If you’re a tourist and you think about London, the Westminster area immediately comes to mind – Big Ben, the London Eye and Westminster Abbey. Notting Hill will come as a close second specially if you’re a fan of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Then maybe the shopping strip of Oxford, theaters of West End and possibly Hyde Park too. I may be wrong but my point is, when you think of London you always think about the center and nothing else. You don’t realize that there’s more to London than what you’ll see in the center itself.
I urge you to get out of the city because there are so many things that you can do and see here which I feel like a lot of people are missing out on. Seriously, if I had known that London is more than all those areas I’ve mentioned above – I wouldn’t have ran away from it to go to the Cotswolds when I visited as a tourist in 2012.
Here are some of the places and reasons you’ll have to visit South West London:
I do have my loyalty towards the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames as a resident. I only found out about the existence of this lovely place when I attended a job interview here 2 days after we moved to London. From then on, I fell in love with it and convinced the Greek Mister that we rent an apartment here. Thankfully, I got the job too.
Kingston is popular for the city dwellers as a day trip during the weekends. Shopping experience at the Kingston Town Center is believed to be one of the best as the whole area is pedestrianized. If you’re not into shopping, I’m guessing you’ll be into food (or beer), I highly recommend dining at one of the riverside restaurants/pubs with a fabulous view of the Thames. My favorite is the Boater’s Inn in Canbury Gardens.
Train station: Kingston
2. Hampton Court
Hampton Court is famous for the Hampton Court Palace which is by far my favorite among all the palaces I’ve visited in England. It’s beautiful, historical and extremely informative. I geeked out when I visited the palace because their audio guide is so entertaining plus the fact that the palace itself was presented as how it must’ve been during its grand times.
If you’re not into history, perhaps the beautiful garden and grounds of Hampton Court would pique your interest instead. Bushy Park is the second largest of London’s Royal Parks which covers an area of 1,099 acres. A part of it was used as a US Air Base and this is where General Eisenhower planned the D-Day Landings. I highly recommend joining the Hampton Court Bike Tour to explore this area.
Train station: Hampton Court
3. Richmond Park
Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve and largest of London’s Royal Parks. I’m extremely lucky that it is practically right at my doorstep and I’m able to admire it’s beauty during my afternoon walks. I love going to Henry’s Mound which gives you a direct view of St Paul’s 10 miles away. Pembroke Lodge is also a favorite of mine, I brought my in-laws there for a coffee once and they loved it.
Train station: Norbiton
Kew is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage site which holds the largest and most diverse collection of living plants in the world. Walking around it is both scenic and educational, you’ll find different collections of trees, plants and flowers from tropical, temperate, arid and alpine climates. There are some coffee shops around the garden which is always a good way to have a break from all the walking.
Here you’ll also find the very modest Kew Palace where King George III stayed while he was being treated for his “madness”. As it wasn’t built to entertain guests, the palace doesn’t give out the royal “wow” factor which one would normally expect from a royal residence.
Train station: Kew Gardens
5. Richmond Upon Thames
I have to admit that Richmond was our first choice when we were looking for an apartment but we just can’t afford this post code. Thankfully though, it’s just a quick bus ride away from where we live so we can still enjoy it. The dining scene here is amazing! It hosts a number of restaurants both chains and independent ones. I do love going to the pretty Hollyhock Cafe for coffee and sweets while I did enjoy my unique dining experience in Petersham Nurseries.
Train station: Richmond
There are a lot of other places that you can visit in South West London, unfortunately I still have to do a bit of exploring myself. It’s impossible to pack all the places I’ve mentioned above in one day, I reckon each places deserve at least half a day to be explored.
Hopefully, those are good enough reasons for you to visit the off-the-tourist-track South West London.
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