Travel writer based in UK. Ava Gardner wannabe and aspiring food critic with a penchant for sweet sherry, 007, and fancy fridge magnets. Visited 25+ countries so far and counting.
Sure, there are the classic sightseeing things you can do in London — watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, ride the London Eye — but we think there’s way more to the city than what you’ll find in every guidebook. For a more authentic adventure, we asked our local London tour guides for their best tips on things to do in London. Here are their picks for a truly local experience in the city.
Visit the Sir John Soane Museum
London has many museums but none quite like this cultural gem. John Soane was an architect and an avid collector of art and antiquities. The contents of this unique museum, which was once Soane’s home, are both weird and wonderful, from ancient Egyptian artifacts and Roman sculptures to medieval objects and Chinese ceramics. The museum is free and never overcrowded and the lovely volunteers who work here are always happy to talk to you about Sir John and his epic collection. If you happen to be in London on the first Tuesday of the month you should check out the collection by candlelight. Harry Potter fans will enjoy the added bonus of walking past Sirius Black’s house, which is on the same street as the museum!
Shop and party ’til you drop at Camden Market
Camden Market is one of the most vibrant shopping and social spots in London. It’s renowned for its rock ‘n’ roll history and boasts some of the best street art in the Capital. The market itself is full of all kinds of wonders. The things you can buy range from local handmade items to imported goods from skilled artists from across the globe. It’s also a mega trendy nightlife spot. So whether you want something tasty to eat or somewhere cool to party, Camden has it all.
Take the mail rail ride
The long-lost secret mail rail is one of London’s coolest little adventures. From the beginning of the 20th century to 2003, the mail rail was used for transporting mail across the city. It’s one of London’s lesser known tourist attractions, giving you the perfect opportunity to explore the underground as never before.
Enjoy the views from Greenwich Park
Some of the best views of London can be found from this delightful park, as well as some excellent cafes and pubs. The Naval College itself is a work of art and well worth a visit. It is home to a jacket that once belonged to the famed Admiral Nelson, one of Britain’s most popular and important military figures. While you are here, you should seek out the Cutty Sark, one of Britain’s greatest trading ships. This preserved beauty was as good as it got before steam engines took over the waves. And why not try London’s new cable car over The Thames? To get to the park, we sugest you use the Thames Clipper or one of the other boat services that depart Westminster Pier all throughout the day.
Relax at Kyoto Garden
This secret garden is hidden within Holland park and symbolises everything that is great about London’s cultural diversity. It was constructed in the 1990s as part of the Japan Festival held in London. It’s beautifully maintained and seldom very busy. The park is conveniently close to Kensington Palace and Notting Hills, making Kyoto Garden a great place to get away from the crowds in between visits to these two tourist powerhouses.
London is a leading global city and the most-visited destination in the world. With its diverse cultures and communities, buzzing nightlife, museums, and tourist attractions it’s no wonder that the saying goes, ‘If you’re bored of London, you’re bored with life.’