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17 Things To Do in London Off The Beaten Path

17 Things To Do in London Off The Beaten Path

Eye-opening tours, trips to lavender fields, and secret parties: there is no shortage of things to do in London off the beaten path. Check out this list of cool stuff to do in London.

S. Johnson said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”: London is such a heap of things to see and things to do, and I can never grow tired of it.

But what to do in London off the beaten track, once you’ve checked off the list all the touristy stuff? I have a few London secret tips for you. For a glimpse of a hidden London, here are 17 offbeat things to do in London that you should add to your London itinerary.

1| Retrace United Kingdom’s History Through Cans and Jars

Weird things to do in London: the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

Image via Flickr by cyesuta

All tourists head to Notting Hill to explore the market and shop some cool, vintage souvenirs, but what if I told you that there’s another unusual attraction, right behind it, that none of them know about?

 

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, with its 12.000 tins, jars, posters, toys and artifacts, will let you retrace the history of the United Kingdom (and not only) since 1800 to nowadays, and it’s one of those quirky places to visit in London that not many people know – not even the locals.

History had never been this fascinating before for me, and I’m not a huge history fan. The cool thing about this museum being one of London hidden gems is that you’ll likely have the whole museum for you, like I did.

Visiting cool museums is also one of the best things to do in London in winter!

Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising: 111-117 Lancaster Rd, Notting Hill, London
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 11am – 5pm

2| Take a Life-Changing Tour Guided By the Homeless & Explore an Undiscovered London

Unsee Tours: exploring London with the homeless

I usually don’t go on organized tours, but this one is something you really shouldn’t miss as this is really one of the most unusual tours of London.
The Unseen Tours project was born by a Londonian charity helping homeless people, and the concept is pretty genius.

 

A few homeless people have become guides for travelers wanting to explore the hidden gems in London, and in the meantime, tourists help them change their life. I personally chose the street-art Shoreditch tour, but there are a few others available.

Believe me, if you’re going on one tour this year, make it this one: it’s one of those unique things to do in London that will change forever the way you think about homelessness.

READ MORE: Unseen Tours: Exploring London with the Homeless

3| Admire the City From a Shopping Mall Terrace -For Free!

Don’t believe those who tell you that the only way to get a great view over the city is buying a London Eye ticket: sometimes the best things in life (and the best things to do in London!) are free! For a wonderful view, there are hidden places in London: go up the One New Change shopping mall terrace to shoot a few postcard-perfect photos – from here you can almost touch Saint Paul Cathedral!

One New Change: 1 New Change, London EC4M 9AF
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 10 AM -7 PM except for Thursday 10AM-8PM, Saturday 10 AM-6PM, Sunday 12 PM-6PM

READ ALSO: The Perfect Weekend in London Itinerary

 

4| Go Kayaking On The Thames 

Source: Chelsea Kayak Club

Source: Chelsea Kayak Club

A cruise on the Thames is almost a rite of passage for every London’s first-timer, but imagine to go back home and tell everyone that you did it…on a kayak! This is a great way to experience London off the beaten path and it’s an experience that will enchant event those of you who know London like the back of your hand.

For more information consult Kayaking London o London Kayak Tours.

If you are more of an adrenaline junkie, a Speed Boat Tour of the River Thames is more your thing. Get your blood pumping while exploring the city at high speed, while a comedian entertains you.
BOOK IT HERE

 

5| Take a Tour on a Vintage Londonian Double Decker Bus + Sip Afternoon Tea at Harrods

You’re right, drinking tea in London is far from unusual but…what about taking the traditional afternoon tea in one of the most incredible department stores in the world, Harrods, after a tour on a vintage double-decker bus that swing by Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, and all other famous London places? Yes, definitely something different do do in London.

 

The location makes tea suddenly interesting (Harrods one of the most cute places in London!), and the selection of sandwiches, cupcakes. and scones that come with it even more. Enjoy!

BOOK HERE this London tour on a vintage bus + tea at Harrods

Otherwise, if you wanna go fancy, what about this luxury 6-course dinner on top of a double decker bus while touring the city? BOOK IT HERE

6| Visit the Biggest Hindu Temple Out of India

Image via Flickr by 4nitsirk

Among the unusual places to visit in London, this is something you certainly wouldn’t expect. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (don’t worry, you don’t really need to know the name!) is a white marble masterpiece standing out against the surrounding modern buildings. If you’re lucky enough to be there during a religious rite, you’ll be enchanted by the colours and the melodies.

 

Take the underground Jubilee line for Neasden, which is close to Wembley Stadium: it takes approximately half an hour from central London, but it’s well worth it. Make sure you put this in your London to do list.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir: 105-119 Brentfield Road, London NW10
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 9AM – 6 PM

7| Learn The Tricks and Dream of Becoming The Next Harry Potter

Source: Davenports Magic

Source: Davenports Magic

Where, if not in London, should you learn the art of magic? Davenports Magic is a magic shop founded in 1898, which you can find under the tunnel at Charing Cross underground station, and one of my favourite secret places in London.

 

Here you can buy a magic wand, potions and strange concoctions. You can also participate in magic workshops in order to learn a few tricks and surprise friends and family, or you can gift the class to that friend who grew up here and always looks for quirky activities in London.

Davenports Magic: 7 Charing Cross Underground Arcade, The Strand, London
Opening Hours: Monday- Friday 9.30 AM-5.30 PM, Saturday 10.30 AM-4.30 PM

If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, you might also want to check out these tours in London:

Warner Bros. Studio Tour with Transfer: learn behind-the-scenes secrets of making the “Harry Potter” movies at Warner Bros. Studio. This tour includes entrance and transfer. BOOK IT HERE

Magical London: Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour: stroll through Diagon Alley, visit the platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross and more on this magical (and super affordable) tour.  BOOK IT HERE

And if it’s a special occasion, book the Wizard Chamber room at the Georgian House Hotel. It’ll be a magical night!

8| Go Vintage Shopping in Islington

Image via Flickr by garryknight

Camden Passage in Islington is a quiet street lined up with cute independent cafès, adorable boutiques, and vintage shops. It’s a nice stroll every ay of the week, but it really comes to life on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday when you can browse through the vintage market stalls and come home with some retro treasures.

Skip the way too touristy Brick Lane and explore this off the beaten path London gem instead.

Also looking for a place to stay? Check out the best prices for hotels in London.

 

9| Discover the Secret London Underground

Interesting things to do in London: Secret Underground London

Millions of people (millions!) use the London underground every single day, but not many realize that there is an unknown London under their feet. In fact, huge parts of this intricate network of tunnels are not open to the public.

However, the London Transport Museum organizes guided tours through disused stations and secret sites around London. If this is not London off the track, I don’t know what else might be! And if you’re a local, put it in your calendar cause this is one of those things to do in London for Londoners!

Check out the calendar of the secret London underground tours.

If you don’t want to wait for the few dates a year that the LTM organizes this tour, you can join a Private Underground and Tube Tour that’ll bring to some ghost stations in London and to the deepest and most beautiful underground stations in London.  BOOK IT HERE

10| Watch a Movie Under The Stars

British people, it’s easy to guess, absolutely looove the sunshine and summertime so, when the rain finally stops, any excuse is good to spend time outdoor.

 

During the summer in London it’s possible to watch a movie under the stars at Somerset House, at Rooftop Film Clubs in Hoxton, Stratford and Peckham Rye, and in many other locations. One of the most fun things to do in London, England, on a summer night.

To find the nearest outdoor cinema consult the list by Time Out London.

11| Join One of These Unusual London Tours

I mean, who likes those classic, boring walking tours of the city? Every time I go on one, I promise myself I will never let it happen again. But I love unusual tours, and in London there are so many that it was very, very hard to choose just a few for you. Check them out!

ADVENTURE LONDON TOURS FOR ADRENALINE JUNKIES

Private London Helicopter Tour (30 min) to see the city from a unique perspective. A great idea to celebrate a special occasion!  BOOK IT HERE

Climb the Roof at the O2 Arena: ascend the incredible structure like a true urban mountaineer and marvel at the breathtaking views from the top. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE

The Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit: Slide at 15mph down the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide and enjoy great views of London. Not for the faint of heart. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE

QUIRKY & THEMATIC LONDON TOURS

– London Rock ‘n’ Roll History Tour: the perfect tour for rock ‘n’ roll fans, bringing you to Jimi Hendrix’s flat and the Beatles Abbey Road and more iconic places. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE

– Notting Hill Rom-Com Walking Tour: a tour for the hopelessly romantic, check out the locations from iconic movies such as Love Actually and Notting Hill. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE

– Private Prince Harry Walking Tour of London: you love everything royal family? Take a walking tour around Westminster and learn all about Prince Harry’s life. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE

– Gin Tour in a Classic Mini Cooper: a private chaffeur, stops at 2 bars with gin tastings and a visit to a brewery for a tour in style. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE

 

SPOOKY LONDON TOURS

– London Ghost Walk: 2.5-hour Guided Tour: see London’s haunted sites and hear about its ghosts on this highly affordable after-dark walking tour. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE

– Comedy Horror Show: London Ghost Bus Tour: in this highly popular 75-minute ride on the Ghost Bus, an original Necrobus, enjoy a thrilling comedy horror sightseeing show narrated by the creepy conductor. Fun! ⇒ BOOK IT HERE

SECRETS OF LONDON TOURS

Secret London Tour by Bike: explore some of London’s weirdest characters and hidden landmarks on this bike tour of the City and East End. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE

Secrets of London Walking Tour: a tour that’ll bring to some unusual spots in London. See the smallest police station in the world, rub one of the 7 noses of London, and more. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE

12| Eat In a Crypt, a Private Cabin or… a Toilet?

Image via Flickr by MadAdminSkillz

Isn’t it exciting to find quirky restaurants that are not the same old chain or mom and pop place? Include food in your list of cool things to do in London: you can find plenty of funky and hidden restaurants London.

 

If you like trains, book the private cabin dining at Caboose, where a chef will cook in front of you in your own restored train carriage in Brick Lane. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Then go for fancy Spanish tapas at Gremio de Brixton, tucked away in a crypt under St. Matthew’s church.

Not for everyone, but Attendant in Fitzrovia is located inside a late-nineteenth-century gents’ toilet. The urinals were transformed in seats with small tables, and if you don’t mind to eat in the toilet, they say the food is great.

CHECK OUT ALSO: 14 Magical Things to do in London in Winter and Autumn

13| Pet a Pig at Mudchute City Farm

Image via Flickr by kinglomo

Who would say that petting a pig isn’t one of the tings to do in London off the beaten track?? I’m pretty confident you didn’t know that right in the heart of London, not far from the City skyscrapers, lies a City Farm. Yes, I mean, a true, real farm, with over 100 animals and a 32 acres terrain…not bad, uh?

 

At Mudchute Farm you can pretend to be in the countryside, and pet pigs, sheeps, ducks, llamas and donkeys: kids will love it, but they won’t be the only ones, I’m sure. The kid in you will jump around all excited. One for your random things to do in London list? Check!

Mudchute City Farm: 1 New Change, London EC4M 9AF
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 10 AM – 6 PM

14| Stay At Some Quirky London Hotels

I mean, if you’re into all the quirky things to do in London, why stay at a regular hotel? Check out these funky hotels in London.

  • Good Hotel London (Newham)

A floating hotel that does gives back to the community? It’s my kind of hotel! Docked at Royal Victoria Docks, this industrial design hotel re-invests all its profits into training unemployed locals in the hospitality industry. Plus, it has a rooftop you can only dream of. Prices start at $100 a night.

CHECK PRICES AND AVAILABILITY FOR Good Hotel London

  • Stay in the Harry Potter Wizard Chamber at Georgian House Hotel (Westminster)

This one is for the Harry Potter fans. Access the family room from a bookcase door, and enter a magical wolrd made of cauldrons, four-posters beds, and magic wands.
Prices start at $200 a night at the hotel – inquire directly for the Wizard Chamber.

CHECK PRICES AND AVAILABILITY FOR Georgian House Hotel

  • Sunborn London Yacht Hotel (Newham)

Discover the city by day and rest in a luxurios room in a superyacht at night. Docked at the Royal Victoria Dock, it doesn’t really get more romantic than this. The yacht also features several bars and restaurants. Definitely an off the beaten path in London experience. Prices start at $195 a night.

CHECK PRICES AND AVAILABILITY FOR Sunborn London Yacht Hotel

  • Stay in a prison cell at Clink78 Hostel (Islington)

London can be pretty expensive, but you can still have a fun experience on a budget. At Clink78 you can feel the thrill of sleeping in an authentic Victorian prison cell. Prices start at $115 a night for a private room, and $25 a night for a bed in a dorm room.

CHECK PRICES AND AVAILABILITY FOR Clink78 Hostel

  • Sleep with the lions at Gir Lion Lodge at ZLS London Zoo (Regent’s Park)

It’s not a cheap night out by any means, but one you won’t forget. Now you can sleep in a cottage inside the London Zoo – the experience include a two-course dinner, breakfast, after hours tours of the zoo, animal feeds, and 2-day access to the zoo. Choose between adults-only nights and family-friendly ones.
Prices start at $530 a night.

CHECK PRICES AND AVAILABILITY FOR Gir Lion Lodge

  • Pavilion Hotel (Westminster)

If kitsch is your thing, you’ve just found heaven. Pavilion Hotel describes itself as “fashion rock ‘n roll”, and it’s as excessive as you can think. Rooms are themed with all styles from Oriental decor to the 70s to Afro, and it’s not hard to see why many celebrities have stayed here. Party anyone?
Prices start at $125 a night.

CHECK PRICES AND AVAILABILITY FOR Pavilion Hotel

Looking for something a bit more classic?
Check out the best prices for London hotels here.

 

15| Have Fun At a Secret Party

There is no shortage of secret events in London, you just need to know where to look! And isn’t it even more exciting to sign up for a party for the location to be revealed just hours before?

 

From eclectic brunches in London secret bars to burlesque masquerade parties and sensory experiences in the dark, you’ll find all sort of odd things to do in London for an exciting night out.

Check out the current list of events.

16| Visit a Container City and London’s Smallest Museum

One of the collest spots in London.

One of London’s best-kept secrets, the Docklands area has been requalified in the past few years, and it’s becoming a hip, trendy spot and of the sights to see in London.

Definitely in London off the beaten track, Trinity Buoy Wharf is a hidden enclave for creative minds, home to the smallest museum of London, to the one and only city’s lighthouse, and to a real container city.

 

A place in the heart of London yet so far away from it, even if the O2 Arena is so close that it seems possible to touch it. Come here to discover a not-for-tourists London.

READ ALSO: London yet So Far Away- A Visit to Trinity Buoy Wharf

17| Go For An Adventure: 3 Unusual Day Trips From London

I love the city vibe, and you might too, but sometimes it becomes too much and you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

 

Once you’ve seen the very popular Brighton and Oxford, ideas for unusual days out include a trip to Beconskot Model Village (a little Britain from the 1930s) and to the York’s Cold War Bunkerbuilt in the 60s in the case of nuclear attack.

In the summer, make the trip to Mayfield Lavender Fields and you’ll be immediately transported to Provence, France.

If you are in the mood for some unusual days out in London, this list will keep you pretty busy for a while, so go out and experience for yourself all these unusual things to do in London.

Want more? Here are a few local guides to London that can help you find other strange things to do in London and secret London attractions.

LIKED IT? PIN IT FOR LATER!

Do you know other funky things to do in London? Let me know in the comments!

Disclosure: This article includes affiliate links, which means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Every Steph is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

 

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  1. Brooke

    19 June

    These looks like fantastic events and ideas to enjoy London in a unique way. I’ve been to London twice and never grow tired of it! Now I’ll have even more to do when I visit the next time. I’ll definitely have to try the London Bus Tea Tours and pay a visit to the Hindu temple!

    • Steph

      30 June

      Thank you Brooke! Then next time you go you need to try at least one thing on this list 🙂

  2. Carlotta

    24 June

    I lived in London for 3 years and I had no idea that there was a massive Hindu temple! I actually didn’t know about half of the stuff in the list…shame on me!

    • Steph

      30 June

      You’re not the only one, trust me! London is so full of things to do that it’s easy to miss some of them! Then next time you go you need to try a couple of new things 😉

  3. I wish I had heard about the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising before my visit to London. Sounds right up my alley!

    • Steph

      23 July

      Well, Adelina…a good excuse to go back to London, right? 😀

  4. I love mudchute farm! And great idea about the outdoor film clubs – never knew they existed. One of my favourite unusual (and free) things to do in London is wander along the Haggerston Canal at the weekend, great cafes, barge watching and street art – it’s a lovely ramble

    • Steph

      23 July

      It sounds awesome Steph! I’ll be back in London in a few weeks, I’ll make sure to check it out!

  5. […] READ ALSO: Unusual London – 10 Things to Do Off the Beaten Path […]

  6. […] By keeping all of these in mind, weaving through the busy areas of Gatwick Airport can be as easy as an afternoon sipping tea on top of a double decker bus. […]

  7. […] Jenny Wren is an attractive narrow boat. The cruises take trips from Walker’s Quay in Camden up to London Zoo and Regent’s Park. The cruise goes through the Maida Hill Tunnel and onto Little Venice and Robert Browning Island. Not many people know that you can cruise through Camden, but there’s a looong list of unusual things to do in London! […]

  8. cool ideas! the magic shop sounds awesome!:)

  9. […] I lived in London the British class system drove me mad (you can find a great guide to London fff the beaten path here).  London is a very intricate but subtle way of putting people in their […]

  10. […] While I stuck to the more well known sights, there’s an abundance of more unusual off the beaten path things to do in London as well. It’s all there if you know where to look, and you can happily get lost on your way […]

  11. London has never been an interesting destination to me, I don’t know exactly why. However, I always love to read about the off the beaten path things to do. Those seem so much more interesting than the usual ones. Although London is not in my top destination list, I would love to visit it someday and definitely going to have this thing in mind. Kayaking on the Themes, the street art tour and the tea on the on top of a classic Londonian double decker bus count me in!

    • Ammar

      9 October

      I hope you will have a good time in London.

  12. stephanie

    20 August

    A temple in London… I had no idea! LOL
    x

  13. There’s a singing lift in the Royal Festival Hall. As you go up the notes get higher, as you come back down they go lower. I went up and down for ages. None of my London friends knew it was there. There’s a video on my instagram if you’d like to see it – @differentville

  14. Sarah

    29 June

    This was probably the best off the beaten path post I’ve seen – i’m not even going to London for a while, so the fact that i’ll need to somehow remember this until next year is hard. I guess that’s what pinterest is for 🙂

  15. B

    4 October

    Hey just wanted to ask- In the interest sign you have a picture of two people walking down the stairs and that place looks beautiful, where is it?

    • Steph

      6 October

      Hello! That’s called Sky Garden! Hope it helps 🙂

  16. GSE Solutions

    12 November

    The more one spends time in London the more one discovers. Very interesting and inspiring post!

  17. Michael

    20 November

    I love this post, there are some great ideas here! I never knew there was a viewpoint from the One New Change shopping mall, will have to look out for that next time.

  18. Marion

    28 February

    Hi, Am planning to visit London during May this year and one day while surfing I saw a place where you could dress up in period costume and explore London as well as finding out what it was like to be dressed in 18 century fashions, ie wigs and long flowing dresses. However I can not find that site again. Help please.

    • Steph

      5 March

      Hi Marion, it sounds very cool but unfortunately I’ve never heard about it so I can’t help 🙁

  19. Erick

    10 August

    I also enjoyed these fabulous things during my last journey and we came back with smiley faces.

    • Steph

      13 August

      So glad to hear that! I never get tired of London – there are just so many things to do!

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