I’ve been travelling to London since I was a young girl and since I have family there I have spent quite a bit of time in the UK. London is a gorgeous city rich in history, art, cuisine and fashion. Although I’ve been several times, I think my last visit during the summer of 2011 was the most memorable. My visit coincided with the 2011 summer Olympics and the city was singing a very vibrant tune. I’m not sure if it was the excitement of the Olympics or if too much time had passed since I had last visited, but I was enamored with London in a very different way. It was as if I was seeing a long lost friend for the first time after years and all those forgotten feelings came rushing back in like a roaring river. Perhaps since I was there for six weeks I was able to appreciate playing both roles of a tourist and a local. Even though I have been to London multiple times, I still found myself doing brand new things. I think a great way to get to know a city and its people is through exploring the different neighborhoods the city is made up of and losing yourself there for the day.
Below are some of my favorite things to do in some of London’s popular neighborhoods.
Neighborhood to the late Amy Winehouse and home to the famous Camden Markets, Camden Town is a must see neighborhood to explore. The scene is hipster /alternative and bustling with a diverse young crowd. Camden Town’s markets are filled with vintage shops, record stores, art vendors, food stands and much more. It’s a great place to buy some vintage steals and Banksy prints as well as little keep sakes and unique souvenirs to take back home. After strolling through the very large labyrinth of markets grab a seat at one the restaurants right on the Regent Canal and catch some sun (with luck) and people watch.
Getting to Camden Market: http://www.camden-market.org/visiting/18-getting-to-camden-market
Central London and Southwark
You can spend a whole day in Central London doing all of the must see’s for any first time visitor such as the Big Ben, London Eye and Westminster Abbey. If you’re feeling up for it throw in the National Gallery. Once you’ve built up an appetite in Central London make your way to Southwark by way of the London Bridge and into any foodie’s paradise, Boroughs Market! This market is dedicated to one thing and one thing only, good, fresh local and international cuisine. You can get anything from fresh fish and shucked oysters, pick up some spices and preserves or just graze your way through the entire market stopping at a few spots so you can get a little nibble of everything. It’s easy to spend a few hours here and lose yourself to food and drink. It’s a great spot to end the night or to get your night started!
To get a taste of London Royalty, check out the neighborhood of Kensington and spend the day at the Kensington Palace, home to the late Princess Diana. Explore the palace rooms that are open to the public and walk upon history. Following you palace visit take a stroll in the adjoining Kensington Gardens and prior to your visit pick up some munchies from a local deli and set up a nice picnic by the round pond or make your way to Hyde Park just on the other side.
Oxford Street is a bustling shop lined street that is one of Europe’s most frequented shopping destination. Oxford Street is a shopper’s delight! It offers a little something for ever type of style. Check out TopShop and Bershka, two of my favorites. If you’re into designer brands and high fashion boutiques, continue on your way to Bond Street, where you can window shop at the collections of Dolce and Gabanna, Tiffany and Co. and Louis Vuitton, amongst others. Once you’re full on shopping, take a stroll through the Soho district and check out some boutique shops and great options to eat!
Oxford Street: http://oxfordstreet.co.uk/
London is a wonderful city that offers a little something for everyone. If you make your way over the pond and end up in the city that is home to Prince William and Harry, definitely check out some of the options listed above, but also create your own itinerary and be sure to explore places off the beaten path! Till next time London!