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Want to spend your birthday in one of the most exciting cities in the world? London has it all, from historic buildings through to incredible nightlife, awesome restaurants and great places to shop. We’ve put together some birthday ideas for how to spend your day in the Big Smoke, from where to eat, to the top historic sights to visit and the best vacation rentals in London.
Where to Eat:
Breakfast at Dishoom
Start your day with a breakfast that has a spicy twist at Dishoom, in London’s East End. Spices first arrived in the UK when India was part of the British Empire and today, Indian food is one of the country’s most popular dishes. Dishoom offers up traditional brunch with an Indian influence. Try the Bacon Naan Roll or the Bombay Omelette. You won’t regret it!
Lunch at Brixton Market
Brixton Market is a converted mall from the 1950’s that’s now full of eateries. There are tons of small restaurants, from sourdough pizza restaurants, through to Jamaican chicken shacks and melt-in-mouth dumplings stalls. It’s also a great opportunity to pick up some food-related souvenirs, as there are plenty of shops selling sugary goods.
Dinner at Duck and Waffle
The Duck and Waffle restaurant sits on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower and it has unbeatable views of London. While the food can be a bit on the pricey side, the chance to see London’s skyline from the restaurant is completely worth it. Plus, it’s your birthday and you deserve a treat! Make sure you have your camera charged as you won’t want to miss the opportunity to Instagram the view.
Where to Shop:
Vintage shopping on Brick Lane
East London is known for its amazing vintage shops and warehouses. Head to Brick Lane and shop to your heart’s content. There are some warehouses that sell vintage clothes by the kilo. The idea is that you take a bag and fill it with clothes, and then weigh and pay at the end. Expect to queue and dive in once you enter. There are also shops selling select vintage finds, with a higher price tag.
Fashion finds in Oxford Street
Some of the top chains including Topshop, Nike, Urban Outfitters, H&M sit on Oxford Street, which is London’s principal shopping street. Get ready to shop until you drop. There are also some of the UK’s top department stores, including John Lewis and Debenhams, where you can find almost everything you need.
High-end shopping in Bond Street
If you want to treat yourself, head to London’s Bond Street, where you can find top designer stores from Chanel to Louis Vuitton.
Galleries and Museums to Visit
If you’ve only got a few days in London, it’s best to concentrate on just one or two museums. The best picks are the British Museum, which has ancient artifacts, including an amazing display of Egyptian mummies, and the Natural History Museum which has a jaw-dropping display of dinosaur bones and stuffed, extinct animals.
Meanwhile, if you like something a bit more creative, London is packed with cool art galleries. Top places to get your ‘art’ fix include the TATE Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, and the hipster South East London Gallery, all of which will help you get a flavor of London’s contemporary art scene.
Where to Drink
Head to Peckham, one of London’s coolest neighborhoods, and go to the top of the multistory car park, where you will find Frank’s Cafe. The bar has panoramic views of London and a hipster crowd. There are great cocktails (not too pricey) and delicious food platters to share.
If you want to sample the UK’s famous pub-scene, grab a drink at Ye Olde Cheshire and Cheese, which, established in 1667, is known as London’s oldest pub. The pub has a low-beamed ceiling, original wood paneling and a maze-like layout. Head down the pub’s narrow stairs to the former vault area that is thought to pre-date the pub.
Places to Party
If you want to head to one of the top clubs in Europe, look no further than Fabric. It’s known as one of the best places to party on the continent and plays a mix of drum and bass, dubstep, house and techno. Meanwhile, Egg in Kings Cross offers a unique clubbing experience with its themed nights.
If you want to dabble in some of London’s rich history, top places to visit include Big Ben, London’s famous clock tower, the Tower of London, known as one of the UK’s oldest castles (and the place where three queens were executed) the Houses of Parliament, home of the government and Buckingham Palace, where Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II lives.
Meanwhile, if you’re up for doing something a little different you can take a grizzly ‘Jack the Ripper walking tour’ to find out more about one of London’s most notorious serial killers from the Victorian era. Tours normally start at 7:30pm and there are various companies running tours, so keep an evening free.
You can also head to London’s historic neighborhood of Clerkenwell for a glimpse into London’s literary past. Charles Dickens, the famous English novelist, lived in Clerkenwell. His books were based on life in the 1800s in the neighborhood, which hasn’t changed much to this day. Soak in the views of the historic Victorian buildings and winding, cobbled streets.
Where to Stay
London is full of hostels, hotels, and Airbnbs. Some of our top picks include:
Hotels: The Nadler Soho is a great find. It’s located in Soho, which is one of the top areas to stay in London as it’s within walking distance to many of the main tourist attractions and in the heart of London’s restaurant and bar scene. Meanwhile, Hotel Indigo, in Kensington is another top pick thanks to its location in one of London’s most affluent neighborhoods.
Hostels: If you’re looking for something on a budget, the SoHostel, is a great option. It’s also excellently located in Soho and draws in a fun, backpacker crowd. Equally, the Wombats City Hostel, is another great option. The hostel is known for its cool, traveler crowd and awesome location next to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.