Get lost! No, we mean it. Sometimes the best way to truly experience a place is to get yourself lost. As large a city as it is, London certainly offers many chances to explore its streets, waterways, and landmarks. Just letting yourself wander around in London can help you discover something you never knew existed before, from new restaurants to fascinating exhibits. We have taken it upon ourselves to put together this list of ten places where you’ll want to get lost in the city. If you have a recommendation for a place to explore freely in London, let us know in the comments.
City of London
At the heart of the sprawling metropolis that is Greater London is the City of London, a section of London about a square mile in size. Don’t let the small size fool you, though, as this part of London is also home to some of its greatest landmarks, from the Tower of London to the Millennium Bridge. Its winding maze of streets will have you lost easily, but also as easily will you find something historic.
St. James’s Park
St. James’s Park is fifty-seven acres of greenery built by King Charles II after he became enamored of the elaborate gardens of the French during his exile. It has quite a lot to discover, such as a lake with two islands and a squadron of pelicans that have lived in the park for 400 years. There’s also Duck Island which is worth a look and feel free to get lost in the beautiful flower beds.
Certainly, the British Museum is a top destination on any trip to London and with its exhibits covering everything from world history to the natural sciences, there are plenty of reasons to get lost here. The British Museum collection today contains over 8 million objects. Only 1% or 80,000 of these objects are on display at any given time throughout the museum, so you can imagine that whatever you see, there’s even more somewhere else.
Camden Lock Market
One of the biggest draws the Camden Town is the markets that pepper the district, and Camden Lock Market, with its indoor and outdoor shops and stalls, is one of the most famous. You could spend hours here perusing all the different sellers who offer everything from the latest dishes to the oldest antiques. There are also a number of music venues to check out at night once the stalls close, such as the Roundhouse and the Electric Ballroom.
Named in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, this walking path is sixty miles long (one for each year of her reign), which means there is plenty to see and places to get lost. The greenway is broken up into ten sections of six miles each and link many of the sites from the 2012 Summer Olympics, so you have chances to jump on or off at your leisure. Locations that you will see along the walk include Olympic Park, O2 Arena, and Regents Park, as well as places significant to Her Majesty such as Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.
Hampstead Heath is one of the largest green spaces in the whole city at 790 acres, which means there is quite a lot to discover here. You can try and see if you can find all thirty of the Heath’s ponds and then climb Parliament Hill, which offers one of the best views of London in the whole city.
Running through Central London, Regent’s Canal is one of the most beautiful areas of the city. While once it was a major transportation pathway for ships moving goods through the city, today it is a gorgeous walk thanks to the plants, historic buildings, and canal houseboats that line the waterway. Plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops line the canal alongside the colorful canal boats that make this an excellent place to explore.
Southwark is one of the oldest parts of London, and like the City of London on the other side of the River Thames, that means there’s plenty to see here. This started early in the area’s history as being outside the city limits means it didn’t have to follow the city’s laws. As such, there is still a great theatre presence to this day coupled with amazing restaurants, shops, and many more reasons to get lost on its streets.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Perhaps the grandest church building in London (besides maybe Westminster Abbey), St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the best-known works of Christopher Wren and was completed in 1711. It has many places inside that you could spend hours exploring. You can wander through the memorials to Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, and Wren himself, among others. The Whispering Gallery offers some unusual acoustics. Whether you take the official tour or wander in by yourself, it’s not at all hard to find things that will capture your attention, from the architecture to its storied history.
Greenwich is a place long associated with knowledge from the Royal Observatory to the Old Royal Naval College, but it has much more going on than that. From new craft breweries to the oldest still-operating observatory in the United Kingdom, Greenwich has much you can find if you simply let yourself wander. We would particularly recommend the National Maritime Museum and Greenwich Park as places where you can spend a few hours.