I love walking around and exploring new places. Oftentimes, we forget how special and exciting our own city can be and try to escape and find new places to visit. Yesterday, my friend and I decided that we were going to become tourists in our own city.
Fortunately, we’re lucky enough to live in London (in my opinion, one of the best cities to live in). London is packed with things to do and I honestly feel like I haven’t seen a lot of it. We both agreed that we hadn’t really ever set a day to just walk around and enjoy what London has to offer, unless we had something to do up there and would walk around the area afterwards.
The next week, we planned a day and just set off on a train to central London, ready to see the sights. Taking the time to just appreciate the little things about London, like the architecture and the many landmarks, from a tourist’s point of view was so inspiring. When you live in a city like London, I think you oftentimes say things like “yep, Big Ben, seen that one before”, and sometimes forget to take in that privilege of how lucky we are to have seen the things that some people dream of seeing one day. And that doesn’t just apply to London, but to many cities all over the world. Becoming a tourist really left us in awe of what was around us, even if we had seen it many times before.
I would really encourage everyone to try being a tourist in their own city for just a day. Don’t have too much in mind when going, and just allow yourself to explore what your city has to offer, enjoying the sights as you go along. I promise it’ll make for a great day out. Here are my top tips for becoming a tourist in your own city:
Do a walking tour (and try not to use your phone as a map!)
If your city has lots of landmarks or things to see in general, why not try and do your own walking tour? If you want, you can join an actual walking tour but I think there’s more freedom in planning your own. My friend and I had a few sights in mind, but googled a good walking tour (which we partially stuck too) and let ourselves roam free. It may be tiring after a while (we ended up doing 12 kilometres!) but it’s so fun and a great way to see the city. We actually ended up stumbling across landmarks we’d never seen in person before, like Shakespeare’s Globe, which was really interesting. London has quite a lot of stand-alone columns with maps on them dotted around, so we tried not to use our phones and used the maps to guide us. This made the adventure more fun, but we did have to use our phones at one point when we thought we were close to a landmark, couldn’t find it and ended up being 52 minutes away on foot so we took the tube for 3 stops to get where wanted to!
Bring a camera
If you have one, bring a camera, Polaroid or disposable camera to make your trip extra-touristy! Your phone works perfectly too – we ended up taking loads on our phones and swapping pictures after. I’m lucky enough to have a Polaroid which we used to take pictures in front of some of our favourite landmarks. Remember to be as cheesy or as ‘posy’ as you like – you’re probably never going to see these people again if it’s a big city! We just found it to be a really fun idea, especially if you don’t know how the photo is going to turn out.
Do a typical tourist activity
What was interesting about being a tourist in our own city too is realising how many things we hadn’t seen or didn’t even know existed. One of the landmarks we visited was Tower Bridge and whilst walking across it, we saw that you could actually climb up the individual towers and go along the glass bridge at the top, which we had no idea about! You know what they say: ‘the most spontaneous plans end up being the best ones’, so off we went. It was around £10 per adult with a discounted rate for students (£7.90) and for children (around £5 I believe?), so very affordable. It was a great experience, with an Engineer Room museum at the end of it, which really made it so fascinating. London has so many unique things to offer, but check out what you can do in your area, even if you’ve done it before, or just take a walk around like we did and see what you can find!
Eat with a view
This can be done in so many ways: you can treat yourself and go to a nice restaurant or cafe with a view of your city, you can go to a fast food place with a view (we ended up going to Five Guys which had a view of Tower Bridge), or even bring your own food or get a meal deal and sit in a nice park or bench. It really just adds to the experience in your non-walking period.
Take a different route
Don’t take the routes you usually do and change it up a little. This became very easy when we mapped out what we wanted to see and were walking our way through it – it again just adds a different perspective to what you would usually see and that’s how we ended up seeing new places on our way to the landmarks.
If you’re looking for something to do for a day, try this for a change. It was so fun and so refreshing when you pretend you’ve never seen any of these things before, or you don’t see them that often and you look at your city in awe. Appreciate what’s around you and stay safe.
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