an alternative Instagram guide to London: where most people go for pics + where to head instead

There are staple Instagram spots in every destination; stunning landmarks, cafés with perfected interiors, and signature street art. A lot of the time, these spots are so well-known they almost become a travel cliché. Of course, this doesn’t mean they aren’t worth visiting. I’m as guilty as anyone for visualizing gorgeous shots like the ones I’ve seen a hundred times on my favourite travel blogs and Instagram accounts, wanting to grab my own version of a picture in the same place a million other people have snapped theirs. But, I’ll be the first to admit, it means there is a lot of “sameness” on the internet. As beautiful as some Instagram landmarks are, sometimes going there in real life leads you to the ultimate let down. The crowded waterfalls in Bali were super anti-climatic for me, for instance.

That’s why nothing makes me feel better than finding a lesser-known alternative Insta spot. One that you might see occasionally on a feed, but only if you get lucky with the algorithm. Photo opportunities that arise after copious amounts of interweb sifting. My favourite shots are often taken in places I didn’t expect or that I found completely by chance.

So, today, I’m sharing some alternative spots in London for photos that are less crowded, less visited, and less Instagram-famous!


KEEP READING FOR ALTERNATIVE INSTA SPOTS IN LONDON


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DETAILED Doors

WHERE MOST PEOPLE GO: Notting Hill

Notting Hill might be the most Instagram-med neighbourhood in London. The lively market, colourful homes, and quirky eateries make it eye candy all the way around. When most people come to London looking for pretty doors to snap photos of, they immediately rush to the pastel stoops in Notting Hill, where there is no shortage of Union Jack doors or tiled entry ways. Unfortunately, I find the idea of stopping for photos {usually for an elongated period of time} on a stranger’s private property a bit intrusive. I’m guilty of taking photos of these houses and even, on occasion, posing for a picture in front of one, but I try to keep my distance and remember how I’d feel if thousands of people sat in front of my home day in and day out. Instead of intruding, try…

WHERE TO GO INSTEAD: Spitalfields

4 Princelet Street in Spitalfields is one of my favourite doors in London. This historic door is the entryway to Situated in the historic conservation area of Spitalfields, the pastel pink dilapidated door is just a stones throw from Liverpool Street. The door belongs to an 18th century house that was initially built for the owner of Trueman Brewery. The house has been preserved in its original condition from top to bottom, making it one of the last original houses on the street. Princelet Street is known for being the street where French Huguenot families settled after escaping Catholic prosecution in France. No one lives at 4 Princelet Street these days, so you won’t be bothering anyone. The place is commonly used for photoshoots and as a space for exhibitions but, if you feel like splurging, you can rent the place out for private functions.

4 PRINCELET STREET, SPITALFIELDS— MY FAVOURITE DOOR IN ALL OF LONDON

4 PRINCELET STREET, SPITALFIELDS— MY FAVOURITE DOOR IN ALL OF LONDON

Gorgeous Gardens

WHERE MOST PEOPLE GO: Kensington Gardens

Britain is known for its gardens. Trimmed, manicured, and well-kept, Kensington Gardens is the creme de la creme of English landscaping sophistication. Kensington Gardens and I have a sort of sad history with one another I wish I could forget about, so I tend to avoid them on any trip to London altogether. Most people, however, enjoy the swans, squirrels, and scenery of Kensington and, thus, make it the backdrop of their Instagram photos. However, I’ve found that Kensington Gardens is mostly lawns and nothing I have found there makes me overtly inspired to take photos.

WHERE TO GO INSTEAD: Sky Garden or Kew Gardens

Sky Garden offers incredible, free views of London with a side of greenery. Not being a traditional garden is what makes it not a traditional Instagram location. Another alternative to the increasingly popular Sky Garden is Kew Gardens which is frequented by tourists, but also offers more alt-y garden views.

SKY GARDEN ABOVE LONDON

SKY GARDEN ABOVE LONDON

Cute Cafés

WHERE MOST PEOPLE GO: Peggy Porschen

The gorgeous pink exterior of Peggy Porschen is the epitome of strategic marketing. The florals cascading around the doorway are enough to make anyone stop and consider grabbing a cake from the café, hungry or not. However, you’ll be very lucky if you manage to get a photo in front of Peggy Porschen without strangers in the background or without lining up to wait your turn. Grab a slice of cake from here {like I inspired Kale and a Carry On to do} and wait for a break in the crowds to snag a picture if you like {it is seriously beautiful and worth the wait}, but if you want to go somewhere equally as beautiful albeit a bit more off-beat.

WHERE TO GO INSTEAD: Biscuiteers

Located around the corner from Notting Hill Gate station and Portobello Road Market is Biscuiteers. The café specializes in intricately iced cookies, all designed by hand. The café is filled with decadent cakes served on striped china plates that mix and match with the shiny chandeliers. Although the inside of Biscuiteers is photo-worthy, but the café front is truly quirky. It feels like you’ve stepped into a three-dimensional sketchbook. Throw in the table for two outside and you’ve found an Instagram spot free that’s equally adorable but free of the photo frenzy.

ENJOYING A FLAT WHITE AT BISCUITEERS IN NOTTING HILL

ENJOYING A FLAT WHITE AT BISCUITEERS IN NOTTING HILL

beautiful bookshops

WHERE MOST PEOPLE GO: Stanfords

The literature enthusiast in me prefers a secondhand store, but sometimes a new book from a historic bookshop is a total day-maker. Edward Stanford opened Stanfords in 1853. The flagship store is situated in Covent Garden and famously sells travel guides, maps, themed gifts and other travel-themed lit over its spread of three floors. Londoners claim that Stanfords is 'the world's largest specialist travel bookshop', and it definitely feels that big. It’s also frequented by Instagram influencers for shots in its cozy cafe corner

WHERE TO GO INSTEAD: daunt books

I found Daunt Books after meeting Virginia at the We Are Travel Girls meet-up event in July 2017. The small chain of bookshops in London, founded by James Daunt, specializes in travel books. The original Marylebone bookshop opened in 1912 and was the first custom-built bookstore in the world…or at least that’s the people at Daunt claim. Daunt has plenty of quaint, quiet corners to read or take a photo. The central staircase, however, is my favourite spot in the bookshop for a photos.

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LOVELY Landmark Bridges

WHERE MOST PEOPLE GO: On Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is an iconic landmark in London. The blue beams connected to two pointed towers is quintessentially British though, funnily enough, most people think the Tower Bridge is actually the London Bridge. Photos on the bridge are stunning…when they turn out. It requires a lot of patience and luck to time a photo on the bridge’s footpath without strangers in the background or cars zooming by. Some people completely nail it! Mere mortals, like me, require a little extra help…namely, an alternative vantage point of the bridge.

WHERE TO GO INSTEAD:Tower Bridge riverbank

After enjoying a walk over the Tower Bridge, go down the set of stairs to the riverbank pathway. There, you’ll find your photo opportunities are less cluttered with people and congested with traffic. This alternative view of the bridge makes getting the people-free picture you’ve envisioned easier.

GRABBING A GOODBYE PHOTO NEAR TOWER BRIDGE

GRABBING A GOODBYE PHOTO NEAR TOWER BRIDGE

Ultimately, under the gray skies of London are heaps of spots for photos. Whether you prefer urban landscapes, green sprawling lawns, art exhibits, or funky food to photograph, rest assured that the city will have something for you! It’s also easily navigated thanks to the supreme London Underground. In case you still feel a bit unsure about how to locate the places in this guide, I’ve got a handy dandy map for you!


FIND my ALTERNATIVE INSTAGRAM SPOTS MAPPED BELOW


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