Maybe you are in London for a business trip and are looking to kill some time after you’ve checked out of your Airbnb. Maybe you just live here and your weekend plans were cancelled. Whatever the reason is, nobody wants to be forced to stay inside and watch the parade of Insta-stories of people having a -seemingly- better time than them.
London can get very lonely if you’ve got no one to share it with. However, just because no one is available, it doesn’t mean you have to spend your day inside watching Sex Education (although it’s highly recommended). Here are 12 things to do alone in London alone if your plans have gone awry (or if you’ve got no friends).
1. Visit London museums and galleries you may have missed
Think about it: people from all over the world are visiting London to admire its many interesting museums. So whywould you miss the opportunity to learn more about the city? From the underrated Victoria & Albert to the National Gallery and the Sir John Soane’s Museum and the Tate Modern, there are endless choices for you to have a nice day on your own in London. Even if you don’t believe you are a person of culture, you’ll definitely find something to love in London’s museums. If you’re a more rebellious type, head out to Shoreditch to admire the street art.
2. Go to the cinema or the theater
A classic choice for lonely souls out there, watching a show is a perfect way to spend some quality time on your own. With hundreds of events and screenings going on in London every day, you won’t have to search too much to find something you like. Try the retro-style Prince Charles Cinema or lounge in one of the comfy armchairs at Genesis Cinema before heading to the lofty bar upstairs. If you are the artsy type, opt for Electric Cinema in Shoreditch, which also includes queen size beds instead of seats. We don’t know what you’d do there by yourself, but it’s your day. You may as well indulge!
3. Walk along the Victoria Embankment
The 2km walk from the Palace of Westminster to the Blackfriars Bridge is a great way to spend some time alone and get a bit of exercise on the side. On a good day, you can take a break at the Victoria Embankment Gardens and soak up on the quaint atmosphere. After all, taking a pleasant afternoon stroll along the Thames wasn’t always feasible?
Until the mid-19th century, all waste was dumped directly on the river, causing an event called the Great Stink. This outbreak claimed the lives of 5,800 people and led to the complete overhaul of London’s sewage system by Joseph Bazalgette.
4. Shoot some photos
Photography is one of those hobbies that are better done in solitude. Even if you don’t have a camera available, you’d be surprised at how versatile your smartphone can be. Try to discover some (or all) of London’s most instagrammable places, or just pick an area to explore. Shoot some photos and videos and then edit them for fun. There are tons of free software out there for media editing. Who knows? You might unleash your inner David Attenborough (or Robert Mapplethorpe).
5. Go to the market
Spending a day at the market is a great way to spend all of your days without even realizing it. Whatever your poison is -clothes, vinyl, or vintage stuff, you will find many street markets all around London. Portobello Market in the Notting Hill neighbourhood is perhaps the best known one, while the market at Camden Town is always a good field for bargain hunters. At Brick Lane Market, you’ll find everything from used furniture to exotic spices. Finally, Old Spitalfields covered market has a different theme each day of the week.
6. Pick up a new skill
This one is not only a great way to pass the time if you have no company, but it’s also a fantastic way to meet new people along the way. Book a pottery workshop through Indytute or learn the secrets behind woodcarving and upholstery at the Goodlife Center. There are all sorts of masterclasses available in London, including but not limited to:
Try Obby if you want to discover all classes offered in the London area.
7. Go to the Borough Market and try the food
The Borough Market is one of Britain’s oldest food markets, as it has been around since the middle ages. An 18th century Act of Parliament declared the market an “estate for the use and benefit of the local community, forever.” Therefore, you shouldn’t rush your visit there, as it isn’t going anywhere soon.
If you are going there alone, it is recommended that you go hungry. Your mission will be to try as many delicacies as possible. Most food stalls are happy to treat you with a free sample before you buy and trust us, you can dive straight in! Food’s a little bit pricier than you would expect, but at least you can try before you buy.
8. Visit the “School of Life”
“Why don’t I have a relationship?”
“Where are all my friends?”
“What am I doing here?”
Find answers to these and other important questions in Alain de Botton’s bookstore/everyday life philosophy academy. You can also book psychotherapy and couple counselling sessions through their website. Even if you don’t explicitly want someone to talk to, browsing through the items might reveal to you a book that might make you unexpectedly happy.
9. Borrow a dog for the day
A dog is a human’s best friend. If you feel like your friends are too absorbed with their own life, you can borrow a dog for the day to keep you company. Services like BorrowMyDoggy or ShareYourPet connect dog owners with people who would like to keep them for a couple of hours or days. Not only you will have a loyal canine friend to explore London with, but you’ll also help a concerned parent have some peace of mind while they’re away.
10. Go book or comic shopping
How much time has it been since you added fresh books on your to-read pile? Take some time to cultivate your will to develop a personality by buying some new books that you’ll -eventually- read. While there are thousands of quality bookstores and comic book stores all around London, you can take the chance to join a book club while you are at it. Not only will you meet like-minded individuals, but you’ll also be extra-motivated to read the books you buy!
11. Relax at a cosy coffee shop
This one is an excellent option if you don’t have anything particular to do, but the weather isn’t helping. Since this is London we’re talking about, there is a high probability that will happen, so what better way to get the creative juices flowing than visiting a local cosy cafe? Grab a book, your laptop or even a sketchpad and start working on your next masterpiece while chomping on chocolate chip cookies.
12. Cosy up at home/Airbnb
Remember what we said in the beginning? There is nothing wrong with staying on your PJs all day binge-watching Netflix! Prepare a nice meal, pour a glass of your most excellent ginger ale, find a nice show and dive straight in. There are countless options available, so feel free to watch until Netflix starts asking if you’re OK.
It’s dangerous to go alone – Stash your stuff!
If you are searching for things to do alone in London after you’ve checked out of your Airbnb, don’t forget to store your luggage in one of our London locations. Since you haven’t got a second pair of eyes to look after your stuff, it is very important not to carry it around as you explore your options!