Fordham London Program Has More to Offer Than Just Classes

Art galleries, museums and other cultural activities in London to visit during your next study abroad program



When you visit London, you can feel close to home by attending the Opera at the Royal Opera House, just like being back at Lincoln Center.


After a yearlong intermission due to COVID-19, Fordham reopened its most popular London study abroad program this fall with fewer than 50 students. Fordham London is slowly returning to regular numbers for the spring — about 350 students have registered for the upcoming semester — but things are still not fully back to normal.

The study abroad experience is sure to be different compared to the pre-COVID era, but the program still allows students to explore various activities throughout the city. As one of the few pioneers of the London program that has taken place during COVID-19, here are some of the cultural activities that I had the opportunity to partake in during my semester abroad. 

Tate Britain

Many people already know the art gallery Tate Modern, which is housed in the iconic Bankside Power Station along the Millennium Bridge, but not so many know about Tate Britain. There are many Tate institutions around the U.K., and Tate Britain is where the original Tate Gallery is located. It is situated in Pimlico, London, and you can see the artworks of many British artists throughout the centuries, including J.M.W. Turner, Lucian Freud and David Hockney.

Admission is free admission and booking is available online.

The National Gallery

Facing the iconic Trafalgar Square, National Gallery has one of the biggest art collections in the U.K. From Renaissance painters like Titian to Impressionists like Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne, National Gallery features a diverse collection of artists.

Right next to the National Gallery is the National Portrait Gallery, which specializes in portrait collections of various famous figures like Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare. Walking from the National Portrait Gallery to the National Gallery takes less than five minutes, so they are definitely worth visiting when in the area. 

Free admission and booking is available online. Open daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m. / Friday until 9 p.m.

Royal Museums Greenwich: Queen’s House, Painted Hall, Greenwich Observatory

Once the weather gets warmer, a picnic in Greenwich is a must. Greenwich is on the east side of London, a small distance from Central London. However, taking a boat through Thames will lead you directly to Greenwich and provides a great view on the way.

In Greenwich, the three main attractions are: The Queen’s House, The Painted Hall and The Greenwich Observatory. The Queen’s House, designed by Baroque architect Inigo Jones, is the epitome of Vitruvian rules of proportion and symmetry. It sits in the middle of Old Royal Naval College, and its ballroom shapes a perfect square. 

With an extra investment of 7.50 pounds, you can see the magnificent ceiling painting of Painted Hall, completed in the early 18th century by Sir James Thornhill. 

Lastly, Greenwich Observatory is where Greenwich Mean Time starts, the standard of all times in the globe. Additionally, you can have a bird’s eye view of London from the hill of the observatory.

You can book all Royal Museums Greenwich online. Free admission and booking is available online for The Queen’s House.

Sir John Soane’s Museum

If you will be living in Kamen House, why not walk 15 minutes to see one of the greatest private collections amassed by Sir John Soane? Sir John Soane’s Museum is perfectly kept in the same condition as when he designed and used this building as his house from 1833 to 1837. Soane was a Neo-classical style architect of the Regency era and a professor of the Royal Academy. He was a dedicated collector of paintings, sculptures, architectural fragments and models, books, drawings and furniture, which you can all see in the museum. 

Lastly, at the request of the audience, the staff opens the door in the picture library, so do not forget to ask for it.

Free entrance and booking available online.

Royal Opera House

If you are interested in opera or ballet, the Royal Opera House is the place for you. It is located in Covent Garden, so you can explore the area full of famous restaurants before the show as well. The Royal Opera House schedules diverse performances such as “La Traviata,” “Macbeth,” “Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.” Even the accompaniment music is high quality. Furthermore, if you sign up on their website and create a Young ROH account, you can purchase tickets for only 25 pounds Monday through Thursday.

Check their schedule and book online.

Even though you have to plan things in advance and cannot be spontaneous, the U.K. is slowly reopening cultural programs, galleries and museums. However, with the omicron variant of COVID-19 now present in the U.K., the government has reinstated mask mandates in some indoor settings and capacity limitations are still in place. Be aware of these precautions before leaving so you can follow the rules in each situation. Sometimes, the same-day booking does not work, so I would recommend booking a day early.