While countless tourists join lengthy queues for a fleeting spin on the London Eye, many visitors travel along the tourist path completely unaware of the other side of England’s capital. Despite the beauty and intrigue of the more popular sites, it is hard to pass up an insight into the real London. From artisan markets to autumn blackberry picking, concealed amid the urban bustle are resident havens to cure your sightseeing exhaustion and guidebook tyranny. With a personal travel manager, you can create an itinerary to experience the London that locals love.
What to see
For a relaxing afternoon and glimpse into countryside England, spend the day in the Botanic Gardens of Kew. Set along the River Thames, this World Heritage Site boasts a soaring walkway amid tree canopies and extensive greenhouses reaching up to 27 degrees. Whether admiring giant lily pads in the Waterlily House, an exotic rainforest in the Palm House, or travelling through 10 climatic zones in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, visiting these gardens are an incredible experience.
If visiting during autumn, be sure to stop over at Hampstead Heath for blackberry-picking season from late August through September. Often a family affair, visiting Hampstead Health offers a wonderful insight into London’s flora and fauna, as it is home to many exotic birds, owls, edible mushrooms and pignuts.
Where to go
Although only minutes to the city by train, Islington is far from the typical tourist destination. An eclectic hotspot is the Camden Passage antique shop, where both Charles Dickens and Samuel Pepys have been immortalised. Unlike commercial shops, you are bound to enjoy the intriguing history of each item and the enchanting storytelling that accompanies them.
In East London, visit Hackney on Saturdays for the Broadway Market, which presents an array of unique British food and home-wares. One stallholder even offers a 1902 King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra Coronation mug filled with eco soy wax – a quirky souvenir that is sure to impress!
What to eat
Eating like a Londoner does not always translate into overpriced pub food. Exceptional street food stalls offer anything from pulled pork sandwiches to hot chips with wasabi mayo; classic pub food with a gourmet twist. Or, if you’d prefer to grab a bite and sit in one of London’s glorious parks, head down to the Brixton Village Market, a hidden culinary paradise. Here you’ll discover local, seasonal produce, London-made liquor and beer, teacakes, samosas and Middle-Eastern mezes, beloved by locals.
Although the Tower Bridge and other tourist staples are renowned as must sees, these hidden gems offer chatter, life, and an environment where you can soak up the London of here and now.
Talk to your personal travel manager about discovering London today.
Image courtesy of British Tourism