London sees the UK’s highest levels of tourism, boasting 21 million travelers yearly pre-pandemic. The city leans into its travel-savvy background, with sites like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Hyde Park drawing in countless international adventurers. However, many of London’s greatest tourist spots are found off the beaten path. These are some of the most unique places to visit in London.
1. Wind Your Way Through Neal’s Yard
Of all of London’s picturesque streets and markets, Neal’s Yard is one of the greatest gems. This tucked-away spot can be difficult to reach. It’s only accessible via two narrow passageways. Still, the trek is worth the payoff.
You’ll be greeted with some of London’s brightest buildings, colorful neon storefronts, unique shops, and friendly cafes. Those who run businesses at Neal’s Yard are largely focused on sustainability and environmentalism. You’ll find that many foods and products are vegan and nature-friendly.
2. Plummet Down the World’s Longest Slide at ArcelorMittal Orbit
ArcelorMittal Orbit is in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a short walk from Stratford Station. This stunning attraction will change your definition of “the scenic route.” The ArcelorMittal Orbit, a winding sculpture with a large viewing station at the top, was constructed by artist Anish Kapoor. At the peak, you can see miles of London’s skyline and engage with an interactive history of the city.
However, the most popular part of this sculpture might be one of its exits: the longest, highest slide in the world. Ride The Slide offers plenty of twists, turns, and laugh-inducing drops. It also includes transparent sections for incredible city views. Those who are afraid of heights might want to steer clear.
3. Enter a Fantasy at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
This creepy trinket shop will transport you to another dimension. Hoxton Street Monster Supplies sells all sorts of essentials for the “living, dead, and undead.” Some items include “salt made from tears of laughter,” “edible eyeballs,” and “cubed earwax.” Despite the frightening names, most of the goods are edible treats or quirky toys.
Behind this spooky concept is a pleasant goal: to support creative writers in the local community. The Ministry of Stories manages the business. This organization is focused on uplifting young storytellers and providing writing workshops to children.
4. Travel Back in Time at Dennis Severs’ House
If you want a twist on the classic historic house tour, look no further than Dennis Severs’ House on Folgate Street. In 1979, artist Dennis Severs bought the four-story home to serve as his primary residence. During his time there, he turned the location into a living set for tourists to enjoy. This fascinating atmosphere tells a fictitious story of a family called the Huguenots. The detail-rich room arrangements hint at why the Huguenots seem to have vanished from the property. We won’t spoil the big reveal, though!
5. Trek Through London’s Vacant Underground Tunnels
Like many large European cities, London has a huge public transit system. Despite the Tube’s packed schedule, some lines have gone dark, and their tunnels are no longer in operation. Many have become unsettling spots to explore in London’s underbelly.
The London Transport Museum organizes tours for interested parties to explore abandoned mail tubes, vintage tram routes, untouched shelter tunnels, and out-of-commission “ghost” stations. The abandoned tunnels will satisfy any traveler looking to scratch a history itch without spending a day in a museum.
6. Have a Picnic at Battersea Park
This lush green park in South West London spans over 200 acres of scenic land. Battersea Park, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1858, is one of London’s more peaceful settings. Visitors who wander through can expect to find fountains, ponds, statues, and artifacts. There are plenty of places to have a picnic, read, or watch the clouds.
Active tourists can enjoy the park’s biking and running trails, sports fields, and more. Many travelers also like to trek across the massive Albert Bridge for photo ops. Check out the iconic Peace Pagoda shrine, the Pump House art gallery, and the flower-filled Old English Garden.
7. Electrify Your Life in God’s Own Junkyard
God’s Own Junkyard is a cafe-turned-exhibit filled with electrifying neon signs. Artist Chris Bracey assembled the stunning display from his pieces. At times, Chris rescues broken neon signs on their way to the grave and restores them.
Thanks to his storied career, you’ll find pieces used in blockbuster films, circuses, festivals, and more. The site for God’s Own Junkyard describes the joint perfectly: It’s “where neon never dies.”
8. Check Out Street Art in Shoreditch
In a city known for its art and entertainment, Shoreditch is a hub of phenomenal street art. The roadways of Shoreditch are lined with thousands of vibrant street art pieces that highlight countless artists’ styles, themes, and identities. The ultra-famous street artist Bansky has painted numerous works on buildings in this area. Those interested in background information on popular pieces can schedule a guided tour through Shoreditch. Still, you can swing through the area on your own and enjoy the surprising beauty around each corner.
9. Eat Your Way Through Kingly Court
Many tourists end up shopping in the stores at Carnaby’s, but many others miss out on its massive international food court. Kingly Court is tucked away, yet it’s packed to the brim with cuisines from around the world — think France, Peru, Italy, Japan, the Caribbean, and the U.S. The restaurants scale four stories over a gorgeous open-air courtyard. Relax under an umbrella and enjoy whatever dishes you decide to grab. Any true foodies will adore a delicious afternoon spent in Kingly Court.
10. Explore the Ghostly Site of Nunhead Cemetery
This Victorian cemetery is hauntingly beautiful and identified as one of London’s “Magnificent Seven.” Created in 1840, Nunhead Cemetery features grand displays of love and grief in place of simple headstones. Portions of the cemetery have grown decrepit over time. However, the overgrown weeds add to the fright factor of the area’s Gothic architecture. The cemetery remains open thanks to the support of Friends of Nunhead Cemetery (FONC), which maintains the grounds. This is an essential dark tourism stop for amateur ghost hunters, architecture admirers, and history nerds.