Everyone knows about London’s most famous attractions: Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the West End, the list is endless. But this metropolitan city has much more to offer, and these ten unique experiences will show you a side of London you’ve never seen before.
London is one of the biggest cities in the world, attracting tourists from every corner of the earth while offering something for everyone. But after visiting historic landmarks, why not treat yourself to once-in-a-lifetime experiences? Above and below the city, hidden in alleyways and nooks and crannies, or perhaps even hidden in plain sight right in front of you, there are tons of quirky ways to experience London.
Spot fake Houses
Travel to Leinster Gardens in Bayswater, and you’ll find some beautiful normal-looking townhouses that are nothing out of the ordinary. Or so you’d think. However, if you approach numbers 23 and 24 and look very closely, you might be surprised to find these buildings aren’t houses but merely facades! Behind them is a large air vent for the Metropolitan Underground Line. Unless you know, you’d never know!
How to get there: Take the Circle and District lines to Bayswater station.
Go underneath Tower Bridge
I know what you’re thinking; everyone knows what Tower Bridge is. And you’re right. But what most people don’t know is that you can go underneath the bridge and see it from a whole different point of view. While it’s not possible to access the cavernous brick-lined, underground space on a daily basis, it occasionally opens its doors to the public. The Bascule Chamber allows you to see the bridge in action, which most people never will!
How to get there: Take the Jubilee and Northern lines to London Bridge tube station.
Spend a night at the London Zoo
Like animals, and also sleeping? Well, you’ll never guess what! You can book a private lodge and stay at the London zoo – the world’s oldest scientific zoo – for a night within a safe distance from their Asiatic lions. Complete with dinner and breakfast included, you get to experience animals in a spectacular way, and thanks to the guided tour, you’ll gain great insight into the world of animals.
How to get there: Take the Northern lines to Camden Town station.
Have drinks at a former public toilet
You read that right, but it’s not what you think. WC – Wine & Charcuterie – are century-old former toilets that were remodelled and became the cosy wine bars we know of today. The subterranean bars – located in Clapham Common and Covent Garden – have been beautifully restored while preserving some of the original elements to create unique venues. Still think it’s weird?
Make your own dildo
Yep, it’s exactly what you think it is – a pottery class like no other. Rather than boring old bowls, or mangy mugs, you can now do what Patrick Swayze did so well in the 80s and combine sex and pottery in a way previously thought impossible. For 3 ½ hours, artist Adele Brydges will teach you the do’s and don’ts when creating a ceramic dildo at her Hackney Wick studio. Unfortunately, you don’t get your creation then and there as it has to dry for 24-48 hours before being sent to you in the post.
How to get there: Take the overground train to Hackney Wick.
Look at skeletons at the Grant Museum of Zoology
Competition to be a renowned London museum is fierce, meaning that many brilliant places often go overlooked. One such of these is the Grant Museum, located in Fitzrovia, not far from the British Museum. What will you find in the Grant Museum? In a word: skeletons. It’s a museum of zoology, with the animals all sharing one thing in common; all that’s left is their bones. There are over 30 free museums in London, and the Grant is one of them!
How to get there: Take the Victoria tube line to Warren Street.
Paddle the Thames with Moo Canoes
See London differently by paddling down the river Thames in a two-man canoe or paddle board, taking you from Limehouse Basin to Greenwich. No experience is needed to enjoy the canoe or kayak ride, but to get on the stand-up paddle with Moo Canoes, you’ll have to have paddle experience.
How to get there: Take the DLR Line to Limehouse station.
Dine in the dark
Ever wanted to indulge in food while keeping the mystery of what you’re actually eating? Then this is the perfect experience for you! With this blind dining experience, better known as Dans le Noir?, you’ll experience a sensorial menu that will surprise your senses in a basement-level pitch-dark room. The unique approach is intended to help foodies evaluate their perception of taste while elevating the meals to the next level.
How to get there: Take the Metropolitan Line to Farringdon.
Have a drink inside a prison cell
Want to combine the enjoyment of having a drink with a prison-like experience? Well, sort of. At Alcotraz, a hidden speakeasy tucked away behind an unnoticeable door in the colourful Brick Lane, you and your company are taken to your prison cell at Cell Block Two One Two. The warden will smuggle some alcohol of your choice, but whatever you do, don’t tell a soul.
How to get there: Take the train to Liverpool Street or Shoreditch High Street and walk to Brick Lane. (On 1 November 2022, Alcotraz will move to its new premise on Unit 3B, Rosewood Building, Hackney Road, E2 8GY)
This one requires a bit of planning in advance as it only takes place once a year. However, on that hallowed day, you can do something that few in history will have done; place a bet on a goat race. Taking place at Spitalfield City Farms, this unusual experience allows you to watch one of nature’s animals do one of humanity’s strangest things; prove your superiority over them by being faster. Whilst the race itself may not turn out to be amazing, the goats are definitely adorable, so even if your bet doesn’t come through, you won’t need to worry about your time not being well spent.
How to get there: Take the Metropolitan Line to Farringdon.