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Navigating London Like a Local

Navigating London Like a Local | AIFS Customized Faculty-Led Blog

Last Updated on June 28, 2023 by AIFS Abroad Customized Faculty-Led

After being in London for a while, most people have seen the top attractions and been to all of the museums and famous markets. From Big Ben and Buckingham Palace to St. Paul’s Cathedral, The British Museum to The Natural History Museum, and from Camden Market to Borough Market…

But after a while, some may start to wonder what else there is to do and discover in London…?

If in need of a short adventure after class, an option may be to go bus or train hopping (provided that you have an Oyster Travel Card).

Below I have written a few things that I like to do to explore different parts of the city.

Pick a Train or Station

While sometimes it’s good to have a route planned, being spontaneous can take you places that you never thought you would be. I like to pick a tube line or a station that I have never been on or gotten off at before. It’s interesting to see and feel the different vibes of different trains. Being in various stations makes me wonder how the ground above looks. This normally then leads me to get off a station or two early to discover the area that I have only previously experienced in the dark!

Which line haven’t you taken? The Victoria line? Hammersmith & City? Metropolitan? What are you waiting for?!

Pick a Bus

What is a better (and faster) way to see and discover the city than hopping on a random bus and sitting in the front row on the top level? When I know I have at least five stops before I get off, I usually go up to the second level of the bus for the view. If I am looking for a short adventure, hopping on a bus I don’t know and sitting on the top level also makes it easier for me to pick my next stop.

Sometimes the views can be unexpectedly beautiful especially when you’re on a hill. A view from a hill is a good view any time of the day – let it be rows of Victorian houses or the dazzling city lights.

Navigating London Like a Local | AIFS Customized Faculty-Led Blog

The Overground

When I am travelling from point A to point B, I prefer travelling with the tube because it is much faster and well connected to stations and locations. But when I am going home after a food outing with a friend during off-peak hours, I actually enjoy riding the Overground. I always enjoy staring outside the window at the city lights and the skyscrapers.

A side tip/recommendation: you have probably noticed that as you go outward from the City of London, some prices get lower, especially street food. If you’re on a budget but are craving some falafel wraps… instead of going to one of the restaurants in Leicester Square, if you are in North London, go to the stand at the entrance of the market in front of Dalston Kingsland Station. Trust me, you will not regret it. And did I mention the wraps are only £2.50?

Take a Different Route Home

Are you tired of taking the same old tube line home everyday? Does the station get so packed that three trains have passed and you’re still on the platform? Or do you just want to try something different?

Although I normally need assistance from Google Maps when I don’t take the usual route home, I get to see the surroundings of a tube station that I had previously never been on before, observe different parts of the town, walk a new path, and discover nearby parks. This is definitely a fun way to get to know your neighborhood better!

Tzu-Han Hsu is a Student Representative and Student Blogger who is studying abroad this Spring on an AIFS Customized Faculty-Led program in London, England through California State University, Long Beach.

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