Barbican: Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS.
The Barbican hosts many art, music, theatre, dance, film and creative learning events. Their art exhibitions include Bauhaus: Art as Life (2012), Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style (2012), Pop Art Design (2013) and The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (2014). You need to buy tickets for exhibitions at the Barbican.
British Museum: Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG.
When you set foot in this museum, you will travel back hundreds, if not thousands, years back in history. The most popular sections are the Egyptian and Greek collections, but also the rooms with art and artefacts from the Americas, Asia and Middle East are more than worth a visit. Museum entrance for the permanent collection is free, but you will have to pay to see the special, temporary exhibitions. The inner courtyard is absolutely stunning!
Dennis Severs’ House: 18 Folgate Street, E1 6BX.
This is a unique house that is entirely furnished with food on the tables, but no sign of its inhabitants. Once you’ve entered the house, there is no talking, it is merely you and your senses. The different floors of the house lead you through different time periods between 1724 and 1914. It is a mysterious house, especially since the creator sadly died before he was able to finish it.
London Film Museum: County Hall, Queens Walk, South Bank, SE1 7PB.
If you are crazy for film, then you will certainly like this museum! There are actually two locations now, one on the South Bank and another one in Covent Garden. At the museum you will original props and costumes from films as Alien, Terminator and Batman. The London Film Museum is the only museum of film history and film making in the UK. There is a permanent room dedicated to the works of Ray Harryhausen and there are also special temporary exhibitions on film. Entrance fees apply.
Museum of Childhood: Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA.
One of my favourite museums in London. The museum has childhood-related objects and artefacts on display which date from the 1600s till present day. This museum is not only interesting for children, but also for adults as chances are that you will come across your favourite and long-forgotten childhood toys again (like this care bears). The changing exhibitions are well-researched, comprehensive and surprising. Free entrance for their permanent collection but also for their special, temporary exhibitions.
Museum of London: 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN.
Learn all there is to know about London at the Museum of London! See artefacts dating from prehistoric London and travel through history till present day. The permanent collection is very elaborate, and for free. I am always impressed with the special, temporary exhibitions (note, these are not for free).
Natural History Museum: Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD.
Here you will find massive dinosaur skeletons, an insect gallery, the world of massive sea mammals and so much more. Great for kids, but also very entertaining for adults. Free entrance, but there is a charge for some exhibitions.
Science Museum: Exhibition Road, SW7 2DD.
Very impressive museum where you will learn everything on science since humankind. The museum is suitable for children and adults. Especially the interactive galleries on the second (Energy: fuelling the future) and third floor (Launchpad) are very popular and fun. With their wide offer of permanent collections, temporary exhibitions, IMAX screenings and flight simulators, the Science Museums offers fun for all types of scientists. Free entrance, but charges apply for some exhibitions. I urge you to use the toilets in the Wellcome Wing on the ground floor as it features the permanent sound installation (Sound Curtain) by my husband!
Serpentine Galleries: Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA.
Nice small galleries in the middle of Kensington Gardens. In summertime you will find the Serpentine Pavilion just outside of the gallery. Every year the pavilion is designed by a different artist. In 2012 it was designed by Ai Weiwei in collaboration with architects Herzog & de Meuron and in 2013 Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto created a playful and gorgeous structure of white steel and glass. In autumn 2013 the second Serpentine gallery opened, the Sackler Gallery.
Tate Britain: Millbank, SW1P 4RG.
Recently refurbished, Tate Britain leads visitors on their chronological walk through 500 years of British Art. Free entrance but charges may apply for special exhibitions. The museum is built on the site of the old Millbank prison which was used in the 19th century as the departure point for sending convicts to Australia.
Tate Modern: Bankside. SE1 9TG.
International modern and contemporary art. The museum is located in an impressive building that actually used to be a power station. Tate Modern stands as an immovable icon along the Thames bank side. Walk over the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul’s and be amazed by the view over the museum, especially in the evening. In the summer of 2016 the new extension will open, offering new performance and theatre space and a roof terrace with a panoramic view over London’s skyline.
Victoria & Albert Museum: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL.
Here you will find absolutely everything there is on fashion, design, architecture and crafts from all over the world. The museum has a comprehensive permanent collection, but also hosts world-renowned exhibitions as the one on David Bowie in 2012.
Wellcome Collection: 183 Euston Road, NW1 2BE.
Surprising and wonderful venue that offers visitors contemporary and historic exhibitions and collections, and lively public events. It explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. I have seen some fantastic exhibitions here as Superhuman and Death: A self-portrait. I absolutely recommend visiting this place for an exhibition. Free entrance.
Whitechapel Gallery: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX.
Fantastic East London gallery that has contemporary art on display from modern and internationals masters.
White Cube: 144 – 152 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ.
One of the world’s leading galleries for contemporary art. The gallery is almost 5,5000m2 in size. In 2011 White Cube had the largest presentation of Anselm Kiefer work’s ever staged in London.
Cable Car: Get on at the Emirates Royal Docks, 27 Western Gateway, E16 4FA or at the Emirates Greenwich Peninsula Edmund Halley Way, SE10 0FR.
The Emirates Air Line is a cable car crossing the River Thames in Greenwich, and the 1km journey gives passengers spectacular views of London from a height of up to 90m. You will cruise over the Thames Barrier, see the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and the impressive Olympic park. No high ticket prices, but a ride on the cable car costs just a few pounds using your Oyster card.
Hackney City Farm: 1a Goldsmith’s Row, E2 8QA.
Visit this small city farm and see some cute animals. You can also plant vegetables and plants here. Free entrance and suitable for children and adults (who want to feel like kids again for a moment).
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: In the summer of 2012 London hosted the summer Olympics. East London was chosen as the stage for the sports events and in a few years this originally swampy area was transformed in a beautiful public park. This is one of the rare cases of a successful ‘Olympics legacy’. Go there on a sunny day and you’ll immediately see what I mean: families having fun while their kids play in the playgrounds or exploring the many public art pieces, couples lying in the grass, friends having picnics and of course many athletic visitors cycling over the good (bike) paths through the park and along the canal. Many of the Olympic stadiums are also still open to the public.
If you want a stunning view over the park and London’s skyline, then climb the ArcelorMittal Orbit: UK’s tallest sculpture (114.5m tall), created as a collaboration between world-renowned artist Sir Anish Kapoor, designer Cecil Balmond and ArcelorMittal.
Tired of all that fresh air and free entertainment? Then take a short walk up to the newly built Westfield Stratford shopping centre right next to Stratford tube station where you’ll find many shops and restaurants and even a big cinema.
This canal runs from Little Venice to Docklands. Follow the canal by bike or on foot and discover London from a different point of view. I have once taken the tube up to Camden Town on a Sunday, strolled along the markets there and then walked back to Broadway Market along the canal. With a few stops in between the walk took about 2.5 hours long. (Note: around Angel the canal is hidden under the streets so you will loose it for a few blocks. Check the maps and you should be able to continue your walk along the canal after a few blocks again.) It is a fantastic activity for a sunny Sunday afternoon, be it summer or winter. You will discover quirky things along the canal as residential boats that function as a library or candle shop, small hidden cinemas and cafes, street art and even celebrities (I bumped into my hero Jonathan Ross during my walk and was too flabbergasted to say anything to him).
View London from the water on a Thames Clipper. You will discover things that will usually stay hidden if you explore London by foot. A fast, fun and unusual way to travel around London.
Victoria Park: Grove Road, E9 7DE.
This is one of London’s most important historic parks and its oldest public park. Victoria Park is a massive park with a pavilion and pond, tennis courts, cafes, bike repair shop and also the location for many music festivals. Regent’s Canal runs through the park. Just outside of the park you will find trendy restaurants, shops and pubs.
Walks: London is a great city to explore by foot. London Hiker has collected some unique London walks for their ebook which you can download here for FREE!
All contributions are made by locals who provide unique insights in their city. You can find my contribution on page 16 🙂