There are so many things to do in London during a visit that often sticking to the classic tourist trail seems like the best way to feel like you’ve made the most of it. However the city of London is bursting with amazing attractions that the majority of tourists (and locals) tend to overlook. From unusual museums to the city’s less-explored districts, the list of underrated things to do in London is endless. We’ve put together a list of spots in the English capital that should be on your radar next time you’re planning a visit to London.
1. GOD’S OWN JUNKYARD
Salvaging used and no longer wanted neon signs, reclaiming retro pieces and creating new eye-popping pieces, all of course in neon-bright colour, God’s Own Junkyard is a feast for your camera. From old movie props to fairground and circus lighting, this place essentially is a junkyard that’s jam packed full of epic neon pieces but not that many people actually know about it, even locals. Wander around and marvel at the old school signs and cheeky slogans, you won’t want to put your camera away!
Note: God’s Own Junkyard is only open on weekends.
2. LITTLE VENICE
This tranquil little part in the west of the city is one of the most underrated spots in London to go for a stroll. The narrow canals, quiet cafes and greenery of Little Venice all give the feel of being in the British countryside and not one of the busiest cities in the world. If you have a free afternoon and want some fresh air, head to the charming Little Venice to watch the canal boats on their journeys through London.
3. HOLLAND PARK
London has plenty of beautiful green parks (green space in London takes up about 40% of Greater London) but many tourists and even local Londoners miss out on Holland Park. Head to Holland Park tube station on the Central line and explore the little nooks and crannies of this sweet little pocket of green. Kyoto Gardens is one of the main attractions which is a Japanese-inspired garden designed and created by the Japan Festival in London back in 1992. The peace and tranquility in this part of the park especially is perfect for a quiet stroll or to take a seat on a bench with a good book.
4. UNDERGROUND BARS
You might think the best of London’s bars are high up in the sky, but don’t miss out on the below ground drinking scene. Some of the city’s coolest and quirkiest bars lie underground. Cahoots is a 1940’s London Underground themed bar, BYOC lets you bring your own spirit for cocktails, Below @ Pelicans and Parrots is a hidden rum bar underneath a vintage shop in Dalston and Call Me Mr Lucky needs a secret password to get in. The underground bars are some of the most underrated bars in London amongst tourists.
5. EXPLORE SHOREDITCH
Well-known and well-loved by almost every Londoner in the city, East London’s Shoreditch is still fairly under the radar amongst tourists. When it comes to Shoreditch, think street art, vintage shops, street food and an electric atmosphere. Don’t miss exploring Brick Lane and all it’s quirky shops, Spitalfields Market with street food and vintage clothes galore, and Columbia Road Flower Market on the weekends to mooch through the hundreds of famous flower stalls.
6. EXPLORE GREENWICH
Greenwich is one of London’s areas that gets overlooked far too often as it actually deserves way more attention than it gets. Not only does it boast one of the best free views in the city but you can visit the famous Greenwich Observatory (overlooking these awesome views), visit the Queen’s House, the Cutty Sark, the Emirates Air Line Cable Car and way more. Greenwich Market is great for a spot of shopping and you could roam the streets for hours making pit stops at local cafes for a brew or the local pubs for a beer. You could easily fill an entire day exploring what Greenwich has to offer.
7. VIEWS FROM PRIMROSE HILL
Another spot for an amazing view of London’s skyline (but without the pricetag of going up the Shard) is Primrose Hill. In the summer, young locals flock to the park to enjoy picnics and bask in the sun, but all year round on a clear day, the skyline is there in plain site and it’s picture perfect.
8. SIR JOHN SOANE’S MUSEUM
Sir John Soane was a well-known and extremely talented architect back in the late 1700s when he built the Bank of England and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. This museum, designed by Sir John Soane, is definitely one of London’s most underrated. It’s made up of the three houses in Lincoln’s Inns Fields that now make up Soane’s one, huge project that was once his home. The architect slowly transformed his house into a museum space, acquiring ancient objects to fill the place and make it what it is now. Soane requested before his death that his house-museum hybrid remain untouched and so it has been left exactly as it was almost 180 years ago. Not many people are aware of this gem of a museum in Holborn, making it without doubt one of the most underrated attractions in London.
9. MALTBY STREET MARKET
While Camden Market and Brick Lane may be more famous, Maltby Street Market comes out on top when it comes to proper street food, and yet there are so many locals that have never even heard of it yet! At this lively weekend market in the hip area of Bermondsey, only those in the know spend their time eating here. The market prides itself on gourmet street food and fresh produce whether you’re looking for the city’s best badass brownies, Mozambique burgers, tender beef steaks, melt-in-your-mouth cheese, gyozas, coffee or baked goods - there’s even top-notch gin on the menu. Come here for a day of good eating and drinking!
10. SKYLIGHT AT TOBACCO DOCK
For drinks with a view, forget about the Shard or Sky Garden and their extortionate prices, as Skylight at Tobacco Dock has the views, the vibes and awesome drinks on the menu. Each and every year Skylight, which you can find on the roof of a carpark in east London, revamps itself for the summer or winter months and it’s free to enter. This winter just like the previous, they’ll be setting up Europe’s one and only rooftop ice rink so you can skate to your heart’s content before sipping mulled wine and taking in the views. During the summer it’s all about cocktails, very British croquet and street food with a skyline.