So I’m leaving London for a while 😬. I moved to London from Cyprus six years ago, 3 of those years were spent in Bath while I studied but for the past year I’ve been back in London.
London is such a busy, bustling city full of diversity and so many different areas and cultures to explore. Unfortunately though living here doesn’t really do much for me at the moment; I feel like it doesn’t give me the quality of life I would like. So I have decided to move on from London. I will be going back home to Cyprus for a while and have that as a base while I go travelling. But before leaving I wanted to properly explore what London has to offer so over the past year I’ve been trying to see more of London! Here is my list of things I did before leaving London:
1. Parks Parks Parks
One thing I’ve always loved about London compared to Cyprus was the parks! There are actual massive parks full of greenery that you can get lost in. And if you’re lucky enough to get a dry day it’s the perfect place for a stroll and a picnic!
So I made sure to visit as many parks as I could, both local ones and more famous ones like Kew Gardens and Hyde Park.
2. Alexandra Palace
Alexandra Palace is located in North London which is where I was living so it was fairly close to me. This kind of comes under the park category as there is a beautiful park right in front of the palace but the palace itself is worth a visit! One of the reasons that I love this spot is because it’s so high up and gives you a beautiful view of London’s skyline, I mean…
Fun fact, the first ever TV signal was broadcast from Alexandra Palace to the Queen’s TV in Buckingham Palace. Because of its high location it was the perfect place for broadcasting!
And you don’t just get a pretty view here, Alexandra Palace holds many events from concerts to fairs and conventions, if you’re visiting London it’s worth checking out what events they’ll have on! Also in the winter they have a massive ice skating rink!
3. Notting Hill
I can’t believe it took me nearly 6 years of living in England to visit Nothing Hill, considering the fact that the movie Notting Hill is one of my faves.
You can spend a whole day here exploring Portobello market and pretend you’re Hugh Grant walking through the seasons, spoiler alert the weather doesn’t actually change as you walk 😕.
Nothing Hill is such a beautiful area in general, filled with creative street art and rows and rows of colourful houses!
4. Go to a Comedy Club
So I had never been to a comedy club before, neither had I thought about going to one. But a friend of mine, Elena, who’d been a few times kindly took me for my birthday and it was so much fun! We went to the Comedy Store in Leicester square and it was such a lovely evening.
We went and had dinner at a Thai restaurant in Chinatown then headed to the show. There is a bar inside so you can enjoy a gin and tonic while having a good laugh! A very British way to spend a Friday night! Tickets aren’t that expensive either!
5. Visit the Graffiti Tunnel
Also known as the ‘Banksy’ Tunnel! This tunnel is located on Leake street by Waterloo station. It’s covered top to bottom with amazing, creative pieces of street art. The combination of different art styles all work together to create a captivating sight!
If you’re lucky you can watch artists putting up their work too! There are also a couple of trendy bars and cafes hidden away under the tunnel. If you appreciate street art or just wanna get an artsy insta shot, Graffiti Tunnel is definitely worth a visit!
6. Visit an Instagram Café
Speaking of getting that insta shot, another thing I wanted to try in London was to visit an “Instagram cafe”. For those of you who aren’t sure what that is, it’s a cafe that has been made famous through Instagram due to the fact that they have stunning, decor that allow to take beautiful Insta-worthy photos 📸.
I visited Elan cafe which has a few locations around central London including Park Lane and Selfridges. I will say the decor is amazing! The walls are adorned in flowers, all shades of millennial pink. Lit up quotes about coffee, friendship and adventure…. i.e. an Instagramer’s dream! The menu has an array of unconventional coffees as well as the standard lattes and cappuccinos. What seemed to be their specialty though was their cakes which looked delicious. I ordered a nitro cold coffee and a banana bread thingy.
OK so it all looked very pretty as you can see, however, I unfortunately have to say the coffee tasted awful. It takes a lot for me to say something isn’t good, I want expecting the best coffee I’ve ever tasted but I did expect it to be drinkable. I even added quite a bit of sugar and milk even though I don’t normally, just so I could drink it, because it wasn’t cheap and I hate waste. However even then I couldn’t finish it. It was my first time drinking nitro coffee so I thought well maybe this is just how it tastes and I don’t like it. But my cousins who ordered a latte and a cappuccino also said that it wasn’t drinkable. So I was fairly disappointed, especially because it wasn’t cheap and also for a CAFE your coffee should at least be drinkable. It seems that the focus is more on the decor than the coffee but then again that is what brings people to this cafe so you can’t really blame them. Saying that though the food I had was really tasty, I enjoyed that the banana bread, it tasted as good as it looked. So maybe if you’re going for cake and a pretty photo then it’s worth a trip but if it’s coffee you’re looking for this Instagram cafe doesn’t cut it.
I also visited Peggy Porschen about a year ago, located in Victoria, it has also become popular through Instagram. Though this place is a lot smaller than Elan it’s more famous for its cakes and cupcakes. I got an iced latte and banofee cupcake. The coffee was much better here, it was drinkable, not amazing but decent. However the cupcake was amazing, it’s definitely worth the trip and the price!
7. Camden Market
So this is a standard spot to visit in London but I realized I hadn’t visited Camden in a while and fancied going again before I left London. My boyfriend visited me a couple of months ago so it was the perfect excuse to show him Camden Market. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon, getting lost in the winding market stalls.
And of course trying some unique foods at the food market! You know those foodie videos you see on facebook? There are a few stalls in Camden that have been featured in them, like the pasta that’s swirled in a massive cheese wheel before being served. Unfortunately when we went to get some the guy was closing, I was so disappointed.
Instead we got some mac and cheese though which was really good. I also wanted to try the famous vegan kebab by What the Pitta, which isn’t in the food stalls but about a 5m walk from Camden tube station. When I first went vegetarian, being Cypriot, one of the things I wasn’t sure I could give up was a gyro so when I found out there was a vegan kebab that had won a British Kebab Award I thought I had to try it. And it was soooo good, the soy “meat” had the right texture and the flavour was on point, so juicy and delicious. Even my boyfriend who’s a big meat lover enjoyed it!
So yeah Camden is a great spot for foodies and for some alternative shopping too!
8. Food Market at Southbank
Another food market that’s worth a visit is the one in Southbank, next to the Southbank centre. It’s not far from Waterloo station so could be combined with a trip to the Graffiti tunnel! This market is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and consists of food from around the world! Each stall has authentic food from a different country and there’s so much to choose from!
You can then take a lovely stroll along the Thames with your food! There’s lots to see and explore at Southbank!
9. Visit Hogwarts
Sort of. Ok so this isn’t technically in London, it’s in Watford but it’s just outside London so I’ll count it. Warner Brothers Studio Tour is so worth a visit if you’re a Harry Potter fan!
I went about 5 years ago, but since then new sections of the tour were added like the Hogwarts Express and Forbidden Forest (which is kinda spooky!). So I thought I had to visit again before I leave! We visited for my friend Ellie’s birthday as she is a fellow Potterhead ⚡️ and you’re never too old to get lost in the magical world of Harry Potter, amiright.
10. Ballie Ballerson
Have you heard about that club in London where they have a ballpit? Yes? Well I went there a few months ago and it was just as fun as it sounds! Although the it was less ‘club’ and more ‘ballpit’ but hey I wasn’t complaining!
You can book your tickets online and you have to select a timeslot to be in the ballpit. There are two ballpits, one small one at the front that looks out on the street, filled with red and black balls:
And a bigger one at the back, filled with clear/white balls and colourful lights, which is the one you’ll probably recognise from photos of this place. Thankfully it wasn’t that busy when I went with a couple of friends. We had a drink and then dived straight in, balls deep….
Ballie Ballerson is located in Shoreditch, thank you to my friend Saba for discovering it and making the trip happen ❤. Who doesn’t like feeling like a kid in a ballpit, but with alcohol? (FYI alcohol isn’t allowed in the actual ballpit, probably coz you need both hands for a ballpit fight 😜).
That’s All Folks
So that was my list of 10 things to do in London. There are things I will miss about this lively city but I’m also excited for what’s to come (whatever that may be). If you’re planning a trip to London soon or already live here but want to see more of your city then go for it! Follow me on Instagram @coffee_travel_repeat and tag me if you visit any of these places, I’d love to see you’re perspective! Until next time 😘.