Everyone dreams of travelling around the world, seeing new things, interacting with other cultures, and meeting new people. However, for most of us, it remains just a dream: we don’t have the time, the money, or the freedom to do so.
London is home to over 270 nationalities and it’s not necessary to travel 1,000 miles to experience new cultures. You just need to know where to look for them. There are so many incredible opportunities to have incredible international experiences in London… Below, we describe seven of them.
1. Visit the Neasden Temple
Located north of London, it’s an absolutely stunning piece of architecture made with hand-carved Italian marble. Anyone who wants to learn more about Hinduism is welcome here. Admission is free and it’s located near the Neasden and Dollis Hill tube stations.
Where: 105-119 Brentfield Road, NW10 8LD
2. Soak up the atmosphere of Pueblito Paisa
The Seven Sisters Market is a real gem for all things related to Latin America. It’s the kind of place that usually goes unnoticed when you’re on the tourist bus, but once the doors open it’s as if you’ve arrived in Bogota. Latin rhythms, delicious empanadas, different kinds of meat … While the girls chat in the nail salons, the boys enjoy watching football. Here, it is common to hear salsa in the background and smell freshly baked bread and Colombian coffee. The cabinets are filled with donuts and other traditional delights of the Latin American culture.
Where: Seven Sisters Market, 231 High Road, N15 5BT
3. Get to know the Ridley Road Market cultures
If you want an authentic glimpse of multiculturalism in London, then Ridley Road Market in Dalston is the place to go. Today it’s a vibrant mix of Ghanaian, Turkish, Bangladeshi, Nigerian and Colombian stores that sell the most beautiful and colourful clothes in London. The market includes a 24 hour bakery, low-cost fruit, vegetables, reggae music and a Turkish supermarket.
Brick Lane Market is also famous. It has a large Bangladeshi community where you will find some of the best restaurants in the city to try curry.
Where: Dalston, London E8
4. Have a ‘Banya’, Russian style
Did you know that you can have an authentic banya, the traditional Russian sauna, in London? The banya consists of being covered with birch leaves and then being hit with them. Nowadays, the leaves are used for a relaxing massage. It has become a typical trend in spas, which offer it along with a sauna, massage and shower.
Where: various locations in London
5. Meditate in a real Buddhist temple or learn about the Greek Orthodox Church
Located in Wimbledon, the magnificent Thai temple Wat Buddhapadipa is a little known jewel among Londoners. Created in 1965 by the Royal Patronage, it was moved to its current location in 1976. Here, you can meditate, learn more about Buddhism, attend lectures or simply enjoy the tranquillity.
Or you might want to visit Saint Sophia Cathedral, a Greek Orthodox Church that will leave you speechless with all its paintings, retables and other religious decoration.
Where: 14 Calonne Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5HJ
6. From India to the Caribbean, from festival to festival
You can also discover Indian music, culture and cuisine in London for free, at the annual Diwali festival. But that’s not where your trip around the world ends: you also can enjoy the Chinese New Year, the Caribbean carnival in Notting Hill or the Anatolian Festival organized by the city’s Turkish community.
Where: various locations, different dates
7. Are you hungry? Mexican or Korean?
Maybe you miss Spanish food or you want to take your partner to an Italian restaurant. Before going out I usually fancy a kebab, but if I go with friends, I’ll go to a Japanese restaurant instead. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t sure what you want, in London you will find dozens of restaurants to choose from. You can try African food, Peruvian food, Thai food or even British food!
Find yours and let your taste buds take you on trip every day to a different place.
For more information on how you can travel to various countries without leaving London, check out the –passport app ‘World in London’, which list the top 10 experiences for each of the city’s main communities. Every time you have a different experience in each “country”, you get a passport stamp to mark your visit.