In the last few years of my living in and reading about this city, I've come across numerous articles, books and websites promising to share the secret of the 'perfect day in London'. They suggest schedules and unmissable spots across the city, creating packaged collections and check-lists of things that visitors absolutely must do or see, or otherwise risk never truly experiencing London properly. And you can see the slaves to these curated city tours, struggling around London clutching guidebooks and maps, on the verge of tears because the queue outside Madame Tussauds was too long and they never made it to the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace and their London holiday is as good as RUINED now!
Well, dry your eyes, weepy visitors. There is no single perfect or 'right' way to see the city. It all depends on what each of us finds interesting or pleasurable. And heaven knows, we all have our own ideas about those things - it's what makes the city so chock-full of things to do. It's what attracts the glorious mixture of people who live here and come to visit London. So, the pressure's off. We shouldn't search for a single perfect day, rather a series of tiny perfect moments, hours, days, and weeks; each negotiated by our diverse likes and dislikes, our personalities and previous experiences.
Rather than checking off places or measuring my perfect day in things achieved, I choose to recognise my favourite days as the ones that end a long way from where I began. Sometimes literally, i.e. on the other side of town, and sometimes figuratively. My favourite London days are the ones where I wake up with the vague inkling of a plan or a single thing I want to go and do, and end with me having managed to fit in all kinds of unexpected or unplanned things around it. Of course, it also helps to have someone fun to come along with you, to spot hidden gardens or a sausage-dog that lives on a houseboat, to help you taste-test a new coffee shop or a surprise foodie pop-up, or just to keep you company chattering about everything and nothing.
Kaplan International, who teach English language courses all over the world (and here in the city), recently asked their students to share their thoughts on what makes their perfect London day. As you can expect, the 535 questioned students all came up with hundreds of different things. And Kaplan created a sort of perfect day jigsaw from their responses, in a rather charming little film called '8 Great Things To Do In London'. You can check out (and get some inspiration from!) the video below.
What makes your perfect day in London or your city? Kaplan International is still after suggestions, so they'd love it if you were to head over here and share your top London things with them.
This post has been written in collaboration with Kaplan International. Although I was remunerated for this post, any opinions expressed in the above post are those of The Accidental Londoner alone.