August 2023 – In no particular order
Tate Modern (www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern) – World-class art in a knockout location. [‘Capturing the moment’ running to 28 Jan 2024 brilliantly links painting and photography.] Travel and around: If not direct, bus or tube to St Paul’s cathedral then walk straight south over the footbridge to the Tate. Afterwards wander the south bank of the Thames to the Southbank Centre (below).
National Portrait Gallery (www.npg.org.uk) – Re-opened in summer 2023, this is sure to be sharp. Travel and around: Close to Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is nearby, as are Leicester Square and Covent Garden, not that the last two rate. Sadly, the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery is closed until 2025. Downing Street, the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey are south along Whitehall.
Young V&A (www.vam.ac.uk/young) – Formerly the V&A Museum of Childhood, and fully refurbished in 2023, this is a treat for everyone young at heart, or who remembers being so. Travel and around: Bethnal Green tube is nearby, and the museum is central in hip East London. Stroll westward, perhaps via Columbia Road Flower Market (Sundays only) to the Museum of the Home (below).
Museum of the Home (www.museumofthehome.org.uk) – This is an intimate and intriguing museum and garden. Travel and around: Hoxton Station (London Overground) is close but a bus from Old Street or Liverpool Street station does it. A stroll south on Kingsland Road turns up some great Vietnamese food.
Granary Square and Coal Drops yard – Just north of King’s Cross station, this is modern London and hosts the well-regarded Queer Britain (www.queerbritain.org.uk) museum. Travel and around: Wander along the Regent’s canal or hike west along Euston Road to the Wellcome collection (www.wellcomecollection.org).
Sloane Square and the Kings Road – Peter Jones department store is a venerable institution – only Liberty (www.libertylondon.com) on Regent Street does it better – and Pavilion Road and Duke of York Square nearby are sweet. Along the Kings Road, the Saatchi gallery (www.saatchigallery.com) is cool, but not always open. [‘Civilization’ running to 17 Sept 2023 is an ace photography show.]
Serpentine Gallery (www.serpentinegalleries.org) – Although recent shows have been disappointing, these two small galleries in the middle of the park have an illustrious past. Travel and around: Bus to Royal Albert Hall; then walk Kensington Gardens to the west afterwards, or Hyde Park to east. Eat at Serpentine North.
River bus – Uberboat by Thames Clippers (www.thamesclippers.com) has a crazy timetable and route map but Greenwich (from Westminster or Embankment) though the heart of the City is always a treat.
Opera, classical music and theatre – The Royal Opera House (www.roh.org.uk) is tops. Look out for events at the gorgeous new Lindbury Theatre within it. London Coliseum (www.londoncoliseum.org) includes reliable performances by the English National Opera (www.eno.org) which may be cheaper. The Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank complex (www.southbankcentre.co.uk) is good for classical music, and the National Theatre (www.nationaltheatre.org.uk) next door is more pleasant than most musty West End venues, as is Shakespeare’s Globe (www.shakespearesglobe.com) further east towards Tate Modern. The more remote and impressively brutalist Barbican (www.barbican.org.uk) also has a good concert hall and gallery.
Food and drink – Gordon’s Wine Bar (www.gordonswinebar.com) and its garden close to Charing Cross station is a London one-off. A pub is a pub, but Sam Smith pubs (www.samuelsmithsbrewery.co.uk/pubs) are old-school. Hare and Tortoise (www.hareandtortoise.co.uk) is a crisp chain of six affordable Asian restaurants.
Avoid – Oxford Street and the London Eye at all times, and the V&A (fantastic jewel room and photography collection) in the South Kensington museum complex (includes Science, Natural History and Geology) on holiday weekends. Apart from the dreaded Harrods, Knightsbridge has nothing that the Kings Road does not.
More information – www.newexhibitions.com provides an extensive nationwide listing including London.