Hello everyone, I hope February is treating you well? Whilst I’m recovering from the sugar overload that is pancake day and Valentines, I also wanted to write up a post all my city – ol’ London town. I’ve been asked a lot recently by both friends and family for recommendations of what to do when visiting London that aren’t always the most obvious options, so I thought I’d share my recommendations on here.
So, first a disclaimer – I’m lucky enough to live in London, and even more to live pretty central in Islington – just a short hop away from the centre, but also in a little secluded area that allows quiet and a bit of peace. I’m not from here originally so I’m not claiming to be an expert on what to do here, but below is my recommendation of what to do and where to take your pals when they come to visit.
I love having my friends and family over to visit, but when they do I’m always trying to find better things to show them that isn’t ridiculously expensive, or guaranteed to be flowing with other tourists. So I’ve listed below my favourite places to go in London that I find to be great for seeing another side to the city without fighting off other tourists!
- A Trip to Richmond & a Walk around Richmond Park
Richmond is a gorgeous part of London and a great place to spend the day – hop on the Overground for only £1.60 and take a walk through the town, do a little shopping, walk down the river and to Richmond Park, spot some wildlife and finish off with a pub lunch and a drink.
It really is a lovely place, with great shops, cafes and restaurants and is also home to a huge park which is perfect for walks – no matter what the weather – and it also happens to great for wildlife spotting – especially Deer.
Where To Eat: Jackson & Rye for their extensive brunch menu and gorgeous cocktails and interiors.
2. The Sky Garden
This is a place I’d recommend if you’re planning in advance, such as special occasions or just a way to see a different side to the city – and it’s free. You have to prebook your tickets three weeks in advance, but you don’t have to pay to go – you just have to reserve the spaces with your names. When you’re up there you can find a bar and a restaurant (which you need to book for) also, but it’s perfect for not having to spend a penny.
The view when you’re up there is brilliant, and it’s one I’d like to revisit again – even at night to get a different view. It’s a cheaper option than the Viewing Floor at The Shard, and I would argue a better view – as you get to see along the Thames (Shard included) with a 360 panoramic view.
3. Columbia Road Flower Market
The flower market is perfect for a stroll on a Sunday morning, and is also free (unless you’re inclined to buy yourself a bunch). It’s a great area with a chilled, cool atmosphere – and is surrounded by cool little shops and pubs if you fancy stopping for brunch or a beverage.
I love bringing my friends here as its a lovely area of London, and even if you’re just window shopping, it’s great to look at all the flowers and stop for a coffee or maybe something stronger! It is very busy though, so be prepared to elbow a few people out the way, but if you’re in no rush you’ll be absolutely fine.
Where to Eat: Clutch Chicken for their long list of variations on fried chicken, and an outside eating area for Sunnier weather, and an insta-perfect wall to boot. They also do Sunday Roasts which is a perfect way to finish off a stroll through the market.
4. Sushi Samba/The Duck and Waffle
As with my conclusion of 2017 that is, if you’re going to get a good view, might as well do it with a drink in your hand. Whereas you usually have to book for food at The Duck and Waffle or Sushi Samba, the latter has a bar you can usually just arrive at without a booking.
It’s very pricey for cocktails and a few bar snacks, but if you’re looking for somewhere to impress your guests then it’s the perfect spot to try and exotic cocktail and get a great view in the process.
If you do book far in advance I’d recommend the Duck and Waffle, I’m lucky enough to have been before and would definitely recommend the signature dish – the duck, waffle and fried egg. It’s pricey definitely, but if you want to treat yourself or if it’s a special occasion then go for it – just make sure you book way in advance!
Okay, so this isn’t necessarily an unknown tourist-empty party of London, but it’s a favourite of mine. When I was younger and I would come to London for the day with my family, we would travel by train to London Bridge and walk from Borough Market (busy, but worth it) and then stroll up the Southbank.
It’s dotted with cafes, shops and street performers and you’re right next to the Thames – with a good view of the Skyline including St Paul’s. You can stop by the Tate Modern or pop into the BFI – both completely free – and then if you’re ready to brace the crowds you can then walk on up to Covent Garden for a drink and street performance – try and wrestle a space on the Punch and Judy balcony if you can for the peak viewing point.
Where to Eat/Drink: The Understudy. I love this bar and have taken friends/family/friends of friends here multiple times and never been disappointed. It has a great cost interior and long benches outside with blankets for the winter. Nothing better than meeting a pal here, sharing a bottle of wine and watching the sun set over the Thames.
6. A Walk Along Regents Canal
This is best suited for great weather, so maybe reserve these plans for British summer time, as you might not get the same results if you try it in winter. But personally – as I live near the canal – there’s nothing I love better on a weekend than taking a wall down to Victoria park, having a nice stroll and then stopping off at Broadway market for a drink and some tapas whilst strolling through the market stalls.
London Fields Lido is also there, and on a Sunday the local cricket team often have a practice, so sometimes it’s nice to sit by with a coffee and watch in the sun. Like I said – enjoyment factor is 100% better in good weather, so please bear that in mind. I’ve recommended this to several friends who live all over London, and it’s always been a hit with them and their visiting friends/family, as there are numerous pubs and restaurants lining the canal that you can dip into if you fancy, and if you’re more on a budget there’s no harm in picking up some snacks and drinks and having a little sunbathe in one of the parks.
Where to eat: Txotx, Broadway market – This place is a great place to stop whether you’re just fancying a drink or something to eat. Their tapas menu is gorgeous, and they make a mean aperol spritz as well, I think it’s a great place to visit on a perfect Summer day.
And so there we have it! My guide for where to take your friends/family/yourself if you’re ever in London and want to see an alternative side to the tourist-heavy areas. If I’ve missed something or if you have any recommendations for anywhere to go or do, let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading x