Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Neighbourhoods in London


London is so big that you could spend your entire life in the city and never feel like you’re done exploring. For those that have seen the highlights of the city centre, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path neighbourhoods in London that can keep you entertained. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to the UK capital or a long-time resident, here are five areas that are worth visiting.

Closest transport: Whitechapel (tube)

Over in east London, Whitechapel is not only one of the city’s most diverse neighbourhoods, but also has a wealth of historic and cultural highlights. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is famous for being the birthplace of both London’s Big Ben and America’s Liberty Bell, and the Royal London Hospital is so famous that it has its own museum. Some of the best curry houses in London are located in Whitechapel, too. Tayyabs and Lahore Kebab House both attract people from all over the city for great no-frills meals.

London Fields
Closest transport: London Fields (rail), Hackney Central (overground)

Also in east London, the neighbourhood in and around London Fields is a great place to explore. Close to Hackney and the famous Broadway Market, London Fields is known for its hipster crowd and lively nightlife scene. Good pubs and bars line the area around the park after which the neighbourhood is named, and new pop-ups crop up under the railway arches all the time.

Closest transport: Richmond (tube, rail)

Over in southwest London, Richmond is a posh neighbourhood with lots of good shopping and one of the city’s largest parks. Little lanes off the high street are packed with great boutiques, and the riverfront has a number of pubs with terraces that fill up on sunny afternoons. Richmond Park is famous for its deer, which have roamed the grounds since the days of King Henry VIII.

Closest transport: Brixton (tube)

South of the Thames, Brixton is one of London’s hottest up-and-coming neighbourhoods. Brixton Market draws people from all over the city on the weekends, and Brixton Village, an extension of the market, is home to all kinds of great restaurants and food stalls. Additionally, the Ritzy is a historic cinema with a great upstairs bar that features live music.

Closest transport: Hampstead (tube)

Up in north London, Hampstead may be off the beaten path, but it is one of London’s prettiest neighbourhoods. A little village next to a wild park, Hampstead has all the charm of the countryside with the advantage of being very close to central London.

The high street has great shops, and tucked away around hidden corners are great historic pubs like the Holly Bush. Don’t miss a chance to wander through the narrow streets and over to Hampstead Heath, where Parliament Hill has some of the best views of London.

Top 5 City Breaks in England

Guards at Buckingham Palace

It’s easy to think of travelling to Europe when city breaks come to mind, but there are some great English cities that are easily accessible by car, bus, or train, and are worth a visit in their own right.

Here are my picks for the top 5 city breaks in England:

Brighton is a great city break in the summer months, when the English weather is at its best (if it cooperates, that is!). The city’s famous beaches and historic pier—complete with fun fair rides and entertainment—draw visitors from all over the UK and Europe, and are great places to start a city break.

But Brighton also has a wealth of other attractions. If you like shopping, the Lanes are a great place to go, and if you are into history, the Brighton Pavilion is one of the most stunning former royal residences in England. Additionally, nightlife lovers have no shortage of options for bars and clubs, as Brighton’s evening scene is one of the best in the UK.

Nestled in the Cotswolds and surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes, the city of Bath is rich in both history and culture. Famous for its ancient Roman baths—they can still be visited today—the spa city has featured in Jane Austen novels and other important literary and artistic works. Bath is great for many things, including shopping on its plethora of big and small streets, and architecture—don’t miss the famous Pulteney Bridge and the Royal Crescent, one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the UK.

Famous for its nightlife, Newcastle has a wealth of pubs and clubs, and a lot more, too. The city is home to a number of famous bridges, including the stunning Gateshead Millennium Bridge, as well as great museums like the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Performances at the futuristic Sage Gateshead are also popular with those visiting Newcastle, and historic Grey Street—with its beautiful 19th century architecture—was once voted the finest in Britain by listeners of the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

York is another great city break in England. The city is full of history and has a range of activities that are great for all types of travellers, from families to couples and singles. York Minster, the famous cathedral, is one of the most iconic sights in the city, as is York Castle. For those interested in history, the Jorvik Viking Centre is a great place to explore York’s past, and if you like views, don’t miss the chance to walk along the tops of the city’s medieval walls. Foodies will love the famous Betty’s Cafe and Tea Rooms, and those that like the water can enjoy a boat tour on the River Ouse.

The UK capital is perhaps the most famous city break in England, and if you haven’t already travelled to London, it’s worth a visit. With its wealth of entertainment options—think theatre, concerts, art, exhibitions, museums, and performances—and great restaurants and nightlife, there is something for everyone in London. And while the capital is an expensive city, there are plenty of free museums and great parks that make visiting London easier on the pocketbook.

Top 5 Parks in London

Sculptures i Hyde Park
Hyde Park

With its dense urban atmosphere and perpetual construction, London can be an overwhelming city at times. But there’s no shortage of green spaces in the city centre, and one of the best ways to escape the crowds is to visit one of London’s parks.

To help you choose which one to visit first, here is my list of the top 5 parks in London:

Hyde Park
The most famous park in London is also one of the largest. Hyde Park sits right smack in the middle of the city centre, and offers a wide variety of open spaces and entertainment throughout the year.

The famous Serpentine lake is a great place for boating in the summer months, and the cafes dotted around it are good places to relax and people watch.

In the winter, Hyde Park is home to Winter Wonderland, which features a German-style Christmas market, an ice skating rink, and carnival rides.

For art lovers, Hyde Park is home to the Serpentine Gallery and its neighbour, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. Both are known for their great contemporary art exhibitions, and the former features a summer pavilion designed by a different architect each year.

Adjacent to Hyde Park are the Kensington Palace Gardens, which are home to Kensington Palace and the Orangery. The latter is a great place for afternoon tea.

Regent’s Park
Another of the largest parks in central London, Regent’s Park is located in the northern part of the city centre. The ZSL London Zoo is located there, making it a great place for families to visit.

Additionally, the park has beautiful gardens that bloom throughout the year, and facilities like tennis courts for recreation.

In the summertime, Regent’s Park is home to the famous Taste of London food festival as well as the well-known Open Air Theatre, which stages performances ranging from operas to plays. In the autumn, the famous Frieze art fair takes over the park and attracts art lovers from all over the world.

St James’s Park
St James’s Park is perhaps the most beautiful park in London. Situated right between Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, it is home to some of the most colorful gardens in the city. Additionally, its large lake is occupied by bird species from all over the world.

A great place to relax and soak up the rare moments of London sunshine is Inn the Park, a cafe that serves light fare throughout the day.

Hampstead Heath
Slightly outside of the city centre, Hampstead Heath is nonetheless one of the best parks in London. Its vast space and wild, rugged terrain allow visitors to feel like they are out in the country even though they’re just a few tube stops away from central London.

Parliament Hill is one of the most famous parts of Hampstead Heath, not least because it has great views across the city.

The bathing ponds are also popular with those that can brave cold temperatures to go swimming. For culture lovers, Kenwood House is a popular museum with a great cafe.

Hampstead Heath is home to a number of annual events, including the Affordable Art Fair and fun fairs that take place on bank holidays.

For those that can’t get enough of the green space, nearby Golders Hill Park and Highgate Wood are also great parks to visit.

Richmond Park
South of central London, Richmond Park is one of the biggest and most famous of its kind in the city. A former royal hunting ground from the days of Henry VIII, the park is home to 650 wild deer and an abundance of walking paths. Additionally, Richmond Park has plenty of ponds, pretty woods, and a golf course.

Events like guided tours of the Isabella Plantation and Butterflies of Richmond Park courses also take place throughout the year.