With people in many countries and regions facing travel restrictions, many of us are having to focus on safe ways to scratch the travel itch while not venturing far from home. So, if home swap holidays are on hold until 2021, you could use this time to get out and explore your local area - become a tourist in your own town.
Going for a walk or bike ride is a great way to lift your spirits, get some exercise and also take in some of the nearby sights. Getting out for a safe wander is also a good opportunity to support some of the small local businesses - so go out, grab a coffee and explore!
We'd love to hear from you! Send us your local sights and tips
Let us know how you've been keeping busy over the last few months. If you've been using the time to explore a little closer to home - we'd love to see your photos and hear about your local walks and nearby adventures.
Take your camera with you:
Autumn is such a beautiful time of year and so, when heading out to stretch your legs and explore your neighbourhood, make sure to pack your camera (or camera phone) so that you can capture some of the sights.
Home swap tip: add the photos to your listing
When browsing home exchange offers, in addition to photos of the homes, it's always nice to see photos of the local area. Upload some of the photos from your walks so that you can highlight some of the nearby sights.
Write a short guide to nearby walks:
There’s no one better qualified to write a guide to your local area than you! What are the must-sees? If another home swapper asks you for recommendations, what nearby sights and off the tourist trail tips would you suggest?
Home swap tip: add recommended walks and local tips to your welcome pack
Include information about must see sights and nice nearby walks to the home swap welcome pack that you leave for your guests. Remember, in addition to the cost savings, a huge plus of home swap holidays are the local tips and recommendations from members (i.e. real locals!).
My East London / City of London walk (by Mark Sealey)
I've always loved getting out and exploring London and am quite lucky to live in an area with lots to see within walking distance. However, you do not need to live in a big city to find lots to see and do - perhaps a lovely walk in the countryside, a stroll in a nice nearby park or exploring and learning about your town's history.
Here's a nice walk I did last week taking in some of East London / City of London's well known and a few slightly lesser known sights.
- Spitalfields Market: I started the walk in East London's fabulous Spitalfields Market. There has been a market on this site for over 350 years. Up until recently it was a fruit & veg market supplying much of London. Now it is a slightly trendy place to grab a coffee, pick up some street food or browse the independent stalls.
- Christ Church: next to Spitalfields market is Brushfield Street and at the end of the street is the glorious imposing Christ Church. Built between 1714 and 1729 to a design by Nicholas Hawksmoor.
- Artillery Passage: this is a glimpse into London's past, one of the last remaining 17th century streets (and also featuring in a Harry Potter film!).
- Sir Robert Peel: there's been a police station in Bishopsgate since about 1737, and there is still one nearby at number 182. Here we see a memorial to the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel (policemen are commonly referred to as 'Bobbies' after Sir Robert Peel who oversaw the first professional police force).
- The 'Gherkin': London is such a mix of old and new. Here we see 30 St Mary Axe (more commonly known as 'The Gherkin') next to St Andrew Undershaft Church that dates back to 1520.
- Leadenhall Market: dating back to the 14th century, the market was originally a meat market but now is a mix of restaurants, shops and pubs. It was also featured in a Harry Potter film as Diagon Alley!
- St Dunstan-in-the-East: dating back to 1698 and built by Sir Christopher Wren, the church was sadly bombed in World War II but has been converted into a beautiful garden - a lovely calm oasis in the city.
- Billingsgate Market: this lovely building on the banks of the Thames River used to be a fish market and still has golden fish decorating it's roof - one famous former worker at the market was Sir Michael Caine!
- London Bridge / The Shard: crossing London Bridge we see Western Europe's tallest building - The Shard.
- Southwark Cathedral: next to London Bridge on the south side of the river is the lovely Southwark Cathedral.
- Borough Market: a foodie's favourite is Borough Market where you'll find some of the city's tastiest treats.
- HMS Belfast: now walking along the Southbank of the Thames, we pass the impressive HMS Belfast battle cruiser which played a very major role in World war II, by sinking the most dreaded German warship.
- Hays Galleria: next to HMS Belfast is the vaulted roofed Hays Galleria. This is one of London's oldest wharfs where the 19th century tea clippers raced from around the world to unload their goods. It's now been converted into a lovely covered area full of shops, cafes and a riverside pub.
- City Hall: on the Southbank on the way towards Tower Bridge we pass City Hall where the London Mayor does his duties.
- Tower Bridge / Tower of London: crossing the iconic Tower Bridge we have lovely views of the World Heritage site, The Tower of London, and also views towards the towers of the city.
- St. Katherine's Dock: just to the east of Tower Bridge is St. Katherine's Dock where you'll catch a glimpse of some luxury yachts from all over the world.
- Wilton's Music Hall: this listed building dating back to the 1850s is one of very few surviving music hall buildings.
- Cable Street Mural: painted in the early 1980s to commemorate the Battle of Cable Street, when people of the East End of London prevented Oswald Mosley’s fascist black shirts from marching through the area.
- Whitechapel Bell Foundry: founded in 1570s, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry cast bells including the Big Ben and the Liberty Bell. It's currently closed and sadly it's future is under threat (check out the Save The Whitechapel Bell Foundry website)
- Brick Lane: this trendy street is the place to go for street art, Bangladeshi/Indian food, Sunday markets, coffee shops, live music and vintage clothes.
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