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Brilliant and unexpected things to do in London

28 August 2014 Cat Byers Read time: 11 min
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Cat Byers

With so many awesome things to see in London make sure you bookmark this list to avoid missing out!

1) Visit the Tate Modern – Whether you’re into modern art or not, this is one to tick off the list. Highlights over the years have included Tracey Emin’s “My Bed” and a room filled with balloons!

2) Go Raven in the Tower of London – No we aren’t talking disco biscuits and dance music! Visit the Tower of London and meet the Raven Keeper and his ravens.

3) Explore Trafalgar Square – Sit on a lion and purr with pride while being pictured, or feed the pigeons – it’s a London must!

4) Shop at Camden Market – Get lost while tinkering for trinkets or lunging for leather in one the world’s most famous markets.

5) Visit Buckingham Palace and do the ultimate London cheesy tourist thing and get a picture with one of the Queen’s Guards!


Photo credit: www.tourist-information-uk.com

6) Watch a football match – With an abundance of football teams to choose from, if you haven’t seen a footie game in London then do it! Perhaps at the Emirates, which brings us to our next choice…..

7) Ride on the Emirates Air Line – a ten-minute gondola lift that takes you over The Thames, great when the sun sets and you can take in London’s lit up skyline.

8) Hop on a Boris Bike and see London from a two-wheeled view. Cycle along The Thames and visit many sights, all on The Mayor’s trademark choice of transport.

9) Travel on the Underground – It’s pretty much essential and if you’re ticking off the activities on this list then it’s highly likely you’ll need the Underground at some point.

10) View London from an open-top bus - They’re easy to find (they’ll probably find you) and you’ll see many of the major sights in the City.


Photo credit: www.theguardian.com

11) Play knock down ginger/knock a door run at Number 10! Well, if that’s not possible you can at least visit 10 Downing Street, and hopefully get a glimpse of the Prime Minister if you wait long enough.

12) Take a trip to Madame Tussauds, where you’ll find your favourite celebrities captured in iconic poses. You’ll be waxing lyrical after you see them!

13) Play I-Spy in the London Eye - Head to London’s all-seeing eye to take in jaw-dropping sights of the city from the edge of The Thames.

Forget Jurassic Park or Night at the Museum, you can walk among dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum. A fantastic FREE thing to do!

14) Gross yourself out in the London Dungeons and learn about things like the Black Plague and old methods used to get the truth out of prisoners and spies!

Natural History Museum in London

Photo credit: www.visitmuseumsandexhibitions.blogspot.com

15) Shop till you drop on Oxford Street – You’ll find all the main high-street chains, designer stores and everything in between.

16) Do some star gazing at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The observatory hosts many themed nights but is also great for a regular trip too.

17) Try the other kind of star-spotting. Spot a celebrity in the streets of London! Great places to spot the celebs are Camden, Notting Hill, St John’s Wood and Carnaby Street.

18) Eat in a Michelin Star restaurant. With an array of restaurants on offer, London is your foodie oyster with restaurants from younger chefs like Tom Kitchin and two Michelin Star La Gavroche or Ledbury to choose from.

19) Explore Highgate Cemetery – As well as being a beautiful cemetery and worth that alone, you can also visit the tomb of Karl Marx.


Photo credit: www.blog.scrapperduncan.com

20) Test your sea legs on one of the last tea clippers in the world, The Cutty Sark, in Greenwich. There’s also a great museum so you can learn all about the history of the ship.

21) Head to Regent’s Park and the world’s oldest scientific zoo: London Zoo. They even host late nights with live music and comedy.

22) Go Banksy art spotting. Naughty yet respected graffiti artist Banksy has pieces all over London, one of the best being in South Bank of a little girl letting a red balloon go.

23) Check out Vans’ Underground Skate Park – whether you skate or not, it’s worth a visit. The underground skate park can be found beneath Waterloo Train Station.

24) Potter in Kew’s Royal Botanical Gardens. They’re big, beautiful and full of nature and you can forget you’re even in London! You can spend a whole day there, maybe even more to unleash its full potential.


Photo credit: ww.virtualtourist.com

25) Soak up some culture at the V&A Museum – The V&A stands for Princess Victoria and Prince Albert because they opened the museum. It showcases textiles, ceramics and jewellery amongst other things.

26) Shop on Carnaby Street – All the cool cats head here (at least in the sixties anyway!) for vintage shops on cobbled streets and independent fashion boutiques.

27) Take a selfie with Big Ben in the background. It’s the ultimate selfie really isn’t it! Oh and the Houses of Parliament are there too!

28) Go up at the O2 – Climb to the top of the O2 arena and feel like you're king of the world on top of one of the largest man-made structures of its kind.

29) Watch a gig at the Brixton Academy – does this one even need explaining? This is one of London’s most iconic gig venues and if you’re into music you need to catch your favourite band here!

30) Walk all the main bridges along the River Thames and see the evolution from historical bridge to modern. Make sure you include Tower Bridge and London Bridge.

31) Educate yourself and expand your mind at the London Science Museum. It covers all areas of science and technology.

32) Take a walk on Hampstead Heath. Hampstead Heath is on one of the highest points of London and has some amazing views of the city from a green area. Amazing contrast.

33) Ark at The Arch! Wembley Stadium is the home of England’s football team and another iconic building to view. It’s also really bloomin’ big!

34) Go to Leicester Square. If you love the glitz and glamour of Hollywood then head here on a movie premiere night for a touch of tinsel town in London.


Photo credit: www.destination360.com

35) Watch a Covent Garden street performance – Covent Garden is perfect for a bit of alfresco dining and watching a weird street performance, from levitating men to very very still people!

36) Have a night out at Club Koko – The lavish interior is more reminiscent of a masquerade ball but this is a great spot to have a night out listening to great DJs or watching a band.

37) Visit Alexandra Palace – You can ice skate here or watch amazing firework displays depending on the time of year that you’re in London. It's also a major London music venue with incredible artists playing all year round.

38) For a taste of London’s finer, sophisticated side, book an evening at the Royal Opera House and watch a ballet or an opera.

39) On the subject of booking, head to London’s West End to see a play or catch a stand-up comedian’s latest performance.


Photo credit: www.voaindonesia.com

40) Kookookachu! Pose as The Beatles on that zebra crossing on Abbey Road.

41) Take a cruise down The River Thames. With many choices on offer, you can enjoy a simple day trip down the Thames or an outlandish evening of wining and dining.

42) For the true London experience then you need to get to Portobello Road Market. There are some great antique and vintage stalls as well as everything you’d expect from a London market. Barter, banter and grab yourself a bargain!

43) That’s out of order! Twelve traditional red telephone boxes falling on each other in a domino effect make up David Mach’s ‘Out of Order’ art installation in Kingston.


Photo credit: www.commons.wikimedia.org

44) See a film at BFI London IMAX for the true cinema experience on the South Bank. The original IMAX screen!

45) For a touch of history and elegance, visit the National Portrait Gallery, featuring portraits of some of the most important figures in British History and modern exhibitions.

46) Watch a play at The Globe Theatre, which was originally built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s play company and was rebuilt in a similar architectural style in 1997. Shakespeare’s plays are still showcased there now, along with new works.

47) Catch a black taxi! Test “The Knowledge” of your driver with a ride around all of London’s streets, alleys and one-way systems in an authentic mode of London transport.

48) Buy a novelty reminder of your trip - It wouldn’t be a trip to London without a toy black taxi, a cuddly beefeater bear or a mini model of Big Ben!

49) Grab a bite to eat at Borough Market, one of London's best food markets and one of the best artisan food markets in the world. Make sure you bring an empty stomach though!


Photo credit: www.migrationology.com

50) Escape the hustle and bustle with a walk in the beautiful Richmond Park, where the roaming deer and vast open spaces will make you feel a million miles away from the city.

51) Enjoy the classic English tradition of Afternoon Tea in one of London’s finest hotels such as The Langham or The Ritz.

53) Head down to one of the many City Farms for a countryside experience (and to see the amazing alpacas!)

54) Try some dishes from the future stars of the restaurant world at one of London’s brilliant street food markets, such as KERB or Street Feast.

55) Visit a cool new pop-up shop, restaurant or bar before it disappears forever – check out Time Out for the latest openings.


Photo credit: www.resideinlondon.com

56) If you’ve had enough of the high street shops on Oxford Street, head to Shoreditch for a great selection of cool vintage shops. We particularly love the huge Beyond Retro warehouse!

57) Check out the skyline with a drink at one of London’s many rooftop bars, such as Radio Bar at the ME Hotel, or Boundary Rooftop.

58) Test your nerves and take one of the many evening Ghost Walks around London. Highlights include the sites where Jack the Ripper was known to lurk...

59) Soak up the history of London at Gordon’s Wine Bar on Embankment, the oldest wine bar in the city (and rumoured favourite of Charles Dickens himself)

60) Forget having a curry on Brick Lane, and get yourself to Kingsland Road for a brilliant, budget-friendly BYOB Vietnamese meal from one of the many restaurants.


Photo credit: www.1000things-london.com

61) Celebrate the August Bank Holiday in style at the annual Caribbean-themed Notting Hill Carnival. Jerk chicken and Red Stripe are a must!

62) Make the most of a rare sunny summer day and go swimming in one of the great Lidos around the city, such as Parliament Hill Fields Lido.

63) Embrace winter with a romantic trip around the ice rink at Somerset House, followed by a warming hot chocolate.

64) Take a ride on the DLR – not only does it take you to Stratford in just a few minutes, you can also sit at the front and feel like you’re on the world’s slowest rollercoaster.

65) Fancy a trip to the seaside, but don’t want to leave London? Check out the beach on the roof of the RoundHouse in Camden, complete with deckchairs and fish n’ chips.


Photo credit: www.dailymail.co.uk

66) Learn some tricks from the father of psychoanalysis with a visit to Freud’s House in Belsize Park.

67) Stroll along the canal for a different view of London – we recommend starting at Angel and walking towards Hammersmith, as there are plenty of lovely cafes to stop in for a coffee on the way.

68) Or if you prefer to sit back while you see the sights, try one of the canal cruises that takes you from Little Venice to Camden. You’ll even get to see some of the animals at London Zoo as you pass by Regents Park!

69) For a quiet spot in the City, visit the moving memorial at Postman’s Park, which is dedicated to Londoners who gave their lives helping others.

70) If you’re on a budget and would rather not fork out for an open-top bus, take a ride on one of the regular buses with a great sight-seeing route. Try the 74 to check out the museums of South Kensington, Harrods and Marble Arch, or the RV1 for the London Eye, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.


Photo credit: www.flickr.com

71) There can be no better experience for film lovers than Secret Cinema, a truly immersive experience where viewers are transported into the film they are watching with an imaginative, interactive set. Book quickly though, as these sell out fast!

72) But if you prefer your immersive events to include food, check out Edible Cinema, where iconic films are paired with a secret menu for the full sensory experience.

73) Take a break from the crowds of Oxford Street and play a game of table tennis in Golden Square, Soho, where a number of permanent tables have been set up for public enjoyment. It’s free too!

74) Try eating a ‘blind meal’ at Dans Le Noir, where everything is served in total darkness. Just make sure you don’t wear white...

75) Fans of the world’s most famous boy wizard will enjoy the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford, where you can see original sets from the popular films, and even wander around Hogsmeade.


Photo credit: www.urban75.org

76) Experience a taste of wartime life for Winston Churchill and other British politicians at the Churchill War Rooms.

77) For those with strong stomachs, the Operating Theatre Museum is without a doubt one of the quirkiest museums in London, featuring loads of original equipment from the Victorian period.

78) Enhance your cooking skills at Leiths Cookery School in West London, which offers a whole range of courses from one day to a whole year. Some of the UK's best chefs have trained here, so you’ll be in good hands.

79) Window shop at one of London’s famous department stores – the food hall at Harrods is always worth a visit (even if you can’t afford the caviar!) and Liberty is a beautiful building in its own right, while also stocking plenty of lovely items.

80) Say hello to our fishy friends at the Sea Life Aquarium, which boasts one of the biggest sea life collections in Europe!


Photo credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

81) Take a trip down memory lane with the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, where iconic toys and childhood items throughout history are on display.

82) No, that’s not a UFO in Kensington Gardens – it’s the Serpentine Pavillion, part of the world-renowned Serpentine art gallery. Entry is free, and they have an impressive selection of temporary exhibitions.

83) Pick up a lovely bunch of fresh flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market, which is famous for its great selection and bargain prices.

84) Head to Broadcasting House on Portland Place to watch a show get recorded at the BBC! It’s completely free, but make sure you book in advance.

85) Pop down to Trinity Church Square in Southwark to see London’s oldest statue – Alfred the Great, who was King of England during the 9th century.


Photo credit: www.bbc.co.uk

86) Fancy catching your favourite band for free? Rough Trade East and West do gigs throughout the week, on a first-come-first-served basis, so get in early!

87) Explore Camden Passage in the backstreets of Angel on a Wednesday or Saturday for a selection of beautiful antiques and some great vintage finds.

88)Weekend brunch. The Breakfast Club is always a good option, or if you prefer unlimited Asian food and prosecco, give Flesh & Buns a try.


89) Fans of classical music will be happy to hear that St-Martin-in-the-Fields holds free lunchtime concerts during the week, in a beautiful setting too.

90) For curious legal eagles, there are plenty of chances to watch a trial at the Old Bailey. Just make sure to leave your bag and phone at home – they aren’t allowed in the court, and there aren’t any cloakrooms.

Photo credit: blog.benetton.com

91) If you don’t fancy the queues in the West End, head to the Royal School of Speech and Drama for one of their termly productions. With alumni like Judi Dench and Laurence Olivier, you’re bound to see a future star.

92) Play it safe by watching a music concert inside the 02, if you don’t like the idea of climbing up it. All the biggest names play here, from Bob Dylan to Beyonce!

93) Instead of paying to go up The Shard, stop at Aqua Shard bar for a drink instead. Treat yourself to a cocktail and enjoy the beautiful view.


Photo credit: www.cshardticketsonline.co.uk

94) A must for art lovers, the Royal Academy boasts a great collection and plenty of interesting exhibitions. Their secluded members bar is also open to the public after 4pm, if you can find it...

95) Explore an extensive collection of medical plants at the Chelsea Physic Garden, then try their Tangerine Dream restaurant for a relaxing meal.

96) For dinner with a difference, check out the recently opened WC Restaurant (which now stands for Wine and Charcuterie), which was a public toilet in a previous life!

97) Embrace your inner child and play in the fountains at Granary Square on a sunny day. If you’re lucky, KERB food market will be there to supply you will a post-frolic burger.

98) Take a peek at London’s last sewer-powered gas lamp on Carting Lane – but hold your nose, just in case!

99) Despite having a fantastic view, most visitors ignore the Monument (erected in 1671 to commemorate the Great Fire of London) because of the 311 steps it takes to reach the climb. It’s certainly worth it though, for the panoramic scenes over the City from the top.

100) Man’s best friend deserves a good resting place too – at least that was the inspiration behind the Pet Cemetery in Hyde Park, where emotional epithets to the canine companions of wealthy Victorian Londoners can be found.


Photo credit: www.kingscross.co.uk

101) One of the city’s more unknown museums, the Hunterian Museum houses an eclectic collection of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens. Make sure you take a look at the famous stuffed walrus and Winston Churchill’s dentures!

102) Like the Hunterian, most visitors miss out the Courtauld Gallery in favour of more famous galleries such as the Tate and the National. Located in Somerset House, the Courtauld makes up for its small size by providing a great selection of impressionist and post-impressionist images.

103) Last but certainly not least, The School of Life is a brilliant bookshop, school, counselling service and all-round educational establishment in Central London. They run courses on everything from abstract philosophy to yoga, perfect for the busy Londoner who needs a bit of peace.


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