Stephanie Limuaco, Senior International Officer at King’s College London, shares her top tips for getting to know the centre of London.
Have you arrived in London and are ready to have the best time of your life?
We’re ready to welcome you to London with open arms, and universities like King’s College London make it possible for you to make the most of the city from the moment you arrive. In this article, learn how to navigate the city centre and instantly become a Londoner!
Get to know your surroundings by walking
I was an international student myself before I started working at King’s. The first thing I always encourage new students to do is to learn about their new surroundings above-ground. I wish I had done this when I first arrived in London! It’s so easy to just hop on the tube to get to places, but it means you can’t appreciate the sights above.
Houses of Parliament
So, to tick off many major landmarks of London in one go, I recommend the walk along the south bank of the River Thames. Start your walking tour at St. Thomas’ Hospital (one King’s three teaching hospitals) which is opposite the Houses of Parliament (nearest stations are Waterloo or Westminster, or bus routes 147,160, 452, C10, 44). I love the photo spot just above the steps to capture all of Big Ben’s magnificence.
Coca-Cola London Eye
Continue along the south bank path towards the London Eye, which you simply can’t miss! You will find the London Aquarium to your right. Walk along until you find another photo spot with the London Eye behind you, and another beautiful angle of Big Ben!
South Bank Centre
The South Bank Centre that you will see next is home to great theatres like the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall, art and music spaces, festivals, a Christmas market in December, and street performers. I enjoy going down there with my packed lunch as it’s a 5-minute walk from my office in the King’s Waterloo campus next door. There is also a World Street Food market from Thursday to Sunday – I recommend the Moroccan curries or the Korean burrito.
If you cross Waterloo Bridge, it will take you to King’s Strand Campus and the Somerset House. You can easily see the buildings from across the river.
Staying on the path south of the river, you will pass the OXO Tower on your right and the looming dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral on your left. When you reach the Millennium Bridge, take a moment to capture another photo-perfect opportunity of the Cathedral in the background.
After that, you will pass Shakespeare’s Globe where you can watch a play for £5, as if it were during Shakespeare’s own time!
You will pass many nice places to eat as you walk along, but save space in your belly as you head towards Borough Market. You can sample some delicious fresh produce directly from British farms, and buy some unique, organic or gourmet ingredients to take home with you.
After having your fill at Borough Market, cross over or under London Bridge and find your way back to the path along the river. Look right and you will find the tallest building in Europe, the Shard! Note that King’s Guy’s Campus (home to the Life Sciences and Medicine Faculty of King’s) is just behind it, so you’re never too far from any King’s community!
Back on the path along the river, my favourite bridge is coming up: Tower Bridge. You can take hundreds of great photos from the south side of the river. The round glass building to your right is the Mayor of London’s office, with an amphitheatre just in front. The area is home to many different events throughout the year; check out the schedule of events at The Scoop.
Cross Tower Bridge for more great views of London and to visit the Tower of London where Beefeaters can take you on a tour and you can see the crown jewels.
As you can see, you can get to know London and see some great sights just by walking around. Search for free walking tours too and you’ll be surprised what you can learn. This path along the river is my first tip for new Londoners – it’s free to do and lots of fun!
Know your local area. Walk around and enjoy the city above-ground!
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