London Off the Beaten Path
London is comprised of many neighborhoods - we have guides for many if you look above. In general the neighborhoods are as such:
- East London is the trendiest, most youthful area.
- North London is family friendly and considerably more suburban.
- West London is very popular and has many cafes & ways to entertain yourself.
- South London is up-and-coming and generally less expensive than the other areas of the city.
St. Katharine Docks - One of the best kept secrets in central London. This vibrant Marina in the heart of historic London, next to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. This beautiful riverside estate nestled in the heart of City is huge. The entrance is hidden in one of the peaceful and magical places of London. This exclusive yacht marine hosts cafes, unique shops and is a great place to escape from the city. Some people say that the cost of docking here is even higher than the cost of the yachts! We recommend arriving on Friday around noon, when a tiny food market is buzzing with the sizzle of international cuisine. You can have an Argentinean starter, Peruvian main course, dessert from Portugal, and non-alcoholic German beerfor £8.
South Bank Fair - On sunny weekends, The South Bank of the Thames comes to life with a variety of stalls selling clothes, books, and jewellery as well as some interesting street performers. Get off at Westminster tube station, cross the bridge near the Big Ben and walk along the Thames toward the 'London Eye' big wheel. This is a favorite place for the locals.
Camden to Little Venice - This walk takes you through some of North London's most interesting areas. From trendy, bustling Camden, through Regent's Park and London Zoo, past the colorful houseboats moored on the Regent's Canal and finishing at the stylish waterways of Little Venice. There are also several cafes and pubs along the route - perfect for a lazy weekend stroll in the capital. Some parts of the canal path are closed at dusk (or 20:00 in summer) so you may have to leave the canal path once or twice.
Rolling Brige - Outside of Paddington Underground station is a marvelous feat of ingenuity: a bridge that curls in on itself to get out of the way of oncoming boats - and unfurls to allow pedestrians to cross once it’s safe. While there isn’t a lot to be done at this attraction other than watch the bridge, it’s an interesting thing to see regardless - not many bridges like this one in the world, after all. Photography is highly encouraged here, filming or time lapse even moreso!
Highgate Cemetary - Many famous figures are buried here, including Karl Marx & Douglas Adams. There is many beautiful memorials throughout as well, including a mausoleum the Beer family with a centrepiece showing their young daughter being carried to heaven, which is eye-catching & sentimental.
Walkie Talkie Sky Garden - Interesting name, yes - but this garden nestled into 3 top floors of 20 Fenchurch Street in the City of London isn’t just about walking & talking. There will also be dining options & a cocktail lounge! Taking free bookings now for up to three months in advance, we recommend at least going up & taking a good look at the view surrounded by lush greenery, if not having a nice meal & drink while you’re there.
Events, Nightlife & Activities
If you enjoy visiting the theater, living in London will be the dream you dreamed...
A large number of musicals are performed all year long in London's West End. We recommend: Lion King, Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia and Wicked. If you have student card or senior citizen, you should try and get discounted tickets in the theater's box office about an hour before the show (not during weekends).
Shakespeare's Globe - If you loved the movie 'Shakespeare in Love' – then it's a must. You can get standing tickets from £5, and feel as if you travel in time. Tickets can be purchased at the box office.
Pancake Race - Pancakes Races happen all across London on Shrove Tuesday, in 2015 falling on February 17th. Our top spot is the Spitalfields race, where the winner receives a specially engraved frying pan! If you're not sure what a pancake race is, exactly, it's a race where participants must must flip and cook pancakes as they run. Good fun for families, friends, visitors and London locals alike.
Up at the O2 - The O2 is one of London’s largest & most well-known arenas for live performance - many Londoners have seen bands, singers, and comedians perform here. That familiarity can be turned upside down when one travels up the O2, vertically - from the outside. Scaling the O2 with a professional climb guide, and you’ll be provided a special suit & shoes for the trip. At just about £30 per person, it’s a moderately expensive but immensely awesome experience in London. It’s rare that you can scale a city landmark like this!
Loo Tours of London - As a major city, London has many public toilets. The question is, which ones are worth visiting, and which ones are just horrible? Taking a Loo Tour of London will help you answer those questions, and learn a bit of London’s history as you go! Adults only as there will be occasional stops at bars & pubs, but dare we say, a little bit of toilet humor is certainly allowed. A fun & odd way to spend a little time in London and meet people who are similarly humored.
7 Noses of Soho Tour - The story goes that if you see all 7 of the noses hidden in Soho, you will attain vast wealth. Whether you believe in that legend or not, the 7 Noses of Soho tour is an amusing & fun way to get to know one of London’s top neighborhoods of London for locals & visitors alike! In just about 2 hours you’ll see these mysterious noses, an ear, and more points of interest in Soho - all directed by a fully qualified & insured City of Westminster guide.
Emirates Air Line Cable Car - Using the built-for-commuters cable car gondolas that cross the Thames is a cheap way to see London from on-high. At just about £6.00 using an Oyster card, you can do a 20 minute round-trip flight above London. There are some nice views of the Docklands area & Greenwich. Of course, you don’t have to get straight back on the cable car once you arrive at your destination, so we recommend taking some time out to explore either Greenwich or the Docklands before you go back. Bonus points, it shouldn’t be very busy as most commuters prefer to stay underground. Just perfect for a visitor!
Check also the National Theatre website if you want to know what's on in the West End, NT Live Cinema Broadcasts and other venues in London.
One way to get the most out of living in London without breaking the bank is to visit and participate in one of the many festivals held in the city. Some of the festivals are a bit crazy like the traditional pancake race on 8 March in Brick Lane, and other festivals are around dancing, art, or multinational. Every weekend from March to October there are several festivals throughout the city. Check out Time Out London to stay updated.
There is always something new happening in London - and it might be hard to keep track of what exactly is going on every night, and what might be fun for you. Thankfully, the entertainment experts over at YPlan are there to help you keep up with the ever-shifting scene. YPlan is a great app that will really integrate you into the city and make your transition into Londoner easier.
Download the YPlan app, browse through a curated shortlist of the best events in town every night, and book in just two taps. No need to print tickets, either! Use the reward code FLATCLUB get £7 credit.
London's Traditional Attractions
- http://www.tfl.gov.uk – Transportation for London. This website gives you Instructions on how to get from one point to another using public transportation. Highly recommended!
- http://www.timeout.com/london/ - Time out Magazine. Know everything that happens in London, from Festivals, shows and through special museum exhibitions and events around town.
- http://www.toptable.com/location/content/?l=7 - Excellent deals for the best restaurants in London.
- http://www.laundrapp.com - Professional laundry and dry cleaning service picked up and delivered to your door.
Tower of London - Over the years the place was used as a palace, prison and an arsenal and is now a popular tourist destination - , the primary attraction being the crown jewellery on displayed. Tube: Tower Hill.
Buckingham Palace - Home to the Duke of Buckingham in the 18th century, made in 1837 to the headquarters of the royal family. Between August and September, when the Queen's annual visit out in Scotland, 19 rooms of the palace open to visitors, and also a walking path of half-mile in the Royal Gardens. During April-July the ceremony takes place every day at 11:30, the rest of the year every other day or so. Tube: Victoria, St James’ Park.
Westminster Abbey - Beautiful gothic structure with a rich historical past: in the Abbey were crowned kings of England since 1066, and in the abbey are buried many notables including royalty, prime ministers, poets and writers. Tube: Westminster.
Parliament House - The House of Commons and House of Lords of Britain are located in Westminster Palace, built in the 19th century. The palace is famous for its clock tower, known as "Big Ben", who became an icon of the city of London. The building includes an impressive structure 'Westminster Hall', surviving from the original palace built in the 11th century. Tube: Westminster.
Piccadilly Circus - Square in central London Westminster Quarter, at the intersection of Regent, Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue. The square is known for the many neon signs on the buildings around it.
Trafalgar Square - This central square in London commemorates the victory of Britain over France in Trafalgar in 1805. In the past, this square was part of the territories of the royal stables.
Museums & Galleries
Living in London means you are always just a moment away some of the world's most important museums. British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert, Natural History, and Science Museum are some of the most famous ones.
The good news is that the entrance to all national museums in London is free, so it's a perfect retreat in rainy days. If you are traveling with children, the Museum of Natural History and the Science Museum are the best. Here are some of the lesser known museums in London!
Madame Tussauds – This famous wax museum displays historical figures or famous people in any field (politicians, entertainers, etc.) to illustrate what they looked like and what they did, using wax dolls that are displayed at the museum. Tube: Baker Street.
Dennis Severs' House - A unique attraction in Spitalfields near Liverpool Street, one of London’s major hubs for Overground & Underground services, the Dennis Severs’ House will take you far away from the bustling crowds of commuters. An intriguing home set to look as if it’s been plucked from the 18th century, with it’s denizens left behind. The lived-in feel, with plates on the table & items that need tending, makes it easier to visualize the people who would’ve lived in such a place, at such a time. It’s exciting to think that people who had lived there would’ve walked the very same streets guests did to reach the house - albeit with different shops & market stalls to distract them. Enjoy a browse around Spitalfields Market when you have finished with this remarkable home.
Hunterian Museum - An attraction for those interested in medical history who aren’t squeamish. The Hunterian Museum has on exhibit Winston Churchill’s dentures alongside many other historical & ever-so-slightly gross objects. Taking a browse around is a good idea, but there are also special lectures on the history of medicine & surgery, and family fun to be had on certain nights.
The Garret Theatre - Once you’ve finished up in the Hunterian Museum, take a look at another historical medical location. The Garret Theatre was a surgical/operating theatre in London, and it’s quite a sight to see these days. Located in Southwark now, the theatre that was found inside the premises of St Thomas’s Hospital has been turned into a small museum. Make a day of medical history & visit The Garret & Hunterian Museum!
Soane Museum - The former home of architect Sir John Soane, this museum has been open to the public since the early 19th century. It holds not only drawings & models of his work, but his collected antiquities & paintings from his lifetime. As it’s such an old museum, it has no information kiosk or gift shop - a blessing for people who don’t like to be tempted to part with their cash after taking in some culture & art. The first Tuesday of month there is a special event where you can take a candlelit tour of the museum, starting at 5:30 p.m. Get there early to make sure you get access, as it’s extremely popular.
London is a city of parks. The city offers dozens of beautiful parks which provide a peaceful break on a long shopping day. Entry to all parks is free and it’s a great place to take children to. Some of the parks we recommend:
Regents Park - Excellent for a stroll or to go boating or feed the ducks. The impressive Queen Mary's Rose Garden is worth a look too.
Saint James' Park - Offers a beautiful view of Buckingham Palace.
Hyde Park - The largest in the heart of London, this park offers rollerblades and bicycles trails, walking trails, lakes and horse racing tracks. Tube: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch.
Hampstead Heath - This park is wild and breathtaking. On a nice warm day you can see animals in the forest area, walk up the hill for a viewpoint of the city and enjoy the ducks swimming (sometimes along with people) in the lakes. Click here for more information.
Hawksmoor - While the USA is often considered the place to get great steaks, anyone who has been to Hawksmoor would beg to differ. Relatively expensive, but worth it if you’re a red meat aficionado - or go for the steal of an express menu - £23.00 for 2 courses, including a rib-eye. The Air Street location does great seafood, as well. Save room for dessert, as the peanut butter shortbread is the best in the country.
Koya - For something a bit lighter, head down to Soho and get the most authentic handmade Udon noodles this side of Japan. They offer both hot broth/hot noodles, and cold noodles/dipping sauce, as is often eaten in Japan at summer to cool down. Koya doesn’t take reservations, so get there early as they fill up quite quickly.
Polpo - Also in Soho & Covent Garden, this is a delicious take on Italian food - not the traditional stuff you might think of, like pasta or pizza (although, there are some pizzettes on the menu) but interesting meatball-based dishes and grilled meats. Easy to share, as well - so come with a big group so you can try many things. Don’t miss out on the sweets, either: chocolate salami and ricotta crumble.
Street Feast - Somewhere between a festival and a restaurant lies Street Feast. A travelling tour of street food carts and vans, Street Feast goes on every Friday and Saturday into the late hours of the night. Stand-outs include Sorbitium Ice Cream, BAO for unique steamed buns, and The Ribman for amazing ribs - but you really can't go wrong with any of the vendors for a taste of London's street food scene. Check streetfeastlondon.com to see where they'll be next.
Manze - Manze is one of the oldest, still operational pie & mash shops in London. Not only that, but they do the best jellied eels in the entire city. Located mostly in South London, they’re worth a trek down past the Thames to have a taste of one of London’s most classic ‘cockney’ dishes. There are three locations, and Tower Bridge Road shop is actually the very oldest pie & mash shop in London.
The Attendant - Certainly one of the most unique settings for a coffee & afternoon tea in London, the Attendant is located in an old Victorian toilet. Don’t worry, it’s gotten a thorough scrub down since then. Certainly off the beaten path in London, you can come here for a quick espresso or take a seat & enjoy some healthy almond milk porridge, vanilla french toast, or a sandwich.
Social Belly - We’ve got a solution to your endless research on where to go for an authentic meal in this city. Social Belly is an online marketplace that allows you to meet and chat with people with similar interests and enjoy authentic meals with people you’ve never met before. The best part of it is that the website has a wide range of dinner parties that are hosted either in someone's home or at an independent restaurant, and anybody can attend!
Maltby Street Market - One of the most popular London market for locals, Maltby Street Market is near the also worthy Borough Market. Not as well known, you may be able to avoid the crowds by trying to find your lunch in Maltby Street Market rather than Borough. Some of our recommendations along this lovely, delicious-smelling strip of the market is Dark Sugars for amazing chocolates, Tamal for intriguing Mexican flavors that are hard to find, and Monty’s Deli for amazing Jewish American deli cuisine.
Life in London is a shopper’s paradise. From traditional department stores, to trendy young designers shops, there is something for everyone.
Oxford Street Department Stores - Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, John Lewis, House of Fraser.
Shopping Streets in London's Centre - Oxford Street, Regents Street, Marylebone High Street, Carnaby Street, Kensington High Street, Piccadilly Street.
Primark, Oxford Street - Sells cheap clothes, jewelry, shoes, and home accessories. Tube: Marble Arch.
Westfield - The largest shopping centre in Europe. Here you can find high street shops as well as luxury brands. Tube: Shepherd's Bush.
Markets are a fixture of life in London, here are a few that you can't miss:
Columbia Market - A lively market which mainly consist plants, flowers and garden items. A picturesque place, this market is great if you want to buy greens. Tube: Liverpool Street.
Brick Lane Market, East London - You can find anything from furniture to second hand clothes, records, fruits, vegetables, and a many small cafes and galleries of contemporary art. The market is open on Sundays only. Tube: Liverpool Street.
Spitalfields - Two markets: traders market and crafts market. A great street market where you can find antiques, vintage clothes (on Thursday), art objects and art and fashion (on Friday) and a general market (on Sunday). During the summer months, almost every day you can find stalls in the arts market. Click here for more information.
Borough Market - This food market is located in the southeastern part of the city, under the railroad tracks not far from the River Thames. This is the largest and oldest food market in London – active since Roman times, So if you fancy sampling some world cuisine, this is the place to go to with stalls offering fruit and vegetables, fish and meats, drinks, nuts, spices and breads and mini-foods from around the world. On Saturdays there is a lively farmers market and on sunny weekends it can get very busy. Open – Thursday to Saturday. Tube: London Bridge. Click here for more information.
Covent Garden - A square of shopping and entertainment found in the Borough of Westminster in central London district of Camden. On Sundays you can find - street-artists perform and stalls spring up. Also, the square is a great place to do some antique hunting. Open – every day. Tube: Covent Garden
Camden Market, Regent's Canal - One of the most popular markets in London, and includes 6 markets. This is a very touristy place. You can find some cool clothes, shoes, jewelry, gifts and souvenirs - The market is busy and crowded, especially on weekends. Tube: Camden Town
Portobello Road Market, Notting Hill - This is one of the most famous markets in the world. It has a lovely antique market, a nice flea market, and a colorful fruits and vegetables market. The antique market is open only on Saturdays, while the other markets are open from Monday - Saturday. Tube: Notting Hill Gate
Day Trips Out Of London
Henley on Thames - One of the most charming towns in the region is Henley on Thames, which is famous mainly thanks to its Regatta held every summer, during which important sailing events take place along with a variety of street events, shows, happenings and great atmosphere. During the rest of the year Henley is calm and peaceful town full of architectural pearls. This is an ideal place for a leisurely stroll by the river; architectural tour along the ancient streets, sitting in pubs and tea houses and shopping in unique stores, of which this town has plenty to offer. Click here for more information.
Leeds Castle - One of the most beautiful castles in England and it is also suitable for families travelling to London with children who might find it interesting. The castle is situated on two small islands in the heart of a pastoral lake where waterfalls, swans and waterfowl sailing peacefully. Gardens around the castle are spectacular and inside the castle are magnificent halls rooms. Click here for more information.
Windsor Castle - When living in London, you cannot miss a visit to nearby Windsor. The castle, which is the official residence of the Queen, is about 900 years old, and includes a thousand rooms (!), making it officially the largest ancient castle in Britain. The main attractions include a variety of luxurious rooms and art treasures, Chapel of St. George with its impressive Gothic architecture, the Queen Mary's Dolls house and of course the Royal Guards exchange ceremony.
Oxford - One of the most popular destinations for a day trip from London. The main attraction of this beautiful city is its ancient university, one of the world's leading academic institutions. Not all the colleges are open for visit, but many of them can be visited independently or with a guided tour.
Cambridge - We suggest two ways to explore this city. The first one is through Trumpington Street, the main road of the ancient city, walking along its streets and alleys. The second option is through the cities backdoor- The backs. The vast gardens surrounding it give an impressive overview of the city's Victorian Gothic buildings. Both tracks should reach river Cam, where you can rent a boat and sail under the bridges, and feel the caressing willow branches.