Beyond Big Ben: 5 London Destinations That Make You Look Like a Local

Although the Big Ben is a can’t-miss London attraction, don’t make the ultimate travel mistake by visiting only the most well-known (and touristy) attractions. We’ve compiled a list of five London attractions to help you see all the historic city has to offer. Enjoy your trip off the beaten path!

Greenwich Market

London is full of open-air markets, but Greenwich Market is a foodie’s dream come true. Situated away from the crowds of central London, this covered market is the place to taste foods from around the globe. Shop for anything from spicy Jamaican curry to Thai noodles, and then eat picnic-style next to the Thames. Greenwich Market is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

For living history fans, this museum showcases consumer products from decades past. Its quirky collection contains over 12,000 original items from food packages to shampoo bottles, showcasing products that have helped define daily life for generations. Curator Robert Opie has personally collected items for the museum’s displays since he was 16, creating a truly one-of-a-kind collection.

Take a Seat with Churchill and Roosevelt

Thought the opportunity to sit between FDR and Churchill was long gone? In central London, a bench contains bronze statues of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who appear to be sitting and chatting. There is a handy space for sitting between them, creating one of London’s best (and least known) photo ops! Named “Allies,” the bench was constructed to commemorate 50 years of peace after the Second World War.

Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park

Situated next to Kensington Palace, home of Royal Couple Will & Kate, Hyde Park is a sprawling outdoor recreation spot. Make your way over to Speakers’ Corner, where people from around the world gather to speak about whatever might be on their mind. Topics range from the serious—think religion and war—to the funny and satirical. Stop by on a Sunday afternoon, when the liveliest crowds draw to watch the stand-up speakers.

Richmond Park

Richmond Park is the largest of the Royal Parks, and home to herds of deer running wild through its fields and trails. Its rolling hills and beautiful oak trees make it one of the most scenic spots of the city, and it also provides great views of London: from certain spots, you can see all the way to St. Paul’s Cathedral. British legend holds that this park was the location of doomed couple King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s honeymoon.

Ready to stop reading and start sightseeing? Check out http://www.hipmunk.com/ to book your flights and find your perfect hotel.

 

 

Hipmunk’s Guide to Amsterdam

There’s more to Amsterdam than canals and the Van Gogh museum. While you don’t want to miss those two, don’t let your trip stop there. We’ve compiled a list of five of the best lesser-known Amsterdam attractions to help you see all this beautiful city has to offer. Enjoy your trip off the beaten path!

Amsterdam Public Library

Not just for bookworms anymore, this library boasts incredible architecture and a wide range of entertainment options. Designed by Dutch architect Jo Coenen, the library is a home to nearly 2 million books and 165,000 members. After you’ve perused the literary selection, attend a musical or theatrical performance in one of the library’s two theaters, or head to the top floor for snacks and an incredible view of the city.

Electric Ladyland

With a namesake the likes of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s third studio album, Electric Ladyland is the world’s first museum of fluorescent art. Take a guided tour, which includes psychedelic sculpture work and demonstrations of collections of Fluorescent Minerals, or rocks that burst into dazzling colors when viewed under different wavelengths of light. The whole experience is set to the sounds of the Beatles and, of course, Mr. Hendrix.

Friday Night Skate

Friday Night Skate is a weekly, free-to-join roller skating procession that gives you a one-of-a-kind tour of Amsterdam on wheels. Join the party outside the former Filmmuseum in the Vondelpark, where groups leave at 20:15 (8:15 PM) on Fridays all year round. The route changes every week, but you’re sure to see some of the city’s best sights from a truly unique vantage point. Look out for themed skates at certain holidays, including a Halloween “Fright Night Skate”!

De Gooyer Windmill

Although the Netherlands is famous for windmills, Amsterdam proper has only a few within the city limits. De Gooyer, which is registered as a national monument, is the tallest wooden mill in the Netherlands and the perfect place to get your windmill fix. It dates from 1609, making it both a fantastic modern-day destination and a historical tribute to traditional Dutch architecture.

Stand-Up Paddling on the Canals

Stand-up paddling, a recent fitness phenomenon in the United States, has made its way to Amsterdam: explore the canals by standing on a surfboard and paddling with an oar to navigate. Not only is stand-up paddling a fantastic way to get a unique tour of the city, it’s a tough full-body workout that can help work off any vacation breakfast. Rent a board at one of many locations around the city and begin to make your way through the miles of canals for a once-in-a-lifetime touring experience.

Ready to stop reading and start sightseeing? Check out http://www.hipmunk.com/ to book your flights and find your perfect hotel.

Hipmunk’s “Off the Beaten Path” Guide to Rome

Although attractions like the Coliseum and the Vatican top must-see lists for a reason, don’t let your trip to Rome stop there. We’ve compiled a list of five of the best lesser-known Rome attractions to help you see all this beautiful ancient city has to offer. Enjoy your trip off the beaten path!

Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla were named for Emperor Caracalla, a Roman ruler who reigned from AD 211-217. The vast ruins that stand today are an incredible monument to Roman architecture and culture, featuring many of the Baths’ original mosaics, tiling and marble walls. The sheer size of the ruins speaks to the scale of Roman construction! This is a great spot to check out incredible Roman ruins without dealing with the crowds that pack more famous destinations. A don’t miss experience: during the summertime, the Baths become a venue for operas and other cultural events.

Palazzo Altemps

Housed in a Renaissance palace, the Palazzo Altemps is a recent addition to the Roman art scene after opening in 1997. Its relative youth makes it one of the city’s best-kept secrets, housing a beautiful collection of classical sculptures without the staggering lines found at other museums. The collection features works from ancient Greece and Rome, most notably a 3rd-century sarcophagus, picturing the Romans fighting the Ostrogoths, carved from a single block of stone.

Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter (or Ghetto) is a historic destination dating back to 1555, when Pope John Paul IV pushed all Jews into a small, restricted walled-off area of the city. Today, while the walls have come down, the area retains the flavor and culture of its early inhabitants. It is the home of the Synagogue of Rome, and a small piece of the original Ghetto wall remains in the area. Take a stroll through to sample kosher food and experience incredible lived history.

Tiber Island

This small island in the middle of the Tiber River has been linked to the Roman mainland by bridge since antiquity. Once called the Insula Inter-Duos-Pontes, or “island between the two bridges”, its bridges are the Ponte Fabricio, the only original bridge in Rome, and the Ponte Cestio. In 239 BC, the Temple of Aesculapius was built on the island to worship the Greek god of healing. Although the temple is now gone, legend still holds that the island is a place of healing.

Aurelian Walls

The Aurelian Walls, a line of city walls built around 271 AD, remain standing after nearly 1400 years of Roman life, creating both a testament to Rome’s history and a line between antiquity and modern Italy. Created to provide fortification against invasion, the walls cover 12 miles in a circuit that includes 383 towers and 2,066 external windows. The walls continued to serve as a military defense for the city until the late 19th century, when the Bersaglieri of the Kingdom of Italy captured Rome.

Ready to stop reading and start sightseeing? Check out http://www.hipmunk.com to book your flights and find your perfect hotel.

 

 

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