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10 Alternative Places in London And What They Offer

Why visit alternative places in London when you can be strolling through some of London’s best museums? Don’t get me wrong, when I visit a new place  I always do…

Why visit alternative places in London when you can be strolling through some of London’s best museums?

Don’t get me wrong, when I visit a new place  I always do all the touristy things. But to really get a feel for the place, you need to find places where the locals love to frequent. Sometimes we all need a bit of quietness and don’t want to be surrounded by big crowds with selfie sticks.

When you start frequenting the more alternative places in London (or in any other city that you visit) is when the real fun begins. This is the reason why I compiled my list of the more alternative places in London!

Freud’s Museum

Freud Museum

Photo: Freud Museum by Matt Brown on Flickr (under CC 2.0)

You can tell a lot about a person by their apartment. When you step into the Freud Museum,  you step into his home. Therefore you get a chance to peek into the private space of world’s most famous psychoanalyst.

After fleeing from the Nazis, Sigmund Freud and his family made Hempstead their new home. In this house, he has produced some of the most noteworthy works in the field of psychology. Everything in his Hempstead home remained the way he left it. The interior was decorated due to the help of Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud’s daughter.

You can see the waiting room, his study, and the famous couch! The museum offers an all-around insight into his cultural environment much as the trajectory of the development of psychoanalysis.

2. Barbican Conservatory

Photo: Barbican Conservatory by Sascha Pohflepp on Flickr (under CC 2.0)

Barbican Conservatory is the second biggest conservatory in London. The building is also one of the finest examples of brutalist architecture, therefore, an interesting choice for a conservatory. One of the things that makes it special, is that this little green oasis is hidden in the midst of London. It houses over 2,000 species of tropical plants, trees and various exotic fish. If you want to be surrounded by tranquillity and escape the crowds of London – this is the perfect hideout.

It has amazing exhibitions and workshops throughout the year, so keep an eye out for interesting events.  The only downside of this place is that it’s only open on Sundays!

3. the Indian YMCA

Lamb curry

Photo: Lamb curry by pelican on Flickr (under CC 2.0)

By all accounts, the Indian YMCA is an institution. They’ve existed around 60 years and during all those years they’ve created an impeccable reputation and they uphold it to present day.  So what do you get at the Indian YMCA? The best and most affordable Indian food in all of London.

Notoriously known for their curries (they offer vegetarian and non-vegetarian options). Everything is cooked home-style and spiced accordingly. A number of different dishes, all with rich aromas and low prices. Consequently, you will definitely find yourself coming back during your stay in London.

4. Trinity Buoy Wharf

Trinity Buoy Wharf

Photo: Trinity Buoy Wharf by k_tjaaa on Flickr (under CC)

First of all, Trinity Buoy Wharf was just another engineering establishment (iron buoys). Since the late ’90s, it transformed into another center for the arts and creative hubs. What makes Trinity Buoy Wharf a fascinating place?

It is the origin of Container city and home to London’s only lighthouse!

Container City is a new model of eco-friendly building design! Recycled shipping containers are used as living and working quarters. The Container City now counts over 70 containers. In addition to being good for the environment seems like it’s even more beneficial for your wallet!

London’s only lighthouse is interesting due to its unusual purpose. Jem Finer developed a musical composition that has been played since the 31st of December 1999. The composition will continue with no repeat until the year of 2999. You might think that listening to a 20 minute and 20 seconds piece would get tiring (and you’d be right!) but this piece is using an algorithm. The algorithm gives a large number of variations therefore making the composition to go in improvised directions.

If you want to find out more about the Trinity Buoy Wharf click here.

5. Jack The Ripper Tour

East end alley

Photo: East end alley by Jennifer Woodard Maderazo on Flickr (under CC 2.0)

This tour is not for the faint-hearted. It is taking you on the route of the notorious Jack the Ripper, a murderer that terrorized the streets of East End London. The 125-year-old murder mystery to this day baffles world-class crime investigators and historians. This tour transports you onto the streets of 19th century East End.

Explore the gruesome details of East End’s dark cobbled streets and dimly lit passageways. The whole route is constructed as an investigation, as a result, making you feel as if you fell into a Victorian detective novel.

6. Speakeasy Bars

Aviation

Photo: Aviation by Adrian Scottow on Flickr (under CC 2.0)

I am obsessed with speakeasy bars. The better hidden, the better. If they have a password which is hard to come by I am particularly amused. The charm of speakeasy bars stems from a multitude of reasons. First of all, all that playing around with hidden locations, entrances cleverly disguised as phone booths brings out our inner child. Secondly, it feels as if you’re a part of some secret club as if you’re in on a secret. It makes every night out that much special.

When coming to a new city – I always try to find out what’s their take on a speakeasy bar. London doesn’t disappoint!

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is hidden under the Breakfast Club on Artillery Lane. The Breakfast Club looks like a typical New York breakfast place. If you’re in for more than a breakfast ask the waitress to see the Mayor. You will be led to the entrance. The entrance is hidden in a fridge! The underground bar serves brunch and delicious cocktails.

Other very popular speakeasies are Evans & Peel Detective Agency, the Experimental Cocktail Club & the Nightjar.

7. Magic Circle Museum at the Centre for Magic Arts

17/365: i could be your magician

Photo by Jin on Flickr (under CC 2.0)

A secretive group of illusionists who made London a centre of magic (yes, way before the-Boy-Who-Lived) swore to keep their magic a secret. While we aren’t privy to their illusion tricks we are allowed to take a peek. As a result, the Magic Circle Museum is opened! The impressive collection has a number of interesting illusionist’s tools. Some of them are the same guns used in bullet illusions or pieces from Houdini’s act. Make sure to see some of their magic acts!

8. Chislehurst Caves

A church service in Chislehurst Caves during World War 2, recreated with wax figures

Photo: A church service in Chislehurst Caves by Ben Sutherland on Flickr (under CC 2.0)

Chislehurst Caves are chalk caves that were mined by hand for over 8000 years. They were mined for flint and lime, and later on served as an ammunition depot during First World War. The 8000 years old history is divided into Druid, Roman and Saxon times. But nowadays they opened up new passageways which guide you through time to present day! It is especially interesting to visit during Halloween due to their special events!

If you want to find out more about Chislehurst Caves click here.

9. British Library’s Treasures Gallery

DIG13762-027

The Sir John Ritblat Treasures aka the British Library’s Treasures Gallery is one of the most popular museums among the Londoners. It covers 2000 years of history! What makes it so interesting is the rather eclectic collection. You can find anything from Da Vinci’s or Jane Austen’s notebooks, Magna Carta to the Beatles’ lyrics.

Time Out magazine described the British Library’s Treasures Gallery as “The Holy grail for history buffs.”

10.  The Wellcome Collection

Wellcome Collection

And I saved best for last! The permanent exhibition of Henry Wellcome’s amazing objects features the history of science and medicine in a rather interesting and fun way. In addition to the permanent collection, there are a lot of great temporary exhibitions as well. They cover a vast array of universal topics, such as sex, sleep and death.

The Wellcome’s collection of weird objects won’t let your excitement fade away. Therefore you will find random objects such as Napoleon’s toothbrush, a DNA sequencing robot, an ancient mummy, Darwin’s walking stick and much more.

If you want to find out more info about the Wellcome Collection click here.

Now that you know where to go and mingle with the locals, book your ticket with British Airways for your next adventure! Also, don’t forget to check out these 5 places to visit in UK besides London.

What is your favourite quirky spot in London? Share in the comments!

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5 Places To Visit In UK Besides London

This is a guest post by Craig of My Gay Globe. You can also follow his adventures on Twitter. Those heading to the United Kingdom often head to the cosmopolitan…

This is a guest post by Craig of My Gay Globe. You can also follow his adventures on Twitter.


Those heading to the United Kingdom often head to the cosmopolitan capital. London is a magnificent city but there are numerous fantastic destinations to explore beyond Europe’s largest urban area. Here are five incredible places to visit in UK besides London;

Manchester

Manchester Canal Scene at Night

Photo: Manchester Canal Scene at Night by Smabs Sputzer on Flickr (under CC 2.0 licence)

This northern powerhouse is often cited as the UK’s second city. Famed for its rich industrial heritage, today Manchester is thriving with world-class music venues, an array of bars and restaurants and a burgeoning tourist scene in its own right. Culture is high on the agenda here.

The impressive Whitworth Gallery set amidst verdant gardens and The People’s History Museum, charting the history and important figures of Manchester, are just two of the many to visit. The Northern Quarter is the city’s premier entertainment region with excellent pubs and restaurants to match.

Cornwall

Causeway at low tide.

Photo: Causeway at low tide by Simon Harrod on Flickr (under CC 2.0 licence)

Nestled in the rugged south western corner of England is the stunning region of Cornwall.  The mystical home of King Arthur is rather isolated from the rest of the UK and thus remains delightfully unspoiled. There are countless coves and beaches and areas of natural beauty to be explored. A few of Cornwall’s must-see localities include Porthcurno, Wheal Coates and Penzance.

Travel to the very edge of the country at Land’s End or head to Bodmin Moor to make the most of the enigmatic expanse of this impressive area of natural beauty. Cornwall is also ideally suited to those who enjoy outdoor pursuits. Rock climbing and surfing opportunities are ubiquitous and there are plenty of hiking trails for those who want to remain on terra firma.

Brighton

Brighton P310 170717 -045

Photo: Brighton by Peter Rowley on Flickr (under CC 2.0 licence)

Located just 50 miles south of London is the charming but lively seaside town of Brighton. Known for its lefty politics and LGBT community, Brighton is home to one of the country’s most vibrant bar and restaurants scenes. The North and South Laine are a cavernous collection of shops and cafes located in a range of small streets and alleys which give Brighton its kitsch and cool vibe.

The beach, of course, attacks big crowds in the summer. However, the ample beach space means a 15-minute walk from the central area near the iconic pier and you’ll be able to find your own spot of serenity.

Cambridge

The Cam river

Photo: The Cam River by Francisco Anzola on Flickr (under CC 2.0 licence)

This stunning university town is famed for its classical architecture, historic market square and quaint cafes, shops and bars. Cambridge is best explored by bike and the city boasts an extensive cycle network – if you prefer, the city centre is very walkable, though you might need to use the excellent transport networks to reach some of the peripheries of the city.

The university is the principal attraction here and is actually a collection of independent colleges. Some of the more interesting and opulent are Queens’ College, King’s College and Trinity College.

Museum and cultural attractions are not in short supply here and The Fitzwilliam Museum and The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences are two of the best.

The River Cam is the lifeblood of Cambridge and a hub of activity in the summer months. Either take to the water for a spot of punting and rowing or enjoy the grassy banks with some prosecco and sandwiches and enjoy the delights of this sleepy but seductive university city.

Edinburgh

Old Royal High

Photo: Old Royal High by Magnus Hagdorn on Flickr (under CC 2.0)

Scotland’s traditionally Celtic capital is one of the UK’s finest cities and has plenty to offer those who choose to visit north of the border. Most of the activity is based around Edinburgh’s historic centre. The city’s Medieval heartland is famed for the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyrood and the home of the Scottish Parliament.

Many of the best sites are located on the famous Royal Mile around which much of the ancient city was constructed. Adjacent to the Old Town is the New Town – where you’ll be privy to the city’s newest and hippest bars and restaurants as well as plenty of shops selling everything from clothes to books.

Once you’ve had your fill of the pubs and museums, Edinburgh is ideally situated for exploring further afield and seeing more of Scotland. You can reach Glasgow in under an hour and there are plenty of smaller, authentic Scottish towns which make for the perfect half-day trip.

Convinced? Check out Momondo for cheap flights to the UK and EuroTribe’s guide on finding cheap accommodation.

Featured photo: by Joe Reed on Unsplash

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11 Fantastic Activities You Can Do In Edinburgh

Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most fascinating cities offering a plenty of activities to do on a regular basis. The Old and New Town of Edinburgh are listed on the…

Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most fascinating cities offering a plenty of activities to do on a regular basis. The Old and New Town of Edinburgh are listed on the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites and the city also has excellent entertainment options.

Here are 11 fantastic activities you can do in Edinburgh;

Visit the Queen’s official Scottish residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyrood House is famous for being the 16th-century home of Mary, Queen of Scots and also where the Queen spends her ‘Holyrood Week’ at the end of June/beginning of July each year. Regardless of your opinions of the Royal’s, it’s still a splendid piece of history to experience.

Holyroodhouse and the Abbey ruins, Edinburgh, Scotland

Go for some retail therapy at the one and only Princes Street

With huge flagship stores and a beautiful view of Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street is definitely one of the most fabulous shopping spots in the whole world. It also has a great choice of bars and restaurants.

Princes Street, Edinburgh

Take a climb up Arthur’s Seat

The highest point of Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park is Arthur’s Seat, an ancient, now extinct volcano which sits at precisely 251m above sea level. On a good day, you can get amazing views across Edinburgh and beyond. It’s also much recommended to watch the sunrise from here as it’s absolutely breathtaking.

Grab a beer at the infamous Hanging Bat

With an ever-changing range of beers brought to Edinburgh from the world’s finest and sought-after breweries worldwide, a trip to The Hanging Bat is not to be missed out. You could even have the chance to brew your own beer!

Take a spin around Knockhill Racecourse

More of a thrill-seeker? Then Knockhill Racecource is one of the best driving experience days Scotland has to offer! A must visit for all motor sports fans with events running from February until December.

Appreciate Edinburgh’s spectacular skyline for free

You can head up to the National Museum of Scotland‘s rooftop to take in the panoramic, scenic views of Edinburgh’s skyline. Bonus if it’s a clear day because you can see for miles.

National Museum of Scotland

Visit the fascinating Camera Obscura

Are optical illusions appealing or just plain annoying? Regardless of whether they’re your thing or not, there’s something for everyone at Camera Obscura. The attraction is one of the oldest experience days Scotland has to encounter and also has amazing rooftop views with free telescopes.

Take a stroll around Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens divides Edinburgh’s old town from its new town giving it historical significance as well as cultural significance. As well as being a relaxing spot, the gardens also host a big wheel, a carousel bar and a Christmas market seasons pending.

Explore art, comedy and culture at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The multi-cultural festival showcases 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows across 294 venues! The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world and runs from the 4th until the 28th of August showcasing the best of theatre, arts, comedy and more.

edinburgh festival

Visit the Archivists’ Garden

Visit this beautiful place and see 57 different types of plants, all connected to Scotland’s collective memory. Often missed by tourists this place is just a few minutes away from the busy Princes Street. The admission to the garden is free. If you want to spend a quiet day, away from the bustle of the city life you can also visit the Royal Botanic Garden.

Go to Summerhall

Summerhall is the cultural heart of Edinburgh. Here you’ll find a plenty of things to see and do – art exhibitions, gigs, films, workshops, concerts etc. The Summerhall shop has many interesting items created by the artists in residence.

Flights

You can find a cheap flight to Edinburgh on Momondo.

Accommodation



Booking.com

 

Photos: 2, 3, 4, 5
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How To Visit London On a Budget

London is a pricey city, do not doubt it for a second. Unlike other touristic cities it is genuinely expensive, so simply avoiding the main street won’t be enough to…

London is a pricey city, do not doubt it for a second. Unlike other touristic cities it is genuinely expensive, so simply avoiding the main street won’t be enough to protect your pocket. Fortunately there are a few ways to keep your visit to London on a budget. A small percentage of your budget for London can easily represent the entire budget for many other cities.

 

Transport

London Tube

Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

Useful when coming from London City Airport or when visiting East London.

EasyBus

EasyJet’s land sister offers transport to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted for as little as 2£. Book in advance to save money. Tickets are flexible and you may travel within 60 minutes of your selected scheduled time without extra payment (subject to seat availability). The bus can drop you off at the several different places in town.

National Express

Large but efficient bus company that can basically get you anywhere. National Express usually has attractive fares, especially when booking in advance. Main hub is Victoria Coach Station.

Get In

Getting into London can be as expensive as the flight to London itself. Since London has six airports (yes, six), it’s very likely you will fly to one of these. So pay close attention.

From Heathrow: Take the Tube, or you can alternatively buy a Heathrow Express ticket (much more expensive)

From Gatwick: a) Take an EasyBus b) Catch a regular train. Or buy a Gatwick express ticket (much more expensive)

From Luton & Stansted: Take an EasyBus or National Express

From London City: Take a DLR train and connect to the Tube later

London Southend: The author has never flown into Southend, so you are on your own!

London attractions

Photo: Rodrigo Uribe

Moving Around

To transport yourself around London is quite expensive, but few simple tips will save you loads of money. The underground (tube) and buses offer an extensive and very efficient network of transport.

The first and most important rule is to buy an Oyster card. It’s not only cheaper than anything else, but it’s also simpler. Ignore this advice and you’ll spend lots of time and money on nothing. You can buy the card in almost any Tube station, and you can claim your £5 deposit when leaving the city. Oyster is valid on buses, Tube, DLR and any other TFL transports. The author recommends using it on the ‘pay as you go’ mode.

The Oyster card automatically calculates the most economic fare for you. For example, one single journey on the card will be charged as a single ticket, while 5 single journeys within a day will be charged as a daily travel card.

TIP: If you’ve been using buses all day long, don’t return on a Tube or you’ll pay for the Tube day pass (which includes buses). Use the bus and you’ll only pay for the daily bus pass. If you’ve used the Tube for a couple of times don’t stop and use it all you want (including buses), since you’ll be paying for the Tube’s day pass anyway!

Tube vs. Bus

Most tourists visiting London only look at the iconic double-deckers as a background for their photos, without noticing that they represent a fantastic way of transportation. Once said this, the dilemma pops out. The Tube is usually faster but considerably much more expensive than buses.

Although longer, bus rides are  more enjoyable, since you can sit up front on the upper deck. The Tube is simpler for the inexperienced, while buses require a bit more concentration. Buses don’t have fare zones, while the Tube does.

Here’s a tip then. Don’t be afraid of the buses, get on them and enjoy the view. Only take the Tube when traveling long distances or when you are really short on time. You wouldn’t know if the neighborhood on top of the Tube is an absolute delight.

TOP TIP: Watch out for bus 11, since it goes through a lot of London’s highlights along the route!

Accommodation

Booking has a large selection of accommodation options and many budget listings.

Booking.com  

HotelsCombined is another good website. It searches for cheapest deals on the internet.

Things To Do

Surprisingly, London has an outstanding range of free museums. Not bad ones, but fantastic world-class museum. Here’s a glimpse of what you can see for free:

  • British Museum

  • Imperial War Museum

  • Natural History Museum

  • Science Museum

  • National Portrait Gallery

  • Victoria and Albert Museum

  • Tate Modern and others

If the free museums are not enough for satisfying your cultural needs, there are other superb attractions that can blow your mind. Parks, markets or simple neighborhoods are great alternatives, often with a more authentic taste than the overcrowded typical attractions.

London attractions Photo: Rodrigo Uribe

Top Picks

Parks

  • Regent’s Park

  • Hyde Park

  • Richmond Park

  • Battersea Park

  • Greenwich Park

Markets

  • Borough Market

  • Portobello Market

  • Spitafields Market

Neighborhoods

  • Notting Hill

  • South Kensington

  • Chelsea

  • Southwark

On the other end of the scale, are all those attractions which are not free. They tend to be quite expensive, from the Tower of London to Kew Gardens.

Top Tip

Most admission tickets have a hidden donation (a few pounds). Ask in the ticket office when buying the ticket and say you do not wish to donate. If you’re very pleased with your visit, you’ll have plenty of chances to donate before you exit the site.

London attractions

Photo: Rodrigo Uribe

Eating

Most supermarkets offer amazing discounts just before their closing times. You can get fruits, biscuits or even hot meals for a fraction of their price. The bigger the supermarket and the closer to the closing time, the bigger the reduction will be!

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