The most original activities in London: a compact travel guide
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Congratulations! You have landed on the most complete list of original activities in London, shared by expert travelers and London lovers.
If you are planning a trip to the vibrant and cosmopolitan city and you are overwhelmed with the amount of things to do in London this guide is for you.
I was in the same shoes and I decided to call out to other fellow travelers and bloggers who have been there already and asked them to share one of their favorite things to do in London. It eventually helped me lay out my own London Itinerary, which turned out to be some amazing, although tiring, 9 days in the vibrant city of London.
If you are planning your first trip in London, you MUST read my London Travel tips post, which mainly focuses on how to get around London. Trust me it can be tricky.
But, now without further ado, here is the list of the most original things to do in London. I hope it will be useful for you as it has been for me.
***Please note all the pictures you find belong to the related post authors unless otherwise stated
BEST LESS KNOWN LONDON MARKETS
Visit the Old Spitalfields Market
Charlotte @ Themillenialrunaway.com
London’s East End is a goldmine for trendy eateries, independent retailers and old-fashioned pubs. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon as Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Spitalfields are within easy reach of one another.
A hot spot for gourmet variety and quality wares, East London’s Old Spitalfields Market is a true celebration of London’s multi-culturalism. This Victorian market hall houses 44 Retailers and Restaurants, 88 Market Stalls and 25 Street Food Traders under one 19th-century Victorian Market Roof.
Open seven-days-a-week, The Kitchens at Old Spitalfields Market are the real stars of the show. The covered market houses ten handpicked chefs and restaurants offering a mix of London’s finest street food, classic and contemporary dishes. Bag yourself a table and sniff out some dishes that take your fancy – but don’t leave without trying The Dumpling Shack’s Soup Dumplings or Wheel Cake Island’s fluffy Taiwanese pancakes.
Accessible via the Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City or Metropolitan Line, Liverpool Street is a short six minutes’ walk from the market.
Less than ten minutes’ walk from the market is Box Park –a shipping container mall featuring independent fashion, lifestyle and food stores.
Visiting on a Sunday? Less than six minutes’ walk is the Brick Lane Sunday Market.
Borough Market in London
By Jessica @ One Girl, Whole World
No matter how short your visit to London is, a stop at Borough Market absolutely has to be on your itinerary. In a city full of great markets, Borough stands out as not only the most famous food market in the UK, but one of the most famous in the world. The market has been around for over a thousand years, and the most recent revival has brought great artisan food producers of all sorts to the same place—it’s a foodie’s dream!
From all manner of regional meats and cheeses, to delicious ethnic street food carts, to freshly baked pastries, and even rare ingredients that are typically hard to find, you’ll discover anything you desire. Spend an hour bopping between different types of stalls, or most of a day wandering from section to section, and you can even take a 3+-hour food and history tour if you’re feeling particularly dedicated.
Always check the current opening times on their website, but the market is typically open 10a to 6p Monday through Saturday, and is closed on Sundays; Mondays and Tuesdays have a smaller array of stalls. It’s fairly centrally-located and easy to get to either by taxi, walking (what we did, from Blackfriars), or by Tube (closest stops are London Bridge, Borough, and Southwark). It’s also close to the Globe Theatre (of Shakespeare fame) and the famous Tower Bridge, so lots to do nearby!
by Coni @ Experiencing the Globe
Do you want to see where the locals meet, away from the crowds? What if I told you there’s a working Victorian street market that nowadays is sort of an off the beaten path hipster farmer’s market? I know, I’d add it to my itinerary immediately too! I discovered it while living in London, and I loved it. It’s a great place to witness London’s multiculturalism, since you’ll experience the city without tourist, and it’s also the perfect place for foodies.
Established in the 1890s, Broadway market has seen some changes through the years. It had a bright past, followed by some somber years, but now it came back to its former glory.
Every Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM you’ll get to witness how the street named after the market comes even more alive, with stalls selling organic, locally produced items –like cheeses, fruits and veggies–, fresh flowers, vintage clothes, and one of a kind memorabilia and souvenirs.
This small but lively market is close to Regent’s Canal and Victoria park, which makes it the ideal location if you want to have a stroll before or after your shopping. You’ll also find chic cafés and boutique restaurants around, so you can transform your visit into a day trip.
It’s located on Broadway Market street, E8 4PH. Get there walking 15 minutes from Bethnal Green tube station, on the Central Line, or only 5 minutes from the London Fields overground station.
Leather Lane food Market
Seanna @ Seanna’s world
Leather Lane food market isn’t on many tourists’ bucket lists when they come to London. Tucked away on the outskirts of the business district, and a little distance from any of the main attraction, it would be easy to miss it.
You’re more likely to find lawyers on their lunch breaks than other hungry travelers, but it’s home to some of the best street food in London. A long, narrow, traffic-free road, with food stalls on each side, as well as little cafes and holes in the wall lining the street.
There is cuisine ranging from Brazilian to Indian, Mexican to Middle Eastern. You can find your perfect falafel wrap in Leather Lane market, with a variety of establishments. My favorite is Chick, with the crispiest outside to each falafel ball, and a soft aromatic inside. I went to Israel, and it took me a long time to find falafel this good which is a testament to the quality.
Other highlights include Big Bao, with it’s enormous bao buns and big bowls full of tofu, mushroom and all the Taiwanese accoutrements, Tony’s where you can get a huge box of buffet salad for £3.50, or Oasis café with its traditional Turkish Gözleme.
The market is a foodie’s paradise, and relatively budget-friendly. For around a £6 lunch you’ll be well and truly stuffed. The nearest tube stations are Chancery Lane and Farringdon. When planning your visit, be aware that as the market caters to the city crowd, it is only open from Monday – Friday between 10 am-2 pm.
LONDON BEST LESS KNOWN PARKS
By Claire @ Claire’s Footsteps
Greenwich Park is a favourite spot with Londoners. Most tourists visit Greenwich to see the GMT line or visit the Cutty Sark, but there’s actually a great – and free – place to visit in Greenwich Park itself to enjoy both the observatory and an amazing view of London.
It’s by the statue of General James Wolfe, who was an eighteenth century British military hero. If you’re interested in the military, you might want to check the statue out – but if not, it’s still worth venturing to this area of Greenwich Park.
This is because the statue looks out on an impressive skyline of London’s city centre, and just to the left, there’s a gate that, when unlocked, you can enter and stand on the GMT line. The GMT line divides the eastern and western hemisphere, so it’s a pretty significant place to visit on your London itinerary!
Greenwich Park itself is perfect for a picnic; you can enjoy the view, see the GMT line and then head down the hill to have a picnic lunch, while still enjoying a view of London’s most famous high-rises.
A visit toPrimrose Hill
By Katy @ Untold Morsels
London is known for quirky and colorful neighborhoods and if this is your jam, you must take a trip north of the centre to pretty Primrose Hill.
Here you will find some of the best views of London and rows of houses painted in every hue.
It’s an artistic neighbourhood popular with celebrity musicians and actors who can be regularly spotted in the local pubs and cafes.
You can see the entire city laid out before you from the peak of Primrose Hill and the park of the same name. This is one of six protected viewpoints in London, and when it is clear it is easy to spot landmarks the London Eye, The Shard, and BT Tower in the distance.
When you have finished admiring the views, wander down the hill until you reach the Regent’s Canal. From there it is a short stroll along the canal to the bustling markets and bars of Camden Town.
To get to Primrose Hill, take the Northern line from Kings Cross to Chalk Farm and it’s a 5-minute walk to cafe-lined Regent’s Park Road and a further 5 minutes on foot to the park for those sweeping views.
By Sophie @ Travel of Sophie
Sky Garden is home to the highest public garden in London.
Located in the heart of the city atop 20 Fenchurch Street (nicknamed the Walkie Talkie building), Sky Garden offers stunning 360° panoramic views of London amidst a lush urban jungle. The landscaped gardens are set over three levels, each with a different theme.
You will find a prehistoric forest comprised of tree ferns and fig trees, as well as flowering plants from South Africa and the Mediterranean.
In addition to the gardens, Sky Garden features observation decks, two restaurants, a bar and an open-air terrace.
It is worth noting, that unless you are visiting the restaurants, Sky Garden is naturally ventilated, and will likely be a similar temperature to outside – so dress appropriately!
The absolute best thing about Sky Garden is that it is FREE! You do, however, have to book tickets to visit, which you can do on the Sky Garden website. Tickets are released on a Monday for the following 3 weeks and are often fully booked 1-2 weeks in advance. If you’re unable to get a ticket online, they do offer some walk-in options, which are detailed on their website.
The nearest tube station is Monument and the entrance to Sky Garden is located on Philpot Lane, on the southwest corner of 20 Fenchurch Street.
Richmond Park in London
Mansoureh @ Travel with Mansoureh
There are numerous beautiful parks in London, but most tourists only go to the ones in the centre of the city like Hyde Park, Green Park, Regent’s Park. My favourite park in London is Richmond Park, located in the south-west of London, where is popular amongst the locals.
This park is the largest of London’s Royal Park and the second-largest park in the city of London.
This huge park is home to more than 600 wild Red and Fallow deer and more than 140 bird species including native woodpeckers, owls and a range of waterfowl.
Isn’t it pretty cool to be able to watch wildlife in a big financial city like London? Deer are roaming around all year but you might not be able to see them straight after you enter the park, especially if you go during the sunny and warm weekends when there are many people around.
I would recommend you go before the sunset and cycle around. In this way, you can move faster and you might be able to find a group of deer easier.
You can get to Richmond Park on the District line to Richmond Tube Station then walk to the park or take a bus.
Spitalfields City Farm
by Carol @ Wayfaring Views
Did you know that you can find donkeys, sheep and pigs right in the middle of London? It sounds unlikely, but it’s truly possible if you visit the Spitalfields City Farm. This demonstration farm is located in the heart of the East End and it’s one of the more offbeat things to do in Shoreditch.
The Farm was founded in 1978 as a way to give back garden allotments to people who had lost their green space to development. It has evolved into a demonstration farm with heritage breed animals, a flower and veg garden and play space for kids. Don’t miss the mini-donkeys, which are a petite breed with a smaller-than-normal body and a comically large head.
The Farm’s ethic is centered around promoting healthy and sustainable living and educating the community on biodiversity and healthy natural ecosystems.
London is busy and the Spitalfields City Farm offers a quiet respite from the city noise. Visiting there is a soothing time out from the concrete and it will give you a quirky re-charge.
The farm is open Tuesday through Sunday between 10am-4pm. The closest tube stops are Shoreditch High Street or Bethnal Green, both of which are a short 8 minute walk from the farm.
by Laura @ Travelers Universe
If you like flowers and huge open spaces, you’ll love Kew Gardens! This is one of the best botanical gardens I’ve ever visited and it almost feels like a day trip out of London.
To be honest, nothing ever prepared me for the wonderful day I spent there!
You’ll find a gazillion Insta-worthy spots, from the out of this world giant waterlily pond and spectacular greenhouses to the bright red brick royal palace (the smallest in the country!) and the mindblowing treetop walkway.
This garden is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hosts over 5,000 different plant species! So if this doesn’t convince you to visit, nothing else will.
Even the coffee shop is one step ahead, serving delicious cakes and wonderful English teas.
Of course, they have over one century and a half of experience and this inevitably puts it at the top of the list when looking for what to do in London.
The garden can be reached either by train (get off at Kew Bridge Rail Station, 800m from Elizabeth Gate) or by tube (get off at Kew Gardens station, 500m from Victoria Gate).
I recommend starting your day early and really taking your time to enjoy it — it’s huge! I spent the whole day walking around and would have loved to stay even longer.
LONDON UNIQUE PUBS AND RESTAURANTS
Original dining experience @ Dans le Noir
Oli Diprose @ Not Brits Abroad
Dans le Noir opened back in 2006 and gives guests one of London’s most unique dining experiences. Its name literally means ‘in the dark’ which is exactly what you get in this restaurant. The dining room is kept in pitch black and all the waiting staff are visually impaired.
The concept has been making its way around the world and is designed to make people aware of how much they rely on their sight. When you visit the restaurant, you’ll be asked to choose either meat, fish or vegetarian and how many courses you’d like. Your server will then guide you into the dining room and help you find your seat.
Chances are, you’ll be sitting on a table with other diners and not just the people you came with. Every course brought out to you will be a mystery and a chance for you to work out what you’re eating. After the meal, you’ll be shown the menu you’ve had where you can see just how wrong you probably were with your guesses!
Visiting Dans le Noir is easily one of the best evenings I’ve spent in London. The food is excellent and the atmosphere is very unique. Another great aspect of the experience is that all phones must be left outside so everyone in the dining room talks to one another instead of being distracted.
The restaurant can be found in Clerkenwell Green which is about five minutes walk from Farringdon tube station. Dans le Noir is open for dinner every evening and for lunch at weekends. Prices range from £50 to £100 and booking is essential. There is also no specific dress code which makes sense since nobody can see you anyway.
Tibits vegan and Vegetarian Restaurant
By Leo @ safarinomad.com
The vegan and vegetarian restaurant Tibits is a perfect place to enjoy yummy food in a lovely and rather tranquil spot. Tibits is located in the center of London, near Piccadilly Circus. It’s a quiet street, in an alley right off Regent Street.
Amazing restaurant concept – the food is offered buffet-style by weight and you can choose from fresh, cold, hot and seasonal dishes. Really great variety over 40 dishes every day. You’ll find hummus, various salads, bread, raw and baked desserts too. Everything is labbeled for allergens, vegan and vegetarian.
There are also freshly pressed juices, other drinks such as tea, coffee and chocolate drinks but also alcoholic drinks. Every Tuesday the food boat is completely vegan, while on every other day the food boat is at least 80% vegan. The dishes have Asian, Mediterranean and Indian influences with the idea of simple and healthy food.
Serve yourself from the “Food Boat” an then pay by weight. You can enjoy eating in or take away option which is also popular.
The restaurant is roomy, including ground and lower ground floor dining and a lovely outdoor area. The environment is chill and calm with funky background music.
Bermondsey Beer Mile
By Andrea @ One Savy Wanderer
Craft beer fans visiting London should make it a priority to visit the Bermondsey Beer Mile. Believe it or not, this approximately one-mile-long stretch is home to over 10 craft breweries who welcome visitors to their taprooms to experience their beer. Located near the Tower Bridge, the Bermondsey Beer Mile locations can also be accessed by taking the London Underground “Tube” to the Bermondsey stop. All of the breweries along the London Beer Mile are within walking distance of each other, making the area a great destination for an afternoon of craft beer tasting. All of the breweries are open on Saturdays, with most being open other days of the week as well. If visiting on a Saturday, plan for each brewery to be packed with locals as the Bermondsey Beer Mile is a popular destination for Londoners. Since many of the breweries are small, they do not have onsite restaurants (with the exception of Fourpure Brewing Company) but several of them have food trucks that pop up on weekends. Speaking of Fourpure, be sure to stop by their taproom as it was recently renovated and the new space is one of the coolest on the entire beer mile. Plus their beer is pretty tasty as well! Other breweries that should be on your list are Southwark, Moor Beer Company, and Brew by Numbers.
Science afternoon tea
By Kris @ Nomad by Trade
As a tea lover, I had afternoon tea high on my list of things to do when I visited London.
Because I’m a total nerd, I knew that any old traditional tea wasn’t going to cut it for me.
I did some research into quirkier options and found the science afternoon tea at the Ampersand Hotel to try with my mom.
It was perfect! We started out with beakers and pipettes making our own flavored fizzy lemonade, stirring away like mad scientists to make a sweet starter beverage.
That was followed up with a tray of bite sized sandwiches, tasty scones with tubes of flavorful spread, and incredibly photogenic desserts.
The sweets were space themed and were served with a dry ice explosion of “smoke” for an added flourish.
We even got a box of cookie crumb “dirt” with dinosaur bone cookies buried in it to excavate with a brush like paleontologists.
And yes, we did manage to fit in some tea along the way.
This unusually themed afternoon tea is offered seven days a week at the Ampersand Hotel’s beautifully decorated Drawing Rooms restaurant, just a few blocks from Hyde Park and other Kensington area attractions.
It’s definitely not your typical afternoon tea!
Art deco London tour
By Leonida @ Wandermust family
If you are looking for something different to add to your London itinerary, look no further than doing an organised Art Deco walking tour of the city. While London might not be as famous as say New York or Miami for its’ art deco architecture there is actually plenty in the city if you know where to look for it and it is equally as impressive. For those not familiar with the art deco movement it was an art, architecture and design style post the First World and was at its golden age in the 1920s and 1930s. In this organized walking tour you will see some of London’s grandest art deco hotels including the Sheraton on Park Lane, the Beaumont and my favourite hotel in this style – Claridges. The tour starts at the Sheraton and meanders through beautiful Knightsbridge and Mayfair and ends at one of my favorite secret gardens in London – Brown Hart Gardens – a true London hidden gem just off the bustling Oxford Street.
As well as seeing some of London’s architecture gems you will also get to find out more about some of London’s best art deco characters including the infamous Mitford Sisters whose destinies led them all down very different paths.
One of the best ways to finish off this tour of London is to have an afternoon tea at one of the famous art deco hotels. If you would like to do this after your tour we reocmmend trying the Dorchester or Claridges.
So if you want to see something different in London be sure to head on an Art Deco tour of the city!
To book this tour you can head to London Unravelled to make your reservation.
London South Bank walk
Katerina and Maria from It’s all trip to me
One our favourite things to do every time we visit London, is to spend countless hours walking around the city’s colourful and vibrant streets. We almost always enjoy a stroll along the South Bank of the River Thames, which is one of the most amazing walking routes in the city. What we love the most about this particular walk is that it offers the unique opportunity to enjoy an authentic stroll among locals while checking out some of the city’s most famous tourist attractions at the same time.
It takes about 2,5h to walk from the iconic Tower Bridge to yet another of London’s most striking landmarks, the London Eye. Many of the city’s must-sees are scattered along this superb riverside promenade. The impressive building of the City Hall, HMS Belfast, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Tate Modern are only a few of them.
Needless to say that the best time to enjoy this stroll is at sunset when colours are absolutely gorgeous and reflections on London’s skyscrapers are pure magic.
A stop for either a cocktail at the fancy rooftop bar of Oxo Tower or a pint in the company of locals at one of the stalls near Waterloo Bridge is mandatory before heading to the imposing London Eye and the end of this spectacular route.
Afternoon tea bus tour in London
By Greta @ Greta’s Travels
If you’re looking for interesting and original activity in London, you have to add an afternoon tea bus tour to your London bucket list.
I know what you’re thinking, that bus tours are very touristy and while afternoon is a British classic, it has also become very a popular tourist activity recently.
However combining the two is an activity that is still off the main tourist radar, and it will allow you to enjoy a unique experience, seeing London from a different perspective while enjoying lovely food and drinks.
The tour starts at Victoria Station and drives past all the main attractions of London, including Harrods, the museums of South Kensington, the Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park, Marble Arch, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben.
The bus tour lasts around 2 hours, depending on how much traffic there is, and in London, that can be quite a lot! Even if you do get stuck in traffic, you’ll be sat enjoying sandwiches, cakes and scones so no need to worry.
The food you’ll be served is typical of British afternoon tea, for example cucumber sandwiches, watercress sandwiches and scones and lemon meringue tarts, but also some more original treats such as smoked salmon blinis, tiny chestnut mushroom quiches, and mini chocolate cupcakes.
An afternoon tea bus tour is an original way to give a unique spin to two fairly common activities and to see London from a different angle.
The Paddle Steamer Waverley
By Annabel Kirk @ Smudged Postcard
Additional note: The Paddle Steamer Waverley has not been in service this year due to a lack of funds but it is hoped that it will be in operation next year. For more information and updates you can check out their official website.
One of the best ways to explore London is from the River Thames. One of the more interesting boats to ply the river is the Paddle Steamer Waverley. The Waverley is the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world. Aside from the Thames, you’ll find her sailing all over the U.K. including Southampton, Liverpool, and the west coast of Scotland. She is owned by a charity and has been sailing since 1947. In London, passengers can enjoy some of the most iconic sights of the city from the Waverley including the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, Canary Wharf, and Tower Bridge (which lifts to let the paddle steamer through). Take the Waverley from Tower Bridge, through the Thames Barrier flood defense system, all the way to Gravesend in Kent and you’ll gain a greater understanding of London’s past. This two-hour trip takes you past the shiny skyscrapers of east London which give way to docks and warehouses. Many of the warehouses are now luxury flats, others are derelict and awaiting demolition; but plenty of the docks further downstream are very much in use with rows of gigantic cranes and masses of containers awaiting transportation. It’s a side of the city many visitors do not get to see. From Gravesend, there are regular rail services back to central London.
Kayaking in London
Eniko @ Travel Hacker Girl
Kayaking in London is one of the most unique ways to explore the city.
Did you know there are many canals and rivers in the city, which are perfect for paddle sports?
Kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding are all fun ways to discover London’s popular attractions.
The Thames goes past the most famous London landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, Gherkin, Skygarded, HMS Belfast and the Tower of London. You can even paddle under the Tower Bridge.
If you want to experience a more quiet side of London paddling on the Regent’s Canal is a good idea. You can launch at the Primrose Hill Bridge, by the Regent’s canal. This part of London is very charming.
You will come across a lot of greenery and wildlife. If you go in the spring you will see several adorable ducklings and cygnets. Paddling past the Feng Shang Princess Floating Restaurant is also quite a cool experience.
The canal is a safe environment for beginners as well, as there are only a few canal boats out and about.
There are several companies in London who provide tours with professional guides and modern equipment on different parts of the city. So next time you are in the capital, think outside the box and go sightseeing by kayak!
Up at The O2
Anisa Alhilali @ Twotravelingtexas.com
Not many people can say they climbed over The O2 Arena in London, but those that have will never forget it.
The Up at The O2 Experience allows visitors to climb on a path suspended 2 meters above The O2. On the viewing platform at the top, 52 meters high, there are 360-degree views of London and you can even enjoy a glass of champagne if you like.
The climb may look dangerous, but don’t worry it’s completely safe.
A guide will be with you and everyone wears safety harnesses. At the beginning, you are going up at a 28-degree incline, then it levels off as you approach the top. Going down is more difficult than going up because the incline is slightly steeper at 30 degrees.
If you get scared looking down, you might want to try going down backwards. Don’t let your fears stop you, It’s quite a unique experience!
Even kids can do The O2 climb provided they are 9 or older, at least 1.2 meters tall, and accompanied by an adult. The whole experience takes about 90 minutes. If you want to climb the O2, be sure to book in advance as it is a popular attraction.
Paddleboarding around Paddington
Roshni @ The Wanderlust within
What better way to explore Paddington than from the water? A few years ago I got into paddle boarding by attending a taster session in Paddington.
I loved getting to try the world’s fastest growing watersport but also discovering a part of London that was completely new to me. Active360, based in Merchant Square, just a few minutes walk away from the station, allow visitors to explore the waterways of Paddington Basin and Little Venice onboard stand up paddle boards.
The company runs group and private SUP lessons, SUP yoga classes and also allows canoe and board hire. I have taken part in three lessons since, and have really improved my skills but next time I will be giving back, by joining one of the Paddle & Pick events.
Focused on developing awareness about marine environments, and how to protect the waterways, these free sessions allow volunteers to experience the activity whilst clearing the canal of plastic, that would otherwise be ingested by fish and marine mammals.
Costs: £49pp for 1.5hr, £59pp for 2hr, £65pp for 3hr, these are all beginner group lessons and include all SUP equipment hire, wetsuit, and buoyancy aid.
Chasing bookstores in London
By Heather Raulerson @ RaulersonGirlsTravel
One of the unique things to do I find when traveling is to discover out of the way bookstores.
And the best ones can be found on Booksellers Alley or Cecil Court in London.
Cecil Court connects Charing Cross Road and St. Martin’s Lane, and this pedestrian-only street is just east of Leicester Square.
This street filled with about twenty Victorian second-hand bookshops is a gold mine for book lovers.
Browsing these shops you can find first edition and rare books, children’s books, antique maps, prints, and tons of other unique souvenirs.
But, what makes this place so interesting is that the bookshop storefronts along Cecil Court haven’t changed in over a century.
The oldest bookstore on the street is Watkins Books, which was established in 1901.
Walking along this street you get a sense of stepping back in time when poets, writers, and even musicians could be inspired just by being here.
With the world constantly changing to becoming more digital, it is a pleasure to discover that there are bookshops that still cater to the people that enjoy having a hardcover, bound print book in their hands to read.
If you are searching for a unique place to explore in London, come and check out the old, Victorian bookstores along Cecil Court.
Spun Candy, candy-making classes in East London
by Katja Gaskell @ Globetotting.com
Anyone who’s ever dreamed of winning a Golden Ticket will love Spun Candy, London’s modern day answer to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Located in east London, near the city, Spun Candy offers candy-making workshops for adults, corporates, hen parties, kids’ birthdays and for families and friends.
Workshops last from one- to three-hours and are led by a team of talented candy-makers who will teach you everything you need to know about making sweet treats.
You can learn to make lollipops, discover how to create candy flowers, cook crunchy honeycomb and crumbling fudge, and even make a lollipop that looks just like you in a Candy Face Making class!
The Spun Candy staff are all hugely talented artists and sculptors and the shop is filled with lollipop faces of famous people; they will be on hand as you create your own Mona Lisa lollipop.
For something a little more simple, try a Lollipop Masterclass that allows you to roll, stretch and shape your very own swirly, multi-coloured lollipop.
All workshops start with a drink and an introduction to the science behind candy-making before you’re let loose for some creative fun. Best of all, you get to take your creations home with you. Spun Candy is located at London’s Spitalfields, the closest underground stations are Aldgate East and Liverpool Street.
The Rail Mail: London’s secret underground rail network
Bridget Coleman @ Theflashpacker.net
If you are looking for a fun day out in London for adults and children take a ride on the Rail Mail.
From 1927, for over 70 years this railway transported letters and packages under the streets of London, from its mainline railway stations to its six sorting offices. In a stroke of genius, this largely forgotten subterranean network was renovated and reopened for human cargo in 2017.
Today, you can hop on board the Mail Rail for a 20-minute ride in one of its refurbished carriages as Ray Middlesworth, your virtual guide, provides anecdotes and information. The subterranean network’s abandoned platforms are brought back to life with multimedia presentations. Kids will love it for the sheer fun factor; adults will appreciate its fascinating history (but also the fun bit!).
Location: The Rail Mail is part of the London Postal Museum and there are two entrances on the same road; one for the railway and another for the museum itself (which is well worth a visit in its own right and is included in the ticket price). If you are buying your ticket on the day, go first to the Postal Museum and then cross the road to the entrance to the Rail Mail. The address is 15 – 20 Phoenix Place, London WC1X 0DA.
Getting there: The Rail Mail is a short walk from four of London’s Tube stations: Kings Cross, Farringdon, Chancery Lane or Russell Square. If you head to the London Postal Museumwebsite , you can download excellent walking routes from these stations.
By Cath @ Passports and Adventures
When people visit London, HMS Belfast is not something that often makes their itinerary. But it should. It could be considered an unusual thing to do in London and is definitely worth a visit.
This decommissioned military warship is one of my favourite places to visit in London as each time I visit I discover something new.
What makes her even more special for me is that one of my uncle’s worked on her during his time with the Royal Navy, a fact I only learned at his funeral a few years back. This town-class light cruiser was built in the late 1930’s for the Royal Navy and is now a museum ship permanently docked on The Queen’s Walk in London opposite the Tower of London and near Tower Bridge.
During her military years she saw action in World War II, notably during the Normandy landings in 1944, and also during the Korean War of 1950-52. During peacetimes she travelled mainly around the Far East, stopping at ports such as Japan, Malaysia and China.
She was decommissioned in 1963 and became a museum ship in 1971, before coming under the trust of the Imperial War Museums in 1978.
HMS Belfast is a large ship and you can explore most of the ship, from the upper decks, to the bridge and since 2011, nine decks in total include the engine rooms, operations rooms, and my personal favourite, the shell rooms. In some parts of the ships there are models of the former inhabitants of HMS Belfast to give you a feel for what life must have been like for those on board.
A visit to HMS Belfast in London is a must and she is easily reached via Tower Bridge Underground Station. Plus, you can get some great views of Tower Bridge from the ship.
Historic Walking Pub Tour of London
By Ann @ The Road is Life
For those interested in hearing quirky stories of London’s past while doing so in some of the city’s oldest pubs, then the historic walking pub tour is just for you!
This 3-hour walking tour will take you through London’s hidden backstreets that you never knew existed while stopping to drink at the finest old alehouses, inns and taverns along the way.
A local guide will take you to 5 different pubs, dating as far back as 1549 while following in the footsteps of London’s most iconic individuals like Shakespeare and King Henry VIII.
The tour starts at St. Paul’s Underground station, takes you on a 2-mile journey through London’s most ancient streets and pubs and finishes up on The Strand which is near Covent Garden. Each pub stop will allow you time to drink a pint while taking in your surroundings.
I can highly recommend taking this tour as it stands out as one of the highlights of my time spent in London.
Take a step back in time and enjoy a fun filled afternoon of bar hopping through history on this unique and fascinating pub tour.
Click here for more information about prices and booking the pub tour. Bear in mind, this is a very popular tour and booking ahead is essential during the high season.
Admire the Street Art in Shoreditch
By Alex Peters @ TheWayward Walrus
Shoreditch is to London what Brooklyn is to New York – a super trendy, artsy neighborhood with a multitude of things to do for everyone. Even with all the delicious places to grab a bite to eat, bars galore and a thriving nightlife in this East London enclave, one of the best activities to do in Shoreditch is to simply take in the abundance of street art.
Walking around, you’ll pass bright and wildly colorful artwork plastered on overpass bridges, buildings, train tubes, construction barriers and more.
The artwork is always changing, so you could be there one month and the next month see entirely different murals.You can even catch a glimpse of a Banksy original located in Cargo Club’s yard. One of my favorite building murals is Camille Wallala’s ‘Dream Come True’ on the Splice Building. The mixture of bold, bright colors and geometric dots and lines brings a nice splash of color the block. Even though the urban art scene is highly prevalent across the entire city, Shoreditch is home to some of the best and most prominent murals and graffiti artwork and should not be missed on a visit to London.
A day trip to Hampton Court Palace
By Lindsey @ Seven day weekender
There’s no better way to level up your adventure when visiting a new city than by taking a quick day trip. Less than an hour by train/bus from London is the famous seat of Henry VIII and his many wives, Hampton Court Palace.
The Palace is located in the borough of Richmond upon Thames, and was started as a home for and by Cardinal Wolsey in 1515.
But as with many things that caught King Henry’s eye it soon became the home of Henry VIII and his six wives. Henry VIII used Hampton Court to demonstrate his magnificence and power, through lavish banquets, extravagant court life and fabulously expensive art.
It truly was a vast leisure complex. And this is exactly what you will feel as you tour throughout the palace.
You can’t help but stand in the many rooms or the Great Kitchen (which served 1600 meals a day), and imagine the splendor that everyone experienced walking through these halls. Today, to continue King Henry’s ‘pleasure palace’ aspect Hampton Court features two annual festivals, the Hampton Court music festival and the RHS Flower Show.
At just over £23.70 (£21.30 if you book online) admission to the palace is not exactly on the budget end of things.
But if you make sure to book online, use your student ID (£17.00 if you have one) and plan your train ride during off-peak hours (£4.10 vs £6.60 at peak hours) the savings will add up.
With your ticket you get access to the palace, maze, exhibitions, a multi-language audio guide and the gardens.
If you are visiting in the summer your ticket also includes the Magic Garden. Getting to Hampton Court from London is also surprisingly easy.
There is a direct train from Waterloo station that takes only 30 minutes (and runs every 30 minutes), with the palace being only a five-minute walk from the train station. Additionally, as Hampton Court station is in zone 6, you can use your Oyster card if you have one.
Fun Facts: The palace was opened to the public in 1838 by Queen Victoria, and in more recent years the Duchess of Cambridge opened a Tudor-inspired Magic Garden.
LONDON BY NIGHT
Jazz night at The Vortex
Daniele and Elena @ Cycloscope.net
London has definitely been a music Mecca since at least the ’60. Not just great bands but entire musical styles have been born in London, psychedelic-rock, brit-pop, rock progressive, are among the most well known and followed currents of modern music.
Not everyone though knows about London’s most avant-garde and experimental music scene, radical improvisation.
Born in the late sixties as a European answer to the American Free Jazz movement, radical-improvisation is an extreme musical current that denies any known language.
Unlearning musical rules, patterns, and stereotypes frees the real creativity of the performer, that has literally no limits in the radical improvised music.
Improvisation is thus a kind of active meditation practice, where the mind, the body, and the soul of the musician(s) must always be present and aware, reacting instantly to each new input from fellow musicians, and even from the audience!
If this all sounds weird to you, that’s just another reason to experience something that could be completely new to you, I’m seriously convinced that attending at least one performance of this kind is really an unmissable thing to do in London.
Some of the venues hosting these kinds of events have a kind of mythological aura, it’s worth spending a night there even just to feel the atmosphere of the place.
Among the best avant-garde music venues in London are The Vortex, Cafe Oto, St Pancras Old Church, and Servants Jazz Quarter.
For Further Reading
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