As a large capital city with thousands of years of history behind it, London attracts millions of tourists each year. Quite rightly, people want to visit the city and experience some of the culture and heritage which has helped to make London great but, unfortunately, these people tend to all flock to the same attractions meaning these popular landmarks and attractions can quickly become congested; even more so if you happen to visit during the summer months or UK school holidays. If you don’t mind bustling your way through the crowds then this might not bother you in the slightest but if you prefer to get a closer look at the works of Picasso in silence or want some peace to explore the history behind the London waterways, then you might prefer to follow these top tips on ways to beat the crowds when in London without compromising on your experience:-
Swap The Shard for The Sky Garden
The Shard is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get a 360 degree panoramic view of the city and on a clear day it is possible to see for up to 40 miles across London. However, the price of being the highest viewing platform in London means that it is also fairly pricey and busy with tourists. For a free and almost equally impressive view check out The Sky Garden instead. This public garden is free entry but tickets must be booked in advance and you are able to stay and enjoy the views of the likes of the Tower of London, the River Thames and even The Shard itself for a one hour slot. There is an outside observation deck, a terrace and huge floor to ceiling glass windows if you want the views without having to brave the elements.
Swap the Day for the Night
A number of London’s best art galleries and museums now offer late night openings on certain days of the week meaning you can still explore these world class establishments but with less pressure and fewer people milling around you. Museums such as The British Museum, the Museum of London and the Natural History Museum all offer late openings as do galleries including the National Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the Whitechapel Gallery. The British Library, the Camden Arts Centre and the Royal Academy of Arts also offer late weeknight openings and many of these are centrally located and easy to access so if you were staying somewhere such as one of the hotels near Chiswell Street London then you should easily be able to enjoy your evening and then use public transport to make your way back to your hotel again afterwards.
Swap the Zoo for a Farm
With over 750 different species of animal, the ZSL London Zoo is a pretty impressive place to visit, especially if you have an animal lover in the family. However, you can get a fairly good animal fix by visiting one of London’s many city farms instead and quite a number are home to endangered species to boot. Although a large number of the city farms are free to enter (which is a bonus) they do rely on donations to keep going so it’s always good to bear that in mind as well during your visit. Kentish Town, Spitalfields and Mudchute are all worthy options if you want to get up close to some animals without the swarming crowds.
Swap the Red Bus for the Clipper
If you want to see a large number of London’s top attractions then an open topped bus tour might seem like the best option; many come with on-board audio and you can hop on and off as many times as you like. However, London’s traffic is notoriously bad and even the best bus tours can often see you stuck in large congested queues for long periods of time. If you are staying at The Montcalm Brewery Hotel on Chiswell Street London then you are well placed to head down to the nearest dock and swap the open top bus for a Thames Clipper boat instead. These are technically commuter boats but cost a fraction of the price of a river cruise whilst still offering you the chance to see some of London’s best landmarks from a more unique perspective. Many of London’s best landmarks sit on the riverside including the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. You could even catch the Clipper all the way to Greenwich and spend the day exploring this maritime area of London which is often overlooked too.
Swap the Shops for the Market
If you are visiting London to give yourself a little retail therapy then you might enjoy giving Oxford Street a skip and instead heading to one of London’s many street markets instead. Although a lot of the popular markets including the likes of Portobello Road, Borough Market and Camden Market can get busy, there are plenty of other markets such as Greenwich Market, Camden Lock Market and Brick Lane Market which don’t get as much footfall as others but still have plenty of interesting items on offer. Alternatively, you need to arrive at the markets early in the day to see the best of the wares without the crowds of tourists. By mid-morning these popular markets do tend to be a lot busier so the earlier you can plan to arrive, the better.
Swap the Abbey for the Cathedral
Did you know that just a short distance from Westminster Abbey, tucked down a side street you will find Westminster Cathedral? This little known Cathedral is home to a rare collection of treasures including chalices, vestments and sacred relics which have been gradually acquired since the opening of the Cathedral in the early 1900s. For £5 it is also possible to climb to the top of the tower here and get a rather splendid view across the city.