Hot summer days are finally over, and autumn has taken over the city. This is my favourite time of the year. In autumn, I spend most of my weekends wrapped up in a duvet with a hot cuppa and a box of chocolates reading books and watching old films. I do get out occasionally, and today I thought I would share what I will be up to this season.
BE A TOURIST IN YOUR OWN CITY
With so many tourists flocking to the city during the summer months, autumn is the perfect time to get out and enjoy what the city has to offer. Explore Camden and its famous market with numerous stalls selling everything from world foods to vintage fashion. Walk around the beautiful neighbourhood of Maida Vale, go up the Primrose Hill and enjoy the stunning views over the city. Explore Shoreditch in east London on a Sunday afternoon, head over to Brick Lane and try the best bagels in East London at the Beigel Bake. Or find yourself in Canary Wharf, London’s concrete jungle, which is home to major financial institutions and corporations. It gets abandoned over the weekend and is an amazing place to be on a Saturday afternoon with many free events taking place all year round. Just get out there, take friends or family with you and don’t forget your camera. You are guaranteed to have a fantastic day discovering your own city.
ENJOY ART, IT’S EVERYWHERE
I am not talking about galleries or exhibitions. Look around the streets of London and you will find some seriously amazing street art. Think of it as your personal (and free!) art gallery anytime, day or night. Street art is everywhere in London: Camden Town, Hoxton, Shoreditch… Spend your Saturday afternoon looking for Banksy’s artwork. Banksy is a graffiti artist from Bristol, whose works can be found on the streets of Bristol, London and even Melbourne. It’s awesome, I promise, and it is free to enjoy. My absolute favourite piece is his mural Swept It Under The Carpet which, unfortunately, has been painted over. Nowadays, Banksy’s new works get protection, and you never know when and where the next one is going to appear.
EXPLORE LONDON MARKETS
London markets are world famous. Get up early on a Saturday morning and head over to Portobello Market in fashionable Notting Hill. You will find many antique stalls selling silver, books, records, glass and other collectables. Have a look around Notting Hill: stroll along its cobblestoned streets, marvel at the beautiful architecture, enjoy a cup of coffee in one of its numerous coffee shops or take a walk in the nearby Holland Park. Or head over to Borough Market, one of the best gourmet food markets in London. With over 70 stalls and stands selling fruit, vegetables, oil, fish, meats, honey and much more, Borough Market is one of my favourite markets in London. Another great place is Leadenhall Market which dates back to the 14th century and sells primarily fresh produce. This is where I like to spend my lunch hour; the atmosphere is truly amazing. Going to the market can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. I don’t tend to spend much (if anything), so this is a perfect day out for me.
ATTEND LATE NIGHT GALLERY OPENINGS
Not many people realise this, but most of the world famous museums and galleries in London are free to attend. Yes, you will be charged to attend a special exhibition or event, but generally speaking, you can visit the National Gallery, the British Museum, the National History Museum and many more free of charge. Most of them host late night openings with performances, talks, lectures, film screenings and more. That’s right, this autumn you can visit your favourite museums or galleries on a particular day for a late night experience. My personal favourite, the National History Museum, is open until 10:30pm on the last Friday of every month, except December. You can spend time listening to live music, participate in special tours and browse the collections, and this will not cost you a penny. It will be very busy, but if you don’t feel like paying what seems like a small fortune to attend an exhibition these days, this is the price you have to pay.
TOUR LONDON BY BIKE
No, I don’t mean an expensive bike tour with a bike tour company. You can tour London by bike for free if you own one or for a small fee with Barclays bike hire. You can find Barclays bikes (aka Boris bikes) docked at most tube and DLR stations across London. There is a small registration fee of £2 for a 24 hours period. All journeys under 30 minutes are free from ride charges. You will pay a fee afterwards (£1-£6 from 30 minutes to 2 hours) but if you want to save, all you need to do is to dock your bike back before 30 minutes runs out and borrow another bike for another 30 minutes, and so on until you get tired. There are many free leisure bike routes that you can take, just print out the map and start cycling! My favourite route is called Saturday Markets: you visit Borough Market, Covent Garden Market, and cycle through Hyde Park to find yourself in Portobello Market. Unlike following a tour, you are free to divert from the route at any time.
These ideas can be utilised anywhere, you don’t have to live in London to enjoy a perfect weekend exploring your city or a city nearby. They are also affordable which makes them even more attractive, at least to me! 😛