London is one of the most exciting cities in the world. This is where culture flourishes in museums, galleries and theatres, where black cabs and red double-decker buses sit in gridlock and where Bridget Jones made her legendary blue string soup. It’s a city that has been written about through the ages and which consistently exceeds expectations.
But, while you might be drawn to the tourist spots and photo ops, there’s a good argument for avoiding these places entirely. Yes, the Tower of London has historic merit and Buckingham Palace deserves a mention too, but to really experience London, you have to live like a Londoner.
So, you’ve got a day – what should you do?
Check Out the Food
If you come to London and wonder where to eat in Waterloo, you are probably already onto a good thing. But don’t forget just how many districts there are in London and that each has its own flavour and style.
Notting Hill is ideal for international flavours and spice, Camden Town is probably the best place in the world for fish and chips and Spitalfields is practically overflowing with food trucks. Indeed, there are so many different areas offering so many different foods and styles, you could easily spend a month just going from meal to meal.
Explore the Markets
London markets are some of the best in the world and there are all kinds of crafts and foods on offer as well as fashion, antiques and everything in between. Though tourists definitely support the markets, many Londoners make the most of what’s on offer and, despite the lure of the supermarket, many do their shopping here.
Brixton Village and Market Row represent one of the most culturally diverse areas of London and the stalls certainly show it, with a wide range of things on offer. Brick Lane is another must-see and is popular with Londoners for its unpredictability. The market changes with every opening and offers everything from household wares to bargain veggies.
Visiting the markets does require a bit of research. They aren’t on every day of the week and their closing times may vary. However, time your visit right and who knows what you might discover?
Live the Lifestyle
London is not like the rest of the UK, or indeed, England. People here have their own code and if you want to fit in, you’ll have to learn fast! A Londoner always stands on the right, walks on the left and won’t make eye contact, let alone conversation, on public transport. The only exception is to comment on the weather!
Since contactless arrived, cash is a thing of the past in this city along with tube and bus tickets so don’t be weird – tap and go. However, what you really need to know is that no self-respecting Londoner would take transport where walking is possible.
One last thing: Londoners live in tiny houses and apartments so they make the most of what’s on their doorstep. The British pub is at its finest in London but parks and all other free activities are fully embraced here too.