Off the beaten track: An alternative guide to 24 hours in the capital
With the renewal of your annual leave, the thought of how to fill your time can be somewhat daunting. Sure, as the weather gets colder and the night draws in, you might want to make a bold attempt to clear your Netflix queue – and who could blame you.
But if your Oyster card is burning a hole in your pocket, and you’re all too aware that you’ve got the whole of London at your disposal, you might find it tricky to think of somewhere to go that isn’t swarming with seasonal shoppers. But don’t despair – we’ve got you covered. Read on for our alternative guide to beating boredom in London.
Take a walk around some of London’s less-visited areas
There are plenty of tourist traps to fall into in London, but recent stats show that even visitors seem to be losing their interest in the capital’s heritage attractions, opting for specific shows or exhibitions instead. Still, most tourists tend not to stray far beyond zone 2 for their fix of amusements and historically significant sites, despite the fact there is so much more to the capital than dungeons and department stores.
A relaxed journey to the end of a tube line can bring you to some of London’s more unsung landmarks, which are no less iconic than their central counterparts, and far less crowded. A trip towards the Thames via Twickenham can get you to the beautiful Eel Pie Island, home to an eccentric community of artists, and formerly the stomping grounds for some of the sixties’ most iconic rock groups. From there it’s only a short bus ride to Richmond Park, where you can enjoy the rolling landscapes and take in a bit of deer-spotting while you’re at it.
If you want to venture northwards, take the overground to Enfield and explore Forty Hall, a Grade I-listed manor house from Jacobean times, which spans over 270 acres, and includes a museum, lush gardens and even a farm. Take the Central line all the way east, meanwhile, and you will find yourself spitting distance from Epping Forest, giving you access to nearly 6,000 acres of ancient forests, with historical scenery and greenery as far as the eye can see.
Escape the cold in some of the city’s best independent cinemas
The weather outside is frightful, but the movies are always delightful. The Christmas season is always a godsend for film lovers, with family favourites rubbing shoulders with artsier titles hitting screens just in time to be eligible for awards season. Whatever you’re in the mood for, London has no shortage of excellent places to see movies of all stars and stripes.
If you’re looking for a truly unique filmgoing experience, look no further than the Prince Charles Cinema. Best known for its singalong screenings of classics like The Sound of Music and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as its regular showings of cult favourite The Room, the Prince Charles also shows festive favourites like Die Hard and The Muppets Christmas Carol throughout December.
Meanwhile, pick the right day to go to other beloved indie cinemas in the capital, and you’ll be able to catch one-off screenings of cult classics, or even live music to accompany the show. Theatres like Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel and the living room-sized Deptford Cinema are two of the best in town for these special events, and it’s well worth planning your day out around these showings.
Get out of town altogether!
Of course, you shouldn’t feel like you need to be restricted by the Oyster card system at all. Whether you want to take a train to somewhere along the south coast, or rent a car to drive further afield, there are plenty of destinations off the beaten track where you can go exploring. Many companies have begun to offer one-day car insurance at rates which suit any budget, so if you would rather drive to Dungeness than take a train to Torquay, you have nothing to worry about.
More walkable areas like Bath or Windsor, on the other hand, are ideal journeys to make by train, with even fares bought on the same day remaining extremely reasonable. The stations are all centrally-located, and these towns are perfect to explore on foot, teeming with historical landmarks, characterful pubs and independent shops.
The editorial unit