Looking for unusual things to do in London? In addition to its iconic landmarks and notable attractions, the city is bursting with offbeat, quirky, and downright strange activities!
Naturally, you’ll want to see the likes of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London during your time in the English capital. Especially if this is your first time visiting. But it’s great to break up the famous spots with hidden gems.
Here’s your guide to the weirdest things to do in London. But first, some handy information to plan your trip.
How to get to London
Before you dive into the unusual places to visit in London, you need to get to the city. You can reach London from elsewhere in the UK and beyond by road, rail, and plane.
If you are flying into London from an international destination such as the US, you will most likely land at London Heathrow or London Gatwick. These airports connect to London via train as well as the London Underground if you arrive at Heathrow.
London Luton and London Stansted are great options for budget flights if you’re travelling in from Europe. Again, the airports link to the city seamlessly via train. Located in Zone 3, London City is the most central airport and connects the capital with domestic and European cities. However, prices tend to be steeper in general.
Mainline train stations are dotted all around the city. You can view train tickets on thetrainline; pay attention to which station you will arrive at.
Getting around London
London benefits from an exceptional public transport system consisting of the London Underground, London Overground, Docklands Light Rail (DLR), buses, and river boats. Pick up an Oyster card or use your contactless credit or debit card for the lowest fares on the above services.
You can hire wallet-friendly bicycles with a bike-share scheme such as Santander Cycles. Docking stations are scattered across the city centre.
Black cabs off the street are abundant although you will find cheaper rides with Uber.
That being said, the central neighbourhoods of London are very walkable. Therefore you should always check out the walking distances between these unique things to do in London.
Where to stay in London
Although you’ll appreciate staying as centrally as possible, accommodation in Zone 1 is costly. If you are travelling on a budget but would rather avoid hostels, your best option for low-cost rooms is around the Paddington neighbourhood. Park Avenue Baker Street consists of clean and compact rooms with private bathrooms.
The Coach is an attractive adults-only boutique hotel in Clerkenwell, a central yet peaceful neighbourhood with heritage charm. Native Bankside is a trendy spot within walking distance of Borough Market and London Bridge. Each room features basic kitchen facilities.
If you’re not constrained by budget, the ultra-luxurious St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London features lavishly dressed rooms and a swimming pool.
12 Unusual Things to Do in London
Now, over to the bizarre activities and quirky places to visit in London!
You can slot these into a wider itinerary in London and balance a mix of icons with unusual places.
1. Tour a museum after hours
London is a treasure trove of museums and galleries. As they are prone to crowding, it’s worth trying to visit one or two after-hours where possible.
Many London institutions participate in the Museum Lates programme. This sees the doors open later one night a month with themed activities, special talks, and an offering of food and drink. They’re often exclusively for adults.
You will need to check your preferred museum’s website directly to find out when they are hosting their next Late evening. As an example, the Natural History Museum takes part on set nights regularly throughout the year. The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) holds their Lates on the final Friday of the month while the Science Museum runs theirs on the last Wednesday.
Attending a Museum Lates is one of the coolest unusual things to do in London for couples seeking a date night activity.
2. Grab brunch at an urban farm
A farmyard is the last thing you might expect to find in the middle of a major metropolis but, in fact, there are several of these unusual London attractions!
These small city farms contain livestock such as goats, chickens, pigs, sheep, and donkeys. They operate charitable and community initiatives that support local children and environmental initiatives.
These farms are open to the wider public and are free to visit. However, you can make a donation, purchase a meal at the cafe, or pick up a souvenir at the on-site shop if you wish to support the business.
The most central and easily accessible city farms include Vauxhall City Farm, Spitalfields City Farm, and Stepney City Farm. Although it’s a little further out, Surrey Docks City Farm offers a unique perspective of Canary Wharf and has an outstanding cafe.
3. Rent a kayak
If you fancy doing something active while in the capital, kayaking is one of the top quirky things to do in London for outdoorsy travellers. You can opt to kayak on the River Thames or on the Regent’s Canal.
London Kayak Company conducts tours on the river with routes such as Battersea to Greenwich or Poplar to Tower Bridge. They also offer night kayak tours which is one of the most unique experiences in London at night.
As an alternative, Moo Canoes operate from Limehouse Basin and Hackney Wick. You can rent a canoe or kayak and paddle at leisure along the tranquil Regent’s Canal, docking as and when you like to grab a bite or a drink.
They also offer paddle board rentals and lessons from their Poplar base.
4. Spend a day in Greenwich
Greenwich is a beautiful, leafy neighbourhood in East London that sits on the banks of the River Thames.
As it’s a little further out of the centre, Greenwich is often overlooked. That makes it one of the unusual places to visit in London, especially for first-time visitors. But you can get there swiftly and easily via the DLR or scenic riverboat and then explore the attractions on foot.
Sights include the Old Naval College with its Painted Chapel. Opt to visit the free National Maritime Museum or pay to tour the Cutty Sark. Wander through the vast expanse of Greenwich Park to see the Prime Meridian and the Royal Observatory.
There are masses of restaurants and traditional pubs where you can enjoy a meal of fish and chips, pie, or a Sunday Roast on the weekends. Meanwhile, you can pick up street eats from the covered Greenwich Market to enjoy in the sunshine.
5. Find your favourite filming locations
Hundreds upon hundreds of films and TV series were filmed in London. One of the number one quirky things to do in London is to track down some of the filming locations from your favourite movies.
If you loved Notting Hill, then you can actually visit the exterior of the building that served as William and Spike’s flat. It’s located at 280 Westbourne Park Road. From there you can wander down to the Travel Bookshop that starred in the film. There’s a lot to do in Notting Hill, so you can easily wander the neighborhood for a few hours.
Scenes from Closer where “Alice” and Dan share one of their earliest meetings were shot at Postman’s Park in the City of London. The park was named for the local post office workers who would eat their lunch within the grounds. However, the main attraction is the touching memorial to 62 “ordinary” people who sacrificed their lives to save others.
And of course, if you’re a Harry Potter fan you can track down the various locations such as Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station and Leadenhall Market (Diagon Alley). Free Tours by Foot offers a Harry Potter-themed walking tour alongside other offerings.
Rewatch your favourite London-based films prior to your trip and make a plan to track down the locations.
6. Get a bird’s eye view for free
Even if this is your first time visiting London, you’ll already know about the major observation decks in the city. While the London Eye and the Shard are quite costly to visit, the view from the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street is completely free.
Sky Garden is located at the top of the skyscraper known as the Walkie Talkie. The botanical garden is located inside the building and there is an open-air platform where you can survey the city.
There is a cafe bar where you can pick up soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and light snacks. Another of the unique things to do in London is to book a morning yoga class at Sky Garden and watch the sunrise while you’re stretching.
You must pre-book your free admission and carry your passport in order to enter the tower. Sunset slots tend to go the fastest so act quickly if you have your heart set on golden hour.
7. Catch your breath at the Conservatory at the Barbican Centre
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is the main botanic garden in London and is well worth a visit. However, if you’re strapped for time (or it’s raining!) then you might prefer to visit the centrally-located Conservatory at the Barbican Centre.
This tropical oasis features a mix of trees, plants, flowers, and fish. You will follow a walkway through the jungle that takes around 30 minutes to complete.
Admission is free and the Conservatory is open on select days and times. You can reserve your free ticket online one week in advance or on the morning of the day you intend to visit.
This is a great way to break up a wider itinerary in the City of London.
8. Sign up for a unique class or workshop
Travelling is all about learning new things and in London, you can find classes and workshops about anything you fancy!
One of the weirdest things to do in London is to take a circus class. Gorilla Circus runs flying trapeze classes in Regent’s Park every summer. These last approximately two hours and cater for little kids through to senior citizens. If you ever dreamed about running away with the circus, now’s your chance to seize the opportunity!
For further inspiration, you might want to consider learning how to make your own cheese with the Urban Cheese Maker.
9. Swim at Hampstead Ponds
When the sun shines in London (because, honestly, it does!) there are several wonderful swimming holes in town where you can cool down.
The bathing ponds at Hampstead Heath are the most unique. You will be exposed to the elements in cold, deep, untreated water with pond life. It’s one of the unusual things to do in London for adventurous souls!
There is a token fee to pay at the facility where you’ll find showers and bathrooms (no lockers).
You have the option of a women’s pond, men’s pond, or mixed pond. If you aren’t keen on swimming in natural water then there’s even a lido at Parliament Hill.
10. Laugh your socks off at stand-up comedy
West End Theatre dominates London’s cultural nightlife and is an incredible experience to add to your wishlist. However, if you’re not wild about musicals then you might prefer to spend the night elsewhere.
London is abundant in comedy clubs where you can watch big-name comedians and rising stars. If you fancy getting to grips with the British sense of humour, then this is the place to do it.
The Top Secret Comedy Club hosts nightly events with tickets going for as little as £1. These budget-friendly nights see comedians perform their recent works in progress to a live audience of guinea pigs. Some of the jokes might be hit and miss but you do stand a chance of catching well-established stand-ups.
Taking place on the Tattershall Castle, The Boat Show is an alternative for stand-up nights. No need to have your sea legs, the boat remains docked on the Thames for the entire show.
If you want a combination of comedy and theatre, check out tickets to a show such as The Play That Goes Wrong. This slapstick comedy is one of the most unusual things to do in London at night and will have you in stitches.
11. Taste eclectic cocktails
After a meal at one of these restaurants, you might well want to continue the evening. A night out in London is always going to be spectacular but you can give yourself a head start by choosing one of the kookiest bars.
Head south to Clapham and you can enjoy wine and charcuterie at WC. However, that’s not what WC stands for here: this subterranean bar occupies a former water closet! There is a second WC Wine & Charcuterie in Bloomsbury. Fear not, these unusual London attractions have been thoroughly cleaned as part of the restoration.
Piano Works in Farrington rustles up exceptional cocktails and the live band performs songs on request. Set in the basement of a former Victorian warehouse, the atmosphere here is hard to beat.
Shoreditch is one of the best areas in London for nightlife and is packed with eclectic cocktail lounges. Callooh Callay has a creative and scrumptious cocktail list in an Alice in Wonderland-inspired setting.
Purl London serves multi-sensory brews in a cellar bar. It’s all very smoke and mirrors with a speakeasy vibe.
12. Dine at a quirky restaurant
London is an excellent destination for foodies due to the variety of British, European, and international restaurants on offer. Making a reservation at one of these one-of-a-kind restaurants is one of the most unusual things to do in London for couples.
Dans le Noir ? is a sensory experience where you’ll be served your three courses and left to eat in pitch darkness. Menus are always a surprise; you will select either fish, meat, or vegetarian and then be left in the hands of the chef. Courses are paired with wine and the food quality is upscale.
Circus is another of the unique experiences in London. Aerial acrobats, dancers, and burlesque performances perform as you tuck into Asian-inspired dishes while flames flicker overhead.
Meanwhile, the Soho-based Russian restaurant Bob Bob Ricard can have dangerous consequences. Each booth is fitted with a “Press for Champagne” button which in the wrong hands can lead to an eye-watering bill! The food, however, is exquisite and the setting resembles the Orient Express.