An insider's guide to London

4 December 2020

London is absolutely brimming with events, galleries, museums and hidden gems to explore. There are far too many to list, but here are some of our favourites...

insiders guide

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and London life

We understand that some of you may be studying remotely to begin with due to the coronavirus situation and therefore unable to arrive on campus and in London in January.

We hope that even if you can’t join us immediately, that these articles get you excited for when you are able to join us here in London and give you a flavour of the amazing things to come.

Please remember that due to the coronavirus pandemic, some cafes and locations such as theatres and clubs may have temporarily closed, have different opening times and you may have to book ahead.

Even if you may not be able to enjoy these spaces and events as you might normally, many venues are hosting free online tours and virtual events for you to join in with and your favourite restaurants and cafes may be operating a takeaway service so you can still eat and drink your favourites in the comfort of your own home. Please check their websites ahead of time to ensure you don't miss out.

Closer to UCL:

  • Word on the Water, Kings Cross – a bookshop on a boat! A beautiful 1920s Dutch barge has been transformed into a floating bookshop on Regent’s Canal! Sometimes hosts live music, too! Check their Facebook page for the latest location and events.
  • The School of Life, Bloomsbury – on Marchmont Street, The School of Life offers lectures and workshops on emotional education, philosophy and more. Classes include “How to fail,” and “How to develop self-knowledge.” Definitely for exercising and expanding the mind!
  • Drink, Shop & Do, Kings Cross – a fabulously fun, creative café, and learning space, Drink, Shop & Do regularly hosts all sorts of events from poetry readings to speed dating, Lego model-building to Beyoncé dance classes!
  • Iris Theatre, Covent Garden – throughout the year, the Iris Theatre puts on spectacular, interactive, and immersive performances in the gardens of the Actors Church in the piazza! Culminating with a Shakespeare production every summer.
  • The Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square – ignore its touristy Leicester Square location; The Prince Charles is a fantastic alternative to the many multiplex cinemas in London. Playing cult and independent films, and even sing-a-longs to Frozen, The Sound of Music, Grease, and more!

Further afield:

  • The Arcola Theatre, Dalston - accessible, diverse, and all about community, The Arcola Theatre presents a flourishing arts programme, engaging in current local and global issues. Affordable ticket pricing under £20, and on Tuesday evenings, you just pay what you can!
  • York Hall Boxing, Bethnal Green – not for the faint-hearted, experience a night of true British boxing in East London. It is one of the best-known arenas in the country, seating 1200 spectators - the atmosphere is absolutely electric. Check here for the latest events.
  • The Royal Observatory, Greenwich – visit the 28-inch refracting telescope at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, the largest working telescope of its kind in the country. Open to the public during winter evenings for star-gazing!  
  • Highgate Cemetery, Highgate – Grade I listed Highgate Cemetery is beautifully quiet, green, and haunting. Karl Marx and George Eliot are buried here in the ivy-clad East Cemetery. Be sure to go on the hour-long guided tour of the stunning West Cemetery.
  • St Katharine Docks, Tower Hamlets – hosting food markets, a film festival, Pilates, and yoga classes, and a fantastic pub called The Dickens Inn, wander over to St Katharine Docks for a leisurely evening with friends.
  • Brixton Village and Market – run by local traders, Brixton Market comprises of a flea market, bakery, a farmers’ market, crafts, and more. On a wide pedestrianised road, it’s very accessible and offers goods from across the globe, including the famous Bokit’La cuisine from Guadeloupe.

With all of this on your doorstep and beyond, we hope that you safely enjoy all that London has to offer!

Suriyah Rashid, UCL student, BA Language and Culture