Off the Beaten Path: Exploring London’s Backroads and Outdoor Markets for a Unique Urban Adventure

There are more to London than the Royal family, tea, and crumpets. What many people do not know is that London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom. And London has a rich history dated back to the Roman times and way into the 21st century.

This diverse city holds the distinction of having one of the world’s largest financial centers, and a leader in entertainment, fashion, and the arts. In fact, there are more than three hundred languages spoken in the region of London, which showcases how diverse is the area.

London is very popular among tourists around the world. For a small city of only 607 square miles, approximately nineteen million people visit every year. The office tourism expects that number to continue to rise in the next couple of years. Most people bucket list for London are going to the castle of the Queen of England, taking a boat trip on the Thames River and touring the Big Ben. However, there are many other amazing things to see while visiting this spectacular city.

As an international student living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, staying on a budget was my top priority. Here are some of the budget-friendly places and things to do while in London.

1. Explore the Camden Lock Market

The Camden Lock Market has more than one thousand unique shops, cafés, bars, and vendor stalls and I can spend an entire day wandering through them all. This market opened in 1974 with sixteen vendor stalls, and it has quickly grown into one of the best markets in the city. I can purchase vintage clothing, jewelry, and even artwork during my time in London.

2. Stroll Through Portobello Road Market

The Portobello Road Market is the world’s largest antique market. It is common to see more than one thousand dealers selling their collectibles and antiques. While this market is open six days a week, I find that it is better to visit on Friday or Saturday, because it is when most of the vendors are there. In addition to antiques and collectibles, some vendors sell a variety of goods: fruits, vegetables, clothing, and delicious food to eat.

3. Visit the Victoria Albert Museum

The Victoria Albert Museum offers free general admission, but some exhibits do have a separate fee. I enjoy wandering around admiring at over five thousand years of collections. Of course, they are not all out on display at once, because they rotate their exhibits. There is always something new to see and it is a great place to spend on Sundays.

4. Spend a Day in Piccadilly Circus

When you hear circus what comes to mind, performers, animals, and people. But in the context of Piccadilly Circus, it means circle. Piccadilly Circus is a famous road and open place in London’s West End. This area was constructed in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly. It is a fabulous place to catch a show in one of the many theaters. This is the place to go when looking for great entertainment in the city.

5. Visit the Harrods Tea Room

Walking through Harrod’s can be an awe-inspiring experience for many people, myself included. I enjoy sitting and enjoying a cup of tea when I am there. Then, venture over to Harrod’s Food Halls where I can buy their finest tea, chocolate biscuits, and some shortbread to take home. It is a wonderful spot to relax while soaking in the elegant atmosphere.

6. Shop in London West End

In addition to the theaters and Piccadilly Circus, London’s West End holds a wealth of the city’s tourist attractions and a popular shopping destination. I love walking around and discover a unique charm about the place that I did not notice before.

7. Window shop on Oxford Street

When in London if you are in the mood for shopping, you should venture over to Oxford Street. Oxford Street is the perfect place to take a stroll, and the nearby green spaces are the best spots for a little rest in between adventures. It is hard to leave any of the stores without making a purchase. If you cannot find something for you, they have shopping assistants to help.

8. Experience the lively scenes of Soho

Soho is on the West End of London, and it is everyone’s prime destination at night. I usually begin my night in Soho at one of the trendy restaurants for dinner before walking over to one of the bars. Many clubs in Soho feature live music later in the evening. There are so many places to have a good time that it is possible for anyone to go to a different spot each night for weeks and still not see them all.

9. Take a walk in South Kensington

The very wealthy in London live in South Kensington. While that may never be me, I can still visit this area to see how they experience the luxurious life. I have never been bored visiting South Kensington because of the number of free museums. I usually spend hours wandering through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

10. Buy the finest Jewelry on Bond Street

All the luxurious and exclusive stores can be found on Bond Street in London. It is the place to visit if you are dying to get your hands on a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes or Tiffany’s latest beautiful jewels. This area is an excellent option if you want to experience the life of indulgence for an evening. After all that shopping, grab something to eat in one of the superb dining restaurants.

It is a challenge living in London on a budget because of so many things to do and many great stores that scream “shop here.” My favorite memories of London are visiting and getting something to eat at the outdoor markets. My late nights in Piccadilly circus and walking around Oxford Street as well as Kensington street. Yes, I stop by Buckingham Palace on occasion to watch the Changing of the Guard and listen for the bells of Big Ben never got old when I was there. While in London catch a cheap flight to Greece to see more of Europe.

Tell us your memories of London? Post your comments below.


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