London is an enigma, a seemingly ever expanding city of stories, history, and culture. It is internationally renowned, known as the destination for anyone looking for a city with hustle and an overwhelming list of things to do. This is perhaps why some people get confused when they discover the City of London, or the Square Mile, is actually only a small portion of the metropolis of London. It is the originating area of London, with the Tower of London and old London Wall fragments serving as reminders of the original borders. Today, despite its smaller size comparison to other districts of London, the City of London is still largely an epicentre for historical sites and financial services for the city and we couldn’t wait to explore it.
But first, snacks.
We started the day across the Thames at the Borough Market. It is one of my favourite food spots in London, a busy cluster of speciality food spots nestled in Southwark right near the London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral. The market is open from 10am-5pm most days and usually picks up around mid-day during the lunch run.
The only problem with the market – choosing what to buy. On my first lap of the market I passed at least twenty different things I wanted to try. From burgers, to curries, to pastries, and fudge the market has something for everyone. It also has a great variety of fresh produce if you are after some groceries during your stay in London.
After lunch we made our way across the river to explore around St Pauls Cathedral, passing notable buildings like the ‘Walkie Talkie’ while trying to dodge all the business people hurrying off to another meeting. If you want the streets to yourself it is best to hit up the CBD of a weekend but I enjoy the weekday where you can people watch as you explore.
After St Pauls we began making our way back through the city, passing by The Monument to the Great Fire of London (Built 1671-1677) and getting lost chasing cobblestone streets. The Monument was built as a symbol of rebirth and remembrance for the city, constructed after the 1666 fire that swept through the city. For those keen for the climb, the Monument provides great sweeping city views, open 9:30am-5:30pm daily.
Another hidden find I stumbled across was the St Dunstan in the East Church garden. This church, which was largely destroyed in World War Two during the London bombings has since been converted into a peaceful public garden. It provides a nice reprieve from the busy streets running parallel, but you need to keep an eye out as it is a little “blink and you’ll miss it”.
Our final stop for the day was the Tower of London, situated at the edge of the city. It was a great final stop to the day as we were led down history lane by our Tower tour guide, hearing tales of royal woe and spotting London sights from the ancient Tower site along the way. From the Tower you develop a better understanding of how the city came to be and how it grew from a small Roman outpost to the sprawling international city it is today.