By all means, check out Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. But save time to experience London like a native.
- Step 1: Munch your way through the colorful food stalls at Borough Market, where you can eat your weight in everything from bread and cheese to sausage and pastries. When it comes to street food, go with the locals' favorite dishes – curries and salt beef sandwiches.
- Step 2: Find a free concert; London's many churches often host free lunchtime chamber concerts. Check local papers for dates and times.
- FACT: While you're vacationing in London, many Brits will be in Turkey; one travel company reported that was their top summer vacation destination in 2008.
- Step 3: For off-the-beaten-track contemporary art galleries, take a walk around Islington, which also features a pedestrian-only road full of antique shops and restaurants.
- TIP: Other museums and galleries worth a visit include The Wallace Collection, The National Portrait Gallery, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
- TIP: The tube map makes many stops look farther apart than they really are. If you like to walk, rely on a paper map for perspective.
- Step 4: Forget London's famous Harrod's department store; hit The Laden Showroom in Brick Lane, where you can stock up on pieces from dozens of independent fashion designers.
- Step 5: Done the art at the British Museum and The Tate? Tour The Old Operating Theatre, Museum, and Herb Garret in St. Thomas's Church. It's a chilling replica of how primitive surgery was performed on the poor in 19th-century London.
- Step 6: Take the tube, London's underground railway system, to get around. If you're going to be in town a few days, buy a pay-as-you-go Oyster Card, which gets you on both the subway and the city's bus system.