Being by yourself in a city can, for some, feel a little daunting. For others, it’s paradise… Whichever camp you fall into, there’s a plethora of things to do by yourself; London really is one of the best places in the world to explore on your own. And however self conscious you might feel first of all, you can rest assured that there are tens of thousands of people doing just the same as you are – heading our to discover the city on their lonesome, and enjoying it just as much (or sometimes more) than those travelling with one or more companions.
Here are some ideas for things to do in London by yourself, and how to go about doing them.
1. Visit a Museum
It would be simply criminal to visit the magnificent city of London without taking in a museum or two. Even if such places don’t normally feature on your personal tourist trail, there’s sure to be something here to suit all tastes. The British Museum is open daily from 10:00am and offers various exhibitions. Everything here is dedicated to human history and culture, and you can expect to see exhibitions on such subjects as animals, money, writing, ancient Egypt, Native North America… The list is virtually endless.
2. Go Shopping on Oxford Street
Shopping is perhaps one of the best tonics known to mankind. And the long shopping paradise of Oxford Street will keep even the most hardcore of shopaholics happy for a long time. Pretty much every major retailer is represented here, with more flagship stores in one location than virtually any other place in the world. Make sure you bring your credit card!
3. Visit an Art Gallery
Art galleries are definitely places that really are best visited on your own. The last thing you want as you linger over a painting or exhibit that tugs at your heartstrings is someone else itching to move on, or bugging you that they need the lavatory or something to eat. London boasts some amazing art galleries, and two of the best known are the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and the Tate Modern on the South Bank.
4. Wander around Westminster
No place in London beats Westminster for hustle, bustle, world famous tourist sites and some of the best historical buildings you’ll ever come across. Walking around this area is almost surreal. You’ll pass the Palace of Westminster, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Parliament Square… The list is endless. A great circular walk starts and ends at Westminster Tube Station and also takes in Downing Street and Buckingham Palace, amongst other places.
5. Find a Local Dance Class
Going to a dance class provides you not only with a great activity to take part in, but you get fit in the process. Meeting up with other like-minded souls who just love to strut their stuff makes for a fantastic evening (or afternoon) out. There are lots of different styles, such as Cuban, Salsa, Latin American and Ballroom. Lots of schools offer different dance style classes, including Inspiration 2 Dance and Studio La Danza.
For first timers, using the discount website, Groupon, can give you great discounts for your first set of lessons, making this an affordable night out for everyone.
6. Take a Walking Tour
Walking tours are a great way to enjoy the best of the capital. You can either choose to head out alone (great for lingering to your heart’s content without worrying about anybody else), or hook up with an organised tour. Time Out Magazine does a great spread on various different walks around London – some of which take you to somewhat more obscure locations giving you an insiders view, rather than a tourist view. In addition, the magazine also provides a great free app that provides you with GPS triggered audio as you wander around.
7. Take a Hop On – Hop Off Bus Tour
For the ultimate in freedom whilst exploring, you can’t beat the convenience of the ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tour. These buses give you unlimited travel around the city for 24 hours – and as the name suggests, you can get on and off as many times as you like, wherever you like. This is the perfect option for discovering all of London’s iconic tourist sites, such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the London Aquarium.
Prices for a 24-hour ticket cost between £12 for a child (under 15 years) and £30 for an adult. But booking online normally secures you a discount. Companies that offer such tours include The Original London Sightseeing Tour, Golden Tours and Big Bus London.
8. Visit the London Markets
London boasts some of the best markets in the world, and spending some time soaking up the atmosphere (and possible picking up a bargain) is ideal to do on your own. There are some great markets to visit in London. Some of the most exciting ones include:
Camden Market, where you can browse through the most up to date in fashion, food from around the world, art and collectables, not to mention the trendiest in music happening in the capital.
Borough Market is all about food, and is where those in the know go to purchase ingredients and learn about food from around the world. In addition to being able to purchase the raw necessities to make your own dishes, you can also eat incredible meals that are prepared by chefs from every global region you care to think of.
Greenwich Market is the only historic market set entirely within a World Heritage site. Expect an eclectic mix of food, designer trends and specialist retailers all within a short stroll of each other. Allow at least a day to explore this wonderful market
9. Hob Nob at a Stately Home
The UK is home to many wonderful stately homes. Within the London region, Hampton Court Royal Palace is perhaps one of the best examples. Prepare to lose yourself visiting the Great Hall, the Cumberland Art Gallery and, of course, the famous maze at Henry VIII’s infamous home.