You’ve checked off the usual suspects from your London, England, itinerary, now it’s time to delve into the abundance of lesser-known experiences and attractions on offer throughout this historic capital city.
From street markets and theatre houses to authentic cuisine and canal cruises, the options are endless. Here are just a few ideas to get you started on your London trip.
With authentic Bangladeshi curry houses, a 24-hour bagel shop and trendy bars, Brick Lane in the Shoreditch neighbourhood is a constant buzz of activity. Browse the markets in The Old Truman Brewery, where fashion designers sell their wares alongside arts, crafts and street-food vendors. The Geffrye Museum of the Home documents the changing styles and tastes of Londoners, with home interior displays from the 1600s onward. Don’t leave the East End without sampling traditional pie and mash with liquor at G. Kelly in the Bow district or Maureen’s in nearby Poplar.
Take in the stunning city views atop Primrose Hill, immortalised in the opening credits of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, then stroll the nearby independent shops before stopping in at The Lansdowne pub for a pint and a freshly made stone-oven pizza. Just down the road is The Roundhouse. Formally a railway repair shed, it’s now a venue for international performance art and a hub for young creatives. Every summer, the company fills its terrace with 150,000 kilograms of soft sand to create Camden Beach, an urban oasis with pop-up restaurants, deck chairs, beach huts and more.
Next year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, and the open-air Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, on the South bank of the River Thames in Southwark, is planning a series of events and performances to commemorate the Bard’s life. The Globe’s Swan bar and restaurant serves up modern British food along with views of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Then hop on the Tube and wander the bounty of upscale boutiques on Chelsea’s King’s Road before heading to the Chelsea Physic Garden. Founded in 1673, it’s one of Europe’s oldest botanical gardens and features a pond rock garden with stones from the Tower of London.
Head to Regent’s Canal in Little Venice for a Jason’s Trip cruise in a 109-year-old canal boat. Learn the history of the waterway as you pass the zoo in Regent’s Park and the canal’s colourful houseboat community. Then head to Notting Hill Gate’s century-old Electric Cinema, one of London’s oldest picture houses. Opt for one of the 65 leather armchairs with footstools and side tables, or one of the front-row, bed-like sofas. The Portobello Road Market is the world’s largest antiques market; on Saturdays, it stretches a mile long.