Readers’ Tips on London – Wanderlust readers’ insider knowledge on England’s capital

London's suffered some hard times this summer, but you can't keep a great city down. Here, readers celebrate the city's best walks, free/cheap tickets, top pubs and more for you to enjoy..

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keithrickaby: Get up early in the morning and go for a walk as London comes to life. I did this a few weeks ago for the umpteenth time, but my girlfriend hadn't and was fascinated by the sights seen on the walk from Victoria to Covent Garden. Don some good walking shoes and walk everywhere for a day. Victoria to Westminster to Embankment to Covent Garden, Piccadilly, Kensington, Knightsbridge and then back to Victoria is a great route. We took in an exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society, Harrods (and got both free chocolate and one of the best hot dogs I've ever had.) and then the V&A before heading for a pub meal once we got back to Victoria. Our app put the distance walked as being 16 miles.

Performers on Covent Garden (Dreamstime)

trixydafairy: The Magic Roundabout is a hipster paradise. The converted Old Street roundabout doubles as a bar/club/restaurant. The ‘secret entrance’ can be accessed via a staircase next to the underground entrance. They hold free tropical parties on weekends and serve up burgers for hungry patrons.

GlobeandQuill: London is not usually known as a destination for Roman architecture, but 2,000 years ago the area of Londinium was a large Roman settlement. The area was only the one square mile that makes up The City. But many people don't know the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre still exist under the financial district. To see them for yourself, head to the Guildhall Art Gallery, about a five-minute walk from St. Paul's tube stop. Entry is completely free.

JJJBBB: Plan a day around Open House London, the architecture and design festival (Sept 17 and 18, 2017). Pick a few places you wouldn't normally have access to that are in the same area and plan a walk to link them up for some more unusual exploring.

philharper12: At weekends, skip down the road to Maltby Street Market, where you’ll find equally tasty offerings to those at the Borough Market and the chance to sample proper local brews along the Bermondsey Beer Mile.

Food stall at Maltby Street Market (Dreamstime)

nickyd414: My favourite walk or run is the Parkland Walk, as it's so accessible for Central London. It takes you from Finsbury through Crouch End to Highgate, and from there it’s not too far to get to Hampstead Heath. It's the old railway line, so it's a narrow nature reserve, but it is enough for that 'greenness' feeling needed in Central London.

hmoat 01: Try some of the lesser known landmarks. Leave the centre and discover some quirkier and free museums, such as the Geffrye Museum at Shoreditch (period rooms and gardens) and the Horniman Museum at Dulwich Village (aquarium, large collection of instruments and an array of stuffed animals, plus gardens with great views of the London skyline). Wilton's Music Hall is wonderfully atmospheric, a crumbling fin-de-siecle building, great for a concert, a spot of lunch or a pint or concert. Better known, Highgate Cemetery is filled with story and history. The impressively ornate headstones, catacombs and mausoleum of the West Cemetery are half-lost in vegetation. The stories told by the guides are fascinating. The East Cemetery has some 'big names' to impress. Also, grab a Boris Bike and explore London's canals, backstreets and parks.

Highgate Cemetery (Dreamstime)

Around the world in 8000 days: Take a moment to pause in the peaceful tranquillity of Postman's Park, near to St Paul's Cathedral. In this pretty little former churchyard, you will find the fascinating Watt's Memorial, dedicated to people who gave their life to save another. The memorial was put up in 1900 and the numerous Doulton plaques vividly describe each heroic deed.

JocelynMurgatroyd: The best gallery in London is the National Portrait Gallery, just round the corner from Trafalgar Square. It has marvellous photography, portraits and sculpture, plus an excellent gift shop. It's mainly free, though you can pay a small amount for special exhibitions.

Darwin portrait at National Portrait Gallery (Dreamstime)

TheGlobeTrotter: When in London, don't forget to visit one of its many markets: Greenwich Market, Camden Market, Borough Market or Portobello Road Market. You will be able to get your hands on a variety of different stuff: antiques, trinkets, fashion items, art, awesome food and fresh produce at a very reasonable price. Plus, visiting a local market is the best way to experience the local culture.

Bentholyptus: Brewdog in Shepherds Bush is the best pub in London, with an amazing atmosphere and craft beer. 

sherwoodr: The best day out in London is to take one of the canal trips that run between Little Venice and Camden. Start out in peaceful Little Venice, with its beautiful tree lined canals and great pubs for a hearty all day breakfast, then take a magical canal boat through Regent’s Park, whilst glimpsing some of the animals in London Zoo. Finally, finish in the hippest part of London, Camden, for some serious retail therapy.

GlobeandQuill: If you're going to be in London over the summer, hit up the BBC Proms classical music festival that happens every year at the historic Royal Albert Hall. You can get £5 tickets on the day of most shows by going to the box office 30 minutes ahead of the show and asking about standing room tickets. Sometimes you can even get seats on less-popular shows. It’s definitely a cool way to spend a Saturday afternoon in London.

Royal Albert Hall (Dreamstime)

daniel.c.king: For an afternoon that's guaranteed to be fascinating, thought-provoking and insightful, visit the Wellcome Collection. It's many different exhibits manage to approach seemingly mundane topics from all sorts of different angles. I highly recommend it.

GerbilLove: Grab the Northern Line down to Tooting Broadway, the birthplace the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. Visit the secret gem of Tooting Market, voted the best indoor market in the UK. Finish the day with a delicious curry at Mirch Masala, London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s favourite restaurant, where the cuisine is authentic and cheap, and naan breads are hot off the flames.  

Cannizaro Park in SW19 is one of my favoured spots to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. It's an oasis of calm and allows you to forget that you're in London.

My top tip though for any visitor to London is to walk. Grab yourself an A-Z or street map, and wander. You'll find plenty of hidden gems of your own.

hollylbarber: London Wetland Centre in Barnes, on the flight path into Heathrow and a stones throw away from central London, is a great place to while away a few hours and get closer to the natural world.

London Wetland Centre (Dreamstime)

ADREXEL: Right in the heart of West London, the Churchill Arms isn’t your typical pub. Sandwiched between the Portobello Markets and Hyde Park, this place combines the nature and knickknacks of both. With a historic exterior covered in flowers and plants, the interior boasts a wondrous array of antiques. The fabulous Thai menu is to die for and certainly won’t break the bank. I couldn’t recommend this place enough. 

daniel.c.king: At only £5 for a standing ticket at the Globe Theatre, it's possibly the best cultural bang for your buck on offer. Everything about the experience is made to feel as authentically Shakespearean as possible. It’s such great fun. 

sadmafioso: Forget spending £25 to ascend The Shard. Book ahead for tickets to the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch St, just over the river, for an equally dramatic view coupled with a tropical garden, bars and cafes, and more space than The Shard has to offer. Best of all, it’s free. (Booking ahead is recommended). 

Rhubarb at Sky Garden (Sky Garden)

falconer: You can't really get lost in Central London, as there's always a Tube station near, but do try just wandering around. There are so many hidden delights to be found, such as Doctor Johnson's House and the Old Curiosity Shop, near The City, and charming little mews all around. Just try it: get lost.

pops7272; Many of London's museums are free. One of the most unusual ones is the Bank of England Museum, which covers the history of the bank, as well as displays of notes and coins. You can even try to lift a bar of gold. It is only open on weekdays. 

Julia69: Many of London's best known landmarks are easily visible from the river: the Tower of London, St Paul's, Houses of Parliament and more. Sightseeing tours can be expensive, though the high energy RIB rides are exhilarating. Instead, use your Oyster card to get a discounted fare on the Thames Clipper service. Their app also gives you access to these lower fares. The Central and East combo ticket is excellent value at £6.50 and enables you to see all the sights from the O2 to Westminster and beyond. They also offer a more expensive River Roamer pass that allows you to hop on and off all day long. Travel off peak to avoid the commuter crowds.

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament (Dreamstime)

Stephen Rigg: The Guildhall Art Gallery is a gem. Off Cheapside, between Bank and St Pauls, it is a modern, spacious building next to the Guildhall and it houses the City of London Corporation's impressive collection of Victorian art, including the pre-Raphaelites. In the basement is London's remarkable Roman Amphitheatre. The gallery is a quiet haven, light and airy with plenty of seats and it is free.

allythackray: Travel by train to avoid the congestion charge and top up your Oyster Card ready for an adventure around the capital.

Bentholyptus: If you are a lover of cooked cow, you have to make a trip to Goodman, Mayfair. It’s easily the best steak you will ever eat. Lunch at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal can be surprisingly reasonable for a 2* Michelin restaurant.

Nandini: Last year in August, searching for accommodation on a budget near a conference venue, I chanced on Hostel Hootananny in Brixton offering bed and breakfast . The pictures of its quaint bright red facade and some great reviews helped me make up my mind. I booked a bed in a dormitory for three nights. I stood out like a sore thumb in my business suit and formal shoes, laptop bag in hand, yet my hostel mates were friendly, talkative and great companions. Mealtimes in the kitchen were accompanied by interesting conversations, insights into lives of people looking for jobs, travelling places, missing families. 

My four day conference would have been just that, a conference, if I had chosen to stay in a hotel. Hootananny gave me memories to bring back. My regret is that I was too tired to enjoy the live music this 'local institution' offers but that’s a reason to return some day.

Brixton turned out to be a vibrant friendly neighbourhood and my hosteling experience is one that has changed my perspective forever.

My tip is to stay in a hostel if you’re on a budget. Brixton is a great neighbourhood to explore. Metro connections make travelling to other tourist spots very doable without much effort.


These tips were all provided by readers of the Wanderlust website, as part of our recent Readers’ Tips: London competition. Thanks to everyone who gave their great suggestions and ideas. The Winner, with a great tip, was keithrickaby, but there were many fantastic and useful tips to choose from.

We’re currently running a new Readers’ Tips competition on 'How to survive long-distance journeys'. Share your tips for things to do on long-distance journeys HERE for your chance to win prizes. 

Main image: Thames at sunset (Dreamstime)





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