When most people visit London, they typically steer towards the classic attractions we all know and love, such as Big Ben, The London Eye, or Buckingham Palace. But limiting yourself to just the most common sights restricts you from truly experiencing all that this wonderful, quirky city has to offer. I have compiled a list of my top three “not-so-typical” destinations for anyone who wants to truly experience London.
First on the list is a rather obscure one, Abney Park Cemetery. Now, it may seem a bit lackluster and even morbid to suggest, but this place is not your archetypal cemetery. Located in Stoke Newton, and established in the 1800s, Abney Park Cemetery has come to attract various audiences, both international and domestic, for its sporadic, and almost haphazard- seeming layout. Headstones lay in crooked lines, just inches apart from one another, overcome by moss and debris. Superfluous amounts of vines, shrubs, and other greenery cover the landscape, and the monuments, throughout. This chaotic outlay is the main cause of its everlasting interest. The unwieldy paths make it easy to get lost rather quickly, which is exactly the point. When visiting, do not be afraid to lose yourself, literally- it only adds to the experience and allows you to venture to parts of the part you would not otherwise see.
Having lived just a tube stop away from the center of Camden, I spent quite a lot of time exploring this utterly idiosyncratic and magnificent area. Filled with an endless supply of things to do and food to eat, Camden quickly became one of my all-time favorite locations in central London. It is here where you will encounter some of the most spectacular street art and performances, mouth-watering food, and irregular shops in all of London. As you arrive by the Camden Lock bridge, make a left into the markets where you will find a labyrinth of eclectic shops and a cluster of food tents fitting any taste. Walk along various alleys to discover some hidden works of art, or walk the streets to experience street performers like no other. No matter how many times you visit, you will always find something new and exciting to do in Camden Town.
Waterloo Graffiti Tunnel:
Lastly, is possibly my favorite attraction in all of London, the Waterloo Graffiti Tunnel. If you are as mesmerized and inspired by street art as I, you will not want to miss this hub of varying styles of art, plastered on every inch of this somewhat hidden tunnel by Waterloo Station. During your visit, you can often find artists working on their latest piece in the tunnel as passers-by watch in wonder. Not only is the artwork incredible, but, due to the nature of graffiti culture, each piece is also short-lived, staying usually a few months before getting covered up by something new- therefore each visit is a new experience. This location is perfect for both tourists and natives and has something interesting to offer just about anyone. Whether you prefer hyper-detailed portraits, eclectic works, or typical “graffiti” style art, you will find yourself in awe at the incredible talent and dedication each artist has to their pieces.
Madison was a SAI London Spring 2016 student from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.