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Blog your backyard – 5 things you must do in London, UK

Blog your backyard - The London Eye (c) Simon Wicks 2011
The London Eye (c) Simon Wicks 2011

Are you reading a guidebook for London right now? Yes? Ok…close it, put it down and read this instead. London is one of those places that needs to be experienced as if you were a real Londoner – none of that tourist trap business. As difficult as it is to skim this amazing city into 5 things, I think I’ve listed some brilliant alternative things you must do in London Town.

1. The best bakeries

Cakes. We all love them, don’t deny it. London is home to some of the tastiest bakeries in the whole of the country, including the guidebook favourite Hummingbird Bakery in Soho. They have the best melt-in-your-mouth cupcakes with the creamiest frosting and it’s been known for people to sell their firstborn for one of their brownies (It wasn’t me…ahem). Ottolenghi in Kensington is home to a pretty impressive window display of delicate pastries and humungous cakes too. If you stop by before it rains, you might still see the outline of my face imprinted on the window from my last visit.

2. Download Gowalla and take a ‘trip’

Get with the times and start exploring London through Gowalla – a social travel guide created by the locals. Featuring thousands of featured and user-created ‘trips’, the iPhone, BlackBerry and Andoid application allows you to see London’s best tourist spots and hidden gems using your phone to get there. One particular trip is the London Tourist Trot, featuring 20 ‘spots’ for you to check-in when you arrive and post photos, as well as sharing with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t spend all your time staring at your phone though, or you’ll miss the best bits.

3. Space invader spotting

Hidden treats are what makes London so special. If you keep your head in the air you might end up seeing something no-one else does. The city is covered in hidden Space Invader mosaics, tiled into corners and at the top of buildings, behind walls and sometimes right where you would expect one to be. No-one has managed to document each location (and most people would prefer for you to find them yourself), but there are so many to find the best thing to do is research before you start off. Make a game of it and take photos as evidence.

4. Nibble your way round Borough Market

The best things in life are free. Good food is what we Londoners appreciate the most, and I’m not talking about Pret’s new soup menu. Borough Market is pretty famous for its lively atmosphere on a Saturday morning, but the best way to enjoy it for the first time is to revel in the free samples. If you work your way around the stalls in the right way, you’ll be able to soak up the character as well as samples of mulled wine, fancy cheese, special coffee and hearty pies.

5. Play the part with Accomplice Tours

Want to see London in a more exciting way than the 3G on your iPhone or taking the duck tour? Try Accomplice London, a part-game, part-theatre, part-tour with a difference. A member of the most exciting play in the city, you’ll be sent out on an actual journey through the streets with only initial information to find the first of the clues that will get you to the end of your mission. Cast members will pop up all over the place, acting as a help or hindrance to your target. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to have a cracking time in London.



The Blog Your Backyard Project

Share your local expertise and join the Blog your Backyard project! Become an ambassador for your country (home or adopted) by sharing your experiences and tips with other travelers. Submit your entries starting August 8th on for a chance to win one of 20 awesome excursions with Urban Adventures. Plus, if you want to share more of your local expertise or get answers to all of your travel questions, download the FREE ‘Ask A Nomad’ iPad app.

Charley is a professional copywriter and tea-lover currently living in Leeds. She writes about city living and city travel (with a few cats thrown in).