A deeper look at London town

If you’ve been a London tourist before, then it’s time to dig a little deeper and discover some of her hidden gems

21 July 2017, 7:00am
The London Wetland Centre in Barnes in the south west is home to over 200 species of birds
The London Wetland Centre in Barnes in the south west is home to over 200 species of birds
London is a city that has been at the top of the average Maltese’s travel destinations for a long time. Whether we choose to visit the city for business, shopping, partying or a dose of culture, there is always something new to do in London, that isn’t the Big Ben, no matter how many times a year we visit.    

Don’t get us wrong, we love London’s museums, art galleries and top restaurants – and if you haven’t been to London before, Buckingham Palace, the London Tower, the London Eye and the Tate Museum (both of them) are absolute musts – but if you’ve been a London tourist before, then it’s time to dig a little deeper and discover some of her hidden gems. 

The Whispering Gallery at St Paul’s Cathedral

Whisper something to a friend at the other end of the Whispering Gallery at St Paul’s Cathedral and be heard loud and clear from 30 metres away
Whisper something to a friend at the other end of the Whispering Gallery at St Paul’s Cathedral and be heard loud and clear from 30 metres away
St Paul’s Cathedral is a wonder from the inside and out. Climb the 259 steps to the indoor balcony at the base of the dome, known as the Whispering Gallery. The acoustics of the building allow you to whisper to a friend at the other end of the circular gallery over 30 metres away. They will hear you loud and clear! Whisper “I’m watching you” to other tourists viewing the gallery for some extra laughs!

Quirky items at Camden Market

While Camden Market is no longer as quirky as it once was there is still plenty to see, with fashion stalls, music, antiques and curiosities still to be had. Multicultural food stalls offer nourishment for a long day of exploring and shopping. Chin Chin Labs provide a small variety of ice creams that are prepped and frozen before your eyes using liquid nitrogen. While you’re there, hop onto a canal cruise of Regent’s Canal and do some sightseeing while enjoying your ice cream.

Cycle like an Olympian at the Olympic Park

The London Olympics of 2012 left the city with some incredible venues and attractions. Playgrounds, waterways and meadows rub shoulders with top quality sporting venues at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Try track cycling in the velodrome or sign up for a beginners’ course at the Tom Daley Diving Academy at the London Aquatics Centre. 

If sporting isn’t really your thing but you’re keen on an adrenaline rush, try hurtling down ArcelorMittal Orbit, the 178-metre slide that winds down the tower. The work of art, by Belgian artist Carsten Höller, will take you from the top to the bottom in just 40 seconds with clear glass windows at strategic points if you dare to keep your eyes open throughout the ride!

Catch a movie under the stars

Even if the film is lousy, the atmosphere will make up for it
Even if the film is lousy, the atmosphere will make up for it
Though London has a reputation for its constant drizzle, when the sun comes out, there is nothing better than a day out in London – a pint in a beer garden or an ice cream in the park, there are a great many ways to enjoy the outdoors in the city. Catch an open-air movie under the stars at one of the many screenings throughout the summer, whether at a rooftop film club or on the river. Even if the film is lousy, the atmosphere will make up for it.

Bird watching in London

While the birds you are most likely to see in London are the pests of Trafalgar Square, the pigeons, a short trip to leafy Barnes in the south-west will provide you with a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and an opportunity to enjoy some English wildlife. Over 200 species of birds make their home at the London Wetland Centre along with various reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and even bats. 

Afternoon tea and Sunday roasts

England has a reputation for serving very bland food. Anyone who says this of England’s capital must not be looking very hard for quality meals. Sure, you can find your fair share of tourist traps serving sub-standard meals, but where in the world do you go where the food is fabulous at every stop? Some of the best chefs in the world call London home and you can get authentic cuisine from just about anywhere in the world. You shouldn’t be turning your nose up at traditionally English dishes either. There is nowhere better for Sunday roasts or afternoon teas than London. Afternoon tea at Caldrige’s in Mayfair is a class act, with A-listers choosing to take their afternoon tea at this five-star hotel.

Take a breath of fresh air in one of the many parks

Richmond Park is home to over 650 free-roaming deer
Richmond Park is home to over 650 free-roaming deer
In Malta we have a severe lack of green space. The scorching summer sun does not help our cause but construction at every corner means too many trees are sacrificed. With a population of just under nine million, London still manages a variety of green spaces from picnic-perfect Hyde Park, with over 4,000 trees and a lake, to the countryside of Richmond Park, home to around 650 free-roaming deer. Whether sunbathing in the summer, or taking a brisk walk (or even a run) in the winter, these lush green parks are the perfect spot to take a time out from the hustle and bustle of city life. You can also take part in a variety of activities from horse riding to golf, open-air theatre to live music events.

Step into the 1930s at Eltham Palace

London is steeped in history with incredible architecture from every age. Eltham Palace is a unique art deco mansion in a medieval setting. It reflects the glamour of the 1930s with stunning interiors and furnishings. The 19 acres of gardens blend the 1930s style of Eltham Palace with medieval features, adding to the backdrop of a royal palace from Tudor times, which was home to Henry VIII when he was a child. The palace was built with millionaires in mind and after a £1.7 million refurb, it re-opened to the public in April, 2015 with five new rooms on display.

Getting there

Air Malta is currently operating 15 weekly flights to London Heathrow and five weekly flights to London Gatwick. One-way prices start from €106 to London Gatwick and €113 to London Heathrow, including taxes and charges. Fares include a 10kg hand luggage and 20kg checked in baggage. Visit www.airmalta.com for more info.