Traveling to London has become how I enjoy the quality “me” time every weekend. The more I explore London, the more I realize the charming capital of England is full of hidden gems, and wish London were not known for only Big Ben, London Eye, Tower Bridge or Oxford Street… the must-visits on every traditional tourist itinerary.
Do you know London has so much more to offer? Have you ever wondered: “Where in London can I go to enjoy the peace without thousands of tourists around me?” Would you like to visit places that can’t get any more British in London? If you’ve been nodding your heads at all those 3 questions, the next time you go to London, you must:
- Go on a boat cruise or walk along Little Venice
London’s Little Venice, located to the West of the city, is part of the Regent’s Canal, where it meets Grand Union. Little Venice is famous for its peaceful, romantic atmosphere with many restaurants and pubs nearby.
Walking along the riverside of Little Venice, you’ll be able to admire the charming view to Regent’s Canal. The journey starts from Little Venice itself and ends at Docklands, which allows you to get off at ZSL London Zoo and Camden Lock Market – a very popular destination for the youth, which has many vintage clothing stores, street food booths and cafés with fun concepts…
Another option is to go on a cruise. This saves you time and is more flexible for those who have plans to visit the zoo or Camden Lock. At the point of departure, Little Venice, there are 3 boat cruises: London Waterbus, Jason’s Trip and Jenny Wren Canal Cruises, on which you’ll travel from Little Venice to Camden Lock in 45 minutes.
- Visit Shoreditch – “the land of graffiti and vintage shops”
If you love graffiti, don’t miss out on Shoreditch. Shoreditch’s streets with creative graffiti walls are very “artsy”. One of the most notable graffiti masterpieces is the “Graffiti Area” by the worldwide graffiti artist Banksy, on Rivington Street.
You can’t leave Shoreditch without having been to Brick Lane, probably the coolest street in this area. Brick Lane is an ideal choice if you’d like to experience the street culture of East Londoners, where street art lovers can admire the many walls full of graffiti on the main street, or in the small lanes and alleys along the way.
- Wandering around Notting Hill
Leaving Shoreditch for Notting Hill, you can clearly see the contrast between East and West London. While Shoreditch represents the urban style, Notting Hill is quintessential of wealth, luxury and “poshness” of the British upper classes.
One of the most famous tourist attractions in Notting Hill is Portobello market on the road with the same name. Open from early Friday mornings until late Saturday afternoons, Portobello market often gets packed with tourists. If you’re on the same page as me, and feel daunted at having to crowd without other thousands of people on the streets, one useful tip for you is to make your way to other streets along Portobello Road, you’ll find these streets a lot more breathable. Elgin Crescent, Lancaster Road, Westbourne Grove… are my “little corners of peace”, with their quiet and elegance that truly belong to West London.
In order to enjoy such corners of peace in the best way possible, you should be generous about time and give yourself a whole afternoon. The more you wander, the more gorgeous mansions of the late-Victorian architecture from the 19th century there are, and you’ll be surrounded by a very peaceful atmosphere.
- Admire the sunset from Primrose Hill
Where in London can we have the best sunset view? For me, it’s Primrose Hill. If you’re planning a one-day trip in London on a summer day (from April to August), Primrose Hill should be one of your last spots of the day. During this time, in most parts of Europe, days are longer than nights, and the sun often goes down at 8-9:00pm, sometimes even later. It’s best to spend the whole day wandering around London, then when the sky starts to get darker, get to the top of Primrose Hill, and you’ll be able to see London under the sunset, when the sky creates a shade of gorgeous pastel pink.
- Take pictures at the little mews
For anyone tired of having people in their shots all the time while taking pictures, the mews are for you! London is full of quaint lanes and alleys, with a block of cute little houses on each side. I call these places forgotten mews, because of the quiet feels they give. These forgotten mews are also very photogenic, always looking picture-perfect from no matter what angle.
- Ice-skate at the Natural History Museum in winter
If you travel to London in winter season, don’t forget to visit the ice rink at the Natural History Museum, open from October to January every year. This is probably the dopest ice rink in London, with an incredible view to the stunning Hintze Hall and a giant Christmas tree with beautiful decorations in the middle of the rink. Go with your loved ones to truly feel the festive atmosphere of the most wonderful time of the year.
- Get on a random bus and stay there till the end of the line
There are times that I just want to be chilled and “go with the flow” in London. It’s when I often get on a random double-decker, stay on the second storey and admire the scenery along the way until the bus gets to the last stop of the route, and explore that area. If your wanderlust is accompanied with a passion for photography like me, London full of surprises will amaze you with what you can find on such random trips.
The experience of going on the 211 bus is definitely one of the most unforgettable memories for me in London, because it brought me to explore the many pretty streets of Chelsea.
Don’t miss out on the best kept secrets in London, the city of wonders!
Text and photography by Juliey Pham unless stated otherwise
Visit https://www.instagram.com/julieythe1st/ for more travel photos.