A definitive guide on how to entertain your parents in London
Other than taking them to restaurants you can’t normally afford
Chances are, if you aren’t originally from London, at some point your parents will come to visit you. Without any particular event happening, it can be difficult to decide how you should spend your time with them while they are here.
As London students, we have all experienced London with our friends in various ways, but with parents, we see the city through a different lens – it’s not like you can take them for a night out at Scala, after all.
When your parents visit, it’s an excellent opportunity to try a new restaurant, visit a new museum, or see a new area of London, in addition to showing your parents your favourite places in the city. Basically, it’s time to live like you have an extra zero at the end of your monthly budget.
Visit the more famous sites
The first and most obvious suggestion would be to show the most iconic parts of London to your parents if they haven’t already seen these sites. London is, of course, one of the biggest cities in the world, teeming with famous landmarks that any parent new to London is sure to want to see.
Visits to Tower Bridge, Big Ben and London Eye are essential to properly introduce your parents to this bustling city. It’s also a great way to flash your student card and get that discounted ticket. Plus, the cheesy souvenir photos always garner a laugh.
Catch a show on the West End
This is a perfect opportunity to relax and be entertained by some of the most talented people in the theatre industry, and it is appropriate for all ages to enjoy, making it an excellent option for those with younger siblings. This way, if you don’t get along with them, you barely have to talk to them! Work smart, not hard.
With shows ranging from musical theatre to drama to comedy, there is something to appeal to anyone, and a trip to the West End is unmissable.
Go see an art exhibition
Were your parents indie kids in uni? You’ve definitely dug around for photos, looking for signs of a bad haircut or a misbegotten tattoo. This is a great way to get them in touch with their artsy side, and it makes you look like a cultured intellectual instead of a raving alcoholic – let’s live up to the pictures we send to mum.
Some of the best modern art centres would be 180 The Strand, a cultural centre blending the physical and digital worlds. Tickets must be booked in advance, so don’t forget to plan ahead!
Try the Sunday market at Victoria Park
Particularly on sunny days, Victoria Park is arguably the most beautiful park in East London, so if you and your parents fancy a break from Central London, try catching some air here and snapping some pictures of the sensational greenery. The chances of inhaling Eau de Central London (bus fumes and cigarette smoke) are drastically reduced here.
Also, Victoria Park hosts a farmer’s market every Sunday from 10am – 4pm, with a variety of freshly grown produce and an abundance of stands serving meals. Time to try that heirloom tomato, baby.
Coal Drops Yard and Regent’s Canal
Coal Drops Yard is one of those places that make you feel like you’re finally in a rom-com version of London. Lit up by fairy lights and filled with all sorts of stalls and events, it’s the perfect place to window shop or grab a bite. Did we expect less from the square right next to Central St. Martin?
Not to be forgotten is Regent’s Canal, located shortly from the main shopping areas. Walking along this canal, you can find Word on the Water, a floating book barge, which is a paradise for bookworms.
Taste some new food at Borough Market
One of London’s largest (and oldest) food markets, Borough Market is known for its sale of speciality foods. Located in Southwark, along the Thames, Borough Market has a rich history and is a great place to visit with parents. If they get particularly bored, there are also some fabulous pubs nearby where you can have a pint or five.
Boasting a variety of foods, this market is the perfect place to try something new, and with Christmas approaching, a great place to visit to try some holiday-themed foods.
Go for a stroll in South Bank
Situated close to Waterloo station, South Bank is a vibrant and dynamic area, brimming with arts and culture. With trees and restaurants lining the Thames, an evening walk along the water can prove to be a perfect way to relax the mind, after an activity-filled day in the city. Sometimes the Thames is nice, especially when the sun is setting and you can’t notice the distinct muddy colour!
The BFI Southbank is one of my personal favourite cinemas in London, showing curated collections of film and TV. This is a great place to catch a film with your parents, with a more unique collection of films being shown than at your hometown Odeon.
Take a day trip to Brighton
Yes, this may not be in London like the other recommendations, but Brighton is a staple day trip for many London students and can be just as enjoyable for your parents too. Plus, tokens are expensive at the arcade and it’s easier to win the big prize you’ve been eyeing when dad’s paying.
The train journey usually takes just over an hour, and with many spots to visit such as the Royal Pavilion or Brighton Palace Pier, this seaside city makes for a great day out to escape the busyness of London and is bound to be thoroughly enjoyed by parents. Just make sure you don’t sit on the beach with your fish and chips – don’t say we didn’t warn you.