Whether you’re a local seeking something a little different or a tourist in town after some hidden gems, we’ve got the definitive lowdown of unusual attractions to fill your time. From subterranean rail rides and treasure vaults to derelict churches, the world is your oyster (or Uber) with our guide to some of the best hidden ideas in London.
Visit the Brixton Windmill
Address: 22 Blenheim Gardens, Brixton, London SW2 5BZ
A short stroll from Brixton tube station, towards Brixton Hill, stands something that has been a part of Lambeth history for over 200 years. Harking back to its agricultural past, this fully functional flour mill is the last of its kind in London and stands right next to the gig venue of the same name. Feelin' thirsty after all that history? Check out Brixton's best bars.
Neon Madness At God's Own Junkyard
Address: Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, Walthamstow, E17 9HQ.
Nestled in a warehouse in Walthamstow, this psychedelic paradise (Vegas-meets-strip-club vibe) has been papped by fans across the globe. The brainchild of Chris Bracey, who made and installed signs for some of the film's greatest stars, this totally trippy attraction is completely free to enter. There’s also an ace café inside to sink a tipple or two. Soak it up with some of Walthamstow's awesome restaurants.
The Postal Museum
Address: 15-20 Phoenix Place, WC1X 0DA.
To get a taste of London’s rich heritage you’ll need to go underground. Deep underground. Originally designed to transport letters from Paddington to Whitechapel in the 1800s, The Mail Rail provided a handy solution to the problem of transporting large amounts of mail across the city. When the Mail Rail was officially closed in 2003, this new museum-come-attraction was born. With activities including an interactive gallery, a swish private hire area and an immersive subterranean ride, who thought the post would be this much fun?
Featuring one million balls and a beaut selection of sweetie retro cocktails, this Shoreditch bar is an attraction in its own right and a perfect escape from the troubles of reality. There are two huge rooms complete with adult-sized ball pits, mirrored backdrops, bottomless brunches and the best mix of RnB, disco and house mixed by the scene’s best beatsmiths. Bring on the balls. Buy tickets and more over here.
Shell Yeah. A Hidden London Beach
Address: 57 Wapping Wall, London E1W 3SH
Did you know there’s a secret London beach? Just moments from Wapping Station, walk down past New Crane Wharf, go down the stairs and right in front of you will be a small and secluded waterside spot. The views are stunning but make shore to check the tide times.
Also, a six-minute walk from the above is Pelican Stairs, next to The Prospect of Whitby. This area is steeped in history: smugglers and thieves met in this area, plus Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens, James Whistler and J.M.W Turner have all visited the aforementioned pub. It has also appeared as a backdrop in Only Fools and Horses and Whitechapel. Eager for more? You beach-ya.
A Derelict London Church With A Colourful Past
Address: St Dunstan’s Hill, London EC3R 5DD
Shrouded behind tourist hotspot Tower Bridge lies the quiet, tranquil oasis that is St Dunstan in the East. This Grade I listed building was originally built around 1100 and has lived an interesting life. Wrecked by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and suffering massive damage during The Blitz, the Anglican church declared it a public garden in 1970 after it became too expensive to repair. We love the beaut gothic architecture, flanked by stunning greenery, making it a lush botanical space that's begging to be discovered. In need of more green? Here are some more lovely London gardens.
A Gothic London Cemetery
Address: Linden Grove, London SE15 3LP
The second largest of London's Victorian graveyards, Nunhead Cemetery, near Peckham, is a peaceful place to take a stroll. Largely abandoned between the 1970s and 2001, most of its gothic headstones and plinths have been reclaimed by the wood and its wild scenery makes it one of the most unusual and beautiful places around. Make sure to go up the hill on the western side for a stunning view of St Paul's Cathedral. To the left, you can just about see Alexandra Palace peeking over the horizon too. For more undiscovered history, see our cemetery tours guide here.
Rock ‘N’ Roll History In A Hidden Vault
Ok, so Hard Rock Café is hardly a hidden attraction, but did you know there’s a secret vault full to bursting with rock memorabilia? Hidden away in what was an old branch of Coutts Bank, rumour has it that The Queen had valuables stored inside, but nowadays some of the scene’s greatest names have donated guitars, signed lyrics and iconic costumes. It’s completely free too, just need to be accompanied by a guide. Ask staff when you arrive and they’ll let you know when the next tour is. After all that exploring, make sure to debrief over a juicy burger and chips.
Things are about to get curiouser and curiouser. The Egerton House Hotel has an array of Alice in Wonderland-themed experiences for you to enjoy, including The Hatter’s Tea Party that serves up freshly-cut sandwiches, homemade scones and a selection of sweet treats. For those eager to take the party to a nearby park, how about their carefully curated takeaway picnic? Escorted by your very own hatter butler, get ready to play flamingo croquet and sample sweets and pastries.
Not your conventional ramble around London, this informative tour takes you from Tower Hill to Blackfriars and sees you unearth thousands of years of history including the Romans, Anne Boleyn and Queen Boudica (did you know there’s a connection to Harry Potter? You do now). Check out the City's oldest pub and discover the easiest way to tunnel into the Bank of England's vaults. Just don’t tell them we told you.
We know Londoners have a deep love affair with all things street art. So, hop on board this adventure around town, taking in sights including Waterloo's graffiti tunnel and followed by a tasty themed lunch in Spitalfields. Entrance to Art of Banksy is also included, where you can see sculptures, prints, screenprints, canvasses and limited-edition pieces from one of the most influential (and hotly debated) artists of our time.
It’s safe to say that London has accumulated its fair share of ghouls and goblins over the years. Learn more about their story and deep dive into our capital’s fascinating history with our selection of ghost tours.....and there's not a dead end in sight. From spooky bus trips to a haunted pub tour, these events aren't just for Halloween so buckle in and enjoy the ride. Our advice? Wash down with your favourite spirit after.
We know some of London’s most Instagrammable sights can be found in places that you least expect, but we’d never guess that the proverbial dunny would feature in this list. But bear with us, as there are some seriously stunning toilets in town, imagine slick mirrored walls, celebrity mugshots, jungle-themed dens and flower-flanked boudoirs, not forgetting Sketch London’s uber-famous WCs.
Address: Covington Way, Streatham, SW16 3BX
Chances are you haven't seen this beaut Grade II listed historic secret garden tucked away behind Streatham Common (deep in South London). Originally part of a large private house in the middle of West Norwood and Norbury, this tranquil and largely unexplored space features ornamental ponds, botanical plants, wildflowers, a mineral spring and an old English garden. It can get busy when the kite festival happens, so best book a day off and explore in the calm. Need a pint? Discover Streatham's beaut boozers.
The Fake Houses At 23 And 24 Leinster Gardens
Address: 23-24 Leinster Gardens, London, W2 3BH
In between Paddington and Bayswater stands two houses. But things aren’t what they seem. It turns out that numbers 23 and 24 are just a façade. The story is when the Metropolitan Line was being built, buildings situated along the route needed to be demolished to make way for air vents. Neighbours were furious and demanded the unsightly space be covered and it still stands to this day. Maintained by Transport For London, it’s more recently been used as a backdrop for the hugely successful Sherlock. Fancy a pint? Have a browse at the best bars nearby.
After more inspiration? Check out our list of London's best hidden gems.