By Kristin Toussaint > Sophomore > Journalism > Boston University
London offers all of the benefits of an international metropolis: fun nightlife in traditional pubs or swanky clubs, a rich cultural history, a diverse population—not to mention those lovely English accents. If you have the chance to visit England’s capital this semester, check out these tips on what to see and do in the city.
Tour the Town
To gain a new perspective on London, try seeing it from 443 feet in the air. The London Eye, a Ferris wheel located on the edge of the River Thames, lets you view the city from above in an air-conditioned capsule—a major perk if you’re there on a hot day. Tickets cost about 20 British pounds for a 30-minute ride.
“You stand up while you’re on it, and I remember leaning against the glass, which is such a surreal feeling,” Penn State University junior Amanda Smith said. “It’s not too expensive and is a really unique experience, to be above a whole city like that. I went during the day but I bet it’s really pretty at night too.”
You can also find great tours of the city on the ground—Try a walking tour , or take a ride on one of the famous red double-decker buses . Of course, you could always design your own (free) tour with a good sightseeing map .
Drink Like a Local
Pubs and alehouses are where Londoners have gone to socialize and drink for hundreds of years. While traditional pubs like Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese provide an authentic British experience, many pubs now offer a variety of fun atmospheres: Check out Devonshire Arms for local bands and rock ‘n’ roll, or visit Fabric if you’re interested in Eurotechno and house music. But wherever you go, try some old-fashioned British ale.
“The idea of a pub is so cool, and you don’t see that traditional culture in America really,” American University junior Jamie McGill said. “You have to like beer to drink in London—it’s definitely just the drink everyone orders.”
Be A Beatles Groupie
If you’re a Fab Four fanatic, you can experience “A Day in the Life” of the band with a Beatles tour or a visit to some of their old London stomping grounds. Take a picture recreating the “Abbey Road” album cover as you cross the street near the recording studio. If you’re in England for an extended stay, look into a weekend trip to Liverpool.
“Liverpool has a whole industry devoted to fans who make a ‘Beatles pilgrimage,’” Dickinson College senior Katie Mitchell said. “Liverpool is still a great scene for music, too, so be open to new local music while honoring the legendary music that came out of it.”
Cheer on a Team
Soccer—or “football” to the rest of the world—is a huge spectator event in London. Arsenal and Chelsea are the city’s two major teams, so expect to see huge crowds in pubs on game days. Join in on the excitement!
“It’s such a bigger deal there, so it’s a lot of fun to go to a game and see that energy,” Tulane University senior Matt Baker said. “Anyone who cares about sports will love it, and even if you don’t know much about it, it’s just cool to be part of the local crowd. You can always go see a rugby match too, which is a little more brutal, but watching a game and cheering on the players was great to relieve some stress from classes.”