One of the things I love about living in a new place is the freedom you have to really get to know it. You’re not rushed. When touring, it’s much harder to figure out what’s close to what and what you’d like to do. So I thought I’d do a little series of fun “afternoons” and “mornings” (ideally 3-5 hours) of activities located together to help those wanting to enjoy London.

A Trafalgar Morning

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(c) Pharr

Getting of at Charing Cross, gives you any number of exits to explore Trafalgar Square, which has held Nelson’s Column since 1843. Throughout the year, lots of events happen in the square, which is also home to some great classic stops like the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. In the latter, you will see portraits familiar from history textbooks and the former has some stunning classic artwork. (I could easily spend 2+ hours in each museum but less time if fine for many.) Just across the street from these museums is St. Martin-in-the-Fields with its Crypt Cafe and possibly something going on in the sanctuary like a midday concert. Looking out across the square at Admiralty Arch, you’ll see the start of the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace.

 

 

Leicester Square

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(c) Pharr

If you want to see a show in “Theaterland,” its a quick walk from Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square with its NYC-like TKTS booth for discounted West End tickets, but you could get a better deal for day of tickets by going to the box office of the performance you want. Box offices often open at 10 AM and you may find getting there early to stand in line before they open is the best way to save a few quid. You can also just save yourself time and search online for a deal or pay for the seats you really want before you leave your hotel room. (Little known fact: the Hippodrome Casino imports its steak from the U.S.A. if you find yourself in need of some American beef before the show.)

Theatre tickets procured, you likely have some time to kill. You might decide to explore London’s Chinatown or look for books in secondhand and rare book shops along Charing Cross Rd, just north of Great Newport St. (Though walking east from there will land you in Covet Garden.)

 

Russell Square

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(c) Pharr

But walking north on Charing Cross Rd and then taking a right on Great Russell St. will land you near the British Museum. (If the weather is really bad or you want to sit down for a bit, there are plenty of bus options.) Now I won’t lie to you, I love the British Museum and all its archaeological treasures including the Rosetta Stone, Easter Island statue Hoa Hakananai’a, the Assyrian Lion Hunt reliefs, and brass plaques from Benin. I would recommend several hours or reviewing the website so you know exactly what you want to see in advance. If you love cartoons, you may want to try and squeeze in the Cartoon Museum before it closes at 5:30 PM. While I enjoy hanging out in Russell Square or popping into the stunning and recently renovated Principal hotel, I appreciate there is less to do here, so it might not take a full half day depending on your interests.

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