80 Things Every True Londoner Has Done
My first love is foreign travel, without a doubt, and every item on my travel wishlist is outside of the UK. But by definition, “abroad” can only exist if you have a “home” country you live in. Mine is the UK, where I’ve spent 22 of my 25 years. I currently live in the inimitable city of London, and am proud to call myself a Londoner. I mean, there are millions and millions of people around the world that dream of travelling to London and even of living here one day, and here I am! It’s a world-class city that has everything you could ever imagine. We Londoners often forget just how fortunate we are to live here, and we moan about the weather, the transport, the cost of living in London.
I myself had a wobbly moment 2 weeks ago and declared right here on this blog that I was dissatisfied and even bored of London. A comment from my Italian friend Annalisa reminded me of how many people around the world would envy my ability to live in London, and I realised that I should stop being so ungrateful. No matter how much I may moan about London, realistically would I want to live anywhere else in the UK right now in my twenties? Hell no. (Outside of the UK is another matter, but inside the UK, it’s London 100%). It got me thinking about why I felt bored of London, when the city is the polar opposite of boredom! A lot of Londoners easily fall into a dull routine: working Monday-Friday, exercising and running errands, drinking and socialising on the weekends, wasting away their Saturdays and Sundays with hangovers, and then repeating it all the following week. They stick to the same parts of the city again and again and don’t break out of a fixed routine, missing out on so much that London has to offer. Had I fallen into this trap as well?
I thrive on to-do lists, and I adore that feeling of satisfaction when you cross something off – mission accomplished! Last year while living in Madrid for 6 months, I had a fantastic list of 101 Things to Visit in Madrid which gave me so many ideas for different areas to explore and things to do at the weekends (I managed 58 in just 6 months!). That list it prompted me to focus on the here-and-now and make the most of my time in Madrid, instead of always daydreaming of far-off, future trips. So a couple of weeks ago I started writing a list of different places and things I hadn’t yet visited in London, to spur me into action. The list grew longer and longer, and then I started thinking about all the experiences I have already had in London that are worth remembering.
So here is my definitive list of 80 things that every true Londoner has done. So far I’ve ticked off 74 things, which in my mind makes me 92% a true Londoner. So how much of a true Londoner are you? And what would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below and give me some new ideas for things to do in London!
- Climb the 311 steps of the Monument to the Great Fire of London ✓
- Visit Westminster Abbey ✓
- Watch a debate at the Houses of Parliament ✓
- Look around St Paul’s Cathedral – climb 528 steps to the Golden Gallery and explore the crypt ✓
- Visit the Tower of London – mainly to see the Crown Jewels ✓
- Cross Tower Bridge ✓
- Walk along Whitehall and see 10 Downing Street, the Foreign Office and various imposing ministries ✓
- Stand astride Greenwich Meridian Line that divides the eastern and western hemispheres ✓
- Go inside Buckingham Palace – see the changing off the guards, visit the State Rooms or even attend an exclusive Royal Garden Party ✓
- Sneak into St James’ Palace – I’m only including this one as I’ve actually been inside! ✓
- Visit Kensington Palace – home to Princess Diana ✓
- Visit Hampton Court – home to King Henry VIII ✓
- Gaze up at Battersea Power Station ✓
- Visit Mansion House – home to the Lord Mayor of London ✓
- Climb on top of the lions in Trafalgar Square ✓
- Picnic in Hyde Park ✓
- Feed squirrels in St James’ Park ✓
- Admire the flowers in Regent’s Park ✓
- Play rounders or cricket on a sunny day in Battersea Park ✓
- Ride a Boris Bike ✓
- Take a river bus or night cruise on the River Thames ✓
- Walk along the Thames Path – my favourite part is around Putney, Fulham, Hammersmith, Barnes and Battersea, but the whole path is 184 miles long in total ✓
- Stroll through the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens and visit the tropical Palm House ✓
- Take in the scenic view over London from Primrose Hill ✓
- Swim in Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds
- Meet the animals at London Zoo ✓
- Go for a picnic in Richmond Park and spot the deer ✓
- Visit Brompton Cemetery ✓
- Watch rugby at Twickenham ✓
- Drink Pimm’s, eat strawberries and cream and watch tennis at the Wimbledon Championships ✓
- Cheer for the runners in the London Marathon ✓
- Go ice-skating in Winter – at Somerset House / the Natural History Museum / Exchange Square ✓
- Watch the annual Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race from the banks of the Thames ✓
- Watch the cricket at Lord’s ✓
Artistic and Cultural
- Visit art exhibitions at the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern on the same day – bonus points for taking the river bus between the two ✓
- See a West End musical ✓
- See a major fashion exhibition at the V&A and Somerset House ✓
- Experience a Shakespeare classic at the open air Globe Theatre ✓
- Laugh at stand-up comedy around Leicester Square and Soho ✓
- Learn something new at the British Museum ✓
- Explore the Natural History Museum ✓
- Be cultural at the Southbank Arts Centre ✓
- See a classical concert at the Royal Albert Hall ✓
- See world-class art for free at the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery – the latter is my favourite ✓
- See an opera or a ballet at the Royal Opera House
- Go to a concert at the O2 ✓
- Spot the street art in East London ✓
- Listen to jazz at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Bar ✓
- Catch a summer performance at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre ✓
Areas to Walk Around
- Go window shopping in Sloane Square & on the King’s Road ✓
- Treat your taste buds at Borough Market ✓
- Shop for vintage goodies at Portobello Market ✓
- Wander through Camden Lock Market ✓
- Bargain at Spitalfields Market ✓
- Eat at Brixton Village Market ✓
- Walk through Covent Garden – but don’t buy anything, it’s far too touristy ✓
- Buy flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market
- Meander along the canals in Little Venice ✓
- Party at Notting Hill Carnival – the last weekend of August ✓
- Go house-shopping along Billionaire’s Row ✓
Eating, Drinking and Celebrating
- Eat an Indian curry on Brick Lane ✓
- Dine in Chinatown ✓
- Dress up for a black-tie ball – mine were all Scottish Reeling balls ✓
- Have drinks in an old-fashioned member’s club in Mayfair ✓
- Watch the fireworks on Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve) ✓
- Drink champagne at Kensington Roof Gardens ✓
- Cheese and wine underground at Gordon’s wine bar – the oldest in London ✓
- Eat at Rule’s restaurant – the oldest in London
- Indulge in Afternoon Tea in a five-star luxury hotel ✓
- Go for a Sunday roast lunch in a pub on the Thames – The Crabtree in Hammersmith is my favourite ✓
- Sing drunken karaoke at Lucky Voice in Soho ✓
- Go for alfresco drinks at Madison’s in the City, overlooking St Paul’s ✓
- Watch street performers in Covent Garden from the balcony of the Punch & Judy pub ✓
- Eat at the Christmas markets at Southbank ✓
- Pose for photos in the London Eye ✓
- See the view from the Shard – London’s tallest building at 306 metres ✓
- Visit London Aquarium
- Watch a Sotheby’s or Christie’s auction
- Survive a night bus ✓
- Pay respect at Postman’s Park – a tiny park in the City which commemorates fallen heroes ✓
So glad I read this! I have the day off and was planning to stay home and ‘rest’ but now I have 50new ideas of things I haven’t done yet! Love it x
Oh brilliant! Glad it’s helped! And I find lists do the exact same thing to me too.
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Westminster Cathedral, or Westminster Abbey? Or maybe both…?
Yikes you’re right, how could I make that mistake! I’ve just changed it to Abbey, thanks for pointing it out.
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This is a great idea – I should make a list like this for where I live (Sydney)! Also, I’m rather proud that I’ve done 5 things on your list – 6.5% a Londoner? 🙂
Thanks Bec! Well done on your 6.5% – I have never ever been to Sydney so you’re doing better than me in a swap!
Only 49 out of 75 for me! Shameful :s Certainly a load I want to add to my list for the Summer! 😉
Hehe the Crabtree is my fave pub too 🙂
So excited to make my way through of each of these places when I visit London! Great post 🙂
Glad it’s useful!
10 Downing Street? I’m planning a first time visit in May and now I have my own list of things to see and do. Many thanks!
Fab list! I’ve hardly done any of these and I’ve lived in London my whole life!! I probably did a lot of them when I was younger on school trips and with family but I really do feel like I should go and revisit some things again. The trouble is there is so much to see and do in London that I would never have been able to do it in all my 28 years anyway!
Thanks Ayla! And the list really could have been a lot longer too – I had to be very selective to keep it down to only 80!
Not a Londoner but proud to say I did 27% of this list during my one week trip to London last summer 🙂
Highgate cemetery is one that shouldn’t be missed! My favourite cemetery!
I was just going to echo Taryn’s comment! Highgate is as beautiful as a cemetery can be, and you have to read Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry to go alongside it.
If it has two recommendations then I really must go and see it! Thanks
Great list! There’s also the Barbican, science museum, Sherlock Holmes museum, museum of London, Charles Dickens museum, museum of Docklands plus all the boats/ships – cutty sark, hms Belfast and the golden hinde. Hope this gives you some more ideas.
Yes lots more ideas! Thank you Emma!
For living only 20 minutes for London my entire life I definitely haven’t done enough of this list! Hopefully I will make some time to tick a lot more off over this summer! Great post 🙂
Haha I’m glad it’s good inspiration!
Great list! I’ve recently been abroad and feel like I have a new lease of life for London, and a totally different perspective on it now. Looking forward to coming back and ticking off some of these things – first stop Colombia Road Flower Market!!!!!
Thanks! And welcome back – hope you enjoyed the flower market, I really need to go!