It’s no news that Nigerians absolutely LOVE London! London is the default travel destination for most Nigerians and understandably so. Back in the day…like way back, Nigerian citizens did not require visas to visit the UK and we are so deeply rooted in the system with Nigerian restaurants, clubs and various establishments spread all over the city. When watching sporting events, Olympics or otherwise, there is a likelihood of that black person on Team GB being of “Nigerian decent”. There are currently four Nigerians persons of Nigerian decent who are MP’s in the UK Parliament. Talk about being implanted in another man’s country.
London is definitely home away from home for a lot of Nigerians and vacationing there is just convenient for most of us. First off, getting a UK visa is definitely way easier than getting a visa to most European countries. Secondly, your accommodation is sorted as everyone has one uncle, aunty, best friend or cousin’s cousin that is willing to put up with you for two- three weeks. No one goes to London and stays in a hotel except it’s a business trip and your job is paying :). Thirdly, London has one of the best transportation systems in the world and you don’t have to spend a lot of money on cabs or burden your host with driving you everywhere you need to be. With your oyster card, you can get to all the nooks and crannies via bus or train. Finally, as Nigerians love to shop and London being one of the shopping capitals of the world, hopping on a 6 hour flight from Lagos or Abuja to get awesome summer deals and bargains is an offer most people cannot resist.
London is an incredible city bursting with so many activities. You’ll be surprised at how much London has to offer outside shopping, visiting family friends and attending Nigerian events in search for Jollof rice! We know that despite our mission to encourage Nigerians to see the world outside London, a lot of us will still vacation in London this summer and that’s okay. However, we challenge encourage you to do take on London different this summer and we have made it easy and compiled a list of exciting things to do (some you might not even be aware existed). Did we miss out on any exciting activity? Let us know!
- SEE A SHOW/MUSICAL: Like Broadway is to New York so is West End to London. With over 200 shows running all year round, the London theatre has a large repertoire of creative performances and you are spoilt for choice. The Lion King is always a good recommendation even for people who don’t like musicals. Theater tickets range from as low as 25 pounds and it’s advisable to book well in advance to get good deals. See http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk for all west end shows/musicals.
- VISIT A NEIGHBORING TOWN: Take a break from your break and visit a neighboring town in the UK. The proximity to other parts of the UK is one awesome thing about London and in less than 2 hours you could either be on a pebble beach in Brighton or learning about pre historic Britain in Stonehenge. One of the less popular day-trip destinations is the Leeds Castle in Kent and this is a perfect place for vacationers with kids. The premises houses attractions for visitors of all ages and there are loads of activities for the children to enjoy. See https://www.leeds-castle.com/Attractions for more information.
- GO ON A RIVER TOUR: When you think of sightseeing in London what comes to mind is a double Decker open top red bus that takes you across the city. Ditch the red bus this summer and see London via a speedboat along River Thames. This exciting, adrenaline fueled adventure is safe and most tour companies take off from the London Eye Millennium Pier. These edutaining river tours are definitely the way to go this summer as you’ll get to see significant landmarks in London from the House of Parliament, Big Ben, Cleopatra’s needle, St Paul’s Cathedral to the Gherkin, 02 Arena, Thames Barrier etc. A good river tour company for this is the Thames Rockets.
- THE 02 CLIMB: Yes you read that right! For those who think viewing London via London Eye or Shard is a bit too cliché, this activity is definitely for you. You can enjoy a 360 view of London, during the day or at night, from the top of the iconic 02 arena in Greenwich. The climb, which is via a fabric walkway is said to be very safe and before you climb a guide takes you through all you need to know. A climb suit, shoes and a safety harness is provided to all climbers and there are no cameras, bags or personal items allowed. You are only allowed your cell phone which can only be used at the viewing platform. The climb takes 90 minutes and highest point of the climb is at 52m (do not try this if you have acrophobia). This activity is definitely worth its 35 pounds fee as you don’t get to climb a London icon often.
- EMIRATES AIRLINE CABLE CAR: If climbing the 02 is a bit too daring for you, the Emirates Airline cable car is also a great way to see London. First of its kind, this cable car takes off from North Greenwich or Victoria Royal Docks and tickets can be purchased with your Oyster Card. This can be combined with the Emirate Aviation experience which gives visitors the opportunity to explore life size aircraft models and take a 30 minutes flight stimulator experience on an A380 or a B777 flight stimulator.
- VISIT THE BEACH: You think London has no white sandy beaches? Think again! Every summer, the creatives at Roundhouse in Camden Town recreate an urban beach on their rooftop terrace for Londoners and visitors to sit, relax and have a good time at their make believe beach. White sand, beach huts, beach chairs and umbrellas, cocktail bars, fish and chips shacks and everything you’ll see on the beach (well except the ocean) can be found right here. The rooftop beach runs from July-August and is open all week long from Noon-11pm. Entry is free.
- ALTERNATIVE CINEMA: Be it a roof top, hot tub or pillow cinema, there are always fun and alternative ways to view movies in the city of London. There are so many alternative cinemas, mostly pop ups, throughout the city and the movies range from new releases to old time classics. Since they are pop-ups, there are no set venues and viewing times and you’ll have to follow their social media pages to keep up to date. Pillowcinema.com, hottubcinema.com and rooftopfilmclub.com are some you should look into trying out this summer. If these suggestions are not exciting enough and you really want DIFFERENT, you should check out whereisthenomad.com which has one of its viewing centers at the Brompton cemetery in West Brompton J.
- ART EXHIBITIONS/STREET ART TOURS: For art lovers, there are always art exhibitions, permanent or pop up, all year round in London. Some are free while others require a fee. One other exciting tour to do this summer is definitely the street art tour. Rated among “Top 10 Tours in London” on tripadvisor, the Shoreditch Street Art Tours should definitely be on your list this summer. You do not have to be interested in street art, graffiti or be art inclined to enjoy this tour. For more, see http://www.shoreditchstreetarttours.co.uk/
- GO ON A FOOD TOUR: We know most people will definitely not take up this suggestion because of the stereotype that British food is bland and boring. So for those willing to be adventurous and have a taste of London (literally), go on a food tour which will take you to a diversity of places like markets, shops, bakeries, pubs and restaurants. Like they say, food is one of the best ways to understand a culture.
- GARDENS AND GREEN SPACES: Lovers of flowers, nature and all things green can definitely relate to spending a Sunday afternoon in a peaceful and tranquil environment. From the Barbican Conservatory, Culpeper Community Garden and Isabella Plantation to Brockwell Park Garden, Lavender Garden in Vauxhall and the Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park definitely offers a wide array of beautiful gardens and green spaces and you sure to be spoilt for choice.