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From the Locals – Guide to South East London

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

By Iona Bell, AUGUST 2017

The wonderful thing about London is that even after living in the city for my entire life I can visit areas and feel like a tourist. Happily stumbling across shops, galleries and coffee spots I’ll probably never find again.

I live in South East London, and love making the most of the culture in my local area. So I would start my day at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, that has a free permanent collections and has regular visiting exhibitions. Currently modernist painter and central figure in the Bloomberg group Vanessa Bell, has a solo exhibition. On a sunny morning after exploring the gallery the cafe is a great spot to have a coffee and croissant looking over the pretty garden.

Image credit: mildredsrestaurants

Next I would hop on the train to Charing Cross and head to Mildreds to one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants. You can’t book so it’s a good idea to go for lunch instead of dinner – I always have an obligatory Espresso Martini at the bar whilst I’m waiting. After filling up on yummy food head towards Holborn and visit the Sir John Soane museum. It feels like you’re exploring someone’s very eccentric house with its very own Egyptian sarcophagus and other fascinating artefacts that the architect John Soane spotted on his travels and popped into his suitcase. The Hunterian museum on the other side of the park is also worth a visit and has all sorts of weird but wonderful pickled animal and human parts and always worth a look in.

Image credit: razavi06

In the evening I love to walk across the Thames over to the South Bank. I work at Southbank Centre and feel very lucky to spend every day in such a wonderful spot with so many exciting events. There is a Wahaca in front of Royal Festival Hall which does great sharing food as well as take-away burritos, if I don’t have time to have a sit down meal before a show at the National Theatre or Southbank Centre.

Image credit: beeato

After an evening show there are loads of bars in the area to have a late night drink. Topolski by the station do cocktails and Caffe Vergnano 1882 offers delicious thick hot chocolates. There is a lovely atmosphere in the evening as you walk along towards London bridge past the Tate Modern and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Image credit: bartopolski

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