A Weekend in London: Non-Touristy Places

A Weekend in London: Non-Touristy Places

If you are not in London for the first time and have had enough of fighting through the crowds of tourists to reach the most popular locations of the city, then it’s time to conquer new horizons.

Londoners love to spend their weekends away from the central districts. Here are somewhat fewer people, the coffee and food are nicer, and the prices are reasonable. Read in our article how to blend in with the locals and spend an atypical weekend in the British capital.

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What to do in the city

Drink coffee on Regents Canal

This canal, stretching nearly 14km, runs from the center of London to the East of the city, encompassing boroughs including Paddington, Camden, Islington and Hackney. Therefore, there are lots of places where you can watch the locals diluting their hangover with coffee on Saturday morning. If you want to get closer to the center then you’ll find a nice place in the district of Little Venice next to Paddington railway station, such as The Waterside Café or The Summerhouse where coffee starts at £3.

Waterside Café

The Summerhouse

Regent’s Canal. Photo: Will Rodrigues/Shutterstock

Heading towards the north-east it’s worth looking into the tiny Towpath Café, where you can eat a delicious breakfast with coffee for £8-10, or an ideal café for your Instagram The Barge House with a view over the canal, where at the weekend you can order “breakfast in bread” for £15. But bear in mind that this place is highly popular, so you need to book a table in advance for a weekend morning. And after your coffee ritual be sure to go for a walk along the canal and discover where it takes you.

Towpath Café

The Barge House

Visit a market

What’s so unique about London markets? Well, each district of the city holds farmer’s markets on Saturdays or Sundays. It’s more like a multitude of tents on a square or large car park with farm-produced vegetables, craft goods or ready meals to take away. You will surely want to spend a couple of hours here, tasting the local produce or simply eyeing the residents.

Broadway market. Photo: Alena Veasey/Shutterstock

Some of the most popular markets away from the city center are Broadway Market (open on Saturdays from 9:00 to 17:00) or Alexandra Palace Farmer’s Market (open on Sundays from 10:00 to 15:00), while if you don’t want to go far from the center then there are the wonderful Duke of York Square Food Market (open on Saturdays from 10:00 to 18:00) and Southbank Centre Food Market (open from Friday to Sunday).

Broadway Market

Alexandra Palace Farmer’s Market

Southbank Centre Food Market

A walk in the park

One of Londoners’ favorite pastimes at weekends is taking a walk in the city’s many parks (there are over 400 of them!). Apart from breathing the fresh air you can do some sport (for example tennis or cricket, rental costs from £5 per hour), visit museums, orangeries or monuments, or relax in a café with a cup of tea. For example, in Regent’s Park, one of the city’s largest parks, you can take in the open-air summer theater, gardens, fountains, sculptures and even the city’s main zoo — London Zoo — with entry costing from £24.

Regent’s Park

 

Regent’s Park. Photo: Flar Foster/Shutterstock

In Battersea Park on the bank of the Thames you can view a Buddhist pagoda with lots of Buddha statues, while closer to the center you will find an excellent café with a view of the fountains (the average check at lunch is £10).

Battersea

Clapham Common is another great option for spending the weekend. It hosts free concerts in the summer, while at any time of year you can use the roller-skating rink for free or take a selfie by the biggest stage in the country (used for concerts).

Clapham Common

Sunday lunch down the pub

For several centuries now the British have followed a tradition called Sunday roast. This dish goes back to the early 18th century, when everybody was expected to go to church on Sundays and after the service consume a large portion of roast beef with gravy, potatoes, boiled vegetables and Yorkshire pudding (baked batter).

Not many people go to church these days, but Sunday lunches remain a popular tradition throughout the country. Londoners like to go down the pub on Sundays with their family or friends to eat that very same roast with a pint of beer. The best pubs among many others for Sunday roast are The Harwood Arms (the only pub with a Michelin star, a three-course set meal costs £50), The Old Red Cow (£18), The Spaniard’s Inn (£20), and The Pig and Butcher (£20).

The Harwood Arms

The Old Red Cow

The Spaniards Inn

The Pig and Butcher

Treat yourself to shopping

Shopping at the weekend is a common activity for people from all over the world, and Londoners are also partial to spending half a day window shopping or trying on fashionable clothes. The locals are unlikely to been seen on Oxford Street famous for its shops or the adjacent Regents Street, where in both cases most of the shoppers are tourists. Londoners are more likely to choose one of the Westfield shopping centers to the East or the West of the city, or alternatives such as shops from the Coal Drops Yard shopping center, the market and shops in the district of Spitalfields, the ICON Outlet at The O2 in Greenwich or small streets with shops near their home.

Coal Drops Yard

ICON Outlet at The O2

Oxford Street and adjacent Regents street.

For example, in the western borough of Richmond, you will find the lively High Street where the shops include brands such as Cos, Gap, Topshop, Anthropologie and so on. You won’t have to worry about a ten-meter queue for the fitting rooms here, while the assortment rivals that of the three-story flagman stores in the city center. You can also find such shopping islands in the boroughs Chelsea, Angel, Kensington, Hampstead, Canary Wharf and so on.

Visit a museum at night

The British capital is a city of free museums. Late-night trips to London museums can be split into two categories. Some museums and galleries are open until late once per week or once per month, allowing people to view the exhibits at unusual times. But there are also separate late-night exhibitions that are considered events in themselves, with lectures, seminars, film shows, food and drinks within the museums. Among the most interesting late museums, we highlight Friday evenings at the British Museum every Friday until 20:30 and at the Natural History Museum on the last Friday of the month until 22:00. With the exception of certain exhibitions, entry is free. You can view a more detailed list of late-night events in London museums here.

The British Museum. Photo: Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB/Shutterstock

The British Museum

The Natural History Museum


Weekends in the British capital provide locals with packed leisure opportunities. The number of events available is mindboggling and threatens to empty anybody’s bank account. If you have some free days in London, don’t waste time in the queue at Madame Tussauds but instead take a look at the non-touristy spots where you will only encounter locals. So you will really have something to say when you get home, and your memories of the city will be greater for that.

But don’t forget that given the situation with coronavirus you should check in advance whether the museums or cafés that you want to visit are open. We also recommend booking tables and buying tickets online to be guaranteed visiting what you intended without waiting in queues.

Blend in with the locals in London

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