Are you looking to add quirky attractions in London to your next itinerary? Look no further!
With help from other talented travel bloggers, I’ve compiled a fantastic list of unusual and quirky attractions in London that are worth a visit. These range the gambit from street art, to unusual museums, and fantastic markets. The goal was to bring together a list of places to visit that offer really great experiences but are not commonly featured on “what to see” articles for London.
I’ve lived and worked in London for nine years now and this list represents some of the best of what the city has to offer. I’m always a fan of the main tourist sites, like the Tower of London or British Museum. But if you want to imbue your itinerary with a few of the less-visited locations this list is for you!
Leake Street Arches
The Leake Street Arches run beneath Waterloo Station on the south bank of the River Thames and is a fantastic quirky attraction in London. The tunnel is explicitly pedestrianized and allows the visitors and artists to wander freely without concern for vehicle traffic.
The walls of the tunnels are covered in ever-changing and evolving graffiti. Many of the artists work openly in the tunnels and can be a sight to behold when they’re creating their new pieces on the walls. There are layers and layers of work across every inch of the walls and ceiling in the arches.
The tunnels are unique in that there are explicit rules that allow for the graffiti art to be done on the walls of the tunnels. The rules surrounding this unique setup involve some basics – no sexism, racism or adverts. And artists are expected to take their trash with them when they leave. It really creates a unique work environment for the artists and the fantastic evolution of artwork for the visitors. It makes trips back to the arches interesting to see just what has changed since the last visit!
The arches themselves are home to several businesses that can be accessed via the tunnel. These include the restaurants Bahn Bao Brothers and Mumuska Polish Kitchen and Bar. It also includes the fantastic Draughts Board Game Cafe. And Aures London which is an event space that offers performances and exhibits.
How to get to the Tunnels: Take the but (Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee, Waterloo & City) to Waterloo Station. The arches can be accessed from York Road or Waterloo Station Approach.
Underground Supper Club
Submitted by Emily of London City Calling
While there are plenty of quirky and unusual places to eat in London, nothing can beat Underground Supper Club for being one of the coolest restaurants in the capital that everyone needs to add to their London bucket list.
Located at the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum in north-east London, Underground Supper Club allows diners to eat on a decommissioned 1967 Victoria Line tube carriage which has retained all of its original features – other than the newly added dining tables. You can opt for the smaller private booths of 2 or 4 people, or make some new friends at the large communal table which takes up the majority of the carriage.
Being a supper club, all diners arrive for the same seating each evening and the night is hosted by head chef Beatriz Maldonado Carreño (Bea), who is originally from Bogotá Colombia and brings some exciting South American flavours to this unique London restaurant. Bea even comes into the carriage to explain each of the six delicious courses as they’re being served.
Underground Supper Club takes place from Thursday to Saturday and only takes 35 diners each night, so it’s best to book far in advance. A 6-course dinner costs just £49 per person.
Arcelor Mittal Orbit Slide in Olympic Park
Submitted by Joanna from TheWorldInMyPocket
One of the quirky attractions in London is the Arcelor Mittal Orbit slide, from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, in Stratford. The Arcelor Mittal Orbit is a structure with an observation tower measuring 114.5 meters heigh. Not many people know that it is home to the longest tunnel slide in the world.
The slide measures a total of 178 meters, and it has 12 twists and turns. It takes around 40 seconds to reach to the bottom. It is an exciting ride for adrenaline lovers. It has both dark and see-through parts, so when you slide down you can catch glimpses of the panoramic views of London.
The design of the slide is a collaboration between the German artist Carsten Höller and the designer of the Arcelor Mittal Orbit, Sir Anish Kapoor.
If you want to experience the slide you must book in advance as only a limited number of tickets are released every day. A slide + viewing platform ticket for an adult starts at £16.75. Getting to Stratford by tube is very easy from central London, on the Central and Jubilee lines. From the station, you will need to walk through the Olympic Park to get to the Arcelor Mittal Orbit Slide.
Eel Pie Island
Submitted by By Katja from globetotting
There are myriad things to see and do in London but some of the best places to visit – and the ones that you’ll remember long after you return home – are those off the beaten track. One such destination is Eel Pie Island, an island in the River Thames that is bursting with history.
Positioned in between Richmond and Twickenham in south London, this island is little more than a long mudflat and yet it’s home to some of London’s best stories. This is where, according to some historians, Henry VIII would meet his mistresses. In the 17th century, day-trippers started arriving, tempted by the eel pies that were served by the inn on the island. In 1830, the Eel Pie Island Hotel opened.
It’s the hotel that really put Eel Pie Island on the map. During the 1920s, ballroom dances were hosted at the hotel. Later, jazz sessions and blues concerts were held here. In 1963, The Rolling Stones played a weekly gig here. Other famous musicians to step on the hotel stage included Genesis, David Bowie and Pink Floyd among other greats. There’s a museum dedicated to the history of the island in Twickenham itself.
Today, Eel Pie Island is home to a group of 26 artists who work in colourful studios sculpting, painting, throwing pots and more. The island is closed to the public except for two weekends a year when the bridge linking the mudflat to the mainland is open to visitors. The artists open their studio doors, music plays and there are drinks and food for sale. It’s a wonderful way to get a peek into one of London’s quirkiest attractions.
God’s Own Junkyard
Submitted by Caroline from CKTravels
Located in a secluded industrial estate in north London at the end of the Victoria line is an unassuming warehouse that is packed to the rafters with some of the most original, bright and colourful artworks. A nirvana of Instagrammable neon signs, God’s OwnJunkyard in Walthamstow, was created by Chris Bracey, who is famous for creating Soho strip joint and brothel signs. He has also designed art pieces for photographers and artists including David LaChappelle, and for film directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton, and Christopher Nolan.
Inside this gallery are provocative and stimulating sculptures and lights to suit all tastes and is a real feast for the eyes. Enjoy wandering amongst an eclectic mix of shiny mirror balls, flashing fairground and circus lighting, large luscious lips, psychedelic retro signs and old film props. Many of these signs are available to hire or purchase.
After walking around the installations, take a seat amongst all the objects and order a cocktail, burger or afternoon tea from the Rolling Scones café.
God’s Own Junkyard is open to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and is free to enter. Cameras are not permitted but the use of mobile phones for photography is fine.
To reach God’s Own Junkyard, take the Victoria line to zone 3 and alight at Walthamstow station. The gallery is a 15-minute walk away, and there are several brewery taprooms, bars and restaurants nearby so you can make a day of it.
Postal Museum & Train
Submitted by Faith from xyuandbeyond.com
Hubs is a retired postie so I thought that the London Postal Museum might be a bit of a laugh and I have to be honest we didn’t expect too much. However, it was a blast.
The Museum is divided into two parts which include Mail Rail which is the legendary driverless tube trains that used to carry the mail under London that closed in 2003. Across the road from Mail Rail is the Museum itself and it takes you around the history of the Royal Mail chronologically.
The Museum is near the Mount Pleasant sorting office in Clerkenwell, and from the tube station at Chancery Lane is about a 10-minute walk. The entry ticket, which includes the ride on Mail Rail is adult £17 and child £10.
The Mail Rail tour is in a small electric mail wagon with acrylic and you are whisked down the tube lines passing illuminated displays and exhibits of how the mail was delivered. On the tube walls, there are narrated videos that include photos from every era.
As you exit the carts there are displays and even an interactive exhibit that gives you the experience of sorting the mail on a moving train.
Across the street the Museum itself it set up on a timeline so you can see the original carriages that mail was delivered in right up to the Great Train Robbery and how the mail is delivered today. The Museum contains some cool interactive components including where you can make your own stamp, dress up in vintage mail uniforms and use the old pneumatic mail tubes.
Submitted by Queenie from ThePoorLondoner
Dotted with several second-hand Victorian and antiquarian shops right behind Trafalgar Square, Cecil Court is every Harry Potter fan’s best-kept secret. Not only did it serve as inspiration for the magical film franchise but is also the holy grail for book lovers. Shopfronts retain their centuries-old charm and offer a trip back in time to many different eras.
It’s not just the rusty and musty stores which are peculiar – first-edition covers, rare finds, antique shops and one-quarter of the street filled with Harry Potter merchandise add to Cecil Court’s charm. Its candle-lit façade has been hiding in the heart of London since the 17th century, and also became Mozart’s temporary home base while he toured Europe at the tender age of eight. Look out for one of London’s infamous blue plaques here dedicated to the historic composer.
With its enchanting atmosphere and shops resembling the ones at the Shambles in York, it’s a no-brainer why Cecil Court would inspire production for Harry Potter. Did I mention shops dedicated to magic and wizardry are also a prominent highlight? Charing Cross is a stone’s throw away with its bustling pubs – perhaps a coincidence that Harry’s first visit to Diagon Alley with Hagrid starts off from here?!
If you’re looking to escape Central London’s busy streets for a few moments of peace without leaving the area, look no further than Cecil Court.
Dennis Severs’ House
Submitted by Nichola from Globalmouse Travels
The Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields is a completely unique experience and will allow you to feel as though you have been transported back in time. This house was curated by Dennis Severs as an experience, whereas as a visitor you walk through history as you pass through the house.
Each room is set up in a different era of history and you travel through the house in as near-silence as possible. There are sights, smells and sounds and this isn’t some whitewashed view of history, it’s grimy and dark and often a bit murky. You start in the cellar, in a room set up to replicate those the Huguenots from the 1720s would have inhabited. Every space is as though the residents have just walked out and you feel as though at any moment they might return.
As you wind your way through the home you pass through history, finishing with the Victorians on the top floor. Some of the great London hotels for families are in this area of London so stay nearby to soak up the atmosphere even more or take the tube to Liverpool Street Station to walk there.
There are limited tickets available each day, to keep the experience feeling quiet and special, so it’s definitely one to book in advance.
Paddle Steamer Waverly
Submitted by Annabel of SmudgedPostcard
A trip on the Paddle Steamer Waverley is a particularly unique way of exploring London by boat. The Waverley is the last ocean-going paddle steam in the world but it sometimes finds time to take visitors on trips along the Thames. The boat departs from Tower Pier next to the Tower of London and passes beneath Tower Bridge – the bridge opens to let the boat through.
The paddle steamer goes past some of the capital’s key attractions before continuing on through lesser-known parts of the city. Shiny tower blocks soon give way to old warehouses and docks offering a glimpse of London’s once illustrious trading past. Some of the warehouses are earmarked for demolition to make way for luxury developments. The boat passes through the Thames Barrier – an essential flood defence barrier. The shorter trip takes passengers to Gravesend in Kent where there’s a high-speed rail link back to the capital. A longer journey takes visitors as far as the mouth of the Thames.
The cost per adult is £25, children under 18 are half price and the under 5s go free. The trip to Gravesend takes two hours and the journey back by train is around half an hour.
Sherlock Holme’s Museum
Submitted by Jyoti from StoryAtEveryCorner
London has so many quirky attractions it’s hard to pick a favorite. But every itinerary for visiting London ought to have Sherlock Holmes’s home. It’s one of the coolest places to visit for all fans of Sherlock Holmes and all fans of the mystery genre in general. For generations of fans, Sherlock Holmes’s fictional address was 221B Baker St. Eventually with much campaigning by fans, the address now actually exists in reality.
221B Baker St is home to the images and artefacts of the Sherlock Holmes books, precisely as described by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle. For avid fans, it is a real-life replica of what was once home to the world’s greatest detective mastermind that ruled the hearts and minds of generations of detective story lovers, to a great extent he still is.
The first(ground level) floor has the lobby and gift shop. While waiting in line, look up at the ceiling. It’s certainly not in the books.
The second floor is the big treat. It has the living room where Holmes and Dr Watson spent hours. Holmes solved many crimes in this living room with his best friend. It has Holmes’s sitting area, dining table, lab and much more.
In levels above that have have rooms set up as rooms in Holmes house have have displays from the most famous crime scenes.
Currently the museum is closed due to Covid-19. But as of 2021 the ticket prices are
- Adults – £15
- Concessions – £12.00
- Children (under 16) – £10
- Children (under 6) – Free
Submitted by Julia of JulesTrails
In one of the most lively and artistic neighbourhoods in North East London, there’s a hub where eccentric artists and photo-worthy street food get together. It’s a lovely place to have a unique lunch and shopping experience.
Once a car park, Netil Market is now filled with large shipping containers, home to some permanent boutiques, as well as stalls that serve exciting food from tacos to coffee to bagels and halloumi fries with a taste of Middle East. Many of London’s best food establishments have started in this market as pop-up stalls so you get to try awesome specialities first hand!
This vibrant hub is also home to a creative community of artisans, craftspeople and designers who run independent businesses and showcase and sell their artwork.
This is the destination to find quirky glasses, designer shirts and stylish homeware.
After shopping for some trendy crafts and eating to your heart’s content, you can enjoy some rest and sip a cold beverage on the sun-soaked terrace.
While you’re up there, don’t miss a behind the scenes peek at the independent radio station Netil Radio.
It is free to stroll around the market and you can easily get there with a 5-minute walk from the Overground station of London Fields.
Don’t miss visiting on Saturdays, when the small market fills with pop-up stalls, live music and electric atmosphere.
Disused Tube Station Tours with Hidden London
The London Transport Museum, under the name Hidden London, operate disused tube station tours. They’re re-opened seven closed stations at various points in London for guided tours. Because of the nature of these spaces, there are limited tickets sold to visit and they must be booked in advance.
The tours give visitors an opportunity to really immerse themselves in these lost and abandoned spaces of the tube network. Each tour is meant to highlight a different period of time in the tube network or a different “behind the scenes” look at more modern stations. For example, the Aldwych Station tour focuses heavily on the fantastic history of the station including stories of the British Museum using the station to house priceless artefacts during the Blitz. And the Charing Cross Station tour is of the disused Jubilee platforms that closed when the line was expanded beneath the Thames and gives fantastic behind the scenes access to the network’s ventilation system. Each tour is unique and you’ll learn something different from each station you visit.
These spaces have spent decades closed off from the public and provide a really unique underground experience in London. They’re each full of fantastic history and offer a really unique perspective on the network we take for granted every day we commute on the tube.
Tickets range in price, depending on the station, but tend to cost around £35. Tours are available throughout the week, by appointment only, and you’ll want to book well in advance for weekend slots. The last between 1-2 hours, depending on the station, and are a fully guided experience.
London’s Roman Amphitheatre at the Guildhall
Submitted by Zarina from Dutch Girl in London
Quirky fact about London: today’s vibrant metropolis with its 8 million residents, was originally a tiny Roman settlement. Founded by the Romans in 43AD, Londinium was only roughly one square mile in size!
Nearly 2,000 years later, you’ll still hear Londoners talk about ‘The Square Mile’. Located in the earliest part of the city, the term now refers to London’s financial centre. Also known as The City, this area houses a striking mix of ultra-modern skyscrapers and Roman London sites. Some of these ancient sites are still very visible in the cityscape, like the remnants of the Roman city wall. Yet others are more obscure and lie hidden from view.
One of these hidden sights is the spectacular Roman amphitheatre that lies buried in the heart of The City. Here once stood an incredible stadium, seating up to 7,000 spectators – a third of Londinium’s population! And yet, the remains of this quirky London attraction weren’t discovered until the 1980s, entirely by chance.
Now just picture yourself walking through a venue that was once the stage for gladiator combats and wild animal fights! Long before Netflix, this is where you wanted to be for some heart-pumping entertainment. Located 20 feet underground, it’s now possible to visit the remains of London’s only Roman amphitheatre and retrace the steps of its ancient visitors.
Entrance to London’s amphitheatre is free. You can access it through the Guild Hall Art Gallery (address: Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE). Before entering, there’s a splendid exhibit about Roman London times and throughout the venue, you’ll find information signs.
Street Art in Camden Town
Submitted by Margherita from TheCrowdedPlanet
Canals in Little Venice
Submitted by Linda from LindaOnTheRun
One of the coolest quirky attractions in London is the Little Venice Canals. Venice in London? Well, sort of!
The Little Venice neighborhood of London is a residential neighborhood home to restaurants, cafes, and pubs along with a series of canals. It is a great place to stop for any visit, whether it is your first time in London or you have been a dozen times! Located just north of Paddington, it is where the Regent’s Canal meets the Grand Union Canal. At that location, a small group of waterways is formed and given the name of Little Venice.
There are endless options while visiting! You can opt to take a leisurely narrowboat ride along the canals from several local companies. Little Venice has its fair share of independent theatre companies, and there is always something interesting for you to see throughout the year. A walk along the canals is always a great idea. It also can connect you to several fantastic places – such as Regent’s Park, London Zoo or Rembrandt’s Garden.
And if all that is not enough to woo you to Little Venice, how about some of the best options for food and drink in London in such a unique setting!? Whatever you desire, you can usually find it here. You can leisurely dine by the canal with its fantastic views, or dress up for an elegant dinner on the canal. The pubs will not disappoint either with some of the coolest canal views!
Getting to Little Venice is easy because it is located a few minutes walk from Paddington Stations or Warwick Avenue’s Station. There are signs to direct you once you exit.
Visiting the neighborhood of Little Venice is a fantastic experience you should seek out!
Located in Covent Garden, Neal’s Yard is a courtyard somewhat secluded from the hustle and bustle of people roaming the streets. It’s filled with building painted with bright colours.
It all started when Nicholas Saunders saw the area as a compost pile where people regularly dumped their trash. He opened up a store and began cleaning up the area. Before long, he saw other people follow his lead, and soon there were plenty of stores in the area for people who wanted something quirky in their London experience.
Jacob The Angel is one of the best coffee shops in London. There is a window for takeaway so people can stop by briefly to pick up some of their famous coffee and coconut cream pies.
Wild Food Cafe is another excellent place to stop by when you are ready to participate in the wonderful English tradition of a four-o’clock tea.
Homeslice caters to pizza lovers of all kinds. Whether you want an enormous twenty-inch pizza for just twenty pounds or are only stopping by for a slice, Homeslice has got you covered.
Casanova & Daughters Restaurant is run by a man who used to be a circus performer before deciding to leave the glittery circus life in favour of opening a Sicilian deli and wine bar. Like the other places in Neal’s Yard, there is an authentic vibe that still manages to capture the same entertainment that a colourful circus would.
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