1 Day Tour of Alternative London

Looking to spend an alternative day in London but can only find the typical touristy recommendations online?

This is our new series that creates unique days out in London based on your passions and interests, not on standardised itineraries. 

So, lovers of local markets, hidden gems and music, listen out. Here’s one of our favourite 1 day in London itineraries. 



Although being one of the most popular tourist destinations in London, Notting Hill is still a very local area, run by local antique dealers, jewellers and art galleries and one that very few tourists know well.

The best days to see Notting Hill are Fridays and Saturdays, but you can still enjoy the area any other day (but better if you have a guide showing you around during the week as otherwise, you won’t see most of its secret spots). Particularly on a Saturday, the sooner you arrive the better it is, as it’s market day and it gets pretty busy.

Locals in fact go to the market from 6:30 am to 10:00 am, to avoid the crowds of tourists that arrive later in the day. We’d recommend arriving around 9:00 am on a Saturday and 10:00 am on any other day.

Start by walking from Notting Hill Gate towards Portobello Road. Should you wish to start with a nice breakfast we’d recommend Farm Girl at 59A Portobello Road, on your way to the antique market, which starts at the cross with Chepstow Villas and ends at Elgin Crescent. 

Antique Market

Along the road, you will find the gorgeous Alice’s antique shop, where Paddington Bear and the first Italian Job from 1969 were shot.

Right after Alice’s watch out for a unique mural made by the world-famous Vhils, the pioneer of street art carved into concrete walls. 

Continuing along Portobello Road you will find The Portobello Print & Map Shop by William, a very unique shop, especially if you love maps and history, offering a large selection of genuine antique prints and maps from all over the world. Further along, Atlam is another antique shop not to be missed, where you feel transported back in time amongst pocket watches, chronographs, repeaters, Havana cigars and engraved cases.

Continuing always on Portobello Road what may seem like a series of antique shops from the outside are actually an intricate labyrinth of arcades, where you can find a big vintage selection of sports equipment, luggage, silver, porcelain, old records, cameras and a lot more. So make sure you go in and explore! 


The Notting Hill Bookshop

As you walk along the road you will see a bunch of tourists taking selfies and pictures at 142 Portobello Road, now a gift shop. This is the location used for William Thacker’s (Hugh Grant’s) Travel Book Shop in the movie. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but this was just fictional, as there has never been a bookshop here.  The real bookshop that you see in the film is located at 12-15 Blenheim Crescent, just a few minutes walk away.

Food Market

Along Portobello road on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday you will also find many stalls with a selection of food from all around the world. Some of them are bread stalls, cakes, fishmongers, oils, olives, gourmet cheese, meat, seafood and other local produce. This is also portrayed in the Notting Hill movie when Hugh Grant walks along the market whilst different seasons go by. Should you be a gin lover you can’t miss out on the Ginstitute, a gin distillery offering thoroughly interactive gin experiences, from gin lessons to tastings, to the chance of creating your own gin.

Electric Cinema & Street Art

Always along Portobello Road, on your left, you will find the Electric Cinema. This is one of the oldest working cinemas in Britain dating back to 1910, ideal for a lush and romantic evening at the cinema, where you can also be served food. It is also part of the famous club Soho House. 

After the cinema at the cross with Lancaster Road lookup on your right and you will see a beautiful mural depicting a modern geisha by Irish artist Fin Dac. This is part of a collection of modern geishas using pop colours around the eyes as if they were wearing a mask.  

Vintage Market and Street Food

Portobello Fashion Market is a vintage market that is open from Fridays to Sundays, where you can find a huge selection of clothes and music stalls.

After the vintage market on your right, you will find another street food market, the Acklam Village Market, open from 11:30 am to 7:30 pm every Saturday (all year) and Sunday (April to September)  and offers only vegan food. Next to the Market, there is a huge space with live music, where you can sit and chill.  


There are so many more secrets to discover in the area, but we can’t spend the whole day here, so let’s move on to our second alternative destination.

If you wish to go deeper into the culture and history of the area and discover more street art, including a hidden Banksy graffiti, Catman, Dotmaster and Trust.icon, enter historic record shops and hear stories of Bob Marley, Dire Straits, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Adele, The Clash and David Bowie in London book into an Unexpected London Notting Hill experience and feel part of the area in a new and authentic way. 

Now you can head back towards Notting Hill gate and go from London’s first Afro-Caribbean community (as Notting Hill is where Jamaicans first moved when they arrived in London in the ‘40s, and this is why the Notting Hill Carnival takes place here), to today’s biggest Afro Caribbean Community: Brixton.



From Notting Hill Gate get the central line to Oxford Circus and then the Victoria Line to Brixton and in 20 minutes you will find yourself in a completely different dimension.

Welcome to Jamaica!

Brixton is an explosion of energy, colours and flavours, a vibrant neighbourhood that offers a wide range of entertainment, local markets and many secret gems.

Saturday is a market day also in Brixton but any day of the week is good to visit the area (apart from Monday afternoon as many places close early). 

Arrived at Brixton Station?

Great, let’s start with a couple of murals: David Bowie and Michelle Obama. David Bowie’s mural is in Tunstall Road and was depicted by Jimmy C with the pointillism technique before David Bowie passed away and has become a must-see for any David Bowie’s fun, as Bowie was born a few minutes away from here. 

Fan of Michelle Obama? Then head to Dorrel Place and see a 30-foot mural made by Dreph, that marked the launch of her autobiography, ‘Becoming’. This mural is part of a collection of women who have given back to their own community and the artist wants to share his admiration for Michelle Obama for everything she has done for younger generations.  As it stands on a very narrow road we’d recommend looking at it from the corner of the road and not standing right in front of it as the perspective is much better. 


Brixton Station Road and Pop Brixton

Ok, now you are ready to get into Brixton’s heart and soul and you can start from Brixton Station Road. This is where you will find a selection of stalls with local produce (they vary based on the day of the week). If you are up for some nice Jamaican food you can’t miss out on the one and only Bushman, the oldest Afro-Caribbean take away in Brixton, that was opened 31 years ago.

Walk by the Recreation Centre, where even Mandela once stood with Prince Charles with thousands of people welcoming him. Then head towards Pop Brixton, a village made out of ship containers with local independent businesses and with food from all over the world. Here you often find live music and lots of entertainment too.

Michael John and Village Market

After Pop Brixton, you can walk to the Village Market that is only a few minutes away.

Just before entering the market you will see an impressive mural on your left by Dreph that depicts a Caribbean man wearing an Ethiopian scarf. This is the first mural of Dreph’s “Migration” series. The man in the mural is Michael John, who is a well respected local, who has been looking after the community for over two decades.

During the reopening ceremony of Electric Avenue in October 2016, he was presented with the ‘Keys to Brixton Market’ by the council and Dreph decided to dedicate him a mural to thank him for all he does for the community. He is an incredibly kind man and you might be lucky enough to spot him around the area. 

You can now enter the Village market, where you will find many international shops with textiles, home decor, flowers, jewels and many eateries with a huge choice. It covers the majority of cuisines around the world, Chinese, Japanese, French (Senzala Creperie is definitely one of our top choices in Brixton, run by Claudia & Elieser with Brazilian influences), Thai, Mexican and all-day brunches (Burnt Toast Cafe is definitely one of the best for English Breakfast and brunches, served all day long).

Brixton is all about independent businesses, you might see Franco Manca and Honest Burger, the reason for this is because here is where they first opened their restaurants before their huge expansion in London.  


Row Market and the Brixton Pound

From the Village Market go to the Row Market, which dates back to 1928 for another selection of eateries and shops.

Here, next to Franco Manca, you can find the world’s first local currency cash machine.

Oh yes, Brixton has even got its own money!

This is part of a mission to support local businesses and boost the local economy, aside from big chains and franchises, showing that a different high street is possible.

On the Brixton pound, you will find the people that have helped shape Brixton into what it is today, from David Bowie to Vincent Van Gogh. 

10 Brixton Pounds Bill


Electric Avenue

“We are gonna rock down to Electric Avenue”, Eddie Grant used to sing.

Welcome to the first market street to be lit by electricity in the UK in late Victorian times!

Walk down the road and see a huge selection of butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers, as well as African, Caribbean, South American and Asian products. You will also see many wigs and hair product shops around the area. 


Music in Brixton

If you are a music fan and love reggae music your three must-go stores in Brixton are Pure Vinyl, run by the one and only Claudia Wilson (who also often organizes jam sessions in the store, especially on a Monday night), Lyon Vibes and Universal Roots Records with the legendary Markie.

If instead, you are up for some live music you can find some fantastic concerts at the celebrated O2 Brixton Academy; for more intimate gigs instead check out Hootananny Brixton, Blues Kitchen and Upstairs at the Ritzy. 

At the end of your Brixton itinerary, you can pick where to go and eat amongst the huge choice you have or head to one of the music venues for a live concert.

Should you decide to go deeper under the skin of Brixton we’d recommend seeing the area with our own Savio Los, who will show you many historical murals, as well as introducing you to locals and making you live the Brixton culture and history in a very authentic and unique way.

And for more alternative days in London keep tuned for our next articles and should you have any specific passions or interests let us know and we will consider them for one of our future articles, as travelling is all about who you are, not about standardised itineraries. So make your journey as unforgettable and personal as possible!

Winter Lights Festival in Canary Wharf

For its 5th year, Winter Lights returns in 2020 to Canary Wharf with some of the most imaginative and exciting international artists working with light art from 16th to 25th January.

State-of-the-art light technology, spectacular artworks, responsive installations and experiences. Here are some of the installations that we saw in 2019 and we can’t wait to see what will be up in 2020:


The speed at which information is sourced, exchanged and updated in our modern society is almost inconceivable and more ephemeral than ever before.

The work BIT.FALL translate this abstract process into an experience for the senses as an ever-changing cascade of words, derived from a live newsfeed on The Times website, falls down on a wall of water. Julius Popp’s BIT.FALL is part of Canary Wharf’s permanent art collection.



Recyclism is a platform for artists and like-minded people who care about our global environment. Oskar’s sculptures are made almost entirely of recycled materials such as unwanted toys, obsolete electronics, plastic packaging or any everyday use objects. His pieces usher the viewer into illuminated, colourful and futuristic worlds.

Poland / UK


Vena Lumen means pulsing light. Take a seat on this stunning bench, place your hand on the sensor and watch it transform your heartbeat into dancing light.

The light illustrates the beauty of two lives colliding and joining together to become one with each other.

Come and discover more installations in the Isle of Dogs unexpected tour, that includes the light festival and a lovely walk to Greenwich. The ideal active end to a hectic day in the office!

Best Cultural Alternative Nights Out in London

There is something magical about London at night. Everything calms down, people start walking at a more relaxed pace, the London skyline lights up and you can admire its majestic beauty in its purest form.

From a relaxing walk along the Thames to a visit to a museum, to a great theatre show, discover some unique cultural activities that you can do after 6:00 pm, especially if you love art, theatre, sightseeing or politics.

Of course it is impossible to include everything in an article, so watch out for other related articles in the future, but we’ve started with an initial overview of some of the things we enjoy the most.


Late Night Theatre in London

With more than 230 theatres, London is definitely Europe’s capital for live entertainment. From musicals to comedy, to ballet, to opera the offer is endless. Here you will find some recommendations on what shows or venues to check out and how to book them, but if you are interested in any specific genres to get in touch and we will send more tailored advice!


From iconic musicals like Le Miserable or Phantom of the Opera to family shows like the Lion King, Aladdin, Hamilton, Matilda or Harry Potter, to some of the most recent and successful ones like Tina Turner, or more satirical ones like The Book of Mormon, the choice is huge and it really depends on your taste and mood.

Buying Tickets

Surprise, surprise, unless you are interested in a specific musical that would likely sell out, buying your tickets online in advance is not your most convenient option. If you are flexible in your choice we recommend buying your tickets on the same day or the day before, according to what is available and do so either at TKTS in Leicester Square or on the app Today Tix. If you can, try and avoid weekends and go to the theatre from Monday till Thursday as you usually get better seats at a better price.

Theatre Experiences

If instead, you are looking for a different theatre experience, we’d recommend checking out immersive theatre shows. We will soon write an article specifically on this, but in the meantime, the best places to enjoy some great quality immersive shows are:

If you are a lover of Shakespeare a show at the Globe Theatre is a must.

Opera Experiences

For opera lovers, you can check out what is on at the Royal Opera House (tickets sell out pretty quickly) and for dance shows the Sadler’s Wells always offers some of the best dance shows in town. Natural history museum London

A Night at the Museum

Would you like to see some of London museums but are struggling to fit everything into a busy schedule? Well, you might be able to squeeze some museums in at night if you are lucky enough to be in London when some of the museums are open late. So let’s see which museums do late night opening and when.

Tate Modern

Opening hours: every Friday and Saturday until 10 pm Enjoy the Tate Modern’s art gallery and relax at its Terrace Bar with a nice cocktail or drink, with fewer tourists and students around.

National Portrait Gallery

Opening hours: every Friday until 9:00 pm Spend an evening amongst art and creativity and check out what special events are on.

Science Museum

Opening hours: every last Wednesday of the month until 10:00 pm. Different events are held monthly for adults only, so check them out and book your free ticket here.

Natural History Museum

Opening hours: every last Friday of the month until 10:00 pm. Come face-to-face with our ancestors and check what is on.


Opening hours: every last Friday of the month until 10:00 pm. The V&A late openings celebrate all aspects of contemporary visual culture and design through live performances, films, installations, debates, DJs and late-night exhibition openings.

Sir John Soane Museum

Opening hours: one candlelit opening a month. Home of one of London’s most famous architects, this is one of the most unique museums you will see in London. Booking is necessary and entry varies from £20 to £25.

Dennis Severs’ House

Opening hours: silent Night every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 pm to 8 pm (closed all of July). Go back in history in this unique visit to a Victorian house. Smells, sounds, ambience, this is a really unique experience. Make sure you book your slot in advance as availability is very limited.

Scenic Walks

On a nice evening there is nothing better than just walking across London at night. We’ve put together for you some of our favourite spots to enjoy at night.

Waterloo Bridge

This is for sure our favourite view in London. No matter how many times we see it, it never stops to amaze us! On one side of the bridge you can enjoy views on the City of London, St Paul, the Shard and Canary Wharf, on the other side you can admire Westminster, Charing Cross and the London Eye. So if you are in Central London make sure you walk across Waterloo Bridge and enjoy this fantastic view.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge and the Tower of London are stunning during the day but even more at night. Go for a walk from London Bridge, past the Hay’s Galleria, London City Hall and Tower Bridge. If you then cross Tower Bridge and turn right you will find St Katherine’s Dock, a lovely quiet dock where you can also find some nice bars, restaurants and pubs.

View Points

If instead, you like to see London from above the best viewpoints you can get if you are around the City are from The Shard, Sky Garden, 120 Fenchurch Street and The Terrace at Madison. Another 360 degrees views that we really recommend, both during the day and at night is from the Bokan Restaurant and Terrace in Canary Wharf. For beautiful sunset views from a hill instead, we’d recommend Primrose Hill and the Greenwich Meridien.

Should you wish to explore London by night with a private local guide we would be happy to arrange a tour for you, so do not hesitate to get in touch.

8 Exceptional Alternatives to the Chelsea Flower Show in London


It’s almost here, the most awaited flower show in London is starting on 21st May. Whether you will be attending the Chelsea Flower Show and are looking for related events and places about gardening or flowers in London, or if, as a flower-lover, you are just looking for alternatives to visit, here’s a list of our 8 favourite must-see floral places in London!

Belgravia in Bloom

20 – 25 May 2019 Free entry

One of the most remarkable floral displays in London, Belgravia in Bloom takes place from the 20th to the 25th May around the elegant and refined neighbourhood of Belgravia.

Inspired by the Victorian-era concept where secret messages were sent through flowers, bouquets and potted plants you will see 50 installations created by some of the best florists in town, including Moyses Stevens and Neill Strain, to demonstrate the meaning behind the blooms.

Mayfair Flower Show at Sketch

16 – 26 May

The famous No. 9 Conduit Street is being transformed into a series of immersive gardens and beautiful flower displays. From its facade to its Parlour to its famous bathroom pods you will be able to admire the work of top florists such as Thierry Boutemy, Carly Rogers, Jam Jar, Ricky Paul, Figa & Co, Tony Marklew and Rebel Rebel. This year’s theme is all about celebrating springtime in the city.

Covent Garden in Bloom

15 May – 5 June

Another must-visit floral destination is Covent Garden. Celebrating its heritage as London’s original flower market you can find here the biggest number of floral installations in London this Spring. From pop-up floral activations to fully decorated stores, to botanical menus in dining spots make sure you don’t miss it!

Chelsea Physic Garden

Opening times

  • Monday – Friday, 11 am – 6 pm
  • Sunday, 11 am – 6 pm

The oldest botanic garden in London, this gorgeous garden used to be a world leader in natural medicine after being opened in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries to grow plants to be used as medicines. Within its walls, 5,000 different edible medicinal plants grow including the world’s most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree. Its rock garden is the oldest English garden devoted to alpine plants and also the largest fruiting olive tree in Britain is here.

Kew Gardens

Opening Times

  • Monday – Thursday, 10 am – 7 pm (last entry 6 pm)
  • Friday – Sunday, 10 am – 8 pm (last entry 7pm)

A World Heritage Site, Kew Gardens has the largest and most diverse botanical collection in the world. An absolute must for lovers of gardens and flowers, consider taking almost a full day to explore it properly as it is huge. It has more than 30,000 different kinds of plants and over seven million preserved plant specimens in its herbarium. Make sure you see the Treetop Walkway, the Palm House, the Waterlily House, Kew Palace and the Royal Kitchens, Redwood Grove and of course all its beautiful gardens.

Hampton Court

Opening Times

Monday – Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm

Apart from the beautiful palace, Hampton Court boasts its world-famous gardens, which include 60 acres of spectacular formal gardens and 750 acres of parkland, all set within a loop of the River Thames. Venture into the oldest maze, see its record-breaking grapevine, enjoy three National Plant Collections and over one million flowering bulbs in the Wilderness. Here you can also spot a huge variety of wildlife, including the descendants of Henry VIII’s deer herd. Please calculate at least half a day to see everything or even a full day if you want to see it in a more relaxed way. From Hampton Court, you could go to Kingston by boat or to Richmond for even more nature, deer and beautiful scenic panoramas.

Holland Park, Kyoto Garden

Free Entry

The perfect place to unwind, go for a stroll and admire beautiful plants, flowers and wildlife, Holland Park is such a unique nature gem close to Notting Hill and Kensington. A picturesque waterfall flows into a peaceful rock pool, where koi carp dart beneath the surface and peacocks stalk past on the banks. You’re not in a Japanese fairytale, although you might feel this way. So if you haven’t been, make sure you take some time in your agenda to go and visit this magical park. It won’t take more than 1 hour to visit the park, but even if you just want to walk through it, it is absolutely worthwhile.

Richmond Park, Isabella Plantation

Free Entry Opening Times: Monday – Sunday, 7:30 am – 8:15 pm

A true floral paradise, The Isabella Plantation is a 40-acre woodland garden set within a Victorian woodland plantation planted in the 1830s in Richmond Park. First opened to the public in 1953, you can admire its azaleas along the ponds and streams, which are at their peak of flower in late April and early May. Enjoy a large collection of Rhododendrons and Camellias, exotic plants and many other rare and unusual trees and shrubs. The plantation is set within the gorgeous Richmond park where you can enjoy some lovely walks amongst herds of deer and stunning nature. We also recommend visiting Petersham Nursery for a drink, some food or just to visit its lovely nursery (if you are around Covent Garden check out their shop and restaurant there too).

And for unique nature immersive experiences in London check out nature walking tours.