Planning a trip to London? Gaël, fresh off the Montreal-bound boat after 6 years in London, shares a few tips on having fun doing non-touristy things London.
1- Have a non-touristy barbecue in London Fields
On your way through , grab a , a few packs of Cumberlands, a bottle of PIMMs, mixer, cold beers and head up to for some fun in the sun. You’re unlikely to find tourists there. You’ll feel like a local I guarantee it. Once you run out of drinks, head over to the iconic on for a few more. And if it gets really warm, you can take a dip in the . This is our #1 non-mainstream thing to do in London by far!
2- Take a non-touristy dip in one of Hampsted Heath’s ponds
Want to demo your mad belly flop skills? Then jump into your budgie smugglers and head to for a float around one of the Heath’s ponds. There are male and female ponds and . Before you leave home, do grab your picnic blanket, some nibbles and, most importantly, some all important drinks because all that floating will definitely work up a thirst. Pretty cool alternative to the touristy Big Ben, isn’t it?
3- Stroll through non-mainstream Goldborne Road Market
Just north of the famous market is the more local and multicultural . Go to for a coffee and one of their famous pastel de nata – watch out they sell out fast! You’ll understand why the locals don’t want this become a touristy place – grab a bite at the cute or feast on a fish and chips at the famous . Then head over to the iconic , or rummage around the vintage clothes and furniture at , and or for vintage dresses (call ahead for an appointment). If your tastes are somewhat more contemporary pop into for some designer accessories then head over to for good quality comfort food with a great vibe – but watch out for the lineup! This one may be a little more touristy.
4- Ponce it up at the touristic alternative Westbourne in Notting Hill
After Goldborne Road Market, time for a glass… no, a jug! of . From Goldborn Road, either walk along to or walk along Westbourne Park Road. Either way, you can’t miss , which, if it’s a sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon, will be packed with locals. If you can, grab a table on the terrace. Be warned: ordering can be slightly tedious, but what the Westbourne lacks in service it makes up for in atmosphere. If it gets a bit busy and touristy at the Westbourne, you can also cross the street to , an Irish pub and oyster bar. Once you start getting hungry, head back down the street to for (a last cocktail on the first floor! and) a wood oven pizza.
5- Rent a barge and float along Regent’s Canal – Something most tourists won’t even dare
Get a group of friends together and rent a barge for an afternoon and meander down . You might start North of and make your way to the North of , by , and float along towards . Hop off at Camden to stroll around the and grab a bite before heading for the night to for a good boogie woog. For barge rentals check out and . You’ll leave the tourists wondering where you got this non-mainstream touristic idea.
6- Have brunch at the Columbia Road flower market
Head to early to beat the crowds – the flower market opens at 8AM – and nab a table at the for a hearty Sunday Roast. Once you’re feeling nice and full, plough your way through the flower market, and buy a plant you’ve never heard of. After all, as the traders will remind you, shouting at the top of their lungs, it’s “anythin’ for a fiver!”. Don’t forget to take a peak behind the stalls and check out the cool little boutiques like , , and .
7- Day trip 2: Go for a day trip along the Jurassic Coast
Hop on the bus, train or rent a car and head down to for a walk along the Jurassic Coast. There are also a ton of outdoor sports to chose from, from to , and What an alternative to the boring touristy things you could have been doing in London! If you want to cover more ground you can hop on and off the . After all that sport, make sure you stop for a slice of pie at before heading back.
8- Day trip 1: Walk along the white cliffs of Dover
Get up early on Saturday morning, grab a bus or train from or rent a and head South to the . From Dover Priory, make your way 2.5 miles to the . From there, chose from a number of walks along the coastline. You can also take a boat trip and view the cliffs from the Channel. Get in touch with for more information. If you’ve rented a car, on your way back to London loop West and head to . If you haven’t walked enough climb up the stairs of the from where you’ll have a great view of the coast and then head to for a pint of ale.
9- Go to a music festival… any festival!
London offers a seemingly endless number of festivals – way too many for us to list (check out for good reviews), but here are a handful to get you started. For top names head to for the . If you’re more into the indie scene, check out , which takes place in beautiful . Victoria park is also host to the always excellent festival, which attracts top names in hip hop, electronic and indie. For top DJ acts of the likes of Avicii, Deadmau5, Calvin Harris, Armin Van Buuren, Tiësto and Hardwell, check out which takes place in Clapham Common during the afternoon and early evening. Slightly farther afield are , which takes place on an old airfield at Long Marston and . Both are multi-day festivals. Finally, if you’re looking for a bit of indie camping fun, check out the , in Suffolk as well as
10- Obligatory: go to the pub(s)
Skip the museums and shops and head to one (at the very least!) of London’s iconic pubs. If you’re in central London, head to the , London’s only pub that is either side of a street. While you’re there, walk down and head down into , one of London’s oldest bars, for some wine and cheese – try and get a table in the cellar. If you’re in , take a walk up and down before heading into the , one of London’s first gastropubs, which serves excellent grub. Moving west into or drop by the , and if you’re by , definitely visit a venerable London landmark. Finally, if planning and making decisions is a bit too much, fear not, the is here for you: get up early and round your friends up for 27 stations, 27 pubs, 28 drinks in a 12 hour sprint. . You’re off! And enjoy your not-so-mainstream and non-so-touristy activities in London. Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments!
Visit Busbud to learn more about National Express