After 10 years living in London, I decided to share some tips for places to go and things to do that you might not come across in the guide books. I currently live near Dalston, and have lived in various parts of east London this past decade. I’ve been through a lot and have had some amazing adventures. I hope you enjoy exploring this playground of a city too.
If you love the movies…
As an ex-film-studies student I love going to the cinema. It’s the best way to get really immersed in a story and forget about the outside world for a few hours. There’s loads of really cool independent and quirky cinemas in London. My favourite is Genesis in Stepney Green. They did it up a few years ago but it’s still really cheap. They have a cute cafe downstairs and a bar upstairs, as well as tasty pizza by the slice (I recommend the vegan option). Another great cinema is Rich Mix, by Shoreditch overground station. It has other cultural events as well as films, and a good mixture of popular and more subversive offerings. South of the river? Peckham Plex is another quirky little cinema that is ridiculously affordable and you can bring in your own snacks and drinks. I have to mention the Prince Charles Cinema by Leicester Square as well. It’s great for cult screenings, marathons and other special events.
If you like to get weird…
There are, of course, a lot of weird and wonderful things to do in London. Are you into strange, Gothic collectables and indistinguishable objects in jars? Yes? Then go to the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities on Mare Street in Hackney. The cocktail bar upstairs is quite cool and the museum downstairs is the strangest and most creepy I’ve been to. They sometimes have a reptile guy down there too. He used to be a regular at the Secret Garden Party festival, and will let you meet his reptile collection. Check the website to see what they’ve got on.
Are you looking for a unique night out? Do you like floaty fabrics, world music and staying up until the morning? Then you might like Whirl-Y-Gig. It’s a night that’s been running for years and years, yet has managed to stay totally unique and special. It’s a festival goer-type crowd of people of all ages. If you have the stamina to go all night, you’re rewarded by a parachute descending from the ceiling to cover the entire crowd, who sit in a sweaty heap on the floor beneath it. Bring an open mind and heart.
If you like culture, dahling…
This is not so ‘under the radar’, but the Tate Modern is really accessible and fun. It’s spacious and the turbine hall often has intriguing and interactive exhibits. Also, you can go right to the top of the chimney for free, and the 360-degree view is amazing. Don’t forget to look down over the Millenium Bridge and towards Saint Pauls on the other side of the Thames.
The Horniman Museum is in a lovely location, but it is a bit far out. It’s definitely worth a visit, but why not make a day trip of it and go to Dulwich Park nearby as well, where you can hire out bicycles and ride around. The museum itself has lovely gardens up on a hill which looks out over London. The collection includes a wide variety of stuffed animals, including the famous, over-stuffed walrus. It’s a quirky place in a beautiful setting with a lot of history and food for thought for biology enthusiasts.
That’s all for now, though I may post some more London blogs if these go down well. It’s certainly an area I know well. Have you been to any of the places I’ve mentioned here or in Part One? Is there anywhere you think I should of mentioned or a category I’ve missed? I’d love to hear from you.