Best things to do in London if You’ve been before

Our favourite unusual things to do in London

London, the beloved destination for globetrotters, offers a wide range of alluring sights and experiences - be it couples, families, or solo travellers. We have all the best things to do in London for first-timers as well as seasoned visitors seeking unconventional activities and unique experiences.

  1. Fun Things to do in London for Families
  2. Unusual Things to do in London for Couples
  3. Unique London Parks
  4. One-of-a-kind Events in London
  5. Weird and Wonderful London Tours
  6. Top quirky places to eat in London
  7. London's Individual Nightlife
  8. When to go?

From amazing activities for children, secluded areas in parks, and peculiar nights out that are exclusive to London. Start planning your next break to London and elevate it with our first-hand insider tips.

1. Fun Things to do in London for Families

When the weather’s on your side, take the whole clan for a truly unique and active day in London and book a kayaking trip along the Thames. For a slightly more beginner-friendly option, you could also hire a boat on the Serpentine, in Hyde Park. On your first trips to London, be sure to visit the key museums like the Science Museum and Natural History Museum. If you’ve done those, you might like to head to the Horniman Museum for natural history, the Young V&A toy museum, re-opening in Bethnal Green from summer 2023, or the quirky and curious Pollock’s Toy Museum just off Tottenham Court Road. Young children will easily spend an hour running wild in the Diana Memorial Playground, complete with pirate ship, Peter-Pan-themed climbing features, a pond and sandpit (and you get to sit down, watch and relax for a while). For more outdoor adventures, spot all the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace. These fascinating life-size sculptures are vintage too, a relic from the 1800s. Older kids and teens, especially Harry Potter fans, will enjoy a trip to the House of MinaLima (the graphic design company behind many of the magical props and sets featured in the Harry Potter films). It’s an enchanting tour through the films’ art and truly immersive. Over in Stratford, close to the shopping centre, kids ages 0–11 can get imaginative at the Discover Children’s Story Centre. This immersive experience encourages them to touch, explore, interact with an reimagine storybook worlds.

Pollock’s Toy Museum: Adults £9, kids £4.50, < 3 free. Mon–Sat 10–17:00.

Children’s Story Centre: £8. 10:17:00 every day.

2. Unusual Things to do in London for Couples

If romance is on the cards, what could be better than stargazing together? Head to Greenwich Observatory and enjoy a planetarium show, or book into one of their after-dark experiences to stargaze through the telescope in a quiet and romantic setting. For a moment’s peace from the bustle of central London, nip into the ruins of St. Dunstan-in-the-East church, a romantic, tumble-down church designed by Christopher Wren, just a stone’s throw from the Thames. Art-loving couples should head for Frameless Immersive Art Experience, near Marble Arch, to spend an hour or two walking through and in favourite art pieces as they’re projected around you – it’s a surreal and unique way to appreciate art together. If it’s sunny weather, head straight for a park with a lido for a dip (Serpentine, Tooting Bec, Parliament Fields, etc.) or for a romantic stroll around a rose garden in Regent’s Park. Kew Gardens is also a must-stop for the gallery, the spectacular glasshouses and endless photo opportunities. Finish your evening with a film under the stars, with several venues in London offering open-air viewings, like the Rooftop Film Club and Luna Cinema. You could even splash out and book an over-night stay in London Zoo, for a truly unique date-night that animal lovers will never forget. Science-loving couples or those who are big kids at heart should book in for Science Museum Lates – night-time, adults-only themed events including talks, quizzes, tours, experiments and silent discos.

Science Museum Lates: last Wednesday of the month, 18.30–22.00

London Zoo Lodges: 2 people from £192.50 p.p. per night.

3. Unique London Parks

If you’ve been to London before, chances are you’ve heard of or visited the big-name parks like Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Richmond Park and St James’, and you may even have ventured across to Hampstead Heath. These are all top things to do in London for first-time visitors, but if you’ve ticked those off – where next? Behind Hampstead Heath and a short walk from Hampstead underground station, you’ll find Golders Hill Park. It’s got a sculpted, walled garden, a pond and bandstand, with plenty of seating and sweeping paths winding up tree-lined slopes. You’ll even find deer here. But one of the most photogenic spots in the garden is the pergola, a beautiful Georgian arbour that’s dripping in flowers and foliage at the right time of year (catch it in mid-spring from a delightful photo with an enchanting wisteria backdrop). For those who love a well-designed flower garden bathed in sunshine, Holland Park is a must-see, while keen birdwatchers and families might enjoy time out at the London Wetlands Centre. You can spot dozens of varieties of protected wetlands birds sheltering in this precious habitat, with towers and the cityscape framing the horizon. You might see otters (especially if you attend the otter feeding), heron, lapwings, reedwarblers and more. Battersea Park and Chiswick House Gardens are also both free entry and look glorious in every season – the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Wetlands Centre: 9:30–16:30/17:00. £15.50, kids £9.50, <4s free.

Chiswick House: 7:00–dusk. House: adults £12.50, kids £6.50, <4s free.

4. One-of-a-kind Events in London

One of the best things to do in London around Christmas time is to visit a lantern or illuminations festival to brighten the dark, winter evenings. The Lightopia Festival at Crystal Palace is one of the most popular lantern displays around, with giant, colourful lanterns lining the paths, leading you through a fantasy world. Wander Kew Gardens in all its sparkling finery, with light tunnels and glistening trees, or see nature enchanted at London Wetland Centre or Syon Park. Of course the Christmas lights on London’s main shopping streets are entirely free, as is the Ever After Garden of glowing roses that adorns Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square. There are other events throughout the year, of course, like New Year’s fireworks on the Thames and a whole host of Bonfire Night events (November 5th) lighting up the sky from Battersea to Chiswick to Alexandra Palace. If you’re in London in summer you’re in for a treat with Wimbledon (June), London Pride (July), Notting Hill Carnival (August), Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival and the BBC Proms running from July through to September to delight music lovers from around the world. There are dozens of less globally well-known festivals throughout the capital too. For example the London Jazz Festival plays at venues throughout the city in November, Diwali is celebrated on November 9th in Trafalgar Square, and Buckingham Palace is open for inside tours from 22nd July until 2nd October. For something a little more unusual, architecture fans can attend the London Open House festival from the 6th to 17th September, celebrating London's architecture and neighbourhoods, with buildings that are usually closed opening to the public so you can get inside and explore some of the capital’s best-kept secrets.

Lightopia: 17 Nov–02 Jan. Adults £17.50/22.50, kids £11/14.50.

Buckingham Palace: 14 Jul– 24 Sep 9:30–19:30. Adults £30.

5. Weird and Wonderful London Tours

As you’ll find out if you spend a bit of time in the city, much of London life continues underground. One of the more unusual tours to take in the city is London Transport Museum’s abandoned stations tour. You can visit long-abandoned stations that were formerly part of the tub network, now frozen in time with faded posters from their era, eerie empty tunnels and once-vital bomb shelters. Another sub-terranean treasure is the London Mithraeum. This Roman temple is well-preserved and free to visit in a swanky museum below Bloomberg’s European headquarters; it’s a weird insight into how ancient this shiny, sky-scraper-filled city really is. Another weird and wonderful, below-ground experience is a tour of Growing Underground, London’s underground hydroponics farm that produces zero-carbon greens for hyper-local businesses (book online and find the farm close to Clapham Common). For those who’d prefer to stay above ground, take a London architecture walking tour, or visit the curious Sir John Soane’s Museum to view his lavish collection of classical paintings, sculptures and relics – for a unique experience, visit during a late opening to see the space by candlelight. The Museum of the Home in Hoxton is an intriguing collection of interiors across the decades, all interwoven into one house-like exhibit. For a weird and wonderful day out, take a tour of Crossness Pumping Station in South East London (Abbey Wood tube station) a bizarrely ornate and stunning 1800s sewerage treatment works that’s a lot more interesting than it sounds. To see London from a totally different angle, you can also cruise along the river, spying the city landmarks from the top deck of a boat, or get up even higher and peruse the views from the epic Shard.

Mithraeum: Recommend pre-booking. Tue–Sat 10–18:00, Sun 12–17:00.

Soane’s: Free, walk-in. Soane Lates, selected dates, ~£25.

6. Top quirky places to eat in London

London is awash with frankly fabulous cafes, restaurants and venues, but we’re here for something a little unusual. Leadenhall Market (close to Fenchurch Street station) is a wonderful place to start, with its ornate, Victorian market halls lined with colonnades, exquisite produce shops and delightfully decorated restaurants for a bite. Take a breather between city activities and grab a coffee at the famous The Attendant. This former public toilets near Soho roasts and serves fabulous coffee in a truly bizarre setting. If tea is more your cuppa, make a beeline for Twinings Café on the Strand. It’s an iconic shop that’s been home to an iconic British brand for three centuries, purveying the finest blends the country has to offer. This is not your usual tea shop, serving what can be seen as a stuffy drink in a chic, upmarket setting. One for kids, teens and adults alike, the Hans & Gretel café is an enchanting escape for a sweet snack. The walls of this candy cave are lined with every kind of sweet imaginable and you can sit in to sample elegant ice-creams and waffles. Cheese lovers have been flocking to London’s hippest (and only?) Cheese Bar ‘Pick & Cheese’ in Covent Garden. Here, delectable cheeses are served sushi-style on a conveyor, while baked and grilled cheese dishes can be ordered from the menu. If you think you’ve eaten it all before and you’re feeling adventurous, sign up for The Ginger Line’s next food adventure. This mysterious and quirky pop-up supper club hosts themed foodie events at a secret venue, only releasing the location a few hours prior to dining. It's immersive and Avant Garde but you’ll never have been to a restaurant like it before. For a date night, you can’t beat head to London’s floating oyster restaurant the London Shell Co. All aboard this intimate barge for delicious seafood and a unique view of London from the water.

London Shell Co.: Static, Grand Duchess. Cruising, Prince Regent. Sheldon Square Paddington.

Twinings: 10:00–18:00.

7. London's Individual Nightlife

London seems to have a penchant for refurbishing toilets, so why not head underground again and visit the WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham for (predictably) wine and charcuterie in a unique setting? The interior is tastefully done and the boards of cured meats and cheeses are more than appetising. For more underground fun, try The Hide Bar for stylish subterranean cocktails. Of the myriad London pubs to visit, the Churchill Arms is a well-loved staple, especially at Christmas when its exterior is adorned with hundreds of fir trees strung with fairy lights. The Dickens Inn is another visitors’ must-drink venue. This huge Dickensian-style pubs overlooks pretty St Catherine’s Docks and its crooked, timber beamed interior and flower-laden wooden balconies are quite the spot for a pint and a chat. There are dozens of places you can drink with a view – London is awash with great sky bars like Radio Rooftop and Sky Garden, but why not sip on a sophisticated cocktail at lesser-known Savage Garden, just opposite Fenchurch Street? It’s elegant, has an exclusive feel and boasts great views of the Shard. Gordon’s Wine Bar claims to be the oldest in London, harking back to the early 19th Century. It’s unassuming from the outside, but has tonnes of atmosphere inside, with tables clustered in dimly lit, vaulted cellars and walls crammed with art. While Park Chinois is technically a restaurant, an evening here is a true night out. This overly opulent ‘Shanghai speakeasy’ serves exceptional cocktails, unrivalled Chinese cuisine and hosts live shows of acrobatics, cabaret and performers, and live DJs downstairs at Club Chinois.

More exceptional date nights: Sushi Sambi, Bloomsbury Club Bar

More casual drinks: The Mayflower, Ye Olde Mitre, Lamb & Flag

8. When to go?

London has something to offer throughout the seasons. In summer it’s warm and bustling; you’ll want to walk everywhere, eat al fresco, frequent a beer garden and enjoy basking in the sun in the beautiful green spaces. Plus, it’s outdoor event season, so be sure to find a concert or art exhibition to attend. In spring, all the parks are alive with flowers, the animals at London Zoo are having their babies, and there are plenty of great shows and museum exhibits for less clement days. Not to mention, if you visit outside of the school holidays, you’ll find London somewhat more peaceful. In autumn, London’s trees turn golden and the city has a glorious glow ahead; make the most of the outdoor activities or head for galleries and museums. Then, as winter kicks in, Christmas-shopping season starts in earnest. The shopfronts sparkle, carols are playing in the streets and pubs start to look cosy and inviting with roaring fires. It’s the perfect season to visit indoor markets, Christmas markets and skating rinks, or attend a festive play, musical or free church service. The fun doesn’t stop post-Christmas either as many of London’s illumination events run into January to keep the festive cheer bubbling on until New Year.

Best for off-peak prices: Jan–Apr

Best weather: May–Sep

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