For travellers seeking urban destinations, London has always been among the most popular options in the world. In fact, going by numbers reported by CNBC, London was the most popular option for city tourism in 2015, with over 18 million overnight visitors recorded over the course of the year.
Despite the city’s reputation and incredible tourism numbers, however, most of the travel recommendations you come across almost exclusively concern its sights and monuments.
To be sure, London is overflowing with historic buildings, fascinating monuments, and museums that you could spend years exploring. But there’s more to do in the city than simply go sightseeing!
If you’re as drawn to London as so many people around the world, you’ll want to make time to stroll the city and take in some of the top sights. But you’ll also want to busy yourself having fun and experiencing the English culture a little bit.
And for that, the five activities I’ve listed here can be a nice start.
Cruise The Thames
I’m cheating a little bit with this one, because cruising the Thames is in large part about seeing the sights of London from a different vantage point. Nevertheless it’s an incredibly charmed way to spend an afternoon, and that vantage point is worth it.
According to The London Pass’s cruise page, you can take a river tour anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours long during which you’ll pass by some of the city’s most stunning landmarks, including the Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and many more.
See A Soccer Match
There might not be a better way to enjoy yourself in London than to take in a major soccer match. While tickets are in high demand, there are a lot of chances to explore.
Currently there are five London teams participating in the top-flight English Premier League. Arsenal and Chelsea are the two most prominent London clubs, but in truth a match at any of the London venues makes for an amazing experience.
Go On A Pub Crawl
You don’t have to be a big drinker to appreciate the enthusiasm and reputation surrounding the London pub scene. It’s a city known for bars with history, character, and crowds, and a lot of tourists enjoy nothing better than to try out a bunch of them on a renowned pub crawl.
There are actually several different pub crawls that have gained some fame in London, but fortunately there’s a site dedicated to sorting through them, so you should be able to find one that suits your particular preferences.
Take A Day Trip To Cheltenham
One of the really great things about London for tourists is that it’s situated within reasonable driving distance of a lot of other great places in England.
So if you’re travelling and in search of recreation, don’t be afraid to look outside of the city! If you happen to be going in the spring, one of the best day trip options for pure entertainment is visiting the Cheltenham Festival just a short drive out of town.
This is a massive horse-racing event held every March and often taking on the flavour of a carnival as much as a sporting event.
As explained at Betfair’s Cheltenham page, there are four full days of racing and each one features a particularly prominent event and celebration. At Cheltenham, the competition is top-notch, the fans are incredibly fun loving, and the atmosphere is incomparable.
Take Castle Tour
Another option for a day trip outside of the city is to go on a tour of some of England’s castles. To some extent, this too could be classified as sightseeing, but there’s also an active and adventurous aspect to actually getting out and seeing these incredible structures in person.
Some are effectively ruins and others have been astonishingly well preserved, giving the impression they’ve hardly been touched by the passing centuries.
And luckily some of the most impressive castles are in fairly close proximity to London, including Bodiam Castle, the Tower of London, Anderitum, and Dover Castle.
It’s just a small sampling of the endless ways you can enjoy yourself in and around London, but hopefully it’s a helpful reminder that there’s far more to this popular tourist destination than the sights alone.