Five places you can probably avoid if you’re new to London, according to a London student

Newsflash: you’re not the only one in West London who wants to pretend you’re in a 90s rom-com


London – one of the busiest, most active cities in the world.

It’s daunting for many, and I know that when I was a fresher, I had absolutely no clue where to go, what to do, or what to see. With big crowds, countless tourist traps, and absolutely extortionate costs, no matter if you’re alone or with friends, it’s difficult to decide on what to visit.

While we can’t necessarily narrow that down for you, we can tell you where not to go. So, consider this The London Tab’s (un)official guide on what you can miss out on when you first arrive in the city.

Big Ben (and loads of other touristy sights)

Picture it now – you, one big, yellow and red sightseeing bus, and about sixty million other people, all on Westminster Bridge, staring at a massive clock. Sounds ideal, right?

On a real one, lots of people new to London feel the pressure to fit in the sightseeing immediately upon arrival, when, really, things like Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are a lot cooler to see when you’re just going about your day, walking to class or the pub. It’s more like a subtle reminder that you live in one of the most desirable cities in the world, rather than feeling like an imposter Londoner.

This also applies for most other typical “must-see” London sights. I promise, it’s not worth the hassle – you’ll come across Tower Bridge at another point.

Camden Market

Two words – don’t bother.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I truly despise Camden (I even wrote a whole article about it), but it’s also objectively overpriced, overrated, and generally very overcrowded. Most students seem to consider a Camden visit as a rite of passage, but – trust me – you’ll see enough of it when you most likely move there in second year.

Trust me, save Camden Market for another day.

Borough Market

While we’re on the subject of markets, here’s another one you should probably avoid.

While Borough Market is a mild step up from Camden, it’s still hard to justify the money you can easily blow for a simple gourmet toastie, burger, or scotch egg. Another place that’s just simply brimming with so many people that you can’t navigate past them, you definitely won’t be able to find anywhere to sit to even eat your gentrified crumble, let alone enjoy it.

Instead, places like Exmouth Market or the Bloomsbury Farmers Market have a great array of restaurants or stalls, and just have the regular London premium on their price, as opposed to a tourist trap charge.

Notting Hill (on a weekend)

Everyone daydreams about their perfect Julia-Roberts-Hugh-Grant-frolicking-around-the-streets-of-West-London moment, and, if you want, you can have that – it’s just probably best not to schedule it on a Saturday or Sunday.

Why? Because half the London population flock there on a weekend to do the exact same thing.

If you’re really that desperate to go to Portobello Road Market, you can try, but there are plenty of beautiful independent shops and cafes there on a weekday, too. Another plus – there won’t be quite as many people standing in the middle of your obligatory The Travel Bookshop pictures.

Primrose Hill

I know it’s basically heresy for a London student to say this, but just hear me out, guys.

Primrose Hill is the reliable favourite of all North London uni students – and I mean all. You’re not the only one who’s planning on traipsing up there at 7pm on a Tuesday in June to watch the sun set with your three for two Rekorderlig ciders.

Even if you get there early, some already half-cut bozos are bound to show up at some point, ruining your ambient low-fi house-jazz for summer vibes Spotify playlist – it won’t be like you’re in One Day, or whichever romantic TV show or movie you’re attempting to emulate.

A decent alternative is Hampstead Heath – it’s also pretty busy, but at least it’s bigger so you’ve got a better chance of getting more distance from other people (ew). Also, it boasts the highest point in Central London – not a bad view.

Realistically, when you move to London, you face no shortage of things to do or see. But for those of you frantically scrolling through TripAdvisor’s Top 100 “things to do” in London, we hope this narrowed down your options a little.

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