Exploring London like a local: Things to do in the city

London can be an adventure like no other if you know what to do and where to go. If you don’t, well, that’s what this article is for!

We’ll show you the secret spots known only to the savviest locals – the cosy pubs where conversations flow like the River Thames, the charming bookshops where time stands still, and the tucked-away markets where you can haggle for antiques like a pro.

Ready? Let’s go!

Meet friends for wine at The Flask

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Website: https://www.theflaskhampstead.co.uk/ 

Address: 14 Flask Walk, Hampstead, London, NW3 1HE, United Kingdom

Contact details: +44 (0) 20 7435 4580

Operating hours: 

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – 12 PM to 11 PM
  • Sunday – 12 PM to 10 PM

Price: Can vary depending on the type of wine (See prices here)

The Flask exudes that inimitable British charm – a place steeped in history, the kind that whispers stories of a bygone era. 

Plus, this place isn’t just any old restaurant, it’s a secret haven of knowledge and intrigue. Legend has it that its very walls have absorbed the musings of great minds. 

Literary giants like Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker once sought solace within these hallowed walls, their words flowing as freely as the amber nectar itself.

Pro tip:
Timing is key when meeting friends for a pint at The Flask in London. Opt for off-peak hours, like late afternoons on weekdays or early evenings on weekends, to enjoy a more tranquil and intimate experience.

Attend a local theatre show at The Yard Theatre

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Website: https://theyardtheatre.co.uk/ 

Address: Unit 2A, Queen’s Yard, Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN, United Kingdom

Contact details: +44 (0) 20 3111 0570

Operating hours: Can vary depending on the performance

Price: Varies by show, but tickets typically range from £10 to £20

The Yard Theatre is the epitome of “local” in all its glorious splendour. Nestled in the vibrant enclave of Hackney Wick, this theatrical haven exudes an aura of authenticity that simply can’t be replicated.

The creative energies within its hallowed walls are palpable – a heady concoction of raw talent, innovation, and boundary-pushing performances.

Also, this theatre is not just a venue; it’s a vibrant community of artists, a melting pot of creative minds converging to ignite sparks of brilliance. 

Come here to rub shoulders with the avant-garde, engage in conversations that challenge your perspectives, and bask in the warmth of a community that thrives on artistic exploration.

Pro tip:
Try staying after the show. The Yard Theatre often hosts post-show talks with the artists involved in the production. These talks are a great opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the show.

Take part in a community event like the Notting Hill Carnival

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Website: https://nhcarnival.org/ 

Address: The carnival traditionally takes place on the streets of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Contact details: +44 (0) 20 7221 9700

Date: Typically the last weekend of August

Price: Free

The Notting Hill Carnival is a kaleidoscope of cultures, a melting pot of flavours, and a celebration of London’s rich tapestry of communities.

As you wander through the streets, you’ll be transported to different corners of the globe, from the pulsating beats of Caribbean soca to the mesmerizing rhythms of African drums.

Oh, and don’t even let us get started on the food! You can get everything from sizzling jerk chicken to spicy curries here.

Pro tip:
The carnival can be physically demanding with long hours of walking, dancing, and standing. So, carry a refillable water bottle and stay hydrated throughout the day.

Browse through the curated selection of books at Persephone Books

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Website: https://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/ 

Address: 59 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB, United Kingdom

Contact details: +44 (0) 20 7242 9292

Operating hours: 

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – 10 AM to 6 PM
  • Saturday –  11 AM to 5 PM
  • Sunday – Closed


  • The Grey editions – £14 each or £36 for three
  • The fourteen Classic editions – £11 each

What sets Persephone Books apart is its carefully curated selection. These are no ordinary books – each one has been handpicked for its literary merit and unique voice. 

From forgotten classics to hidden gems, Persephone Books resurrects the work of talented women writers, ensuring that their stories and voices are celebrated and cherished.

On top of this, the store exudes an aura of elegance and sophistication, inviting you to slow down, indulge in browsing, and lose yourself in the world of literature.

Pro tip:
Persephone Books has an active book group where members discuss and share their thoughts on Persephone publications. Consider joining the book group to engage with fellow readers, gain insights, and participate in book-related discussions and events.

Explore contemporary art exhibitions at Whitechapel Gallery

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Website: https://www.whitechapelgallery.org/ 

Address: 70 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7SE, United Kingdom

Contact details: +44 (0) 20 7522 7888

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – 11 AM to 6 PM
  • Thursday – 11 AM to 9 PM
  • Closed Mondays, Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day


  • Free for members under 16s
  • Adults – £12 
  • Concessions (students, seniors, unwaged) – £10 
  • Whitechapel Local Cardholders – £5 

This cutting-edge institution is dedicated to showcasing some of the most thought-provoking and innovative contemporary art exhibitions in London. It’s a wonderful place for those who love to explore new perspectives and techniques.

And with new exhibitions constantly rotating, there’s always something fresh and exciting to discover.

Pro tip:
Take the time to read the descriptions accompanying each artwork. They provide context, history, and insight into the artist’s vision. Learn about the techniques, the inspiration, and the message behind each piece. 

Hunt for unique vintage finds at Alfies Antique Market 

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Website: https://www.alfiesantiques.com/ 

Address: 13-31 Market Place, London, W1W 8AH, United Kingdom

Contact details: +44 (0) 20 7724 2980

Operating hours: 

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – 10 PM to 6 PM
  • Sunday – 11 PM to 5 PM

Price: Free to enter

What better way to express your unique sense of style than by scouring the stalls at Alfies Antique Market? From vintage clothing and accessories to furniture, homeware, and everything in between, there’s no shortage of treasures to uncover.

But hunting for vintage finds at Alfie’s isn’t just about the shopping – it’s an experience. The market is housed in a stunning Art Deco building, which gives it a cool and stylish vibe. 

Plus, there’s something special about owning a piece of history. Whether it’s a vintage handbag that once belonged to a glamorous Hollywood starlet or a mid-century armchair with a story to tell, every piece at Alfie’s has its unique history and character.

Pro tip:
When exploring Alfies Antique Market, be aware that it consists of 13 distinct markets, each with its own unique focus. Some markets specialize in furniture, while others focus on jewellery, art, or collectables. 
Knowing your specific interests beforehand will help you narrow down your search and prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Join a gardening club at the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

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Website: https://dalstongarden.org/ 

Address: 13 Dalston Lane, London, E8 3DF, United Kingdom

Contact details: +44 (0) 20 7272 2288

Operating hours: 

  • Monday and Tuesday – closed
  • Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday – 11 AM to 6 PM

Price: Free to enter

Joining a gardening club at the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden is a bit like joining a secret society, except instead of secret handshakes and passwords, you get to swap tips on pruning, planting, and propagating. 

Plus, you’ll get to make new friends, indulge in some light exercise, and soak up some much-needed Vitamin D.

Here, you’ll not only have access to a beautiful green space in the heart of the city, but you’ll also get to learn from experienced gardeners, swap tips and tricks, and maybe even make some new friends along the way. 

Pro tip:
Take advantage of the resources available at The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, since they have a great selection of tools and equipment that you can borrow. There’s also a wide variety of seeds and plants to choose from. 

Enjoy a leisurely day at Richmond Park

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Website: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park 

Address: Richmond Park, Surrey, TW10 5HS, United Kingdom

Contact details: +44 (0) 20 8878 1000

Operating hours: 

  • Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday – Open 24 hours

Price: Free to enter

Picture this: wide open spaces, fresh air, and a herd of deer grazing peacefully in the distance. That’s right, we’re talking about the largest royal park in London and the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Richmond Park has it all – from picturesque walking paths and stunning gardens to ancient woodlands and sparkling lakes. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to read a book or an invigorating hike through the wilderness, you’ll find it here.

And let’s not forget about the wildlife. The park is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including hundreds of red and fallow deer that roam freely throughout the grounds. 

It’s like having your safari right in the heart of the city!

Pro tip:
While the park is home to a variety of wildlife, it can be a bit shy and difficult to spot at times. That’s where binoculars come in handy – they’ll help you get a closer look at the animals without disturbing them or getting too close.
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