Unusual Things to Do in London

Off the Beaten Path: 20 Unusual Things To Do in London

Ver página en: Español

From riding the longest tunnel slide to visiting a mosaic house and a magnificent sewage pumping station, these are the most unusual things to do in London.

Without a doubt, London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. As such, it offers a wide range of choices to please different tastes. However, most visitors seem to stick only to the most iconic sites. If you are looking for unusual things to do in London, these options will surely get you off the beaten path.

London Off the Beaten Path

Unusual Things to Do in London

1. Start Your Day With a Morning Rave

Since 2013, Morning Gloryville, the pioneers of sober morning raving, organize dance parties that start at sunrise. These energizing events feature pumping music, performances, organic coffee, and a smoothies bar. There is also yoga and free massages. What you won’t find is any drugs or alcohol.

Good to Know

Usually, events start at 6.30 am and end at 10.30 am. And you can bring your kids, too! There is a creative arts & crafts section to keep them busy. But don’t forget to bring ear defenders (there is a limited quantity available for rent on-site); otherwise, they won’t be allowed on the dancefloor.

2. Discover the Local Street Art Scene

London has one of the most vibrant street art scenes in Europe. Home to some great artists, the British capital also attracts a non-stop parade of international names eager to leave their mark in the city.

If you want to explore street art in London, you should head to Brixton, Shoreditch, Camden, and Brick Lane; among other places. These are some of the best areas to see murals by some of the world’s best urban artists.

Good to Know

It’s not easy to keep on top of what’s happening in the ever-changing street art world. If you don’t want to miss any of the highlights, a good option is to go on a street art tour. For example, this two-hour guided walk (cost: $19 USD/ £15 / €17) around East London takes you to see some fantastic artwork by well-known artists, such as David Walker, BC Crew, and Phlegm.

3. Ride the Slide at ArcelorMittal Orbit

With a height of 114.5 meters, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is Britain’s largest piece of public art. Created by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond for the London 2012 Olympic games, the structure features an observation deck from which you can see the whole city.

And that’s not all. Built into the structure, you’ll find the world’s longest tunnel slide. Measuring 178 meters long, the slide also features some transparent sections allowing you to get some quick glimpses of London’s skyline.

Good to Know

There is a lift that takes you to the top of the attraction. The slide is open year-round. And it’s best to book your tickets in advance. You are allowed to ride the slide as long as you are at least 8 years old and over 1.3 m in height.

4. Have Afternoon Tea in a Bus

We all know that afternoon tea is a definite must-do when visiting London. And if you want to enjoy this iconic British ritual in a unique way, you can go for afternoon tea aboard a vintage Routemaster double-decker bus.

Yep, while you ride around the streets of Central London, you get to sample a myriad of yummy treats. Plus, they also offer vegan, vegetarian, halal, and gluten-free options.

Good to Know

Tours depart daily from a couple of locations in Central London and last about 90 minutes (depending on traffic). Prices start at £45 (about $55 USD) per person. Children under 5 are not allowed.

5. See a Different Side of London

Unseen Tours is an award-winning social enterprise that partners with homeless and formerly homeless people to offer alternative walking tours. While showing you different areas of London, your guide will tell you surprising stories and share some of their experiences of life on the streets.

Good to Know

Tours last about an hour and forty-five minutes. Full priced tickets are £15 (reduced priced tickets are £12) per person. And 60% of that goes directly to your guide.

6. Visit the House of Dreams

Located in East Dulwich, this quirky house is home to artist Stephen Wright. He has decorated pretty much every surface with mosaics and a dizzying array of things. Thus, creating a sort of kaleidoscopic atmosphere.

Good to Know

The House of Dreams holds an open day every month. Tickets are £12 for adults, £7 for students, and free for children under 16 (must be accompanied by an adult). You can book your tickets here.

7. Build Your Own Lego Portrait

This one is a must for Lego fans, both young and old! At the Lego Store in Leicester Square, you can find the Lego Mosaic Maker. For £99 you can get your portrait photo turned into a brick mosaic set containing about 4500 1×1 pieces.

Just 10 minutes after taking your photo, you get a print-out with instructions and all the bricks you need to recreate your portrait. If you love Lego, this could be the perfect souvenir of your London trip.

Good to Know

To ensure availability, it is recommended to book in advance. You can do so up to three weeks before. If you don’t find availability for the day you need, you can try calling the store or just show up to see if you are lucky. Finally, you can also find the Lego Mosaic Maker in Paris, Berlin, and New York.

8. Follow the Plunger at London’s Loo Tour

If you want to see a different side of London, you should go on a Loo Tour. During this 90-minute walk, your guide will tell you all about the history of the city’s public sanitation system, its politics, and some practical tips.

Good to Know

Besides the original Loo Tour, which takes place three times a week, they also offer other similar tours. Plus, you end the walk at a cocktail bar.

9. Play Bingo

If you think bingo is only for grannies, you probably haven’t been to any of the alternative bingo events happening all around London. Combining sophisticated cocktails, yummy food, and some wild themed nights; bingo is experiencing a surprising revival in this city.

Good to Know

One of the most epic alternative bingo events in London, Bogan Bingo is the self-described “Bingo with balls” event that features plenty of mullets, 80’s anthems, and awesome prizes. Weekly events take place at The Redback and tend to sell out; so book your tickets in advance.

On the other hand, rather than hosting nights at different venues, the crew behind Dabbers Social Bingo decided to create their own hall to make their bingo fantasies come true. There’s a different theme every night. Plus, they also serve delicious food.

10. Check Out God’s Own Junkyard

Hidden in a warehouse in Walthamstow, God’s Own Junkyard is a kaleidoscopic haven of neon lights and vintage signs. With its impressive collection covering almost every surface, nothing can prepare you for the shock to the senses as you step in.

Late owner Chris Bracey started his career by making signs for strip joints and you can spot many samples of them in the collection. Then he went on to collaborate with a variety of movie directors and his works have been featured as film props in a lot of well-known movies. So even if it’s a bit off-the-beaten-path this quirky spot is well worth the detour.

Good to Know

Keep in mind that this place is only open on weekends, so plan ahead. The entrance is free and you can look around at your leisure. Plus, there is also a cafe inside, The Rolling Scones, so you can have a drink and a little treat in this surreal setting.

11. Visit the Crossness Pumping Station

Now, going to a sewage pumping station might not sound like a fun thing to do, but this industrial masterpiece is a magnificent work of fine Victorian architecture. Located on the south bank of the Thames, the Crossness Pumping Station was built in the 19th-century and was the world’s first urban sewerage plant.

One of the features that make this a special place is its stunningly ornate ironwork. Also, you get to ride a diesel locomotive for s short stretch before entering the site.

Good to Know

You can only visit the site during open days or with a guided tour. During open days, you can simply show up, but for guided tours, you need to reserve in advance. For availability, check their calendar here. The entrance is £8 for adults if Prince Consort is in steam; otherwise, it’s £6. For children 5 – 15 years, it’s £2.

12. Enjoy a Circus Show and Dinner

Located in West London, The Aeronaut serves classic pub dishes that go well with their extensive beer selection. But that is not all! They also offer several entertainment options, such as bingo nights, cabaret and burlesque shows, as well as several circus performances featuring aerialists, jugglers, comedy, and more!

Good to Know

If you are attending the Circus show, you must purchase your tickets in advance.

13. Create Your Own Fragrance

The Experimental Perfume Club runs several workshops about the art of perfume making. You will learn the terms and fundamental concepts and will get to know more about your own personal scent profile by creating your own bespoke fragrance. How cool is that?

Good to Know

Workshops are mainly designed for adults, but children 14 and up can join if accompanied by an adult who is also participating. Also, workshops usually last between 3 – 4 hours and have a price of £115.

14. Visit 575 Wandsworth Road

Hidden behind a run-down facade in South London, this incredibly quirky and unique place was the home of Kenyan poet and civil servant Khadambi Asalache until his death in 2006. Inside, the house is covered from floor to ceiling with intricate wooden carvings featuring Islamic, African and English elements.

Asalache produced his first handmade wooden carving to cover a damp patch, and I guess it’s safe to say that he got carried away. It took him twenty years to complete this astonishing work of art. 575 Wandsworth Road is the extraordinary legacy of a remarkable man.

Good to Know

The house is now owned by the National Trust and you can only visit by booking a guided tour in advance, so you’ll definitely need to plan ahead for this one. Each tour is limited to six people and costs £15 for adults, £7.50 for children, and £3.50 for members.

Tours take place on Fridays and Saturdays only and last just over one hour. You will also need to bring a pair of socks or slippers to walk on the hand-painted floors.

15. Go For an Immersive Dining Experience

Since 2010, Gingerline has been creating secret immersive dining experiences in hidden locations around London. When you buy your tickets for one of their events, you won’t know where you have to go for your dinner until just a few hours before it starts. And everything else is kept a secret, too.

Good to Know

These events tend to sell out fast, so make sure to book your tickets ASAP. Usually, the experience lasts between one and a half to two hours and includes a five-course set menu and a welcome drink. Tickets are £55 per person.

16. Sail Away in a Floating Hot Tub

What better way to relax with your friends than chilling in an outdoor hot tub? Well, now you can even sail down Regent’s canal in Central London in one of these quirky vessels. Skuna offers hot tub boats that are equipped with a wood-fired stove that keeps water at 38ºC, so you can enjoy the ride all year round.

Good to Know

Each hot tub boat fits up to seven people. After a 15-minute orientation session, you get to sail with your group for 75 minutes. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit and a towel. You are also allowed to bring some alcoholic beverages. However, the designated captain in your group is not allowed to drink.

17. Take a Break in St Dunstan-in-the-East

Located halfway between the London Bridge and the Tower of London, the church of St. Dunstan-in-the-East was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War. Today, its ruins have been transformed into a peaceful public garden.

With its lush greenery, detailed archways, and rich history; this quiet oasis in the middle of the city is an ideal spot to take a break and make some great photos.

Good to Know

Access to the garden is free. The site is open all year round (except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day) from 8 am to 7 pm or dusk, whichever is earlier.

18. Stay in the Mosaic House

Artist Carrie Reichardt has spent almost twenty years covering her house in colorful mosaic creations that are full of details and political messages. Located on a quiet street in Chiswick (West London), the project was finally finished in 2017 after some of Reichardt’s mosaic artist friends step in to help.

Also, if you visit, you might see as well two vehicles parked in front of the house, which are also entirely covered in mosaic. The bright orange truck and black taxi cab were created as tributes to a couple of American prisoners.

Good to Know

The house is located a few minutes walk from Chiswick Park tube station. If you are curious to see the interior of the Mosaic House, you are in luck because now you can stay in it through Airbnb.

Located on the third floor, the self-contained unit includes two double bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchenette with a small seating area. By staying in this unique hidden gem in London, you will be helping the artist fund the production of her work.

19. Visit the Buddhapadipa Temple

Tucked away in a residential street in Wimbledon, the Buddhapadipa Temple is a Thai Buddhist temple and the first of its kind in the UK. Covering five acres of land, this serene oasis includes an ornamental lake, a small grove, a flower garden, and an orchard.

Inside the temple, you can admire some colorful and very detail murals depicting Buddha’s lifetime. Everyone is welcome to visit, whether you want to pray, meditate, or simply admire the stunning architecture. This little temple is a true hidden gem and a little bit of Thailand in London.

Good to Know

The temple is about 2km away from Wimbledon station. Access to the temple and its grounds is free. The temple grounds are open on weekdays but the main temple is open to the public only on the weekends.

20. Pass by the Nomadic Community Garden

Nestled between two train lines, the Nomadic Community Garden is an urban garden run by a non-profit organization. This thriving community space is located just off Brick Lane and is a chilled oasis full of creative art made out of discarded materials and lots of street art.

Good to Know

The entrance to the garden is free and you can explore the place at your leisure. There’s is also a small cafe where you can get something to eat and drink.

As you can see, there are many interesting possibilities to get off the beaten path when you pick any of these unusual things to do in London. And if you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out our other articles in this series for unusual things to do in New York, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, and Hong Kong.

Map – London Off the Beaten Path

This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of these links, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us to keep this site running. Thank you for your support!

Pin This:

Photo Credits

Cover image courtesy of Eva Dang via Unsplash.
All photos embedded from Instagram belong to each of the featured accounts.

Off the Beaten Path Guides

New York Off the Beaten Path
Unusual Things to Do in Paris
Unusual Things to Do in Rome Pin

Have you been to London? Are there any unusual things to do that you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment and let us know!

Bianca Bauza

Bianca Bauza

Travel Writer

Bianca is a world citizen who spent almost four years traveling around South America and Europe. Her passions include photography, street art, outdoor sports, and cooking exotic dishes. She’s now based in the Netherlands where she lives with her partner and young daughter. She still enjoys traveling, on her own or with her family, and is always looking for an opportunity to see new places.

2400 1602 Bianca Bauza

Bianca Bauza

Bianca Bauza is a world citizen who spent almost four years traveling around South America and Europe. Her passions include photography, street art, outdoor sports, and cooking exotic dishes. She's now based in the Netherlands where she lives with her partner and young daughter. She still enjoys traveling, on her own or with her family, and is always looking for an opportunity to see new places.

All stories by : Bianca Bauza
  • Great list! I need to do ice climbing and white water rafting. Never knew those existed here!

    • Thanks Jeremy! I was also surprised when I found out! Who knew you could do such adventurous things right in the big city! Thanks for stopping by :)

  • Mark @TravelnPleasure

    This really is a very resourceful and creative post……London is such a wonderful destination with so many exciting things to do and see …but the problem is people who are exploring London for a long time want to take part in some unique and unusual activities……I think these unusual things are wonderful and I will try each of these next time I visit my favorite city in UK

  • Thank you, this is gonna be fun! :D

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Mirre. Let me know how you like the things you try from this list :) Have a great trip! Greetings from Nijmegen

  • What an amazing post! I didn’t know about most of these… added some to my list, Thanks for sharing the info!

  • Awesome compilation of things to do! The House of Dreams looks super interesting. Definitely need to check that out next time I’m in London!

Leave a Reply

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

Start Typing