There are probably thousands of blog posts dedicated to all the things to see in London. This is more like the kind of tour you should take if sightseeing in London is secondary to getting drunk and eating a lot. Nonetheless, there’s still a bunch of great things to see along the way in this laid back strolling food and drink tour of London.
Breakfast in Shoreditch
This trendy area of London is full of street art and gastropubs and coffee shops. Though it’s also a fun place to end your night, taking a morning walk around Shoreditch allows you to see all the graffiti in the light of day. You can even see one of Banksy’s first works preserved in the courtyard of Cargo Club. Note that since this is a club, it doesn’t open until later in the day and the graffiti wall will be behind a fence.
Enjoy breakfast in the bright diner atmosphere of The Breakfast Club, where you have your pick of English and American breakfast staples and then some. Aside from breakfast sandwiches and eggs benedict, you’ll find a wide array of pancakes and waffles. I highly recommend you add hash browns to whatever you’re having.
Walk off your breakfast in Southwark
It takes about 30 minutes on foot to get to the River Thames from Shoreditch. You have a couple of options on how to cross over depending on how much you want to walk, and what kind of sights you want to pass along the way.
Tower Bridge will get you over the river to Southwark, and if you’ve seen no other bridges in London, this is the nicest one. It’s also next to the Tower of London, which is worth a stop if you want to see the crown jewels or meet the ravens, the famed guardians of the tower. Advance tickets are recommended if you don’t want to waste your beautiful strolling tour of London waiting in line.
Once you’re over Tower Bridge, you’ll have a long and pleasant walk awaiting you along the River Thames on the other side. Along the way, you’ll pass the HMS Belfast, a former warship that’s now a museum, and Hay’s Galleria where you can grab a coffee to go or simply admire the giant bronze ship sculpture at its center.
Lunch at Borough Market
The Borough Market area is great for eating and drinking. Though you probably won’t be buying groceries on your vacation, you may want to pick up some tea or gin to take home. Some of the stands at the market have food you can take to go. But if you’re sick of walking and want to have a sit down lunch, most of the restaurants in the vicinity of the market, like Elliot’s and Roast, have rotating menus featuring the freshest food available from the market.
This is a good area to come hungry, so it’s best to take the long way to Borough Market from Shoreditch. As an alternative route, which skips a good chunk of the river walk, you can cross over the Thames on the London Bridge. On the way, you’ll pass the Gherkin and the Monument to the Great Fire of London, which has panoramic views of the city after a 300+ step climb up the column. Whether you decide to do this or not depends on how committed you are to burning off your breakfast.
If you do arrive at the Borough Market not hungry enough, then it’s time to get your drink on. Try the casual and intimate The Rake, which has a wide selection of draft and bottled beers and a teeny tiny seating, or enjoy a nice cocktail in the outdoor area of Whiskey Ginger. If you build an appetite, they have pub food, too.
Take a post-lunch walk along the river
When you’re done at Borough Market, you can walk another section of the Thames river walk, which will pass you by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern. As a general rule, I always pop into the Tate whenever I pass by it, because why not. It’s free and open to all. Unlike attractions like the Globe, there’s no line, and you can enjoy just enough modern art until you get bored, without feeling pressure to see every exhibit on every floor. You can come back the next day or in 5 years.
From this point, it would take another 20-25 minutes on foot to get to the Westminster Bridge and the obnoxious tourist part of London. But you have better things to do with your time than stand in line to get on the London Eye or see Shrek’s Adventure – you have drinking to do. From the Tate Modern, you can hop back over the Thames on the Millennium Bridge. On the other side, you can visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, or just pass it by as you make your way to get another drink.
Just a couple of blocks away from St. Paul’s, there are a handful of Victorian pubs where you can stop like Punch Tavern, which has a massive selection of gin and some very nice cocktails couched in a classy oak-paneled atmosphere. You can also indulge in some ales on tap or a cocktail nearby at The Harrow, which is 300 years old and was once two separate establishments.
Have drinks in Covent Garden
There are more pubs and bars in Covent Garden than you have time to visit in a month, so you’ll have to pick a spot or two to spend your afternoon. If you want to be able to order a drink called a Cuban Pussy, check out the cocktail bar, Be at One. If you want something a little more casual, pubs like The Round House and Mr Fogg’s Tavern are plentiful. Don’t miss Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour upstairs, where snacks are complimentary with your drinks. It’s definitely a good idea to have a bite between cocktails so you don’t keel over and die by 5 pm.
If you want a walking break from sitting, eating, and drinking, you’ll be just a short walk away from Trafalgar Square, which is nothing special, but getting some air might be good to give you the energy to stay out. You can also visit the National Portrait Gallery which is right on the square. Like the Tate, it’s free and you can wander around for a bit just to get your legs moving before you hit up another place to sit down and keep drinking and eating.
Dinner and nightlife
Right around dinner time, you will likely be too drunk to be socially acceptable anywhere too nice, though there are plenty of great dinner choices in Soho. Since you probably aren’t in a white linen tablecloth mood anyway, you can stick to more casual alternatives which run the gamut from an Indian cafe like Dishoom to a vegetarian pub like The Coach & Horses. A plate of fish and chips or a steak and ale pie from The Spice of Life will make you feel satisfied and content especially becase your glass will be full through the entire meal.
Many of the pubs close by 11 pm or midnight, but that’s okay because there are plenty of late-night clubs in Soho. Places like Zebrano, Freedom Bar and Club 49 are thumping all night with live DJs and spinning mirror balls. Soho is also the heart of LGBT entertainment. You can dance with the gays at G-A-Y or Ku Bar, which boasts over its door that it’s an award winning gay bar. It’s not all a shitshow, though. For a more upscale time, head to Ronnie Scott’s, where you can sip on a craft cocktail while you enjoy live jazz.
But let’s be realistic, if your night started at 11 am, you’ll probably be in bed before the pubs ring for last call.