There’s more to London than just Big Ben and Buckingham Palace; sightseeing in this world-class city can prove a bona fide adventure for the creative traveler.
An Oyster card, purchasable at all major stations, grants traveler access to the city’s expansive underground transportation system, as well as the iconic double-decker buses. Buses are, by far, the most economical way to travel around the city, and the upper seats afford great views to boot.
Whether you’re a backpacker, honeymooner, or on a family vacation, Camden Town is a hidden gem that’s not to be missed. This bustling area, just north of the river, boasts a vibrant marketplace full of food and fashion. Stop by the Roadhouse to catch a concert from some of the UK’s best performing artists, or grab a pint (or two!) of lager at the neighborhood’s many eclectic pubs. Famed as the haunt of Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty, and other fiery personalities, Camden Town is a side of London you won’t get by sticking to the Thames.
Perhaps most famed among Americans for its role in the 1999 romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, Notting Hill is another underestimated essential when it comes to getting the full London experience. This meandering enclave is an antique lover’s paradise, with unique finds at reasonable prices, and friendly sellers willing to haggle for a round or two of British banter. If you’re visiting in late summer, you might even catch the famous Notting Hill Carnival, one of the world’s biggest street festivals and a party that’s not to be missed.
For those with a literary bend, London is a veritable treasure trove. Just on the outskirts of Camden Town, poets can take a peek at the house shared by Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Nearby Hampstead boats Keats House, and in East London you can visit the final resting spot of William Blake in Bunhill Fields Burial Ground. Travelers with cars may also take the short ride down to Monk’s House, on the country’s photogenic coast, to tread the storied ground of Virginia and Leonard Woolf.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to London’s many hidden gems. So if you’re sick of palace guards and have had your fill of the Houses of Parliament, don’t fret; London’s calling, and you never know what you will find.