Fun Things To Do In London That Aren't Touristy

Team Hoo
23rd September 2021

We all love London, and what’s not to love? Cafès, shopping, art, museums, galleries, site seeing and all of these things would be so much better if there just weren’t any...well, people. London is the centre of the world in so many ways and we love that about our city. If there is a more cosmopolitan city in the world, we’d love to know where it is - but for those days when you want to remain dialled into the urban lifestyle that London does so well, dodge the tourist tat with this helpful list.

The best views in London

Sorry, The Shard, but One New Change and The Garden at 120 have you beat hands down. You can ride the elevator to the top floor between 6am and midnight daily and from the top of this gorgeous retail space, you’ll get the best views of the London skyline. It’s even free!

The Emirates Cable Car

If you avoid “flying” between 7-9am in the morning you’ll be in for a treat as each flight lasts around 10 minutes. Not only is it a great way to travel between Greenwich and the Royal Docks, but if you board after 7pm you’ll get some of the most spectacular nighttime views of the city. Perfect for those city nights where you just need some sights and lights.

Be an Eastender and indulge your art fetish

Some of the most exciting street art to be found anywhere in the city is on random walls and buildings in the city’s East End. Just about all of the major tube lines connect in Stratford and you can get to anywhere you need to be from there, or you can book one of the walking tours. Best for those wanting to disappear for a few hours.

Regent’s Canal

This canal can take you from Bethnal Green to Camden Town, there are a few gorgeous long-stretches where you could be just about alone at certain times or if you’re more the romantic sort then take your plus one - and your camera.

Ride the bus - a real one

For those days when you want to soak up all the energy that London generates but sans the endless lines, ear-achingly over-emphasised accents and camera flashes, then riding the #9 bus through the city past some of the best sites will make a nice difference to the hop-on/off buses crammed with tourists.

Highgate Cemetery

For Victorian Gothic style and a macabre but intense experience, check out Highgate Cemetery instead of the London Dungeon. You’ll get to take part in a section of the city’s history that you wouldn’t normally...and hardly anyone else knows about it. There’s something quite calming about this place and if you take some time to research who is resting here before you get here, you’ll be the most interesting person at the next party you attend.

Columbia Road Flower Market

One of London’s most spectacular markets, every Sunday you can walk through the market and experience the sort of olfactory assault that Queen Victoria would have been guilty of. Except, this is the better version and it is much, much better. Exotic blooms and endless colours combine to entice and intoxicate. 

Granary Square

We have a habit of doing this in London; taking spaces that were once less than shiny and making them just a little more so. Here people from across the city get together to enjoy a coffee and do some boat spotting, so why not join them?

Hampton Court Palace

When everyone else is flocking to Kensington, St. James or….what’s that other one again…oh yes, Buckingham can miss all the crowds and head to Hampton Court for a trip down English and British History lane. 60 acres of gardens are waiting for you.

The Botanical Gardens at Kew

Check out the rainforest. That is you must, must check out the rainforest, but spend some time getting to know the rest of the place too. We tend to mistake these venues for older visitors and the bougie or hippy set, but you’ll love it here too. In a word, gorgeous. 

Go down the pub

With some certainty, we can say that this is easily one of the most “English” things that you can do, so when you want to connect with your people far from the madding crowds, leave the centre of the city behind and head to residential areas and suburbs at the end of the Tube lines to find a decent Sunday roast.

Bussey Building and Franks

Two great bars in Peckham where you can get some awesome views of the city but without hordes of crowds and tourists. It’s in zone 2, so you won’t have to travel too far in any event.

Tea at the Ritz

Believe it or not, the tourist trade has not (yet) swamped this famed tea room. Get a little dressed up and be prepared to spend upwards of £10 for a pot of tea. Still worth it for a little (or a lot) of peace and quiet with a touch of refinement.

Crossness Pumping Station

There are days when everything around you is just full of it. Sometimes it just seems that way, sometimes it’s really true. Here, it’s really true. The Crossness Pumping Station is a former sewage station that is beautifully designed by architect Charles Henry Driver, and a lot more fun to visit than it might initially sound.

Greenwich Park

Many of the non-touristy attractions involve getting out and seeing the green spaces that exist in and around London, Greenwich is no exception. It’s the main home to London’s maritime history in many respects, and there’s also the Observatory to enjoy. 

Part of being a Londoner is being able to live in a city that many people spend their whole lives saving to visit for just a few days, and part of being British is being able to claim London as your own even if you don’t usually live here. Still, sometimes you just need a little slice that’s all yours for just a few precious hours so get out there and off the beaten track; there’s so much more on offer all over those 2000-year-old streets. What are your favourite hidden spots in London that have escaped the tourist trap crowds? Let us know on Insta or tweet us @justhooit!

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