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Here are our favorite London things to do…
Free London Attractions
London has some of the best free museums. My favorite is the Imperial War Museum, which has a truly devastating Holocaust exhibition; the National History Museum is also great. Aside from that, one of the best things about London is that there’s always something going on, a festival, a celebration, a protest, the Olympics… what’s even better is that you won’t pay a penny for lots of them. Recently I’ve seen awesome street art at a festival in Greenwich and been to the annual Thames festival.
Buildings, Sights & Museums
There are so many sights to see in London. My favorites include Greenwich, especially the view from the observatory on top of the hill shown below, the tower of London, secret corners of Covent Garden like Neal’s Yard (below left) and the London Dungeons – touristy but brilliant!
We also love Buckingham Palace. One of Britain’s most iconic buildings, Buckingham Palace is also the scene of London’s most popular display of pomp and circumstance, the Changing of the Guard. Drawing crowds at 11:30am in every season, this colorful and free display of precision marching and music also takes place at St. James’s Palace where you can follow the band along The Mall as they march between sites.
Buckingham Palace was built in 1837 and has been the London residence of the Royal Family since Queen Victoria’s accession. If you’re wondering whether the Queen is in, look at the flagpole atop the building: if the royal standard is flying day and night, she’s at home. On special state occasions, she and members of the Royal Family may even emerge on the central balcony.
There are many great parks in London, the one we love the most though is the one closest to where we usually stay –Dulwich Park. It’s the best park for sunbathing, table tennis, running and dog-watching – oh, and it’s absolutely stunning.
London has many markets, but one of the best is most definitely the world-famous Portobello Road Market – and we’re not just saying that because this is a guide to Notting Hill! Portobello Market is absolutely unmissable on your visit to Notting Hill (both as something to visit, but also physically, seeing as it’s on one of the most popular roads in the area!). The mile-long street market sells a wide variety of goods, clothes, antiques and even food, with different items being sold on different days. It is open every day, except for Sunday. On weekdays, you’ll find a wonderful fresh fruit and veg market, generally located between where Portobello Road intersects Colville Terrace and Westbourne Park Road. On Fridays and Saturdays there is a funky selection of clothes stalls, located under the Westway. Beyond that is a plethora of stalls selling second-hand goods. And of course, the market wouldn’t be the market without the renowned antiques market on Saturdays! The market on this day is by far the busiest. As long as you don’t mind fairly big crowds, you’ll be fine – but if you do, be warned!
Almost every day you’ll find some stalls selling a variety of knick knacks, perhaps some handcrafted items, unusual one-off items and similar. The market runs from where Portobello Road intersects with Chepstow Villas, right up to the intersection with Golborne Road – although by both of these intersections, there’s fewer stalls. Head to the bit of Portobello Road from Colville Terrace up to the Westway for the “thick of the action” i.e. the most stalls.Whatever day you go on, you’ll find a number of cafes, pubs and bars along Portobello Road and just off it, so there are plenty of places to take a rest and grab a bite to eat or a drink during your visit to the market.
Monday – Wednesday: 8am – 6.30pm
Thursday: 8am – 1pm
Saturday: 8am – 6.30pm
We would recommend either travelling to Notting Hill Gate Underground station and walking down the Portobello Road, or going to Westbourne Park station and heading up the road.
I couldn’t finish this list without mentioning one of our favorite local pubs. We love it for the fact that it’s independent, the barman is crazy and it’s called The Hob (as in the Hunger Games, cool, huh?).