Going Out

Londoner? Here’s why you should try acting like a tourist for the day

By Swingers

London life getting you down? While it won’t magically turn Richmond into the Riviera, putting your tourist hat on for the day could help you fall back in love with the city you call home. From shaking off cynicism to learning to look up, here’s how to embrace the tourist mindset without the RyanAir fanfare. 

Londoner? Here’s why you should try acting like a tourist for the day

Dawdling on the escalator at Angel. Squeezing enormous backpacks onto the packed Piccadilly Line at rush hour. Voluntarily visiting the M&M shop in Leicester Square. Tourists are an inescapable part of life in London and the target of many a Londoner’s irritation (do they really have to walk so slowly?). 

But while it’s easy to mock the queues stretching out of Westminster Cathedral or the crowds getting selfies on the Southbank, it might be time we swap judgement for inspiration. With the potential to boost everything from your imagination to your mental fitness and self-esteem, it turns out that acting like a tourist is good for you. 

Get the holiday feeling without the plane ticket

Richmond Park

So much of the joy of a holiday comes from the feeling of novelty. From discovering a hidden beach or park to treating ourselves to a post-lunch gelato, being away from our humdrum routine opens our eyes to the beauty on every street corner, creating a sense of freedom, adventure and possibility. Acting like a tourist — either on your own or with friends or family — is a great way to bring that same wonder into your every day. While it won’t magically turn Richmond into the Riviera, putting your tourist hat on for the day could help you fall back in love with the city you call home. 

Plus, with everything from the weekly shop to train tickets becoming increasingly pricey (blame the cozzie livs), a trip abroad can start to feel out of reach. Whether your budget is too tight to stretch to a flight or you need to stay at home for work or familial responsibilities, we don’t always get a holiday when we want one. Getting into the tourist mindset can leave you feeling as refreshed and revived as if you’d just come through the gates at Gatwick Arrivals – but without the flight delays and credit card bill. 

Ready to get out your guidebook? Here’s how to embrace the tourist mindset without the RyanAir fanfare. 

Imagine you’re starting from scratch

Spitalfields market

London can be exhausting — it’s busy, often expensive and time-consuming to navigate. On the other hand, it’s also one of the best cities in the world — exciting, rich in history and packed with incredible food and culture. Unless you’re a Londoner born-and-bred (and in a city famous for its ethnic diversity, so few of us are), chances are you’ve been a tourist in the city at one stage or another. Cast your mind back to when you first moved to London. What got you excited? Which parts were you desperate to explore or experiences were you hyped to try?

If you’re struggling to adopt the beginner’s mindset, try imagining what you would do with an empty day in a brand new city. Would you put your phone away and allow yourself to get lost in a beautiful neighbourhood? Would you happily queue for a bowl of ramen you’ve seen on TikTok, buy (and send) a bunch of postcards or visit a cool new gallery you’ve read about? Being a tourist is less about place and more about perspective — so start by shifting yours. 

Shake off the cynicism

London eye

How many of us spend years living in London and never once visit its most iconic sights? To properly act like a tourist, you need to try some of the activities you might previously have dismissed as cheesy or overhyped, like touring the Tower of London or riding the London Eye. There’s a reason these activities have been so popular for years! Get your family members or a group of friends to each put forward an iconic London activity they’ve never done and vote on which one to start with. By embracing your inner Joey from Friends (“London, baby!”) you’ll see the familiar with fresh eyes and end up invigorated and inspired.

Do your research…

kings guard

You’ve got all your favourite local spots down pat but acting like a tourist is about moving away from the familiar, acting like a beginner and allowing yourself to be surprised. Pretend you’re brand new to London: get a travel guidebook from your local library, visit a tourist information centre or search online for the latest recommendations (Time Out is usually a great place to start). 

… but be open to surprises

Carnaby Street sign

Once you’ve noted down a couple of hotspots you’re longing to try, set your expectations aside and allow yourself to go with the flow. While certain sites or activities will need booking in advance, part of the joy of tourism is being spontaneous.

Enjoy some family bonding

Covent Garden family

You don’t need to leave the country to make new memories with loved ones. Group activities like a trip to Swingers for some crazy golf, an escape room or a visit to somewhere like the London Dungeons are a great way to have a laugh with family members of all ages while doing something a bit different. No one feels left out and you get to make the most out of your time together rather than sitting in the same old restaurant. 

Talk to strangers

coffee st pauls

We know, we know — talking to strangers is blasphemy for a Londoner. But think about how many of your best holiday anecdotes have come from striking up conversation, whether it’s with the couple you’re sitting next to at dinner or the guy behind the bar at your hostel. You don’t have to approach strangers on the street but next time you’re ordering coffee, try asking for a local recommendation from the barista and see where it leads you. 

Go for a walk

Battersea Park

London is best explored on foot. Not only will you get all the benefits of the exercise but you’ll also spot things you’d never have noticed if you were hopping on and off the tube. Really get under the skin of a particular neighbourhood by joining an organised walking tour — a great way to fill the gaps in your local history knowledge. You can also design your own historic route; hunting for blue plaques can be a fun, family-friendly activity that takes you all over the city.

Pay attention

St Pauls blossom

When you’re always rushing from A to B with one eye on Instagram or your emails, it’s easy to feel like life is passing you by. Acting like a tourist means becoming conscious of your surroundings and engaging all your senses. As you wander around London, take the time to stop, look up and listen. You’ll be amazed by how much you spot and how much more interesting life feels. 

Swingers ~ The crazy golf club

We believe that life is more fun when there is an element of competition, and that competition is best enjoyed with friends.

Swingers, the crazy golf club takes the holy trinity that is crazy golf, street food and amazing cocktails and combines them all into one incredible social experience