When you go to London, most people have the same list in their head of what they want to see during their day/weekend there. And no one can blame you. Big Ben, Tower Bridge, London eye, St Pauls, British Museum – these are all brilliant must-see sights. BUT, once you have done it, there’s a whole other London just waiting to be unearthed. If you don’t live in London, you may wonder why anyone would pay the extortionate prices they do. But when you live in London, you cannot imagine living anywhere else. There is always something going on and always places undiscovered. This is the real magic of London.
I thought I would write a list on things to do that may not be in all the usual sightseeing guides – a real taste of London.
- FOOD MARKETS – And not just the big ones like Borough – but the little local ones like South Bank and Greenwich – these are two of my absolute favourites. They have a very different atmosphere to Borough – laid back with plenty of beer, music and of course, food. Choose from numerous food trucks and stalls serving everything from giant gourmet burgers to vegetarian Indian street food.
- BRUNCH – Afternoon tea is very big at the moment and you wont have a cafe that doesn’t have a special deal. But, I can safely say I prefer brunch. I live for brunch – whether it’s something greasy to cure a heavy night or a get-to-gether with bottomless mimosas – you can always find the right place. I will limit myself to two recommendations because I could go on forever. 1. The breakfast club – they have many all over London so find the closest one and get there early if it’s a weekend. There is normally a queue in the central ones but I promise, you will not regret it. Just look at the menu – everything from stacks of pancakes to a vast choice of breakfasts including maple syrup bacon… mmmm. 2. Bourne and hollingsworth building – great for bottomless bloody Marys or mimosas – delicious food in a beautiful setting. Great for a special occasion .. or not – the prices are very fair for the feel of the place
- AN OLD TOILET OR TWO – okay so that doesn’t sound too appealing but I BET you’re wondering what’s down there. If you’re looking for a quirky cocktail haunt, get to Kentish town, Ladies&Gentleman. There are a few renovated toilets around and I highly recommend a lot of them, including The attendant for a coffee or breakfast.
- OUTSIDE LIDOS – If the weather is nice, get to a lido early. If the weather isn’t nice, ensure you go to a heated one. These lidos are all over London and become a great social hub on a hot day. Sunbathe swim and take the best instagram pics ever!
- GO HIKING – okay so if you’re just visiting London, the last thing you want to do is get away from it. But if you live in London, sometimes you want to see a bit of green, well, a lot of green. I do, anyway, growing up where there was plenty of it. Take a hike in Sevenoaks – make sure you scope out a good route before you go and this will ensure you see the best scenery. We got everything from our walk – wild deer, massive expanses of green, uphill hikes through trees and stunning views! Only a short train ride away. Pack a BBQ and some prosecco – job done.
- GO TO AN OPEN AIR CINEMA – they’re everywhere in the summer – bring a blanket and a picnic. A very fun and cheap way to spend the evening – couples or big groups of friends, you’ll find a great range of people attending.
- ISABELLA PLANTATION – a rare spot of hidden beauty. Established during the 1950s, the ornamental woodland garden consists of clearings, ponds and streams and is planted with ferns, exotic trees and shrubs. It’s particularly striking during April and May when the azaleas and rhododendrons put on their annual show.
The longer you spend in London, the more places you will discover. And this never ever ceases, this is why I would never leave London