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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Because really, can you imagine London without it?
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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