London, for those who have been to London before
May 19, 2018 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm heading out to London next week and looking for some suggestions - I was there just this last September and have done most of the main touristy things, but am back to visit a friend. I will be staying near Chalk Farm tube station. I will be there five nights so suggestions for day trips and/or overnight trips are also good.

Interests: I will probably go back to the Tate Modern (was there last time) and also into suggestions for other galleries or museums, though I have been to a lot of the main ones (british museum, V&A). Shopping suggestions are welcome - boutique/indie clothes and books, design (last time I did the big department stores, not really interested in big box or chains this time but a nice shopping area would be good). Restaurant and food suggestions are also welcome, I will eat pretty much anything, and am interested in food markets. I enjoyed one of Ottolenghi's restaurants the last time I was there. Walking tours or suggestions for good walks are also good (did Kew Gardens last time - really enjoyed them and might go back). Finally, I'm considering a day or overnight trip to Brighton or Oxford during the week (I'll be hanging out with my friend on the weekend) but also open to other suggestions for good day trips.
posted by scribbler to Travel & Transportation around London, England (12 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm duty-bound to recommend Cambridge over Oxford but both can be easily done as a day trip and are well worth it. Bath is a lovely destination for a longish day trip or an overnight.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:56 AM on May 19, 2018

I really enjoyed the Behind-the-Scenes Tour: Spirt Collection at the Natural History Museum.

Did you visit Covenant Gardens? It's a nice shopping area.

Lunch at the crypt is always nice.
posted by CMcG at 9:07 AM on May 19, 2018

I love this question! I'm a repeat London visitor as well. I love Sir John Soane's Museum and the Hunterian, which are right near each other. If you didn't do Liberty department store last time, I highly recommend it. I also did a day trip to Hampstead Court Palace which was a dream and easily accessible by train. Stonehenge was also a totally worthwhile day trip. I've also really enjoyed shows at the Globe if you haven't done that before. Also, buy all of the Cath Kidston things, and then send them to me.
posted by Polyhymnia at 9:11 AM on May 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Take a day trip to Windsor Castle. Then take another one to Brighton, and go to the Royal Pavilion. Do the audio tours in both - they're very interesting, and the difference between the two, both their appearance and their history, is really striking. And the Pavilion is breathtaking. They're both short and easy train rides from London.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 9:42 AM on May 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Go to Borough Market and get a toasted cheese sandwich from Kappacasein.
posted by asterix at 11:40 AM on May 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you are in Chalk Farm there's a lovely walk up Primrose Hill. It's windy there, and the view's so nice.
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 11:40 AM on May 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Museum of London, the London Transport Museum and the Foundling Museum are great and less visited museums.

The Foundling Museum is in Bloomsbury which makes it in spitting distance of the British Museum if you wanted to go back, as well as the Charles Dickens Museum and Sir John Soane's Museum. A really nice place to visit in Bloomsbury for boutiques, pubs, and food is Lamb's Conduit St, which is the home of Persephone Books. SKOOB (fantastic second hand) and Gay's the Word (LGBT) are also nearby if you're a bookworm. Bloomsbury in general is a really interesting place with lots of history and good places to eat.
posted by mymbleth at 2:32 PM on May 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nthing the Behind the Scenes tour at the Natural History Museum (friends I pointed at it were there recently and loved it too - it's a really unique collection, in a cutting edge storage space.)

I really enjoyed the London Walks tours I went on, and especially recommend if they're doing any special ones check them out. They also do some food and pub specific ones.

I also found the Hampton Court materials particularly well done, and they'd put a lot of thought into how to structure the experience and guide you through different aspects.

Some of the highlights of my trip (this was 2015, so a couple of years ago) involved checking out upcoming events at museums and other places I was interested in. I went to two really amazing unique lectures, both of which were very well done, and totally not a thing I could do at home. (One was in the Petrie Museum, and if you're at all interested in ancient Egypt, that collection is amazing.)
posted by modernhypatia at 7:40 PM on May 19, 2018

My wife and I enjoyed a walking tour of Roman London, if you like ancient history. The Sir John Soane's Museum came highly recommended and I can confirm it exceeded expectations. A cool place!

When we were last there for an August-September trip there were always really cool street shopping areas and warehouse artist shopping events in Shoreditch where my job put me.
posted by rustcellar at 7:57 PM on May 19, 2018

When you revisit the Tate Modern, stroll along the South Bank to eat at the (smaller) Southbank Centre Food Market and see the Leake Street Tunnel under Waterloo Station for graffiti.

Take an architecture tour to explore the Barbican; try for a Sunday when the conservatory is open.

Greenwich if you haven't been yet: ride a Thames Clipper (buy a joint ticket with another attraction), stand on the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory, see the Cutty Sark, visit the free National Maritime Museum and Queen's House, have afternoon tea at The Fan Museum's orangery, browse arts & crafts at the market.

Climb Parliament Hill and go to Kenwood House at Hampstead Heath.
See deer at Richmond Park.
Visit graves of famous people and book a tour of the West side at Highgate Cemetery.
Check out Chiswick House & Gardens, including conservatory.
Feed birdies at Kensington Gardens!

Food and shopping:
Portobello Market + walk to Holland Park with Kyoto Garden.
Brixton Market (Fish, Wings and Tings for Caribbean) + Pop Brixton.
Hopper for Sri Lankan.
posted by eyeball at 9:48 PM on May 19, 2018

If you like offbeat museums, check out Dennis Severs' House, which is weird but really interesting. Don't look up too much about it before you go.

After that, you can wander around the Spitalfelds and Brick Lane areas, which have good markets (one flea, one food stall) and are interesting neighborhoods for wandering.
posted by lunasol at 3:42 PM on May 20, 2018

I'm in London for ~two weeks a year for work! The places I've enjoyed:
  • (Art) The Serpentine Galleries for contemporary art, and the nearby temporary pavilion (they commission a different architect each year to design it)
  • (Fashion) While you're nearby, stop by egg, an incredibly fascinating boutique with the most beautiful interior. Very easy, relaxed, comfortable brands.
  • There's a whole cluster of places I really love in Soho (I'm usually there when I visit). Specifically:
    • (Fashion) OTHER/shop stocks a number of independent designers.
    • (Food) Yorica is a wonderful ice cream place with fun and surprising flavors, and especially good if you have any dietary restrictions. All the ice cream is dairy/nut/gluten–free.
    • (Fashion) MACHINE-A stocks some very well-known designers and some upstart London designers just out of CSM. Very compact store, super fun.
    • (Food) Bone Daddies is excellent ramen and their mochi desserts are wonderful.
    • (Food) Dishoom has excellent chai (ask for a re-up), excellent cocktails, really fun Indian food.

  • (Fashion) A bit further out from Soho—Dover Street Market is just floor after floor of curious, strange, fascinating, experimental (and largely very expensive) fashion. Not a place I go to buy things, but a wonderful place if you enjoy fashion as an art form.
  • (Books) Tenderbooks stocks a lot of independent artist publications; lots of photography/design/architecture things as well.
  • (Books) If you're in Shoreditch, I love Artwords, which is another arts and visual culture–focused bookstore.

Also—seconding the recommendations above to visit Persephone Books; the Barbican; Portobello Market.
posted by Sudo at 4:41 PM on May 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

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