From Buckingham Palace to Borough Market via a good cup of tea – just because London is in lockdown, doesn’t mean you can’t visit the English capital, even if it’s only virtually.
We’ve scoured the streets to pull together a digital one-day London itinerary that takes travellers right to the heart of the city without even needing to go near the tube. So step out of your pyjamas (if you want) and get ready to be transported to London for the day. All times are in GMT.
9am – Enjoy the perfect coffee with Square Mile
Start lazily with some coffee. East London's Square Mile Coffee Roasters supply beans to some of the city’s best coffee shops -- from Prufrock Coffee to Popina. They also sell online. Join founder James Hoffmann on YouTube as he walks you through the best way to make a delicate, sludge-free brew using a French press.
10am – Nose around Buckingham Palace
Spend the next few hours wandering the rooms at Buckingham Palace, the Royal residence of Queen Elizabeth II. Usually packed nose-to-neck, the Royal Collection Trust’s virtual tours allow travellers to rifle through its empty rooms.
Admire the intricate needlework on the 1953 coronation Chairs of Estate in the Throne Room and then look up – does architect John Nash’s arch and draped curtains remind you of anything? It’s a nod to his previous work on theatres in Haymarket.
Don’t miss the elaborate gild mouldings on the walls of the White Drawing Room either. The reception room is reserved for the Queen’s most honoured guests – and the secret doorway near the portrait of Queen Alexandra is her own private entrance.
11am – Explore the British Museum
Take a quick digital hop to the British Museum for an unobstructed view of its most-visited object, the Rosetta Stone, via a virtual tour. The inscribed granodiorite rock helped scholars decode ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Then spend some time perusing the Sutton Hoo collection, a mass of Anglo-Saxon artefacts from the 6th and 7th century, including the items discovered at the site of an untouched ship-burial. The Sutton Hoo helmet, still completely in-tact, was first buried nearly 1400 years ago.
1pm – Cook a Borough Market lunch
Just as you would if you were in the city, head to Borough Market for lunch. Usually it would be abuzz with artisan producers selling tangy cheeses, paper-thin charcuterie and biodynamic wines, but now it’s best experienced online.
Each weekday at 1pm, a chef or producer will create a dish on Instagram Stories, bringing the market direct to your kitchen. Multiple visits are likely to be required.
2pm – Bake some treats with Bread Ahead Bakery
It’s impossible to walk past Bread Ahead Bakery in Chelsea and not drool over their thick-filled doughnuts or stop to admire their lightly-golden cinnamon buns, arranged on a plate like a bouquet of roses.
Fortunately they’re letting customers in on their secrets with daily bakery courses on Instagram Live at 2pm, so you can bake and enjoy a batch of Bakewell tarts or a crusty rosemary focaccia without keeping to baker’s hours.
3pm – Have a cup of tea (and help the NHS)
No visit to London would be complete without a quality cuppa. For the full experience, order some loose leaf tea from Leather Lane’s Good & Proper Tea and follow their online instructions to make the ideal brew. Better still, buy a cuppa for an NHS staff member for £1 – the company are delivering tea supplies to local London hospitals.
4pm – Catch a matinee at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Head from the kitchen to the theatre for an afternoon show at Shakespeare’s Globe. From 6 April onwards, the theatre is making previously-recorded plays available for free online, so you can watch The Bard’s best work from the comfort of your own sofa. Non-English plays are available too, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Korean and Much Ado About Nothing in French.
7pm – Make Greek souvlaki with The Athenian
For dinner, grab some food on the go from The Athenian, a Greek street-food stand which specialises in freshly-made souvlaki (a filled pita wrap). There are several outlets across London, but now you can make their delicious wraps at home by following their live evening classes on Instagram at 7pm. Courgette fritters slathered liberally in homemade tzatziki anyone?
8pm – Go down the pub
All London itineraries should end in a good pub, so pour yourself a pint and prop up the (space)bar at the boozers taking orders online. Brewdog, a vast warehouse-like space in the neo-Gothic Minster Building near the Tower of London, is hosting Friday night homebrew classes and virtual quizzes.
Meanwhile Wadworth, the brewery behind The King's Arms gastro-pub in Fulham, has created an entire virtual pub called The Henry. Yes, you’ll miss the wood beam floors and full-bodied ales, but the beer tastings, bingo and pub quizzes will make up for it.