Calling our Virgin Red US members: 7 reasons to visit London
London. The Big Smoke. Square Mile. LDN. There are many names for the UK’s capital but whatever you call it, there’s more to the city than Buckingham Palace, afternoon tea, and rain.
Whether you’re booking a trip across the pond or just want a small treat to look forward to, Virgin Red US is here to help you do it. When you earn Virgin Points with purchases you’re planning to make anyway – whether it’s a haul in Bed, Bath and Beyond or a domestic flight to catch up with friends – you’ll get one step closer to incredible rewards.
All you have to do is sign up, make your purchase through either the Virgin Red app or website, and watch your points roll in.
One way to earn is with a flight to London, a city where there’s always something to do and see whether it’s catching the latest West End production, eating your way around Borough Market, or snapping pics as you shop down Regent Street. It can be a bit overwhelming for first timers but don’t panic, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in London Town whatever the weather.
Fill your belly on Brick Lane
London’s diversity is no more evident than in the amazing range of cuisines on offer in every corner of the city. Locals will argue that the best food is in their neck of the woods, but it’s universally agreed that if you want a great curry, you go to Brick Lane.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s east London became home to many Bengali immigrants, and they soon opened numerous Indian restaurants making the street the place to go for a curry and beer, a reputation it retains half a century later.
As well as curry, Brick Lane is famous for bagels thanks to the large Jewish community who arrived in Spitalfields in the late 19th century. Beigel Bake and Brick Lane Beigel Shop are London institutions keeping students, workers, and tourists fed 24/7. Keep it classic with lashings of peanut butter or ask for salt beef with cream cheese – it's off the menu but one of the best.
If you want to walk off your meal you may as well check out the famous vintage shops and pop-ups in the area including Rokit, Hunky Dory Vintage and the indoor market filled to the brim with stalls to peruse.
Spot the seven noses of Soho
A city of London’s size and history means there’s plenty of historical and quirky street art to see, and it doesn’t get quirkier than the Seven Noses of Soho.
Created by Rick Buckley in 1997 as a response to the introduction of CCTV throughout the city, the plaster noses are attached to random buildings in central London. Only seven remain of the initial 35 made, and according to an urban myth, people who find all seven will be the recipient of good luck.
Take a dip in an outdoor pool
Warm weather in London is never guaranteed, but if you do happen to visit when the temperature rises, there’s no better way to cool off than with a swim in a lido, the British term for an outdoor pool or beach.
There are 17 in the city, many of which were built in the 1930s and maintain the original art deco designs. Affectionally known as ‘Brixton Beach’, south London’s Brockwell Lido boasts an Olympic-size swimming pool, a café, and is open all year should you want to swim in the cooler months. Another nearby option is Tooting Bec Lido, which opened in 1906 and is the largest freshwater swimming pool in the UK.
North of the river three of the 30 ponds in Hampstead Heath are designated for swimming, with one for women, one for men, and one for co-eds. For a great view of London try London's Royal Docks, which has leisure areas as well as coaching for improving swimmers.
Shop til you drop
As one of the world’s fashion cities, there's no shortage of famous shops like Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, and Liberty, as well as classic London shopping spots Carnaby Street, Camden Market, Knightsbridge, and King’s Road.
Seven Dials is a short walk from both Covent Garden and Neal Street and has known brands alongside independent shops and quiet corners with pubs and restaurants. The centre has a pillar topped by six sundial faces that connects all seven streets and is known as one of London’s greatest monuments.
If you find yourself in King’s Cross, swing by Coal Drops Yard – a shopping complex with brands big and small, a weekend food market and lots of eateries including Dishoom and Gail’s.
Drift into The Phoenix Garden
London has over 3,000 parks and on sunny days Hyde Park, Dulwich Park, Green Park, and Clapham Common are heaving with families having picnics, friends throwing frisbees and groups working out, but there are options when seeking a bit of quiet.
Formerly a parking lot, The Phoenix Garden was transformed into a leafy oasis by volunteers in 1983. The award-winning space located between Soho and Covent Garden has a gorgeous plant selection and the West End’s only frog population, making it a perfect spot to sit and have lunch away from the busy streets.
Take in a show
Like NYC’s Broadway, London’s West End is renowned for attracting beloved actors and world-famous stars for productions. Musicals old and new like Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre and Mrs Doubtfire sit alongside envelope-pushing drama like Martin McDonagh’s award-winning The Pillowman, and there’s plenty to see in 2023.
Michael R Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama A Strange Loop is running all summer, singer Nicole Scherzinger returns to the stage in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary Sunset Boulevard, and Cameron Mackintosh’s lavish London tribute concert to Stephen Sondheim is being reprised for a theatre run starring Tony Award-winning actress Bernadette Peters.
Venture into The Vaults
For more alternative arts and immersive theatre, put the The Vaults London on your to-do list. Located in disused railway arches under Waterloo Station, The Vaults is home of unexpected and unusual art with a wider aim of supporting underrepresented communities and championing independent artists.
Nearby you’ll find Leake Street graffiti tunnel, an ever-changing art space founded by Banksy while Southbank Skate Space, a venue dating back to the ‘70s, is round the corner and great for watching skaters of all ages and skills do their stuff in front of the River Thames.
* Taxes, fees and carrier-imposed surcharges apply and vary according to choice of cabin, departure airport, destination and date(s) of travel and are subject to change. Reward flights are subject to availability. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club membership required.