City Insider: London

Ever wish you knew the inside scoop before visiting a new destination? Now you can! We’ve reached out to our favorite locals and tour guides from all over the world for their insider tips. In the City Insider Q&A, they’ll let you in on the spots that should be on your must-see and do list!

Val Blackburn LondonName: Val Blackburn

Occupation: Tour Guide

City: London

Website:

Twitter:

Facebook:

YouTube:

Short Bio: Hi I’m Val. I’ve been a London tour guide for a few years and like to tell people that I have one of the best jobs imaginable: I’m paid to talk about things that I’m interested in. I love being able to chat with a diverse array of people and share little known secrets about London. The best way to describe me is as a talkative, enthusiastic nerd (in his Father-of-the-Bride speech Dad said that if there had been an Olympic event in talking, I would have found a place on team GB!). My main passions are history, literature and films, so you can see why working for a company that specializes in TV and film location tours keeps me happy.

Best way to get to/from airport: On the fastest train with the least amount of changes.

Best way to get to/from train station: The underground. As much as Londoners like to complain about it, it’s by far the best way to get around London.

Favorite 5-star ho . This is a 4-star hotel, but trust me on this.

5 places visitors must see:

Best local newspaper/recommended reading (for finding out what’s going on about town):

Favorite fine dining restaurant: (Borough Market)

Favorite casual restaurant: , SE1 2BH

Best place to get a coffee: , Borough Market or Covent Garden

Favorite bar/lounge: , Rotherhithe, SE16 4NB (go upstairs or onto the balcony and you’ll see why)

Best music venue/place to see live music: area.

Favorite museum:

Most popular local food: Fish ‘n’ chips—eaten with fingers out of the paper

Best “locals only” spot: Postman’s Park, Little Britain, EC1

To live like a local, you must have this experience: Buy an .

Local/native fruit or dish to try: Jellied eels (once is enough!)

Most popular local drink: London Pride (beer)/Pimm’s with fruit (only in summer)

Movies/TV shows filmed in your city: ; ; ; ; and many more!

Best souvenirs to buy/ goods to bring home: An umbrella (you’ll probably use it whilst you’re here)

Biggest tourist trap/places to avoid and when: Leicester Square—most of the time; Oxford Circus/Oxford Street—Saturdays

Best smartphone app(s) for your city: Tube Buddy

Best travel tip: Instead of walking down the main, busy street, use the side streets (as long as it’s safe/not night). They aren’t crowded and that’s when you find most of London’s secret spots and hidden gems.

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About the Author

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I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

2 Comments on "City Insider: London"

  1. This is a great addition to your site!!!!

  2. Best app for London has to be City Mapper. Invaluable!

    Also, no one drinks London Pride but tourists.

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