Hidden gems of London - less known, unusual, and secret places that most tourists never see

Hidden Gems of London That Most Tourists Never See (+ Map)

In Europe, UK by Jurga10 CommentsTHIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS

Even people who have never been to London can tell you what the main highlights of the city are. Who hasn’t heard of London Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, or Buckingham Palace… But if you are looking for a more unique and local experience and want to discover a different side of London off the beaten path, you may like this selection of some of the less visited secret places  the hidden gems of London.

Recently we’ve had such a great time exploring London with kids and we had been to London several times in the past, but I am in no way an expert on the secret places in London. Therefore I asked my fellow travel bloggers to share their favourite hidden gems of London.

Some of these places are suggested by the locals who live (or lived) in London for many years. Some others – by people who live nearby and consider London their second home. Other suggestions are from tourists like you and I, who found some really cool places that made their visit to London more memorable.

I’m not telling you to skip the highlights of London – they are all well worth visiting, especially if you are traveling to London for the first time. But if you want to travel deeper and experience the local side of this beautiful city, then this list of the hidden gems will give you plenty of ideas of more unusual places to see in London.

From the most colourful neighbourhoods, quirky pubs and cafes, variety of gardens and parks, to some of the best views or unexpected activities – here you’ll find plenty of ideas on how to experience London off the beaten path. Find out!

TIP: to make your travel planning a bit easier, I made a map featuring all of the locations mentioned in this post. You can find it at the bottom of this post. It should help you to combine visiting the main landmarks with some of the hidden gems of London, and create your own itinerary including some of these less known places to visit in London.

Featured image by Simon Rae via Unsplash

Amazing secret places in London that most tourists never see

 

Little Venice

Sleepy Little Venice is a series of tree-lined canals that many tourists miss during their London trip. Spanning from Hyde Park to Warwick Avenue, it’s near enough to the city centre that you can squeeze it in between other attractions. What makes Little Venice unique is that it’s completely unlike anywhere else in the city: colourful canal boats roam the waterways, and many serve as tearooms and cafes. Afternoon tea or brunch on a London canal boat – does it get more memorable than that?

Visit any location between Paddington and Camden to see Little Venice for yourself. The popular cafe boats, Darcie & May Green and Waterside Cafe, are located near Paddington, while Camden is a great place to wander the locks and board a boat trip.

TIP: One of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon in London is to walk the whole Little Venice towpath which takes about an hour (set your route on Google Maps between Paddington and Camden or vice verse, and select ‘walking’). You’ll see some animals as you pass behind London zoo, and admire funky painted houseboats the whole way.

Little Venice is recommended by Rose from Where Goes Rose.

Little Venice is a true gem in London

Little Venice at night © stockinasia via iStock

 

Neal’s Yard

If you love walking around aimlessly looking for colourful streets, pretty corners, secret bookstores, and quiet tea shops, then you will love discovering London. One of the best secret finds in London is a small alley called Neal’s Yard. It opens into a courtyard defined by colourful facades housing health food shops and cafés, just a few minutes walk from the Covent Garden train station. Just walk up Neal Street until Short Gardens and turn left, you will enter a little gem tucked away from the usual modern setting.

The place may seem small, but being there separates you away from the busy atmosphere of London. You can have a snack, coffee, even lunch quietly while admiring the surroundings and watching people just go by. There are wooden chairs around the courtyard you can sit on to take a perfect selfie with the quaint features as your background. Neal’s Yard is also known for the values-driven retailers, you can buy organic soaps and beauty products, organic cheese, as well as homecoming gifts for friends and family from the various shops.

This hidden gem of London was selected by Marie from Our City Travels.

Neal's Yard Remedies - a secret alley near Covent Garden in London

Neal’s Yard Remedies © OurCityTravels.com

 

Spitalfields and Brick Lane

Spitalfields and Brick Lane is an area of London that I often find myself feeling too conspicuously uncool for. The rawness of Brick Lane, coupled with the exotic smells from the infamous curry houses is like nowhere else in London.

You won’t be able to stop yourself from lingering: grab a salted beef bagel from one of the Jewish deli’s at the top (people queue for these!) and slowly wander down Brick Lane taking the occasional side-street or alley way to check out some world famous street art, eclectic vintage stores and the best chocolate shop (Dark Sugars) in London.

You’re in Jack The Ripper territory now and there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the serial killer by visiting some of the old english pubs he frequented in Victorian times : slightly scary but equally fascinating!

Finish off with a little shopping trip to Spitalfields Market and treat yourself to some of London’s finest handcrafted wares. I’m telling you – Spitafields and Brick Lane area has it all!

TIP: Choose one of the many Jack the Ripper walking tours and get to know this fascinating area in London with a local.

This quirky neighbourhood in London was chosen as one of the best hidden gems by Alex from My Life Long Holiday. You can read more about Spitafields and Brick Lane on her blog.

Street art at a quirky Spitafields and Brick Lane neighbourhood in London, UK

Street art at a quirky Spitafields and Brick Lane neighbourhood © MyLifeLongHoliday.com

 

Free Views at Sky Garden

Sky Garden’s free and amazing views of London is one of my favourite London gems. It is a public space with landscaped gardens, observation decks, and an open air terrace located at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, the building known as ‘The Walkie-Talkie’. Sky Garden might be a hidden gem not known to most London visitors, but it’s still a very popular place, with locals and tourists alike.

The bird’s eye views of London are gorgeous. Sky Garden is a great place for dinner, or you can just grab a drink at the rooftop bar. There is also a botanical garden that you can explore while you take in the views of the city. When you peer through the windows, there are super helpful decals with the names of the major buildings that can be seen from here.

PRO TIP: Walk-in spaces are limited, so it’s best to get a ticket. The free tickets are released online a week in advance, are very sought-after, and you have to be really quick to get one! For more practical information and booking check Sky Garden website.

This free hidden gem of London was chosen by Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear. On her blog you can find more suggestions for the best views in London.

Sky Garden - one of the little known hidden gems of London

Sky Garden © TheAdventuresOfPandaBear.com

 

The Churchill Arms

One of our favourite places to visit in London that not many people know about has to be The Churchill Arms. Located in the Notting hill area of the city, the Churchill Arms is a pub with a beautiful array of floral decorations.

Spring is one of the best times to visit as you can see the flowers in full bloom, although the pub is incredibly beautiful at any time of year. In fact, at Christmas, the festive spirit is in full swing with Christmas Trees and lights having their moment to shine.

The Churchill Arms is probably one of the most photographed pubs in London, and when you see it for yourself, it is easy to understand why. Originally there were only a few hanging baskets and I guess you could say it has since blossomed to a lot more.

To get here, you will need to get the tube to Notting Hill Gate Station, and it is a short 5-minute walk from there. The Churchill Arms really is a special place to visit in London and we highly recommend you make the time for it if you like unusual places.

This picturesque pub was selected as one of the hidden gems of London by Lizzie & Dave from Wanderlust And Life.

The Churchill Arms -unique pub in London

The Churchill Arms © WanderlustAndLife.com

 

Monster Supply Store

Did you know that there are monsters living in London? Well, there are and they are hungry. Fortunately, they can get the snacks that they need at the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Store.

This cool little spot is located on Hoxton street in northern Shoreditch. They offer “service with a snarl” and assorted snacks for feeding your monster. You can find goofy products like “salt made from tears of anger” (smoked salt), “night terrors” (rainbow candies) or “impacted earwax” (caramels…I hope).

What’s really going on at the Monster Supply is a brilliant literacy program started by the author Dave Eggers in the US and expanded to the UK by author Nick Hornsby. The organisation inspires kids to become storytellers and writers through literacy workshops. The store, also known as Ministry of Stories, helps to bring awareness of the program and supports nonprofits.

TIP: You can load up on Monster supplies Thur/Fri 1pm-5pm and Saturday 11am-5pm.

This cute monstrous find is suggested by Carol from Wayfaring Views. On her blog you can find more information about this and other great things to do in Shoreditch.

Ministry of Stories and Hoxton Street Monster Supplies - just one of the little known hidden gems of London

Ministry of Stories and Hoxton Street Monster Supplies © WayfaringViews.com

 

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market is one of the real hidden gems of London. Only a ten-minute walk from the buzzing Brick Lane (see above), this flower market is tucked away in the East End of London, behind a housing estate. The only clue you have that there’s anything to see is the occasional large potted plant struggling down the street with a person hiding somewhere behind it.

The market is held every Sunday morning between 8 am and around 3pm. There are around 50 stalls selling every kind of flower and plant you could imagine. There are also around 60 small independent shops including several cafes. Add in some busking musicians and you have a great atmosphere.

TIP: Most of the best flowers tend to sell out in the first hour or two. We’ve found that the best time to pick up a bargain is around 1pm, when things are starting to quiet down and stallholders are looking to offload their remaining stock.

This different way to spend a Sunday morning in London is suggested by David from Delve Into Europe.

Columbia Road Flower Market in London

Columbia Road Flower Market © Cultura Creative 2012/London and Partners via VisitLondon.com

 

Primrose Hill

Head to Primrose Hill for some of the best views of London and a quirky neighbourhood to explore.

One of six protected viewpoints in London, from the peak of Primrose Hill you can see the entire city laid out before you. When it is clear, it is easy to spot landmarks the London Eye, The Shard, and BT Tower in the distance.

Take a picnic to Primrose Hill on a sunny day and join Londoners enjoying one of their favourite neighbourhoods, famous for its colourful houses and resident celebrities.

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.

Primrose Hill is one of the favourite choices of less known places in London by Katy from Untold Morsels.

Primrose Hill is a real hidden gem of Central London

Primrose Hill © Untold Morsels

 

Leadenhall Market

London has no shortage of markets to visit, but I’d argue that Leadenhall Market is one of the most beautiful. It’s also a bit hidden away, so isn’t as well visited as others, such as the popular Borough Market.

Leadenhall Market is a covered market, with a beautiful ornate roof which features glass windows and curved beams. It dates from the 19th century, although there has been a market on this location from the 14th century, making it one of the oldest markets in London. It’s brightly coloured and incredibly photogenic. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera along!

Leadenhall Market is found in the City of London, on Gracechurch Street, and most visitors on foot will access it via one of the narrow pedestrian alleyways. It can be hard to spot, so having a map or an app with the location saved will help.

Film buffs will recognise Leadenhall market as one of the Harry Potter filming locations in London. The market was the location for one of the entrances to Diagon Alley.

TIP: Harry Potter fans will love Magical London: Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour. It’s a tour with exceptional guides, masters of storytelling, that has been selected as one of the best tours in London by GetYourGuide. If you have a day to spare, you may like to consider this highly rated day trip Harry Potter: Warner Bros. Studio Tour with Transfer from London as well.

This literally hidden gem of London is suggested by Laurence from Finding The Universe, where you can find more Harry Potter filming locations in London.

Leadenhall Market in London

Leadenhall Market © FindingTheUniverse.com

 

Nomadic Community Garden

Walking through the Nomadic Community Garden in Shoreditch is a bit of a wonderland-esque experience. Street art covers walls, cars and makeshift buildings to create a grown-up fairytale fort.

On the surface, the Nomadic Community Gardens in Shoreditch are an Instagrammer’s paradise. After digging a bit deeper, though, there’s so much more to this urban oasis. The Nomadic Community Gardens movement is transforming vacant spaces into vibrant gardens, where the marginalised of society can grow food, create art and have a place to experience a sense of community.

Just a few years ago, this was a derelict piece of land just outside bustling Brick Lane. Today, this self-funded, volunteer-run area might just be London’s best kept secret. Buy a cup of coffee from one of the makeshift cafes and take a stroll through this secret garden, where sculptures, musicians and theater will dazzle your senses.

This secret gem of London was selected by Brittany from The Sweet Wanderlust.

Nomadic Community Gardens in London

Nomadic Community Gardens © TheSweetWanderlust.com

 

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

As you walk along Greenwich riverside, you may notice a small red brick circular building with a glass dome. It is right next to the imposing Cutty Sark, so being overshadowed by this impressive structure there is a chance that you may even miss it. In fact, so many people do! Greenwich has so many things to do in such a small area that it’s easy to miss things.

So, now that you know what to look out for, I’ll tell you that this little building is the entrance to one of the most astounding feats of Victorian engineering, the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. It is a pedestrian tunnel built under the Thames river to connect Greenwich with Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel was opened in 1902 and its purpose was to provide access to the docks on the north of the river for dockworkers that lived in the south of the river. It has been recently refurbished and it is now a pedestrian highway and free for everyone to walk through. It amazes me that such a structure is still in use, and walking through it is quite an experience – cold, damp and very echo-y. Certainly not for claustrophobics!

This hidden gem was chosen by Teresa from Brogan Abroad, where you can read about more places to see in Greenwich.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel is a secret place not many tourists find in London

Greenwich Foot Tunnel ©Umbreen Hafeez from Real London Photos

 

The Dickens Inn

One of my favourite pubs to take visitors in London is The Dickens Inn. Not only is it a beautiful looking building, but it is also full of history.

This former 18th-century three-storey warehouse was thought to have housed tea or be owned by a brewery. It has a long and intriguing history intertwined with Charles Dickens and East London heritage.

With slant roofline that is higher on one side than the other and 2 huge balconies covered in flowers, you definitely cannot miss The Dickens Inn when you enter St Katharine Docks. The best bit is that it is only 5 minutes walk away from both Tower Bridge and Tower of London, making it a great spot for a drink or something to eat. Children are allowed into the pub during the day time as well. Also, there is also a pizza and a grill restaurant inside, if you want a nice sit down meal.

TIP: The best time to visit is during the spring season, when all the flowers are blooming on the outside walls.

Recommendation by a London resident Melissa from MelB Travel

The Dickens Inn in London

The Dickens Inn © MelBTravel.com

 

Kayaking under the Tower Bridge

You’ve probably all heard of Tower Bridge and saw lots of pictures of it, so it is not exactly a secret place in London. But did you know you can go on an organised kayak tour which goes past the best London landmarks and the highlight is paddling under the Tower Bridge?! Now that is one unique experience to have in London!

The Thames can be quite busy with traffic from riverboats, but thanks to our four guides we felt completely safe during the whole journey! It took us about 3 hours to cover the 17 km from Battersea to Greenwich. We used double kayaks, which were very stable and easy to handle, so beginners were also welcome. If you want to explore London in a truly special way, this trip is for you!

This unique experience in London is recommended by Krix from Travel Hacker Girl. On her blog you can find more information about kayaking in London.

TIP: If you would like to see river Thames and London in this unique way, but are short on time and/or not interested in kayaking, you may want to consider this highly-rated speed boat tour that also goes under the Tower Bridge.

Kayaking under the Tower Bridge is a truly unique experience in London

Kayaking under the Tower Bridge in London © TravelHackerGirl.com

 

Kyoto Garden

If you are looking for a beautiful hidden gem in London, then head to Kyoto Garden. The garden’s are easily accessible from central London.

Kyoto gardens are over 20 hectares and are located around Holland House, which used to be an old castle that many famous families have lived in. It was originally built in 1605, but was destroyed in the second world war.

The Kyoto Gardens was officially opened in 1991 to mark the friendship between Japan and the United Kingdom. The gardens have been beautifully landscaped and designed to reflect how Japanese gardens look. It is a truly peaceful and picturesque place a bit off the beaten path in London. You will find stone carvings in Japanese style, peacocks and herons roaming around, numerous varieties of flowers and trees, waterfalls, and even the beautiful koi carp fish.

The gardens can be visited in any season. In spring you will find a big variety of magnificent flowers in full bloom, it’s also the season for the famous Japanese cherry blossom. In summer you will see the bright colours of the flowers and trees. In autumn – golden rusty vibrant leaves on the huge oak- and maple trees surrounding the area. In winter you will find incredible views over the gardens; it’s truly magical if covered in snow.

Kyoto Garden is open daily and is free to visit. This is a great location for photography so don’t forget your camera.

This beautiful park was chosen as one of the best secret places in London by a local resident Eliza from Digital Travel Guru.

Kyoto Garden - a true hidden gem in London

Kyoto Garden © DigitalTravelGuru.com

 

Postman’s Park

In the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most poignant parts of central London. Postman’s Park – so called as it was popular with postal workers from the local central sorting office – is host to George Frederic Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died while saving the lives of others.

It consists of a long wall housing ceramic memorial tablets featuring the likes of “G Garnish, A young clergyman, Who lost his life in endeavouring to rescue a stranger from drowning at Putney” or “John Clinton, Aged 10, Who was drowned near London Bridge in trying to save a companion younger than himself”.

The fact that this small park, with its sad little plaques, is in the centre of one of the great world cities, surrounded by skyscrapers and other important buildings, makes this quiet place even more poignant. It’s a secret place in London that many tourists never visit. Postman’s Park is a must see, if only for a few moments peace in the hustle and bustle of London life….

Contributed by Chris Young from England Explore.

Postman's Park Wall of Heroes, London, UK

Postman’s Park Wall of Heroes © EnglandExplore.com

 

Battersea Park and Children’s Zoo

Nestled on the southern banks of the Thames, you will find one of London’s better kept secrets, Battersea Park. With a real community feel to it, the 200 acre park has been home to many fairs, playground and attractions over the years.

One of the more recognisable landmarks of Battersea Park is the Peace Pagoda, erected in 1985. It’s a beautiful place to reflect and watch life roll by on the Thames.

Whilst the fun fairs of the past are now gone, there’s still a lot going on in this park – sporting fields aplenty, a miniature zoo, the historical Pump House gallery, Putt in the Park mini golf with pizzeria, nature reserve, playground with a miniature train, and in the heart of the park, an ornamental lake where on weekends and holidays you can hire mini rowing or paddle boats.

Our favourite part of the park is the hidden gem Battersea Park Children’s Zoo. Far cheaper to enter than its more famous north London counterpart (and with far less or an urban, concrete feel), it’s the perfect size zoo for little explorers. All their mammals, reptiles and birds are little and in keeping with the zoo’s size. There’s plenty of hands on activities scheduled throughout the week for children to be involved with including feeding times and education programs. To finish things off there’s a magnificent adventure playground, complete with its own fire truck!

This little-known gem of London is suggested by Keri from Little City Trips.

Battersea Park Pagoda - one of the less known places in London

Battersea Park Pagoda © By George Johnson [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons (cropped by FullSuitcase)

 

MI6 Building

A few minutes after Skyfall begins, M is shown driving to her office building when an explosion rips apart one side of the building forcing the agency to relocate to an underground bunker. That building is the actual MI6 headquarters called SIS Building in Vauxhall, London.

The MI6 building is situated on an embankment and has prongs along its roof to prevent unauthorised networks catching the digital transmissions inside the building. That’s the closest you’ll come to seeing any sort of geekery about the Secret Service from ground level. It looks sombre and foreboding from the outside and could easily be mistaken for a drab office building if you don’t know what you’re looking at. But for James Bond fans like me, the place is particularly important for all the special moments it has given us in the movies.

The SIS Building has featured in GoldenEye way back in 1995, The World is Not Enough, Skyfall and its follow-up Spectre. In case you’re wondering how the real MI6 staff feel about their building showing up so prominently, an established anecdote says that the staff actually cheered when the model SIS building created on film set was blown off in Skyfall. That’s three cheers for attitude right there!

The MI6 building is actually a pretty popular place to see in London among James Bond fans. James Bond tours will bring you here, albeit usually by a (mini) bus, because it is located a bit outside the city centre.

MI6 building is recommended to all James Bond fans by Priyanko from Constant Traveller.

The MI 6 Building (SIS) at Vauxhall Cross in London

MI 6 Building in London © ConstantTraveller.com

 

Pop Brixton

Pop Brixton is home to some of London’s tastiest food stands, hipster cocktail bars, pop up vintage clothing shops, art galleries, quirky exercise classes and even a co-working space. Their mantra is all about supporting small local businesses, so the space is always buzzing with creative people and unique startups milling around.

It’s the perfect place to go for casual food or drinks on any afternoon or evening. Or check out their special events like photography exhibitions, wine tasting, tai-chi, or urban gardening.

Pop Brixton is a place where you can experience London as and with the locals, a secret find not many tourists know about.

This hidden gem is recommended by a London local Harriet from Hats Off World.

Pop Brixton in London

Pop Brixton © HatsOffWorld.com

 

Short walk through the centuries in the City of London

The City of London has a rich history and in just a few steps you can be transported through the centuries.

Starting at the London Mithraeum the immersive experience gives you a taster of worshiping at the cult of Mithras in the recreated roman temple. Artefacts displayed give you an insight into the lives of the first Londoners.

One minute down the road you’ll fast forward to the 17th century as you reach St Stephen Walbrook. Destroyed by the Great Fire of London, the church was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. The green dome is thought to be the precursor for the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. Find the Rothschild Building to get a great view of the dome framed by the building.

You’ll find yourself back in Roman London when you reach St Magnus the Martyr. The arch on the western side of the church is where people crossing the old London Bridge entered the city. Pop into the church to see a model of what the bridge looked like. Other remnants include a piece of timber dated AD 75 and stones from the medieval bridge.

TIP: The walk between these hidden gems will take just 10-15 minutes, however you should build in some time at each stop.

This short walk covering several of London’s hidden gems is suggested by Emma from Emma Online. On her blog you can find more details about this historic walk in London.

St Stephen Walbrook church is a truly hidden gem in central London

St Stephen Walbrook © EmmaOnline.co.uk

 

Alexandra Palace

If you are visiting London and you’ve picked a hotel in the Northern part near Muswell Hill or Wood Green, then you may enjoy visiting Alexandra Palace. Sure, it’s not a typical place you would visit when you go to London. However, Alexandra Palace, also called Ally Pally, can be a fun getaway especially if you are visiting London with kids.

Built in 1873, the palace is stunning to look at. You can relax on the green lawns of the palace while admiring the Rose window or take a boat ride on the lake behind the palace. You don’t have to wait for winter to do some ice skating. The ice rink at Alexandra Palace is open all year round. There are other things you can enjoy as well such as tree climbing, a small golf course, Farmer’s market, segway rally, and an adventure course. It’s a full day of fun at Alexandra Palace!

Submission by Pari from Traveling Pari.

Alexandra Palace in London

Alexandra Palace in London © By John Bointon [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Hampstead Heath

Hyde, Regent, and Kensington Gardens are perennial favorites for parks to visit while in London. They are all beautiful, but for a less manicured bucolic setting, none compare to the wild beauty of the Heath in Hampstead Village.

Located about half an hour from Central London, Hampstead is a posh community that has a historically artsy past. The likes of D.H. Lawrence, Sigmund Freud, Robert Louis Stevenson, and countless creative luminaries have resided there.

At some point or another, all have been known to have taken their contemplative strolls through Hampstead Park. There are riding lanes for horses, many ponds where one can find people and swans swimming alongside. There are also private mansions, such as the Kenwood House which has been a backdrop for countless period films.

Of all things, the beauty of this park is its ability to make one think and appreciate both the simple and the complex while taking a stroll. There is something inherently English about the place and it almost can’t be helped that your creative self comes alive. Hampstead Heath is certainly worth a day trip from Central London.

This typically English place, little known to most London visitors, is recommended by Brenda & Andrew from Dish Our Town.

Hampsted Heath public park is little known to a majority of London visitors

Hampsted Heath © Amadeusz Misiak on Unsplash

 

Kew Gardens – Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is home to the largest and most diverse collection of living plants, anywhere in the world.

Although it’s not necessarily very hidden, most tourists seem to skip this beautiful part of London. Perhaps because it’s a bit out of the way of other popular tourist attractions. But trust me when I say that Kew Gardens are well worth a visit!

Kew Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers unique landscapes and iconic architecture from every stage of the Gardens’ history. There are more than 100 world-class attractions at Kew Gardens such as iconic buildings, art collections, vistas, and glasshouses. There are also various temporary exhibitions at Kew Gardens that might be worth your time. The glasshouse is not to be missed and is a perfect place to shoot some amazing photos (whether it’s for your Instagram page or traditional photo album).

TIP: Kew Gardens are really big, so you definitely need time to properly explore this less known gem of London. It’s recommended to do some research to decide what you want to see upfront, or take a full day and explore this beautiful place to the fullest. You can buy admission tickets in advance and save some time.

Kew Gardens are recommended to visitors looking to explore some less known places in London by Lisanne from Chapter Travel.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London

Kew Gardens © Philippe Grass via Pixabay

 

Saint Aymes cafe

Saint Aymes is one of the most Instagram-friendly cafes in London and one of the many hidden gems in the capital of the UK. It’s quite trendy to go here for the fashionistas and Instagrammers of London, but as a first-time visitor you’re not likely to have heard about this cute little cafe.

Saint Aymes is quite easy to get to. It’s located about 10 minutes walk from Paddington Station, close to Marble Arch near Hyde Park.

The unicorn cakes are particular cute and tasty, are reasonably priced, and really shouldn’t be missed. The cafe is charming and quaint, a truly unique place in London. It has a flower petal wall and some tables outside. On the inside, there are plenty of flower walls, unicorn themed cakes and of course some unicorn lattes in rainbow colours. If that isn’t enough, you can also enjoy some gold-plated coffee (yes I’m talking about real gold!).

This cute cafe is recommended by Christine from Christine Abroad.

Saint Aymes, unicorn cafe in London

Saint Aymes aka unicorn cafe © ChristineAbroad.com

 

Chelsea Physic Garden

Tucked away in a hidden corner of London between the upscale shopping of the King’s Road and close to the Chelsea Embankment and the Albert Bridge across the Thames is the capital’s original secret garden. Dating back to the late 17th Century, the Chelsea Physic Garden remains the second oldest botanical garden in the UK (after the gardens at Oxford University). It has been at the forefront in the cultivation of medicinal plants.

Home to the tallest standing olive tree in Britain, the layout of different sections of the garden is very admirable. The Dicotyledon Order Beds (so named as the plants here are grown with two seed leaves) and Monocotyledon (one seed leaf) are testament to this with over 800 organized according to their groups. Some indeed quite rare. In between these and the statue of Sir Hans Sloane is the tranquil pond rockery. Various glasshouses are located here, the largest of which known as the Tropical Corridor. Ideal for storing all year round many exotic plants from the Atlantic that would otherwise not survive the harsh winters. Also, one of the smaller glasshouses has a little exhibit of desert cacti. A great anomaly in London!

An afternoon strolling in this peaceful oasis makes you forget that you are in the heart of a big, noisy city. With a cafe that provides outdoor seating too, what better way to take it in slowly and appreciate this green space in the heart of one of London’s most well-heeled districts.

This unusual little garden in London is suggested by Jonathan from Journey Maxx.

Chelsea Physic Garden in London

Chelsea Physic Garden © By Elisa.Rolle [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons (cropped by FullSuitcase)

 

Climb The O2 Arena

The O2 Arena in London was originally built for the millennium and has become the world’s most popular entertainment venue. Not many people can say they climbed over The O2 Arena. With the Up at The O2 Experience visitors can walk on a path suspended 2 meters above the roof of The O2. On the viewing platform at the top, 52 meters high, you have time to take in 360-degree views of London and even enjoy a glass of champagne if you like. On a clear day, you can see landmarks up to 15 miles away.

Your guide will provide you with all the climbing gear you need including a safety harness. At the beginning of the climb, you are going up at a 28-degree incline, then it levels off as you approach the top. Going down, in a way it’s more difficult than going up. The incline is slightly steeper at 30 degrees. If you are worried about looking down, you might want to try going down backward. Don’t let your fears stop you, It’s quite a unique and memorable experience!

This unique London activity is suggested by Anisa from 2 Traveling Texans. You can find more information about The O2 Experience on their blog.

Climbing the O2 Arena is a unique experience in London (1)

The O2 Arena © Claus Grünstäudl on Unsplash

 

The Hidden Gems of London on the map

As promised, here is a map showing all the hidden gems of London that are mentioned in this post. You can click on the little arrow to see the index, alternatively just click on any of the locations to see which place it is.

 

So, these are some of the nicest local finds and less known places in London for your travel list. I am certain that visiting at least some of these gems will make your trip to London even more special and more memorable.

Do you know any amazing secret places in London that you’re willing to share? Please leave a reply below!

If you enjoyed reading this post, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

The hidden gems of London (less known and secret places that most tourists never see)

Unusual places to visit in London - hidden gems not many tourists know about
You May Also Like

Comments

  1. A great free place to visit in London if you can spare half a day is the Wallace Collection.
    Your site is so helpful

    1. Author

      Thank you for sharing this place, Alvin. Looks like a great addition to our secret spots in London. From what I see it’s centrally located and free of charge, so definitely a nice choice for people who love art and want to see something different in London. Thanks again!

  2. Great post Jurga, We’d been down to London to see the tourist hotspots a number of times but last May we went down and decided to do things a bit differently – we stayed in Hackney, had brunch in Victoria Park, walked the length of Regents Canal to Little Venice, fell in love with Broadway Market, and we caught the bus rather than the tube (it’s slower but you see so much more!). Love the undiscovered gems of London, and that’s why it’s still one of my favourite cities in the world 😄

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Emmalene. I’d love to explore London the way you did! I’m sure this city has so many more undiscovered and little known places and you could easily spend a few months there and still not see them all…

  3. This is fabulous! We are an American traveling family of 3 that is planning and extended stay in Germany. There are so many hidden gems we are looking forward to exploring around Europe and I will be pinning this for reference later.

    I love the idea of afternoon tea on a canal boat in Little Venice and my daughter will go nuts over the unicorn items at Saint Aymes cafe.

  4. BRILLIANT post Jurga – you have uncovered some real gems here, and dare I admit it – a couple I hadn’t even heard of (and I consider my self a bit of an expert 😉 ) Loved it!

    1. Author

      Thank you so much Alex. If there is one person who I thought would know all these quirky places in London, it’s you. But I’m sure you’ll set it right on your next weekend getaway, no? 😉

  5. Great post, some personal favourites in there, including Postman’s Park, Little Venice, Leadenhall Market & Neal’s Yard – We love exploring London, the weekend is great for delving into the old ‘City of London’. The great thing is wandering around some of these historic sites doesn’t have to cost a fortune, which is nice when London can be sooo expensive.

    1. Author

      So true, Gary. London is indeed extremely expensive and busy, especially if visiting all the main tourist attractions. Thus this post – to inspire people to get a bit off the beaten path and see a different side of London, with less crowds and usually at a fraction of the cost, or even completely free.
      PS Thanks a lot for sharing your favourites as well! Glad to see that we have all of them covered in this post.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.