If you have been to London, you know that it is a tourist city as well as a metropolitan hub. While I loved visiting, it was also impossible to escape the fact that you will be competing with other tourists for a good look at the parliament building, or that you will be hearing a lot of American voices as well as British accents.
So where do you find the non-touristy things to do in London? It might take an extra stop or two on the Tube, but they’re well worth going out of the way for. Here are a few of my favorites (they’re also more sustainable than the main attractions).
King Edward Street
+44 20 7374 4127
Located next to St. Paul’s Cathedral (and off the same Tube line), this lovely park offers a quiet alternative to the middle of London. Built by George Fredrick Watts in order to commemorate “heroic-self sacrifice,” is now has become a favorite among locals and tourists who know how to find it. You’ll also want to check out the Wall of Heroes, which was built to highlight those to had accomplished daily acts of courage in their lives.
The Thames Path
Just because you’re in a major city doesn’t mean that you can’t get some exercise! The Thames Path stretches 184 miles running from Cotswold all the way to London itself. If you don’t feel like heading out of town, you can still use it to wander along the river and through the city for almost forty miles. No excuse not to break out your walking shoes!
150 Piccadilly, St. James
+44 20 7493 81 81
Skip Harrod’s and head over to the Ritz instead for high tea. Even though it has one of the poshest tea rooms in the city, it’s relatively unused by tourists. You still get all the same accoutrements that come with an outing at a fancy hotel, but you don’t have to worry about waiting for a table.
Did you know London had canals? Little Venice is the perfect spot to check out after a day at the London Zoo, or if you are just wanting to take a stroll in a peaceful spot. You’ll find white stucco buildings and the chance to hop on a boat for a short cruise. There are a number of delicious pubs and cafes that have lined the canals worth popping in for a visit, as well. It’s also one of the few areas of London that survived bombing during World War II, so you are able to get a glimpse of what the city looked like before modern buildings took over.
Clive Steps, King Charles St.
+44 20 7416 5000
London is a historical city, and one of the best parts about it is that you can visit locations where defining moments in the past took place. One of the spots that you have to visit as a history buff is the Churchill War Rooms. They became fully operational a week before war was officially declared on Germany in 1939. Efforts have been made to preserve the rooms, including maps from that time period.
While you might think of New York as the cultural melting pot of the world, London also has a number of different cultures that have also made it home. For delicious curry and street art, you can’t beat Brick Lane. It has a number of markets worth checking out, as well as a host of delicious restaurants and fun shops. For the traveler, it’s a fun way to experience a number of places in one spot.
Do you have any favorite spots that are off-the-beaten path? Any non-touristy things to do in London?