- Take a walk through London’s Royal Parks. Start at Paddington station, and from there you can stroll through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park (passing Buckingham Palace) and St. James Park before crossing Trafalgar Square and the River Thames to the South Bank and Waterloo Station. At a strolling pace this walk would take half a day, with plenty of places to stop, sit, drink, eat en-route. It is about 3 miles.
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- Hyde Park is the most popular park in London and the biggest of the Royal Parks. The Leonard is just a 5 minute walk away. The Speaker’s Corner is situated in the northern part of Hyde Park, close to the Marble Arch.
- Live Music London is one of the best cities in the world for concerts. You can see a vast array of genres. Between huge concert facilities and small pubs, there are hundreds of venues that organize and promote live music every week. Many concerts, especially in smaller or less known places are free, so there is plenty of choice even for tourists on a budget. London has long been a launch pad for alternative movements, from the 60s, punk of the 70s, New Wave of the 80s, the Britpop scene of the 90s and in recent years the indie rock movement spearheaded by The Libertines.
- Watch a movie As well as the world-famous blockbuster cinemas in the West End, London has a large number of superb art house cinemas. In the summer months, there are often outdoor screenings at various venues, such as Somerset House and in some of the larger parks.
- Watch football Take in a home match of one of London’s 15+ professional football clubs for a true experience of a lifetime as you see the passion of the “World’s Game” in its mother country.
- Wimbledon Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and widely considered the most prestigious. London goes “tennis crazy” for two weeks when the competition commences in late June and early July. One of the greatest traditions is to eat Strawberries and Cream, with sugar.
- Open House London Weekend You can explore a lot of interesting buildings during the London Open House Weekend – usually held on the third weekend of September. It gives a unique opportunity to get out and under the skin of London’s amazing architecture, with over 700 buildings of all kinds opening their doors to everyone – all for free. During this single weekend, several buildings which are not normally open to the public are opened up. See website for details of buildings opening in any given year – some buildings have to be pre-booked in advance – book early for the popular ones!
- Winter Skating London has a number of outdoor ice rinks that open in the winter months.
- Summer Skating During the summer there is a thriving roller skating scene in London, including street hockey, freestyle slalom, dance, general recreational skating (including three weekly marshaled group street skates) and speed skating. This mostly is centered around Hyde Park (on the Serpentine Road) and Kensington Gardens (by the Albert Memorial).
- Do-it-yourself bus tour If you don’t feel like splashing out on one of the commercial bus tours, you can make your own bus tour by buying an Oyster card and spending some time riding around London on the top deck of standard London buses. Of course you don’t get the open air or the commentary, but the views are very similar.
- Spitalfields Markets Visit the thriving old Spitalfields markets where you can find amazing vintage odds and ends, clothes and handmade items. Visit 66/68 Bell Lane nearby to see a wealthy merchant’s house, rumor has it John Lennon once played on the roof of this building with Yoko Ono.
- For a guided tour of London check out The Literary London Walking Tour - an interesting, informative and fun walk through London and its literary hotspots of the past and present. Meet local writers and poets and listen to them perform their works.
- Take a Guided Bus Tour of London – a great way to see London by Bus in under 2 hours, with the opportunity to hop on and off at various attractions around London.
- Discovery Walks ☎ +44 20 3514-0211. Meet actual Londoners in addition to explore major landmarks. Join a walk with locals who will “decode” the city with you, and also you can learn from an insider about local events and festivals, about where to shop, good places to eat or drink, secret places locals keep to themselves.
- Free Tours by Foot (Free London Tours), 745 Finchley Road, London NW11 6PL, ☎ 020 3287 2011, Free Tours by Foot is pleased to present name-your-own-price sightseeing tours of London. Platform for licensed, professional, freelance tour guides to lead tours at no upfront cost, so that you may enjoy a quality sightseeing experience no matter what your budget. Everyone should be permitted to take a guided tour for a price they feel it was worth – even free! No two tours are the same.
- Trafalgar Square is mandatory to visit on your first trip in London, in the center is Nelson’s Column surrounded by fountains.
- Grosvenor Square. Nicknamed Little America, it is home to the American Embassy and a statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- Marble Arch (Where the north-eastern point of Hyde Park meets the south-western tip of Marylebone). This enormous arch was originally situated in front of Buckingham Palace. In 1851 the expansion of the palace meant the arch could no longer remain where it was, so it was moved to this point on Hyde Park.
- Regent’s Park (tube: Baker St or Regent’s Pk) Large park popular with Londoners and less visited by tourists than the other great city parks. A number of lovely lakes, an open air theatre, regular puppet shows, various sporting activities and some splendid ancient trees. There is also a cafe and play area next to the boating pond.
- Regent’s Park Mosque, 146 Park Rd NW1, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Islamic Cultural Centre, much better known as Regent’s Park Mosque. This is the main mosque in London. Visitors are welcome but must be suitably attired. The Mosque runs classes, prayers, talks and events.
- Speaker’s Corner. Over the road from Marble Arch in Hyde Park itself is a traditional location for preachers and speakers of all types wanting to be heard. On Sunday morning some dozen or more orators turn up with a box or stepladder and talk loudly about whatever it is they feel strongly about, be it religion, capitalism, the government, or whether the aliens really are coming to get us.
- Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner (tube: Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly line)). A grand neoclassical arch, designed by Decimus Burton and first erected in 1826 as a grand entrance to Buckingham Palace. From 1846 onwards, the arch was topped with a massive equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington – a major road widening of Piccadilly in 1882 was the opportunity to finally remove the over sized statue to Aldershot. The present magnificent statue Peace Descending on the Quadriga of War was placed on top of the Arch in 1912, and remains today the largest bronze sculpture in the United Kingdom, spectacularly lit at night. During the 1950s, the arch served as the smallest police station in the city, when it was occupied by ten constables, two sergeants and a cat!
- ZSL London Zoo (London Zoo), Outer Circle Regent’s Pk, NW1 4RY, ☎ +44 20 7722 3333. 10:00-16:00 daily, closed 25 Dec. London’s main zoo in the northern part of Regent’s Park.