Did you know that London is the most populous city in the U.K.? Did you know Greater London is the administrative region to set boundaries for London? It has 33 districts including the City of London. Did you know London Tube covers even more than the Greater London in total of nine zones? So how much of London have you covered?
So most of the visitors concentrate on zones one and two because the contain the majority of landmarks and places of interest. But if you happen to have some more free time one you next visit, you could consider moving around the other zones (as used in the underground) to explore other faces of London.
Here it is, a list with suggestions on things to do by zone. Zones one to nine welcome you! The list contains places I’ve recently visited on a trip to Buckinghamshire and London. Although I know there’s so much more to explore in central London, I decided to see what Greater London has to offer and it didn’t disappoint me at all! Sometimes we have to get off the touristy path to be able to observe real life or be part of it! 🙂 From glitter and skyscrapers to homey pubs and greenery – here we go!
Kensington holds the Museum of Natural History – go back millions of years ago and meet dinosaurs or stay in the present and meet the sperm whales! A walk in the area is also a nice opportunity to appreciate the architecture and, in my case, the Christmas decoration. Free art and science for everyone!
If you get off at Bank station, you can walk to the Heron Tower to indulge yourself with a view over London from floor 42 while having a delicious cocktail. The area is business-skyscraper type so it’s easy to get lost in there.
Tottenham court road tube station will give you the opportunity to stroll around Chinese, shopping and Soho culture an change from kung pao to pubs to outlet stores and fancy bookstores in minutes. The extra bonus are the many theaters which you can enter with a ticket or admire from the outside.
Well sometimes all you need to do is get on a train with a good friend and some food. Follow the locals and follow your hunger 🙂
Chiswick – if you feel like being passed by many local people or having a traditional Sunday roast with friends – Chiswick is a perfect option as it attracts many people on its streets and at the same time you have plenty of restaurants and pubs to choose from.
You can find quiet cafes in a calm neighborhood or vast park full of happy deers and humans looking for peace and fresh air. Neighborhood cafe or rambling in the park? In a sunny but cold day I opted for both! 🙂
Zone five hosts the Heathrow airport – probably the easier way to get to downtown London and to West London as well.
Behind the glamorous stores and shiny everything you can find some simpler Christmas magic!
This zone will be left for future exploration. In the meantime, where do you think this station is?
Rickmansworth – would you consider visiting a town just because you are in the area and you have some free time? This is how I met this charming little town that offered its canals, old buildings and actively moving people. Locals are very friendly and know something about good rides. It’s been a pleasure, zone seven and Rickmansworth!
Little Chalfont – now let’s see who really gives a chance to the smaller towns/villages. Little Chalfont has this very diverse intercultural environment. You can always go shopping in those lovely charity second-hand shops or drink a craft beer. Little jewel in zone eight!
To continue even stronger, find this local pub in the middle of the woods of zone eight or ask the local taxis to get you there. The atmosphere reminds the good old times of wizards and fairies. If you are lucky you might stumble upon an reunion of local orchestra players! The Dumb Bell pub!
…to be explored…
Practical DIY stuff:
- Contactless debit/credit cars can be used as Oyster card. Good news is that no need to top up (well not in the usual for an Oyster card way) and there is a maximum amount per day that can be charged. Useful when you plan to move a lot.
- Day card for zones 1 – 9 saves a lot of trouble if you’re planning to travel more than 2 times and don’t want to use Oyster card or alternatives.
- You can get free WiFi in trains of London or in the streets sometimes!
- Online city mapper is your guide and navigator through public (and private) transportation in the Greater London area. Be sure to save your itineraries whenever you plan to go offline. This app saves lives (or at least hours of wandering…)!
- Never leave without warm clothes and a hat/umbrella! There’s no bad weather in London, there are just bad clothes.
- Never stop exploring further afield! London is a great example what gems one can find if they decide not to limit themselves to the city center only! Visit the wider zones, taste the countryside and discover the unknown inspiration!
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