The Alternative Itinerary for London
May 9, 2019
by Elles 🐚
Obviously, I love traveling, but I actually hate doing touristy things. I am not a fan of standing in line for hours just to enter a cramped museum with a bunch of other tourists. So, if you’re anything like me, you might want to check out these 10 alternative things to do in London.
You might argue that a cemetery is not a tourist destination, but that is exactly the point I’m trying to make. The fact that Highgate Cemetery isn’t on every London must-see list doesn’t make it less interesting. This large cemetery in north London is the final resting place of approximately 170,000 people, including some big names, e.g. Karl Marx. On a sunny day, I recommend taking a stroll through the garden, as the headstones are works of art in themselves. The East Cemetery is definitely the more famous part, as it shows a large statue of Karl Marx, but I actually prefer the West Cemetery, which is covered in trees and wildflowers in the spring and summer.
Tube stations: Archway, Highgate
Bond Street Galleries
Bond Street is the go-to destination for luxury shopping in London. The rich and famous come here to find their next big acquisition, but I actually love coming here to check out the art galleries. Far less crowded than the Tate Modern or the National Gallery, Bond Street is home to some of London’s finest art dealers. The Eden Fine Art Gallery and Galerie Bartoux are two of my personal favorites.
Tube station: Bond Street
Right in the heart of corporate London, among the suit and ties, you’ll find Leadenhall Market. This Victorian-style covered market is home to many cafés, restaurants, and shops and is a nice escape from London’s busy corporate life. You could grab lunch in one of the restaurants or hit a pub after working hours to see where the locals hang out. Fun fact: Leadenhall Market was used to film some of the Diagon Alley scenes in the Harry Potter movies.
Tube stations: Monument, Bank
Sir John Soane Museum
London is definitely also famous for its numerous museums, many of which have free admissions (yay London). My insider tip would be the Sir John Soane Museum. The museum is located in the house of (you guessed it!) Sir John Soane, arguably one of England’s most famous neoclassical architects. He was also an avid collector of paintings and sculptures, which are on display in the museum. You are not allowed to take pictures on the inside, so you will just have to go check it out for yourself ;-).
Tube stations: Holborn, Chancery Lane
Pop-Brixton started out in 2015 as a temporary project to support local small businesses, but its popularity still keeps it going and boy am I happy about that! The venue is built up from a bunch of shipping containers stacked together, creating an area with small shops and restaurants. I especially love going here for a bite. You will find pop-up food stands that sell delicious dishes from all corners of the world (check out the fully vegan Halo Burger for a guilt-free burger experience). They also organize many events so make sure you check out their website before you go.
Tube station: Brixton
Word On The Water
Oh, me and my weakness for quirky independent bookshops! Though, this one is worth a visit even if you are not a bookworm. Famously known as the “only floating bookstore” in the world, this canal boat turned book shop, is located close to King’s Cross station. They sell both new as well as second-hand books for a very reasonable price. Go check it out, as it is right next to Granary Square – also definitely worth a visit.
Tube station: King’s Cross
Banksy’s ‘Designated Graffiti Area’
I am a HUGE fan of street art and Banksy is probably my favorite artist in that sense. So of course, when in London, I am going to recommend seeing his work. His graffiti can be found all around the city, but there is a special area in Hackney that is a tribute to the artist’s works. More importantly though, if you are into graffiti, the whole Hackney area is the place for you. On every corner you will find a piece of art.
Tube station: Old Street
God’s Own Junkyard
This one is a little further out of the city, but it’s absolutely worth the journey in my opinion. The “museum” is located in the trendy Walthamstow district in North London and is a warehouse dedicated to the life’s work of neon artist Chris Bracey. The place is filled with incredible restored and custom-made neon signs used in both Hollywood movies and sex shops in Soho. Also, make sure to stop by the “Rolling Scones Café” before setting sail back to central London.
Tube station: Walthamstow Central
Once the sun finally makes its appearance, it’s time to check out one of London’s many parks. One of my favorite places is Primrose Hill from where you’ll have an amazing view of the city. On a clear day, you can see some of London’s most famous buildings, including The Shard, the London Eye, and the BT Tower (perfect for that panorama photo). You could enjoy a picnic on top of the hill or bring your favorite book and just soak up the sun (which is a scarce commodity for Londoners).
Tube stations: Chalk Farm, Camden Town
At 160 meters altitude, the Sky Garden is the highest garden in the UK. It is located on the top floor of the fifth largest building in London, the Walkie-Talkie (famously named after its shape). From the top, you have an amazing view of the city and the best thing is that the entry is COMPLETELY FREE! Compared to the more expensive (and more touristy) Shard or London Eye, you can see why I prefer going to the Sky Garden. You could, for example, go for brunch or grab a drink in the afternoon while enjoying the sunset.
Tube stations: Fenchurch Street, Bank, Cannon Street