London like a local 

Tripoto

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London, all that life can afford" -Samuel Johnson

Photo of London like a local  1/1 by Rucha

Type London in your search bar and Google comes up with countless trip suggestions and itineraries. From the London Bridge to Madame Tussauds, the elegant boutiques on Bond Street to bargain hunting at Camden, London has endless options to indulge every kind of tourist.

However, the best way to see London, I believe, is like a local. Give a miss to the fast forward guided tours, let yourself be swept away by the massive crowds at the tube, avoid the queues outside the London Eye, climb instead to the Royal Observatory and enjoy the stunning views of Canary Wharf, pig out at the Greenwich food markets and shop for bargains at Camden! By the time you are done with London, you will find that you are not quite done yet, because London is all this, and much more.

Here below my ideas for exploring London like a local.

- Walking Central London

Get off at Westminster Station, follow the directions and the first thing you see as you exit is Big Ben, imposing and massive, right in front of you.

 Walk along the pavement, admire the House of Commons and cross the road to enter the premises of The Westminster Abbey. The Architecture here is marvellous, however, should you desire, it is recommended to avoid the massive entry charge and relax instead in the gardens outside.

 Cross the road and take the Birdcage Walk (see map below) and walk through the very lovely St. James's Park to arrive at the Buckingham Place. Note that this is not a popular route with the tourists and is a more relaxed way to arrive in the palace premises.

Photo of Saint James Park, London, United Kingdom by Rucha

Exiting Buckingham palace, you arrive in the gorgeous Trafalgar Square, one of my most favourite places in London, to get a coffee and indulge in some people watching. 

Should the rains make you want to rush indoors, step into the massive National Gallery and admire Van Gogh's Sunflowers. Continue straight ahead from Trafalgar Square and you arrive at 10 Downing Street. The security here is massive, however you can get in few cheeky pictures :)

Photo of The National Gallery, London, United Kingdom by Rucha

- A Day out in Greenwich

Get off at Canary Wharf and change over to the DLR. Hop off at Cutty Sark, climb out the station and you will be transported to a completely new place away from the buzz and crowds that define city of London. Here at Greenwich, you see quaint tea rooms, proper pubs and the vibe of a little seaside resort. Ideal as a day trip from London, it is amazing how 15 minutes on the DLR can bring you to a whole new place. 

About a 20 minute walk from the Cutty Sark, is the Royal Observatory Greenwich. It has played a very important role in astronomy and navigation, however, it is best known as the home of the Prime Meridian, and the Greenwich Meridian Time, the GMT. An absolute must do here is standing on the Prime Meridian, because this is where you actually get to be in 2 different places at the same time! The observatory itself in situated on a hill which overlooks the Thames and has stunning views of the Canary Wharf, all for free.

Photo of Cutty Sark, United Kingdom by Rucha

As you make your way back to the station, stop over at the Greenwich food markets. A melting pot of cuisines, sample a fiery samosa, and a scrumptious pork bun, and top it all with a nutella crepe and pancakes. What else can a foodie ask for?

Photo of London like a local by Rucha

- London for the Bookworm

If you are the sorts who goes absolute bonkers at the mention of the word Books, then London, my dear, will never disappoint you! A must visit is Charing Cross for the bookshops outside the station. My favourite one here is Any Amount of Books (http://www.anyamountofbooks.com/). This entire street though is full of second hand bookshops and if you love to hunt for rare treasures, this is the place for you. Climb back on the tube and get off at Baker Street. This street needs no introduction. Made famous as the home of Sherlock Holmes, there is an actual house which has been converted into a museum here at 221B Baker Street, however, the queues to get in are massive. I would recommend sneaking into the bookshop instead to pick up souvenirs.

Photo of London like a local by Rucha

The Baker Street tube station has walls painted with excerpts from the Sherlock Holmes novels and is, in itself, a place well worth a visit. Take the tube now to King's Cross. This is again a place which needs no introduction. The crowds at Platform 9 3/4 are massive and you will find queues waiting to get a photo with the trolley half mashed into the wall. Instead, walk into the Harry Potter store, and marvel at the Firebolt and the Elder Wand, indulge your inner nerd and splurge on Gryffindor jumpers. Then take the escalators to the food court upstairs, grab a bite and look over the magical place where The Boy who Lived, once took the train to Hogwarts.

Photo of Kings Cross, London, United Kingdom by Rucha

- Travel Essentials

○ Download the mobile app for the London Tube Map (made available by Transport for London). Available on Google Play, it is the best tool you have to travelling around in London, because it shows real time updates of line closures, diversions and timings

○ Stay in Zone 2 or Zone 3 if you are on a budget, Zone 1 hotels can burn a hole in your pocket. Always prefer a hotel with good transport connections and then you will be a maximum of 30 minutes away from central London

○ If you are keen on doing the touristy things like the London Eye, Tower of London etc., then the London Pass can work out to be a great option. Queues, however, are massive, especially in summer and the Christmas period and it is best to plan your visit well in advance

○ There is an unwritten rule on the escalators in the tube stations. Keep to your right if you don’t intend to run down the escalator. The left is used by Londoners usually running to catch their connecting tube

○ London can be visited almost anytime around the year. The peak seasons however are the summer months from June to August and the Christmas holidays.

Photo of London like a local by Rucha
Be the first one to comment