Previously, I have introduced that there are three routes one can consider when planning a holiday in London. These routes which I highly recommend enables one to maximise one’s travel time in London and cover most of the icons in the city.
3. Shopping route
And now, last but not least, this is probably the most important route for any visitors to London: S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G.!
3. Shopping route– Estimated 3km
(Tottenham Court Road >> Oxford Street >> Regent Street >> Carnaby Street >> Piccadilly Circus >> Leicester Square >> Trafalgar Square >> Covent Garden)
This is probably the ULTIMATE shopping route one is highly recommended to take if one does not have a lot of time in London to spare. Within a short 3km distance, one can tour through the main shopping district swiftly, including Oxford Street, Regent Street, Leicester Square and Covent Garden.
Beginning from Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, one just has to be mentally prepared before entering the famous Irish brand Primark. Indeed, located right opposite of the tube station exit, Primark offers one of the most extraordinary shopping experience within its building. Items there are priced relatively more affordable than bigger brands. While many may worry if it is price-worthy to get them, I would like to reassure that quality of items have improved significantly over the years (proved and tested based on personal experience). Nonetheless, do not expected too highly of the products. Primark also appeals to not just tourists, but locals who seek to purchase clothing, household items, cosmetics and even for a short break in their in-house cafe.
More importantly, Primark is the place to go to for collectibles when Primark collaborates with movie franchises. For instance, Harry Potter is currently trending in London as the series celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Primark offers the most spectacular shopping experience for Harry Potter collectibles, ranging from household items to clothings to accessories. With the booming popularity of Beauty and the Beast, one can easily find its merchandises in-store too.
Continue back onto Oxford Street and voila, enjoy oneself to the max as one combs through the varied brands like Topshop, New Look, River Island, Zara, Mango, Bershka, Accessorize, Lush and many many many more. Oxford Street and Regent Street offer the best retail experience in central London, especially during seasonal sale periods in Christmas, mid-year sale and end-of-season sale.
Some of the brands i highly recommend to shop in is Topshop, New Look and Miss Selfridges. The latter two brands are currently not available in Singapore. In addition, in London, the selection of items are more diverse. Students may receive 10% discount off purchases. Lush is also cheaper in London, as compared to purchases in Singapore. As such, few of my friends enjoy bringing back Lush items as gifts.
During Christmas season, Oxford Street and Regent Street would be decorated with christmas lighting. In fact, before Christmas, there would be public events which celebrate the lighting of the decorations along these shopping streets. For instance, during the Christmas lighting event in 2016, The Vamps, Louisa Johnson and Craig David were invited to hold a public concert along Oxford Street.
Behind Oxford Street Tube Station, there is the renowned Liberty, a departmental store with Tudor architecture design. It is preserved from the 1800s but now, it houses many of the commercial and independent designer brands. Jewelleries, clothings, shoes, accessories, perfume… everything luxurious can be found in Liberty. Similar to the other departmental store which has its own unique colour of shopping bag, shopping done from Liberty can be easily spotted by their purple shopping bag.
Continue down Regent Street and one will find the bigger brands like United Colour of Benetton, Longchamp, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Clarks, Furla, Apple store, Karl Lagerfeld, Burberry, Hamleys, Timberland, Ted Baker and many more… In summer, Regent Street is often closed on Sundays to along free pedestrian access along the entire Regent Street.
And throughout the year, Regent Street often host parades like the Hamley Toy Parade, Regent Street Motorshow and many other public events. Just a street behind Regent Street, there is Carnaby Street which caters more towards the younger shoppers.
Carnaby Street is accessible from the back of Liberty. Brands like Monki, Urban Decay, Puma, MAC, Adidas, Dr Martens, Fred Perry, Levis, Muji, Onitsuka Tiger, SkinnyDip, Toms, Vans and many more all congregate along Carnaby Street to offer the best shopping experience. More importantly, it is relatively less packed than walking along Regent Street, just beside the traffic.
Head down North and one will reach Piccadilly Circus. The site, frequently described by the presence of the Statue of Eros and the lightboards above Gap store, is also one of the many London sites which often appear in movies. Piccadilly Circus is also an important venue for musicals and venues. Within walking distances, one can easily locate theatres for Phantom of the Opera, Book of Mormon, Les Miserables and Thriller.
Fun fact: For instance, Fast and Furious 6 was filmed in London, as the cars compete and race through Piccadilly Circus. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1, the trio apparated out of Bill and Fleur’s wedding onto Shaftesbury Avenue, a street branching from Piccadilly Circus.
From Piccadilly Circus, one can easily reach Chinatown along Shaftesbury Avenue or head straight towards Leicester Square, passing Ripley’s Believe It or Not on the left. Leicester Square, one of my favourite hangout place for no particular reason but MOVIE PREMEIRES! Yes, Leicester Square is also THE place where I spent endless hours waiting for a movie premiere, catching celebrities on the red carpet and attend World and European premieres in the three movie theatres at Leicester Square (frequent visitors of our website may have come across movie premiere articles written by me).
Other tourist attraction sites around Leicester Square include Lego store, M&M store, Shake Shack restaurant and Chinatown. I highly recommend dropping by the Lego store. It is not just a paradise of building block toys, but also a delightful attraction site with the Lego toy displays all around the store.
For instance, Lego store has a full display of the London map above, showcasing the important London icons around the Houses of Parliament. In addition, there are also Lego displays of the representative red telephone booth, London tube with Shakespeare and guard, a huge model of the Big Ben and the model of Chinatown’s green dragon.
South of Leicester Square is Trafalgar Square with National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. One can easily detour down to Trafalgar Square (heading straight south, passing Odeon from Leicester Square).
And last but not least, returning to Leicester Square, cross the road onto Cranbourn Street. Heads straight past Five Guys on the right and yes, it is the final stop of this route: Covent Garden.
Covent Garden has a high concentration of brands like Dior cosmetics, Chanel cosmetics, Apple store, Kurt Geiger, Cambridge Satchels Company, Michael Kors, Moleskine, Burberry, Tom Ford, Melissa flagship store, Godiva, Bose, PS by Paul Smith, Kate Spade, Aspinal of London, Pandora and many other brands. London is indeed a shopping paradise once one knows where to get one’s wants/needs/desires from 😀
Covent Garden is also my favourite go-to-place for Shake Shack and Whittard. Whittard is my favourite tea shop to get hot chocolate drinks and tea back for friends and relatives.
For this route, there are not many things one need to note beforehand. After all, shopping in London can be done EVERYDAY! However, do note that on Sundays, shops open from 1100/1200 to early evening. In addition, the shopping route is not sheltered hence in case of rainy weathers, do remember to bring out umbrellas and raincoats!
Adjusting to personal schedules
With these itineraries, one can easily navigate and maximise time to enjoy London to the fullest. This route is about 3km but duration would vary according to one’s preference.
Voila~ I welcome all to London with the following three itineraries, which would be updated regularly here on our website.
These itineraries are bound to excite any first-time tourists in London, hoping to get the most out of the trip. Alternatively, tourists who are stopping over in the city for just a few days can greatly maximise thier time along these walking routes. Yet I have to say, these are definitely not all that London has to offer. Stay tuned as I continue to update travel itineraries for London.
This vibrant city is my second home and I cannot wait to revisit the city again! Have fun during your holiday in London!