Mark in London: A Local's Guide

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Viator's team of travel insiders is obsessed with finding the best things to do everywhere we travel (and live). From traditional tours to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, we scour the options and find the coolest activities—which is fun for us, and helpful for you! See below for tips, insights, and hand-selected things to do from one of our travel experts.

The Traveler: Mark Bulmer, Senior Product Manager

Describe your time in London.
I moved to the city from the north of England to study history and politics, and I ended up staying for 18 years. Since then, I've become the go-to person for friends and family who visit and need recommendations on what to do and see.

What are three things a first-time visitor can't miss?
  • Walk around. London is a massive city and you can't walk all of it, but the South Bank and Covent Garden are two areas best explored on foot. You can spend a whole afternoon on the South Bank, visiting both historical sites and modern buildings—from Shakespeare's Globe to The Shard—while Covent Garden is on the other side of the Thames, offering tons of shopping and places to eat.
  • Have a drink—ideally, at one of London's haunted pubs. To find the bars with the best stories (and the best pints and sausage and mash), try a historic pub crawl. Or, if beer doesn’t strike your fancy, opt for another British tradition: high tea.
  • Visit some palaces. Royal history is such an important part of the city. In London proper, I suggest Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana lived; Buckingham Palace; and the Tower of London (where one of my ancestors was once held prisoner). If you want to leave the city, consider Windsor Castle or Hampton Court, famous for its maze.
  • Where is the best day trip destination from London?
    Although Greenwich is technically part of London, it takes about an hour by boat on the Thames to get there and you can certainly spend a full day exploring. I love this area for all of its history—from the old naval docks to the Royal Observatory. Be sure to spend time relaxing in Greenwich Park, and if you're a foodie, check out Greenwich Market.

    What's the best Insider Tip you can offer future visitors to this destination?
    Eat fish and chips at Masters, near the South Bank. You can't leave London without having this classic dish, and Masters is one of the best places to go. Locals love it—especially cabbies.
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