Things to do in London August Bank Holiday Weekend
With another Bank Holiday coming up and the weather looking typical for August, I thought I’d compile another inspiring ten things to do in London. Some are obvious but worthwhile, while others are more unusual things to do in London that you might not know about and some are relatively topic so check the dates before you make detailed plans. Here’s the jump list:
Ten Things to do in London
- Visit the Maps Exhibition at the British Library
- Take the ferry from Richmond to Twickenham
- Visit the biggest Apple Store in the World at London Covent Garden.
- Eat Vietnamese food in Kingsland Road, Dalston
- See the ship in a bottle at Trafalgar Square
- See a hundred objects at the British Museum
- Go on a Skyscraper hunt
- Hire a blue bike
- Eat authentic Mexican food at Wacaca
- Travel on the new London Overground to Croydon
Visit the Maps Exhibition at the British Library
There’s a free exhibition at the British Library which is next to London St Pancras Station. Called “Magnificent Maps – Power, Propaganda and Art” the exhibition features plenty of old historical maps which are fine works of art as much as political history.
Of interest in particular to Londoners is a modern work called “The Island” which is a giant sketch map of London depicted as an island with all sorts of strange comments and illustrations written on top of your favourite neighbourhoods. Where I live for example is written most curiously “Wikipedia, yeah right!” I’ve no idea why. Zoom in and scroll around at the site below:
Take the Ferry from Richmond to Twickenham
One of my favourite destinations for sunny days out in London is Richmond on Thames, because the tide never goes right out thanks to a weir across the river. It’s also possible to take a pleasure boat circle trip up around teddington locks, past all the islands which is nice, but my recommendation this time is to go a bit further on foot then cross the river by passenger ferry. This is just a little boat with an outboard motor that crosses the river Thames from one bank to the other. Cost £1 single. You may have to wait around for the boatman if the crossing is not busy. The reason why I would recommend this is because it’s a lovely way to approach the old part of Twickenham, which has many delights. The walk along the river upstream from Richmond to where the little passenger ferry docks is about one mile, and once on the other side you are only a few hundred yards from the beginnings of Twickenham with York House gardens a must see. There are several nice places for lunch or refreshments too. Returning to the Richmond side, you might visit Ham House as well if you like these sort of grand places.
Visit the biggest Apple Store in the World at London Covent Garden.
Opening hours Mon – Sat: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Noon – 6:00 pm on Sundays
I might just forgive the Apple Store in London’s Regent Street for being a bit chaotic, overcrowded and understocked recently if the new Apple Store at Covent Garden is the culprit. Said to be the biggest in the world, the Covent Garden shop is Apple’s 300th retail outlet worldwide and 28th in the UK. The Apple store in Covent Garden has 300 staff, and certainly looks the business, with a glass roof, two imposing glass staircases, and huge York stone arches. And of course loads of demo Macs, iPhones, iPads and iPods to play with, along with dedicated rooms where training and workshops on Apple products take place.
Eat Vietnamese food in Kingsland Road, Dalston
Best place to eat Vietnamese food in London, with a choice of nearly a dozen authentic Vietnamese restaurants and cafes in close proximity, near to the Geoffrye museum and not so far from Columbia Road flower market which is open on Sundays. The food in these places is wonderfully fragrant with special herbs, fresh chilli and lime juice. Go for the green papaya salads, lotus root salad or Beef noodle soup. Yum.
See the ship in a bottle at Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar square is worth a visit anytime, and there’s often something different taking place within the landmark. For example quire recently, the amazing walk-in life size maze of green hedges. The different events at the heart of the maze included a showcase from some of the cast of the West End show Priscilla Queen of the Desert, a giant paper dragon show from Chinatown and a Carnaby Street-inspired 60s party.
While you’re at Trafalgar Square, check out the giant ship in a bottle on the fourth plinth. If there’s a rainshower, nip in to the National Gallery and have a posh afternoon tea snack in the rooftop restaurant with views across London.
See a hundred objects at the British Museum
The BBC Radio 4 programme “A history of the world in 100 objects” has brought a whole new interest into any visit to the British museum, and if you’ve been listening, then you’ll want to track down some of the 100 objects on display, which are all well signposted. On the outside of the building there is the South African garden planted by Kew but on my last visit I though it was already just past its best, so once the bank holiday is over this may not be the best attraction.
Go on a Skyscraper hunt
There are several new skyscrapers in London in the process of being built and it may be of interest to catch the changing skyline by spotting as many as you can during one visit. Eventually the public viewing gallery in the Shard at London Bridghe will become one of the most spectacular things to do in London.
Hire a blue bike
The much talked about London blue bicycle hire scheme is now live in London and you will see people getting around on these contraptions and wonder what it’s like to pick up a bike in one place and then just leave it somewhere else instead of having to worry about it. Well you can’t try it out as a guest yet, unless you have to foresight to register for a card beforehand, so why not visit the TFL site and get signed up now.
Eat authentic Mexican food at Wahaca
Wahaca is a mexican food chain started up by the same people who originally ran Wagamama, the Californian/Japanese noodle bars that were all the rage in the 1990s. This isn’t your average tex/mex greasy fast food mince and beans though, it’s more like a genuine Mexican market cuisine with interesting flavours and contrasting textures including plenty of fresh citrus and salad. The service is also very congenial without being intrusive, which I like.
Wahaca Covent Garden
66 Chandos Place
London WC2N 4HG
Travel on the new London Overground to Croydon
The old East London Line Tube has been revamped and extended as part of the London Overground network with a new station at Shoreditch High Street from where you can travel to either Dalston Kingsland to the North, or way across to West Croydon, south of the river.
More Things to do in London on Bank Holidays
The ideas listed above may not be original but they’re mine. For loads more ideas of things to do in London, you might read the blog “Tired of London, Tired of Life“