Make no mistake, London is a city full of topics: from its red phone booths to its black taxis, passing through Big Ben, Buckingham Palace or the Tower of London. Nor am I lying to you: these and not others have made me come back again and again to the capital of the United Kingdom: climbing to the top of the London Eye, visiting the National Gallery, or relaxing in Hyde Park are and will continue to be some of the places where you’ll find me in London. But the truth is that when I decide to get out of the ordinary and explore new routes, I choose these 11 places to visit in London that, without touching the topic, give me equal or more satisfaction.
This guide, designed for both first-time tourists and repeat visitors to the City, is designed to get out of the most typical or common places in the city – either because they are less known, or because they go unnoticed by tourists. We have included a charming hidden square to a surprising enchanted cemetery, a walk through the canals of London, or a visit to the viewpoints of the city. In any case, I am sure that you will enjoy each and every one of them to the fullest.
11 places to visit in London out of the ordinary
Then we leave you with an alternative guide to the British capital that includes our 11 things to visit in London out of the ordinary: a review of the best of the best that does not appear in any travel guide. We started!
1. The ruins of Saint Dunstan-in-the-East
It seems incredible that in the heart of the City, a few meters from the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral, there is a place as magical and at the same time as unknown as the Church of Saint Dunstan-in-the-East. Built-in the 12th century as a small Anglican church, it suffered like no one else from the bombings of Nazi Germany during World War II and ended in ruins. With a look reminiscent of the Carmo Convent in Lisbon or the ruined abbeys of Edinburgh Anglican Church of England decided not to rebuild it and to serve as a witness to the war; turning it into a beautiful public park and planting numerous trees. Luckily for us, today we can visit this oasis of peace and harmony (it is usually quite quiet) a few meters from the bustle and hectic life of London. Don’t miss one of my favorite places to visit in London!
2. Regent’s Canal and Little Venice
I highly doubt that back in the early 19th century, when the Regent’s Canal was built, it was thought that it would become such a pleasant and beautiful space for Londoners and tourists. In essence, it is a canal more than 14 kilometers long that runs throughout North London, from Paddington to the Docklands via Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, with a charming and picturesque route that increasingly attracts more and more people. more tourists and in a way reminiscent of the canals of Bruges or Amsterdam. Its final point, nicknamed Little Venice, leaves little room for doubt: a landscape that with its wooded areas, its architecture, and its boats makes you immerse yourself in the depths of the «queen of the Adriatic».
3. Neal’s Yard
Equal or even more picturesque than the previous one is Neal’s Yard, a beautiful square in central London (specifically between Neal Street, Shorts Gardens, and Monmouth Street) that if it weren’t for its small size, would be a worthy contestant to star in the city. As soon as you reach it, you will be surprised by the explosion of colors in its buildings and the careful state in which everything is found. On the ground floor, you will come across multiple stores that sell a multitude of artisan products.
4. The Sky Garden
At the top of Fenchurch Tower 20, nicknamed the Walkie Talkie due to its strange appearance, is the Sky Garden, a viewpoint more than 160 meters high that has a fantastic panoramic view of the city, including views of The Shard, the Tower of London or the London Eye. The main difference between this and other observatories in the city is that the Sky Garden, as its name implies, also houses a beautiful garden divided into three terraces, each one with species from a different climatic zone. If its views and green areas were not enough, its restaurant is a fantastic option for a drink – we recommend having breakfast there. The best of all? It’s free – although you will need to get your tickets as it fills up pretty quickly.
5. Columbia Road Market Flower
Between the neighborhoods of Hackney and Cambridge Heath, in the northeast area of London, is the traditional Columbia Road Flower Market, a small flower market that you can visit every Sunday morning (it is open from 08:00 to 15:00 ). The truth is that it has progressively incorporated new shops and businesses (small art galleries, vintage clothing stores, pastry shops, bakeries), at the same time that more tourists discover this small floral enclave. A visit that never fails.
6. Primrose Hill
North of central London and once you cross the Regent’s Canal you will reach Primrose Hill, a green mound that from its central point allows you to get an enviable view of London’s skyscrapers. It is an oasis of peace and tranquility that allows you to get away, even for a few hours, from the bustle of London. We recommend that if the weather is good (something that does not usually happen) you buy something to eat in a supermarket and have it picnic-style while you see the skyline of the city. If you don’t want to be too entertaining, you can always hike up the Regent’s Canal or get to Camden Town, which is quite close.
7. Kew Gardens
Declared a World Heritage Site in 2003, Kew’s is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world, with a collection of more than 8.5 million plants and flowers. Located in the borough of Richmond, you can get there by train from London Stratford with the London Overground line and enter through the Victoria Gate. Inside you will find a myriad of buildings and greenhouses, including the Great Pagoda, the Sackler Crossing bridge, the Davies Alpine House, or the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which houses ten different climatic zones. Best of all, the 10 euros of admission (4.5 for children and 5 for young people) make it an affordable activity for all budgets.
8. Canary Wharf
Not many guides “to visit in London” include Canary Wharf from their sites recommended and we understand. But if we write an article about monuments and places that are out of the ordinary or that deviate a bit from the traditional places to see in London, we cannot forget about the Docklands and especially Canary Wharf. This area is to London what La Défense is to Paris or the (much smaller) AZCA area to Madrid: a financial district surrounded by skyscrapers, restaurants, offices, bank headquarters, and business-clad executives. Located in the eastern part of the city, in what is known as Isla de Los Perros(You can get there by subway with the Jubilee line), you will find gigantic skyscrapers, an imposing shopping center, and the interesting Docklands Museum.
9. Highgate Cemetery
As sober and dark as a cemetery can be, the truth is that in the case of Highgate Cemetery there is also a place for celebration as it is such a beautiful and well-kept space. Quite far from the center of London – although you can get there by tube -, the simple entrance through the Egyptian door makes it clear that we are not facing any ordinary cemetery while its interior shows that there is room for mysteries, ghosts, and theories that show that It is indeed an enchanted place. For the most skeptical, the graves of illustrious figures such as George Michael, Douglas Adams, and, above all, Karl Marx (which we specifically recommend) may be everything they ever dreamed of.
10. The Design Museum
From its headquarters in the Kensington area, very close to Holland Park and the Kyoto Garden, the Design Museum has become an icon for lovers of design and contemporary art exhibitions. Since moving to its new headquarters in 2016, located in a very sober and contemporary building, little by little it has been attracting more lovers of industrial design, architecture, and the product. Its permanent collection is free, which is always appreciated, while it has numerous temporary exhibits that complete the museum’s offering. It is open from 10:00 to 18:00.
The subject of gentrification, Shoreditch has grown from a slum in East London to one of the city’s most vibrant, modern, and alternative neighborhoods. With a hipster touch that is highlighted as soon as you step on its streets if this area stands out for something, it is for the number of murals and graffiti that decorate its walls, even with works by Banksy, which have made this area the epicenter of street art in London. At the same time, as time passes, new cafes, shops, and restaurants have opened, giving new life to the area. For its part, the Brick Lane market, open every Sunday, allows you to enjoy the most traditional atmosphere of the neighborhood.
So far our article has come with the best places to visit in London out of the ordinary. I hope you can visit them all and that you enjoy discovering the less-touristy side of the British capital. In the meantime, we urge you to continue reading some of the articles we have written about London and the United Kingdom :