The Alternative London Travel Guide: Unusual Ways to Get Around the City

The Alternative London Travel Guide: Unusual Ways to Get Around the City

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Host to millions of tourists each day, London is the third most-visited city in the world. The United Kingdom’s capital city is home to some of the most iconic global tourist attractions, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the London Eye. For those who love to shop, eat, and drink, options in the city are endless. And if you’re looking to skip the crowds and see what hidden treasures London has to offer, there are plenty of options too. Read this alternative London travel guide to discover some of the best unconventional ways to get the most out of your visit to this great city.

By Foot

London is a big city, so getting around can be an adventure in itself. London’s Underground system is well-known for good reason, but you’ll want to stay above-= ground as much as possible for a more captivating experience. Walking gives you total freedom to get off the beaten path and find your way around the city.
The Alternative London Travel Guide: Unusual Ways to Get Around the CityPhoto credit: @jennylijic 

London is home to many walking paths. Want to check out some of London’s better known sights? The Jubilee Walkway is a great way to explore sites like the Houses of Parliament, Tate Modern, and Tower Bridge.Along the way, you can also check out the ruins of a medieval church, Saint Dunstan in the East, for a truly historic experience. Originally built in the 11th-12th centuries, the ruins of the church now house a peaceful garden with benches and fountains.

If you’re after a more rural experience, you’ll certainly enjoy the Lea Valley walk, which takes you on a riverside journey through London’s industrial path. You can even visit the ancient parish town of Waltham Abbey, where the first known church was built in 610 A.D. by the King of the East Saxons.

The walk also leads to Canary Wharf, a busy commercial area that shows London at its most contemporary, and includes other sights such as the Royal Gunpowder Mills, Bow Creek Ecological Park, Myddleton House, and the Tottenham Marshes along the way.

Other musts on foot are the historic areas of Spitalfields and Brick Lane — now home to plenty of trendy shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants. Shopahilcs can get their fix at Spitalfields Market where you can shop to your heart’s desire.

Spitalfields has always been a place that showcases London’s diversity, and this dates back to the market’s origins in the 17th century. Today, that history can be seen in the colourful and varied sights of the area — a Huguenot church, a Jewish synagogue, a Methodist chapel, and a Muslim Mosque sit amidst the thriving new shops, restaurants, and markets.

Don’t overlook the chance to explore nearby Brick Lane and indulge in a famous Brick Lane bagel. Art lovers will want to check out the street’s graffiti display, which features work by many well-known graffiti artists, including Banksy! True crime fans may recognize the area as being Jack the Ripper’s haunting (or hunting) grounds, and Jack the Ripper tours are available. 

By Wheel

If walking just isn’t quick enough for you, another way to explore is via bicycle. There are many bicycle rental shops in London, or you can get a Santander Cycles membership. For a less busy cycle route, you may want to check out the Regent’s Canal route, which goes from Limehouse Basin to London Fields.

The route takes you along the canal and through three East London parks: Mile End, Victoria, and London Fields. You can end the journey in Broadway Market, home to many great eating and drinking spots.

The Alternative London Travel Guide: Unusual Ways to Get Around the City

Nature lovers can cycle from Hyde Park to the Chelsea Psychic Garden. Founded in 1673, Chelsea Psychic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in London, and home to 5,000 different plants.

For those who love the macabre, there’s no better place than London to satisfy that spooky urge. From London Bridge, you can follow Southwark street to the Cross Bones Graveyard. A pauper’s burial ground, the graveyard shut in 1853 and is the final resting place for an estimated 15,000 people.

The burial ground served as inspiration for John Constable’s collection The Southwark Mysteries — poems, plays, and lore — that was performed in the Globe and the Cathedral. This same route will also guide you to the Hunterian Museum, run by the Royal College of Surgeons. It houses the anatomy and pathology collections of eighteenth-century surgeon and anatomist John Hunter and, while fascinating, is not for the squeamish.

If you need a palate cleanser after all that, you can park your bike at Drury Lane and walk to Neal’s Yard, a photogenic, brightly coloured corridor of quirky shops, cafes, and bars.

Seasoned cyclists may be intrigued about conquering the Big Ben to Richmond Park loop. Featuring many steep climbs, this challenging 38-kilometer loop is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart. You’ll be rewarded not only with a sense of accomplishment, but with the beautiful sights of Richmond Park — you may even spot some deer!   

By Water
The Alternative London Travel Guide: Unusual Ways to Get Around the City Photo credit: Back of beyond UK

You can also get on the water for a truly unique experience. There are many canoe and kayak tours you can book that will take you along the Thames, giving you a view of central London — and a bit of a work-out while you’re at it.

Many of the kayak tours welcome everyone from beginners to experienced kayakers. Going from Battersea to Greenwich, you’ll see all of London’s landmarks including the historic sailing ship — the Cutty Sark, the Globe Theatre, St Pauls Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Lambeth Palace, and more.

A kayak or canoe trip along the Thames is perfect for those who want to see the sights of central London, while having a bit of an adventure along the way. If kayaking or canoeing isn’t your thing and you’d rather sit back and relax, there are many riverboat tours and cruises along the Thames as well.

Take a Breather

The Alternative London Travel Guide: Unusual Ways to Get Around the City

Photo credit: @thesorientado

It’s easy to get swept up in all London has to offer — sightseeing can be tiring! Take a rest in one of London’s many green spaces. While some are quite busy, there are lots of “secret gardens” tucked away, so you can get away from the hustle and bustle.

Hampstead Heath is a must-visit. For a more tranquil experience, you can check out the Pergola. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century by Lord Leverhulme as a setting for his extravagant garden parties. Today, the area is empty and elegantly run down, featuring beautiful gardens and an elevated walkway that’s perfect for exploring and photographing. In the evening, you might even spot some bats, which roost among the abandoned buildings.

London is a big city and whether you’re traveling by foot, bicycle, boat, or underground, you’ll want to make sure you’re properly prepared. If you can’t check into your accommodation yet — or have already checked out — using a luggage storage service like BagsAway will allow you to travel light, and maximize your time. London Luggage Storage offers a directory of luggage storage in London, so you can find the most convenient location and free yourself up to explore.

For the adventurous traveler, London is full of interesting and exciting options, brimming with history and culture. Happy travels!

Take a look at this video for more impressions from London:

Check some travel books about London:

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This is an alternative London travel guide about a different ways to explore the city, including many less known and off the beaten sites. This is an alternative London travel guide about a different ways to explore the city, including many less known and off the beaten sites.

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