How to spend a weekend in Bournemouth

England Sunset

When we talk about UK getaways, it won’t come as a surprise to hear that London often tops the charts. For as long as the world spins round, and whether or not the UK is in or out of the European Union, this is something that is never going to change.

In some ways, this is highly unfortunate. After all, while nobody can take away the immense tourism power that London has, let’s not forget that there are plenty of other destinations in the UK that often go unnoticed. Sure, locals know about them, but they are hidden gems to everyone else.

Bournemouth certainly falls into this category. It’s regarded as one of the more premium coastal regions of the UK, although it does have plenty of hotels at excellent value. Bearing this in mind, today’s post is going to delve into Bournemouth in more detail and show some of the top things you can do if you take to this city.

Take to the piers

There are actually two piers that form part of Bournemouth, with both worthy of a mention. The first comes in the form of Bournemouth Pier itself. This has been going strong for nigh-on 140 years and still attracts plenty of attention. In fact, in the peak times at least, you sometimes have to pay to get on.

If you’ve never visited a pier on the English coast before, this should be the one you target. It has everything you’ve heard about, whether it be traditional games, an arcade and even a play area for children (this used to be a popular theatre). Then, when it comes to Boscombe Pier, this is a little more low-key. It doesn’t have all the attractions, but it is a restored Victorian pier and provides some stunning views across the sea.

Have a go on the West Cliff Lift

If you do make it towards Bournemouth Pier, try and get to the West Cliff Lift as well. This has been running since 1908 – and you can almost tell by the facade. Nevertheless, it’s an incredible sight and experience, with the railway carrying up to 12 passengers up one of Bournemouth’s cliffs. Unsurprisingly, the views are second to none.
West Cliff Lift, Bournemouth, Dorset

The Oceanarium

The sea is a major attraction that forms part of Bournemouth, and the aquarium just buys into all of this. The centre has established ten different environments within itself, meaning that whether you are looking to see what resides in the Great Barrier Reef or the Amazon, you won’t be disappointed. More recently, they have also added penguins.
Bournemouth Oceanarium

Peppa Pig World

OK, this final suggestion might not be for everyone, but if you happen to have little people in your family, we are pretty sure it is going to go down a storm.

While not strictly in Bournemouth itself, Peppa Pig World happens to be a short drive away. It’s actually part of Paulton’s Park, meaning if you have slightly older children as well, they are going to have the time of their lives when they visit as well.
Bournemouth East Beach - land train - Peppa Pig World

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Bournemouth by Phil Beard; (2) Bournemouth Pier by Diamond Geezer; (3) West Cliff Lift by Alwyn Ladell; (4) Oceanarium by Lebatihem; (5) Peppa Pig Train by Elliott Brown
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The UK’s most romantic road trips

northern England

Exploring a new part of the world with your new partner is always exciting, but you don’t have to get on a plane to do so. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the country to get a taste of idyllic scenery. Make the most of your car and country by opting for a scenic road trip when planning your next romantic gesture. As a young couple, it’s a relatively cheap way of seeing a little more of the world before you have the funds later to head abroad together.

Before you set off on your road trip, it’s important you make sure you’re fully prepared for the journey. Grab some snacks for the trip and make sure you have a sat nav at the ready. An emergency breakdown cover policy is an important essential, as well as an emergency kit in your boot featuring items such as a hazard triangle, hi-vis clothing, torches and bottles of water. Most importantly, make sure your insurance and the route you’re going to take is sorted well in advance – nobody wants to cancel a trip because they left the essentials to the last minute.

The Cotswolds

Known for its luscious green hills and charming cottages made of golden stone, the Cotswolds is one of the most picturesque places in the country. A trip to the Cotswolds is perfect for those who want to explore a quaint village before heading to a country pub for a spot of lunch.

Unspoiled and truly traditional, walking through one of these stunning villages will transport you back in time. Make sure you have a spare hour to pop into a tea room for some delicious scones before heading back home.

Spanning nearly 800 miles, it would be pretty much impossible to explore the Cotswolds in its entirety in just a weekend, as much as we’d all love to try. At just 45 miles, the best route for a couple would have to be the Romantic Road from Broadway. If you don’t want to use a pre-set route, it’s worth planning which of the many villages you want to explore rather than driving aimlessly.

The Lake District

The beautifully scenic Lake District is famed for its sprawling hillsides, breathtaking lakes and hike-worthy mountains. There are plenty of routes to take, as listed by the Lake District Drives website. One of those most popular is the Windermere Circuit drive. You’ll see all the popular sights in this drive around England’s largest lake as well as the more untouched parts of this stunning part of the country.

The Keswick, Borrowdale, Buttermere drive is considered one of the most romantic, passing through the most picturesque valleys and mountain passes you’ll ever see. At only 38 miles, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the natural beauty of the Lake District on this route. Stop for lunch in the popular town of Keswick before heading off on the rest of your journey.

The New Forest

When people think of the New Forest, the first things that come to mind are the enchanting forest trails and the wildlife that resides amongst the luscious greenery. Stop off on your trip and hike through these trails for a breath of fresh air with a view.

british pub food

If you want your road trip to be filled with nature, take the scenic route to avoid the busy main roads. This route takes you to the more quiet areas of the New Forest, avoiding the areas that are typically packed with tourists. You’ll start in Lymington and end in Frogham with plenty of lovely little villages to visit in between. Keep an eye out for the famous wild horses that roam the New Forest as well as the beautiful deer located in Bolderwood.

Plan one of these romantic road trips this year and enjoy time away from it all, spent together as a couple.

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The five best long-distance hikes in England

turquoise water

If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know that I am a big fan of long-distance hikes. After the Salkantay Trek in Peru, the jungle trek to Colombia’s Lost City, and the month-long epic walk across Spain along the Camino De Santiago it is time to plan my next long distance hike, and this year, my Camino BFF Kate and I are planning to do one of the best long-distance hikes in England. All that’s left to do is fill our backpacks with our hiking gear, strap on our walking boots and – most importantly – decide which walk to set out on.

When I started planning this trip, I was not aware how many fantastic walking trails there are in England, and after some research, I’ve narrowed down the five best long-distance walks in England, to give you some inspiration for your very own walking holiday in the UK. There’s something for everyone on this list: from short five-day hikes to epic eight-week walking adventures, from coastal walks to hamlet hopping through some of England’s grandest landscapes.

1 Coast to Coast

Location: Northern England – Cumbria to North Yorkshire

Length: 309 km / 192 miles

Duration: 15 days (without any test days)

What to expect: You’ll start on the west coast, at the Irish Sea at St Bees and end the walk in the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay. Walking west to east is the more popular direction for this hike, because this way, wind and rain will be at your back, and you don’t walk against the bright evening sun.

Highlights: You cross three stunning national parks on this walk: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors. During the walk, you’ll pass through small villages with cozy pubs, the heather-covered highlands of the North York Moors, medieval castles and abbeys, the breathtakingly beautiful scenery of the Lake District and plenty of unforgettable views. This is one of the most iconic best long-distance hikes in England.

Level of difficulty: This is a strenuous hikes with many hills and mountains – you have to be an experienced hiker and in great physical condition.

best long-distance hikes in England

2 Cotswolds Way

Location: South-Central England, Gloucestershire to Somerset

Length: 164 kilometers / 102 miles

Duration: 5 – 7 days

What to expect: The Cotswolds Way is one of the country’s most beautiful walks: You’ll walk through charming villages filled with century-old honey-colored stone houses and cozy pubs, follow the trail through the typical ‘rolling hills’ limestone grasslands that the Cotswolds are known for, through farmlands where you’ll encounter cows and sheep.

Highlights: Every single hamlet you walk through will take your breath away – the Cotswolds were awarded the title of ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ for a reason! And then there are the stately 15th-century Sudeley Castle, charming tea rooms, countless viewpoints with sweeping vistas of green, rolling hills, and finally, the city of Bath with its wonderful 18th-century Georgian architecture, where the walk ends (or begins, either way is possible, but soaking in Bath’s famous Roman thermal spas is a rewarding way to end the hike).

Level of difficulty: Moderate – this trail is doable for less experienced hikers.

3 The Pennine Way

Location: Northern England (Derbyshire) into Scotland

Length: 431 kilometers / 268 miles

Duration: min. of 21 days

What to expect: This popular, yet challenging, hike runs along the ‘backbone of England’: the Pennine Hills through a rather remote part of England. It is often named the toughest hiking trail in Britain, and definitely not an easy undertaking, but it is also one of the greatest long-distance hikes in England. You’ll walk through the remarkable Yorkshire Dales, lots of hilly terrain, moorland, bogs, wildflower meadows, farmland and wild landscapes – every day is very different. Since you’re passing mainly through untouched terrain, it is important to plan ahead – the Guardian has a great list of where to stay, eat and drink along the Pennine Way.

Highlights: Finishing the challenging Pennine Way with 432 stiles, 287 gates and 204 bridges is a huge achievement in itself, but you will also enjoy the vast panoramic vistas from the high-up viewpoints, some of Britain’s most beautiful, untouched scenery, Hadrian’s Wall and the highest pub in England.

Level of difficulty: This is considered a tough hike – long-distance hiking experience is essential, and you must be in excellent physical condition.

4 The Dales Way

Location: Northern England – West Yorkshire to Cumbria

Length: 125 kilometers / 81 miles

Duration: 5 – 6 days

What to expect: The Dales Way is a well-signposted hiking trail that mainly follows river valleys, cuts through farms and lush green fields, and eventually ends in the foothills of the mountains of the Lake District. You’ll walk through two National Parks: The Yorkshire Dales as well as the Lake District National Park.

Highlights: The Yorkshire Dales National Park offers some of England’s most spectacular landscapes: Moors, river valleys, green hills, farmland dotted with cows and sheep, and historic stone villages.

Level of difficulty: Moderate – can be done by less experienced hikers

5 The South West Coast Path

Location: Southwestern England – Dorset, Cornwall, Somerset, Devon

Length: 1,014 kilometers / 630 miles

Duration: about 8 weeks

What to expect: If you feel like all of the above hikes aren’t much of a challenge, the South West Coast Path is the hike for you. This hike follows the entire length of Cornwall’s and Devon’s coastline, and sections of Devon’s and Somerset’s coastlines. With a length of over 1,000 kilometers, it puts the famed Camino de Santiago to shame. Not only is this the longest hiking trail in the UK, but it is often named as one of the best hikes in the world. However pretty this coastal path with its stunning views is, be aware that there are lots of ups and downs involved, i.e. many drops and climbs. If the length of the hike seems off-putting to you, know that many people walk it in stretches over a number of years.

Highlights: You will pass through two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Jurassic Coast, comprised of the Dorset and East Devon Coast, and parts of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape. You’ll also get to walk along the Heritage Coast in Exmoor National Park with its dramatic coastline, ravines and steep cliffs – including the highest cliff in mainland Britain – and you’ll pass dozens of pristine beaches, castles, small harbor towns and seaside resorts, and the iconic Land’s End: the westernmost point of the English mainland.

Level of difficulty: Pretty difficult – not just because of the length of it, but the total elevation climbed during this hike is 114,931 feet (35,031 m), which is almost four times the height of Mount Everest! You have to be an experienced long-distance walker to finish this hike, and you have to have adequate hiking gear.

best long-distance hikes in England

Have you walked one of the long-distance hikes in England? Which one is your favorite?

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The Five Most Romantic Autumn Breaks To Take In England

new york fall foliage road trip leaves3

There’s no doubt about it – autumn is here! The leaves are changing, the days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping. We may long for these long, sunny summer days right now, but autumn is actually a wonderful season for romance and togetherness. A stroll through the park during peak leaf changing season? Snuggling by the fireplace? Having an excuse to stay in bed on a rainy day? No other season is as romantic as autumn. If you are thinking about booking a weekend getaway for you and your loved one: now is the time! Here are five ideas for romantic autumn breaks in England:autumn breaks in england

The five best autumn breaks in England

1 Leaf peeping in the Peak District

If you want to experience the changing leaves and mystic autumn atmosphere in their full glory, head to the Peak District for long walks through the moorlands which turn burnished brown at this time of year, and along trails lined by trees with colorful leaves. Mist lingers in the valleys until long after sunrise, providing an incredibly romantic backdrop for walks with your loved one. To enhance the romance factor even more, stay in a self-catering cottage. Check out these 10 cosy places to stay in the Peak District.bear mountain fall leaves

2 Feel like a King & a Queen for a Weekend

How about pretending you’re a king and a queen for a weekend? Spending a night in a castle is on many people’s bucket list, and the UK has plenty of castle hotels and rentable castles to choose from. Spending a weekend in a castle in the fall means you’ll actually have the perfect excuse to spend as much time as possible inside and you’ll make the most of it. If you’re overwhelmed by the vast selection of available castles, here are some of the most extraordinary ones: Amberley Castle (which is featured on lists of the most romantic hotels in the world all the time), Culcreuch Castle (a 700 year old castle and one of Scotland’s oldest hotels); Hever Castle (all rooms have four-poster beds, and there are monthly Tudor banquets); Star Castle Hotel in the Scilly Islands (star-shaped fortress with sweeping sea views built by Elizabeth in 1593 to defend the Isles of Scilly), Langley Castle (a 14th-century castle with exposed stone walls, suits of armor, wrought-iron candelabras, four-poster beds and a restaurant known for its exquisite cuisine). You can turn this into an even more romantic getaway by whisking your partner away without telling them where you are taking them – and while this certainly is one of the best autumn breaks in England, this is actually an incredible getaway at any time of year.

autumn breaks in england

3 New Forest

Nature lovers will be in awe when visiting this famed forest with its 500-year old oaks and the wild ponies this area is famous for – there are 3,000 of them! If your lady is a fan of horses, make sure to plan a ride through the area. But there’s more to New Forest than just ancient trees and horses: heaths covered in purple heather, farmland, lush meadows and coastal marshes, and plenty of wildlife. Nothing is more romantic than dinner by the fireplace in a cozy country pub after a long walk through these magical lands. Get some inspiration for the best walks – including some pub walks – here.old oak tree at oak alley plantation

4 The Exmoor Coastline

There are plenty of coastal getaways that are delightful during the most colorful weeks of the year – in Cornwall, Dorset and Kent, there are plenty of beaches and coastal walks to be explored. The unspoiled coast of Exmoor is particularly charming, however, offering the highest coastline in England, including the highest sheer cliff on Great Hangman (244m (800ft). This is one of the most stunning autumn breaks in England. In addition, there are coastal woods and moors, coves and secluded beaches. Exmoor is also home to the South West Coast Path, at 630 miles the longest National Trail in the UK, and one of the best long-distance hikes in England. Walking hand in hand along the beach never fails to evoke romantic feelings, especially on a chilly autumn afternoon.

autumn breaks in england

5 A spa weekend

A spa weekend is the perfect way to spend a rainy autumn weekend – a little pampering helps make you feel better and look better, and it helps enhancing your mood if you are prone to November Blues. During a spa weekend, you and your partner can enjoy a couples’ massage, you can heat things up with a visit to the sauna or steam room, and there is nothing wrong with breakfast in bed in your fluffy white hotel robe. There’s no more romantic autumn break in England than an indulgent spa hotel getaway.

An indulgent spa break is great for self-care as well as spending quality time with your partner. And it doesn’t have to be expensive – many spa hotels offer special weekend spa getaway deals, especially during the winter.autumn breaks in england

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Five Weekend Breaks From London To Beat The Winter Blues

Sunset at Brighton Beach England

Let’s face it: the colder seasons can be dreadful in London. It is rainy and grey, sometimes the sun doesn’t show itself for days. It’s easy to get into a funk when it’s chilly out, and summer still seems far away.

Every time I felt the winter blues coming, I knew what I had to do to beat it: Get out of town for a couple of days. No matter if you only have Saturday and Sunday, or if you can add another day and take a long weekend, there are so many places close enough to London that make even a one-night getaway worthwhile.

Read on for my top five winter weekend breaks from London:brighton pavilion


Distance from London: One hour on the train

Why go? Brighton is perfect for a weekend of long walks on the beach combined with shopping in the eclectic little shops in Brighton’s Lanes, where you find quirky vintage shops and cute cafes that invite to linger with a book or the newspaper when it’s raining outside. The dining scene in Brighton is exceptional, and there are enough things to keep you busy for several weekends.brighton seagull

Don’t miss: If the weather allows for it, take the bus (12, 12A or 13 bus) to Seven Sisters Country Park and go for a hike along the stunning white cliffs. Stop in a cozy country pub for a Sunday Roast on the way back.

Where to stay? Brighton has plenty of unusual B&B’s and small boutique hotels to offer – among the best ones are the Artist Residence (Rooms start at £90 per night); Snooze B&B (rooms start at £75); and Pelirocco, Brighton’s famous Rock’n’Roll hotel (grab their lovebirds special deal for £99 which includes a bottle of champagne, chocolate truffles and breakfast in bed!snooze brighton bed and breakfast bed

A Spa Break In The Midlands

Distance from London: 2.5 hours by car

Why go? The Belfry in the Midlands, just outside of Birmingham, is the perfect place to recharge your batteries. The hotel spa has undergone a £1 million a few years ago, making it a perfect destination for a spa weekend without breaking the bank and to spoil you with a quality spa experience. Two-night spa breaks at the gorgeous ivy-covered country house hotel in Sutton Coldfield start at only £134 per person per night – including a spa treatment, breakfast, a 3-course dinner and access to the pool area. No better way to spend a chilly winter weekend than by pampering yourself! And if the hubby isn’t much of a spa enthusiast, he’ll appreciate the 18-hole golf course.

Don’t miss: Head to the nearby Kingsbury Water Park with 15 lakes, plenty of walking trails and birds and wildlife.grand hyatt playa del carmen spa waters

The Cotswolds

Distance from London: About 2 hours by car

Why go? The Cotswolds are the quintessential English countryside getaway, with dozens of picture-perfect little villages with rustic stone houses dotted among the green hills. The villages are as traditional as Britain gets – you’ll think you’ve traveled back to the last century!

Don’t miss: One of the many scenic trails – the Telegraph lists the 10 best pub walks in the Cotswolds, and The Culture Trip shares the best hikes in the Cotswolds. Also stop in some of the Cotswolds villages and go for a stroll  – Burford, Blockley, Chipping Norton and Bourton-on-the-Water are among the most delightful ones.

Where to stay? Rent a cottage – it doesn’t matter in which of the villages you’re staying, they’re all equally as charming. AirBnb has cottages for as little as £60 – a steal for a romantic countryside getaway!

Hastings & Rye

Distance from London: 90 mins on the train

Why go? Over the past few years, Hastings has made quite a name for itself as an art lover’s heaven and cultural hotspot. The city has become quite hip, with a thriving art scene, plenty of artisan shops and boutiques, as well as trendy restaurants. The pier has also undergone a major £14 million renovation, and helped turning the city into a busy seaside resort. Visiting off-season has the advantage that you don’t have to deal with crowds, but can still admire the natural beauty while shopping for art in the many galleries.

Rye England

Don’t miss: Only a short 20-min train ride to the East brings you to the small town of Rye, which is famous for its cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses which date back to Medieval times. The annual Rye Bay Scallop Week takes place in late February, so if you are a scallop fan, you should plan your getaway to coincide with this event. The town makes for a nice detour trip from Hastings to peek inside the many little shops and to explore the nearby dunes at Camber, Rye Bay and Romney Marsh on a nice winter walk.

Where to stay: Zanzibar Hotel, praised by Conde Nast Traveler, has rooms starting from £99; The Old Rectory is a gorgeous B&B in the historic center (from £110), and Hastings House is a stylish, contemporary seaside B&B (rooms from £80).


Distance from London: 2 hours and 17 mins on the fast train

Why go? York is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval cities in the entire UK, and with Virgin’s comfortable high speed trains less than 2.5 hours away. No matter what time of year you’re visiting, it is always delightful to meander through the historic alleyways, take a walk on the 13-century city walls and marvel at The Shambles, a narrow street with half-timbered houses that is lined with independent shops and lively cafes. The true showstopper is of course the York Minster, one of the most remarkable Gothic churches in the entire country.brighton cafe cakesDon’t miss: Betty’s Café Tea Rooms – sure, it’s touristy, but it is popular for a reason. This tea-and-cake shop is a York institution and afternoon tea or a quick stop for some tea and scones is a must!

Where to stay: The Churchill Hotel is a small upscale hotel housed in a luxurious Georgian mansion, and it is fabulous! Rooms start at around £85. Hotel Indigo is known for its uniquely styled bedrooms in a redbrick, industrial-chic building. Rooms from £75.England Sunset

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The Top 5 Places for a Weekend Escape from London

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In spite of London winning the hearts of many, its busy daily routine can get to you. As a Londoner or as a traveler, there is much more to England than London alone. But, where do you start if you’re looking for your London escape? In and around London, within the radius of an average one-hour commute, there are many places to visit on the weekend that can give leave you rejuvenated.England SunsetHere are the top 5 picks to plan your next escape from London:

1.     Oxford

Oxford has as much to offer to visitors as it has to its students. Standing tall as one of England oldest universities, there is a lot to take away from this weekend getaway. You can check out the museums, the old stone architecture of the building, which is indeed very beautiful, and visit libraries such as Bodleian. Trains for Oxford leave regularly and take about an hour from London Paddington Station. There are also plenty of shops and food stalls to explore at The Covered Market on the High Street, the oldest in all of Britain.Cambridge England

2.     Dover

Dover is one of Britain’s busiest ports and was the traditional front door to England upon entrance from continental Europe. It offers a lot to do to visitors, such as the beautiful White Chalk cliffs to spend time and clear your mind. Since Dover was a fort city, you can explore interesting military heritage and visit the beautiful Dover Castle. The best way to experience the cliffs – stay at one of the nearby campgrounds. St Margarets Bay Holiday Park is the closest to the cliffs, but there are several others along the coast. That way you get the chance to see this spectacular part of Britain’s coastline during all times of day, including sunrise, golden hour and sunset, when they are bathed in a truly stunning light. And speaking of camping – if you’re looking to step up your camping gear game this year, why not try something different in the camping bed market. Britain’s got so many beautiful campsites – why not use the long Holiday weekends for more countryside getaways?White Cliffs Of Dover

3.     Bath

If you are a fan of ancient buildings and architecture, especially of the Roman era, Bath is one place you absolutely must experience. The site is home to the most magnificent ruins left in England thousands of years ago, offering plenty of learning opportunities about ancient Roman Britain. Trains from Paddington take about and hour and a half to transport you to the classic Georgian Architecture era sites.Bath England

4.     East Grinstead

If castles and roman architecture aren’t your thing, and you want to find some peace and quiet in one of the smaller towns around London instead, consider escaping to East Grinstead in West Sussex, which is 58 minutes away from London. With only 25,000 inhabitants, it is bound to be the perfect peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of London. For more small town escapes, check out this list of 20 places around London you can consider moving to.Canterbury

5.     Canterbury

Canterbury flaunts the beauty of churches with its thousand year old cathedrals. It is also the spiritual base of the Church of England, and the city offers not just divine freedom, but many other things to calm your mind such as restaurants, art museums and galleries to explore.Canterbury England

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The Six Best London Markets

london camden market

No matter where I travel, one integral part of sightseeing in a new city are markets. Be it a flea market, fish market or simply a fruit and vegetable market, I just love the atmosphere of a lively market, and seeing what is sold in markets in different countries. Last month, I hit up some of my favorite markets in Berlin, and I’ve written about markets in Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires and told you about my favorite markets in South East Asia and New York City. But I’ve never shared my favorite markets in London, which is the place I lived in the longest – which means there isn’t a market I haven’t been to in London, and it became a ritual for me to head out on weekends to pick up vintage clothes, unique gifts for friends, fresh flowers or just fruits and vegetables for the week, or just to grab a snack.

London MarketsRead on for the six best London markets I recommend you don’t miss on a visit to The Big Smoke – not a single one is like another and I love each one for a different reason – plus a few honorable mentions which, should you spend a longer period in the city, are worth a visit as well.

Borough Market

What started out as a local food & vegetable market right off London Bridge quickly turned into the city’s #1 gourmet food market, selling high quality fresh breads and pastries, cheeses, meats, fish and condiments like olives, nuts and other goodies. The market gained in popularity so quickly that it is basically impossible to make your way across the market without being pushed through the crowds, but if you visit Borough Market on a Friday or Thursday before lunch, you should be able to avoid the masses (do yourself a favor though and don’t go on a Saturday, unless you are willing to get up early!).


Make sure to come hungry, because not only will you want to try some of the specialty sandwiches (raclette!) or bratwurst, but the vendors also offer generous samples of Italian salami, French cheese, fresh muffins or homemade jam. If you are a foodie, you can’t leave London without visiting this market!

Where? Southwark Street (closest tube station: London Bridge)

When? There is a limited market operating Monday and Tuesday 10am to 5pm. The Full market is in operation Wednesday & Thursday: 10am to 5pm, Friday: 10am to 6pm, Saturdays: 8am to 5pm. It is closed on Sundays.

London Borough Market

Columbia Road Market

Columbia Road Market is actually called Columbia Flower Market – and is easily the best smelling market in London. Every Sunday, flower vendors line up along Columbia Road and sell an array of flowers and plants that makes every person with a ‘green thumb’ or simply adores flowers, very happy indeed. Thousands of flowers make the quaint Columbia Road shine in a blaze of colors. I have traveled all over the world but I have rarely seen a market that compares.

Visiting the Columbia Road Market makes for a lovely Sunday morning stroll through East London, and can be combined with brunch in Shoreditch or a stroll through Brick Lane Market (see below). Make sure to also check out the galleries, vintage shops and boutiques on Columbia Road while you’re there.

Where? Columbia Road (closest public transport: Hoxton or Shoreditch High Street on the London Overground)

When? Sundays 8am – 3pm.

london columbia road flower marketPortobello Road Market

London’s best known market has been going strong for decades now, turning Portobello Road into London’s busiest street each and every Saturday, rain or shine. The market was originally founded as an antiques market but has since added clothing, souvenirs, art, vintage clothes and even household cleaners to the mix. Towards the end of the market (close to Ladbroke Grove), you’ll find fruits, vegetables and other fresh produce and when I lived in Ladbroke Grove, I would visit the market every week to shop for inexpensive groceries. I was never able to resist the giant olives, cheese vendors and fresh French baguettes. If you’re in town on a sunny day, I’d recommend picking up some snack food and heading to Kensington Gardens afterwards for a picnic.

Where? Portobello Road (closest tube station: Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove)

When? Every Saturday from 9am to 6pm

London Portobello Road MarketBrick Lane Market

Brick Lane Market is my favorite place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon in London. This massive flea market in East London stretches all the way down Brick Lane and also includes Cheshire Street. As East London has become more and more trendy over the past decade or so, the market has also seen a huge growth in visitor numbers, so I recommend you go early. You can find all kinds of second-hand goods here, vintage clothes and antiques, but also toys, all sorts of knick knacks and even home decor.

There are tons of food vendors here, too, so you don’t have to go hungry. And let’s not forget about all of the amazing curry houses that made Brick Lane famous in the first place – you won’t regret stopping for lunch at any of them. During the warmer months, there are live bands and other entertainment along the street or in places like the Truman Brewery. Street art lovers take note: Brick Lane is also home to some of London’s finest street art.

Where? Brick Lane (closest tube station: Liverpool Street Station and Aldgate East)

When? Every Sunday from 10am to 5pm

London Brick Lane MarketPetticoat Lane Market

Another amazing Sunday market (you could basically spend all Sunday exploring different markets!), Petticoat Lane Market specializes entirely in fashion. The market was established over 400 years ago by French Huguenots who were selling petticoats there. Even though the street name has long since changed, the market has kept its original name and is a paradise for fashionistas. There is no fashion article that you won’t find here – from belts, buttons, underwear, leather, jeans and work clothes, this market sells anything to do with clothing. Bring enough cash, because you’ll most likely buy much more than you plan on buying! The rock-bottom prices here never cease to amaze me.

Where? On Middlesex Street (closest tube station: Liverpool Street Station, Aldgate or Aldgate East)

When? Every Sunday from 9am to 2.30pm

petticoatlane marketCamden Lock Market

Another one of London’s markets that has become way too commercialized over the years. When I visited Camden Market for the first time a decade ago, the market still had an edgy, in parts almost grimy feel to it, but the more it has gained in popularity, the more it was cleaned up by the officials. While it has become cleaner and more organized, it has also lost most of its edginess – that being said, Camden Market is still my absolute favorite market in the world. I have yet to find another market that I love equally as much and that combines vintage, food (oh the glorious food! Do yourself a favor and come with an empty belly!), jewelry, art, music and amazing gifts. London Camden Lock MarketIf you happen to be in London during the week, you’ll be able to shop in a much less crowded environment on a weekday morning. If you’re not a fan of crowds, I’d recommend staying away on the weekends or otherwise go to the market super early. But make sure that you do go: this is the one market that should absolutely not be missed on a visit to London.

Where? Camden High Street (closest tube station: Camden Town or Chalk Farm)

When? Every day from 10am to 6pm


These are only a few of the markets I love in London and ones that I frequented dozens of times. I could go on and on, also introducing you to Leadenhall Market, Brixton Village Market, Covent Garden Market, Greenwich Market, Spitalsfield Market and Broadway Market… your options for markets to attend in London are nearly endless. A quick weekend trip to London is one of the easiest things to do these days with the large number of budget airlines and trains connecting London to mainland Europe.


If you are based in the UK, cheap coach operators offer tickets for as little as £1, but even from Germany or France there are always bargain train or flight offers available. It has never been easier and cheaper to visit Britain’s capital for a quick shopping trip – and no shopping trip would be complete without a visit to the city’s awesome markets!
Best London Markets

Have you been to London? What are your favorite markets? Share in the comments below!


Best Markets in London

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Polaroid Of The Week: A Perfect London Summer Day

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week england london kensington gardensAfter a week by the sea, I made my way up to London, deciding that I can’t leave England without at least a quick pit stop in my former adopted hometown.

Summer was in full swing when I arrived in Friday (a rare thing for London!) and I spontaneously decided to take some time off work and spend my Saturday like most other people this weekend, and like I used to spend so many of my London weekends: in the park (with a run though Hyde Park in the morning and a picnic in Kensington Gardens in the afternoon, where I snapped the picture above), with a bit of shopping (the madness that is Oxford Street seems less crazy when you’ve been away for a while) and last but not least: with a visit to the West End, where I saw Guys & Dolls, currently starring Rebel Wilson, who always makes me laugh, and it wasn’t any different in this musical. If you happen to find yourself in London before 21 August, I highly recommend it – look for cheap tickets on

My quick visit in London ended with some bubbles at the Searcys champagne bar in St Pancras with Becki, who I hadn’t seen since the NBE conference in Finland in January 2014, and was the perfect way to conclude a fantastic week in the UK. Next stop: Munich!

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Polaroid Of The Week: Beach Day In Brighton

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week brighton englandI decided instead of boring you with yet another Polaroid from Berlin, I’d wait another day and share a photo of the place where I’m spending the bigger part of this week: Brighton, England! When I came here for Brighton Pride last summer, I sure didn’t think I’d be back less than a year later, but as so often… I just never know where my travels take me 🙂 (Remember how I ended up in the Amazon in March? Yeah, I had no intentions to go there either..).

Until last week I had no idea that I’d be hanging out at the beach in Brighton today, but I sure won’t complain about this! Apparently, summer and sunshine only arrived in Britain this past weekend, and I got to enjoy the most beautiful summer day on England’s south coast today. The beach was packed, as one would expect with fabulous weather like this – there was not a single cloud in the sky. People were barbecuing at the beach, SUPing in the ocean (something I’m hoping to do later this week!), and the bars and pubs along the beach were packed.

I’ve had a crush on Brighton ever since I first came here in 2005, and won’t ever tire of coming here – if you wanted to know more about what makes Brighton so special, I recommend my article Irresistable Brighton: What makes Brighton so appealing?

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How to Spend the Perfect Fall Weekend in London

london museum

After traveling around Europe for nearly three months this year, I came to the conclusion that London is still my favorite European city. I might be biased, having lived there for so many years, but I’ve also traveled to enough other places to be able to say that I don’t think any other European city can rival London in all the things it has to offer, in terms of culture, food, nightlife, markets, shopping, green spaces, things to do, theater, and areas for urban exploration. It was time for a weekend in to spend a weekend in LondonWhen I stopped in London this year I had the opportunity to show a first-time visitor around town – something I did on a regular basis when I was living in London, which is why I felt comfortable playing tour guide for my friend – and which is why I thought it was time to share my recommendations how to spend a weekend in London with you.

3 days in London – My itinerary

This is my suggested itinerary for three days in London – including the must-see London landmarks, afternoon tea, my favorite museums for some culture but also some cool street art spots, the best walks and my favorite green spaces, delicious food and evening activities.weekend in London

Day 1: Royal London and London’s most iconic sights

I usually start my London explorations with a walk from Victoria Station all the way to St Paul’s Cathedral, or if I’m not too tired yet, a little further into the ‘City of London’ to take in the views from the Monument and to finish with a pint in Leadenhall Market.

From Victoria Station, follow the signs to Buckingham Palace. If you’re really into the royal family, you can visit the palace during the summer months (tickets start at £20.50). But for most people it is enough to glimpse through the fence and snap some pictures of the guards in their fancy uniforms. The ‘Changing of the guards’, which takes place at 11.30am (daily between April and July, every other day the rest of the year) is a great spectacle to catch, and it’s free, so you might want to time your visit so that you can see parksFrom Buckingham Palace, walk over to Green Park and follow the lake until you reach the Horse Guards building, where you’ll encounter another typical London sight: the Horse Guards, as the name implies. From there, walk down Whitehall, past Downing Street, and you’ll reach Big Ben and the Houses Of Parliaments, across from Westminster Abbey. Cross Westminster Bridge and turn left onto the South Bank, where you’ll follow The Queen’s Walk along the river.


Here’s where you can stop for a ride on the London Eye (£19.35) or continue on towards Millennium Bridge, a pleasant walk that’s just over a mile long. Before crossing the bridge, make sure to check out the current exhibitions at the Tate Modern, London’s most famous contemporary art museum, which is housed in a former power station. It is one of my favorite contemporary art museums in the world. Heading up to the cafe is a good idea no matter if you’re a fan of modern art or not, because the views from up there are fantastic.


Once you’ve crossed Millennium Bridge you can decide if you want to pay St Paul’s Cathedral a full visit (tickets from £18.00) or just peek inside (well worth a peek, I say, even if you don’t want to pay for full access). If you’re not visiting the church, head further east until you reach the Monument, a freestanding  202 ft (62 m) tall column that offers probably the cheapest views over London at £4. The catch? You have to climb 311 steps to get up there, there’s no elevator to be found. However, for your effort you get a neat certificate that confirms that you successfully climbed to the millennium bridgeAnd now you definitely deserve a pint – and a short ten minute walk from the Monument, you find Leadenhall Market, a beautiful covered market dating back to the 14th century (and representing Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter movie!). Unless you’re heading there on a weekend, you’re also likely to encounter dozens of ‘suits’ there – people who work in London’s finance sector. Most banks have their offices in this part of the city, and bankers, like most other people, tend to enjoy an after work pint (or two). Mingling with them makes for an interesting experience though. There are also some restaurants in Leadenhall Market – if you’re looking for a typical British pub dinner, head to the Lamb Tavern.


Day 2: Notting Hill and Central London

Start Day 2 with breakfast in Notting Hill – Walk up Portobello Road and pop in to some of Notting Hill’s antique shops along the way, or simply admire the neat Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian architecture. If you happen to be in London over the weekend, I’d recommend heading here on Saturday when the famous Portobello Road Antiques Market takes place – but come early, it gets pretty crowded around noon.Portobello Road MarketThree of my favorite breakfast places right on Portobello Road are the Electric Diner, Egg Slut (next door) and Lowry & Baker (also great to just pick up a coffee). Another breakfast spot worth mentioning in the area is Granger & Co (by Australian celebrity chef Bill Granger – but reasonably priced). For an extended Notting Hill walk, I recommend turning right onto Westbourne Grove. Head back south on Garway Road until you reach Kensington Gardens, and go for a stroll in this beautiful park which is basically an extension of Hyde Park. If you are into art, I recommend stopping at the small Serpentine Gallery right in the park which has always interesting exhibitions (free admission). Walk eastwards through the park until you hit Marble Arch, the giant arch on the northeastern corner of Hyde Park.

Afternoon Tea in London

You might begin to feel hungry again, and now it’s time for afternoon tea! During my last visit to London I tried something different: Street Food Afternoon Tea, which had an interesting twist to it: instead of your usual mini sandwiches and scones, they serve mini burgers, mozzarella risotto balls, vegetable skewers and quesadillas, followed by scrumptious eclairs, macaroons, rice pudding and fruit tarts – all combined with tea, of course, which you can select from an exquisite tea menu. I tried the vegetarian version of the street food tea, but of course there is also one for carnivores.

In my opinion, afternoon tea has to be part of a weekend in London, and luckily there are dozens of afternoon teas to choose from. Among my all-time favorites are the Alice in Wonderland – themed Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea at Sanderson, haute couture Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley, or Fortnum & Mason for a very traditional version. Check out this comprehensive Conde Nast Traveler guide to the very best afternoon teas in London.

Afternoon Tea at the Arch LondonI loved the elegant yet cozy ambiance at the restaurant, and it is just the right thing to do before hitting Oxford Street for a little shopping spree. After some shopping on London’s most iconic (and busiest) street, you might want to get away from the hustle and bustle here. Turn right (southwards) onto Argyll Street (just after Oxford Circus) which leads to the pedestrianized Carnaby Street. Here you’ll find more independent shops, different from the big High Street chain stores, and plenty of options for a quick bite or drink.

Follow Carnaby Street all the way down to the end and you’ll find yourself right in the heart of Soho, which really comes to life after dark. If you’re a theater buff like I am, I suggest ending the day with a West End show. is a good place to start looking which plays have good deals, and you can find a comprehensive guide to finding cheap Westend theater tickets here.

If you’re not into musicals or plays, end the day with a drink or dinner in Soho. Places I recommend are: Franco Manca for pizza, Oka for sushi, Bao (to-die-for Taiwanese street food), Fernandez & Wells for tapas and wine, Princi for tasty Italian food, Busaba Eathai (Thai), and Yalla Yalla for Lebanese food, to give you just a few ideas. For drinks, check out the French House (great beer selection), the Lyric Tavern for a solid British pub experience, Mark’s Bar (underneath the Hix restaurant) for sophisticated cocktails, the Experimental Cocktail Club if you’re looking for a speakeasy experience (good luck finding it). If you want to fancy it up, head to Milk & Honey (reservations obligatory).3 day London itinerary

Day three: Markets and street art in East London

Day 3 is all about East and North London. If you’re visiting over a weekend, I’d plan to do this day on a Sunday. Start with a stroll through Columbia Street Flower Market (only on Sundays), or begin right in Brick Lane, where a massive flea market takes place every Sunday. Take your time and take in the street art around here, the flea market stalls, head into the Old Truman Brewery which is now filled with artsy shops and galleries.

On the southern end of Brick Lane you’ll find plenty of Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants which is what the area is famous for. Make sure to be hungry enough for a curry – here you’ll get the best curry in London. You may be overwhelmed by the large number of restaurants – I recommend consulting Tripadvisor or Foursquare before you decide which one to go to, or check out this rating of every curry restaurant on Brick Lane.3 day London itineraryAfter lunch, head over to Pettycoat Lane Market if you’re into fashion – you can find some amazing bargain deals here (note: also only on Sundays).

Street Art in East London

If you love street art, I suggest checking out some of East London’s cool graffiti scene (you will have seen some in Brick Lane already), but it’s a bit tricky to find all of the colorful pieces, which is why I recommend taking a free London street art walking tour (tipping mandatory!) with a local guide who will also give you some insights on the artists and East London in general. The tour runs five times a week at 2pm, online reservations are necessary. If you can’t make the tour, here’s an excellent self-guided street art walk through East London which includes brilliant pieces by famous street artists such as Banksy, Roa and Stiks.East London street art and Brick LaneSince this day is all about markets, you can’t miss Camden’s famous markets, which can be an all-day activity – it’s easy to get lost in the giant maze of different markets, all set around the locks of Regent’s Canal. Since I moved to London for the first time in 2005, the markets have become a major tourist attraction and some of them have also seen a revamp. And yes, it is crowded, but it’s still one of my favorite things to do in London, and the food stalls alone are worth the trip to Camden. If you’ve still got stamina after all the market strolls, head south along Regent’s Canal until you reach Primrose Hill. It’s a lovely walk and the views over London from the top of Primrose Hill are unbeatable (on a sunny day, that is!).3 day London itinerary

Tips for visiting London with little time and little money:

First of all: I wrote a detailed guide on how to visit London on the cheap – check it out!

– Pick up an Oyster Card, London’s transportation card. It is much cheaper to travel on public transportation with an Oyster Card – with it, a day ticket will cost you £6.50. If you simply buy a day ticket without Oyster card, it’s a staggering £12.10 (US$18.30)!

– If you are planning to visit a lot of the attractions that aren’t free, such as the Tower Of London, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace, consider buying a London Pass which is £75 for two days and 89 for three days. Here’s a good article that explains when it’s worth buying a London Pass and when it’s better to skip big ben– There are two local buses that pass most of London’s major sights and landmarks, such as Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, Tafalgar Square and Oxford Street. If you’re pressed for time, get an Oyster Card with a day ticket – at £4.50 (buses only) much cheaper than the hop-on hop-off buses that cover pretty much the same route. You can find a list of the best bus routes for sightseeing in London here.

– If it’s raining, head to the museums. The great thing about London is that most of its fabulous museums are free! My favorites include the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the National History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, but have a look at this list for more free London museums.


how to spend a weekend in London

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