Hey! It's Chelsea, one third of the Euro Travel Coach team and Betsy and Greg's daughter. You may remember me from my blog posts about the Azores and my mom's post about my wedding last summer. My husband Sam and I moved to Bristol, U.K. this past winter. Since moving, Sam has been traveling to London for work regularly and I’ve been known to tag along from time to time. Because he’s working, I spend the days exploring the city on my own. I find that it’s actually great fun to travel by myself as I get to set my own pace and do exactly what I want – be it attend a yoga class, spend a mere 10 minutes at a free museum, or stand in a ridiculously long line at a street food vendor. Here are a few of my favorite things to do while alone in London:
Go to Borough Market
Like any food lover who spends time in London, I adore Borough Market. There is an incredible selection of produce, cheese, meats, spices, and baked goods as well as a section dedicated to street food. I usually buy a few things to bring home (Kimchi! Salami! Sumac! Tiny tins of Maldon Salt!) and then have lunch at one of the street food stalls. I don’t even feel like I’ve been to London if I don’t go to Borough Market.
Pop into the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery
I love art, but I have a fairly short attention span, so museum fatigue is a very real thing for me. One of the best things about London is that many of the most popular museums in the city are free – so you can spend as little as 5 minutes in a museum and not feel an ounce of guilt. The National Gallery has an incredible impressionist collection, so I love popping in to marvel at Monet’s Water Lilies or Cézanne’s Bathers. The Portrait Gallery, on the other hand, offers lessons on U.K. history as it features paintings of nearly every important figure in British History, especially members of the royal family. I was woefully ignorant about the British Monarchy prior to moving to Bristol, so visiting the Portrait Gallery a few times has been a great education for me.
Walk between destinations rather than take the tube
When traveling with a group, I often feel pressure to get from point A to point B in as little time as possible; but when I’m on my own, I revel in walking. It’s such a great way to see parts of the city you never would if you always use public transportation or take cabs. Sam usually stays in a hotel near Euston Square – from that area, I love walking through Fitzrovia and Soho, maybe stopping at the British Museum or popping into a shop at Covent Garden on the way, then continuing over the Waterloo Bridge and along the river, passing by the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe, then working my way through the afore mentioned Borough Market, and finishing up with lunch at 40 Maltby Street or a pint at Fourpure (or Brew By Numbers if it’s a Saturday!).
Go for a run in Regent’s Park
Regent’s Park is home to a lovely rose garden, an open air theater, a zoo and more; but I love just going to people (and swan) watch. There are lovely wide running/walking paths and gorgeous flowers and landscaping, making it the perfect place to run off all the delicious food I always seem to eat when in London.
Have lunch alone at a popular restaurant
This is one of my favorite things to do in any city. When you’re traveling by yourself, you don’t have to worry about finding two seats next to each other – you can squeeze into a bar seat at restaurants that are typically booked up weeks in advance, or get seated quickly at popular no-reservation eateries. Some of my favorite restaurants in London include Kiln (small plate Thai food), Bao (Taiwanese steamed buns), and Honey & Co. (Middle Eastern cuisine).
Attend free Concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields
Every Tuesday and Friday, an up and coming artist gives a free lunchtime concert at the beautiful St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. They are always very good and not too long (usually around 45 minutes) making them the perfect break in the day. Regardless of whether there is a concert going on, I definitely recommend at least popping your head into the church – the architecture is stunning.
You can’t talk in a theatre, so why not go by yourself? I love going to see plays during the day, especially when it’s cold or rainy. I always want matinees to be cheaper than evening performances, but, sadly that’s not always the case. However, I do find that there’s typically a better selection of afternoon shows at the TKTS booth than evening shows, so you may be able to see something you wouldn’t be able to get a ticket to otherwise. Note that most productions do a matinee performance on Wednesdays only.
Go to a coffee shop or co-working space to work on Euro Travel Coach Small Group Trips, Custom Itineraries, and more
I love that I can do my job from anywhere! There are some lovely spaces to get work done in the city, my favorite being Timberyard Seven Dials for its lightning fast internet, massive tea selection, and delicious pastries.
London is such a fun, vibrant city to visit, and I’ve truly enjoyed getting to explore it on my own. As much as I love traveling with others, it can be just as much (and sometimes even more) fun to sightsee and dine by myself. Cheers to alone time!
Are you planning a trip to London or elsewhere in Europe? We can help with that! Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Italy, France, Ireland, England and all of Europe. We also still have spots available on our small group trip to Tuscany in May and the itinerary for our trip to Piedmont in October 2019 will be coming out soon! We'd love for you to join us! You can always reach Betsy at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!