Fun things to do after work in London?
August 12, 2019 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be working from London for a week in September near Monument Station. Can you recommend some fun stuff to do after work or on the weekend?

I went once before a few years ago and I:
* Went to an exhibition at the British Library
* Visited the Tate and the British Transport Museum
* Did a lot of shopping (at Joy the Store, M&S, House of Fraser, Spitalfields Market, and a boutique that sold handmade stuff that no longer seems to exist)
* Tooled around a residential neighborhood, saw Lucy Sparrow's felt bodega, and got a delicious bakewell tart from a local bakery
* Enjoyed seeing (and trying) all the cool stuff at the supermarket that's hard to find in the U.S.
* Went to Bath and Stonehenge on a weekend trip

I like handmade stuff, clothes, history and educational stuff, and interesting food. I'm not really interested in bars, and I don't enjoy places like the British Museum.

Any recommendations on cool stores or experiences? I won't have a car, but I'm game for anything accessible by public transportation.
posted by marfa, texas to Travel & Transportation around London, England (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Londonist is my source of cool things to look out for or do.
posted by moiraine at 9:52 AM on August 12, 2019

If you can get to Westminster Abbey before 6pm, they do Wednesday Lates, which is pretty much exactly as it sounds where they offer late admission on Wednesday evenings. When I went there were hardly any tourists and it was nice to walk around in relative solitude. London Walks offers quite a few evening walks. I've found them all to be very educational and I often see parts of London I wouldn't find on my own, but they do sometimes get a bit crowded. If you're going to be eating dinner by yourself, I've found several tapas restaurants that are great for solo dining because you can eat at the bar and watch the food being made. My favorites are Sabor and Barrafina. For a weekend museum trip, I thought the Churchill War Rooms were fascinating. If you buy your timed ticket in advance you can avoid the (sometimes) long line to get in. It's quite small but really well curated and the amount of modern history it covers—considering it's only Churchill's lifetime—is amazing.
posted by shornco at 10:02 AM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

+1 Dinner at Barrafina

Evening walk along the south bank of the Thames
Borough Market
Parks: Vauxhall, Greenwich, Regents, Hyde
Scones and tea at Gail's Bakery
posted by 4rtemis at 10:41 AM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

The London Mithraeum is a relatively new exhibition surrounding a Roman temple and is basically next door to Monument -
posted by corvine at 11:58 AM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love the river bus - you tap on and off just like the tube and get an amazing view of London. You can get to Greenwich in one direction and Putney in the other - both good for a few hours' pottering.
posted by cardamine at 2:03 PM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here's some stuff that's on my radar at the moment, all of it reachable on foot or by Tube/Overground from central London. I'll start with the evening things.

The thing I'm currently most excited about myself is Chihuly Nights at Kew Gardens: late evening opening on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays till sometime in October, to enjoy the spectacular Chihuly exhibition after dark.

More art: Go to Tate Modern on a Friday evening to see the Olafur Eliasson exhibition, on till January.

Yet more art: The Frieze Sculpture Park is in Regent's Park till October. Regent's Park is open till 8pm in September.

That's stuff that's on for the whole of September. Here are some things for which the exact timing of the trip matters more:

If you're there earlyish in the month, you can watch an evening performance of Macbeth at the (ancient, unusual) Temple Church until 7th September. The British Library, late opening Tuesdays, has a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition on till 8th September. The Charterhouse Garden near the Barbican, easily walkable from Monument, is open for an evening tour on the 12th. And you can find out about the history and psychology of magic until the 15th at the Wellcome Collection, open late on Thursdays.

If instead you're there right at the end of September, the Science Museum opens late on the 25th for its monthly adults-only Lates session; the theme is Top Secret, tying into a codebreaking exhibition. And the Natural History Museum follows suit on the 27th with "World Wild Webs: Our Interconnected Planet". These are fun evenings - talk to scientists about their work, enjoy the museum without the hordes, offer a toast the the giant ground sloth.

At the weekend... Definitely go to the Mithraeum, and if Roman history interests you, there's plenty of it around. Book yourself onto a tour to see the Billingsgate Roman House and Baths and pick up a leaflet showing you the walking route to more sites (and sights). Pop into All Hallows by the Tower and enjoy the museum in its crypt. Peer at bits of Roman wall, still standing all these centuries later. Take a look at the Guildhall Art Gallery and admire the remains of the amphitheatre in its basement.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:54 PM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

You should definitely try to get to Borough Market although you might have to go at lunchtime or the weekend. It's a 5 minute walk over London Bridge from Monument. Another thing you could do is visit the actual Monument, and climb to the top if you so desire
posted by el_presidente at 3:13 PM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Some ideas:

- The Columbia Road flower market on Sundays in Hackney. It's just such a uniquely London experience.
- A Sunday Roast in a pub. Nearly every pub will offer one, and I have tried many. So far my favorite has been The Lion and Unicorn in Kentish Town, you can get there on the northern line and then wander the Camden Market and finish with a pint at the world's end, that would be an excellent Sunday.
- Wander Brick Lane, look at the street art, and get yourself a legendary curry. There's also a ton of great street food. They have an outdoor market on Saturdays. Central line to Shoreditch High Street or Northern Line to Old Street from Bank Station, then a nice walk through a very cool area to the market.
- The Barbican! It's a very unusual cultural center with a movie theater, live performance theaters, restaurants and art installations, and just.. people hanging out? Must be seen to really understand.
- Go see a musical or show in the west end! I'm a big fan of "Everybody's Talking About Jamie" - which is an "only in England" kind of musical about a Sheffield boy who wants to be a drag queen and how his family and community support him. It's beautiful and very special.
- Dine in a fancy Michelin star restaurant (if you can afford it!). There are so many in London.
- Check out The Viktor Wynd (I haven't done this yet but it's been highly recommended)
- There's some great weird history right near where you're staying, there's the old London wall, which snakes through the bank district and dates back to Roman times, and the London Museum which has some great old artifacts.
- I also love Westminster Abbey, of all the tourist destinations, that one is the most mind-blowing, in my opinion.
- Borough Market is absolutely lovely. It's great to wander and people watch. It's more of a day thing though, so go on the weekend, it will be full of pubbers after work but none of the stalls will be open.
- If you're really up to explore, you could head out to Brixton, there's an incredibly cool market/creative space there called Pop Brixton that has local events. Right outside are some really cool street markets. If you're a music person lots of bands come through and play Brixton and there are some great venues.
posted by pazazygeek at 2:31 AM on August 13, 2019

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