Home to over nine million people, London is the capital of the United Kingdom. The sprawling metropolis is a melting pot of diversity, with people from all over the world calling it home. Over 250 languages are spoken in London, making it one of the world’s most global and culturally diverse cities.
While current restrictions due to COVID-19 have made it harder than ever to visit this amazing city, hopefully, this list will inspire you to check out some of the local favourites on your next trip to London.
1. Primrose Hill
Close to the rebellious punk scene of Camden Town, Primrose Hill is a luscious green space that provides arguably the best view of the iconic skyline. It’s the perfect place to soak up the sun on a rare sunny afternoon in London. You can sit by the beautiful deciduous trees or on the green grass while staring at a panoramic view of the city stretching east to west. Primrose Hill is very easily accessible by many via bus routes as well as Camden Town and Chalk Farm tube stations, making it easy to escape from the busy city life for a little while.
If you look up the word ‘hipster’ in the dictionary, you’ll probably find a picture of Shoreditch. This is a neighbourhood with plenty of beards, craft beer, and youthful vibes. Its busy side streets are plastered with murals, graffiti, and all sorts of street art, making it one of London’s most ‘instagrammable’ spots.
Another thing Shoreditch has no shortage of is great street food. The iconic Brick Lane erupts with energy on Sunday’s when its weekly market takes place. You can also try food from all over the world right along one street.
Brick Lane is also home to more curry houses than you can count as well as one of London’s most heated rivalries – the salt beef bagel debate between the white shop and yellow shop. If vintage clothes shopping is your thing, then Shoreditch will not disappoint you. The neighborhood is quite close to the City of London, making it one of the most accessible hidden gems that London has to offer.
Now I may be a little biased here as I used to live in this area, but it is one of the most underrated areas in the city, so you have to check it out! Nestled in the heart of EC1, you can access the area by bus or through Farringdon train station. The area houses many bars serving beers from all over the world. It is an extremely walkable area, especially on weekends when it is relatively quiet. The area’s main appeal is the wonderful St. John’s Ambulance Museum which is a must-visit.
Clerkenwell is also home to London’s ‘Little Italy’, with iconic Italian delis and restaurants such as Terroni of Clerkenwell on Theobalds Road. You might even recognize Clerkenwell Green from Oliver Twist! If you have the time, come on down to Clerkenwell.
4. Holland Park’s Kyoto Garden
Hop on the Central Line and make your way over to beautiful Holland Park. Opened in 1991, the Kyoto Garden is a gift from the city of Kyoto to symbolize Japan’s strong post-war relationship with Great Britain. The garden is absolutely stunning, boasting tranquil waterfalls, ponds with koi carp, Japanese maple trees, and stone lanterns. It’s a wonderful place to relax and be with your thoughts. You might even bump into the resident peacocks, so be sure to say hello!
Arguably South London’s most up and coming area, Peckham has become a hotspot for the young and creative. Made famous by ‘Only Fools and Horses’, you can follow in the footsteps of Del Boy and stroll down Rye Lane, with its colourful fruit stalls, bustling arcades, and lively boozers such as ‘The Prince of Peckham’.
The area is home to one of London’s biggest Afro-Caribbean communities, who have helped to make Peckham the eclectic and lively area it is today. If you’re feeling artsy, head over to Copeland Gallery behind the Bussey Building with its many exhibitions and events. Or if it’s a rainy day you can catch a movie at ‘Peckhamplex’, a quirky cinema that is quickly becoming an institution.
Just a stone’s throw from Peckham, Nunhead is a leafy suburb with a village feel and a real sense of community. Relax in Telegraph Hill Park and stare and London’s skyline off in the distance. If you fancy a drink, check out ‘The Old Nun’s Head’, a traditional British pub serving a variety of local brews as well as an ever-changing food menu. More than any other area on this list, Nunhead feels separate and distant from the London we all know, but it’s just a short 25-minute train journey from King’s Cross – a journey that is definitely worth taking.
So there you have it, a short but detailed guide on how to visit London like a local. You will definitely want to avoid those crowded tourist traps now! If you want a truly authentic London experience, then check out these areas that are sure to give you a newfound appreciation of the city.