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Sure we all know that visiting a country as a true tourist is way different than visiting it through the eyes of “the real people”.The first time you visit London, it is a must that part of your trip should be to see the city in the eyes of a tourist; visit London Zoo, Hamley’s, parks, go to a musical, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, the Thames and the London Eye, Big Ben, Covent Garden, Oxford Street, Soho and Carnaby street, National galleries and museums.

But once you have seen all this, you have got to change perspectives. It’s a culturally rich and diverse city that will never cease surprising you. I have visited London a number of times before, but this time I discovered East London; the realest place you can find in the city.

Here’s my advice for 5 days in London.

Day 1:Head first thing to Trafalgar Square where you will find the newest art installation part of the fourth plinth program (details here). For now, it is a blue rooster. More details can be found here.

After that, take a small walk to the National Portrait Gallery and check out the newest exhibition. If it’s not that interesting, you can still visit the permanent exhibition which is quite fascinating considering its variety.

At lunch time, walk to Soho (Little Newport Street) and try the delicious Korean BiBimBap (the restaurant goes by the name of the dish), a healthy mix of vegetables, rice, meat and egg. Or, if you’re craving a burger, you can head to Five Guys Burger and taste their delicious patty.

BiBimBap
Five Guys

Then, walk to Covent Garden and sit somewhere for tea or coffee after having bought tickets to the musical of your choice (Sound of Music, Matilda and Lion King are my recommendation for now).

Before your musical, have delicious curry at Masala or at Punjab.

Day 2:

Visit Camden Market. You’ll love it for the funkiness and fun in everything you see.

Then head to Dirty Burger, right next to Hampstead Heath, one of the nicest parks in England, where you can take a long walk.

At night, if you’re up for it, drinks at any nearby pub would do.

Day 3:

In the morning, check which market is open (here) and choose between Portobello Market, Spitalfields Market, Columbia Road Flower Market, and Brick Lane (only open on Sundays).

All of these markets (except Portobello) are in the East. So after you’re done, you can have brunch at Albion.

In the afternoon, you can go to another market nearby and then have coffee and cake at Lily Vanilli, the most wonderful bakery I have ever been to.

At night, a nice movie at Picture House is all you need.

Day 4:

You can spend that day in Oxford Street, shopping and reminiscing childhood memories at Hamleys, then having lunch at Chipotle, the best ever burrito you can have, and coffee at Monocle Cafe (both on Baker Street).

Day 5:

Head to Borough Market, and try all the wonderful food. Then, enjoy a coffee at The Monmouth Coffee Company.

Finish your day with an Asian Dinner at Busaba Eathai (Thai Food) or Cay Tre (Vietnamese).