Think that London just consists of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace? Think again! The city is absolutely full of hidden gems and offbeat London destinations you won’t want to miss on any trip to the Big Smoke. You just need to know where to look.
After all, once you’ve wandered along the Thames and snapped a few photos of the Houses of Parliament, you’ll want to see where the locals really hang out. Here are five offbeat London destinations you won’t want to miss on a visit to the city
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Wander around the Mews of London
Okay, this first one isn’t really a single destination per se but more of a collection of places to see and visit. Feel like you’re in a real-life vintage movie and wander through the mews of London. Located for the most part in areas of London such as South Kensington, Mayfair and Notting Hill the ‘mews’ of London are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily London life.
These small streets were originally home to stables when the city of London ran on horse and cart. Today, these stables have been converted to some of the chicest properties the city has to offer. Some of my favorite mews to wander along include Dunworth Mews and Redcliffe Mews.
Visit the Monument to the Great Fire of London
One of the best ways to see a city is from above, and London is no exception. While a visit to the Sky Garden usually needs to be booked a couple of weeks in advance, a visit to the nearby Great Fire of London Monument usually consists of little more than a half hour queue.
Sure, it’s not quite as high as the Walkie Talkie building, but at 61 meters high, the monument is hardly short! Entry is priced at under a fiver (£5) and from the top, you can see the city of London’s skyline in all its glory. From the Shard to St Paul’s to Tower Bridge, the view across the Thames is truly phenomenal; particularly on a sunny day!
Go Vintage Shopping at Portobello Road Market
From offbeat finds to quirky designers, there’s a whole treasure trove (or should that be shopping basket?) worth of vintage stuff waiting to be worn, discovered and loved at Portobello Road Market.
Situated near Notting Hill every weekend hundreds of stalls pop up along Portobello Road. There’s everything from yummy food stands to antique dealers to pretty jewelry. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, it’s still worth a look around.
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Purchase a new read at an independent bookstore
London is not only a great place to go vintage shopping, but it’s full of independent bookstores (both vintage and modern) dotted around the city. On a rainy day, there is nothing I enjoy more than wandering into one of these stores and spending hours perusing the shelves, looking for a new read.
Bookstores I highly recommend wandering around include Hurlingham Books (91 Fulham High St, Fulham, London SW6 3JS), and Skoob Books (66 Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N).
Grab a drink with friends in Camden!
In the past few years alone, cocktail culture in the Big Smoke has just grown and grown. And the place to be? Camden. Vintage stores line the canal, as well as quirky eateries and a whole host of bars and pubs to suit almost any budget.
My favourite bar in the area is probably Fifty-Five Bar (31 Jamestown Rd, Camden Town, London NW1 7DB). They serve a huge variety of delicious cocktails. Ranging from your typical Mojito to more unusual dessert concoctions, you’re sure to find something you like!
Check out a smaller museum: there are over 200 to choose from!
Sure, everyone’s heard of the British Museum and the Natural History Museum, but did you know that there are over 200 museums? Many of these are smaller, house style museums, focusing on a particular interest or topic.
From the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum where Fleming first discovered the lifesaving antibiotic that is penicillin, to the cartoon museum, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Even if you’re ‘not a museum person’, I’m sure you’ll find something you enjoy!
The museum pictured below is the Sir John Soane’s Museum (13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP). A former architect who designed notable sites of interest around the city including the Bank of England, Sir John Soane left his house to the nation when he died.
Today, the museum is free to visit and you aren’t allowed to take pictures inside, or even keep your phone switched on! It’s the perfect place to escape busy city life, if only for a few hours…
Pop into Neal’s Yard
Located in the very heart of London’s zone one, you’ll find a small alleyway by the name of ‘Neal’s Yard’. In fact, this is not one lane, but three tiny alleyways converging in a completely adorable little enclave. And when I say ‘little’, I really mean tiny.
Make sure to arrive early in the morning, or on a weekday because even a few people here make the place seem crowded. Colorful shopfronts and independent eateries make up this small space. It’s a lovely place to enjoy a bite to eat and forget you’re in London altogether.
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Thanks for showing us those unique places! Very interesting spots I will definitely attend on my next journey to London!
All great things to do. One additional suggestion: explore Hampstead Heath. This huge green space in north London has some of the best views of the city, and is perfect for a walk. Here you’ll find woodland, hills, ponds, playgrounds, tennis courts, an open air lido, an athletics track, even a small zoo!
There are several excellent pubs nearby too, in case you get thirsty afterwards :) The Spaniards Inn, the Garden Gate, and the Gatehouse are three of my favourites. Enjoy!