Lonely Planet Writer

Make My Day: locals' tips for London and San Francisco

In the world's greatest cities, there need never be a dull moment. When it comes to finding things to do, the possibilities are practically endless — so which do you choose?

Inspired by our new Make My Day city guides, which help travellers mix and match brilliant ideas for mornings, afternoons and evenings, we asked a handful of Lonely Planet staff from London and San Francisco how they would spend a perfect day in their own city.

London

London's Borough Market is the ideal stop for a snack. Image by Tony C French / Photolibrary / Getty Images London's Borough Market is the ideal stop for a snack. Image by Tony C French / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Beat the crowd, fuel up with a coffee from Monmouth (monmouthcoffee.co.uk) and grab some supplies from Borough Market before spending your morning taking in the sights from the Thames Clipper from London Bridge Pier across to the London Eye. Walk over Westminster Bridge and jump on the tube to South Kensington. Spend the afternoon taking in the world’s best collections of art and design at the V&A Museum. Treat yourself to a black cab to deliver you to dinner at St John, where you’ll find British food for adventurous eaters.

Jane is London born but Australian bred. She has a love/hate relationship with London and a love/hate relationship with Twitter.

Wakey wakey! The perfect day in London starts with a bracing swim in the world-famous Men's or Ladies' Pond on Hampstead Heath, followed by a reviving coffee at a nearby cafe. Hop on a bike — or bus if you're lacking wheels — to Soho for a few hours scanning the racks of Berwick Street's record shops.

Afternoons are always well spent exploring the British Museum or nosing around the ancient alleys of the City of London financial district. In the evening, head north to Exmouth Market for a buzzy evening scene and dinner at marvellous Moro.

Tom is a life-long Londoner, amateur tour guide to anyone who shows any interest and a professional bore on the British capital.

Primrose Hill offers a magical panorama of London at dawn. Image by James Burns / Moment / Getty Images Primrose Hill offers a magical panorama of London at dawn. Image by James Burns / Moment / Getty Images

Greet the dawn from Primrose Hill, a classic vantage point overlooking Regent’s Park. The capital is best explored on foot, so spend a couple of hours strolling south — making a quick stop at Soho’s Carnaby Street if shopping’s your thing — until you reach Green Park. Hop on the tube and head to Brixton village market for lunch. Take your pick from the globe-spanning, budget-friendly foods on offer — Fish Wings & Tings' cod fritters are divine.

Finish your day with a show in the West End; book ahead or try to get a last minute deal on show tickets. The Book of Mormon and Wicked are particularly popular — and worth the money!

Emma has lived in London for three years and spends her weekends eating and walking her way around the city.

Start with a classic English breakfast in buzzy, historic E Pellicci in Bethnal Green. Head north via Broadway Market (foodie fare every Saturday) or Columbia Road (flowers every Sunday) then walk along the Regent’s and Hertford Union canals to spot joggers, hipsters and city-centre greenery.

Settle down for a pizza and a craft beer at Hackney Wick’s Crate (cratebrewery.com), then mooch around the rather beautiful new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Then it’s Shoreditch for drinks — the Queen of Hoxton has a roof terrace upstairs and music downstairs, and clubs XOYO and Cargo are close by if you want to hit the dancefloor.

James grew up in southwest London and now lives in northeast London. He is Lonely Planet's Destination Editor for Britain, Ireland & Iceland. He's sometimes found tweeting @smartbadger.

San Francisco

Start the day grabbing coffee from one of the many tempting roasteries, then catch the first ferry to Alcatraz. For lunch, hit one of the local food vendors at the Ferry Building (AKA foodie's paradise), then climb up the Filbert Steps — noticing the wild parrots overhead — to Coit Tower. The WPA murals and stunning views give a glimpse of SF's past and present.

Take your time walking back to Market Street through North Beach and Chinatown and jump on the BART to the Mission, to spend the rest of the evening eating great food and having a few glasses of that tasty California wine.

Rana moved to the San Francisco Bay Area almost 20 years ago and has never looked back.

San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore in Jack Kerouac Alley. Image by Thomas Winz / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore in Jack Kerouac Alley. Image by Thomas Winz / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Start the morning at the Ferry Building and jog, roller-skate or walk with waffle in hand along The Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf. Try the sourdough bread and tomato soup from Boudin Bakery for lunch. Head over to Crissy Field or Baker Beach for the afternoon, both of which have stunning views of the Golden Gate.

Watch the sunset with a margarita on a rooftop like El Techo de Lolinda's (eltechosf.com) in the Mission, then catch a stand-up comedy show at The Punchline before walking through North Beach and visiting San Francisco’s iconic City Lights bookstore, open until midnight.

Natalie has lived within a 75-mile radius of San Francisco her entire life (there's no escaping it).

After brunch at Zazie’s (zaziesf.com) on the patio, stroll down the street to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, where throwback vintage finds and record stores mingle with modern boutiques. In the afternoon, head to Golden Gate Park, a huge expanse of green that features museums, a Japanese Tea Garden and an unexpected paddock of bison.

In the evening, venture north to dine on unreal Southeast Asian fare at Burma Superstar before ending the night at the Plough and the Stars — an Irish bar that serves up Guinness, bluegrass music & Irish set dancing.

Candace moved to San Francisco in 2008, after stints in Ireland, New Zealand and Southern California.

Early morning mist enshrouds San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Image by Jouko van der Kruijssen / The Image Bank / Getty Images Early morning mist enshrouds San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Image by Jouko van der Kruijssen / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Breakfast at Mama's in Washington Square then hire a bike to cycle along the shoreline and over the Golden Gate Bridge (factor in plenty of time for photo stops). Grab a snack in Sausalito before taking the ferry back to SF.

Lunch at the Ferry Building with its array of food outlets, then shop around Union Square before jumping on a cable car for a hold-on-tight climb up the SF hills. Jump off at Ghiradelli Square to pick up some chocolate to fortify you for your evening tour of Alcatraz. Finally, chow down in Chinatown, maybe at Z & Y, and finish the evening with the late performance of satirical show, Beach Blanket Babylon.

Cliff has friends in the Bay Area and is a serial visitor to SF. He's also Lonely Planet's California Destination Editor.

Want to win your own own perfect day in one of our Make My Day cities, thanks to Skyscanner? Download the Make My Day app, and share your dream itinerary from within the app on Twitter with the hashtag #makemydaylp. Further information and T&Cs.