It's no secret I love London. It's where I kicked off nine years of solo traveling and where I later returned to pursue my master's degree.
One of the things that's so great about the city is the number of things to do. You have the popular tourist destinations like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye and Tower Bridge. Then you have the endless — and it really does feel endless — list of places to visit, foods to eat, activities to try and streets to wander that are removed from the beaten path.
I spent 13 months living in London and feel as though I barely scratched the surface. But of the things I did do, there are a few that stand out. For anyone heading to Londontown, here are my favorite activities:
Stroll Through the Markets
If I had to pick one thing that I love most about London, it would be the markets. This city has a wide range of them, all of which are amazing. You have everything from the Columbia Road Flower Market in East London to my personal favorite, Borough Market, to the Afro-Caribbean market in Brixton. Then there's Portabello Road Market tucked away in the beautiful neighborhood of Notting Hill, as well as the edgy, eclectic Camden Market (another favorite) in Camden Town. With plenty of options to choose from, one could easily dedicate an entire vacation to the city's markets and come away with many amazing finds.
People Watch in East London
During my time studying in London, I primarily lived near one of the most happening neighborhoods in the city, Shoreditch (followed by a month-long stint in Hackney). Anyone who has ever visited this area would agree that the people watching is superb, particularly when the sun decides to make an appearance. On a gorgeous weekend, droves of young Londoners can be found hanging out in the neighborhood, drinking Pimm's and showing off their unique style. While West London tends to be more classic and timeless, East Londoners embrace different styles without fear or remorse. This attitude often results in the most interesting fashion statements.
Eat All the Food
Once upon a time, London was known as a city of bad food, but those days are gone. Long gone. In fact, London could easily be considered one of the best food cities in the world. British cuisine has undergone a culinary evolution and is now showcased in a variety of ways by very talented chefs. The city is also home to pretty much every type of cuisine, with restaurants serving up some truly fantastic food. Beyond the restaurants, there are tons of bakeries and cafes all serving amazing food that is just as good if not better than anywhere else in the world. The amount of great food I have eaten in London far outweighs the amount of bad.
Check Out the Museums and Galleries
Besides the fact that many of London's museums and galleries are completely free, they are also beautiful and always have amazing exhibitions going on. Walking into the British Museum, you can't help but admire the stunning architecture in addition to the works of art on display. Then there's the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is heaven for anyone who loves art, design and fashion. My absolute favorite, though, is the arguably lesser known Saatchi Gallery. Located in the heart of Chelsea on the King's Road, this contemporary art gallery always has very unique installations that range from the understated to the bold. The fact is, you could likely walk into any museum in London and have a really enjoyable time.
Wander the Neighborhoods and Parks
I love wandering around cities. It is easily one of my favorite hobbies, and I have come upon some amazing discoveries just by wandering aimlessly. London happens to be one of the best cities for doing this. I did a fair amount of walking throughout my time there, but it wasn't until I completed my graduate program and was job hunting that I found myself with a LOT of time on my hands. Cue the wandering, which I did quite a bit of! It allowed me to discover and rediscover the many beautiful and/or funky neighborhoods that exist, as well as the gorgeous and tranquil parks, some of which are my all-time favorites. It's through my explorations and wandering that I found several of my most favored places in the city.
I can't wait to return to London to discover more favorite things to do.
Do you have favorite things you like to do in London?