Next stop, London town! London is such a wonderful city to visit and it was the first city I ever truly fell in love with. There is nothing like a chilly London evening, with good coffee and great company. Last week I wrote about 8 Lesser Known Things to Do in Paris, and this week I am bringing you the London version as city number two in my mini series. Don’t be a victim of the touristy duds, and instead check out my absolute favorite London gems. Here are 8 lesser known things to do in London:
1. The Monument
Also known as The Monument to the Great Fire of London, is a large column located West of the Tower of London and London Tower Bridge. This is one of those things that many tourists walk by or ‘see’, but never really take the chance to explore. On of my favorite things when traveling is finding really great views to photograph from. The Monument, which commemorates the Great Fire of London, has a 360 degree view once you climb to the top. Most people don’t know you can go to the top and see some incredible views! So if you happen to stumble upon this monument, don’t forget to make your way to the top.
2. Highgate Cemetery
creepy awesome like me, you love a good cemetery. Every great city has their fair share of famous headstones, and Highgate Cemetery contains Karl Marx among a few others. What’s most intriguing about this cemetery is the history of spooky activity and vampire hunters. Yes, vampire hunters. If you love a good fantasy adventure, you’ll have some fun here. The cemetery is super overgrown and adds to the creepiness and paranormal vibe. Definitely one of the best cemeteries you’ll ever see, especially if you are in to that uneasy feeling from your favorite horror movie.
3. Natural History Museum
This one is probably more well known, but thanks to its stunning architecture, I had to include the Natural History Museum! I missed this several times on my first trips to London, but this museum has great lighting and is stunning for photos. I highly suggest a visit here if you’re in to architectural photography and interior architecture. Or, you could totally do the more un-Coat and Coffee normal thing, and have a look around at the specimens. Either way, a sight to see that’s great for Instagram!
4. The Roof Gardens
Maybe one of my favorite places in London! The Roof Gardens is comprised of three gardens above Kensington: The Spanish Gardens, The Tudor Garden, and the English Woodland. Probably the most stunning one is the Spanish Garden which immediately transports you to Spain. The gardens sit on top of Kensington High Street and boast amazing views of the city with immaculate greenery. They are free and open to the public, but do check their open dates online because there are lots of events held here, including weddings. The gardens even contain flamingos and exotic ducks!
5. Behind the Bookcase
Who doesn’t love a good secret bar or speakeasy? ‘Behind the Bookcase’, as it’s been dubbed, is a super secret bar located inside BFI London. People often pop in to the British Film Institute to catch a movie, and some clever blokes decided to make a secret bar quite literally behind a bookcase. I’ve heard lots of stories of people trying to feel up the bookcase to see where the secret door opens from, which you may have some problems with too! It’s all in good fun though. Once you get in, you’ll be able to enjoy some seriously delicious cocktails on comfy oversize chairs. It’s officially called The Drawing Room.
6. Laduree and Harrods
Every great trip to London is complete with a trip to Laduree and Harrods (I am convinced of this). I like to mention this even though it can be considered ‘touristy’ because, well, it isn’t actually that touristy. Harrods is the mecca of all London shopping, and the English have to shop too, right? The amount of different languages you hear is insane. It is really fun to just walk around the 7 floors and 330 departments in awe of everything. After you shop, chill out with a cup of tea and some macarons from Laduree. There aren’t too many Ladurees in the states, so I always make it a point to go in London.
*Laduree is around the back end of Harrods off Hans road.
7. Go For a Curry
It’s not well known to foreigners, but London has some amazing curry. On the contrary, the English know this very well. London has a very large Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi community. I highly recommend stopping for some curry when you’re visiting London! It’s the perfect hot dish for those cold and dreary English nights. A few notable restaurants include Dishoom, which has an incredibly cute and modern interior. For something much fancier try Gymkhaha, which is a Michelin Star Indian restaurant.
8. Portobello Road Market
If you’re not in to all the fuss and high end fashion Harrods has to offer, you’ll definitely want to check out Portobello Road Market in the trendy area of Notting Hill. While this market can get a little full of tourists, it is the perfect place to find some gifts. There are tons of vendors selling antique items made directly in Britain. Think more antiques than your brain can handle! The streets are also lined with tons of food vendors.
Whether you’re planning your first trip to London (I can give you a hand with that too), or your third, these are some of my favorite things to do that people often miss. Hopefully you add these to your list on your next trip!
What’s your favorite thing to do in London? Or, what would you love to see in London that you haven’t seen yet?
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