After creating our own list of 101 things to do in London we decided to let you have your say. We asked Time Out readers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers to tell us their top things to do in the capital. Kayak tours, daytime clubbing, rooftop cinema and candlelit gigs – Time Outers named them all. Check out the people's 101 and explore this city like a true Londoner.
How’s this for an amazing idea: enterprising retirees in east London make a little cash by running classes teaching useful life skills. Bernadette explains the art of crochet, Dennis teaches glass-cutting, and Terry takes you foraging for food in Tower Hamlets. A big hit.Read more
Going by voting patterns, Time Outers place a huge premium on places that offer respite from the chaos of the capital. Time spent reading in the British Library makes many of you feel human again, as does a morning dipping into their enormous sound archive of old recordings.
The nerve centre of the Allied war effort was astonishingly low-tech: a bank of (rotary) phones and some maps pinned to the wall. Despite the minimal military hardware and the hefty cover charge, it’s a smash hit with TO readers, as is the adjacent Churchill Museum.Read more
Galleries in east London Judith White raves about the free bus/walking tours organised by First Thursdays, which take passengers on ‘a specially curated and always lively’ tour of east London’s independent art galleries. As the name suggests, they take place on the first Thursday of the month. Early booking is advised.
This Swiss-owned gallery opened in 2003 in a former bank, with intact basement vaults, but has moved its flagship to a swanky new Savile Row space. H&W represents big name artists including Louise Bourgeois, international names such as Anri Sala, and home-grown talents such as Martin Creed.
Time Out readers are a cultured lot, as evidenced by the sea of endorsements for Covent Garden’s temple of high culture. An intriguingly large number of readers voting for the ROH also nominated Meat Liquor as one of their favourite things. Are we seeing the emergence of a hitherto unidentified demographic: the burger-loving operaphile? We do hope so.
Shoreditch House activities are usually members-only affairs, but in the ‘interests of the democratisation of literature’ their book club, which takes place in venues around the city, is open to all. Jacob Walton praises its foolproof formula of ‘guest authors, relaxed atmosphere and – best of all – free drinks and pizza’.
The best way to contact the Salon is to look them up on Facebook.
It’s the city’s quirkier museums which seem to be flicking your switches. For every vote for a mainstream big name you cast two for left-field spots like Sir John Soane’s Museum, a townhouse crammed with personal trinkets from a nineteenth century architect.
Art-loving South Londoners suggested the South London Gallery as a capital destination for cutting-edge installations and upcoming artist exhibitions.
It was no surprise, meanwhile, that we received a raft of votes for Tate Modern, one of the most-visited art galleries in the world. But for all the masterworks exhibited on its walls, the view across the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral seems to be the biggest draw.
You can play football with Venezuelans or tennis with toffs on this verdant chunk of south London that saw off competition Hyde, Regent’s, Green and St James’s parks, but a large group of the Clapham Common recommendations were for simply having a lazy drink on the grass outside The Windmill, queen of the South Side’s watering places. And we’re not going to argue with that.
Head to the north of the capital and take at dip at Hampstead Ponds. The men's and ladies' are open all year round but to use the mixed pond in the winter season you must join the Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club. With green and leafy surroundings the ponds make for a serene swim, but be warned: even in the summer the water is chilly.
Londoners remain reassuringly fond of a cup of tea and a biscuit or five. Broadway Market is one of your favoured spots for indulging in such archetypically British behaviour, whether you’re knocking back a milky builder’s from F. Cooke’s pie and mash joint or an exotic foreign brew fromClimpson & Sons (Persian Pomegranate Pyramid, anyone?)
This fantastic independent brewery has opened an onsite bar, open Friday evenings and boasting all the Camden ales and occasional guest beers on tap. According to reader David Whitesmith, ‘the strange, sweet smell from the mash tun seems to add to the flavour.’
‘On the rare weekend when it’s not chucking it down,’ writes Katie D, ‘I cycle along the canal to Counter Café for an Antipodean breakfast overlooking the new Olympic site. Service is slow, it’s crammed with irritating hipsters from the nearby art studios, but the food and view are unbeatable.’
‘If I’m really hungry I’ll eat a Rib Man wrap followed by a Yum Bun pork belly roll and a Big Apple hot dog (see our Old Street listing)’, confesses Stacey Hamilton. And who can blame her when London street food collective Eat.St only host their market from Tuesday to Friday lunchtimes. As well as Stacey’s fine trio, don’t miss Tongue N Cheek’s Italian offal sandwiches, Kimchi Cult’s Korean street food and Anna Mae’s pulled pork sandwiches.
According to Noemi Fumagall, Brick Lane on a Sunday offers ‘brilliant food and shopping’. She’s not wrong – the UpMarket has rare treats from Lithuania, Venezuela and Tibet; the Boiler House food hall has great Gujarati and Cuban dishes, the Tea Rooms boast vintage fashions and characterful collectibles, and the Backyard Market can’t be beaten for handmade clothes and accessories.
Bohemian shopping joins forces with ‘yours-for-a-paaand’ Cockney patter to ensure this Sunday flower market remains a firm favourite among readers.
The sole department store to bag a gong from our readers, Dover Street Market mixes designer labels with a market-style layout. A large number of respondents cited the cakes at Rose Bakery on the fourth floor as being worth the visit alone.
It’s tempting to mourn the dusty, disorganised charm of twentieth-century Foyles, but modernisation has been a rewarding process for London’s most famous bookshop. While its rivals struggle to stay alive, Foyles continues to delight our readers with its enormous collection and laid back coffee shop.
The capital’s foremost purveyor of non-fiction. Everything you’d expect from a shop owned by the London Review of Books, plus brilliant cakes.
When Virgin and Tower Records folded and everybody predicted the death of the record industry, legendary London label Rough Trade didn’t merely fight for survival. It responded by raising its game, opening a large new home in east London, staging fantastic in-store gigs, and leading London’s vinyl revival.
Read more about Rough Trade East
‘A badly hidden secret’, says Amir S of a book market that occupies prime tourist territory under Waterloo Bridge and yet never feels crowded. Expect well-thumbed paperbacks and an unpredictable assortment of out-of-print titles and manuscripts.
Downstairs the BGWMC is the same working men’s club – with many of the same working men – that it’s been for 50 years. Upstairs it’s a retro-tinted home to cutting-edge entertainment including comedy, cabaret, magic and, if Diane Evans is to be believed, ‘nights of shameless and spontaneous decadence and debauchery’. Ooh Diane!
The home of the English Folk Dance and Song society is every bit as eccentric as you’d expect. As well as promoting barn-dancing, quadrille, ceilidh and country dancing, the venue hosts less active and more contemporary entertainment and, accordingly to folkie Jane Newburgh, ‘a bar where men with major facial hair consume more beer than darts players do’.
For those who like their live music challenging, unpredictable, improvised or just plain weird, Dalston’s Cafe Oto is the nuts. With ‘an intimate vibe, spot-on acoustics and beers from the Kernal microbrewery,’ says Jonathan Douglass, ‘it’s every muso’s dream venue.’
If Secret Cinema (motto: ‘tell no one’) hoped to remain a cult concern, they’ve failed miserably. Readers L Hesks and Stephanie Haywood are among many thousands of fans of this monthly gathering that once drew 15,000 cinephiles to Alexandra Palace to watch Lawrence of Arabia. Visit www.secretcinema.org for details of screenings.
Southwark Playhouse has established itself as the go-to place for exciting, inventive theatre, and its dark and musty space in the vaults beneath London Bridge station offers bags of character. With its pay-as-you-go pass, Southwark Playhouse also proves to be fantastic theatre at fantastic value.
Recently voted London’s best music venue by Time Out readers, this Grade-I listed gothic masterpiece hosts the free Daylight Music series most Saturday lunchtimes where, says Tim Britton, ‘you can see a lot of people introducing their children to music’. Nice.