This post is for you to discover the London I love, the city I call home, to move away from the tourist beaten paths of Big Ben and Westminster (assuming you have already been there as they shouldn’t be missed!). It is a selection of my favorites places to go and things to do in the big smoke.
Depending of your interests, and the amount of time you have, you can ‘pick and choose’ from the list below and live like a Londoner for a few days 🙂
Merci Elsa pour la photo de couverture – c’est chez-nous (ou presque) 🙂
If you like…
… classical paintings: the National Gallery. If you only want to spend an hour, you have different options to make the most of your visit:
… only the best temporary exhibitions: check the program at the Royal Academy of Art, for top quality shows
… not-really-well-known awesome art museums
- My all-time favourite: the Wallace collection
- Private palace of art: the Leighton House museum (after the visit, go and see the Kyoto Garden in Holland park nearby)
- Enter the home of a neo-classical architect: Sir John Soane’s Museum
- A meticulously crafted 18th Century world: Dennis Severs’ House
… London during war time: The Churchill War rooms to see ‘the underground nerve center where Winston Churchill directed the Second World War’
… after-hours discoveries : most of the London museums have late openings (‘Late’ events), usually once a month. Talks, performances, or special exhibitions (with cocktails!). I particularly like the Science museum Late (last Wednesday of the month). For the full list see here.
… climb on board: HMS Belfast (take the audio guide!)
… see the Rosetta Stone and other marvels of our world: British Museum
Parks and Gardens
… watch deer: Richmond park, walk along the river for as far as you can get!
… feed squirrels: St James Park (buy some peanuts)
… big views: Primrose hill or Hampstead Heath
Markets & shopping
… eat English pies: Borough market for food (and then eliminate the calories by walking along the quays)
… meet Hugh Grant: busy Portobello market (Notting Hill)
… surround yourself with flowers: get up early and head to Columbia road market
… books paradise: Daunt books in Marylebone (and they are classified by countries!)
… best burgers EVER: you don’t believe me? Go to Maltby Street market, and try the African Volcano burgers.
… Shakespearean plays: check the program for the Shakespeare Globe – the setting is amazing (and the standing tickets are only £5!). In the winter, the theater inside is cool as well (lit by candlelight!).
… classical music: Royal Albert Hall, even if you are not a massive fan of classical music, you will find something that fits your taste (and the setting is amazing). And for the classical lovers, book a ticket to the Proms!
… dance at a ceilidh: the Ceiligh Club for 3 hours of fun!
… dance shows: Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Akram Khan being my favourite.
… Klezmer music: Don Kipper performs all over London in small atypique venues. And the Klezmer In the Park festival in Regents park is always fun (even when it is raining).
… outdoor cinema: during the summer, pop-up screens all over London with the Rooftop Film club.
… Secret gigs and intimate venues: go to a Sofar
Restaurants (I admit, a bit biased towards French food…)
… French fondue, raclette etc. : Androuet in Spitalfield market
… wine and cheese ‘en terrasse’: Gordons Wine Bar
… homey French meals at reasonable prices: Le Mercury in Angel
… posh food for small prices (on Sunday): Medlar in Chelsea
… Thai and Malay: Champor-Champor near London Bridge
… a Michelin star: The Glasshouse in Kew
… the good old Fish and Chips: Kerbisher & Malt in Hammersmith or Clapham
… pub with upmarket traditional menu: Harwood Arms in Fulham, the only Michelin-starred pub in London.
… chic dining with cocktails bar: Charlotte’s Bistro in Chiswick
… drink cocktails in an american bar: Zedel (the brasserie next door is great as well).
… Jazz and blues: Piano bar (book in advance to get a table)
… with live music: the Troubadour in Earl’s court. I don’t enjoy the restaurant upstairs as much, but the shows are great!
… You ask for it, they play it: Piano Works
… beers in a former banking hall? The Old Bank of England in Temple is now a pub, with high painted ceilings and a small terrasse at the back
… climbing: The Arch in Bermondsey
… white water rafting: Lee Valley Water center (yes, where they hosted the Olympics!)
… running: Park runs on Saturday morning are organised all over the city.
You live in London? or you have a bit more time?
… drawing: How to draw for beginners with CityAcademy (with Francine Lawrence and Susi Hoyle) . One Saturday or over a 4-weeks evening class.
… making terrariums: One evening workshop with London terrariums. Important disclaimer: Drink wine at the same time!
… wood working: Learn how to make a spice racks in 2 Sunday mornings with Ian, at London woodwork classes. You learn new skills and the result is brilliant!
… wine tasting: 4 weeks wine course with London Wine School to discover a specific region (shorter tasting session also available).
… spending one evening/week to learn something new?: during 20 weeks (or 8 weeks for the summer courses), head to Imperial college to get high-quality teachers at affordable prices. I did the Art History class with Leslie Primo and it changed my usually-dull Wednesday evenings.
… kick-ass sport: motivate some friends and join the Try Tag Rugby league, a non-contact (well…) rugby sport, for all levels.
I will keep updating this list as I discover more things – you cannot really get bored in this city, can you?