From afternoon tea with a twist, to solving mysterious crimes and playing captain for the day, this is the definitive guide to the unique, crazy and downright unusual things to do in London.
When it comes to putting together a list of amazing London activities, it’s hard to know where to start! I started brainstorming, and the list just got longer and longer. I kept thinking of random things I’d seen, places I’d visited and bizarre activities I’d tried my hand at.
There’s the time I navigated London’s canals on my own private boat, clambered over one of London’s most iconic buildings, channelled my inner Bond girl with a helicopter flight over London, oh and the day I cracked puzzles faster than Sherlock.
There are so many unique things to do in London – from checking out the incredible foodie gems at Borough Market, to flying through the air at trapeze school, to wandering the Burlington Arcade (England’s oldest and longest shopping arcade) and trying ice climbing, skiing and parkour. It also seems to be THE place for weird and wonderful immersive experiences like The Murder Express.
While you might come across a few of these activities dotted around the United Kingdom… or the rest of the world, I don’t think any other city offers this concentration of quirky activities.
London might be my home, but it’s also my playground. I travel for a living, but I spend more time each year in this city than anywhere else on the planet. So, let ME be your tour guide and share with you some of the amazing London activities on offer.
Unusual Things To Do In London
Based in a certain area? Look for places near you on this handy map…
Slide Down A London Landmark
Looking for daredevil things to do in London? Over in Stratford’s Olympic Park is The ArcelorMittal Orbit – a 114m high sculpture and viewpoint. It’s a bizarre structure and definitely one of the more unusual London landmarks you’ll see in the city. Once you’ve enjoyed the impressive views from the top, it’s time for an adrenaline-filled trip down! The Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit is the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide. It twists and turns 12 times, takes around 40 seconds, and reaches speeds of around 15mph!
Solve Mysteries While You Drink Cocktails At The Grid
Escape rooms are all the rage right now, but The Grid is the perfect combo of cocktail making and escape room puzzles. Once you’ve registered at the ‘Neosight HQ’ you’ll be taken to the first room, where there are some complex puzzles to crack. Thankfully, one of them involves mixing up a tasty cocktail (I think better after those!) Then it’s on to a second room filled with codes and puzzles, before celebrating with a bubbling concoction you create yourself.
Hire A GoBoat And Explore London’s Canals
Be the captain of your own ship in London! Well sort of… Head to Paddington Basin and you can hire a GoBoat for an hour or two. The boats are self-drive and super easy to get the hang of. Then it’s time to explore Little Venice, Regents Park and even Camden as you venture along the Grand Union Canal. I honestly think this is an amazing London activity! The boats seat up to eight people, and you can take you own food and drink on board, so it’s a great idea for a small gettogether or birthday activity in London.
Take A Refreshing Dip In London’s Ponds Or Lakes
When there’s a heatwave in London, everyone scrambles to Hampstead Ponds and The Serpentine in Hyde Park for a spot of al fresco swimming. It’s amazing to immerse yourself in nature, and one of those London bucket list activities. Plus it’s one of the cheapest things to do in London – win win!
Enjoy Afternoon Tea With A Twist
Going for afternoon tea in London is one of the most quintessential British experiences, but rather than munching your way through some dry cucumber sandwiches and boring scones, try one of these quirky afternoon teas:
- Chemistry meets gastronomy at the Ampersand Hotel’s science afternoon tea
- Tour the London sights on an afternoon tea bus
- Enjoy a little magic with Aqua Shard’s Mary Poppins afternoon tea
- Channel your inner health goddess with Farmacy’s plant based high tea
- Feast on a carrot cake Shard, white chocolate Gherkin and a lemon curd Big Ben at the Town House Kensington’s London landmarks afternoon tea
- Enjoy tasty teas, sandwiches and cakes as you sail along the Thames on an afternoon tea cruise in London
- Indulge your sweet tooth with the Chesterfield Mayfair’s sweet shop afternoon tea
- Treat your pup with The Egerton House Hotel’s doggy afternoon tea (complete with pawsecco!)
Take To The Skies With A Helicopter Flight Over London
I did this a couple of years ago (you can read my review here) and loved it! It’s one of my favourite London activities on this list. After taking off from the heliport in Battersea, it’s time to take to the skies for a totally unique view of London. You get so close to major landmarks like the Shard and Canary Wharf, you’ll feel like you can reach out and touch them! On the way back, spot the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus.
Have A Coffee In A Victorian Toilet
Definitely one of the most unusual places to visit in London – how do you fancy sipping your morning cappuccino in a former toilet, dating back to the 1890s? The Attendant is now a lovely café, serving great coffee, brunch and sweet treats, but if you want to eat in, you might find yourself sitting on one of the old porcelain urinals!
Enjoy One Of The Best Free Views Of London
I lived in Camden for several years and can honestly say, the view from the top of Primrose Hill is one of my favourite views of London. From up there you get an amazing panorama of the city skyline, with landmarks like Canary Wharf, The Gherkin The Shard and The London Eye all visible. Plus, you get the contrast of with the grassy hill and Regent’s Park ahead of you.
Top Tip: No plans for Bonfire night? Head up to the top of Primrose Hill and you’ll be treated to a free display as you watch the city skyline illuminated with beautiful fireworks.
Light Up Your World At God’s Own Junkyard
Walthamstow’s surprising and brightly-lit den is one of the coolest places to go for a coffee in London! Inside are hundreds of neon signs, so think of it as a light museum, but with a sense of humour (I love the Sex, Drugs and Bacon Rolls sign!!) It’s free to enter, open Fri-Sun, and while Walthamstow might feel like a bit of a trek, it’s worth it!
Climb A London Icon
This is definitely one of the most unusual things to do in London! I climbed The O2 when the experience first opened, and it was such a thrill. Taking around an hour and a half, it’s a fun but challenging climb – but it’ll all feel worth it when you see the views from the top.
Challenge Yourself At The Official Sherlock Live Experience
You don’t need to be a fan of Sherlock to enjoy hi-tech escape game, Sherlock The Game Is Now. Along with seriously impressive sets, you can live out your dreams of life at 221B Baker Street, while enjoying a few video cameos from the stars of the show. The interactive experience involves playing detective as you solve a case using mental challenges and puzzles. We escaped in 55 minutes, and ended the night with a celebratory cocktail in the Mind Palace Bar.
Enjoy Brunch On A Colourful Canal Boat
Around the back of Paddington Station are Darcie & May Green – two colourfully decorated canal boats deisgned by British pop artist, Sir Peter Blake. Specialising in Aussie brunches (totally amazing!!) it’s a great spot for catching up with friends, sipping on cocktails or enjoying a strong coffee after a stroll along the canal. I’d recommend their bottomless brunch too – available at weekends it’s a great option if you fancy a boozy weekend!
Drink While You Play
Oh quirky quirky London. London’s competitive sports / drinking scene is growing fast! First came Bounce – a ping pong themed bar. But these days there are so many other fun London activities to add into the mix. There’s Flight Club – a fun group of bars where you play interactive games involving darts. There’s The London Shuffle Club for fans of shuffleboard. There’s Puttshack, Shepherd’s Bush‘s high-tech crazy golf experience. Basically, lots of fun activities for adults (who are still big kids at heart!) I heard one of the next experiences set to be reinvented for a younger crowd is bingo. Watch this space!
Go White Water Rafting In London
Another quirky London activity for you, yes, you can actually go white water rafting! Well technically this is Hertfordshire, but it’s close enough. Lee Valley White Water Centre is home to the London 2012 Olympic course, plus there’s a lake where you can take things a little easier. If you’re looking for a great activity for a stag do in London, this would be one of my top picks – it has it all: adventure, adrenaline, teamwork and fun. Along with rafting, you can also take on the rapids kayaking, hydrospeeding (where you hold onto a small board), tubing or enjoy stand up paddleboarding, canoeing and open water swimming in the lake area.
Teamwork Makes The Dream Work At The Crystal Maze Live Experience
I grew up watching this TV show in the 90s, and can’t believe there’s now a live experience in London. I haven’t been yet but several friends have recommended it. Once inside your funky boiler suit uniform, you’ll play games to test your skill and agility and win those all-important crystals, before heading to the dome to collect money against the clock!
Try Some Of London’s Most Incredible Insta-Worthy Desserts
London’s best desserts right now include insane chocolate bar encrusted freakshakes, ice cream served with its very own cloud of candy floss, bubble waffles stuffed with cream, and colourful ice cream macaroons. I challenge you to eat your way through my guide to the best London desserts, and report back on your favourites! Oh and if you’re heading stateside anytime soon, you could compare the offerings in London with New York’s Desserts.
Kayak Or Paddleboard On The Thames
See London from a unique perspective as you get out on the water in a kayak or on a paddleboard. There are quite a few companies offering tours and trips, so take a look at the routes. I’ve always liked the look of Secret Adventures‘ kayak tours, which go from Battersea to Greenwich. For SUP, check out Active 360 who have options in Richmond and Kew.
Go On A Harry Potter Walking Tour
Looking for a magical way to spend a day in London? Walk in the footsteps of your favourite wizards, find out which house you belong in, then wander London’s Diagon Alley (Leadenhall Market), see the outside of The Leaky Cauldron, and snap a pic on Platform 9 ¾. There are plenty more exciting stops along the way too, and a special quiz to test your Harry Potter knowledge!
Explore London’s Ghost Stations
These spooky, abandoned stations are definitely among the most unusual places to visit in London. Hidden beneath London are several tube stations which are no longer in use. Along with seeing the abandoned platforms and tunnels at stations like Aldwych, you’ll hear stories of their use during the Blitz and more recently as film locations for the Bond films and Sherlock. The ghost station tours are just a few of the interesting tours run by the London Transport as part of Hidden London. When I last looked, I saw they also had some thought-provoking architecture and history tours.
Ever wondered what it would be like to have a sleepover at the Zoo? Nope, don’t worry – you’re not being put in an enclosure! The ZSL London Zoo Lodges are luxury lodges hidden away in the heart of Land of the Lions. If you book to stay you’ll enjoy after-hours tours, a two-course dinner and entry to the zoo. If you’ve always dreamed of waking up to the sounds of elephants, parrots and lions, then this unique London experience is for you!
Help Tackle Food Waste Problems (And Bag A Cheap Deal)
If you’re visiting London on a budget, download the app Too Good To Go. It’s helping tackle the food wastage problems among London’s restaurants, cafes and hotels. Each day the app lists local establishments offering discounted food, just before they close. I used it recently and bagged £12 of delicious sushi for just £3.50!
Feast Like A King At A Medieval Banquet
Step back in time with an incredible feast, just a stone’s throw from the Tower of London. This torchlit banquet is hosted by Henry VIII and his serving wenches, who will sing and dance while serving your meal. The evening features a live band, a four-course meal plus wines and ales fit for a King or Queen.
Sing Your Way Around London On A West End Musicals Tour
Luvvies listen up! This weekend tour takes you past London’s top theatres, but rather than just listening to a tour guide, on this trip you wear silent disco style headphones. You’ll listen to show tunes as you pass the theatres, and literally sing and dance your way around the West End! The tour guide will give you some fascinating facts and anecdotes along the way too.
Visit The House Of Dreams
Artist Stephen Wright has spent years transforming his home and garden into a magical space packed full of unique and colourful creations. There are intriguing mosaics made from old crockery, a garden archway featuring dolls’ heads and plenty of fascinating items indoors too. It’s located in East Dulwich (South London), and only open once a month, so check Stephen’s website and book a slot if you’re interested in seeing the space for yourself.
Imagine You’re On The Great British Bake Off
The Big London Bake in Tooting is the closest you’ll come to feeling like you’re cooking for Paul Hollywood! With a bake off style tent, several work stations and different recipes to create, it sounds like a seriously fun afternoon activity in London. The tent can hold ten teams of two, but only one team can win… so it’s perfect for a birthday or team building day!
Start Your Day With A Rave
If you’re the sort of person who likes to jump out of bed at the weekend, then this is for you! Morning Gloryville started in 2013 and has been a huge success. The raves run from 6.30am to 10.30am and feature DJs, great tunes, visuals and food and drink – basically everything you need to start your day. Brightly coloured rave costumes are encouraged!
Tour London’s Street Art Scene Then Create Your Own Masterpiece
Shoreditch is covered in gritty, urban street art, and the best way to get to grips with it is on a tour. While there are plenty of street art tours of London, this one takes things to the next level. Yep, after checking out street art and graffiti by the likes of Banksy, ROA, Shepherd Fairy, Jimmy C and Invader, you head to a workshop to try your hand at creating your own masterpiece. How’s that for a unique thing to do in London?
Go Ice Climbing In London
Fancy trying an extreme activity? At Vertical Chill you can give ice climbing a go – an exhilarating and challenging activity, which I tried on a frozen waterfall in Canada! Once you’ve been kitted out with all the necessary equipment, including ice picks, crampons and a harness, it’s time to start your frosty vertical climb.
Singalong To Your Favourite Musical Films
Moments from Leicester Square, The Prince Charles Cinema is famous for hosting singalong movie experiences. From the Sound of Music and Grease, to Mamma Mia, Moulin rouge and The Greatest Showman, it’s great fun belting out the hits while you enjoy your favourite film on the big screen. Check out the quote-alongs too. When I last checked they were advertising a Mean Girls quote-along!
Indulge Your Sweet Tooth On A London Chocolate Tour
Mmmm, how does a day of tasting London’s best chocolate sound? DELICIOUS! On this three-hour tour you’ll learn all about the history of chocolate, how it’s made and obviously, TRY LOTS! The tour is based in the Mayfair area, and stops by some great artisan chocolatiers, where you’ll try everything from ganache to Marmite truffles (you’ll either love them or you’ll hate them!)
Go For Drinks In A Ball Pit
Going for cocktails at Ballie Ballerson is one of the most unusual things to do in London. It’s an adult ball pit bar – yep, you read that correctly! With a long list of cocktails, a dance floor, VIP section and several ball pits, you’ll be snapping pics quicker than you can upload to Instagram!
Parkour Your Way Across London
We’ve all heard of parkour, and no doubt seen pulse-raising videos of daredevils running off high ledges before jumping between two skyscrapers and landing with a smooth forward roll. It looks like a crazy activity, but now you can learn the skills for parkour in London. The classes at Parkour Generations include strength, acrobatics, flexibility, and of course some outdoor practice too.
Catch Some Zzzzzs In A Capsule
Welcome to the UK’s first capsule hostel at St Christopher’s Inn Village. Straight from Tokyo to my home city, and while these rooms might not be to everyone’s taste, it’s certainly a unique London experience! The Japanese-style capsules are hi-tech, with USB ports, ventilation and mood lighting. Prices start around £25 per night, which is a bargain considering how central this is.
Fly Through The Air At Trapeze School
Ever fancied yourself as a circus performer? Or just want to try something new? At Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze School in Regent’s Park and Kensington Gardens you’ll learn the basic skills before progressing to the high trapeze for a unique flying lesson. Try a one-off class or book a series and perfect your technique.
Neon Naked Life Drawing
If you’re looking for one of the most unique activities in London… errr, I think this might be it! At Neon Naked Life Drawing classes, the models are decorated with neon paint, and clutching a few neon props. The UV lights illuminate them, then the artists create their masterpieces using brightly-coloured neon pastels and paints. If the street art workshop wasn’t appealing to your artistic side, perhaps this will.
Take An Alternative Bike Tour Around London’s Secret Spots
One of London’s top-rated bike tours, this tour brings some of London’s weird and wonderful tales to life. Cycling around the City and East End, you’ll explore hidden gems, see surprising landmarks and learn some gritty secrets about London. Highlights include learning the gory tales of Jack The Ripper, passing some real life Harry Potter spots, and cycling over Tower Bridge.
Dine In A London Prison
Did you know you can go for breakfast, lunch or dinner at HMP Brixton? What a quirky London activity this is! Inside the prison is The Clink Restaurant, where meals are cooked and served by inmates working towards gaining cooking qualifications. The restaurant itself is located in the historic Old Governor’s House and the food gets great reviews. It’s amazing that there’s an opportunity to help those working towards a new life, and the latest stats have revealed that people following this course were less likely to reoffend. In order to visit, you’ll need to book 72 hours in advance, and go through security checks on arrival.
After dining at The Clink in Brixton, how about staying overnight at Clink78 Hostel in King’s Cross? Ok so it might sound like a creepy thing to do in London, but bear with me. The building used to be a courthouse, and the building retains a few elements from its former use. You can sleep in n old prison cell or take a seat on one of the old courtroom pews in the TV area. It’s the perfect way to finish a prison-themed day in London, if that’s what you’re in to!
Visit An Old Curiosity Shop
It’s hard to explain what The Last Tuesday Society in Hackney is. It’s kind of a shop mixed with a gallery and museum, and houses all sorts of weird and wonderful items. It was set up by eccentric Viktor Wynd, who created the old-fashioned ‘curiosity shop’ as a bit of a joke in 2009. The East London haunt is still going strong, and receives plenty of visitors each week, who want to look at everything from taxidermy and erotic toys to totally pointless inventions. There’s also a bar, plus you can take the madness to new levels with one of the tours run by character actors.
Belt Out Bohemian Rhapsody On A Queen Walking Tour Of London
Queen fans listen up – this Queen tour takes you on a walk down Freddie Mercury’s memory lane. After checking out some of the band’s concert venues, you’ll head to the studio, where ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ was recorded. Plus, you’ll see Freddie’s former house and the iconic pub where Freddie met Brian and Roger. The stories are fascinating and there are plenty of details which only the biggest Queen fans will know.
Feast On London’s Best Indian Food
Brick Lane is famous for its curry houses, but even though I’ve eaten there lots of times, I never know which is the best place to visit. I’ve heard this Indian food tour is amazing. Over three hours you’ll visit several different restaurants, sampling everything from tasty pakoras and sizzling chicken tikka, to fluffy naans and sweet gulaab jamuns. It’s a great intro to Indian food in London, and a chance to taste the best of the best.
Flyboard In Docklands
Flyboarding has to be one of the most unusual things to do in London right now! It’s something I’ve seen in countless beach destinations from Miami to Thailand, but never in my home city. During the 30-minute session, you’ll learn how to taxi, levitate and turn the flyboard. After that, it’s up to you to practice your tricks (and try not to sample that Thames water!)
Learn The Gory Tales Of Jack The Ripper
A tour all about a serial killer might sound like a pretty unusual thing to do in London, but I went on a Jack The Ripper tour when a friend was visiting from Oz, and can genuinely say it’s one of the best London tours I’ve been on! Turn back the clock to Victorian times and take a spooky walk around East London, listening to stories of Jack The Ripper’s many murders. See the spots where alleged attacks happened, and learn all about the conspiracies surrounding his identity. You might end the tour with more questions than answers, but that’s the beauty of an intriguing tour like this.
Stay On London’s Most Stylish Floating Hotel
This chic floating hotel (or boatel) is moored at Royal Victoria Dock. Forget tiny cabins, on Sunborn Yacht Hotel you’ll enjoy large rooms with river views. For the ultimate in relaxation, you can take a trip to the onboard spa or relax with a gourmet dinner in the restaurant. This has to be one of the most unique places to stay in London.
Go Skiing In London
So I’ve already covered white water rafting, paddle boarding, ice climbing and kayaking in London, but did you know you can also ski in London? Chel-Ski claims to be London’s largest indoor ski centre (or only!) There’s a small slope which acts like a big treadmill so you can practice your skills, whether you’re a skier or a snowboarder. After your time on the slopes, it’s time for the après-ski, with St Moritz Alpine Bar serving up fondues, raclettes and other cheesy goodness, to make you feel like you’re truly in the mountains.
Drink In An Abandoned London Underground Station… Kinda!
Popular cocktail bar Cahoots has a 1940s theme, and as your venture down to its location beneath Kingly Court, you’ll definitely feel like you’ve gone back in time. With retro music, creative décor (which includes part of an old tube carriage and station), and a menu of nostalgic cocktails, this is one of the most unusual bars in London.
Hit The Beach At Ruislip Lido
This is my most recent discovery. A few weekends ago I went to Ruislip Lido for the first time and was AMAZED at the fact there’s a sandy beach right here in London! Ok so it’s a little way out of the centre, but on a sunny day it’s the place to be. Kids will love playing on the sand, getting wet in the splash play area and taking a ride on the old railway that weaves its way around the lido to the car park. There’s a cafe too, and plenty of space to relax and enjoy a picnic in the sunshine.
I hope my guide to the most unusual things to do in London has given you inspiration for a weird and wonderful day in the capital! I’ll be continuing to add to the list, so let me know if you have any suggestions!
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