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Top 5 places to take visiting friends and family in spring

by Leanna Coleman
20 March 2017

Spring is officially here - today is the vernal equinox - which means it begins to become realistic to start spending some time outside! London is especially nice in the sun, and this might be the time when you have friends and family visiting you. However, as we are indeed in London, we cannot ever really be sure of the weather. On top of that, sightseeing in London can be pricey when adding everything up; travel, food etc. I’ve devised not only the top 5 places to go on a budget, but also those places that are still enjoyable should those April showers catch you out, so you can have the best exploration day with your pals without the worry.

1) Notting Hill

You can get the bus to White City followed by the tube to Notting Hill Gate – simple and cheap. As it is close to South Kensington, you can imagine how luxurious the houses are. But they’re also painted in bright colours, the perfect place to take photos if the sun does decide to shine. Portobello Road guides you to cute markets of jewellery and if the rain does force you inside, there are plenty of small boutiques of delightful (not pricey) clothes, and good record shops in the area if you are into a bit of the old school! You could also hide out in one of the tiny cafes that serve affordable meals too. However, the main reason to visit Notting Hill is Hugh Grant’s Travel Book Shop from the film! Admittedly it’s been converted into a London tourist shop, but it still has the sign on it.

2) National Gallery

The National Gallery holds some of the world’s most prolific works from some of the best known artists, including Sunflowers by Van Gough and works by Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Of course, a great place for a rainy day; but if the fantastic array of artwork isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, the gallery also has arguably the best views of Trafalgar Square in the whole of London, so you can get that great Instagram picture too when the sun comes out. This was also a location visited during the University’s Accessibility Challenge and proved to be perfectly accessible and extremely helpful. As with most of London’s museums, you can go to the National Gallery completely free of charge. The closest Tube station is Leicester Square, or if it's sunny, you can stroll over the river from Waterloo, which takes about 15 minutes, depending on the speed at which you stroll. You may catch a 'Waterloo Sunset' on your way back!

3) Sky Garden

Ok, I cannot rave about this place enough! The Sky Garden is FREE, but you must book a slot before arriving. It’s in Bank, so you can get the train from Barnes to Waterloo and jump on the Waterloo & City line. Walking around in Bank might make you feel a little insignificant, surrounded by people in expensive suits, but ignore them. The top floor of the Sky Garden is ridiculously huge, enclosed with glass, giving a 360 degree view of London in all its glory. It’s also filled with plants – hence the garden bit, which is kind of cool. When the weather is good you can go outside on the balcony, but it was raining the day I went, which was annoying, but given you are under a huge glass roof, this is still a great place to go on a rainy day! You’ll probably have to get a tea and a cake when you’re up there as the temptation is too much, but entry is free so why not??

4) Covent Garden

London is famed for combining the historical beauty of its architecture with elements of modern life, however nowhere does this as effortlessly as Covent Garden. Containing three markets in its (covered!) 19th century piazza, Covent Garden is also home to the London Transport Museum, The Royal Opera House and an array of high class fashion retailers. So there is plenty to do given rain or shine. If the latter, sit back, relax and have a coffee or drink while listening to some of the best buskers that London has to offer. Covent Garden Station is situated on the Piccadilly line and only a five minute walk from Leicester Square station.

5) The Breakfast Club

Everyone’s talking about this breakfast place at the moment, and I didn’t know why until I visited a few weeks ago. It’s AMAZING. There’s a few around London, the closest is in Clapham, but each one requires waiting outside. It’s worth the wait. Inside the decor is retro/vintage/add a few more edgy words in here and you’ll be able to imagine it. The prices vary depending on your choice of breaky but around £9 is average. I have to admit the tea is pretty gross, so maybe opt for a hot chocolate or coffee, but it’s great otherwise. A great place to hole up on a rainy morning, or a fantastic way to start an action-packed, sun-drenched day! Whatever the weather, you will be prepared to face it!

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