An Ode to London - 20 things to do and see in the UK's capital city

London opens to you like a novel itself… It is divided into chapters, the chapters into scenes, the scenes into sentences; it opens to you like a series of rooms, doors and passages. Mayfair to Piccadilly to Soho to the Strand” - Anna Quindlen

London. From the historic to the ultra modern. From the traditional to the quirky. From the scene of a thousand movies, to the everyday stories played out on its streets.

Whichever way you see it, London is iconic.

Here are 20 things we love about the UK’s proud capital city:


the markets

London market. Photo Credit: Brunel Johnson

London market. Photo Credit: Brunel Johnson

It all started with the East London vegetable sellers back in the day, but today London has markets like no-where else. Fruit and veg markets can be found in most suburbs, but head to Colombia Road for flowers, Borough for food, and Bermondsey for antiques.



southbank

Southbank Centre, South Bank, London. Photo Credit: Simone Hutsch

Southbank Centre, South Bank, London. Photo Credit: Simone Hutsch

For days when you fancy a long stroll set against the River Thames’ south side; this is an eclectic hive of architecture, café culture and street performers.



and the south bank skatepark

South Bank skatepark, London. Photo Credit: Rohan Reddy

South Bank skatepark, London. Photo Credit: Rohan Reddy

It’s been here since the ‘70’s after it was ‘found by not designated to’ skateboarders. For years we’ve been wondering when some investor might snap it up and gentrify it. Thankfully it’s holding on strong.

Big Ben

Big Ben, London. Photo Credit: Kate Krivanec

Big Ben, London. Photo Credit: Kate Krivanec

Attached to the Houses of Parliament, you don’t have to love all the people inside this building to appreciate its architecture.
Just look at the detailing.


Brick Lane

Brick Lane, London. Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo

Brick Lane, London. Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo

Visit for the street art, the vintage stores and the Sunday street market. Brick Lane is also famous for its Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants but be careful where you choose, they’re not always the most authentic. We recommend Tayyabs in Whitechapel or Gunpowder in Spitalfields. Both just around the corner.



the architecture

Mizuho House, London. Photo Credit: Valdemars Magone

Mizuho House, London. Photo Credit: Valdemars Magone

Where historic cathedrals meet towering glass skyscrapers. Where classic brick meets colourful design. London has a knack for making it all tie together, no matter the style.



the independent stores

Independent magazine store in London. Photo Credit: Charisse Kenion

Independent magazine store in London. Photo Credit: Charisse Kenion

London is packed full of creatives, and in turn comes independent products and independent stores.
This photo showcases a wide range of indie magazines on sale at Magma, Soho. Go, check it out.



the red phone boxes

A red phone box in front of Big Ben, London. Photo Credit: Paul Gilmore

A red phone box in front of Big Ben, London. Photo Credit: Paul Gilmore

Ask any tourist and they’ll tell you: the red phone boxes ARE London. We love the creative re-use of many today, from ATMs to art galleries, and even tiny coffee stores.



the street art

Hackney Wick, London. Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba

Hackney Wick, London. Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba

London’s street art game is strong. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. This spectacular piece is in Hackney Wick.



the street music

A musical street performer in London. Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba

A musical street performer in London. Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba

Brightening up what can sometimes be a dull commute. Let’s not lie, Londoners aren’t the most vibrant of people in the mornings and a little bit of reggae or Tchaikovsky can sometimes help.

the museums

The British Museum, London. Photo Credit: Ryan Stefan

The British Museum, London. Photo Credit: Ryan Stefan

London has lots of them - showcasing fashion, nature, history and more. And best of all they’re donation-based.
N.B. this doesn’t always mean free. If you’re able to make a donation, do. Support the arts.



Chinatown

Chinatown, London. Photo Credit: Jack B

Chinatown, London. Photo Credit: Jack B

Granted. It is a bit touristy. And a lot of the food is, well, not great. Visit for the vibes. Oh, and don’t miss one of our favourite bars in all of London - Opium. Look for the little blue door at number 15. Booking is advised.

the traditional pubs

A traditional London pub. Photo Credit: Craig Whitehead

A traditional London pub. Photo Credit: Craig Whitehead

I't’s probably not an exaggeration if we say there’s one on each street corner. Snuggle in during winter, and celebrate the sunshine in a beer-garden come summer.



the River thames

The Thames and Tower Bridge, London. Photo Credit: Luigi Mangi

The Thames and Tower Bridge, London. Photo Credit: Luigi Mangi

Because really, can you imagine London without it?



the festivals

Notting Hill Carnival, London. Photo Credit: Kelly Robinson

Notting Hill Carnival, London. Photo Credit: Kelly Robinson

London’s multicultural population means a melting pot of festivals. From food to dance to expressive arts. London really has it all. Notting Hill carnival (pictured) is the most well known and a must-do at least once in your life.
But we think you’ll be back for more.



the tube

The London Underground. Photo Credit: Peter Lawrence

The London Underground. Photo Credit: Peter Lawrence

Love it or hate it, it’s efficient at getting Londoners from A to B. Though, we agree, it doesn’t always seem the nicest way to travel on a Monday morning with your nose stuck up against someone’s armpit.



the taxis

A taxi in London. Photo Credit: Lee Cartledge

A taxi in London. Photo Credit: Lee Cartledge

Tube not your thing? There’s no shortage of black cabs on London’s streets. We know, we know. This one’s yellow. Sometimes you’ll find them in pink, blue or even rainbow colours too.



this coffee shop

The Algerian Coffee Store, Soho, London. Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo

The Algerian Coffee Store, Soho, London. Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo

A Soho institution, the Algerian Coffee Stores has stood proudly at 52 Old Compton Street since 1887. You’ll also find Ethiopian, Vietnamese, and plenty of other coffee blends here too.



the late night eats

Neon sign for late night eats, London. Photo Credit: Frederick Tubiermont

Neon sign for late night eats, London. Photo Credit: Frederick Tubiermont

For all those post-bar hunger pains. London has no shortage of places to eat when it’s 4AM and only food can help.



and Last but not least: the weather-based optimism

Man eating ice cream in the rain, London. Photo Credit: Josh Edgoose

Man eating ice cream in the rain, London. Photo Credit: Josh Edgoose

Londoners are (perhaps unfairly) often said to be pessimistic. But all that fades when it comes to the weather. Come rain, and ice-cream seems like the obvious choice, right? Come the smallest bit of shine, and you’ll see the city’s many parks packed with hopeful sun-worshippers.

What else to do when rain sometimes seems to be the default in this beautiful capital?

- Written by Katie Silcox

If you too, love London, share this feature with friends using the social icons at the bottom of this page.



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