Looking to check off some hidden gems on your London travel list? Alexis explored the city in your usual tourist mode but also came across other fascinating spots on her jaunts. Look through this list for some fantastic opportunities to see London with a different eye!
During the past couple of weeks, I have spent a lot of time exploring London. Of course, I have been checking off my typical London tourist list, but I have discovered a few other interesting places along the way. Every borough in London is unique, and basically everywhere is accessible thanks to the Underground transit system, or as locals call it, the Tube. Even as I’m typing this, I am in a quaint little café that I found after spontaneously taking the Tube to Soho after class. Here are my favorite places that I’ve been to so far, in no particular order:
1. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Inside view of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Most of us have learned about Shakespeare in school and have probably even read at least one of his plays. His plays were famously known to have been performed at the Globe Theatre. While the original Globe Theatre is no longer standing, a life-size replica stands on the bank of the River Thames. Designed to look just like the original on the inside and out, Shakespeare’s Globe hosts a variety of famous Shakespeare plays. My roommates and I saw Romeo and Juliet there, and it was an amazing experience! It was so cool to think about how I was sharing an experience with people from hundreds of years ago. I’d recommend this unique opportunity to anyone who likes Shakespeare or live theatre in general.
2. Camden Market
The umbrella ceiling in Camden Market.
From affordable restaurants to personalized jean jackets stores, Camden Market has it all. When exploring this market for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of reasonably priced options to choose from. There are the typical souvenir shops, specialty shops (such as a small shop devoted to records), and more.
In terms of food, I ordered orange juice from a juice stand and saw the juice being freshly squeezed into my cup. It was delicious! I also ate at a restaurant called The Cheese Bar with some friends and just about fell in love. I will definitely be back!
3. Abbey Road Crossing
My Post-War Pop Culture in Britain Class crossing Abbey Road.
If you’re a fan of the Beatles, you may have seen the Abbey Road crossing on the album cover for their album called—you guessed it—Abbey Road. This crossing has become famous, with many tourists posing on it to imitate the iconic album cover. My class visited this spot on a field trip and did our best to imitate the stances of the Beatles members! As we crossed, our friends and family from home were able to see us live via this website. Take a look yourself to see who might be crossing Abbey Road at this very moment!
4. Sketch Restaurant
The Gallery Room in Sketch. Photo credit to thenudge.com.
During my time here in London, I recently turned 21! For my birthday, I wanted to go out to dinner with my friends. We actually discovered this place on TikTok due to their unique bathrooms, but we found out that Sketch has a lot more to offer. With five themed rooms to choose from and a different menu for each room, Sketch is different from the typical restaurant. I chose the Gallery Room and enjoyed dinner there with my friends. I even got a slice of birthday cake on the house. It was a little bit pricey, but definitely worth it!
5. Hyde Park
Me posing for a picture at Hyde Park.
If you’ve read romance novels set in London, you’ve likely read about Hyde Park. With 350 acres of greenspace and a lovely pond, Hyde Park is a nice change of pace from the bustling streets of London. I saw plenty of people enjoying picnics and going on relaxing strolls. My favorite part was the swans in the water!
6. London Coliseum Theatre
My roommate Maddy and I at the Coliseum Theatre.
This theatre is just one of many in the West End of London. While in London, my roommate and I went to watch Hairspray at the London Coliseum Theatre. We were fortunate enough to get close seats on opening night and had a wonderful time! The empty seats in front of us due to social distancing requirements helped with the view as well. This was the first show I had gone to since the pandemic started, and I was so ecstatic to be able to finally see one again. The actors in Hairspray were also emotional at the end as it was their first time performing for an audience in months! If you like musicals, I would definitely recommend walking through the West End and picking a show to watch from the many options here.
7. London Eye
My roommates Dasha, Anjum, and I in the London Eye.
This is very likely to be on any London tourist’s checklist. This Ferris wheel is known worldwide for its fantastic views of the Thames River and the London skyline. It moves very slowly (one full rotation takes 30 minutes) so there are plenty of opportunities for pictures at the top. We could see the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and more!
The circle of stones at Stonehenge.
You may have heard of this ancient stone circle and the myths that surround it. This was certainly an interesting visit, but I’m saving all the details for my next vlog, which will be about my visit to Bath and Stonehenge. Stay tuned!
Alexis Thomas is an official CAPA blogger & vlogger for summer 2021, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Neuroscience and English Writing double major from the University of Pittsburgh, she is thrilled to be studying abroad in London this summer.
Alexis' journey continues so stay tuned.