Non Touristy Things to do in London | Discover London Hidden Gems

by Alessia

Last updated on May 1st, 2020 at 06:46 pm

non touristy things to do in London

In all these years I leant that home is where you find yourself. London is home for us and it’s the place where we want to be. Nearly 5 years in a city that is now home, after discovering the most popular sightseeing, we are ready to propose to you the most secret spots in London. This is our perfect selection of non touristy things to do in London.

Even after all these years, we are discovering new places where we haven’t been to before. This is one of the reasons why we love London so much. Every day, year after year, we are going in deep and seeing all London non-touristy things to do.

If you have been already in the UK Capital, you might spot some new locations to visit in London. Those are our personal suggestions, we found some incredible things to do in London which you don’t find in common guides. 

Come with us and discover the little narrow street hidden in Oxford Street and all around London.


Discover the non touristy places in London 


Hidden gems of London through an itinerary of less known streets and places

Are you ready to dream about those beautiful hidden locations in London? As Londoners, this is what we suggest, if you are looking for an off the beaten path London itinerary.

  • Little Venice
  • Picnic in Primrose Hill
  • Visit the largest collection of Neon Signs
  • Stroll around Richmond Park with a bike
  • Walkthrough Clapham Park
  • The London Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park
  • Enjoy the best free view of London
  • The Garden @ 120 Fenchurch Street
  • Book a street art tour of East London
  • Walk along Regent’s Canal 
  • Admire the beauty of Kew Gardens
  • Explore Hampstead Heath
  • Visit Daunt Book
  • Book an afternoon tea bus tour
  • Hindu Temple in Neasden
  • St. Christopher Place
  • Granary Square
  • Kyoto Garden 
  • Lavender Fields 
  • Mercato Metropolitano 
  • Visit Pop Brixton
  • Seven Deals Market 
  • Spitalfields Market
  • Leadenhall Market

COOL OFF THE BEATEN PATH THINGS TO DO IN LONDON


Little Venice

Located where Regent’s canal and Grand Union meet, Little Venice is a beautiful canal with pretty waterside cafes and cosy bars. This is the right place if you are looking for a relaxing spot by the canal. When we used to live close to the Marylebone area, we were taking long walks around the Little Venice neighbourhood as we consider it very romantic.

LOCATION | Little Venice
TUBE | Paddington, Warwick Avenue, Edgware Road, Maida Vale or Royal Oak.
BUS | 6, 16, 18, 46, 98, 187, 332, 414
BY FOOT | Walk along Regent’s Canal from Camden Town and reach Little Venice. 

Picnic in Primrose Hill

Hampstead heat - Parliament hill - London Skyline

With its fantastic and stunning view of London, Primrose Hill is one of these places worth visiting. When it comes to spring and summer all the locals are planning day picnics in Primrose Hill. We are among them. You just grab your backpack with some snacks and drinks inside, call your friends and meet there. This huge park is considered by many as one of the most beautiful one for its view of London.

LOCATION | Primrose Hill Road
TUBE  | Chalk Farm/ Swiss Cottage
PRICE | Free 
READ ALSO | Best free view of London

Visit the largest collection of Neon Signs

If you are really looking into non-touristy things in London, you should visit God’s Own Junkyard. What is it? It’s the largest collection of neon signs and sculpture that you find outside the US.

All the Neon Signs you will find are made on-site in their workshop, even the pieces from the famous movies like J. Deep in Charlie and the Chocolate. This is, for sure, considered a hidden gem in London and it’s worth a visit

LOCATION| God’s Own Junkyard
TUBE | Walthamstow Central and Wood Street
BUS | 34, 56, 97, W16
TIPS| Large cameras and videos are not allowed but you can take pictures with your phone.


UNDERRATED PLACES IN LONDON OUT OF THE CITY CENTRE


Stroll around Richmond Park with a bike

London is famous even for the number of people using the bike. Everyone loves strolling around with a bicycle, especially inside the parks. If you are visiting London in spring or in summer, even better. The lovely and pink blossom trees will make your walk or bike ride through the park even more enjoyable. This is the park you have always seen in the photos of London, with wild deers. Being outside of the usual central London Area is less visited by tourists.

You can even book a London bike tour where you can explore the heart of the city. 

LOCATION | Richmond Park
TUBE | Richmond Station
BUS | 33, 65, 72, 85, 190, 265, 337, 391, 419, 585

Walk through Clapham Park

When we first moved in together we used to live in Clapham which today we miss so much. Clapham is located in the south of London ,where there is a huge park ideal for long walks and for laying down the gross during summertime. Around Clapham park, you can stop by and enjoy a drink on the n 32 The Old Town. An amazing bar with a view over the park and a gorgeous terrace.

If it’s a sunny day, make sure you prepare your backpack with some drinks and snacks, enjoy a lovely afternoon with friends and stroll around Clapham Park. 

LOCATIONS | Clapham Common
TUBE | Clapham Common or Clapham South
BUSES | 35, 37, 88, 155, 345

The London Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park

Being in London for so long it means even moving from one house to another. Now, if we are thinking about it we laugh but looking for the right place or flat it was kind of impossible. 

After so many viewing we found a lovely place close to Battersea Park. We were so happy to stay around this area as we knew that with only 5 minutes walk we could reach Battersea Park.

Actually, it was our first time exploring the park and we found a Buddhist stupa. It’s called Peace Pagoda and is a monument motivated to peace which it was designed to provide a centre for people in search of world peace.

The pagoda features a series of gift-bronze statues which represent the most significant stages of Buddha’s life. Birth, teaching, leading and death.

LOCATION | London Peace Pagoda
TUBE | Battersea Park (Overground)
BUS | 44, 49, 137, 156, 344, 436
TIPS | This beautiful monument is considered sacred so respect it


LONDON OFF THE BEATEN PATH –


Enjoy the best free view of London

Gherkin and The Shard London Skyline

London has got such beautiful landscapes, if you are visiting the big capital there are some of them which you should visit. Starting from the Skygarden, a huge skyscraper where the entrance is free, to the iconic the Shard, where you need to pay to go up.

It’s not only this as you can enjoy a stunning view from Primrose Hill and it’s completely free. 

But not, after giving you a little brief let’s discover one of the non-touristy places in London.

London off the beaten path photos
Our shortlist of the best free views of London. Incredible places in the heart of the city.

The Garden @ 120 Fenchurch Street

Recently open, the Garden at 120 Fenchurch Street is the typical British rooftop where you have the city from one side and St.Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard from the other. Completely free the entrance, the Garden is the right place if you are looking to enjoy a beautiful skyline of London.

LOCATIONS | 120 Fenchurch Street
ENTRANCE | Free
TUBE | Monument/Bank
BUS | 8, 11, 15, 25, 115, 149, 254, 344
OPENING HOURS | Summer (1st April – 30 September) 10 AM to 9 PMWinter (1st October – 31st March) 10 AM to 6.30 PM

TIPS | The view is pretty nice so we suggest you go when the weather is acceptable and not raining. 

Book a street art tour of East London

Book a tour of East London - Shoreditch High Street, exit from Old Street Tube station

Walking through the beautiful and colourful streets of Shoreditch and Brick Lane is something that you have to do when visiting London.

The famous street arts between Shoreditch and Brick Lane are a must-do in London and a street art tour is ideal for some insider tips. Book here you spot.

LOCATION | Liverpool Street
TUBE | Liverpool Street Station
PRICE | £15

Walk along Regent’s Canal

Did you know that from King’s Cross you can reach Camden through Regent’s Canal? It’s actually true.

When we first met, we were spending so much time around the city and one day we walked from King’s Cross and ended our romantic day in Camden. If you are visiting London with friends or family, for sure, you will enjoy this walk, through Regent’s Canal.

LOCATION | Regent’s Canal
WHERE TO START | From Camden Town
TUBE | Camden Town with Northern Line
TIPS | The weather in London is always a question mark but if you see that the sun is out and the temperature is acceptable, take this opportunity and walk along Regent’s Canal.


Visit the most charming areas of the city | Our list of top non touristy things in London


Admire the beauty of Kew Gardens

Located just 30 minutes from Central London, Kew Gardens is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site. In so many years that we have been in London, we only visited Kew Garden last year. Believe it or not, it’s true. 

There is always something to visit or to discover when living in a place for so long. With its 326 acres of gardens, Kew Place and 3 art galleries, Kew Gardens is one of the top things to do in London

LOCATION | Kew Gardens
TICKETS | We highly recommend you to pre-book the tickets online here.
PRICE | £13.50
TUBE | Kew Gardens with District and Overground Line

TIPS | Kew Gardens are located in zone 3, so if you have a zone 1-2 Travelcard you will pay a difference when clocking out from the tube.

Explore Hampstead Heath

Do you want to know a funny story about Hampstead Heath? This is what happened to us. 

It was a sunny and hot day in London. It was that particular Summer where everywhere was extremely hot. 

We were with our friends and we decided to head to Hampstead Heath as other’s friends told us that you could take a dip into one of the ponds. Happy about it we head to this marvellous and gorgeous park looking for this pond. Now, you can start thinking about how it ended. We didn’t find the pond!

Not happy about it, we just decided to stroll around the park and enjoy the sun when suddenly, we found the pond. It’s one of the non touristy places in London and you won’t find many people unless it’s an extremely hot day in the UK.

LOCATION | Hampstead Heath
TUBE | Gospel Oak, Kentish Town, Hampstead Heath Overground, Hampstead, Golders Green and Highgate.
BUS | C2, H3, C11, 24, 46, 168, 210, 214, 268
MAP | Here you can find the map and see where exactly you want to go

Visit Daunt Book

Tea and book at one of the best libreries in London

One of London non touristy things to do is to look for a typical and traditional bookshop. There is nothing better in life than a good book. Every time we are visiting a new country, Alessia is spending at least one hour inside a book shop and every time she comes out with a new book. It happened in Lisbon, in Porto and so in London too. I mean, there is nothing better than a new book. Its smell, the new pages and the story that you will find inside.

Here in London, you will find so many bookshops, check out also for Persephone Books and Shapero Rare Books.

Daunt Book is an old fashioned book shop in a gorgeous area of London, Marylebone. The Library is really close to Baker Street, famous for the Museum of Sherlock Holmes. Daunt Book is not just gorgeous and a perfect Instagram spot in London. This library has an entire floor dedicated to travel and photography, a wonderland for us.

LOCATION DAUNT BOOK | Marylebone
TUBE | Baker Street
BUS | 13, 18, 27, 30

LOCATION PERSEPHONE BOOKS |  Conduit Street
TUBE | Russell Square
BUS | 17, 38, 46, 63, 98, 168, 243

LOCATION SHAPERO RARE BOOKS | Mayfair
TUBE | Oxford Circus
BUS | 12, 73, N3, N136


Get lost in London | Discover some incredible less known places in London 


Book an afternoon tea bus tour

The special setting of Brigit's Bakery for Christmas. The afternoon tea on a classic double deck red bus around the centre of London
The special setting of Brigit’s Bakery for Christmas. The afternoon tea on a classic double deck red bus around the centre of London

Fancy for a different way to visit London? If yes, the afternoon tea bus tour is ideal for you. For Alessia’s birthday, we were invited on a B Bakery bus tour around London where, for the first time, we saw London from a different perspective. 

It’s for sure one of the things to do in London not touristy and you have the opportunity to taste a delicious and typical afternoon tea while seeing London’s top attractions. 

TOURS | Afternoon tea on Thames Cruise
Make London Smile on a B Bakery Bus Tour

TIPS | Have fun and enjoy every single moment

Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple 

After moving back to London from Malaga we lived in the Northern area of the city called Willesden Green. After a while, we discovered that close by there was a Hindu Temple which we never heard about before.

It’s an incredible landmark that is not frequented by tourists and this is why it needs to be in your off the beaten track London itinerary.

Following our trip to Sri Lanka, we were so happy to discover the divine site of Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. With its stunning gardens and amazing architecture is one of the best things to visit in London.

LOCATION | Mandir Hindu Temple
TUBE | Neasden
TIPS | As a Hindu Temple remember to follow the rules and to remove your shoes before entering the temple.

READ ALSO | Our 10 day Sri Lanka Itinerary

St. Christopher Place

Almost unbelievable that in a narrow street just behind the famous shopping alley of Oxford Street, there is a hidden spot in London. St. Christopher Place is cosy square, finely cured, full of fashion boutiques, luxury restaurants and small beautiful cafès.

St. Christopher Place is unique, but because of that, it is difficult to be found for a newbie in London. Look at our location below, to point your phone in the right direction.

LOCATIONS | St. Christopher Place
TUBE | Oxford Street or Bond Street

Granary Square

For London non touristy things to do you should visit Granary Square, located in King’s Cross area. What makes this square so famous? Of course, the main attraction is the fountains, perfect if you are travelling to London with kids. Along with the fountains, Granary Square is home to some fantastic places to drink and eat where each bar has got a lovely terrace. It’s for sure one of the things not to miss in London.

LOCATION | Granary Square
TUBE | Kings Cross St. Pancras
BUS | 10, 17, 30, 45, 46, 59, 63, 73, 91, 205, 214, 259, 390 and 476.

Kyoto Garden

Kyoto Garden is a traditional Japanese garden in one of the cosy areas of London.  With its colourful plants and flowers make this park a must-see in London. In so many years in the UK, we prefer to spend time in the Kyoto Garden than strolling around the famous Hyde Park in Central London.

This garden was a gift from the city of Kyoto to celebrate the long friendship between Japan and Great Britain. Admire the pond, the typical trees and the peacock roaming wild in the park.

LOCATION | Holland Park
TUBE| Holland Park
BUS | 27, 31, 52, 94,148, 607

Lavender Fields

I bet everyone dreamed about one of the most popular Instagram shots in Lavender Fields. If you have not this picture in mind, simply think about an infinite field tinged with purple and pink.

The lavender fields are popular in Provence, but not many know that in summer there are many in Uk too. Close to London, we have some awesome Lavender Fields, great to be explored for a perfect day trip from London.

LOCATIONS | Lavender Fields
PRICE | £4 per person – Children up to 16 entrance is FREE
BEST TIME TO VISIT | From May to September


LOCAL THINGS TO DO IN LONDON


Mercato Metropolitano

London is a big metropolis where you can find everything that you want. From the typical Fish and Chips to the traditional Neapolitan Pizza.

What’s our favourite place when it comes to food? Apart from our kitchen where food is always delicious, the best place for us to eat is Mercato Metropolitano.

Here you can find all the types of food you want, Italian, Turkish, Indian and more. 

With its indoor and outdoor space, this market is very popular for locals and when summer comes it’s the ideal place to hang out with friends.

LOCATION | Metropolitan Market
TUBE | Elephant & Castle
BUS | 53,133, 136, 148, 168, 343, 363
OPENING TIMES | Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 9 PM – Saturday 9 AM to 11 PM – Sunday 11 AM to 8 PM

TIPS | The pizza is really good 🙂

Visit Pop Brixton – London off the beaten track

Pop Brixton is a new initiative. A local community project transforms unused land into a perfect place to have a drink with friends. This place is now a Londoner’s spot to meet up with friends and spend their afternoons. With beautiful stores, pubs and restaurants, today Pop Brixton is one of the most hipster things to do in London

Located in south London this place is for sure one of the best things to do while in the city. The vibe and atmosphere around the Pop Brixton will make you feel like home.

LOCATIONS | Pop Brixton
TUBE | Brixton
BUS | 2, 37, 59, 118, 345

Seven Deals Market

Recently opened, Seven Deals Market is a new indoor shops and food stands located in Covent Garden Area.

We were walking around the neighbourhood and discovered this new market. With its live music in the central plaza and a good vibe, it’s the perfect place to grab something to eat. An add-on to this place, maybe because it is new, it is extremely cheap compared to similar places in the city. Look that this market is starting to get known as Banana Market, because of its logo.

LOCATION | Seven Deals Market
TUBE | Covent Garden
BUS | 9, 13, 15, 23, 24, 139, 153
OPENING TIMES | Monday to Saturday from 11 AM to 11 PM –  Sunday 12 PM to 10.30 PM

Spitalfields Market

Shoreditch and Brick Lane - Old spitalfield market stands weekend

Another fancy and really good market is the Old Spitalfields Market located around Shoreditch and Brick Lane area. This is the place where you can do some shopping and at the same time stop for lunch and eat something before heading to your next destination. 

Every time we visit the Spitalfields Market we come out with something in our hands so be ready to spend some. Especially if you are with your girlfriend!

The ideal way to head to this market is after a cultural tour around the neighbourhood where you discover the beautiful street art of Shoreditch and Brick Lane.

LOCATION | Spitalfields Market
TUBE | Aldgate East/Liverpool Street
BUS | 11, 26, 35, 135, 149, 205, 736
OPENING TIMES | Monday to Friday from 10 AM to 8 PM – Thursday 8 AM to 6 PM –  Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM – Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM

Leadenhall Market

Prettiest streets in London - Leadenhall Market - 4 days in London
Prettiest streets in London – Leadenhall Market

Known as Diagon Alley in Harry Potter’s movie, Leadenhall Market is one of the non-touristy places to see in London. When everyone is focused to visit only the London Eye or the Tower Bridge, head to Leadenhall Market instead. The architecture around is absolutely stunning, in the proper British style, so make sure you bring your camera with you.

Leadenhall Market is located in the historic centre of London’s financial district, offset compared to the surrounding area. It’s a lovely place for some shopping, with many independent boutiques or just to grab something quick to eat. Locals use to meet up here after work, from 5 pm every weekday this place is crowded with office workers drinking a beer or two. 

LOCATIONS | Leadenhall Market
TUBE | Bank/Monument
BUS | 8, 11, 15, 25, 47, 133, 344

FUN FACTS | Alessia learnt the actual name, Leadenhall Market, after a couple of years as she only wanted to call this place Diagon Alley. If you are a Harry Potter fan you must go and see Leadenhall Market what it really looks like.


Things to know before visiting the non touristy things in London


Where to stay in London

ACCOMMODATION | If you are looking for a place to stay, we suggest checking around Zone 2. It’s close to the city centre and very accessible from everywhere. Try to look around the area of Liverpool Street, Shoreditch, Camden, Borough, Finsbury Park or Clapham, or cosy studios in Brick Lane. All of these are really good neighbourhoods where you can stay for a couple of nights.

READ ALSO | Our experience in a Hostel as a couple

TRANSPORTS | It depends on how many days you are looking to stay in London. Anyway we always suggest having an Oyster Card. It’s a top-up card which can be used on tubes and buses. 

If you are staying up to 7 days the ideal is to have a weekly travelcard where you can have unlimited travels depending on which zone you choose.

London is divided by zones, like Paris is divided by arrondissement, and centre London is located between Zone 1 and 2

MONEY | Very rarely you need to have cash with you as in the city you can pay for everything with your debit/credit card. The conversion rate changes almost every day so if you are looking to transfer from one currency to another, check before they have the best deal.

APPS | When visiting London those apps will help and make your journey easier.

Uber | If you don’t know how to come back home, Uber would save your life. It’s way cheaper than a black cab.

CityMapper | It’s the best app we ever had. It will help you to get from point A to point B while suggesting which public transport to take.

Refill | It’s a fantastic app where it will tell you the location where you can refill your bottle of water.

Santander Cycle | If you want to stroll around the city with a bike, this app is perfect as it will tell you the availability and routes to the nearest docking station.

Things to do in London not touristy 

As Londoner, we tried to put together a list of the best non touristy things to do in London. We hope that this personalized itinerary will help you to enjoy London. After spending so many years in the city we know how London is beautiful but hard to visit. An off the beaten path London itinerary is not easy, especially when you want to explore every single street and part of the British Capital.

London is big and it’s open to everyone so if you missed something your first time, you can always come back and enjoy the city again. If you have discovered a great spot in London we have missed in our guide, please comment below. We will be happy to sign you off in this post in the next update.

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