I am a Londoner born and bred and I thought it'd be fun for me to share a few things which I think are worth doing in London, especially if you maybe don't want to visit only tourist attractions. I live in East London so it's likely that I'll have a slight bias towards the East but I hope that this list gives you a good idea of some of the amazing things you can do in the greatest city on earth!

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It's sometimes sunny too!

Visit Covent Garden
I'm not really sure quite what I love about Covent Garden. There's a market there, and brilliant stores such as the Moomin store or Octopus, but there is also such a lovely vibe to the cobbled ground and the music you can always hear coming from musicians on the lower ground floor. Covent Garden is also the home of the incredible Transport Museum. Although it's not free like many London museums, if you can it's really worth a visit and it's a brilliant place to take kids, although adults can enjoy it just as well.

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How could you not love it?

Ride the DLR
I know this one won't take a whole day but I still get very excited when I get to ride the Docklands Light Rail. If you get in the front carriage, you can see that there is no driver and the wide window gives you a great view. If you need an excuse to go on this amazing transportation, then maybe take a trip down to Greenwich and ride the Emirates Air Line, a gondola over the Thames. It may seem quite tourist-y but it's actually a really great experience and well worth it.

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*Wishing this was my daily commute*

Go Shopping
To be honest I wouldn't recommend a trip to Oxford street unless you feel you must. It's always packed and you can basically feel the stress seeping through people's skin. It may be worth a little trip to visit Selfridges or of course, John Lewis (my personal favourite department store). If you really want to visit proper shopping centres just to take advantage of London shopping etc, then maybe visit Westfield Stratford City or Shepard's Bush. But there are so many markets in London, I think if you really want to have a unique experience, it would be much nicer to visit one of them. Some of my faves include borough market, Broadway market, Spitalfields market, Camden market or Colombia road flower market. To be honest, anywhere you're staying in London, you can find a market nearby, so it's worth having a Google to find out what's nearby.

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Sunday Mornings on Chatsworth Road

Visit the Tate
If you want to visit an art gallery you should go to the Tate Modern. It's a disused power station which now houses a massive collection of modern art. They've always got amazing paid exhibitions on, which never disappoint, but also have many permanent and free displays which are brilliant. I often go just for these, and it's an amazing place to hang out, especially given the massive turbine hall, where there is almost always a large scale display of some sort. Once there was a huge sun at one end, and currently they have a large amount of adult sized swing sets which you can swing on.

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Mesmerising

Visiting the Tate gives you a chance to walk across the millenium bridge, one of my favourite bridges over the Thames, which provides an excellent view of the river, and tower bridge. After going to the Tate, you could do one of four things. One is go over the millenium bridge and to St. Paul's cathedral, where you can climb up to the top and visit the famous whispering gallery. This is actually pretty damn cool I must say. Or you can take a boat along the river called the Tate to Tate boat, which will drop you off at the Tate Britain. This gallery houses a large collection of contemporary art and provides a nice contrast to the Tate Modern. I love this gallery, as it has so many incredible works of art and a large collection of pre raphellite paintings. Another thing you can do is walk along the banks of the river. The south bank is a vibrant and exciting place. In one direction is the Globe theatre and a visit to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London across the river, and to the other direction, less tourist-y is the south bank centre. With a brilliant skateboarding area, a massive second hand book stall, and the centre itself, this area is a hotspot of youth energy. The national theatre in the south bank centre puts on amazing performances, and there is often something going on in the foyer, which you can watch, or sometimes join in for free. The fourth thing you can do is go down onto the foreshore of the Thames. At low tide, a large stretch of land is revealed, covered in sand, rocks and rubbish. It's actually surprisingly fun to walk down and search for broken bits of pottery or interestingly shaped stones. Just make sure you know what the tide is doing so you don't get stranded.

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Makes me wish I could Skateboard

Visit a Gallery
The National Gallery is my favourite Gallery in London. I could put more on this list (the V&A, the Wellcome collection etc) but I thought I'd focus on this one. Although it is quite tourist-y, it's still amazing. There are works of art from so many different artists and eras and styles. My favourite section is the renaissance section, but all of it is worth a visit because it is so brilliant.

Another gallery worth a mention is the Royal Academy (RA). There's something about this gallery that is really attractive. To be honest even if there were no art in the building it'd still be worth going, but the art is always amazing. There is always an exhibition on, and if you go in the summer, the RA Summer Exhibition will be on, to which anyone across the country can send their art (there are no boundaries of age) and if it is chosen, will be displayed amongst 10,000 other pieces. That is always great fun because the range of techniques and styles is so broad, there is something for everyone.

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Sensing Spaces was such a good exhibition

Visit a Park
London is the fifth greenest city in the world, so it's the perfect place to find a park. From huge parks like Hyde Park and St James Park, to tiny little squares dotted absolutely everywhere, you'll find somewhere you like. Here are a few of my favourite parks:

Trent Park: Alright so it's a bit of a trek to get all the way to the end of the Piccadilly line, but if you do want to get out of the main city for a day, then this is the perfect place. Firstly Cockfosters station is one of the nicest tube stations I've ever been to, but mostly the park itself is huge and has a brilliant mix of field, open grassland and woodland. It might seem an odd choice but it's definitely worth a visit.

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This park is seriously massive

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: As the site of the 2012 Olympics, this park is iconic in London. Its in East London, and it's pretty cool. You can walk along the canal, or play in the fountains. There is also a helter skelter and lovely walks on tree-lined paths. This also connects to the Hackney Marshes, which is a huge field of grass with 82 football, cricket and rugby pitches. There is also the filter beds which presents a lovely walk with links to a bird sanctuary and other such fun things :))

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You can see the iconic Olympic Stadium

Thames Barrier Park: This park is right by the famous Thames Barrier, and it's beautiful. There is lots of space to run and walk and play, and the park is very well looked after, so it will never look dingy.

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Pretty as well as functional!

Go See a Play
There are a plethora of theatres in London. Of course there are the fabulous west end plays, such as Matilda, Les Misérables and Wicked (although I wasn't such a fan of the latter), but there are also hundreds of amazing little theatres across the city. Some of my personal favourites are the Arcola Theatre in Dalston (they often put on quite political plays but they are always very interesting and the building, which used to be a warehouse has an amazing vibe to it), the Little Angel Theatre in Angel (this one is often puppet shows and is perfect for going with kids - I used to go there all the time when I was younger and I have so many happy memories of it) and Sadler's Wells in Islington (they mostly put on dance but if you're a fan of dance in any form it is so worth a visit to either the main stage or the Lillian Baylis black box theatre).

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Arcola Theatre is amazing honestly

Go to Angel
Angel is just an area in Islington but it's a really nice one. The Screen on the Green is one of the nicest art cinemas I know, and Upper Street, although busy, has a certain charm to it. There is a very large Cass Art in Angel too, which is an incredible art store, stocking any art supply you could possibly dream of. All my artsy friends shop there regularly.

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And this fab sculpture

Go to Dalston
I know this might be a slightly strange one to have on the list, and it's only there because I live so near it, So know it well, but Dalston is honestly one of the loveliest places in London. It's the home of the Arcola Theatre, which I've mentioned, but also the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, which is a free little garden where you can go and sit and get some tea and cake. It's also home of the Hackney Peace Mural, which possibly for tourists is less interesting, but i shouldn't see why. Maybe it's not worth the trek if you're staying far away, but if you are staying nearish, or are visiting something nearby, then it's worth a little visit.

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This is a brilliant panorama

Brick Lane
This is one you'll find in the Time Out's list of places to visit in London, and it's well deserving of it. It's a street which has loads of shops, especially vintage and thrift stores, as well as amazing bagels and of course Indian food. England's national dish is Chicken Tikka Masala so if you're looking for a good curry, Brick Lane is a brilliant place to start.

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Yes, it's that middle class to have a café that serves cereal

Visit a Museum
There are so many museums in London and all of them that I have visited are amazing. Most are free too, and that is one of the best things about them! Firstly the British museum is a great place to start. It houses most of the spoils from when we were once an empire, and now refuse to give back (maybe not the most politically correct situation, but nevertheless a cool museum). The building itself is beautiful, with a courtyard which has been given a roof, letting in abundant natural light and reflecting off the white tiles. The artifacts too are extremely interesting, and if you get fed up with the vast number of tourists downstairs by the Rosetta Stone or the Egyptian mummies, if you go upstairs to the rooms around the Mesopotamian exhibit, it's much quieter. That is my favourite part of the museum, and it is no less interesting than the famous pieces.

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You can go hang out here for free!

Another brilliant museum is the natural history museum. Honestly it's so worth a visit because it houses an immense number of artifacts. From the dinosaur area, which although it is always packed, is pretty cool, to the mammal area (my personal favourite) with a life sized blue whale model, to the earth science area, where you can go into an earthquake simulator and look at incredible examples of rocks and gems from the earth, this museum has something for everyone. It also gives you an excuse to go to South Kensington, which is beautiful (maybe a walk down Kensington Gore, a street which I have recently discovered as one of the most beautiful streets in London may be to your taste, but it doesn't lead to much except for the royal Albert hall for those who are fans of the opera).

Image by Denisse Oleson
Nevermind the exhibits, the building alone is worth looking at

There are of course many other museums. The science museum and the transport museum, which I have already mentioned, to name a few. However my favourite museum in the city is the Grant Museum of Zoology. It's a little bit out of the way and it's very small (only one room). But you have never seen anything like it. There are skeletons and taxidermy animals, as well as animals preserved in formaldehyde. You could spend three hours there and not have looked at everything there. I love how quirky and small it is, and for those who want something a bit different out of London, it is definitely worth a visit. Even Londoners who have never visited should do, as it is largely underrated.

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My favourite museum

Visit the Barbican
The Barbican is a hub of creativity and there is always something fun going on there. With theatres, concert halls, cinemas, art galleries and gardens, the unique and charming concrete design will draw you in. I love the Barbican, and I know you will too. You could spend all day there, maybe visiting the library before a show, or even just sitting outside by the fountains and reading a book or playing cards. This one is definitely worth a visit.

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It's beautiful even when the sky isn't

This list is just a start, and is by no means set in stone. I would, however, strongly recommend paying a visit to any of the places mentioned on this list. But London is massive! And amazing! And I strongly encourage you to discover it for yourself. Hop on a random bus/train and see where it takes you!

Feel free to send me a postcard and ask any London-related questions, or suggest something else which could be on the list!

-12dejamoo xx

My London collection btw