The most Instagrammable places in London
East London warehouse space that’s home to a dazzling display of multicoloured neon
You won’t know where to point your phone as you enter this treasure trove of glowing rainbow lights, but any photo you take here is sure to leap off the screen. God’s Own Junkyard is a pimped-up salvage yard in Walthamstow that’s now a gallery for the work of British artist Chris Bracey, who died in 2014. From the ’60s to the ’80s, Bracey’s neon signage adorned almost every one of Soho’s sex clubs. Then Hollywood came calling and he was commissioned to make pieces for films including ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Batman’ and ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. God’s Own Junkyard is crammed with these gems and many more – the effect is dizzying, in a good way.
While you’re there… Stop by the licensed Rolling Scones Café on site for a cream tea or slice of homemade cake.
Popular south-east London green space which offers a spectacular vista of the capital.
North Londoners always go on about the stunning view from Primrose Hill. That’s not in doubt, but for a different perspective, head south to Greenwich Park where you’ll see the city glisten anew. This vast Royal Park is home to The Wilderness, London’s oldest deer park, which also provides an urban sanctuary for foxes, bats and over 70 species of bird. Elsewhere there are tennis courts and a boating lake, but the main attraction is the panorama from the top of the hill. In the foreground sit the National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House and Old Royal Naval College, then, on the other side of the silvery Thames, you’ll behold the shining towers of commerce. No filter necessary.
While you’re there… Pay a visit to the Royal Observatory, also in the park, where you can stand astride the Prime Meridian Line, the reference point for Greenwich Mean Time.
Gastronomic playground in Mayfair housing four restaurants of outlandish decor.
Where you decide to eat at Sketch will depend on your bank balance, but you get bang for your Instagram buck whichever option you choose. Sitting in the Gallery brasserie (which serves global cuisine) feels like you’re inside a pink marshmallow – with David Shrigley drawings on the walls; upstairs is the gaudily carpeted Lecture Room & Library (Michelin-starred fine dining); and then there are the woodland-themed Glade (comfort food) and the ’90s-style Parlour (same menu as the Glade). You’ll have maxed-out your memory before the food arrives. Make sure you take your phone to the loo for a not-to-be-missed photo op.
While you’re there… If you’re in the area during the daytime, wander in and out of the many independent art galleries scattered around the streets of Mayfair.
Tropical oasis hidden in the heart of the City filled with thousands of exotic plants.
In the heart of the concrete jungle of the Barbican estate you’ll find an actual jungle of the botanical kind. London’s second-largest conservatory (after Kew’s Palm House) is home to over 2,000 species of plants and trees as well as tropical fish and terrapins swimming in clear pools and a secret cactus room at the back. This leafy nirvana, which was designed in 1980 to disguise the Barbican Theatre’s flytower, can only be visited on selected Sundays and bank holidays, but entry is free. Post a few cleverly framed photos of this steamy urban rainforest and your mates will think you’ve been holidaying in the Amazon.
While you’re there… Book in advance to take afternoon tea among the fronds: £35 gets you sandwiches, scones, patisserie and beverages; add a tenner for unlimited prosecco.
The most iconic shop in town is beautiful from the outside in.
Of all London’s department stores none is more elegant or more eccentric than Liberty. Whether you’re marvelling at the building itself, with its distinctive facade built of old ships’ timbers and leaded windows, wandering through its labyrinth of rooms or browsing the chic wares on display, it’s Instagram central. Walking round the wood-panelled store is like exploring a stately home, as you come across odd fireplaces and window seats along the way. Its world-famous floral prints alone are worth getting your phone out for. But Liberty isn’t stuffy – it’s home to a lovingly curated selection of cutting-edge international fashion and beauty brands. You’ll be hard-pressed not to make a purchase.
This buzzing part of east London is a canvas for scores of creative and ingenious daubers.
Round every corner of Shoreditch is a wall, door or whole building adorned with colour. The area has been transformed into an ever-evolving outdoor art gallery exhibiting work from huge murals to delicate mosaics. Probably the most famous of these is the Banksy on Rivington Street that depicts a security guard with a poodle alongside the words ‘This wall is a designated graffiti area’, but you don’t need to know who the artists are to be thrilled by their designs. Wander the streets with your eyes pointing upwards and make sure you Instagram what you see, because your favourite painting may not be there the next time you pass by.
While you’re there… Splash some cash in the boutique shops and restaurants of shipping container mall Boxpark, near Shoreditch High Street Overground.
Legendary east London thoroughfare famous for its flower market and quirky shops.
Every Sunday Columbia Road overflows with bucketfuls of beautiful blooms and plants that drench the street in colour. Arrive as the market opens at 8am to buy and photograph the pick of the crop or turn up at around 2.30pm for the best bargains. Some argue that Columbia Road is more Instagram-worthy when the flowers – and crowds – aren’t there. The multicoloured row of independent shops, cafes and galleries, many only open at the weekend, has its own distinctive charm. Inside you’ll find jars of old-fashioned sweets, vintage bric-a-brac, handmade gifts and the like, all ready for their close-up.
While you’re there…Share some small plates and a bottle of natural wine at carnivore- friendly restaurant Brawn.
Pastel-painted Hackney cafe known for its colourful coffees and irresistible cakes.
Was the room decorated to match the food or are the dishes designed to tone with the decor? Whatever, there’s a preponderance of pink on the walls and the plates, with pot plants and hanging baskets adding to the Floridian vibe. The ideal selfie backdrop, for sure, but you should also direct your camera towards the table, because the sweet treats and exotic beverages you’re bound to order are mighty pretty. Everything here is vegetarian, from the signature cakes to the breakfast, brunch and lunch options. And each item is a distinctive hue. Wash that cerise smoothie bowl down with a pistachio-coloured matcha frappe, but don’t forget to Instagram them first.
While you’re there…Walk down the road to watch a blockbuster or arty film at Hackney Picturehouse, one of London’s most interestingly programmed cinemas.
Peaceful pocket of west London where canals converge and ’grammers gather.
Tranquillity is hard to come by in central London but this picturesque spot, where the Grand Union Canal meets the Regent’s Canal, offers respite from the hubbub of nearby Paddington. Supposedly given its name by the poet Robert Browning, Little Venice is a community of floating activity set in lush surroundings. Dozens of brightly coloured narrowboats line this stretch, with cruises travelling back and forth to Camden Lock, gliding past flocks of feathered friends along the way. Those without sea legs can photograph this holiday snap scene on a towpath stroll before seeking refreshment at one of the dinky waterside cafes.
While you’re there…Catch a show at the Canal Cafe Theatre, a 60-seat venue that puts on plays, comedy, cabaret and the long-running NewsRevue.
This huge modern art gallery barely needs an introduction as it’s one of London’s most celebrated jewels.
If you’re going to Instagram one enormous, iconic London tourist attraction, make it this contender for the greatest art museum in the world. The former Bankside Power Station now houses a hugely impressive permanent collection of international modern and contemporary art which can be ogled for free. Cameras are allowed in these galleries but not at the temporary exhibitions. The biggest work of art is the building itself, with the original site augmented by the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Switch House in 2016. The handsome interior of this extension has many photogenic nooks and the 360-degree view from the tenth-floor terrace is awesome.
While you’re there…Stay on the tourist trail and hop across to Shakespeare’s Globe where you can take a tour and, in the summer months, watch a play in the open air.
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