Planning to come to London to study? You’ve chosen the best city in the UK to further your dreams. Not only is it our capital city, it’s one of the best in the world. Steeped in history, it offers multicultural food around the clock and an endless array of entertainment seven nights a week.
You’ll obviously have a hit list of things you’d like to do when you get here – visit Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, take a trip up the Shard, shop on Oxford Street, walk along The Thames and much more… but we wanted to highlight some additional things that you might not be aware that you could do and write home about during your time here.
SEE THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD AT THE TOWER OF LONDON
Every night for about 700 years, the Beefeater (Yeoman Warder) performs a gate-closing ritual called the Ceremony of The Keys at the Tower of London.
At exactly 21:52 each night, the Beefeater comes out of the Byward Tower and walks to the Traitors Gate where he is met by members of the duty regiment Foot Guards who escort him throughout the ceremony.
You can apply for free tickets online from the Historic Royal Palaces website and between 40-50 visitors are admitted each time.
Due to the popularity of the ceremony, they advise that it is necessary to book as far in advance as possible. It has never been cancelled and has only been delayed once due to a bomb knocking a couple of warders off their feet in WWII.
When your studies get a bit too much and you need a couple of hours out, you can take a break and go for a swim outdoors.
Tooting Bec Lido is an open-air fresh water swimming pool in South London (SW16). It is the largest swimming pool in the UK by surface area and is open to the general public from late May to the end of September.
Brockwell Lido is located in the corner of Brockwell Park in Lambeth (SE24) and has been at the heart of the local community since 1937. It is an Olympic sized 50m pool and is surrounded by a Grade II listed art deco building housing a gym & fitness studios.
London Fields Lido, based in Hackey (E8) is another 50m Olympic sized pool but this one is heated for outdoor swimming all year-round. It has lane swimming available all day and offers swimming lessons for all ages.
Serpentine Lido is based in Hyde Park and is open on weekends throughout May and then 10am – 6pm every day in June, July & August. It offers open water swimming in the stunning Serpentine and is a must for ticking off on your London bucket list.
VISIT PLATFORM 9 ¾ AT KINGS CROSS STATION
Calling all Harry Potter fans! You can’t visit London without popping along to platform 9 ¾ for a quick photo to send home. At the real Kings Cross, platforms 9 and 10 are separated by tracks as opposed to a brick wall but look out for the luggage trolley embedded in the wall and there you will find a platform sign for your photo.
TAKE A TRIP UP BIG BEN
You can book to go up Big Ben and The Elizabeth Tower (the tower that holds the clock). In order to visit, you need to fit a strict criteria and contact either your local MP or a member of the House of Lords to request a visit. Tours tend to be sold out for up to 6 months in advance so if you fancy this, put your request in early and be prepared to wait a while! Note: tours are currently suspended due to refurbishment of the clock and tower.
TAKE A TOUR OF THE HOUSES OR PARLIAMENT
While you’re waiting for the Big Ben refurb to complete, you could take a tour of the houses of parliament which take place on Saturdays throughout the year and on weekdays during Parliamentary recesses. Tickets can be booked for a self-guided audio tour, a guided tour or if you fancy that bit extra you could book one that is accompanied by afternoon tea beside the River Thames.
BOOK A POD FOR DINNER ON THE LONDON EYE
It doesn’t come cheap (approximately £1000 per person!) but you can book a pod on the London Eye for eight people for a three-course gourmet meal. You get exclusive hire of the London Eye after closing hours, a champagne reception, three course meal with bespoke wines for up to eight guests, three rotations on the London Eye and a ten-minute pause at 135 metres on the last rotation for photographs.
If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, you can book a private capsule for a 30 minute rotation or a cupids capsule for two guests with champagne and chocolates.
TAKE A BUS TOUR OF LONDON FOR ONLY £1.50
Want to see all the sights but save your pennies for your nights out? You could ride an iconic red bus past all of London's most famous attractions without shelling out for a proper tour bus. A single one-way ticket on a normal London bus is only £1.50 (using an Oyster card), and we think the perfect route would be the Northbound no.12.
Grab a coffee and a croissant, jump on board and sit on the upper deck at the front. This route takes you from Lambeth North Underground Station, across the river, past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben to 10 Downing Street and Whitehall. It then goes along to Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, ending up in Oxford Circus where you can use the money you’ve saved on the tour to shop to your hearts content.