“Do not dilly dally or miss the passing of time in a great city such as London!” – William Ratheden, 1842
London is a lot to take in. It’s the UK’s biggest and most vibrant city, a melting pot for cultures and experiences from all over the world, and the hub of one of the world’s busiest trade, financial and information networks. It’s so huge and has so much going on that entire blog posts can be dedicated to just the 10 unmissable things to do in South London, never mind North, East, West and Central London.
All of that exploring needs a good base, though, which is why Homes for Students offers a range of luxury student accommodation options in London. Live your student life in the big city in luxury accommodation, conveniently-located and perfect for student living.
If you’re studying in London, then you’re studying in a place that’s been a cherished heart of higher learning for hundreds of years – but more importantly, you’re studying in one of the best cities in the world to live the student life in.
Here are some of the most unmissable things to do in South London, to help you make the most of your time in the Big Smoke!
1. Ride The London Eye
The London Eye is one of the most famous landmarks in the world, and has inspired copycats in cities like Liverpool, Chicago and even Las Vegas! Nothing quite matches up to the original, though – with the incredible skyline of London as your view and an unbeatable look out over a city that’s both ancient and brand new.
If you’re a student in South London, you can’t afford to miss it! Make sure to go on a sunny, clear day for the best possible view over the city, and avoid misty or rainy days – luckily, London usually has a clear, mild summer from April-September, so there’ll be plenty of chances to catch a ride on the Eye!
2. Go See Tower Bridge
One of those ancient landmarks we mentioned above is Tower Bridge – one of the best-known landmarks in the UK, and an absolutely iconic piece of London heritage. If you’ve ever watched a film that needed to establish that a scene was taking place in London, they probably used a view of Tower Bridge to do that – so now it’s time to go and see it for yourself!
It’s a beautiful piece of Victorian turreted architecture, and an engineering marvel from the heyday of the British Empire – the Victorian Era. You can see it from either side of the river, and there are lots of great local cafes nearby that can help you refuel before you explore onward into the city!
3. Go Looking for Dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park
Crystal Palace Park is a gorgeous place to wander around on a sunny day and enjoy an ice-cream. You can see local wildlife, lay out a picnic, or even hire a pedalo and float serenely around the waterways. Just be careful – the park is also full of dinosaurs.
The model dinosaurs, which were made to look the way Victorian palaeontologists believed them to look, don’t quite measure up to our modern understanding, but they’re still an incredible bit of London’s history, and a pretty impressive (if slightly intimidating) sight!
4. Browse Greenwich Market and Bag A Bargain
The only one of London’s historic markets to be set in a World Heritage Site, this beautiful and vibrant market is set indoors, so you can have a great time shopping even when it’s lashing rain outside. Host to 120 market stalls at a time, the Greenwich Market focuses on gorgeous handmade art and crafts most of the time, and has a special focus on antiques on Tuesday and Thursday.
As well as delicious artisan sandwiches and local food, you can pick up clothing, jewellery, home décor items, gifts and even furniture here – make sure to bring some spending money!
5. Check Out The Hidden Gem That Is The Horniman Museum
A museum of peculiarities and oddities started by the tea trader and adventurer John Horniman in 1902, this museum is most famous for its collection of stuffed animals from all over the world – especially the overstuffed walrus that’s become the museum’s strange mascot!
There’s so much more to it than just that, however – the Horniman Museum is home to a huge range of artefacts and treasures, some of which can even be interacted with, held or tried on by visitors. It’s a much more hands-on experience than the capitol’s other museums, and it’s set in 16 acres of stunning grounds – we’d like to see the National History Museum beat that.
6. Check Out The Street Food at Maltby Street Market
Did Greenwich Market just whet your appetite? Looking for something with even more bite? Then make sure to hit Maltby Street Market at the weekend!
Situated on the Ropewalks in Bermondsey, amidst picturesque Victorian railway arches, Maltby is home to more than thirty artisanal food and drink stalls, where you can try everything from traditional London cuisine to locally-made small-batch beer and exotic delicacies like Mozambique-style peri-peri dishes. The only requirement we’d advise for you is that you come on an empty stomach!
7. Take A Look At The Cutty Sark
You might know the name as a whiskey brand, but the original Cutty Sark was a tea clipper, a 65-metre long ship from the golden age of sail and the last surviving boat of its kind anywhere in the world. The ship in London has been raised clear of the water, so you can see it from all angles, and marvel at how clippers like that used to cut through thousands of miles of ocean, keeping the old British Empire afloat.
It was carefully restored between 2007 and 2012 to the tune of £30 million after it was almost destroyed by a fire, so this incredible ship is all the rarer because it was almost lost for good. When you’re done on board, there are dozens of local cafes and restaurants to stop at for a bite, and to recharge for a moment before you continue through the city!
8. Stand On The Roof of the O2 Arena
The o2 Arena was originally built as the world-famous Millennium Dome to mark the year 2000, but after closing, it was remade into the massive live music venue that global superstars regularly play their huge UK main shows at. That’s reason enough to go to see it, but a lesser-known and equally incredible spectacle actually occurs above the arena, every night.
If you book to go up to the roof of the o2 Arena at dusk – something you can do online if you book the right slot – then you’ll climb the 52 metres to the top and stand out with an unbelievable view of the sun setting over the city. Face West to see the sunset in all its glory, and get a glimpse of a stunning and secret side of London that few ever get to experience.
9. Live the London Life at CLF Art Café
CLF is an incredible venue for all things arts and culture – a huge, warehouse-like space that acts as an exhibition gallery for the hottest and most talented local and international artists during the day, and a stylish, buzzing nightlife venue when the sun goes down.
It’s a warehouse-style club that brings in big talent from the DJ world, regularly hosting huge DJs and insane nights, so whether you’re a raver or an art lover (or both) CLF Art Café will be perfect for you.
Read our article on the best clubs in London for students for some more great night venues to visit.
The venue was saved from demolition in 2007 by local activists, and it’s got all the hallmarks of the local scene stamped on it: it’s a vibrant, exciting venue where the coolest and most passionate elements of London life and creativity coalesce, making it the perfect spot for a student looking for some spark and adventure, day or night.
10. Take In A Show At The Ritzy
One of London’s oldest picture-houses, the Ritzy opened in 1911, and keeps a lot of its old-timey chic and classic elegance its the interior and 5 screens. It’s a popular haunt of film buffs, cinema experts and arthouse celebs, and it lives up to its reputation with a healthy roster of big-studio blockbusters and independent films on show.
As you’d expect from such a classy, old-school movie house, there are also two bars to choose from once you’re in – the first offering a lovely view across Windrush Square, where you can sip your drink before the show or relax and talk through what you’ve just seen with your friends after the curtain comes down. The second is quieter, and is tucked away upstairs, where it regularly hosts comedy gigs, small performances and local musical talent.
Whether you’re looking for a blockbuster, an arthouse masterpiece, live local talent or just an environment that casts you back to a time when cinema and entertainment were important things, it’ll be hard to beat The Ritzy. Plus, if you make friends with cinema students or moving image arts students, you can take them there and really blow their socks off!
London is one of the best cities in the world to be a student in, with limitless options for entertainment, food, drink, culture, nightlife and living! It’s one of the most vibrant and multicultural cities on Earth, and you’ll never be short of something to do.