Flying Solo: 4 Things to Do Alone in London
Immerse yourself in culture
Both museums and art galleries are arguably enjoyed best when in silent contemplation – so what better time to absorb some culture than when you’re alone in London? The capital is teeming with brilliant museums: from the world history and art of the British Museum, to the design delights of the Victoria & Albert Museum. If you’re in the mood for something a little quirkier, try the Sir John Soane’s Museum (a house museum centring on the work of the renowned architect), or learn all there is to know about Sherlock Holmes at the museum dedicated to the famous detective (which, of course, can be found on Baker Street).
London is full of art galleries, too: from the traditional visual treats of the National Gallery, to the contemporary art housed in the Tate Modern. Of course, in a vibrant, bustling city like London, there is art to be seen almost anywhere you look – you don’t even need to go to a gallery! Check out the Leake Street Arches in Waterloo or the streets of Shoreditch for some of the capital’s most famous graffiti and street art.
Go on a walking tour
We firmly believe that the best way to experience London is on foot. If you’re alone in London, you can immerse yourself in the city’s historic surroundings without distraction: like the iconic buildings of Westminster; the bustling shopping areas of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Knightsbridge; or the many attractions of the Southbank. You could go on a self-guided tour through London’s most famous districts (we’ve even put together a guide for you in our ‘Best Tour of London on Foot’ blog) or take advantage of the many guided tours on offer.
If you’re considering a guided tour, we highly recommend the ‘Changing of the Guard’ walking tour. In just ninety minutes your experienced guide will introduce you to royal history in the capital: showing you the historic areas of Pall Mall and St James, Buckingham Palace, and more. You’ll also get to witness two stages of the Changing of the Guard ceremony. For the budding photographers among us, Hairy Goat’s Photography Tours are ideal; over the course of four hours, you’ll get to shoot some of the city’s most famous landmarks, and will be given tips by a professional photographer to ensure you create top-notch images. Or, if you’d like to go off the beaten track, try the Camden Street Art Tour. During the two-hour tour, you’ll experience a side of London that is typically unseen, exploring back alleys and secret streets, and learning about the important work of the many artists who have passed through this district.
Indulge in some pampering
One of the nicest things about travelling solo is that you can give yourself some proper ‘me’ time – which, in our book, should include some pampering! What better time to get that longed-for pedicure or haircut? If all-day pampering in a relaxed setting sounds appealing, head to Barber & Parlour. Set over three floors and comprising a beauty/hair salon (catering to both men and women), restaurant and cinema, this Shoreditch venue is a one-stop shop for blissful solitude.
Or, if you’re alone in London and looking for a sanctuary within the hustle and bustle of the city, why not try one of London’s acclaimed spas? You can enjoy cutting-edge facials (including LED light therapy) at the luxurious Bvlgari spa in Knightsbridge, a luxurious hot-oil treatment at Agua London, or an innovative ‘mindful’ massage at The House of Elemis in Mayfair: whatever you’re looking for, you’ll be spoilt for choice in London.
Hit the markets
Shopping without a sidekick can seem intimidating, but take it from us: there’s no better way to experience London’s fantastic markets than by flying solo. Whether you’re keen to indulge in some retail therapy, sample different cuisines from the famous food stalls, or simply soak up the atmosphere, going to a market alone provides the perfect opportunity for you to potter to your heart’s content.
Fancy a spot of antiquing? Then you’re in luck: every weekend, the largest antique market in the world takes over the streets of Portobello. Though Portobello Road Market opens every day, Saturdays are the main event, so get down there at the weekend and bag yourself a bargain.
If you’re a keen foodie alone in London, Borough Market is the place to be. With a huge number of vendors selling everything from charcuterie to pan-Asian cuisine, any budding gourmand can lose themselves for hours in the delicious sights, smells and tastes of this famous market. Pick up some amazing street food and choose from the freshest, highest-quality ingredients to cook up a storm in your own kitchen.
For the best of the rest, we love Greenwich Market. The only market within a World Heritage site, Greenwich hosts a diverse mix of food purveyors, clothing stalls, arts and crafts, and more. You never quite know what you might find – meaning that hours of fun are guaranteed!