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Local's Guide to London
June 6th, 2020 | By: Taylor Randolph
Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey are classic London attractions for good reason! After you have seen the main tourist attractions, you may be wondering what else London has to offer. The best way to explore London is to blend in and not to stand out as a tourist. That is why we have put together this Local's Guide to London to help you get the best experience out of your trip. Get ready to enjoy the diversity, the culture, and the history of London with this list of the best things to do in London.
London is a big place with a huge variety of different things to see and do and unless you plan to stay for the next decade or more, there is no way you can cover it all! With the helpful guides below however, you can easily narrow down your choices and find the ‘must-sees’ for your trip.
- Knowledge of London – If you are keen to avoid London’s tourist traps and discover the startling gems hidden in its depths, then make sure to check out the Knowledge of London. Roger Sligo and his team have created a treasure trove of information about London’s past and compiled some useful recommendations about the city’s available tours, transport, attractions, shopping and more.
- London Theatre Guide – Running since 1995 this website was one of the first dedicated to bringing visitors all the information about the city’s happenings in the theatre world. Here you will find information about what is on and where, reviews of performances and even information about the stars themselves.
- Secret London – For fun news stories about what is happening in the city and an informative guide about bar, clubs, culture and London life, you cannot go far wrong. It is a great place to find quirky events and attractions that you will not find in your usual tourist guide.
- A Traveller's Guide to London - Where to stay and what to do in London, discount hotel reservations, special offers, attractions, events, theatre breaks, event tickets, night life, tours, walks, tips and recommendations.
There are a number of ways to explore this fantastic city and you have the option of being guided by a local expert or finding your own way around. A combination of the two is the best way to gain a true insight into the wonderful past and present of the city and we recommend you check out the resources below to ensure you get the most out of your London trip!
- Walking Tour with Brian Cookson - Take a walking tour of London with a professional Blue Badge Guide and discover the real London and its hidden corners. Cookson will bring the city to life through the fascinating stories of the people from the city's past and present. You can also purchase his books on the history of the city and there are audio walking tours available on his website.
- BrakeAway Bike Tours - Explore the city on two wheels with an expert entertaining guide who will tell you all about the city as you explore major attractions via quiet backstreets, parks, riverside paths and designated cycle paths. There are a range of different routes available, including the Grand London Tour, the Secret London Tour and special tours dedicated to families and private groups.
- Cruise on the Thames - Enjoy a cruise on the Thames with City Cruises and see London's sight's from a different perspective. You can combine your tour with a flexible hop on hop off ticket or even have dinner onboard for a truly unique experience of London.
Just like the rest of the UK, most museums in London are completely free to enter. This is a fantastic treat for visitors and no matter your interests you will find a museum that covers it! During your trip you have to check out some of the world-famous institutions, even if it is just to see the spectacular architecture.
- British Museum – This enormous museum contains some of the world’s most precious and well-known artefacts, such as the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. The building is stuffed full with ancient objects from around the world and their history it beautifully told through audio guides, informative texts and temporary exhibitions. It is a good idea to plan ahead what you want to visit in this museum otherwise you will soon succumb to museum fatigue!
- V&A – The Victoria and Albert Museum is a gorgeous museum dedicated to applied and decorative art and design. It is a startling array of original objects and skilful casts and copies of some of the world’s most breath-taking pieces of art. Make sure to enjoy a cup of tea or lunch in the stunning café – the décor is Victorian chique at its best with an array of mosaic designs and stained glass
- Natural History Museum – With thousands of specimens of different species from all parts of the world and each from hundreds to millions of years old, a visit to this gothic masterpiece of a museum is like stepping into another world! See dinosaurs and more recently extinct creatures up close and marvel at the interactive exhibits which are a draw for adults and kids alike.
These are just our top 3 museum choices. You have many more to choose from including the National Gallery, the Tate Modern, the Museum of London, Greenwich Museum…and so many more!
Are you travelling with your children? Check out our article on the best Museums in London for kids.
Check out one of London's many markets
London is a foodie's dream come true with cuisines available from around the world and a fantastic farm to table scene, artisanl food outlets, craft beers and so much more! A visit to one or more of the city's wonderful markets is a great way to get a taste of what is on offer.
- Borough Market - Okay this one is pretty well known, but it is still a local favorite. There are so many incredible food stalls here that it is impossible to resist. If you are looking for something less crowded but still has great food, then check out Maltby Street Market
- Portobello Road Market - This quaint market is located in Notting Hill and is a great place to shop for antiques, handcrafted goods, and vintage clothing
- Camden Market - This neighborhood in north London is known for its alternative culture. There are record stores, quirky clothing shops, unique art galleries, and great coffee cafes.
- Spitalfields Market - If you are looking for some unique and upscale items, then head over to this East London market. You can find things like leather bowties or bespoke jewelry.
- Box Park - Here in Shoreditch you will find an eclectic mix of independent food stands, cocktail bars, and clothing shops
- Pop Brixton - Located in Brixton is this great market known for supporting local, independent businesses. You will find food stands, cocktail bars, clothing shops, exercise classes, and art exhibitions
The British Library is the world's largest library. The Treasures room has so many incredible items that I do not know why this one isn't more popular on tourist to-do lists. You will find a Gutenberg Bible, an original Shakespeare folio, and diary excerpts from famous authors, including Jane Austen.
Street Art on Brick Lane
This area is so fun to walk around, explore, and snap some pictures. The walls are covered with graffiti and pop-culture tributes. You can even find original Banksy's here.
Take in the Views of the City
- Tate Modern has a collection of modern art and has a 10th-floor viewing platform. The museum is free and really fun to explore the exhibits.
- Parliament Hill is situated in the Hampstead Heath park. It is one of the highest points in London, so it offers panoramic views of the London skyline.
- Primrose Hill is on the northern side of Regent's Park and also offers beautiful views over the city. The surrounding area is like a quaint village with adorable shops and cafes.
Dulwich Village has that classic English village feel, even though it's located in the middle of London. There are idyllic English cottages, rose bushes, independent bookstores, and historic pubs. Dulwich Picture Gallery is the oldest public art gallery, which was opened in 1817. There is also Dulwich Park that has a boating pond, cafes, and a Victorian-era American garden.
Hampstead is a little village nestled next to Hampstead Heath, one of the city's largest and wildest green spaces. There are walking paths throughout and plenty of areas to enjoy a picnic. From here, you can walk up Parliament Hill to see the view of the London skyline. You can explore the home of Sigmund Freud that has been turned into a museum, the beautiful villa owned by Romantic poet John Keats, and the grand Kenwood House that has art exhibitions including Vermeer and Rembrandt. In addition, you will want to check out the historic Spaniards Inn, which is a classic British pub and was frequented by John Keats and Lord Byron as well as mentioned in literature such as Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers and Bram Stoker's Dracula.
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