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  • Writer's pictureJoshua S

Our Top 5 Tourist Traps in London

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

As with any major international city, there are always tourist hotspots with plenty of traps to try and take your money, or just overhyped.


Below are the top five that make me grumble that we advise you to either avoid, or not spend much time in:


5. Borough Market (at lunch time)

I need to be careful with this choice, as Borough Market is a lovely place to visit…in the morning. I hope Londoners will know what I mean. I liken it to Boquiera Market in Barcelona off Las Ramblas, a fabulous market selling the most incredible, incredible produce…but gets painfully busy and uncomfortable around the lunchtime mark.


Borough is made up on winding, narrow streets, transporting you from the street food, to the cheese, to the fish stalls chaotically. I would recommend going, but buy some cheese and bread and cured meats from the locally-sourced producers and head to the Thames close by for a cute brunch/lunch. If you get there after 11:30 – good luck.


Two Passports Top Tip

If you’re there between Friday-Sunday, we recommend Southbank Centre Food Market, by Waterloo Station instead. It’s much, much, much, smaller, but quieter while still being a buzz of people. Great coffee stalls too with artisanal pastries without the queues.


4. Oxford Street/Tottenham Court Road

The street connecting Soho, Marylebone and Mayfair is famous for having flagship stores for high street brands – Nike, JD Sports, Primark (x2), Disney Store. The list goes on.


To say it’s a tourist hotspot is an understatement. The street doesn’t have coffee shops or great pub or eating spots too, so you won’t find anything to grab you there. There are plans to pedestrianise it soon which will help, as there is endless cars and taxis and buses.


It’s a lovely area at Christmas time…but other than that, don’t bother.


Two Passports Top Tip

Ramble down the equally busy Regent Street for upscale stores, or better yet the quieter New Bond Street for high-end boutique stores with beautiful window designs. Regent Street at Christmas is a magical experience, perfect for Instagram!


3. Leicester Square

A vibrant square founded in 1670, now featuring statues of film characters, casinos and tat. Personally, and this is certainly at night time, we find it quite an unsavoury atmosphere, like a fight is going to break out at any minute. It feels seedy and packed with tourists and, with that, people trying to take advantage of tourists. It has many scams and pickpocketers so just be careful.


In terms of places to eat and drink, it’s the usual international chains that aren’t worth mentioning. M&M World, Lego World, Burger King all with BRIGHT LIGHTS – a complete sensory overload with people hounding you either about religion or ‘charity’ workers. Fine if you want to walk to walk through in the day and enjoy the charm of a historic square, but avoid at night.


Two Passports Top Tip

Visit Covent Garden instead. Friendlier atmosphere, fun street acts for families, great bars and restaurants in the square or on its various side alleys. There are tourists who visit, but locals also visit – it’s more sophisticated and family-friendly. There’s also a great market on Saturdays where you can buy hand-made souvenirs – we’ve even bought a few things from there before.


2. Chinatown

Over-priced, seedy and dirty. I’ve never had good food in any of the restaurants, and speaking to other locals they say the same. I’ve heard about the famous Chinatown in New York which is highly-rated, and Koreatown in Los Angeles, and London’s isn’t like either of these.


Two Passports Top Tip 1

Waxy O Connor’s is a fantastic labyrinth-like Irish pub sprawling over six floors. Great atmosphere, great music and always a good vibe. There are two entrances, one on Wardour Street (Chinatown) and another on Rupert Street. As you walk in via the Rupert Street entrance, the upstairs is a fun, intimate spot overlooking a tree (no joke) which is well worth the visit!


Two Passports Top Tip 2

If you’re looking for an internationally-themed spot, head away from Chinatown to the below:

  • Brick Lane (East London) – Indian, Pakistan, Bangladesh

  • Stockwell (South London) – Portuguese

  • Little Venice (by Paddington) – Italian


1. London Eye

Forget it. Long queues, expensive, and takes for 45 minutes in a pod. It’s fun to look at from across the river or walk past, but a bit of laughing stock to Londoners.


Two Passports Top Tip

Go to the viewing platform at Tate Modern. It’s free to enter and you get fantastic views of the city, along with world-famous modern art as you walk up. This is one of our biggest tips in London, seriously. Save your money and go to the Tate Modern.

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