Visiting London is an exciting experience because the city is packed with many famous attractions such as Big Ben and London Bridge as well as colourful markets and streets that have appeared in the media and films again and again.
However, if you love exploring less touristy areas and buildings, you can find incredible hidden gems in London too!
In this guide, you’ll discover instagrammable hidden gems in London that will definitely amaze you.
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Tips for visiting London
- Discover London’s main attractions and tips for first-timers inside this guide.
- If you’re planning to visit other UK cities and towns, check out my blog on amazing places to visit in North England.
- Looking for accommodation? Check London’s hotel and hostels.
- Last but not least, don’t forget to book travel insurance for your trip.
Nestled in the heart of Portobello Market lies an abandoned sports hall that has been transformed into a live music venue and an international street food market under the Westway Flyover!
Grab a bite from the incredible chefs serving the best in African, Asian, Caribbean, European and Latin American cuisine and enjoy free live music, surrounded by an interior built from bright quirky recycled materials. Music ranges from jazz, soul, reggae, rock, electronic, folk and more.
Acklam Village is open all year round. Have a cold Pimms or hot mulled wine from Bar58, depending on the time of year.
Currently, the stage is outdoors. There are plans to open the indoor stage following the government’s coronavirus guidelines from May 17th 2021.
Open Saturdays, from 11 am, and Sundays, from midday, until late at 4 – 5 Acklam Road, W10 5TY (Off Portobello Road and opposite the vintage market).
Acklam Village is within walking distance of both Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park tube stations.
Christ Church Greyfriars
This church ruin turned garden is a really special spot and a lovely story of regrowth. The church was first built in the 13th century.
It was first destroyed in 1666 in the great fire of London. It was then rebuilt by Sir Christopher wren (one of England’s most famous architects who designed St Paul’s Cathedral).
The church as it existed was then bombed during the blitz of London in 1940. Half of the structure remained and the church was left as a shell.
The shell of the church now exists as a peaceful ross garden in the middle of the city of London. This garden is the perfect place to take a rest from your tourist activities for some peace and quiet.
Christ Church Greyfriars is just around the corner from St Paul’s Cathedral and St Paul’s station. St Paul’s underground station is on the central line.
Take a left outside St Paul’s station to head west on Cheapside. At the junction of King Edwards street (1 minute walk), you will see Christ Church Greyfriars.
If you have visited St. Paul’s cathedral head straight on queens head passage as you leave. You will get to Cheapside at the end of this road and Christ Church Greyfriars is on the left.
Crossness Pumping Station
The Victorian Crossness Pumping Station is without a doubt one of the most hidden gems in London.
Located in Abbey Wood, the pumping station has quite the history. Because of it, London is a clean, modern city. In the 18th century London used to be one of the most polluted cities in the world, where water borne diseases such as cholera or typhoid fever were thriving.
All the waste of the city was draining into the Thames, which became a lifeless river. After the Great Stink happened, the Parliament decided to take action, and this is how Crossness Pumping Station was born.
It was designed by engineer Joseph Bazalgette, who planned a sewage system running parallel to the Thames, meant to stop the waste before it reached the river.
The building of Crossness Pumping Station was a revolutionary solution that changed London forever. In fact, the system that Bazalgette built is still used today, when the population of London quadrupled.
Crossness Pumping Station is a jewel of Victorian Industrial Architecture. It features impressive ornamental cast ironwork painted in bright red, green and yellow colours.
The details of each element are breathtaking. On some open days, one of the station’s engines, which has been restored, can be seen working. It is an impressive site.
Reaching Crossness Pumping Station is easy, by train, from London Bridge to Abbey Wood. The station is located 1.5 miles from the station.
God’s Own Junkyard
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 Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, was created by Chris Bracey, an artist famous for creating Soho strip joint and brothel signs. He has also created amazing neon artworks for film directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton, and Christopher Nolan.
Inside this museum/gallery are provocative and stimulating light installations 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, psychedelic retro signs and old film props.
After walking around the installations, order a cocktail, burger or afternoon tea from the inhouse café called Rolling Scones.
God’s Own Junkyard is open to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and is free to enter. Cameras are not permitted but 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.
Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel
Street art is a huge part of London’s vivid character and people come from all over the world to admire the stunning murals, tags, or even sculptures.
You can find them splattered all over the city but if you are looking for a unique, most up to date street art in London, then a visit to the Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel is a must.
The Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel is London’s largest legal collection of murals. After Bansky, one of the most well-known street artists held the Cans Festival in 2008, it has become one of the world’s most famous street art exhibits. Here, artists can showcase their work to the world legally every day of the year.
One of the coolest things about visiting the Tunnel is no matter how many times you go, you will never see the same thing. Artists are continuously adding new artwork. Strolling through the colourful 300 meter tunnel, you will most likely catch a glimpse of sprayers in action.
The fascinating Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel is located underneath the tracks of the Waterloo station in Lambeth, London. It is easiest to reach by public transportation. Simply get off at the Waterloo Station and take the 5 minutes walk via York Road.
Maddox Gallery is an art gallery that focuses on contemporary and modern art. They feature art by both emerging and established artists. This makes it a very interesting place to visit.
Besides that, the gallery itself is great to see too! It looks beautiful from the outside. Throughout the year, there are different store displays that look amazing. For example, during Valentine’s Day, you usually can find a message related to love and beautiful red flowers.
Also, during other holidays in the year, there are special displays. The combination of great art inside and the wonderful exterior, make Maddox Gallery a special spot that people should visit. Furthermore, it is why Maddox Gallery is one of the most Instagrammable places in London.
Maddox Gallery has several locations, but the best one is the original location at Maddox Street. Here you can see the most beautiful displays and it is great to visit the place where it all started.
One of the things hidden from the truth in London for free is the mews. But let’s get a better understanding of what mews street are.
In the 18th century, London began to expand from the East End to the West.
In addition to the large houses that were built, the London aristocracy decided on large spaces for horses, carriages and servants. So it was decided to build a secondary road called Mews.
Most of the mews houses housed the stable and carriage house on the ground floor and a barn and a couple of rooms upstairs.
Today, the Mews homes are among the most sought after in the capital.
In fact, they have been restored and transformed into luxurious streets with very chic and special apartments to provide everything you need suitable for a pleasant lifestyle.
More than 400 mews streets remain, are some of the most beautiful corners that the city has to offer and therefore I highly recommend you to come and see them. Among them:
London is one of the most well-known cities in the world, with some very famous attractions.
When visiting London some of the first places travellers visit are Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The London Eye, Piccadilly circus and Convent garden (just to name a few). But in every big city, there are many places that are unexplored and there are some beautiful hidden gems.
Neal’s Yard is one of these amazing hidden gems and it’s right in the middle of London. Just off a side street in the Seven Dials near Covent Garden is this tiny courtyard that makes you feel like you have stepped into a micro village.
Neal’s Yard is filled with bright coloured buildings that are home to cafes, restaurants and shops. All of the businesses within Neal’s Yard are committed to serving their customers through ethical and sustainable practices.
Long before this gorgeous courtyard became what it is today, it was used to be a home for rubbish bins. The corner was due to be demolished but Nicholas Saunders decided to open a wholefoods store and began to turn it into the stunning Neal’s Yard.
Even if you are only in London for one day you need to stop by Neal’s Yard to for a drink, a pedicure or perhaps a final dinner before leaving London.
Don’t forget to stop by St John’s donuts, it is one of the most famous donut shops in London.
A truly hidden gem in London, Parkland Walk was created from an old railway track that used to connect from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace at the end.
It was super popular from the 1870s-1880s but was less well used after the Victorian period and was eventually fully closed with the tracks removed in the 1970s.
Parkland Walk is situated in a very hilly area of North London, so it’s the smoothest way to get from Finsbury Park to Highgate without having to up and then downhills, only to have to back up the next!
The best bit is that it’s truly secluded. Whilst there are some train stations and platforms remaining on the line, most of it is now reclaimed by nature. Mature trees screen you from the various roads that you either go under or over on the old railway tunnels and bridges.
As the name suggests the whole walk is now parkland and is the longest linear nature reserve in London at 4km long.
It’s a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of London, although it can get very busy with walkers, cyclists, families and dog walkers. There is even a nature trail to educate younger visitors and keep your eyes peeled for the art trail of 35 pictures to discover.
The walk is split into 2 sections – the Parkland Walk South and North.
The best place to start your walk for Parkland Walk South is the Oxford Road entrance near the top of Finsbury Park, which can be reached by tube, train or bus. Access for this section is almost all level, with a firm surface for most of it, but some sections might be a little steep for wheelchairs.
At the other end of the South section, you will find the Highgate tube station, also well connected with the tube and buses.
To get to the North section there are several options which you can find on the Parkland Walk website: https://www.parkland-walk.org.uk/access
By Jiayi from The Diary Of A Nomad
The Pergola and Hill Garden is definitely one of the coolest hidden gems in London.
Nestled inside Hampstead Heath in the northern area of the city, this garden is not very crowded (especially during the weekdays) and is the perfect place for a quiet getaway in nature.
Walking around Pergola and Hill Garden, there’s quite a magical, mysterious, and eerie vibe all at once. During the spring and summer, blossoms and vines are in sight at every corner, and during the winter, this spot is extra tranquil and serene.
In the fall, you’ll see orange leaves decorating the whole premise, so it’s a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year.
Take your time walking around the pergola and soak up the enchanting atmosphere there. When you’re done exploring, find a spot on the grass in the garden to enjoy a lovely picnic.
The Pergola and Hill Garden is also very Instagrammable. In fact, it’s super popular among photographers and is one of the best spots in London for portrait photography.
As a photographer myself, I recommend using some great Sony a7III lenses to capture the beauty of this place. You’ll find that there’s plenty of room to get creative and lots of unique angles to shoot from!
Getting to the Pergola and Hill Garden is easy. It’s a 15-minute walk from the Hampstead tube station on the Northern line, and the walk is very pleasant as you’ll be cutting through Hampstead Heath park.
By Cristina from My Little World of Travelling
Located in north London, next to The Regent’s Park, one of the most beautiful parks in London, it’s Primrose Hill.
Primrose Hill has one of the best 360-degree panoramic views of the city. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic with friends on a summer evening, and of course, watching the sunset.
Not only it is a special place because of its incredible views, but its atmosphere. Walking to Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill is like escaping the buzzing city and crowds.
Apart from the park and the hill, you can also find the famous London’s Zoo that has over 18,000 animals. Something you must add to your list while you are in the area, it’s walking around Primrose to find colourful and bright houses.
The area is considered one of the best places to live in London, and many celebrities live there too.
Primrose Hill is very accessible via public transport. You can get there by bus via routes 1, 13, 18, 27, 30, 31, 74, 82, 113, 139, 159, 189, 274, C11 and C2.
However, the easiest way to go to Primrose Hill is by underground. The nearest station is Chalk Farm Tube Station that is about eight minutes away from the hill.
St. Dunstan’s in the East
This hidden park is right in the middle of London halfway between London Bridge and the Tower of London but you’d never know!
If you want to visit what feels like a magical fairytale and not leave London then visiting St. Dunstan’s in the East is a must.
It’s actually a ruined church that was burned in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was named St Dunstan, who was a 10th-century monk.
The ruins were eventually turned into a public park and it’s an amazing sight to see. This is what makes St. Dunstans in the East such a special spot and not only that, it is one of the most beautiful places tucked away right in the middle of London.
You will find beautiful greenery, doorways, and vine-covered windows. It’s a nice break to be able to sit on a bench and admire your surroundings.
To visit this park, take the underground to Monument or Tower Hill and it’s just minutes away.
This is a unique place that few have been able to step into. It will never be on the “most visited places in London” list.
The Strand Stations is also called the Aldwych station and some call it the ghost station because it stopped working in 1994.
You will find it right next to King’s College. Its main attractive is its well-preserved interior. You might recognize it as a setup for movies and TV series. It even served as the inspiration for a part of the tomb Raider III game.
But you might be wondering what makes this station such a rare place to visit is the fact that it is rarely open by the London Transport Museum for tours. Having a permit to explore it is an extremely rare thing.
During World War II it was an important spot that the local government used as a shelter. Its location and strong structure made it a perfect place for Londoners to hide out and protect themselves from bombings. Records from that time tell us that it was able to hold up to 1,500 people.
A section of it was also used to hide and protect treasures from the museums during that same time.
As if all these facts weren’t reason enough to try to get a tour of it, the station also has a ghost story attached to it. It is said that the spirit of a young actress came back to haunt it.
She promised to do so when the theatre that was once built in the space that the station is in, got demolished. It happened while she was acting on a play that had given her a lot of popularity.
So, whenever you plan on visiting London, make sure you get in touch with the London Transport Museum, who knows, they might allow you to explore this historic site.
Nestled along the south-western wall of Greenwich park sits the Ranger’s House, a Georgian villa dating back to the 1720s. It’s been home to many in the past and known by several names along the way. So it holds its fair share of history, like the rest of the area.
The first ranger of the park was appointed in 1690, and it is now a Grade I listed building. Nowadays it’s home to Wernher Collection, a private art collection by Sir Julius Wernher. It’s a fantastic collection of 700 art pieces, and it’s a bonus to walk around inside this house itself.
It’s a special little spot to visit whilst you meander around the park and a hidden gem in London. One side is open to the serene view of a bowls field on Blackheath. On the other sits the tranquil rose garden inside Greenwich Park. It’s easy to imagine yourself wandering through the paths on a sunny afternoon, surrounded by colour, through the ages.
In fact, the Ranger’s House was recently used as a film set for the Netflix hit series Bridgerton – how fancy! While you’re in Greenwich Park, keep a lookout for many hidden spots. The remnants of Queen Charlotte’s stone bath sits right next to this villa. On the other side can be found Ango-Saxon burial mounds overlooking Greenwich and into London itself.
The Ranger’s House reopens for visitors from 19th May with bookings required in advance. Tickets cost £11 with a charity donation, as the house is looked after by the charity English Heritage. Take a look at their website here.
How to get there: The nearest train station is Greenwich. From there it’s a 20-minute walk up Crooms Hill.
Buses 386 and 53 stop outside the nearest gate, Chesterfield Gate.
The Sky Garden
The Sky Garden in London is one of the most unique dining experiences the city has to offer.
Located on floors 34-37 of the skyscraper nicknamed “Walkie Talkie” (formally known as 20 Fenchurch Street) it offers some of the best views of London you can find.
With floor to ceiling glass walls wrapping the entire circumference of the Sky Garden, you’ll get a complete 360-degree view of the city down below.
It is free to visit, however, space is limited, so you’ll need to plan your visit ahead of time. To reserve your one-hour time slot, you’ll need to book your reservation up to two weeks in advance.
They do have a few walk-in spots available, but if you want to be sure to get in, get on their website and book your free ticket ahead of time.
Since the beautifully landscaped gardens are indoors and temperature-controlled, they can be kept in bloom year-round.
The Sky Garden also has two restaurants and two bars that reservations are also required for.
However, if you book a table at one of these, you can skip the general line to get in down in the lobby area and take a separate elevator straight to the dining room level.
If you time your reservation accordingly, not can you get dinner and drinks, you’ll be treated to an amazing sunset over one of the most historic cities in the world!
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