Visiting London like a local isn’t hard. It may be a bustling city—after all, more than 37 million people visited the British capital last year alone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out your own space: one in the heart of the local culture.
You’ve likely been on a Ferris wheel before so the London Eye won’t offer you a new experience. What are you going to do at Buckingham Palace? Have a cup of tea and hope to spot the Queen?
Blow past the obvious next time and experience London like a local instead. Whether you seek an adventurous trip to London or want to unwind and relax, this city will hit the spot. You’ll earn the title ‘traveler’—not ‘tourist’—while also enjoying the city as if you’re a part of it.
1. Head for the Markets
The Borough Market is an obvious choice for many tourists. But if you’re trying to visit London like a local, you’ll want to hit up some less crowded spots. For antiques and other vintages items, head to the Brick Lane Market or the Portobello Road Market. When seeking arts & crafts for gifts or décor, London locals typically stop by the Greenwich Market. Add some color to your day at the Columbia Road Flower Market. It’s the best spot to grab some décor for your apartment rental.
2. Rent an Apartment in London Like a Local
Nothing will make you feel less at home than a luxury hotel chain. Skip the overpriced opulence and trade it for a more realistic experience. While some home-sharing websites might seem like the obvious choice, you have options when it comes to apartment hunting. Services like London Connection are specific to the city of London, and give you the freedom to enjoy a home-away-from-home!
They own dozens of apartments across the city and the rental process is much like that of a hotel, but targeted for people who want to rent for seven days or longer.
You won’t feel rushed to cram every tourist activity into a tight schedule. Relax, live like a real Londoner, and get to know what it’s like to live in London day-to-day.
3. Visit Museums at Night
For a unique cultural and social experience, join the locals and flock to museums at night. Special events called lates give guests the chance to mingle and chat while enjoying tapas and a glass of wine or a cocktail.While the stunning settings and great company are partial reasons to go, the artwork is another in and of itself. Many of London’s museums are free by day, but experience London like a local as you venture out at night instead and avoid the tourist crowd.
While the stunning settings and great company are partial reasons to go, the artwork is another in and of itself. Many of London’s museums are free by day, but experience London like a local as you venture out at night instead and avoid the tourist crowd.
4. Enjoy Sunday Roasts
Whereas the U.S. is all about “Sunday Funday,” Britain has a little something different to offer. Their version of the Lazy Sunday involves a whole lot of food.
Known as Sunday roasts, London gastropubs regularly prepare roast beef, pork belly or chicken, complete with an array of vegetables, gravy, and bread. You’ll feel as if it’s Thanksgiving—but it’s a weekly occurrence!
While street food and groovy, innovative cuisines have their place in the city, embrace London like a local and opt for this filling meal with friends.
5. Hit the Parks for Some Exercise
No one that lives in a city as beautiful as London wants to spend their time at the gym. But fitness is important, right? Get your fitness on another way when you’re visiting The Old Smoke—by filling your lungs with fresh air.
In the heart of London, Hyde Park is a popular tourist trap, but there are plenty of other royal parks you can visit.
Richmond Park and Regent’s Park are two other great options for long walks in the city. The latter also boasts a lake large enough for boating while spots like Bushy Park and Hampstead Heath offer heated swimming pools.
6. Get a Pre-Paid Oyster Card
Last but not least, pick up a pre-paid Oyster card. This card is used on city buses, which are the perfect way to get around London like a local would. You’ll enjoy the hustle and bustle of European public transit, and you’re likely to lose the tourists who just want to hop aboard sightseeing buses.
Plus, hiring a private car will make you feel removed from the city. Instead, add some money onto your card and you’re set and ready to hit the town!