As a lover of British literature, I was really jazzed about uncovering London’s literary walks and points of interest when I first moved to the city five years ago. But when most people think of London they imagine the stoic and sophisticated Georgian homes, the grandeur of posh shops and upmarket restaurants, easily forgetting that this is a city with many faces.
Like most big cities, London can be whatever you want it to be and caters to many diverse subcultures. I’ve complied this list of the best points of interest for all-round geeks in London.
1. Forbidden Planet, Tottenham Court Road
This is a mega-store for any ardent fan of cult films, TV series, science fiction, fantasy and horror fiction. They also specialise in comic books, graphic novels, video games, board games and collectible merchandise. You can spend hours sifting through specialist merchandise or flipping thorough strategy Dungeons and Dragons books and just let the bustle of London fade for a while.
2. Freud Museum, Hampstead
The stately house that Freud and his family lived in after escaping Nazi annexation. Freud only lived in the house for a brief period before he died; however, his daughter Anna Freud lived in the house until 1982. In 1986 the house was opened to the public, with Freud’s consulting room, study and library all preserved exactly as he had them set up—so you can examine Freud’s artifacts, ornaments, notes and of course the famous couch where his clients would have laid in sessions. For anyone interested in psychology, history or who just wants to experience a different and less visited museum—this is an excellent place to go and see.
3. The Loading Bar, Dalston
This atmospheric bar is ideal for gamers or groups of friends who want to unwind. The bar is set over two floors in a relaxed and friendly environment with scores of board games available upstairs, and plenty of big tables to gather around. The downstairs basement is stocked with classic and up-to-date video game consuls, including Super Nintendo, Xbox, PlayStation, Sega and more. There is a delicious selection of cocktails, craft beer and wine and perhaps the best part is as long as you’re ordering drinks and playing games you can bring your own food into the bar—or even have it delivered to you there.
4. London Transport Museum, Covent Garden
Many tourists often overlook this absolute gem of a museum, which is especially great for children and families. The regularly changing exhibitions are dedicated to covering all aspects of transportation in the city. The museum is right beside Covent Garden market, so it’s impossible to miss. As part of the museum’s permanent collection you can view many retired London buses and tube trains, including the first underground electric train from 1890.
5. Mega City Comics, Camden Town
This is a community-minded comic book store, with a fantastic and comprehensive selection of comic books. The shop has a great ambiance with very helpful, knowledgeable and friendly staff. They shop contains hundreds of current and back issue comics alongside of graphic novels, books, T-Shirts and other merchandise.
6. Natural History Museum, South Kensington
The Natural History Museum is a beautiful and inspiring museum that has over 80 million items on display. The museum specialises in botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. There is also a world-class research centre and important pieces in the museums permanent collection, like specimens collected by Charles Darwin, dinosaur skeletons and an extensive library. If art is more of your forte than natural history, not to worry, because the Natural History Museum is ideally located next door to the Victoria & Albert Museum, London’s most stunning art institution.
7. CyberDog, Camden Town
A massive club wear store in Camden that specialises in designer cyber clothing and accessories for niche subcultures interested in all things “future”. Many of the clothes feature electronic components such flashlights. The store sells glow sticks, rave-wear and goa trance items. From the moment you pass through the enormous front doors guarded by two giant and imposing statues sporting the futuristic style—the rave music blares and occasionally go-go dancers perform on platforms placed aloft. The shop is a must for strange experiences and right on the threshold to the Stable Markets at Camden Town.
8. Walks around Bloomsbury
If you exit the tube at Russell Square or Goodge Street you can go on a wondrous neighbourhood exploration to see the British Museum, the British Library, literary points of interest such as the many blue plaques indicating past novelists, artists and thinkers lived there, the University of London campuses and Senate House Library.
9. Draughts, Haggerston
This is another board game bar that is a bit swankier, smaller and more polished than The Loading Bar. During weekends you pay an entry fee based on how many hours you want to role those dice, while on weekdays the bar offers unlimited play. All the staff are experts in gaming and will happily walk you through any of the hundreds of board games available and give you suggestions based on your group interests. The craft beers are a delight.
10. Tower of London, Tower Hamlets
If you don’t go to any of the other places on this list you should visit the Tower of London, which is a history lovers paradise. The Tower is a historic castle that was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and has seen many grisly scenes from history within its walls, such as King Richard III having his two young nephews imprisoned, killed and then buried at the site. The execution of Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and many others occurred at the Tower. Today the site is where the Beefeaters reside and offer tours of the Tower and grounds. The crown jewels are stored here and on display to the public.
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