A great man once said, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. And with the capital’s eye-watering list of attractions and packed events calendar, it’s hard to disagree.
That being said, once you’ve ticked off London’s most famous museums and landmarks, it can be difficult to know where to head. If you’ve visited the capital several times before, you’ll know there’s only so many times you can walk around Harrods and Hyde Park.
To help you get to grips with London’s lesser-known gems, we’re giving you the rundown of our favourite things to do in London – that you won’t even have heard of yet!
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Far, far more intimate than London icons like the British Museum or the V&A, this quirky attraction is no less interesting. Sitting on Lincoln’s Inn Fields, it’s the former home of celebrated neo-classic architect John Soane. He adapted and added to the property for several decades, until an act of Parliament in 1833 determined the house be preserved and maintained forevermore, shortly before his death in 1837. Today, the house remains fully intact, and is bursting full of artefacts that include everything from sarcophagi to roman bronzes and artworks by Piranesi.
The museum is located right at the heart of the capital well within reach of many of our London hotels on foot, such as Novotel London Blackfriars.
God’s Own Junkyard
Seemingly more Las Vegas than London, God’s Own Junkyard is a feast for the senses. Hidden away in a warehouse in Walthamstow, it’s one of the world’s greatest collections of specially commissioned and salvaged neon signs. The man behind the magic is Chris Bracey, a light artist who’s been creating and reclaiming the works for 37 years – and he’s got plenty to show for it. Stop for coffee and a cake at their in-house café before losing yourself among this neon paradise.
The Junkyard is a short walk from Walthamstow Central tube station. This is served by the Victoria line, which runs through much of central London.
Wilton’s Music Hall
Claiming to be the oldest grand music hall in the world, Wilton’s is a hidden gem among London’s cultural institutions. Just a couple of minutes’ walk from Tower Bridge, this edgy and exciting event space boats a packed-out schedule of live music, productions and workshops. Whether you’re catching a show or just hanging out in one of the bars, the rustic charm of the grade II* listed building is an attraction all of its own.
If you’re looking for a hotel in London that’s a stone’s throw from Wilton’s, Novotel London Tower Bridge is just an 11-minute walk away.
A once derelict wasteland has been transformed into a thriving and colourful start-up hub, thanks to Pop Brixton. A sea of shipping containers and temporary spaces play host to local food, retail, design and social ventures – with the culinary offering being the real highlight here. Current residents include Petare, which serves up delicious Venezuelan street food, as well as Franzina Trattoria – a Sicilian-style café.
Pop Brixton is just around the corner from Brixton tube station, which is served by the Victoria line.
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while when on your next break to the capital, Kenwood House is just the place. Nestled away at the top end of Hampstead Heath - London’s largest public green space - this tranquil setting feels a world away from the roar of the city. The house itself boasts breathtaking interiors and a world-class art collection, set within an elegantly styled white-stone mansion. The lawns below it are the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a picnic, and regularly host events throughout the spring and summer. Not to mention the incredible views back over the city skyline – since this is one of the highest spots in Greater London.
Using public transport, the house is best reached by Hampstead Heath train station. That’s a short journey on National Rail services from around the capital, with easy access from Novotel London Brentford which is close to Gunnersbury station.
For an ultra-cool urban hangout, the Bussey Building has you covered. In 2006, this industrial site at the heart of Peckham was earmarked for demolition, but locals fought the plans and set to work transforming the estate into a quirky cultural hub. Today, the Bussey Building is the areas centrepiece, with this Edwardian mill housing artists, small businesses and community groups. Since 2007, it’s also been home to the CLF Art Café, who use the space for everything from family workshops to raucous club nights. The highlight on their calendar, though, is surely the Rooftop Film Club. Its terrace promises skyline views and tasty cocktails as you kick back to your favourite films al-fresco.
The Bussey Building is metres from Peckham Rye Overground station, a few stops from central stations like Wapping and Shadwell.
London’s certainly not short on incredible and iconic markets; from Borough to Spitalfields and Covent Garden. But South London’s Mercato Metropolitano is something a little different. With all the flavour of an Italian farmer’s market right at heart of London, the smaller crowds mean great food and great fun are at the forefront. With craft ales, award-winning pizzas and free entertainment, you can’t go wrong here.
The market is just down the road from Borough tube station, which is served by the Northern line.
Whether this is your first visit to the capital or your fiftieth, you’ll love discovering all these new attractions on your next London trip.