Places You Should Avoid on Any Trip to London

| © Sergey Borisov / Alamy Stock Photo
Lizzie Thomson

London Writer

Any tourist visiting London will be aware of the incredible selection of attractions the city has to offer. While you may have your list of London hotspots to check out, it’s also important to know the parts of the city to avoid – mainly to prevent any disappointment during your stay. Here’s a roundup of the places you should avoid (if possible) when visiting London.

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Restaurants in Leicester Square

Home to London’s theatreland and film premieres, Leicester Square is a hit with tourists. However, any Londoner will know Leicester Square is not famous for its food. Many restaurants hike up their prices, knowing that tourists will fork out the cash thinking that because of the location, the food will be just as great. In reality, most of the restaurants in Leicester Square are chain restaurants, so if you’re looking to experience the best of London’s independent restaurants, Soho might be a better area to check out.

Oxford Street

Home to the biggest names in retail, every day tourists flock to Oxford Circus to indulge in some retail therapy. With virtually every shop you could ever want within walking distance, it’s a shopaholic’s paradise. However over recent years, the area has become incredibly overcrowded, with daily queues to get into the station. The overcrowding issue has even resulted in plans to pedestrianise the road, to make more space for eager shoppers. The city has great alternative shopping spots, such as Carnaby Street and Brick Lane.

City of London (On a Weekend)

The City of London is the term given to London’s historic financial district. During the week, busy city workers take to the bars and restaurants in the area for a post-work drink to unwind. From Monday to Fridays, the spot is buzzing with city life. However, on the weekend, the City of London resembles a ghost town. If you’re visiting the area, make sure you go mid-week, otherwise you may be left disappointed with the quiet atmosphere.

Large Commercial Shopping Centres

If you want to satisfy your shopping urges in London, there are several great shopping spots that embody London’s wonderful culture, including the likes of Covent Garden and Bond Street. Unless the sole purpose of your trip to London is to shop, then it’s best to avoid larger shopping centres. All in all, they are reminiscent of the shopping malls you’d find in the US and lack London’s unique character and charm.

Canary Wharf

With an enormous corporate shopping centre and high-rise buildings towering over the area, Canary Wharf is in many ways London’s own little sub-city. The area is well-known for being the capital’s financial district, and the mood of the area reflects this, with corporate-grey skyscrapers being the only attraction. Any tourist will find Canary Wharf pretty soulless compared to other vibrant areas in London.

Canary Wharf

The London Eye (for views)

The London Eye is a key part of the city’s iconic landscape, and towering 443 feet over London it’s no surprise most people can’t wait to jump on. However, The London Eye experience is not for everyone; long queues often put tourists off because for many, it’s time that could be used to visit other sights the city has to offer. The London Eye charges around £20 for a standard ticket for views that can be enjoyed in many other places for free. As an alternative, you might want to consider taking a trip down to Alexandra Palace or Primrose Hill to see the spectacular city skyline without parting with any cash.

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The Shard (for views)

Located a stone’s throw away from London Bridge station, The Shard is probably one the most iconic buildings in London. However, one thing London is not lacking is sensational viewpoints, and many of the city’s visitors do not realise that they can actually get better views from landmarks such as Sky Garden and Heron Tower.

Madame Tussauds

Although the artistry of the wax figures cannot be denied, Madame Tussauds is not unique to London. Other European cities and US states offer the attraction, whereas the Natural History Museum and the V&A offer a unique experience for London visitors.

Piccadilly Circus

While the name is universally recognised, Piccadilly Circus itself has limited things to do for visitors. Apart from a few shops and the statue of Eros, the circus is mainly just a hub for passing traffic.

Clubs in Mayfair

If you’re looking to save the pennies, Mayfair’s drink prices may not be the answer, plus entry fees are significantly more expensive than other London areas. Clubs in Mayfair also have a very different atmosphere to other venues in the city. Many showcase an ‘exclusive’ feel to them, which can be off-putting to visitors looking to get a taste of London culture.

Chain Cinemas

London is home to some of the very best independent cinemas. Some of the city’s pop-up cinemas offer interactive experiences with actors performing before the screening, to help to set the scene before you sit down to enjoy the film. Some of the best in London include Backyard Cinema, Luna Cinema, Rooftop Film Club and Electric Cinema. So if the unpredictable British weather has put a damper on your plans, check out the outstanding independent cinemas the city has to offer.

After visiting London, why not head north to the Scottish capital? Our four-day Mini Trip to Edinburgh includes a tour of the top historical sights around the city, as well as an exhilarating hike in the Scottish Highlands.

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