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Thanks to free museums and stunning architecture, London is frequently the first stop for many travelers going to Europe. This means that London is also where many travelers face jet lag. Thankfully, this dynamic city offers plenty of fun and surprising activities to keep you awake, from climbing to the top of its O2 Arena for a bird’s-eye view to sipping some of the best coffee in the world. Here are eight tips for beating jet lag in London:
Time for Caffeine, London-Style
The first thing you’ll likely want to do after exiting Heathrow and checking into your hotel is find something caffeinated, and London’s coffee scene is truly refined. Kaffeine and Prufrock Coffee are centrally located and serve top-notch cappuccinos, flat whites, and espressos. If you’re looking to do a little culinary exploration with your coffee, head to Monmouth Coffee in the Borough Market: the coffee is excellent and the market is the city’s culinary epicenter, filled with stalls selling fresh produce, baked goods, seafood, cheeses, and more. There will definitely be plenty to see and keep you awake.
Take in London’s Street Art
After a little fortification, it’s time to get oriented. For those feeling really sleepy, stay on your feet and take a walking tour of London’s infamous street art, with works by Banksy and Invader popping up around every corner. Alternative London Walking Tours offers pay-what-you-like tours Tuesday through Saturday, and Street Art London Tours is another good option. This is a great way to get oriented in London.
Take an Open Top Bus Tour
If you feel capable of sitting down for one or two hours without falling asleep, join one of London’s open top bus tours. Not only will you get a solid foundation for how to navigate the city and learn lots of fascinating facts about London, you’ll also get to ride on one of the city’s cool red, double-decker buses.
Up at The O2
The 2012 Summer Olympics were held in The O2 Arena, the UK’s second largest arena, and now you can take a breath-taking 90-minute tour that traverses the stadium’s dome roof. You’ll enjoy 360-degree views of London, but first, you’ll have to actually hike up the roof! This involves a short safety session followed by strapping on a harness and scaling the dome. The tour is suitable for most; a trained guide leads each group; and the adrenaline rush is sure to keep you awake.
Visit the Free Museums
The nice thing about free museums is that you can go back time and time again, and for those in the throes of jet lag, this can take the pressure off of visiting world-class museums. London’s free museums are nearly endless, with the Tate Modern, National Gallery, and Victoria and Albert being three of my favorites. I also highly recommend The British Museum, a truly massive, one-of-a-kind museum focused entirely on the history and works of humanity. You’ll never be able to take it all in, but the Rosetta Stone, The Elgin Marbles, and original drawings by Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Donatello should keep you wide-eyed for an hour or two.
Just like Up at The O2, this is a great adrenaline rush, and HintHunt might as well have been invented to cure jet lag. The game sounds easy enough—groups of three-to-five people are placed inside of a room and have to find their way out within 60 minutes—but once the timer starts and the first puzzle begins, things get tricky. Fun and group-oriented, HintHunt involves working with your team to solve imaginative puzzles and crack codes. The time limit is sure to keep your heart pounding!
Walk Among the Houses of Parliament
London’s iconic government buildings are beautiful, and you can see Big Ben, Westminster Palace, and Westminster Abbey all within a short walk. These top sights are ideal for viewing during your first day in London.
Tour St. James’s Park
Sometimes the first day—what with battling jet lag and all of the new experiences—can be overwhelming, and a stroll through a park can be a great way to regroup. London has lots of beautiful parks, but St. James’s Park is one of the best. It is centrally located, has over 57-acres to explore, and comes with views of Buckingham Palace. Alternatively, check out Clapham Common, a park that is a bit more off of the beaten path. It’s a great way to see how the locals live.
No matter what you choose to do, just remember to keep busy, so you can adjust your internal clock to London time. After a day of seeing the sights, have an early dinner, and drift off to dreamland, so you can awake the next morning ready to enjoy your vacation.
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com