Whether you are heading to the capital to develop your language skills, or to continue your academic studies, you should make an effort to explore the English capital. London has many things to offer. With time you will feel more at home and start to adjust to the cultural differences, then you’ll be exploring the city as if you were a local in no time.
We have created a list of things that you must do during your London adventures.
1 – Walk around the street markets
To go to the markets on a weekend is a typical Londoner activity. There you will see at first hand London’s cultural diversity in the form of international and local food, produce and products. One of the most famous markets is Borough Market, specializing in quality food and drinks. Portobello Market is also a must-see, you will lose track of time browsing through the antique and souvenir stalls. In Camden Lock you will find local craft works, contemporary pieces of art, new and vintage clothing and many bars. Brick Lane Market is only open on Sundays and you will find new and upcoming designers, artists and vintage pieces.
2- Pay a visit to the museums
London is the home of many amazing museums; most of them are free entry too! With a lot of information about history, culture, fashion, science and arts, when in London, you can’t miss the Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Modern, British Museum and the National Gallery.
3 – Do a picnic and/or a barbecue in the park
Even though London is a big cosmopolitan city, it still has many green areas. On sunny days you will find groups of friends meeting in the park, laying on the grass and doing picnics. The biggest green area in London is Hyde Park, which is close to Green Park and Buckingham Palace. Another beautiful park is Regents Park, where the London Zoo is located. Very close by is Primrose Hill, where you have an amazing view of the London skyline. If it is a hot day, in Hampstead Heath you can swim in the natural ponds open to the public. In London Fields there is a designated barbecue area and the park is very popular with the local hipsters.
4- Have a pint in a Pub
Londoners spend most of their free time in the pub, so you can’t miss visiting a typical London bar when living in the city. You will find pubs all over London; they are commonly placed on street corners. With low lighting, rustic décor and a laid-back atmosphere, in the pubs you will meet new people, have some pints and eat good food without spending too much. It is very common for people to gather at pubs to watch sport, or to have a drink after work.
5- Have Afternoon Tea
Even though this is a British tradition, the Afternoon Tea was brought to England by the Portuguese Princess Catarina de Bragança, who in 1662 married King Charles II. However, it was in the middle of the 19th century that it really became fashionable. The Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russell used to be hungry between lunch and dinner so she started to invite her friends over for a cup of tea and some snacks.
Through the years, the habit became stronger and now it is a very popular behaviour in the UK. In the offices, it is between 4pm and 5pm that colleagues get together to have their cuppa. We highly recommend saving an afternoon to enjoy afternoon tea at one of the many London venues.
6 – Walk around the Thames River
London is an old city with a lot of history. The initial activity started near the river because it was easier to bring in the goods from faraway lands. The Tower of London is one of the oldest buildings in the city and to walk from there to the Houses of Parliament is a great tour. You will see many important landmarks such as the Shakespeare Globe Theatre, the Southbank Centre, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern museum. It is also possible to do this by boat. The River Thames holds other surprises, such as Canary Wharf, an area that is one of the city's most important business centres. Following the river to the west side, you will find interesting places such as Hammersmith, Richmond and Kingston.
7- Enjoy the many theatres
London’s nightlife has many things to offer. There are a lot of concerts, clubs, bars, pubs and theatres going on all year around. The musical theatres are very high quality and they usually start in London and then are adapted to the New York Broadway. Some of the famous plays at the moment are The Lion King, Book of Mormon, Wicked, and Thriller. But do not forget about the classics, such as Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon.
8 – Visit the castles
London is a modern and cosmopolitan city. This combination makes it easy for us to forget that this has been the scenario of many important historical happenings. When living in London, try to visit as many historical buildings as possible, to learn about the wars, the religious changes and the many monarchs. We recommend you visit all the palaces spread through the city and the surroundings, such as Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and Windsor Palace.
9- Leave Central London
London is busy and full of life, however it is worth spending a day in its suburbs. London’s surroundings are very relaxing and full of nice things for you to see. In Greenwich Park you will find the Mark Zero and you will probably recognize it from the movie Thor. Richmond is located at the south of the city and if lucky you can see the deer that live in the huge park nearby. In Windsor you can see one of the Royal Family’s official palaces.
10 – Finally, walk around and get lost in the city
Public Transportation in London is very good and you can get anywhere with it. But you should ditch the bus someday and walk to your destination. Wander and get lost in the small streets of London, where so much has happened. You are able to discover new parts of town, get familiar with the architecture and the geography of London.