Lunch hour places to visit in the City
Submitted by Catrin Fox on
As every good tourist knows, central London is jam-packed with world-class places to visit. From the tallest towers to the deepest dungeons, there is no shortage of thrilling things to see and do. Yet when you're here on business, seeing the sights isn't normally featured in the meeting agenda.
But why shouldn't it? With so many fascinating sites crammed within the Square Mile, it's easy to tick off one or more attractions during your lunch hour. Whether you're in London for a meeting, a conference, or you're residing in one of The City's serviced offices, here's a little dash of inspiration to help you make the most of your lunch hour.
If you've got another great site to recommend, let us know by leaving a comment below or contacting our team on Twitter.
City sites near 110 Bishopsgate
• Leadenhall Market: Housed within a covered Victorian marketplace, here you can browse numerous stalls selling everything from cheese to flowers. Or, sit down for lunch in one of its many pubs and restaurants. Fun fact: Leadenhall Market doubled up as the fictional 'Diagon Alley' in some scenes of 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone'. If you don't have a broomstick, access on foot from Lime Street or Gracechurch Street.
Open weekdays 10am - 6pm | 7-minute walk from 110 Bishopsgate
• The Old Truman Brewery: If you're looking for a quirky gift or a quick bite to eat, head to The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. Tea rooms, independent boutiques, a vintage market, street food, pop-up stores, galleries and bars... it's all here in this creative and eclectic corner of The City.
Open weekdays, times vary | 15-minute walk from 110 Bishopsgate
• The London Wall: These days, it's preferable to build bridges rather than walls. Yet the ancient London Wall is a stunning piece of London heritage that's still standing after approximately 1800 years. Built during Roman rule between AD 190 and 225, the stone wall once surrounded the city of 'Londinium' both as a form of defence and a symbol of status. The best surviving section can be seen immediately north of the Tower of London at Tower Hill.
This part of Tower Hill is a 12-minute walk from 110 Bishopsgate
City sites near Lombard Street
• St Paul's Cathedral: The landmark dome of St Paul's Cathedral has graced The City skyline for more than 300 years, although its history goes even further back (the site has held a Cathedral dedicated to St Paul for more than 1,400 years). The original cathedral was reduced to ashes during the Great Fire of London in 1666, and its current successor - designed by Sir Christopher Wren - was topped out in 1708. If you thought the exterior was impressive, wait until you step inside.
Open weekdays | 9-minute walk from Lombard Street
• The Guildhall and Guildhall Art Gallery: Described as a "London powerhouse", The Guildhall is a spectacular building that has played a prominent role in London's history for more than 800 years. Many areas are free for public access including the Guildhall Art Gallery - an extensive collection dating from 1670 to the present, featuring a vast range of works including 17th-century portraits and Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces.
Open weekdays | 6-minute walk from Lombard Street
• St Dunstan in the East Church Garden: Few places feel as far removed from the City bustle as St Dunstan in the East - an ancient church that's gradually yet gracefully succumbing to the force of nature. The original Church of St Dunstan was built around 1100 and repeatedly repaired over the centuries. In more recent times and after damage sustained during the Blitz of 1941, the church was left in disrepair - and in 1967 the ruins were turned into a public garden. Today the ancient walls are threaded with plantation and secluded by trees, creating a peaceful centuries-old oasis.
Open daily | 9-minute walk from Lombard Street
City sites near Holland House
• Tower of London: Whilst there's far too much to see during a mere lunch hour, there's always reason to come back to the Tower of London. Your best bet is to pick a specific attraction - be it the Crown Jewels, the Royal Armouries and the White Tower, the Medieval Palace, or perhaps a walk around the boundary walls. With 1000 years of turbulent history to explore, however you spend your visit, it's certainly time well spent.
Open daily | 12-minute walk from Holland House
• The Monument: No Londoner is a real Londoner until they've surveyed the view from the top of The Monument. The gold-crested structure was built in the 1670s to celebrate the rebuilding of the city following the devastating Great Fire of London in 1666. The vista from the lookout balcony is nothing short of spectacular, and is well worth the climb up its 311 spiral steps.
Open daily | 10-minute walk from Holland House
• The Gherkin Piazza - Food Market: 30 St Mary Axe (better known as The Gherkin) is one of the best-known buildings in the City of London, so it's worth getting to know this famous landmark. Best of all, there's a food market on Thursday lunchtimes serving up a tantalising array of street food, courtesy of KERB.
Thursdays 12-2pm | Opposite Holland House
City sites near 125 Old Broad Street
• Bank of England Museum: When your office is located in the financial heart of London, it pays to find out where and how it all began. And whilst a banking museum may not necessarily be your idea of a lunchtime well spent, pound for pound, it's a well-structured attraction that's packed with fascinating facts and figures. Chart the history of financial storms, take a virtual peek inside the vaults, see the original Royal Charter, learn about anti-counterfeiting measures, step inside the Rotunda and even handle a real gold bar. Open weekdays 10am - 5pm | 3-minute walk from 125 Old Broad Street
• The Royal Exchange: Whether you fancy a caffeine fix, an indulgent lunch or a spot of retail therapy, The Royal Exchange always hits the mark. The building itself is a treasured piece of heritage, having been built in 1566 as London’s first purpose-built centre for trading stocks. Sadly, two devastating fires destroyed the earlier buildings in 1666 and 1838, leading to the construction of the third and current Exchange. Sir William Tite's design incorporates the imposing eight-column entrance, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, which was officially opened by Queen Victoria in 1844.
Open daily 8am - 10pm | 2-minute walk from 125 Old Broad Street
• Finsbury Circus Gardens: Although it's difficult to believe, the oval-shaped Finsbury Circus Gardens once belonged to a patch of moorland known as Fensbury. It wasn't until 1606 that, amidst a tide of development, the land was preserved as London's very first public park. Take a shortcut through the park or, better still, make a detour and enjoy a few moments of quiet against The City's hustle and bustle.
Open daily (note part of the Garden is currently occupied by a Crossrail worksite) | 6-minute walk from 125 Old Broad Street via Throgmorton Avenue
More Gardens to Visit in The City
This excellent map pinpoints all the public gardens and green spaces available throughout the City of London: City Gardens (PDF)