From the red bus to Big Ben to our love of tea, London is nothing short of iconic. However, at the first mention of the bustling city these are only cliché symbols situated within the always-busy Central area, not to mention its reputation as an undeniably expensive travel destination. Outside of this circle London can sometimes (by the locals!) get a bad rap for being a little rough. However, South-East London has many interesting things to offer.
Take a look at these off-track locations to visit!
* Instagram photo by @mbarbie
This colourful and effervescent community hub is full of multiculturalism, bursting with flavours from all around the world. Brixton Village is a mish-mash of Caribbean, Asian and African culture, offering everything from African accessories to French cuisine - there’s something for everyone, not to mention it is free to wander and take in the cacophony of sights and sounds. Around the corner, Brixton POP is the home to shipping-container popup restaurants and independent businesses as well as one of the best venues in town for a night out! A few seconds’ walk away in Electric Avenue you will find a clothing and home market where haggling is easy and a vast range of goods from different cultures are on sale, as well as a number of Afro hair stores. After a long day, have a dance and a giggle with some live music from buskers on the high street. In the summer there is even more fun to be had, with Caribbean-themed Brixton Splash! taking over the main square.
2) CRYSTAL PALACE PARK
* Instagram photo by @jeanlai72
A maze, a seemingly endless forest, rolling hills…if you’re looking for Disney World without the price tag, Crystal Palace Park has it all! Situated in SE19’s Crystal Palace, this sizeable park is free to enter. With beautiful architecture from a bygone era, it also features a colourful and bustling flower garden. There are even free maps available in the inevitable event that you’ll get lost! The park is also extremely popular with cyclists and runners.
3) RICHMOND PARK
* Instagram photo by @simonfromengland
Known for its rich, picturesque beauty, on paper Richmond Park can easily be compared to a scene out of Disney movie – deer, squirrels, horses and a pond can be found freely roaming here. Created in the 17th century originally as a deer park, the park is noted for its prominence in conservation and wildlife work. Open until late, it is particularly beautiful in the summer, offering first-class views of the sunrise and sunset. With a bike hire facility available on site, a carefree ride and a leisurely picnic afterwards definitely wouldn’t go amiss! Nearby, Roehampton University also offer free self-guided tours. Froebel College Campus is highly recommended, with equally-impressive horticulture, architecture and Grade I and II-listed buildings usually hired out for weddings and even Strictly Come Dancing on occasion! Afterwards take a boat ride (on the Transport for London network) from Putney Pier (close to Putney High Street).
4) WALWORTH & CAMBERWELL
* Instagram photo by @m.is.c
Although not often recommended as a tourist attraction, you could easily turn into one if you know where to look. Here the big attractions are East Street Market, Burgess Park and the range of affordable Turkish, Lebanese, Ethiopian, Ghanaian, Nigerian and Latino eateries. Being away from the more trendy areas it offers a cheaper alternative for sightseeing. Turn left into Camberwell Church Street Farmers Market every weekend.
* Instagram photo by @caterinaem
Peckham is the much cheaper and more local sister of Shoreditch. Rich in African cuisine, it predominantly features a number of fishmongers and butchers where it is fairly easy to haggle, as well as Afro hair stores, cafes, shopping arcades and up-and-coming restaurants. For those who love a good knees-up, visit the Bussey Building which regularly features many a number of independent underground artists and raves. There is also a farmers’ market in Peckham Pulse (outside Peckham Library) every Sunday.
6) MARITIME GREENWICH & CUTTY SARK
* Instagram photo by @visitgreenwich
Greenwich is most widely known as the home of the O2, an internationally-renowned arena, however there is a lot more (and cheaper!) to do in the SE10 district. See a movie at the Greenwich Picturehouse, an indie cinema, or take a wander down the high street which is chock-a-block with global palettes and a somewhat romantic atmosphere. The jewels in Maritime Greenwich’s crown however are the amazing views across the River Thames, the architecturally-impressive grounds of Greenwich University which are open to all and feature grand Grade I- and II-listed buildings and the grand accolade of being the location of several blockbuster films including Thor, and the free (from outside!) view of the Cutty Sark, a famous tea clipper built in 1869 with a whisky even named after it!
* Instagram photo by @georgianlondon
This quaint but modern family town has lots to offer if you’re after some peace and quiet away from the city: Dulwich Park is perfect in the summer for a bike ride (with seating space in the back if you’re too lazy to pedal), or an ice cream – these are dotted around the park. Afterwards take a gander at the dollhouse-esque scenery in Dulwich Village. easily accessible from the other end of the park. The high street also features a mix of well-known names and independent charity shops and cafes. Just up the road Dog Kennel Hill Adventure Playground is a young adventurer’s dream – free to enter with a zipline, swings, a treehouse and even a faux forest at the back!
8) LONDON BRIDGE
* Instagram photo by @ilona.florence
Set in chic SE1, the London Bridge area is hugely popular and is one of the main employment hubs in the city. Away from the hustle and bustle of people going about their business, take in Borough Market where British and international produce is sold and is London's most renowned food and drink market. Afterwards visit Cathedral Street, lined with and take a gander at Southwark Cathedral and the wide range of restaurants and pubs.
9) SOUTHBANK CENTRE FOOD MARKET
* Instagram photo by @mrfoodster
Nearby on Southbank Centre Square, this market is street foodie paradise - vegan food from Ethiopia, authentic Thai, crêpes inspired by Brittany, freshly grilled corn on the cob, juicy burgers, salted caramel brownies…the list goes on and on! Open on Fridays, weekends and bank holidays, there’s always an opportunity to pass through for a worldly bite!
Aren't you curious to visit this off-track London? Find your perfect hostel in South-East London, starting from the booking form here below. There are many great hostels in this area, like The Lodge (in Crystal Palace), or the Via Levisham, or also RestUp London just to mention some examples.