The City: A Visitor's Guide
Feb 25, 2019
The City of London, or 'the Square Mile', is a city within a city, with something for everyone. Now London's thriving financial district and central business hub, the City was the historic centre of London. In fact, until the middle ages, London barely extended outside of the Square Mile (as you may have noticed, it's grown a bit!). Because of this, the area has a uniquely rich history, from the London Stone on Cannon Street, whose origins are lost to time, to modern architectural marvels like the Gherkhin and the Leadenhall Building.
Weekday evenings are the best time to sample the local nightlife. Because this is primarily a business district, it quietens down quite a bit over the weekend. Dome eateries and pubs even opt to shut down on Saturdays and Sundays.
The city offers a wide variety of places to eat and drink. If you’re a fan of French cuisine, you can’t miss out on a trip to Raymond Blanc’s 'Brasserie Blanc' at 60 Threadneedle Street, where you can enjoy traditional French food washed down with a fine wine or cocktail. If you prefer good old fashioned pub food, the Old Red Cow on Long Lane is a great local secret. It prides itself on high-quality food, friendly staff and excellent ales. And there’s a free jukebox for music fans.
Night owls would do best to flock to Vertigo 42, the highest champagne bar in London. The atmosphere is electric and the drinks menu boasts some of the finest champagne and cocktails. The venue is a favourite of local businesspeople, intent on enjoying themselves at the end of a busy day.
Being primarily a working area, the City will be much quieter by Saturday morning, perfect if you’re looking for a relaxing weekend. You’ll find the Square Mile has an entirely different atmosphere once Friday evening has passed, and the area is packed with things to see and do.
No tour of the City would be complete without a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral is over 300 years old and is one of the most iconic buildings in the City. You can buy tickets here. While you’re visiting, don’t forget to climb the dome for one of the best views in London. History buffs can also visit the Museum of London, which explores the history of the capital. Entry to the museum is free.
The area is also packed with art and culture. Art lovers could head across the river to the Tate Modern (approach from Blackfriars if possible, to get the best view of this extremely impressive building). The Tate Modern has one of the largest collections of modern art in the world and is London’s second most popular attraction (after the British Museum). Entry to the museum is free and there are also regular special exhibits, though you may need tickets for these. Also right across the river is Shakespeare’s Globe, a reconstruction of the great playwright’s original theatre, where you can watch plays by Shakespeare and other noted playwrights.
If you are working in the area, you may well find yourself travelling mostly by foot. This is a great way to explore the area but, should you need to get farther afield, you also have 11 tube stations and two DLR stations at your disposal. The entire area is within Zone 1 of the Travelcard scheme and you also have access to a number of National Rail stations, including Liverpool Street, Cannon Street and Fenchurch Street. For more information, see the TFL tube map.
If you like to stay above ground and would like to see the City from the river, you will find a regular schedule of boat transport leaving from Blackfriars Millennium Pier.