This page is a collection of my ever growing list of favorite museums, shops, parks, restaurants, and more in and around London! Ther are separate pages for museums, restaurants, outdoor activities, shopping, and nightlife but here’s my Top 5 of London! These are my favorite things to do in London, but no matter what you do, I guarantee it will be a great experience. London is a wonderful city, full of history and culture. Live it, LOVE it. London is the greatest city in the world.
1. Visit “Free London”.
I learned very quickly that London is well known for being a pretty pricey city; in fact, it is the 15th most expensive city in the world! Especially with the poor exchange rate between USD and GBP right now, it makes it even more expensive for Americans, and it took me a while to get used to the exchange rate and remember that I’m taking out more money than I think I am. But the good thing about London is that there is a lot to do for free! From the Victoria and Albert Museum that houses art and design treasures, to the Hunterian Museum with preserved organs and historical surgical devices, it’s impossible to not find a museum to get lost in for at least a few hours. My personal favorites are the Imperial War Museum, The British Museum, and the British Library (technically the British Library is an archive, but just for this post I’ll count it as a museum). Beyond museums, I’ve enjoyed visiting the parks in London. London is home to over 3,000 beautiful parks! Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are like my second home, and I’ve really enjoyed being close enough to go take a walk on a Sunday afternoon or run and clear my head when I just can’t do any more homework.
2. Soak up some culture at the theatre.
One of my favorite things about London is its penchant for theatre and the performing arts. I’ve never lived in a city that’s so into music and musicals! This semester, I’ve seen so many plays and musicals it’s amazing. I’ve seen Ghost The Musical, She Stoops to Conquer, Singin’ in the Rain, Wicked, and Jersey Boys. They were all fabulous. It’s really interesting to see the British interpretations of American musicals, especially with their accents! Of all the shows I saw this semester, I think the best was Singin’ in the Rain. I hope it comes to the States soon so you can all experience the magic! I also get treated to musical performances wherever I go thanks to all the street performers in London. There are always people singing or playing their musical instruments, and I love the atmosphere it creates. I’ll definitely miss that once I go home.
3. Shop at world famous markets.
Shopping at Brick Lane, Petticoat Lane, Columbia Road, Portobello Road, Covent Garden, etc is one of my favorite things to do since I’ve lived in London. There are different markets for everything, so there are markets totally devoted to clothes, flowers, or food. Each one is unique and has a different feel to it. A lot of them have been featured in movies, like Notting Hill and My Fair Lady. You can always find things for pretty reasonable prices, and even though I don’t always buy things, it’s really fun to just walk around and look! My favorite market is Borough Market, because the food is so delicious. I’ve met lots of really nice locals at the markets and tried all kinds of different food and drinks.There’s nothing better than a pasty and some fresh squeezed cranberry and apple juice on a sunny Thursday afternoon. It’s a really relaxing experience that I’ve never really gotten before since the States aren’t really big on markets. Walking around the markets on the weekends is definitely something I will miss a lot when I go home!
4. Redefine history.
I’m obsessed with the history of England. I’ve known all about the history of the country, especially its royal history, for as long as I can remember. But I’ve learned that knowing the history and being totally consumed by the history all around you are two totally different things. This semester, I have been to castles that have survived for thousands of years, worshiped in 900 year old churches, toured the Parliament building, visited every Historic Royal Palace site, seen the birthplace of Queen Elizabeth I, spent the day in Shakespeare’s home, and visited some of the most important battlegrounds of WWI. In the States, we aren’t fortunate enough to have buildings 900 years old, because compared to Great Britain, we’re a baby country. Being so surrounded by history all the time is kind of overwhelmingly amazing. My favorite place was of course Kensington Palace, because it was the childhood home of my favorite monarch, Queen Victoria. I’m just slightly obsessed with her, so that was an exciting day for me. Living in London around all the old and new buildings and visiting all the parts of the British Isles has definitely redefined my idea of history.
5. Fall in love with the Tube (and the bus).
I must admit, I was a bit skeptical of the whole TfL system before arriving in London. It seemed very confusing and stressful. Obviously, the Tube doesn’t always works like it should, and it can be stressful when you’re jammed against a stranger, or your Oyster card gets stolen, but it’s the best and most efficient way to travel around and see London. I’ve learned to love my 40 minute commute to school every day, and I use it as a time to catch up on last minute readings, listen to my favorite playlist, or even just as a time to increase my coherence level so I’m fully alert and prepared for class by the time I get there. There’s always some interesting character on the carriages or in the stations, so there’s never a lack of entertainment while commuting. I’ve seen everything from apocalyptic preachers to rappers and reggae bands. I think I’m going to miss the convenience of the Tube more than most things, just because it’s so easy!