One of the wonderful things about living in London is the diversity in activity year-round. However, that being said, autumn is one of the most stunning and pleasant times during the year wherein one can enjoy many things to do in London without feeling bitterly cold. Autumn invites a crisp breeze and welcomed splashes of sunshine (if you look hard enough for them) but also is the part of the year where the leaves change and the backdrop of the city goes from vibrant and green to the multitude of toastier colours. Without a shadow of a doubt, there are plenty of activities for those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of city-life but here are a few calmer (and cheap) things to do in London if you want a break from the city-life without leaving the city.
1. Street Food Festival on the Southbank
This was by far one of the most exciting things I’ve done since I arrived in London. London is famous for its walkability and general accessibility to the public and there is no more apt an example of this than its many street-food markets. While London may be famous for the Borough open market, which I have since been to, my favourite still remains the Southbank Centre Street-food Market near Waterloo station. The market is dotted with stalls from various countries, such as India and Ethiopia, but in the end, I settled for a freshly sliced Shawarma wrap (I highly recommend) and sat at the long communal tables. Despite the fact that this gem of a market is hidden in an enclosed space in central London, I didn’t find it overwhelmingly claustrophobic or busy. It was the perfect balance of busy and exciting!
2. St. Paul’s Cathedral/Trafalgar Square
There have been many times where I have been returning from the library or from a social in north London and each time I can’t resist walking by and sitting on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. I’m not sure whether it’s the beautiful architecture or the eclectic mix of people you see there, but it’s fascinating to simply sit and enjoy the outdoors there (whilst enjoying a spot of lunch to eat). Alternatively, if you want to partake in some very touristy things to do in London, then you can’t go wrong at nelson’s column. This area is particularly beautiful at evening-time, where you can watch the sunset and the blues descend into a twinkly twilight glow. It’s busier than St Paul’s but it is a view you can’t miss, particularly if you sit with your friends in the autumn breeze by the fountains.
3. Boat tours from Festival Pier
I recently went on a boat tour departing from Festival Pier in order to get to know London and it’s major landmarks. When I went, it was a beautiful, early autumn day and the visibility was incredible. During mid-late autumn, I can imagine the trip would become even more picturesque will the many hues of red, orange and yellow dashing the trees along the bank of the Thames. Not only is this a great way to get your bearings if you’re new to London, but if you go with a group of friends or flatmates, then you’ll get the added advantage of fantastic selfie backdrops. While this is the only option of things to do in London on the list that isn’t free, the cost is definitely worth it!
4. Millennium Bridge
A relatively new addition to London’s history-rich landscape, millennium-bridge was built for the turn of the Millennium. From the bridge, you can see down to the financial district in the east and in the west you have a fantastic view of the Tate Modern. Whether you’re walking to Soho for brunch or to Covent Garden to watch the street performers, this is a far more pleasant way to travel across the Thames than using the tube. Often, there are people selling warm, sugared mixed nuts or little paintings and it feels so quirky and lovely despite being in the centre of London.
5. Visit one of the many green space available
This one almost goes without saying! London is truly unique in that there are plenty of stretches of green space for residents and visitors to enjoy recreationally or culturally.
Perhaps the most well-known park, Hyde park sits in the centre of London and occupies the largest green space of any other park in such a central location of London. It is undeniably one of the most beautiful places to visit with its expanses of lawn and it even has its own open-air theatre, where you can enjoy live performances outdoors.
This particular park has multiple functions. Not only is it visibly extraordinary, but it also is the home of the London Zoo. With a group of friends, there is nothing wrong with becoming tourists for the day and enjoying wildlife in the middle of the city!
Queen Elizabeth Park
As far parks go for London, this one has a cosier feel (and it was the home of the 2012 Olympics). Situated in East London and surrounded by commercial, financial and residential activity, Queen Elizabeth Park attracts many families who want to go for a weekend picnic or ride the pedal boats. You can’t go wrong!