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15 off the beaten path bucket list items in London

We all know the compulsory London attractions: a picture in front of a red phone box, a selfie with the Westminster Abbey. However if you are like me and moved to the city temporarily and you are tired of all the touristy areas or you just simply have a long vacation in the city, you might want to head to some hidden gems.

-Sky Garden

At 20 Fenchurch Street you can enjoy stunning 360 degree views across London with an amazing huge glass wall. The best thing it’s for all free. Make sure you book your appointment ahead, as they tend to fill up quickly. There’s also a beautiful landscaped garden, a café, bar and restaurant.

View from Skygarden

Photo: Vincent Sautter

View from Skygarden

 

-Angel comedy club

This place just simply amazing. They offer comedy nights every day of the week, for free. The quality was always great, so funny stand up comedians. At the end of the show you can put some money in the hat, which is suggested as these guys deserve it. They start at 8 pm, but I advise to arrive at least an hour early in order to get in. As you can imagine they are very popular. Besides you can enjoy some drinks while you wait in the queue.

-Kyoto Garden

London has many beautiful parks, but Kyoto Garden is quite unique.It’s located in Holland Park. Strolling around the garden, you will feel like in Japan. The peacocks and huge gold fishes in the pond are the biggest attractions.

Kyoto Garden Kyoto Garden

-Climb the O2

If you are feeling adventurous you can climb the O2. It looks like a lot of fun and it’s something I’ll definitely want to do while I’m in the city.

-Greenwich Foot Tunnel

Did you know there’s a foot tunnel under the Thames? Ok, it’s not exactly pretty, to be honest! It’s cold, dark and ugly, but at the same time it’s quite interesting and exciting to walk under London’s main river after a day out at Greenwich.

-Have a swim in the Olympic Pool

Cool architecture, good quality water, nice pool with 50 m lanes. Not many of us can say they swam exactly where Olympic winners have before. The price is really reasonable as well. After your exercise you can stroll in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park or go shopping to Westfield.

London Aquatics Centre

-Go to Hogwarts from the Harry Potter 9 3/4 platform

Harry Potter fans, if you can’t afford to pay the 33 quid for the Studio Tour, you can snap a cool picture that is guaranteed to make all your HP fan friends jealous. Head to King’s Cross Station, wait in the queue for your big moment. Once you are up an assistant will hand you a scarf that he throws one end in the air to be captured by the photographer. You can buy this photo or you can take your own for free.

+Tip: try the giant swing outside the station. It’s fun!

Harry Potter platform

-Have a swim in Serpentine or Hampstead Heath

I known you probably think I’m crazy! How often does London have outdoor swimming weather after all? Well I mean for us non British.. as it seems it’s never too cold for the locals to wear shorts or have a dip in the ice cold water. Anyway in those 3 summer days that London has head to Hampstead Heath or to Hyde Park to have a nice swim.

-Jump on a Double Decker

Don’t make any plan, just randomly sit on a double decker go upstairs and sit at the front. You will see London from a different perspective!

-Snap that iconic Beatles Photograph on Abbey Road

Go to Abbey Studios. It’s a great place to visit for an hour or so. You can see the outside of the studio. The wall is full of graffiti and writing! You just can’t help but join the people before you and put your name on that wall. Cross that now famous road. You will have to wait, especially if you want to take a picture as well, but you can cherish that shot forever. :)

Abbey Road

-Visit a West End show

I’m dying to go to the West End and see a show. I’ll update you once it happens. One is for sure, there are many shows you can choose from and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. Go to the TKTS office on Leicester Square to get cheap tickets for the day!

-Picnic at Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill is one of my favourite spots in London. It’s not exactly a hidden gem, but it’s so pretty that I can’t not include it in the list. The park is nice and you can have a lovely picnic up the hill overlooking the city. Camden Town is also just a short walk away, where you can find some crazy shops and any kind of street food you can imagine. (Check out the Hungarian restaurant if you are there!)

Primrose Hill

-Emirates Air Line Cable Car

You get to see the Royal Docks in a new light with a view from the top of the cable car over the Thames. It’s especially fun with kids or people who have a fear of height. :P

Emirates Air Line Cable Car

-Visit Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium

I’m a huge cat fan. It was heart breaking to leave all my 1000 cats at home in Hungary. (Ok it’s a toy cat collection, but I hope you understand my pain..) I haven’t been to this place yet, but as soon as I do I’ll tell you about it! They require booking weeks/months ahead, so it might take a while till I get there.

-Go deer watching to Richmond Park

You can’t miss them there are so many! Make sure you bring your camera to take a picture of these lovely animals! Richmond park is the perfect place for cycling, jogging, dog walking, flying a kite or just strolling around.

Richmond Park

 

I’d love to hear your favourite secret spots in the city. Leave them in the comment below! :)

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15 comments

  1. Great list! London is my favourite city, and I’m happy to say I still have more of these to go! :)

  2. Crystal Palace Dinosaurs :)

  3. Can’t wait to visit London! Will definitely check out HP platform and Abbey Road

  4. There are some great suggestions on here! I love Greenwich Foot Tunnel – it was kind of eery but awesome :)

  5. So many great things to do in London and it is amazing what can be done for free, Didn’t know about the SKy Garden though.

  6. Great post! One of my favourite secret things in London (that I wish was less secret!) is a tour with Unseen Tours. They are tours around London led by the formerly homeless. It is a great way to see the city from a completely different perspective. If you want to know more, send me a message or check out my review on my site ;)

    Thanks again for the tips!

  7. This post just makes me want to go back to London! I missed Platform 9 3/4 the first time I went, but I still really, really want to see it.

  8. When I first went to London, I didn’t really like it too much, so I’ve been avoiding going back afraid that I may be disappointed again. After reading this list, I definitely want to make a trip back and do some “off the beaten path” exploring (: Thanks for sharing!

  9. I had no idea the Sky Garden existed! I always try to get some kind of view from a height when I visit new cities, and I was a little scared my London view was going to have to be done atop the London Eye!

  10. I love London! Being British I think I’ve always taken it for granted but there is definitely a lot to do here.
    I recommend checking out one of the afternoon tea places too :)

  11. Wish I had seen this post BEFORE I went to London this last May! I love the city and can’t wait to return – and you have a great list of activities

  12. As a Londoner, I haven’t actually done half these things myself! I always take it for granted, as the other Melissa said. What I have done is watch several mad people strip off their clothes and go swimming at the Serpentine lake while sipping a warm coffee and shaking my head. Absolute bloody nutters. To add to this list, I recommend checking out food markets like Broadway :) lovely local produce and good vibes!

  13. Thanks for the info. I’ve been to most of the most popular tourist attractions, but definitely want to go back to explore and see more of the city

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