Whenever I want to have an action packed break away from Manchester – usually for a weekend – I always head to London. I’m lucky enough that my job takes me to London every now and again (a lot of brands are based there for when I work on campaigns), however, I much prefer it when I travel there as a visitor.
I usually go with Martin – my other half – and we’ll stay for two nights. Our favourite location is the London Bridge end of the city, where we tend to look for hotels near the Shard. London is a huge city, and you could stay for a full week and not get round to exploring the city to it’s full potential. However, starting at London Bridge and using this area as a base is a pretty good place to start! Remember throughout your research, if you need further suggestions on what to do in London, be sure to check out Seen London for more recommendations along the way (I use this regularly!).
In terms of travel, the train to London from Manchester is super reasonable if you book in advance, and it only takes 2 hours to get there.
I still get shocked when my fellow Northerners tell me they haven’t properly visited London. There’s not many of them, but I do know a small few who haven’t bee. Which makes me wonder how many people from other parts of the UK haven’t actually explored London properly as part of a UK city break?
I’m no London expert, but as someone who travels down quite a bit and has enjoyed many weekend breaks staying in the capital, I thought I’d put a little bit of a London Bridge breakdown together. We usually stay around this location as we find it a great ‘base’ for getting around, whether it be sightseeing, food and drinks, walks or visiting some key attractions.
So here’s a round up of my hot spots:
Making a visit to Borough Market is without a doubt an essential for you when saying around the London Bridge area of London. You don’t even have to be massively into your food and drink to appreciate it fully – it’s just a fascinating place! For me though – who is a complete foodie and overly interested in a variety of cuisines – I can’t get enough of the place!
It spans both an outdoor market as well as a covered market, and it’s always busy and bustling with locals and tourists. Do bear that in mind that this place can get incredibly busy, especially during weekends, so do plan your time accordingly!
It’s ideal to visit during lunch, as that’s where you can have a wander around eyeing up the stalls, before treating yourself to some artisan coffee, picking between Italian or Indian food (or Mexican, Chinese, vegan stalls, bakeries…. to name just a few!) and finding a spot to indulge in homemade food.
If you like a spot of wine tasting, you’ll find a fair few beverage stalls indoors which do taste testing of unique wines – an added bonus to a day out! But if it’s healthier juices you want, you’ll be spoilt for choice by the copious amounts of smoothie stalls and juice bars.
Plus, you can treat the place as a shopping experience too. You can pick up foods to take away and bring back with you, like local cheeses, biscuits, cakes, cooked meats and fish.
Just remember that during busy periods, this place can take a long time to wander – sorry shuffle! – around.
London Bridge Thames Walk
If you fancy a good old sightseeing walk, tou’ll be surprised how enjoyable a walk along the River Thames is, starting at London Bridge. You can go in any direction, but towards Tower Bridge is usually a good start.
Lining the Thames, you’ll find so many restaurants, bars, shops, stalls and entertainment, including buskers, dance acts, and randomly independent markets. During my last visit the other week, I got absorbed into second hand books at a book sale right on the river.
In the Summer, you can find pop up gin bars, prosecco huts and pizza vans – it’s like an eclectic mix of everything”
If you haven’t been to London before, or if you haven’t explored the city like a tourist, The Shard is a great place to start. Not only does a trip up the Shard let you discover London from an extremely high point, giving you incredible first hand views of the city, it also offers an experience of it’s own.
You can enjoy a glass of wine up high with the clouds as your backdrop, or have a walk around the other floors of the Shard, taking in the shrines to the city.
There are two main viewing floors to the Shard, which give 360 degree views of the city from different angles. When I took this trip up, I got lost in time just watching the boats go up and down the River Thames, and even watching the trains run in and out.
London Bridge Neighbourhoods
There are a few boroughs near London Bridge which make excellent places to stay near the shard. One place in particular that I enjoyed stayed was Bermondsey – a small part of London within 10 minutes walk to the Shard and London Bridge station.
It’s filled with independent and quirky cocktail bars, traditional pubs and boutiques, and has this clean, pretty feel. It’s worth having a look on hotels.com for hotels around this area, if you want an ideal base for a weekend in London.
Above all, London is a huge city, and you could stay for a full week and not get round to exploring the city to it’s full potential. However, starting at London Bridge and using this area as a base is a pretty good place to start!
What’s your best place to stay in London if you’ve been here for weekend breaks? Do let me know…