With over 2,000 years of rich history, London is among the most-visited cities in the world, attracting millions each year who flock to see its renowned landmarks, museums, and famed cityscape.
With this cosmopolitanism, however, comes tourist traps and a sense that an enjoyable time in the city requires a large budget. But fret not, for there are still plenty of things to see in London that is neither expensive nor very crowded with tourists.
Thanks to the city’s sprawling public transportation system, these places are also easily just a bus or Tube ride away from any hostel in Central London. Here are three alternative places to go on your next visit to the City of London.
Treasures of the British Library
While the British Library is renowned throughout the world for its large collection spanning multiple centuries, cultures, and languages, its permanent exhibitions at The Sir John Ritblat Gallery are rarely visited by most tourists.
Dubbed “the Holy Grail” for lovers of history, the exhibition houses manuscripts, photographs, and recordings from some of the world’s most influential people throughout history, from William Shakespeare to The Beatles.
Some of the best-known manuscripts housed include Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and an original Gutenberg Bible from the 15th Century. There is also a room devoted to the Magna Carta, one of the most important legal documents in history dating back to 1215. Best of all, you get to see all of these priceless works of history completely free of charge.
The East End
Historically, the East End was home to refugees and the urban poor, earning it a reputation as a crime-ridden, restless district, solidified by the murders committed by Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel in 1888.
These conditions also made the East End a breeding ground for social reformers and revolutionaries; multiple labour strikes in the 19th and 20th Centuries, as well as the Russian Revolution, can trace their roots to the East End.
Today, the East End still stands a symbol of counterculture in London, a foil to the opulent palaces and cathedrals of the city centre. The streets of Shoreditch, in particular, are home to a thriving street art scene, while Wilton’s Music Hall in Shadwell is one of the last surviving music halls and continues to stage live music and theatre performances.
A haven for the quirky at heart, Camden Town is best known for its alternative atmosphere and unique finds. Nowhere is this more personified than the Camden Market, famous for its cheap street food, unique and peculiar items, and hippie crowds.
The Camden Market is the perfect place to go for those in search of a unique experience. Beyond the affordable, one-of-a-kind goods for sale, this melting pot brings together people from all walks of life to create an eclectic atmosphere for any visitor.
Those who visit can end up wandering the stalls for the whole day, mesmerized by what they see. It is no wonder why the place is a haven for students, artists, and anyone who is looking for a bit of adventure.
Truly, London is a city full of unforgettable moments and experiences, so it is only fitting that your visit is filled with exactly the same. Walk the road less travelled and experience the city as it is — gritty, restless, and full of life.