How to Enjoy Slow Travel in London
From cycling around central to Bermondsey Beer Mile, here's how to embrace a slower pace of life in London.
As we emerge from lockdown, we’re forced to reconsider our relationship with travel. The uncertainty of flights means that many holidaymakers will be inspired by slow travel experiences this year, including ones that are much closer to home. Forget jam-packed itineraries, and racing around to see the landmarks. Slow travel, much like slow food, demands you take your time, to savour everything the city has to offer. The slow travel movement also suggests swapping wheels for exploring a destination on-foot, and London, one of the world’s great metropolises, offers no shortage of walking tours and things to see. This vast, sprawling city comprises of 190 neighbourhoods, each one is utterly unique (and boasts plenty of unique Plum Guide London homes to match). To guide you through a slow travel London experience, we’ve put together this list of unmissable things to do - all to be appreciated slowly, of course.
See London by bike
Hop on your bike to explore the labyrinthine streets of Central London. Easily the best way to get your bearings on the city, take your time to see the choice landmarks as well as London's best parks and gardens without having to travel on the underground. Santander Cycles (also known as Boris bikes, after the blustering former mayor who introduced them) are the perfect way to see the city. Simply hire a cycle, ride around, and then return it to one of the many docking stations dotted across the city.
Take a walking tour
As big as it is diverse, there are literally thousands of walking tours to embark on in London. From classic sightseeing treks that whip around the major landmarks (a particularly good one begins at Southbank, crossing Tower Bridge over to Saint Paul’s Cathedral), to more niche, unusual walking tours that explore street art to Harry Potter, you’re spoilt for choice. After a rigorous day of exploring, ensure you have the perfect place to unwind with Plum Guide. Handpicked and curated by a team of independent home critics, Plum Guide is the official selection of the world's best vacation homes. Showcasing the very best properties the city has to offer, book a unique vacation home like Copper Cabana to enjoy as part of your London slow travel experience.
Eat your way around the city
One of the food capitals of the world, London’s gastronomic scene is dizzyingly diverse. Borough Market is a great place to start, with its selection of artisanal cheeses, wine, and cured meats. You’ll find cosy delis and independent cafes dotted around Covent Garden, stretching into Soho and into Central West London, which offer upmarket, Michelin-quality eateries. On the east side, Brick Lane is best known for its curries - and it’s superlative bagels.
Admire great art
London’s landmark galleries are all easily explored on foot. You could start at the iconic Tate Modern at Southbank, which offers one of the finest collections of contemporary art in the world - particularly when it comes to modern painting. Major works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Mark Rothko feature in the expansive main collection. Downstairs, the capacious Turbine Hall is reserved for one-off, large-scale works of art, which are often interactive. It’s an enjoyable walk over Westminster Bridge, past the Houses of Parliament, to Tate Britain, furnished with classical art from William Blake to Aubrey Beardsley. A fifteen-minute walk away, The National Portrait Gallery looms over Trafalgar Square, a gallery dedicated to portraits of British legends. London’s state-owned galleries are free-to-enter, but independently-run collections like the Saatchi, Whitechapel, and Serpentine have just as much to offer and are worth the entrance fee.
Sip craft beer
London’s craft beer scene was one of the first to really take off, and its breweries offer a fantastic introduction to artisanal beers. The Bermondsey Beer Mile offers a long stretch of independently-owned breweries, pubs and taprooms, offering expertly-produced IPAs and sours across 1.4 miles. Take your time to enjoy it, you could easily spend a boozy evening sampling the best of them. Freshly reopened after lockdown, it’s a great opportunity to get to grips with London’s beer scene in a slow, unhurried way. We'd recommend staying in a Plum home like Crackle & Glaze in the area too so your commute isn't too tricky after one too many tipples.
Absorb ancient history
The British Museum, located in Bloomsbury, provides an illustrative history of the British empire through a permanent collection of eight million works. The sheer scale of the place is staggering - it’s one of the largest collections in existence, with many of its objects sourced in colonial times. Spanning two million years of human history, you could spend an entire day exploring this trove of ancient artifacts and historical treasures. No less staggering is the British Natural History Museum, a world-class attraction with a permanent collection of natural specimens, mummies and dinosaur remains. This is just one of a cluster of museums located in South Kensington, also home to the excellent, interactive Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, one of the world’s leading exhibitions of decorative arts. Each of these large-scale collections deserves enough time and attention to explore, ideal for a slow travel experience.