Here’s our list of the Top 10 Things to See and Do in London
London has never been more affordable for international backpackers so while the exchange rate is still giving you more bang for your buck, here are top 10 things we’d recommend to see and do during your British break.
- See Shakespeare at The Globe
So it’s not the original stage where the great plays of England’s greatest playwright played out (try saying that ten times fast) but it is built in the image of ye olde English theatre, you can still stand around in the pit and if you’re feeling super fly, you can even upgrade to a wooden bench, making the Globe a must on our top 10 things to see in London list. This open air theatre might not be pretty when the infamous English weather strikes, but with tickets starting at just ten pounds, who cares? The season runs from April to October, and here’s this year’s schedule.
- Spitalfield’s Market
This is an East End gem that caters to travellers who like to experience real retail innovation, without the usual sky high price tags. It’s been voted London’s best market two years in a row now and when you check out the stalls, eateries and Indie shops that line the avenues, you can see why. Pick up rare, vintage fashion throwbacks, munch on a spit roast, see the arts and crafts that put the counterparts in Camden Market to shame and chill out in a non pretentious bar when you’re done. A bar that unlike the rest of London, won’t charge £5 per glass of wine.
- The Theatre Scene at Large
This can be a daunting area of activity when you rock up in the British capital and if you’re unfortunate enough to be taken advantage of by the ticket touts in Leicester Square, you can end up paying big bucks to see the big shows. Keep this in mind. Top productions like Mamma Mia and Wicked can be seen, from good seats, for as little as £30 per person. Simply go through ticketmaster.co.uk before you arrive or lastminute.com when you’re there. Also remember that there’s good theatre across the city and it can be seen on the cheap or even for free! The big new shows often start out in theatres like the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, where tickets are normally around £10.
- Primrose Hill
London isn’t renowned for its stunning skyline ‐ well not in the same way that you might remember the sun setting over the opera house and Harbour Bridge in Sydney. There is however one spot in the city where you can gaze on in awe at the impressive and sprawling urban mass, from Tower Bridge in the East, all the way over to the Visit Britain tower in the West. This popular observation point and picnic spot is a ten minute walk north from Camden and on a clear day, there’s no better place to snap a few photos.
Back in the days of yesteryear they used to set time in France but then a few clever minds figured out that the Meridian Line actually ran through Greenwich, East London. Accordingly a splendid observatory was built atop of the hill and the time line was marked down the middle of its grand courtyard. Today you can join the legions of time worshippers as they trek up to the top of this rather steep climb and admire the views over Canary Wharf, the River Thames, the O2 Arena and much more. Also if you head down to the riverside you can follow the spiral stairs down into the foundations of the river and cross the submarine depths ‐ to emerge on the north bank. Good times.
- The Tate Modern
This former power station is renowned for pushing the boundaries of contemporary art and the massive void in the old turbine hall is always showcasing a huge art installation or two. Our past favourites have included Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider and the massive, earthquake‐esk crack in the floor, entitled Shibboleth by sculptor Salcedo. The external walls are also sometimes covered with extravagant artwork too and no matter what time of year you visit this free gallery, there’s bound to be something spectacular to capture your imagination and fire up your creative side.
- Borough Market
This is an incredible experience ‐ especially if you hit it on a Saturday or Sunday morning, just before the throngs of Londoners descend on it to pick up the finest foods and most sought after drinks. You can pick up everything from Ostrich eggs and hyper‐organic wheatgrass shots, to smoked cheese and deep fried Japanese seaweed. The coffee shops dotted around the market serve up some of the best espresso you’ll find in London and the take away sandwiches from the hog roast are the perfect lunch time treat as you leave the market and stroll along the Pedestrian only south bank of the River Thames.
- The Horniman Museum
This museum is a little off the regular, tourist beaten track and it has the kind of bizarre, off the wall attractions that make you sit up and pay attention. The historical repositories on offer focus on Anthropology, Natural History and Musical Instruments. Entrance to the museum and the garden around it is free but there is sometimes a small charge for contemporary exhibits. The train is the best way to get there, so simply jump on one from London Bridge or Victoria and then jump off at Forest Hill station. The museum isn’t far from here and you can preview the exhibits right here, before you even make the journey.
- Bike Around Town
The one thing that most city dwellers in London miss out on the most is the scenery around the city. Most folk are stuck on the underground for their daily commute but as privileged visitors, you guys have the luxury of seeing it on foot, on a sightseeing bus or better yet ‐ on a bike! You might not think that the city centre is all that bike friendly but with the massive expanse of royal parks, you can easily explore for three or four hours on a bike, without hitting the road for more than ten minutes ‐ in total! The only bike tour company in town to have a licensed partnership with the Royal Parks is Fat Tyre Bike Tours. They tour the city twice a day, covering Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Parliament, the Royal Albert Hall, the incredible Cabinet War Rooms and much more. There’s a pub‐lunch‐stop too and a new riverbank tour on the way, so give them a Google. If you want to do it alone, check out our London By Bike guide for some tips!
- Explore Beyond the City Limits
As exciting as the British capital is, it can be a little overwhelming after a while. This potential problem is easily solved by the fact that London is one of the biggest transportation hubs in the world! You can pretty much get anywhere from here, but while you’re in the UK we recommend that you keep it domestic! One of our favourite, rural and relaxing hang outs is the Norfolk Broads, where you can jump on a canal boat, drift along, drink beer on sun drenched river terraces, zoom around in mini speedboats and generally forget about any care you have in the world, in the most tranquil of surroundings. The most affordable and expedient way to get there is by train with National Express East Anglia. They operate a regular service out of London Liverpool Street to Norwich, and you can get there and back, very comfortably, for as little as £27.40. For the best deals and online bookings check out nationalexpresseastanglia.com