10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

10 Magical London Experiences

Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and Covent Garden are some of the headline attractions among London sights, but myriad treasures lie beyond them. During my second week as an intern in London, I felt the familiar travel jitters kick in and decided to explore the city I would call home for the next six months. Samuel Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” and I certainly felt this to be true as I hopped on the Tube to spend every weekend at a different place in the vast metropolis. Now I return as often as possible to the place I completely fell in love with.

Here are 10 of my favorite London experiences you won’t want to miss:

1. All the world’s a stage

10 Magical London Experiences
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre; photo by Maaike van Kuijk

10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

The world of London theatre is like a big bubble of excitement that drags you in, whether you like it or not. As a huge theatre afficionado, I’m always curious about everything that goes on behind the red stage curtains. One of my personal favorites is a guided tour I attended a few times at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.  There’s always something new to discover!

2. London’s beauty at night

10 Magical London Experiences
Southbank walk at night; photo by Maaike van Kuijk

10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

The Southbank features many attractions like the London Eye, the National Theatre, and Tate Modern. But the views at night are especially stunning. The pictures you take during a walk from London Eye to Tower Bridge during nighttime are the ones you can really brag about to your friends and family at home.

3. Flamingos on the roof

10 Magical London Experiences
Kensington Roof Gardens; photo by scsmith4 (Creative Commons)

10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

Flamingos on a London rooftop? Right on top of 99 Kensington High Street, you can find three different types of gardens: a Tudor-style garden, a Moorish-style garden, and an English-style garden. In this latter garden you can most definitely find flamingos. Four actually, called Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks. The gardens are open to the public, unless pre-booked by a private party.

4. Afternoon tea in style

10 Magical London Experiences
Tea in the Orangery at Kensington Palace; photo by Dany Tolenga (Creative Commons)

10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

Nothing beats the English classic that is afternoon tea, and what’s better than having your afternoon tea in the Duke and Duchess’ back garden? The Orangery at Kensington Palace was built especially for Queen Anne in the 1800s as a location for her to entertain the upper class, but nowadays we ‘normal’ folks can enjoy a delicious afternoon tea in here. I treated my cousin to a delicious tea for her birthday at the Orangery once, and we both felt like princesses!

5. Ghosts of the past

10 Magical London Experiences
Enchanting Highgate Cemetery; photo by Maaike van Kuijk

Highgate Cemetery is one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen. I joined a guided tour of the west cemetery, and although it was a little bit creepy, I was constantly in awe while walking through the jungle of gravestones. And a literal jungle it is because all of the gothic statues, tombs and mausoleums overgrown with branches, leaves and bushes.

10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

6. Shopping and stadiums

10 Magical London Experiences
Olympic Park; photo by Maaike van Kuijk

In 2012, the spotlights were on London sights, and, more specifically, on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. Three years have passed since the Olympic events, but it’s still a lovely place to visit. A large shopping centre at the entrance is now home to shops, a sumptuous food court, a cinema, and bowling alleys. The park itself is also a great place to visit on a sunny day, as you can lie on the grass taking in the views of the enormous stadiums that surround you. Or, take the lift all the way up to the observation deck of the ArcelorMittal Orbit and admire East London from above.

10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

7. Vintage markets, curry and graffiti

10 Magical London Experiences
Brick Lane street sign in English and Bengali; photo by Mic (Creative Commons)

I originally visited Brick Lane because I wanted to see firsthand if all the stories about the vintage markets, food halls and music events were true. I can assure you: all the rumors are true, and Brick Lane is a great place to visit (especially on a Sunday when all the markets are in full operation). I didn’t expect, however, to find so much incredible street art during my stroll through the streets. The places where you can find amazing works of graffiti stretch from Brick Lane to Shoreditch in the east.

10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

8. Cinema extravaganza

10 Magical London Experiences
Greenwich Park, site of an open-air cinema; photo by Maaike van Kuijk

Several organizations in London organize outdoor cinema events during the summer months. My friend and I decided to book tickets to the Greenwich Park viewing of ‘Gravity’. The experience itself was even more spectacular than I had imagined. From our position high up on the hill in Greenwich Park, we saw the sun set over London and the city lighting up at night. Honestly and absolutely incredible.

10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

9. Market of yesteryear

10 Magical London Experiences
Leadenhall Market; photo by Loco Steve (Creative Commons)

Leadenhall Market is a covered market that dates back to the 14th century. It’s hidden between some of the most modern buildings of London and is home to several shops and restaurants. The arcades of the market are beautifully decorated, and it’s a place I really like to go for lunch.

10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

10. World of magic

10 Magical London Experiences
Warner Bros. Studios in London; photo by Nick Moulds (Creative Commons)

I’ve never been a true ‘Potterhead’ myself to be honest, but to be able to visit the studios where the ‘magic was brought to life’ was an offer I just couldn’t refuse. And I am so glad I decided to go, because there was so much of what was used in the movies: costumes, props, wigs, special effects, you name it! It’s even possible to sit in the original flying Ford Anglia, buy butterbeer, and walk through Diagon Alley, where the students of Hogwarts bought their broomsticks and owls.

10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss top image of the Harry Potter studio tour by Nick Moulds (Creative Commons)

About Maaike van Kuijk

Maaike van KuijkMaaike is a student currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in business communication & digital media. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in international tourism management & consultancy, and was born and raised in the Netherlands. During her internship in London, she fell completely in love with the city and now suffers from an unhealthy addiction that bounds her to the British capital forever. Is absolutely passionate about travel, photography, and theatre. Writes about London and other travels on her blog.

2 thoughts on “10 London Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

  1. March 24, 2015
    Reply

    This is wonderful! I love that you show so many places that tourists probably haven’t even heard of before. I have to say my favorite of them all is the cemetery. I’d love to visit that place, as well as the Leadenhall Market, although I have to learn how to pronounce it first!

    Thank you for this post!

    • March 24, 2015
      Reply

      Thank you so much for your lovely feedback Marie! It definitely is worth the trip.

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