It’s been a year since I’ve moved back from London this week. After 4 years long stay between uni and work. London is my home away from home. I’m always living between two time zones – IST (Indian Standard Time) and GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Hence, I thought why not commemorate this week by writing about my favourite places in London, UK which haven’t changed over decade and more. The 10-year challenge inspired me to create this listicle of places that you must visit whilst your stay in London (for free) –
#1. Hyde Park
It is one of the most beautiful parks in London with incredible landscaping. Brits are known for their green thumb. It such a treat to walk, run or simply lie down on the grass and stare into the endless sky. The perfect family-outing spot. People minding their own business, enjoying picnics, reading a book or just having a fun playing firzz-bee and kids running behind ducks near the lake. It is one of the best places to just go and relax in utter greenery surrounded by calming waters. You can even go boating if you like or admire lots of art installations across the park.
In winter, Hyde Park becomes Winter Wonder Land – the enchanting fair during Christmas celebrations that is a must visit on everyone’s list.
#2. Regents Park
Again a beautiful park with fountains, greenery all around, a zoo even and a lake. It is absolutely amazing with indoor/outdoor activity spots and perfect for boating through the canals as well. If I’m not mistaken, there is an open theater as well at Regents Park to catch up with some good old-school movies.
#3. Kensington Garden
Kensington Palace Garden is a sight to watch with exotic flowers, orchards, fountains, lake and the fabulous Kensington Palace. Again the perfect place to unwind and just have a good time. Many a times you’ll come across recliner chairs on hire for £2-5 per hour to just sit next to the lake and relax.
#4. Primrose Hill
Primrose hill top is by far one of the most special places to me because I use to spend a lot of time with my friends just relaxing on the grass and looking the whole of London with a panoramic view. You’ll find some amazing cafes on your way to the top. Definitely give a try to avocado on toast and some acai/smoothie bowls. You’ll fall in love.
#5. Kyoto Garden – Holland Park
This is the most picturesque and stunning Japanese garden that I’ve ever been to in my entire life. This is a small garden located within Holland Park. The garden is full of colorful plants, shrubs and water features, created by an eminent Japanese designer. There are peacocks roaming free and many other beautiful creatures. It is such a treat really. It is such a pleasant surprise to find a getaway like this within the city central of London.
#6. Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is the central place for going partying or just simply heading to China Town after a long day of shopping and long walks in London. Massive screens at Piccadilly Circus are the exact replica of New York Times Square. You can go shopping there or walk towards Leister Square and head to Hippodrome/Empire Casino to have some fun!
#7. Trafalgar Square
Walking distance from Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square hosts the National Gallery and the signature fountain with two lions on the front. That we’ve seen endless amount of times in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Many celebrations take place at Trafalgar Square as it is in the heart of London. Two of the biggest celebrations are for St. Patrick’s Day and Diwali. It is a cool place to just hang out or even head towards Charing Cross for some more shopping and pubs to grab a beer. There is an amazing gay club called “Heaven”. Check it out if you can, awesome crowd, great music and huge space.
#8. Buckingham Palace
I don’t know what more can I say than the name itself. The personal residence of Queen Elizabeth II – Buckingham Palace must already be in your checklist. But what you may not know is that every morning at 11 am the Queen’s guard parade outside Buckingham Palace. It is so fascinating to watch! A definite must watch.
#9. Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace always reminds me of the late Princess Diana and it is also the current residence of Prince Harryand Duchess Meghan Markle(I have covered their entire wedding… Ah! Such a fairytale it was). The Kensington Palace garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in which Princess Diana herself had the gardening. It is a must visit sight during spring and summer. Also, the Kensington Palace café is lovely! You must indulge in a cup of English tea and some scones with cream and jam (I love orange marmalade though).
#10. Westminster Abbey
It is a Royal Church of England and the destination of many royal weddings. The gothic architecture is a must see. Perhaps even attend that evening service, if time permits.
#11. British Museum
London is a host to a lot of museums preserving cultures from all around the world. British Museum is absolutely stunning with all its archeological collections and themes across the museum. Going to British Museum is as good as doing cardio on the go! Its huge. Each section is allotted to a country or a theme that they may choose to showcase. My favorite so far is definitely the Egyptian history, with the pharaohs and mummies etc. The Victorian Era is no less. There is so much to see, I cant possibly put in one page let alone a paragraph. Btw, they have a fabulous café in the museum and Patisserie Valarie is also there for the perfect afternoon tea.P.S. It is also the place where Hrithik Roshan shot the signature step for You Are My Soniya– a famous song with Kareena Kapoor Khan in K3G (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham).
#12. Tower Of London
I can’t miss out on this one. You have to pay to visit inside the Tower Of London, which holds our beloved “Kohinoor” the biggest diamond the world has ever seen. But, you can always go around it and see the beautiful garden they’ve made using poppy flowers as homage to the people who’ve served in wars.
The Tower of London Bridge also opens around 6-7pm for ships to transit to a harbor. It is also a sight to watch. Not to mention the bridge itself is so beautiful. An instagram worthy location for sure!
#13. Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street
and Marble Arch.
These four streets are interconnected and there is not a soul in this world who has visited London and hasn’t gone to any of these streets. They are the shopping hub of London (apart from Harrodsof course). You’ll find every thing in these streets. Everything you want. High-end brands to high street shops and even souvenir shops! You have it all. There are so many people hustling and bustling in all these streets that it never fails to amuse you! Not to mention my favorite store – Selfridgesis at Bond Street. They displays are unmatched and so is the story behind Selfridges (which I will be talking about in a later post. So fascinating!)
But Yes, Oxford Street is Central London. Zone 1. My University Location & Absolute Fabulousness!
Just get some hot chocolate from Neró or a macaroon frappuccino from Paul’s and a baguette. You are good to go and just do window-shopping or observe life on these busy streets! You never know you might spot a famous celebrity.
#14. Kings Cross
My home once upon a time, Kings Cross is one of the coolest places in London. The canal running around kings cross with floating libraries and open lounging area makes it a hot spot for all youngsters and kids to come an hang out. The fountain work at Kings cross, movie theaters and headquarters to Google, YouTube and many more brands keeps it buzzing. Some fabulous restaurants and bars out there too. You should try some London brewed ale or just drop by Dishoomto have some okra fries and masala chai… You will be sorted then. Lot of markets and stores have opened up too for shopping and unwinding.P.S. This is where the magical – Harry Potter Platform 9 ¾ is present to transport you to Hogwarts in no time! There is also a souvenir shop and a photo booth for the #potterhead out there .
#15. Notting Hill Market
Notting Hill Market is the most amazing vintage market you’ll come across in London. Also, the area is so beautiful and colourful to just walk by. An absolute treat! Friday market is the most popular thus far. Preplan and go. Buy yourself some trinkets or something special that’ll remind you of London. Lot of street food stalls representing different cultures. Flowers, fresh fruits, bakery and what not! There is everything there for a fun day out. I always buy myself a neutella crep freshly made and also few cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery. Its perfect and fun!
#16. Camden High Street
This is where people go to jam with friends, grab a beer and watch a movie at Odeon or just hang out outside having some Mexican food. Lots of places to shop, but lots of places to eat too. You’ll get to see a lot of punck rock vibe here and fun pubs. The London canal runs through Camden as well and there are many fun spots to hang out there. This is where you get to enjoy your fish and chips too!
#17. Shoreditch High Street
If you want to see the coolest indie bands or indie brands. Some great food and rooftop bars… Shoreditch is the place to be. My favourite cosmetics brand – the Ordinary also has their store there so I love it even more. If you are looking for amazing food you must check out Shoreditch and also visit the London Cocktail Club at Shoreditch. I swear to you, one of the most crazy and amazing tasting cocktails I’ve had in my life. Really. Their creativity is mind-blowing.
*Borough Market & Convent Garden as also a must visit for an overall fun experience!
That’s it. I hope you’ll have discovered something new and are now, even more excited to visit London soon!
*Images used for representative purpose, contact for credits.*