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While no trip to London would be complete without ticking off the top sites, the only way to really get under the skin of a city is to follow the locals to their favourite haunts. In a destination as fascinating and diverse as London, there’s plenty to learn about local culture from the city’s 8.6 million residents. From popular parks to hidden beer gardens, bespoke tailors to bustling market stalls, here’s how to see London like a local.
London may be known for its historic sights, but it’s in the parks that you’ll experience local life. From central London favourites like Hyde Park and Regent’s Park (and its secret garden) to green spaces out in the boroughs, where you can take a dip in a natural lido or snack on lunch at a garden café, these are some of the best places to people watch in the city.
Why buy off-the-peg when bespoke tailoring is at your fingertips? Give your wardrobe a serious facelift with a trip to the skilled artisans of Savile Row or Jerymn Street. Here, craftspeople use time-honoured techniques to create bespoke handmade suits, clothing, shoes and accessories, designed for the perfect style and fit.
If there’s one thing that Londoners love more than the sun, it’s a frosty pint of beer. When the two come together, it’s party time. As soon as the clouds part, it seems like the whole city flocks to the nearest al fresco watering hole. From roof terraces with dramatic views to leafy beer gardens and courtyards, there are seemingly countless places across the city where you can sit back and relax with a pint.
Many of the capital’s best markets aren’t just for shopping; they’re for dining, drinking and socialising, too. This is certainly the case at Spitalfields in East London, where trendy restaurants and buzzing bars flank pop-up stalls selling everything from clothing and accessories to books and antiques.
London may be known for its luxury department stores and dazzling shopping streets, but away from the crowds, independent boutiques are the real trendsetters. Just like Carnaby Street reinvented London’s fashion scene in the Swinging Sixties, lesser-known designers are changing the game from the bottom up. Boutiques can be found all over the city, from upscale designs in the West to quirky, avant-garde offerings in the East.
Museum of London
It’s easy to forget that, once upon a time, London was a humble Roman town known as Londinium. Discover how the city blossomed from a small riverside settlement into one of the most exciting and powerful capitals in the world with a walk through this eye-opening museum, which also tells stories of Londoners through the ages.