36 hours in London: an alternative tour

Instead of hitting all the touristy sites, take in the city from a rooftop bar. Photo: Lara Güneri
Instead of hitting all the touristy sites, take in the city from a rooftop bar.  Photo: Lara Güneri
Instead of hitting all the touristy sites, take in the city from a rooftop bar.
Photo: Lara Güneri

London is an incredibly eclectic city that can cater to anyone’s interest. But if you don’t feel like doing the classic London tour of Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, all while trying to survive among thousands of tourists, try this alternative London tour which will allow you to discover the hidden gems of the city.

Friday afternoon

To get a real feel for London upon your arrival, take a walking street art tour of this city. This tour showcases East London’s incredible creativity and allows you to dig deeper into the vibrant back streets of London. The tours are guided by well-known street artists who are involved in the local creative community, so you are in good hands. They last two hours and run on a pay-what-you-like basis.

Take in the local street art scene. Photo: Lara Güneri
Take in the local street art scene.
Photo: Lara Güneri

Or, if you are not feeling too tired from your journey and want to do something more active, try The Alternative London Bike Tour, which takes you further into London’s vibrant East End and also along the city’s canals. Don’t worry if you think you are out of shape – even though the tour is three and a half hours long the ride is at a relaxed pace and you take lots of breaks.

(For more information about both of these tours, go to alternativeldn.co.uk.)

Friday evening

For dinner try something different and head to Wild Food Cafe (14 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden). Wild Food Café serves delicious, mostly raw, vegan and vegetarian food. All of the ingredients come from local independent suppliers and organic producers. I would recommend the raw Wild Burger and the raw pecan pie. Even though the prices are a bit high, you will feel great after eating so healthily and spending some peaceful time in the middle of the city.

Bon appétit! Photo: Lara Güneri
Bon appétit!
Photo: Lara Güneri

To end the night head to the Friday Lates at the Victoria and Albert Museum. These late night events are held on the last Friday of every month and showcase live performances, installations, debates and special guest and DJs, as well as delicious food from 6:30 am to 10:00 pm. This is also a great way to view the exhibitions in a quieter environment. Though this event is free, you will still need to have tickets to view the special exhibitions.

Saturday morning

How about starting the day by doing some yoga to clear your mind? The Secret Yoga Club (secretyogaclub.co.uk) organizes pop-up yoga events in secret places around London with live music and great food. All through the summer, yoga classes will be held on a rooftop in Peckham, allowing you to relax whilst looking over the lively city.

Now that you feel energized, it’s time to have some fun on a boozy tour. The Camden Town Brewery (55 Wilkin Street Mews) organizes tours of their own brewery, taking you through the whole process from start to finish. £12 allows you to taste several different beers as well as giving you the opportunity to taste beer straight from the tank. Honestly, it doesn’t get better than that!

If you want to take it one step further and not only taste beer but make your own, the London Beer Lab (Arch 41, Nursery Road) has one-on-one sessions where you can learn to brew four different recipes. The only downside is that it takes a few weeks until you can pick up your homemade beer.

For lunch, grab some street food. London has great street food ranging from Indian to Moroccan, from simple hotdogs to incredibly delicious grilled cheeses. So enjoy some of these delicacies while you sit in a park and take in the atmosphere of the city.

Don't miss the many food options on the city's streets. Photo: Lara Güneri
Don’t miss the many food options on the city’s streets.
Photo: Lara Güneri

Saturday afternoon

Watching a sing-along film at the Prince Charles Cinema will force you to abandon all of your social anxieties and share in the joy with your fellow moviegoers. Some of the classics shown at the cinema include The Sound of Music, Frozen and, of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sing along at the top of your voice for a great afternoon.

End the night by sipping cocktails at a rooftop bar looking over the city, soaking in the vibrant colours and sounds. The Queen of Hoxton (1-4 Curtain Road) is a great Cuban themed bar and perfect if you are visiting over the summer. The Prince of Wales (467-69 Brixton Road) is another great rooftop bar that stays open late and serves amazing pizzas. Frank’s Café (95A Rye Lane) is a classic in Peckham. You will never fall short when choosing a rooftop bar to enjoy in London.

Sunday morning

Every Sunday, Brick Lane comes alive with stalls selling clothing, novelty items and, most importantly, great street food. You can spend hours browsing the goods and trying all the exotic delicacies. It is a great way to end your stay in London.

Stay weird, London! Photo: Lara Güneri
Stay weird, London!
Photo: Lara Güneri

The bestway to get the feel of London is simply to walk around. But be careful; never, ever go near Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus or Buckingham Palace if you wish to avoid the touristy masses. Instead, embrace this alternative tour and enjoy the real London.


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