Top 8 places in Central London to avoid the crowds
Last updated: November 14, 2021
London is one of the busiest, most mind-bogglingly bustling places in Europe, but in the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic, things in the capital have had to slow down. There are still fewer tourists in museums and other attractions, so it's still a better, quieter time to visit London.
Covid safer in London?
Remember that face coverings remain compulsory on all Transport for London (TfL) services. So if you travel on the Tube, bus, tram, Docklands Light Railway, and Overground you must continue to wear a face covering in stations and for the duration of your journey. If you travel on a River Boat, you must wear face coverings at all times on TfL piers, and you are advised to wear them onboard, too.
St James’s Park
Stroll away from Big Ben/Westminster Abbey and towards Buckingham Palace and you’ll eventually run into the pretty surrounds of St James’s Park. Wander along the banks of the lake to see the local ducks and cross an iron-railed bridge or two for breathtaking views of the London Eye and the rooftops of Whitehall, before stopping at the west end of the park to see the family of pelicans and the delightful Duck Island Cottage. If you want more of London’s sublime green spaces, it’s perfectly possible to stroll from here to Green Park, Hyde Park and the idyllic Kensington Gardens with little more than a road to cross en route.
London’s biggest museum (the British Museum) and others such as the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and all the Tates, are open with a booking system in place. While entry is free, a timed ticket helps them to limit numbers - so it's a great chance to see the exhibits without the usual crowds. Some, such as the British Museum, do hold a number of walk-up tickets for impromptu visitors, but to guarantee entry we'd advise you book ahead. You'll also find that many venues will request you wear a face covering unless you are exempt.
Neal’s Yard & Seven Dials
## Skip Soho and try art-loving Seven Dials instead (and the wider Covent Garden area if you have the time). Here, pretty village-like enclaves filled with boutiques and indie bookstores mingle with elegant Edwardian townhouses repurposed as fine restaurants and boutique hotels. But venture into the backstreets just off Monmouth Street and you’ll stumble into the colourful little micro-village that is Neal’s Yard. *Essentially nothing more than a bohemian courtyard spiked with a handful of shops and restaurants *(all of which are sustainably minded) inside historic warehouses with colourfully painted facades and external art installations – and all utterly charming.
Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross
Perched right next door to King’s Cross Station, Coal Drops Yard is one of London’s newest dining and shopping destinations – with delightful bars, cafes and restaurants (most already had al fresco options before the lockdown) as well as regular artists in residence, outdoor canopy markets and exhibitions to explore – much of which is covered, and so a perfect option when taking shelter from the inevitable bouts of London rain.
Rotherhithe & The Thames Path
Tucked away in a quiet corner of Zone 2 and easily reachable by foot along the Thames Path from Shad Thames, Rotherhithe is one of South London’s prettiest villages. Perched on the riverside with views of the city, The Shard and Canary Wharf, this leafy little escape is best known for the charming Mayflower Pub (don’t be put off by the small size – there’s a sizeable terrace with amazing views out the back) and the Brunel Museum. But *the area is a delight for riverside walks that morph into shaded woodland strolls in the Russia Docklands and, if you carry on towards Greenland Docks, one of London’s only inner-city farms *with goats, cows and pigs grazing directly across the river from the towering skyscrapers at Canary Wharf.
The Thames Clipper and Victoria Embankment
Take a stroll along the Victoria Embankment for superb views of the London Eye, the various London bridges and the Houses of Parliament and afterwards, if you feel like a trip a little further afield to Greenwich, Canary Wharf or Battersea Park, board the Thames Clipper from Embankment or Blackfriars (pro-tip: book via Uber for a reserved seat aboard a slightly safer, socially distanced boat).
The City via The Design Of The Times Walk
This 90-minute walk designed by the City of London takes architecture lovers and anyone wanting a quick way to see some of the city’s sights on a fascinating walk around the Square Mile – beginning at the glorious St Paul’s Cathedral and ending in the City Centre – having taken in some of London’s most iconic modern architectures including the Gherkin and the Walkie Talkie, and historic pieces such as the Monument to the Great Fire (you don’t have to climb up to the top but the views are phenomenal). To self-guide, simply start at St Paul’s and walk towards the Gherkin along Cannon Street.
St Katherine’s Docks
Sat on the northeast side of Tower Bridge, St Katherine’s Docks offers a beautifully serene slice of London marina life. Here, boats of all shapes and sizes are docked throughout the year and surrounded by restaurants, flower-covered pubs and cafes on the banks. Easily visited after the Tower of London to see a thoroughly different slice of London’s docklands and riverside and a good starting point for a walk into Whitechapel and the city.
Checklist for your trip to London
- Take litter with you when visiting parks and other green spaces
- Book ahead to guarantee entry into attractions
- Explore off the beaten path to find the real London!
Useful links Find up-to-date guidance on travel, safety, Covid-19 research and more.
RightRooms believes all information to be correct at time of going to press. As guidance, research and facts around Covid-19 are changing constantly, the information provided here is for general information only and does not constitute professional advice. Please check with venues, locations and attractions before travelling.