Travel Guide: Stroll Your Way to Must-See Spots Around London

Whether you hop on the famous Ferris wheel or spend the day strolling side streets like a local, you’ll feel like royalty in the Swinging City this season.

The scene at night in Leicester Square. / Photo via MareMagnum/Getty Images

As the English writer Samuel Johnson so famously put it in the 18th century, “When a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life”—and even today, the city always has a few new tricks up its sleeve. While it’s impossible to see and do everything in one visit, by staying in South Kensington and plotting your days strategically, you can cover a lot of ground. Just don’t forget a pair of good walking shoes.

The Kensington Hotel is a short walk to must-see spots like Kensington Palace and Gardens, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the fashion hubs of Harrods and Harvey Nichols. But even for old hands, it’s worth a stroll down Sloane Street to see the absurdly charming floral-bedecked storefronts that have sprung up along Elizabeth Street and nearby Pavilion Road, where several blocks of mews houses have been transformed into a pedestrian mall of shops and cafés, including Granger & Co., London’s lunchtime spot du jour.

It may be a bit touristy, but one way to check off a lot of boxes is a ride on the London Eye, the famed 443-foot enclosed Ferris wheel. Located on the south bank of the River Thames, it offers aerial views of the city’s greatest hits—from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament to the glass office building locals nicknamed the Gherkin. From there, it’s a 20-minute walk along the Embankment to the Tate Modern, where Cornelia Parker’s large-scale installations are on view through October.

Somewhat farther afield lies Bloomsbury, which beckons with the British Museum—home to the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin/Parthenon Marbles, and one of the world’s most exhaustive collections of art and artifacts. Stroll five minutes down the road and you’ll find a new addition to the neighborhood: the charmingly quirky Bloomsbury Hotel, where you can enjoy high tea on the Dalloway Terrace or lunch in the Coral Room, which have quickly become two of the most Instagrammed spaces in London.

Despite the reputation of English food, London boasts some of the best cuisine in the world, whether it’s fish and chips at the Cadogan Arms, a twice-baked cheese souffle at the Ivy, or the superb Polish dumplings at Ognisko. A stroll through the open-air Shepherd’s Bush Market, meanwhile, will lead you to extraordinary Ethiopian food at Delina.

Wherever you end up stopping off for sustenance, be sure to leave time for one of the great joys of this city: simply wandering through it, allowing it to delight and surprise. It may be a cliché, but it’s also true that there’s no place quite like London.

Inside the chic Kensington Hotel. / Photo courtesy of the Doyle Collection

Getting There

JetBlue inaugurates its nonstop service from Logan to London Heathrow in August, but if you can’t wait that long, numerous airlines—including British Airways, Delta, and United—also fly direct.

Staying There

A group of conjoined Victorian townhouses, the Kensington Hotel oozes contemporary glamour. The location in the heart of one of London’s poshest neighborhoods, meanwhile, is walking distance from major museums, sights, and the shops of Knightsbridge.