Gruber’s Antiques, Portobello Road
The lowdown: Head to Portobello Road on a Saturday to experience the world’s largest antiques market, against the colourful backdrop of Notting Hill’s extraordinary homes and quirky businesses. You might not see the fictional Gruber’s Antiques, but there are plenty of vintage emporia to rifle through. Even if you don’t buy a thing, being jostled through these streets is a quintessential London experience – and was memorably set to music in Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
In the know… Not in town on a Saturday? You’ll find some markets open on other days throughout the week.
Nearest Tubes: Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Park or Notting Hill Gate
Even if you don’t buy a thing, being jostled through these streets is a quintessential London experience.
Canal Towpath, Little Venice
The lowdown: It’s claimed it was the poet Robert Browning who first gave the name ‘Little Venice’ to the surprisingly serene, barge-studded waterways where the Grand Union Canal meets Regent’s canal, not far from Paddington Station. The canal towpath is open daily and lined with cosy cafés, but you really ought to take to the water – boat trips are best booked in advance.
In the know… The Puppet Barge is an atmospheric marionette theatre on the water which has been quietly putting on its old-fashioned, spellbinding entertainments for more than 30 years.
Nearest Tubes: Paddington or Warwick Avenue
London Waterbus offers trips from Little Venice to Camden and back, and a one-way trip takes around 50 minutes. There’s no need to book, just turn up 10 minutes before departure time.Book a break in London
Over the rooftops
Head up to the top floor of the adjacent One New Change building to get spectacular views of St Paul’s dome and across the London skyline.Check out our 24-hour guide
Every year, Europe’s biggest street festival comes to Portobello Road in the form of the Notting Hill Carnival. First started in 1966, it takes place on the last bank holiday in August.Explore London
The lowdown: With its famous bascules that open in theatrical style to allow tall boats to pass through, Tower Bridge is London’s most iconic river crossing, and frequently confused by visitors with its unassuming neighbour, London Bridge. Anyone can walk or drive over, but it’s worth paying for the extraordinary views from the glass-floored walkway above.
In the know… Check the timetable to ensure you catch the moment the bridge lifts up. Perhaps Bill Clinton should have done so in 1997, his presidential motorcade was split as the bridge opened.
Nearest Tubes: Tower Hill or London Bridge
Serpentine Bridge and Swimming Club, Hyde Park
The lowdown: The Serpentine Bridge connects Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, spanning the Serpentine Lake (though you may also be familiar with the name as being that of the world-class Serpentine Galleries, which you’ll also find here). There’s a loyal local swimming club who aren’t afraid of getting up close and personal with the resident waterfowl, and a large-scale public lido, including a children’s pool, that’s a-splash with activity every summer. Prefer to keep your clothes on? Hire a rowing or pedal boat, or chill out in a smart waterside café.
In the know… Every Christmas Day since 1864, the Serpentine Swimming Club has held a 100-yard swimming race, now known as the ‘Peter Pan Race’. Brrr.
Nearest Tubes: Lancaster Gate, Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corner
Did you know…?
London is one of the greenest capital cities in the world, with nearly 50 per cent of the city devoted to green space.Find out more
The lowdown: The exterior shots of Paddington Station in the first Paddington movie are in fact – with the help of some smoke and mirrors – Marylebone Station. The beloved bear is however then seen within the grand interior of Paddington station (sort of: the tea room is also fake). Hardcore fans will want to see the statue of Paddington beneath the station clock, and stock up on a spectrum of PB merchandise at the dedicated Paddington shop – the only one of its kind.
In the know… Opposite Paddington station is the private hospital of St Mary’s, where Kate Middleton gave birth.
Nearest Tube: Paddington
St Paul’s Cathedral
The lowdown: Sir Christopher Wren’s 17th century Baroque masterpiece survived the Blitz and continues to more than hold its own in a city skyline that has since become populated with attention-grabbing obelisks with nicknames like the Walkie-Talkie and the Cheesegrater. Ascend to the justifiably famous Whispering Gallery to hear even the smallest sounds reverberate around this famous feature, or simply survey the grand and storied main space, where Charles and Diana were married and Winston Churchill’s funeral took place.
In the know… Well-known Brits buried within the cathedral include everyone from Lord Nelson to the sculptor Henry Moore.
Nearest Tubes: St Paul’s, Mansion House, Bank or Blackfriars
The lowdown: By a literal definition, Primrose Hill is a hill in Regent’s Park, but has been better understood as a neighbourhood, a social set (think: the 90s’ party heyday of Kate Moss et al) – and a West London state of mind. But, with its wide vista of the capital, it’s really the rest of the city that’s the star attraction. Head to the top and reflect on the iconic skyline.
In the know… Primrose Hill has featured in all manner of Brit visuals, from the film Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason to the artwork for Oasis’ single Wonderwall. But not, as is often stated, the Judi ‘Dench Bench’ from Notes On a Scandal – that’s on Parliament Hill.
Nearest Tubes: St. John’s Wood, Swiss Cottage or Camden Town