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80 Things Every True Londoner Has Done

River bus on the River Thames London

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 72 things, which in my mind makes me 90% 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!

Historical

  1. Climb the 311 steps of the Monument to the Great Fire of London 
  2. Visit Westminster Abbey 
  3. Watch a debate at the Houses of Parliament 
  4. Look around St Paul’s Cathedral – climb 528 steps to the Golden Gallery and explore the crypt 
  5. Visit the Tower of London – mainly to see the Crown Jewels 
  6. Cross Tower Bridge 
  7. Walk along Whitehall and see 10 Downing Street, the Foreign Office and various imposing ministries 
  8. Stand astride Greenwich Meridian Line that divides the eastern and western hemispheres 
  9. Go inside Buckingham Palace – see the changing off the guards, visit the State Rooms or even attend an exclusive Royal Garden Party 
  10. Sneak into St James’ Palace – I’m only including this one as I’ve actually been inside! 
  11. Visit Kensington Palace – home to Princess Diana 
  12. Visit Hampton Court – home to King Henry VIII 
  13. Gaze up at Battersea Power Station 
  14. Visit Mansion House – home to the Lord Mayor of London 
  15. Climb on top of the lions in Trafalgar Square ✓

Outdoors

  1. Picnic in Hyde Park 
  2. Feed squirrels in St James’ Park 
  3. Admire the flowers in Regent’s Park 
  4. Play rounders or cricket on a sunny day in Battersea Park 
  5. Ride a Boris Bike 
  6. Take a river bus or night cruise on the River Thames 
  7. 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 
  8. Stroll through the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens and visit the tropical Palm House 
  9. Take in the scenic view over London from Primrose Hill 
  10. Swim in Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds
  11. Meet the animals at London Zoo 
  12. Go for a picnic in Richmond Park and spot the deer 
  13. Visit Brompton Cemetery ✓

Sporting

  1. Watch rugby at Twickenham ✓
  2. Drink Pimm’s, eat strawberries and cream and watch tennis at the Wimbledon Championships 
  3. Cheer for the runners in the London Marathon 
  4. Go ice-skating in Winter – at Somerset House / the Natural History Museum / Exchange Square 
  5. Watch the annual Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race from the banks of the Thames
  6. Watch the cricket at Lord’s ✓

Artistic and Cultural

  1. 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 
  2. See a West End musical 
  3. See a major fashion exhibition at the V&A and Somerset House 
  4. Experience a Shakespeare classic at the open air Globe Theatre 
  5. Laugh at stand-up comedy around Leicester Square and Soho 
  6. Learn something new at the British Museum 
  7. Explore the Natural History Museum 
  8. Be cultural at the Southbank Arts Centre 
  9. See a classical concert at the Royal Albert Hall
  10. See world-class art for free at the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery – the latter is my favourite 
  11. See an opera or a ballet at the Royal Opera House
  12. Go to a concert at the O2 
  13. Spot the street art in East London 
  14. Listen to jazz at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Bar 
  15. Catch a summer performance at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre 

Areas to Walk Around

  1. Go window shopping in Sloane Square & on the King’s Road 
  2. Treat your taste buds at Borough Market 
  3. Shop for vintage goodies at Portobello Market 
  4. Wander through Camden Lock Market 
  5. Bargain at Spitalfields Market 
  6. Eat at Brixton Village Market 
  7. Walk through Covent Garden – but don’t buy anything, it’s far too touristy 
  8. Buy flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market
  9. Meander along the canals in Little Venice 
  10. Party at Notting Hill Carnival – the last weekend of August 
  11. Go house-shopping along Billionaire’s Row 

Eating, Drinking and Celebrating

  1. Eat an Indian curry on Brick Lane 
  2. Dine in Chinatown 
  3. Dress up for a black-tie ball – mine were all Scottish Reeling balls 
  4. Have drinks in an old-fashioned member’s club in Mayfair 
  5. Watch the fireworks on Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve) 
  6. Drink champagne at Kensington Roof Gardens 
  7. Cheese and wine underground at Gordon’s wine bar – the oldest in London 
  8. Eat at Rule’s restaurant – the oldest in London
  9. Indulge in Afternoon Tea in a five-star luxury hotel 
  10. Go for a Sunday roast lunch in a pub on the Thames – The Crabtree in Hammersmith is my favourite 
  11. Sing drunken karaoke at Lucky Voice in Soho 
  12. Go for alfresco drinks at Madison’s in the City, overlooking St Paul’s 
  13. Watch street performers in Covent Garden from the balcony of the Punch & Judy pub 
  14. Eat at the Christmas markets at Southbank 

Others

  1. Pose for photos in the London Eye 
  2. See the view from the Shard – London’s tallest building at 306 metres 
  3. Visit London Aquarium
  4. Watch a Sotheby’s or Christie’s auction
  5. Survive a night bus 
  6. Pay respect at Postman’s Park – a tiny park in the City which commemorates fallen heroes 

23 Comments »

  1. 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

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  2. 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? 🙂

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  3. 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!

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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.

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  6. 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 🙂

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