Many visiting London may see all the "classics" but relatively few stray far from the beaten path, which is in many ways, the "real" London. So, as a Londoner, I thought it might be handy to provide some tips on places to visit which you may not find in the guide book (or at least towards the back).
1. Brixton: Once an area which many avoided after dark but now home to a great indoor food centre (Brixton Village, on the map for any epicurean), vibrant market, and art house cinema (the Ritzy).
2. Hampstead: If the urban chaos gets too much, head out to Hampstead for a walk around the village and pleasant walks across Hampstead Heath with great views over the City and even outdoor swimming (summer might be best for that)
3. Richmond: You can visit the deer in Richmond Park, or perhaps Kew Gardens. Alternatively, head to William Curley's for some excellent chocolate.
4. Dalston: To see where the London hipsters are hanging out, you can't go wrong with Dalston (also, if youdon't fancy that, a good place to avoid)
5. East Dulwich: Perhaps not the first place you might visit but one that very few tourists will ever find- a true slice of South London. Think yummy mummies, street art festivals, tempting cafes, a good wine bar, craft beer.
6. Tooting: Not as dodgy as you may have heard and the place for authentic Pakistani cuisine
Hope that helps
Thank-you for sharing this information with all of us! Hope to get to a few on the next trip!
Will let you know and would enjoy having you join a few MRI's, for a snack, at County Hall in Feb., 2014!
We always have some laughs and exchange travel stories! All are welcome!
From the same side of the pond as you, but a different city, a word to say how helpful and refreshing your post is - and, I'm sure, will be to many.
I've always felt that much of the attraction of London - and for me it is one of the few genuinely great cities - lies in exploring exactly the type of "by-ways" you've mentioned.