London holds a special place in my heart. It’s the city that really kicked off my desire to live a global life. I’ve lived in the city three different times, totally nearly two years. The first time, on a semester abroad program, living in a dingy basement flat near Earl’s Court. The second time, I returned the following summer to be with a boy I was dating. The relationship didn’t work out, but that summer gave me the confidence to live abroad independently. The third time, I returned as a student at LSE for an entire year.
Here are all of my favorite spots from my time living in London. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Picnic and Sunset Viewing from Primrose Hill
London is one of the few cities in the world blessed with many well-kept parks. Regents Park is one such place, and within it sits Primrose Hill. This luscious hilltop in Regent’s Park is my favorite place to marvel over London’s ever-expanding skyline. It’s an oasis away from the hustle and bustle. Bring a picnic, and linger for a while. Any time of the day is an excellent time to picnic on Primrose Hill, but sunset is particularly magical.
“I Have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill?” - William Blake
Take the TFL Ferry Boat to Greenwich
On the greenery theme around the city, I occasionally enjoy taking the ferry boat with Transport for London (TFL) out to Greenwich. It’s a slower way to travel across London. I see it as an inexpensive way to travel along the River Thames. At Greenwich, you can be in two time zones at once, as there is where the GMT (Greenwich Meridian Time) begins.
Discover South Bank from Tower Bridge to Embankment
If you visited the Tower of London, then be sure to hop across this iconic architecture. Marvel at the city from above, and walk across to Southbank. From there, follow the footpath and enjoy the city all the way to Wahaca, where a number of restaurants and bars line the riverbank.
Explore the Industrial Architecture in Butler’s Wharf
Butler’s Wharf, this hidden corner behind Tower Bridge was my student residence at LSE. I love this somewhat forgotten neighborhood. The narrow alleys are lined with converted warehouses and massive metal beams—a different vibe from the posh city center.
Have a Pint at Hays Galleria
After Butler’s Wharf, you’ll stumble upon Hays Galleria. Stop at one of the pubs on the river and grab a pint and enjoy the view of the river and the Tower of London, perhaps some pub food. But save some space for delicious eats at Borough Market. At dusk, these bars are filled to the brim with the banker types.
Get Artsy at Tate Modern Museum
Keeping with the industrial theme, stop in Tate Modern to feel artsy. Tate Modern houses and an impressive collection of contemporary art. This is a perfect place to pass the time if you are caught in that infamous London rain.
Eat All the Food at Borough Market
Hopefully, you still have some space. From the river, take a little detour to Borough Market and eat All. The. Food. The Market can get rather touristy, especially on weekends, but the food is worthwhile.
Marvel at Urban Renewal at Kings Cross Station
One of the most significant changes in London since my time living here in 2011 is Kings Cross Station. This area used to be somewhat dodgy, but the city has invested massively. This station and its surroundings are now an urban renewal success story. Many friends suggested having lunch here since it sits on a major transport hub and has many delightful options around. I recommend Granger & Co. and Caravan Kings Cross.
After a good meal, stroll along the canal and stop by Word on the Water Book Shop, a houseboat turned book shop right one the canal. What a clever concept! You’ll see many houseboats on the water, so this isn’t a unique boat. The canal will eventually take you to Angel station. From there, you can head to Camden Market, and up to Hampstead Heath.
Explore Hampstead Heath
This London “suburb” is now very much a part of Central London. Yet somehow, when I visit, it always feels authentic and not overrun by tourists. If you are further down at Camden Market and need a bit of reprieve, take the bus head toward Hampstead Heath. Hop off along the high street, have a cup of tea, eat a crumpet, and head into the Heath. The expansive park makes you forget that you are in the city.
Don’t hurry back when you are done with the greenery. Wander around the streets and marvel at beautiful (and expensive) houses, where famous writers and poets once resided. Hampstead is very posh and very English.
Feel the Posh Air in Mayfair and Marylebone
My first time living in London, I was an intern at the US Embassy, in its old location on Grosvenor Square. As a 19-year-old, I felt so fancy going to work every day in London’s premiere old money district. These days, the fancy stuff no longer impresses me, but I still love wandering the neighborhood for its intricate architecture. Every block is postcard-perfect.