London is, undeniably, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Steeped in rich history and stuffed full of culture, it blends the old and the new together to create something unique. From awe-inspiring architecture to culture-defining street art, and from serene green spaces to bustling urban areas, London has more than its share of Instagram worthy hotspots. To help you get the most out of your time in the city, we’ve put ourselves in the shoes of our residents and taken to the streets of London - trying to see the city through fresh eyes. Here are some of the things we found that you definitely don’t want to miss!
The best things to see in London
When it comes to sightseeing, you really only have two transportation options to choose between. Option one is our favourite - beating these streets on foot, taking in all London has to offer from the ground up and getting stuck into the city. If you opt for the walking tour of the capital, whether it’s with an organised group or just by yourself, you’ll want to make sure your camera is always at the ready, because a city like London has surprises around every corner. There are walking tours to meet every interest, or you can create your own itinerary to take in only the sights you fancy.
Locals love hitting the classic London attractions by night to get some unique shots of the old familiar favourites.
Option two, and we know it sounds cheesy, is seeing London from the comfort of a classic open-top bus tour! Most offer a hop-on-hop-off ticket, which is perfect if you’re looking to spend a day snapping pictures of all the classic tourist attractions across the city. Why not recreate a vintage sightseeing experience by using a film camera!
Finding the secret Instagrammable London beauty spots
It’s surprising how many photography gems are still hidden in London when you consider the sheer size of the city’s population. Places like St Dunstans in the East - a quiet and utterly stunning corner of London that even born and bred locals don’t know about.
As well as forgotten jewels, there’s also lots of overlooked beauty to be found in the city if you just shift your perspective a little. Hiding beneath the hustle and bustle are places like The Royal Arcade, a Victorian-era shopping centre that was finished way back in 1880, and a truly beautiful place to wander around even if you don’t have cash to splash in the luxury shops inside. Look up to see some of the most elegant architecture anywhere in the city - a feature many people miss.
There are also spots like Pickering Place, Postman’s Park, and the Barbican Conservatory that are perfect for wandering with your camera at the ready. Really though, the only way to find new hidden gems like this is to explore the city with an open mind and a camera in hand.
Soaking up the sunset in London
From chic sky bars to leafy parks - there are heaps of beautiful sunset spots across London. Bear in mind, though, that the perfect place varies from season to season. Winter and springtime sunsets are likely to bring the rain - so head indoors and scale those floors until you get to somewhere like 12th Knot bar. Lux it up with plush sofas and fancy cocktails so you can enjoy the view in style.
Summer and Autumn sunsets are warm enough to sit out and soak up the last rays of the day from somewhere beautiful - like Primrose Hill. It’s a gorgeous setting, perfect if you want to pack a picnic and toast the day.
And, if you can swing it, there’s the novel sunset spot of the London Eye itself! Remember to book a seat, though, because it’s a hugely popular option for visitors to the city.
Photographing the unexpected in London
The key to capturing the unexpected in London is to keep your eyes peeled. There are the beautiful tourist traps, the hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered, and then there’s the unexpected beauty of the city itself. Artists have flocked here for hundreds of years, making the graffiti found in London some of the most interesting in the world. You can even book yourself onto a graffiti tour to make sure you see the best art out there.
If you’d rather do a DIY tour, a good place to start is with the comprehensive list of all the Banksy pieces the city boasts.
If you get sick of the sight of the city, stretch your gaze a little further at the Greenwich Royal Observatory, where you can take in the stars and get amazingly astronomical!
Finding beauty in London’s green spaces
One of the most unexpected green spaces in the city is the Sky Garden - London’s highest garden - home to some of the best views anywhere in the city. It’s another fantastic spot to see the sunset as well as a great place to people watch.
If it’s solitude you’re searching for, St James’s Park, Richmond Park, and Greenwich Park are some of the loveliest green spaces there are. Greenwich Park also has the added benefit of being less than ten minutes from the door of your new Vita Student building in Lewisham!
Seeing the best of Lewisham itself
Lewisham is praised by many as one of London’s ‘unsung’ boroughs, and its beauty is evidenced by the fact it’s been named London’s Borough of Culture 2022. The quirky museums are perfect for photography. Pay a visit to the overstuffed walrus and wholly Instagrammable gardens of the weird and wonderful Horniman Museum, or head outside for cheerful events like the People’s Day street festival, and the picturesque Brockley Market.
The sociable side of sightseeing
Whether photography is something that you’re occasionally interested in, or if it’s a passion that drives you, living in the capital means there’s always a club to suit your skill level! As well as clubs that meet regularly, there are also one-off photography tours that take in all kinds of sights across the city - from a guide to derelict London to night photography tours, whatever you want to capture, there’s a sociable solution out there.
Final tips for photographing London
The number one thing to remember when you’re trying to capture London on film is to keep your mind open to finding the picture-perfect moments hidden in the bustle of the city. London is a vibrant and beautiful place, and the dynamic nature of the city means there are always opportunities to see something truly spectacular. So be safe, have fun, and enjoy the photographic adventure that is life in London.
Want to know more?
We’ve compiled a few handy guides that will show you what there is to do within 15 minutes of our Lewisham Exchange building and also The Hottest London Food Spots near Vita Student Lewisham Exchange. Give them a read and you'll become an London City expert in no time!