change too quickly for us to report, you should be referencing your country’s travel advice for official information and direction, and again, your choice to come here is a personal one that we cannot advise on.

Please do not send us messages, comments or emails asking for advice or commentary.

Be kind to travel staff

I can understand the frustration you might be having when trying to get answers about your own trip. But please remember to be kind to the people trying to help you. Many are about to lose their jobs, many have been overworked and asked to take unpaid leave. Many small businesses in the travel industry, including mine, are about to lose just about all of their revenue over the next couple of months, at least. They are trying to help you with the limited information and power they have, so don’t make their day worse. Be a good and empathetic person.

Keep booking travel

This will eventually blow over, and travel will pick up again. But many businesses, even large national carrier airlines, are unlikely to survive without your help.

Please continue to plan and book your future travels. Most companies are offering incredibly flexible cancellation policies for future bookings. Booking your flight, tour, hotel, etc. for your trip a couple of months down the line could be the difference between that company staying afloat and going under, plus you’ll get a pretty good discount. Things like travel guide books can be used for years down the line, and even engaging with your favourite creator and consuming their content even if you’re unsure when you’ll travel is a huge help too.

I’ll be sharing more tips for how to keep planning your London trip in the next few days, and from next week, our content will be back to normal, sharing tips for your London trip. It will be in reduced numbers, to keep our costs as low as possible, but please stay with us please, please keep watching and engaging, so that when this blows over, we can come back in full swing and help you plan the best trip ever to this amazing city.

– Jess Dante, Founder of Love and London

Where to get pancakes in london on pancake day

The Ultimate Guide to Pancake Day in London

By London, London Food and Drink, Things to Do in London No Comments

Pancake Day in London is coming up and that means it’s time to figure out where you can spend the day indulging on deliciousness. Make the most out of the flipping awesome day (pun intended) by finding out where you can dine ahead of time. Here’s a guide to Pancake Day in London so that you can celebrate at the best places around the city.

What Is Pancake Day?

Pancake Day is also known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday in other parts of the world. It’s celebrated by Christians and Catholics and it’s the day before Lent begins, which is a period of 40 days and nights, when you give up something you love or frequently indulge in. This is because it marks the time that Jesus spent fasting in the desert.

On Shrove Tuesday, many people clean out their cupboards and get rid of eggs, butter, and fat, which are the perfect ingredients for the tasty treat, which has left us with Pancake Day in London and across the UK.

When Is Pancake Day?

Pancake Day will be taking place on February 25 2020. The date changes each year because it takes place 47 days before Easter Sunday. And since the date for Easter changes, Pancake Day can range from the beginning of February to mid March.

Easter Sunday usually falls on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon around the time of the Spring Equinox. It may sound a bit confusing, but these guidelines are used to determine the date each year because according to the Bible, Jesus’s death and resurrection took place around the time of Passover, which is celebrated by the Jews. Passover always falls on the evening of the first full moon following the spring equinox. Since the cycle of the moon changes, Easter falls on a different date each year, causing holidays like Pancake Day, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Palm Sunday, and more to change too.

What To Do On Pancake Day in London

Now that you’re caught up on the history of Pancake Day, you’re probably wondering where you can dine on some when in London. Thankfully there are a ton of great restaurants that are serving them up all over the city. And if you’re interested in celebrating Pancake Day in a more unique way, there are a ton of great events going on too.

Best Places To Get Pancakes On Pancake Day in London

Photo Credit: The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club has several locations for you to indulge yourself on Pancake Day at. Every year The Breakfast Club always has a Pancake Day special (on the actual pancake day, 25th February, but they will be serving the pancake menu from the 24th February till the 1st of March) and last year they raised over £2000 for charity. They have a Pancake Challenge to make things even more fun. Can you try your hand at a stack of 12 pancakes in 12 minutes? (Challenge available only on the 25th.)

The Breakfast Club | Multiple Locations | Website

 

Where The Pancakes Are

The count down to Pancake Day in London is on for Where The Pancakes Are. They’ll be flipping pancakes at Flat Iron Square, both in the restaurant and their street food pop-up. Make a booking there, or head into the restaurant before the pancakes run out (it’s first-come-first serve).

Where The Pancakes Are | Flat Iron Square | Website

 

 

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Farmacy

If you’re vegan, don’t worry, you don’t have to miss out on Pancake Day in London. Farmacy, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Notting Hill, is the perfect place for you to celebrate. Their pancakes are made with buckwheat flour and served with a selection of seasonal fruits, coconut yoghurt, and caramelized pecans. All of that is topped off with delicious maple syrup.

Farmacy | Notting Hill | Website

 

Photo Credit: Brew

Brew

Those of you who are South of the river have several options when it comes to celebrating Pancake Day in London. And that includes Brew, which you can find in Clapham, Wimbledon, and Wandsworth. Enjoy fresh blueberry pancakes here, topped with caramelized banana, creme fraiche, and maple syrup.

Brew | Multiple locations | Website

 

Photo Credit: Jackson + Rye

Jackson + Rye

If you’re heading out to celebrate Pancake Day in London and you’re near Bank, Soho or Richmond, head to Jackson + Rye. Jackson + Rye has lots of pancakes options, so choose from a variety of toppings like caramelised banana, bacon and maple, or berries, to finish off your pancakes.

Jackson + Rye | Multiple Locations | Website

 

Photo Credit: My Old Dutch

My Old Dutch

Some would say that the Dutch are the masters behind the pancakes, so why not spend your Pancake Day treating yourself at My Old Dutch. This pancake house can be found in Holborn, Chelsea, and Kensington and has an incredible selection of sweet and savory pancakes. Choose between a classic sweet sugar and lemon pancake, a butterscotch pancake served with crispy bacon and eggs, a chicken curry pancake, or the classic My Old Dutch Pancake which is topped with smoked bacon, cheese, peppers, chicken, and ham.

My Old Dutch | Multiple Locations | Website

 

Photo Credit: The Diner

The Diner

Take your stack of pancakes to the next level at The Diner in Camden, Dalston, Shoreditch, Spitalfields, or Soho. Treat yourself to a sweet stack of chocolate chip pancakes, banana pancakes, blueberry pancakes, strawberry and chocolate pancakes, or your traditional buttermilk, plus this year they are launching five new flavours. They’re all served in stacks of three, so you’ll finish off your Pancake Day in London feeling super full!

The Diner | Multiple Locations | Website

Photo Credit: The Book Club

The Book Club

The Book Club is taking things to Club Tropicana in Shoreditch this year, with a mouth-watering selection of cocktail-inspired pancakes being served at their All Day Cocktail Pancake Party, you can choose from Pornstar Martini, Pina Colada or Expresso Martini Pancakes! Pancakes and cocktails will be served all day on the 25th from 9 am till 10 pm.

The Book Club | Shoreditch | Website

Pancake Day Activities in London

If you’re interested in doing something other than eating on Pancake Day, there are some fun events happening around the city that you can take part in. Enter your team of friends into the Flippin’ Good Pancake races, which will be taking place at Greenwich Market. When you enter, you even get a free pancake to eat.

If you want to watch MPs, Lords, and members of the press go up against each other, then head to the annual Parliamentary Pancake Race. Other races often take place, like the Leadenhall Market, InterLivery Pancake Race and Lunch, Flippin’ Good Fun for a good cause at Greenwich Market and others.

So now you know where to spend your Pancake Day in London. Whether you’re indulging on a snack or running down the street, flipping pancakes in a race for charity, you’re going to have a great time celebrating this long standing tradition and holiday in the UK. All that’s left to do now is choose between chocolate chips or bananas for your toppings.

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What to do on Pancake Day in London - pancake day is an event in London in February or March, during which it's perfectly acceptable to have pancakes in London for dinner. Click through to find out more about Pancake day in london

Things to do to Prep for a london trip

How to Prepare For Your First Three Days in London

By 3 Days in London, London Planning Tips 5 Comments

Oo, how exciting that you’re heading to London soon! If you want to prepare yourself for your first three days here in London, these are the things you should do before you touch down in Londontown.

*Some of the links in this article will earn a very small commission if you click them and then purchase something.

Figure out how you’ll pay for transportation

There are a couple of ways to “gain access” to public transportation, and knowing ahead of time which payment method you’ll use when in London will help you feel more prepared, especially if you’ll be taking public transportation to get to your accommodation.

Note that everyone in your party needs their own method of payment. Always use the same payment method throughout your entire trip, you will save money this way due to daily caps (when you only get charged a max for the day’s travel and every other journey that day is free.)

Learn how London’s zones (and their daily caps) work in this video…

Oyster Card

My personal preferred method of payment is Oyster Card, mainly because if I mess up and accidentally forget to tap out when leaving a station, I can ask a Transport for London staff member later on to adjust it for me so I don’t get overcharged.

There are two types of Oyster Cards available for visitors to London. You can order yourself a Visitor Oyster Card before you arrive to London. The visitor option gives you some discounts on a few attractions and restaurants, but besides that and the fact that you can order it to get to your home before you get to London, it’s exactly the same as the “regular” Oyster Card. The “regular” Oyster is what Londoners often use, but tourists can also use it, it’s just not available to be shipped ahead of time outside of the UK.

Either Oyster Card is fine for tourists. If you prefer to get your Oyster Card before you arrive to London, you can order the Visitor Oyster Card. If you’re not fussed, just wait until you arrive to London and get one at the airport, train station or most convenience shops around the city.

Fares are exactly the same for both cards, but the Visitor Card costs £5 + shipping, and the normal Oyster costs a £5 refundable fee, which you can get back when you’re done using the card.

Here’s a more in-depth overview of the differences between a regular Oyster and a Visitor Oyster…

Contactless debit/credit card

If you have a debit or credit card that has a chip in it and has the contactless payment feature, you can use this to pay for every method of London public transportation. It’s really easy, just tap it on the yellow reader just as you would an Oyster Card. Fares are exactly the same, and you might even save a little money if you use it every day for a week as there is a “7-day cap” for contactless cards.

Mobile payment

If you have Apple Pay, Android Pay, Barclaycard, Barclays Contactless Mobile or bPay, you can pay for transportation with that, just like you would an Oyster Card or contactless card. This is always my last resort method of payment because if your phone dies and you don’t have that specific card on you, you’ll miss out on the daily cap advantages. Also, some foreign banks don’t allow Apple Pay to be used on London’s public transportation, for some reason.

Travel card

If you’re staying in London for seven days, you might save some money by purchasing a travel card. It’s a bit confusing for a first timer to figure out if a travel card is a better option for you, watch my video below to find out how it works, but if you’re still confused, don’t worry about it and just use one of the other options already mentioned. You won’t spend that much more money.

Get your phone connected

You don’t HAVE to have phone connectivity in order to be able to experience London but it does make things much easier. If you’re using my 3-Day London Itinerary, I highly recommend having 3G connectivity as it’s much easier to use the Digital Map when you’re connected to the internet.

International mobile plan

First, check with your mobile phone provider about an international plan. While most are pretty expensive if you’re coming from anywhere outside Europe, you might be with one of the few companies that are starting to make it more affordable. Be sure to ask the cost and the call, text and data limits, what happens when you reach those limits, and how to get notifications that you’ve reached your limit or to find out how much you’ve spent so far. This will help avoid expensive surprise bills at the end of the month.

Get a SIM

If an international phone plan isn’t an option, your next option is to get a sim card, which is essentially a little card that goes into your phone that connects you to a cell network. By getting a UK SIM, you can make calls, text, and get data at a local rate, so it’s quite reasonably priced.

Be sure to ask your mobile phone provider if your phone is unlocked, which means that it can function with other mobile provider’s SIMs. If it is, you can either pick up a SIM once you arrive to London, or get a free GiffGaff SIM sent to your home so you have it ready once you arrive here.

Pocket Wifi Device

If your smartphone isn’t unlocked, you can opt for a pocket wifi device. This is essentially a small 3G device you can keep in your pocket or bag that you can connect your phone and other devices to for 3G connectivity. This is a good option if you want to be constantly connected, and you usually can connect a few devices at once, so you and whoever you’re traveling with can use it at the same time.

Have a look at TEP Wireless for a wifi device.

Wifi only

Of course, there’s always the option to only connect when you find free wifi. London is, relatively speaking, ok with offering free wifi. Most coffee shops, cafes and hotels will have it, restaurants mostly don’t. Most tube stations have wifi that’s free for Virgin Media, EE, Vodafone, O2 or Three customers, or you can pay for a daily or weekly wifi pass if you’re not.

Plan transportation to your hotel

If you’ve got a long flight over to London, you’ll likely be really tired and not thinking straight when you arrive here. The last thing you want to do is to try to figure out how to get to your accommodation. I recommend figuring this out before you hop on the plane.

There are multiple airports in London and just about all of them are not even in London, so depending on your needs, where you’re staying, and budget, a taxi or Uber might not be an option for you. But there are many ways to get to and from London from each airport, so don’t worry.

Use CityMapper to figure out what options you have for getting to your accommodation. Be sure to put in the correct airport (there are five), and to adjust the time so that it reflects what time you’ll be arriving to the airport. Google Maps works too, but CityMapper gives costs for each option. The only option it doesn’t account for is National Express coach buses, which are usually fairly cheap, but you’ll have to deal with traffic of course.

If you plan to take one of the “express” trains (Gatwick Express, Heathrow Express, etc.) book tickets in advance for a cheaper rate.

Although this is quite rare in London, also check with your hotel to see if they have an airport shuttle you can take.

If public transport stresses you out and you need more help with figuring out travel from the airport, and also for the entire trip, check out my in-depth London Transportation course on Bright Trip. You can use promo code “5ZHOU” for 10% off any of the courses.

Start adjusting your sleep schedule

If you’re coming from a few times zones away, start shifting your sleeping schedule to bring it closer to London’s time zone. For example, if you’re from the east coast of the US, which is five hours behind London, about a week before your trip, start getting up and going to bed earlier, bit by bit. It will make the time zone difference a little less of a shock once you arrive.

Choose something to do on your arrival day

Again, if you’re traveling across a few time zones, you’ll want to plan at least one thing to do in the early evening so that you have something to keep you awake. I don’t recommend over-planning, as you will be tired and a bit out of it, but you want to keep yourself awake until normal sleeping time in London, so even having something as simple as an early dinner reservation will help with this.

Choose which areas to explore

London is really, really big and I hear time and time again from our community that their biggest mistake that they made here is not planning out their itinerary correctly and they ended up spending so much time on public transportation, trekking back and forth across the city because they didn’t realise that everything they planned to do that day was so far apart.

To avoid this, you’ll want to pick one manageable area a day to explore, ideally by foot. If that sounds like a lot of work (it is) then have a look at my 3-Day London Itinerary, as it’s already done all of that work for you and can sort out your first three days.

Here are some areas you should consider but likely have never heard of in the usual guidebook…

Download a transportation app

You’ll live and breathe by a transportation app when you’re here in London. It’s the easiest way to figure out how to get from point A to point B, how long it will take, how much it will cost, etc. I change between CityMapper and Google Maps. CityMapper is better with giving prices, but Google Maps is better with walking directions and it’s what the digital map for my 3-Day London Itinerary is on so it will be easier to just use Google Maps if you’ve got it.

This article is part of my 3 Days in London series, here are some more tips to help you with your first few days in London. Read next:

10 Reasons to Follow an Itinerary During Your First Three Days in London
Top Things to Do With Three Days in London
5 Reasons Not to Use a Free London Itinerary

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How to Prepare for your first 3 days in London. Things to do before you arrive to visit London to make sure you have an easy and smooth 72 hours visiting London.

Reasons not to use a free London Itinerary when visiting London

5 Reasons Not to Use a Free London Itinerary

By London Planning Tips, London Travel Tips No Comments

Personally, if you’re visiting London and are keen to have a relaxing experience while also experiencing the best of the city, following one of the free London itineraries you can find online might not be the best idea. Here’s why.

They’re often written by visitors, not a Londoner

When I’m on Pinterest I quite often see itineraries like “48 hours in London” or “What to do in London in 3 Days”, and when I look into who’s written them, it’s often by someone who visited London once, for a few days, and it’s the itinerary they happened to somewhat follow.

The problem with that is that visitors who only spend a few days in London don’t know the ins and outs of the city like locals do. A local can tell you how to avoid Oxford Street (which gets STUPID busy), when you’ll need some change for a public toilet, and which location of a restaurant has a better vegetarian offering.

I’ve lived in London for many years, so I know all of the small details that visitors often glance over, and I pass this knowledge along to my community, and have done so in my 3-Day London Itinerary.

They’re generic

Honestly… you get what you pay for. Many free itineraries are pretty basic and just walk you through some of the most “obvious” London sights, with a plan that could have been made by someone who’s not actually been to London but is just decent at operating Google Maps…

They don’t account for different tastes and budgets

Free itineraries are very linear, they don’t account for the fact that you can’t eat gluten, are on a budget, or don’t like museums. How enjoyable could following an itinerary that takes you to the National Gallery for three hours be then? Even if the itinerary is free, you’ll still spend loads of time doing research to fill in the blanks of the things you don’t want to do, see or eat.

I did the opposite with my 3-Day London Itinerary, from the start I created it with alternatives, so that people with different tastes, budgets and desired travel paces could all use it to the fullest.

You’re not getting a local experience

If you’re keen to experience the more local side of London, free online itineraries might not help with that. Quite often, they recommend a ton of major sights to see, without anything unique, and they also don’t provide locally-loved food options.

This is a big point… if you want to eat well when you’re exploring London, you need to know of places to go ahead of time when you’re in very “touristy” areas like Westminster, Tower Hill, and Leicester Square just to name a few. Those areas are chock-full of chain restaurants that are either overpriced or serve terrible food (or both.)

In between seeing some of my London’s most loved sights, I’ve recommended smaller, locally-loved things to do, as well as provided tons of great, hidden-gem food options in the 3-Day London Itinerary.

Why you shouldn't use a free London itinerary
They’re hard to use when on-the-go

Online itineraries, well, they stay in the browser. So you either have to save the webpage to your phone, or write down the recommended itinerary, in order to follow it when you’re actually in London. The problem is getting from place to place. It will take you quite some time to open Google Maps and figure out how to get to each place on the list. Then you have to get there, and that could take ages if the writer didn’t account for travel time between each spot.

Ideally you want to use an itinerary that has a digital map, or you can make one yourself. That way you can easily navigate from one spot to the next with just your phone, and if you decide to go off the general path a bit, you can easily get back to where you need to be.

My 3-Day London Itinerary has a Digital Map included, which helps you follow the itinerary each day, plus also shows you which of my recommended food spots are near to you when your tummy starts to rumble, and I’ve even pinpointed where public toilets are along the route.

Free London itineraries can be helpful, but now you know some of the pitfalls behind using them, and why they could hinder your London experience.

This article is part of my 3 Days in London series, here are some more tips to help you with your first few days in London.

Read next:

10 Reasons to Follow an Itinerary During Your First Three Days in London
How to Prepare for Your First Three Days in London
5 Common Mistakes Tourists Make in Their First Three Days in London

romantic things to do in london

Top Romantic Things to Do in London (Even if it’s Not Valentine’s Day)

By London Travel Tips No Comments

Whether you’re in London for Valentine’s Day or just have something to celebrate, here’s a list of fun, unique ideas for how to get your romance on while in London with your significant other.

If you’d rather watch this as a video than read, watch it here.

 

Romantic Things to Do in London - shop for new perfume or cologne together for a sexy, sensual scent-filled experience in London. It's a great idea for something romantic and unique to do in London

Find a new scent together

Scent can be a pretty sensual thing, so you could do some perfume and/or cologne shopping together while you’re in London. Jo Malone has complimentary perfume consulting and combining in their London shops, or you could pop over to Harrods’ Ex Nihilo boutique for a luxe smelling test that will result in a bespoke scent for you and your partner.

Finally, you could go to super-Englishly Penhaligon’s, which has TWO royal warrants, to get a personalised fragrance profile, all while enjoying tea, biscuits and champagne– one of their fragrances is shown above.

romantic things to do in london

Go for a romantic meal

It might be cliche, but turn a regular dinner into a romantic experience by going to the right place. Some romantic restaurants in London I recommend include:

Duck and Waffle (Bishopsgate) – incredible views from the 43rd floor, which is very dark and romantic in the evenings. It’s incredibly hard to get reservations here so exactly two months before the date you want to book, go on their site and get your spot. Yes, they go that fast!

Social Eating House (Soho) – a restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton with a hidden bar above it called The Blind Pig.

The Modern Pantry (Clerkenwell) – modern British (DELICIOUS) food, in a lovely little restaurant.

If you’re a bit more budget conscious, have a scan of the deals offered for dining on Virgin Experience Days, TravelZoo and LastMinute.com. Make sure you do your research on the restaurant before booking, and also check all terms and conditions for the voucher before purchasing.

Go to Ronnie Scott’s for some live jazz

If you like live jazz, go to London’s most famous jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s, for a romantic night of live music and nice cocktails. It’s been around since 1959, so there’s a ton of history in this place…

Book a spa day

A spa treatment is a romantic way to spend time together in London, and if you’re visiting in the wintertime, it’s a great treat after spending lots of time outdoor sightseeing.

Some of London best spas in London include The Bulgari Spa in Knightsbridge, Agua Spa at the Mondrian, and The Ned’s Barber and Parlour (The Ned is on the list of the best hotels with rooftop bars in London, btw.)

You can sometimes get spa deals on Last-minute.com, just be sure to do your research to make sure it’s actually a good one— Tripadvisor should help.

Even if a spa treatment is out of the budget, just booking yourself into a hotel that has an indoor pool and some basic spa facilities that are free for guests to use will feel like a treat (see my previous point!)

Try Personal Shopping together for something romantic to do in London. You get to sip bubbles while a personal shopper picks the perfect clothing for you.

Personal shopping

If you’re up to spend some money together on your romantic day in London, why not do a day of personal shopping? Imagine it– you both could be enjoying a glass of bubbles in a plush, private dressing room as you wait for your personal stylists to bring you clothes that should fit you like a glove. Why not wear your new threads out of the store for a night out on the town?

Some stores that offer personal shopping services:

Westfield Mall
Selfridges (shown above)
Reiss
Liberty London

 

Romantic things to do while in London, for Valentine's Day and special occasions. Soho Hotel Film Club for £40 per person

Upgrade your movie theater and dinner experience

Don’t do the usual gross movie theater + crappy restaurant after combo. A sexy alternative is the the Soho Hotel’s Sunday film club— for £40 per person you get a three course meal or afternoon tea at their Refuel restaurant, and then get to watch the film of the week in their romantic, luxe movie theatre (shown above). I’ve done this and loved it. The Courthouse Hotel also offers this, but without the food and with some bubbles.

Free London 101 Guide

Curl up at a cosy pub

For something relaxing and not terribly wallet-breaking, just finding a cosy pub nearby where your staying in London could be perfect. Curl up next to the fireplace on a comfy sofa with a pint of beer or glass of wine, and you’re sorted for your romantic evening together.

Here’s a list of the top cosy pubs in London— find one near where you’re staying so you don’t have to travel far to get to it. Weird things on the underground will kill the romance factor…

Have a romantic picnic

If the weather’s decent while you’re in London, have yourself a luxurious, romantic picnic in one London’s many parks. You can pick up a ready-made hamper, which is essentially a really nice picnic basket, from places like Carluccio’s, or go for one from Fortnum and Mason if you really want to impress your date– they’re so gorgeous! Here’s a (somewhat outdated) list of other places you can get hampers from. Plus you can break out the bubbles because London’s fairly lenient on their drinking in public laws…

 

Romantic Things to do in London -- have a glass of vino in Gordons Wine Bar, in their dark and cosy caves. A unique and romantic thing to do in London for Valentine's day or a special occasion

Have a romantic drink experience

There are loads of upscale drinks spots in London that are very sexy and romantic. Have some really nice vino in the “caves” at Gordon’s Wine Bar (pictured above), have a drink at the Radio Rooftop Bar for gorgeous views of central London, or go all out at the Rumpus Room, which has been named as the best bar in London.

Enjoy champagne and chocolate on the London Eye

Did you know you can actually book your own “pod” on the London Eye and have a private champagne and chocolate experience? Yeah, ya can. That would be pretty romantic, with bubbles in hand, looking over all of London…

If you’re not up for the price tag of the private capsule, there are other options, not-so-private options that are actually pretty affordable.

Spend the day in Hyde Park

There are quite a few romantic things you can do in Hyde Park, even beyond having a lovely little picnic. A fun and cheap option is to hire Boris bikes and ride through the park together, or go a little further (and cheesier?) and rent a row boat to row along the Serpentine. You and your partner can even go horse back riding in Hyde Park! Oh, and a visit to the Rose Garden is a must for a romantic day…

Romantic things to do in London

Get some non-selfie photos together

There’s no better time to get some photos showing how much you love each other than when you’re in one of the most incredible cities in the world. You could use my list of great Instagram spots to visit in London to get your photos done on your own.

Let me know what you’ll do for your romantic day in London in the comments.

More tips for a romantic visit to London:

Gift Ideas for People Visiting London
5 Great Photo-Taking Spots in London
8 Stylish Hotels that Cost Less than £150/night

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Need some romance while in London? Whether for Valentine's Day or to celebrate a special occasion, these are the best things to do in London for romance. Sexy restaurants, unique romantic experiences, and more.