Things to do near Barbican
Visit the Barbican Centre
The Barbican Centre is a major cultural hub, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re a movie buff, theatre enthusiast, visual art afficionado, into classical or rock music – there really is something for everyone. The building itself is a real conversation-starter. It was voted London’s ugliest building in 2003, and yet the brutalist artchitecture of the 60s-80s has many fans. Inside it’s vast and somewhat labyrinthine, with multiple entrances and exists. However, even if you don’t like the architecture, you’ll love the comfortable seats with plenty of leg space, high quality food & drink and riveting performances. There’s a rather good Martini bar and you can take your drinks into the performance space, too. What’s not to love?
Get lost in the Barbican Estate
If you’re visiting the Barbican Centre, you will get the opportunity to walk through The Barbican estate. It is a brutalist housing complex that can be terribly confusing for a first-time visitor. Even seasoned Londoners find new ways in and out of the estate, as well as other delightful discoveries – a church, lakes, elevated gardens, a fountain, tennis courts, a tunnel…If you’re worried about getting lost in the maze or just want to find out more, there are guided tours of the estate (yes, it’s big enough for that). The estate, originally envisaged in the 50s, was bombed and rebuilt. Some flats, though compact, are sold for as much as 4 million pounds. Personally, I find it one of the most magical places in London, and a perfect marriage between rough concrete and natural features.
Keep fit & healthy
Here’s what I do not recommend: the swimming pool at the Thistle hotel. Last time I visited, the facilities could have done with a good clean. I’m not likely to visit the Thistle again soon, but if you do and it’s improved, please let me know. In the meantime, I’d suggest opting for the Virgin Active gym and health centre instead. It has a comfortable large swimming pool (clean!), sauna and steam room, as well as a gym to keep those guns in shape. If you are travelling, exercise might not be the topmost activity on your mind, but your body will thank you if you take some time out to give it a boost. So if you are staying in Barbican, drop by the health centre. Your wellbeing is always worth your time.