NEWSFLASH: There’s more to London than Big Ben, stalking the corgis at Buckingham Palace and holding up traffic while trying to re-enact that album cover on Abbey Road.
On your next visit (or stopover on your epic Euro vacay), skip the super-touristy stuff and experience London like a (sort of) local. Here are 16 of the city’s best bits:
Stroll around the Portobello Market
Take your pick from vintage clothes, kinda crappy souvenirs or ye olde car parts. You never knew you needed that hood ornament for a 1920s T Model Ford – until now.
Gorge on cakes in Ottolenghi’s Islington Café
Three quid will get you the best chocolate croissant this side of Paris. Money well spent.
Mosey around the Tate Modern
Art, art and more art. Also home to a pretty terrifying escalator (but maybe that’s just me).
Catch a flick at the Electric Cinema In Notting Hill
You’ll be offered the choice of couch seating or a BED, which may sound creepy but is actually very comfortable.
Keep your eyes peeled for royalty at Kensington Palace
The current abode of Kate and Wills, the palace has been home to a bunch of royal residents since it was built in 1605. During the swinging 60s, Princess Margaret and her ex, Lord Snowden, would throw wild celeb-studded parties; legend has it The Beatles were frequent guests.
Go shopping at BOXPARK
A shopping centre of shipping containers in Shoreditch? How’s that for alliteration?? The pop-up park is home to a stack of cool boutiques, bars and workshops (anyone for taxidermy?).
Head to Leather Lane for a good coffee
London has a rep for making bad coffee and it’s pretty deserved, but Farringdon’s Prufrock café blends brews that are actually delicious.
Celebrity spot in Primrose Hill
Hey, Gwen Stefani, nice outfit! Looking good, Benedict Cumberbatch!! Cool it with the Frisbee, Harry Styles, you just knocked over my bottle of rosé!!!
Have a picnic on Hampstead Heath
Rumour has it C. S. Lewis was inspired to write The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe after a stroll through this epic London park. Get the tube to Hampstead Heath, pick up some supplies from Marks & Spencer, find a sunny patch of grass (there’s over 800 acres to choose from) and soak up the sun with the best of them.
Eat the best bagel on earth in Brick Lane
Get thyself to Beigel Bake post haste and order the salt beef bagel, complete with huge chunks of pickle and a big dollop of mustard. You can also pick up a rainbow bagel (yup, a rainbow-coloured bagel) with a schmear of cream cheese. Magic.
Strike at All Star Lanes
Trade in your shoes and bowl your little heart out at this super cool bowling alley in Bayswater, Brick Lane and Holburn. The kitchen churns out American-style nosh and the bar’s kitsch cocktails will (literally) bowl you over.
Pay tribute to Amy in Camden
Beehived Amy Winehouse was a common sight in Camden Town until her death in 2011. In 2014, a life-like statue of the Back to Black singer was erected in the Stables Market; fans may like to pay their respects before wandering around the eclectic Camden Market.
Eat ALL the lasagne
Soho’s Mister Lasagna restaurant boasts over 20 different types of the delicious baked pasta. How many can you get through?
Feel Brazilian at an Urban Beach
From now until 30 September, the Southbank Centre is paying tribute to Rio’s most famous beach. How? By dumping 85,000 kilograms of sand on the banks of the Thames, setting up a few colourful umbrellas and selling caiprinhas by the bucket-load. Goodbye concrete path, hello Copacabana.
Channel your inner Federer
Forget Wimbledon, we’re all about ping pong! Bounce (in Farringdon and on Old Street) has a bunch of tables, booze and food, and is the venue du jour for all your table tennis needs.
Get a bit zen in Holland Park’s Kyoto Garden
After all that gallivanting about town, you’ll need some downtime. A few minutes in this chilled out garden – complete with stone lanterns, tiered waterfalls, enormous goldfish and a rogue peacock – will provide guaranteed bliss. For reals.
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