As far as South Africa’s leading international destination goes, London reigns supreme. And thanks to Virgin Atlantic’s overnight flight into Heathrow, direct from Joburg, England has never been closer! Board the plane at 8pm, have your dinner and let the latest episodes of your favourite series lull you to sleep, only to awaken as the plane descends a few short hours later, with a whole day in London ahead of you. Is it any wonder travellers are popping up to the UK for no longer than a long weekend?
Whether you’re visiting London for a whirlwind visit to see friends or family or just passing through on business, short stopovers in this city are nothing new and are growing in popularity by the month.
A capital that constantly reinvents itself, you can visit London a dozen times and never get bored, but if you’re visiting for only 48 hours, how should you spend your precious time there?
Save time by combining high tea and a sightseeing bus
High tea in England is a tourist’s right of passage – and so is checking sites like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey off that bucket list. If time is tight, combine the two and book yourself on the B-Bakery afternoon tea bus tour!
Arrive hungry and climb onto the vintage red bus, decked out with the coolest diner-style décor and cool tunes you grew up listening to blaring from the stereo. Take your seat at your table and as the bus sets off on its 90 minute tour of London, start tucking into your multi-tiered cake stand, with everything from mini quiches and scones with clotted cream to lemon meringues, eclairs and chocolate cupcakes. Hot and cold beverages are included too, or make it a special occasion and bring your own bubbles along. Don’t forget to look up from your sugar-reverie to soak in all London’s most popular sites including Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Hyde Park, Downing Street, Big Ben and more.
Book your B-Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour online before you head to London!
Swap pub culture for experiential meals
Beer and a steak pie at a charming old pub certainly has its appeal, but London is quickly becoming known for its experiential restaurants too…
At Circus Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, sip on cocktails from vintage tea cups while you watch performers dance, contort, throw flames and fly through the air, and that’s just before the starters arrive. In an intimate setting everyone has front row, and while the exciting pan-Asian dishes on the menu– designed for sharing – will delight and satisfy your taste buds in no time, the sparkling atmosphere and cabaret acts will have you lingering long after your dessert bowl has been licked clean, wondering what’s up next.
Book your table at Circus restaurant and bar now.
Hop on a helicopter for an angels’ eye view of the city
Sure a helicopter flip over London isn’t cheapest thing you’ll ever do, but certainly one of the most worthwhile. Every visitor to London should seriously consider splurging on a short sightseeing helicopter flight over the city that’ll have you marvelling at the iconic buildings from above, the sheer size of London and the winding river Thames. Feel the exhilaration wash over you and your stomach dance in excitement when your say goodbye (if only for a short time) to your earthly worries and fly away into the breathtaking London horizon.
Read more about London sightseeing helicopter flights and book yours now.
Get your adrenalin pumping on the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide
London may not seem like the obvious choice for adrenalin junkies, but aside from dodging the hustling commuters when navigating the Underground, there are other plenty of other thrills to be had.
Why not visit Stratford and dare yourself to take a ride down the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide? A 178 meter high sculpture and observation tower in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, enjoy the sweeping views of London before making your descent – down the world’s tallest, longest and fastest tunnel slide! A 40 second ride from top to bottom, feel the adrenalin pumping through your veins as you twist, dip, drop and circle the sculpture 12 times (most likely screaming), as you wind your way to the bottom.
You can book your ticket for the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide online or at the entrance.
Never say “No” to a London show
London has always been known for its world-class theatre productions, and whether you’ve watched plenty of shows over the years or none to date, seeing a play or musical in the West End is guaranteed to delight! Marvel at the talented cast of children starring in Matilda, sing along to your favourite Disney songs during Aladdin and wow over the set of Phantom of the Opera. Spoilt for choice, dozens of productions will have you struggling to choose between them, so if you’re not too fussy, visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square where you can buy heavily discounted theatre tickets on the day of the show!
Start your day on a high at Aqua Shard
On the 31st floor of the Shard (London’s tallest building) you’ll find the elegant Aqua Shard Restaurant and Bar, with breathtaking views of the London skyline, plush booths, private dining rooms, a 3 story high atrium bar and window-side tables which overlook the city, removed from the hustle and bustle of daily life 31 floors below. Open for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner, Aqua Shard has a large and varied menus with plenty of surprises awaiting even the most blasé of foodies.
The saying goes that you pay for what you get, and between the setting and cuisine, it’s a whole lot. It may come as a surprise to you then to find out that breakfast at Aqua Shard is pretty reasonable, with hot meals starting from around £9 –cheaper than many a pub fry up! Well worth the visit, Aqua Shard is the perfect setting for a business breakfast or a special brunch or- if you want to indulge- relish the sunset over London in the cocktail bar before taking your seats for dinner among the twinkling city lights.
Book your table at Aqua Shard today!
Shop until you shouldn’t
It’s easy to get carried away with London’s eclectic and exhaustive collection of high end boutiques and cheap as chips retailers. If you do want to do some shopping in the UK, consider making a list of the stores you want to visit before you arrive, or you’ll spend your whole trip traipsing from chain store to chain store, scared of missing a sale or some speciality item that you can’t find at home. In London you tend to walk a lot, so be careful not to buy more than you can comfortably carry (or more than you can fit into your suitcase for that matter). Top shopping spots include Carnaby Street, Oxford Street, Covent Garden and definitely pay a visit to Camden if you’re looking for quirky or alternative wear.
Ready to experience the old favourite and new exciting things to do in London? Why not book your flights on Virgin Atlantic and fly direct from Johannesburg overnight?