There’s no shortage of cool things to do in London, from the major tourist attractions to pretty and lesser-known hidden gems. But for those looking for something a little different and offbeat to impress your friends with, here are 30 of the quirkiest, most unique and unusual things to do in London…
Unusual things to do in London
Visit London’s most famous cemetery
While walking around a cemetery isn’t on most people’s London itinerary, you’d be surprised how interesting it can really be.
Highgate Cemetery in North London is probably the capital’s most famous graveyard due to its many famous residents, including the German philosopher, political theorist and socialist revolutionary Karl Marx, painter Henry Moore, novelist George Eliot, actress Jean Simmons and, most recently, singer George Michael. It is also home to some of the finest funerary architecture in the country.
The cemetery is open for anyone to visit, however, there is a £4 admission fee for the East Cemetery where Karl Marx is buried, while the impressive tombs, chapels, catacombs and mausoleum of the West Cemetery are available to visit by guided tour only (£12 and includes entrance to the East too).
Explore London Underground’s Ghost Stations
Take a unique Hidden London tour of the London Underground with the London Transport Museum.
The exclusive tour takes you into ‘forgotten’ parts of the London Tube network such as disused ‘ghost stations’ and tunnels, as well as a behind the scenes look at some of London’s busiest stations. Certainly one of the most unique London experiences.
Stop by the capital’s oldest tea shop
What’s one of the most quintessentially British pastimes you can think of? If your answer wasn’t enjoying a nice cup of tea then you clearly haven’t spent enough time in the UK (or watched enough movies). And what could be better than stocking up on brews at the capital’s oldest tea shop?
Twinings Café on the Strand opened in 1706, with Twining being one of the first merchants to bring tea to the UK and providing the royals with their morning cuppa since 1837. The 300+ year old teashop now houses a huge range of teas and coffees from around the world, as well as plenty of teaware, accessories, a sampling counter and a unique display of antique teapots.
Walk under the River Thames in the Greenwich Foot Tunnel
The Greenwich Foot Tunnel runs underneath the River Thames, connecting Greenwich with Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs, and is one of only two foot tunnels under the river in central London (the other is the Woolwich foot tunnel).
The unique structure was built in 1902 to replace the ferry service which used to bring those living on the south of the river to work in the docks and shipyards. It can be entered for free via the domed entrance next to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, with both a staircase and a lift big enough for cyclists.
But keep your wits about you when walking through the tunnel at night as it’s said to be haunted by the ghosts of a Victorian man and woman who can be spotted late at night and their footsteps can be heard echoing through the tunnel. Not one for the faint-hearted!
Learn something new at Speakers Corner
Speakers Corner in the northeast corner of London’s Hyde Park is an area where open-air public speaking, debate, and discussion are both allowed and encouraged. While Hyde Park isn’t the only speaker’s corner in the world or even London itself, it is the original and certainly the most famous.
Often referred to as the ‘home of free speech‘, anyone can turn up unannounced to speak on any subject. The speakers discuss everything from more serious topics such as politics (the Socialist Party of Great Britain are regular speakers), religion and world conflicts, to more relaxed topics such as making healthy lifestyle choices and plenty more.
While you might not feel comfortable speaking yourself, listening to the enthusiastic speakers discuss their topics so passionately is definitely one of the most unique things to do in London for free.
Slide down the world’s longest tunnel slide at London’s Olympic Park
In the centre of East London’s Olympic Park you’ll find the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the UK’s tallest sculpture which was originally built for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Now the unusual structure is an adrenalin-junkies playground with both the UK’s highest free-fall abseil and the world’s longest tunnel slide.
Take in the amazing views of London from the 262 feet above the city then plunge or slide your way down to ground level once again.
Climb the roof of the O2 Arena
Located on the Greenwich Peninsula in southeast London, the O2 is a huge entertainment complex with a 20,000 seat arena plus a number of restaurants, bars and shops, all built underneath the unusual structure formerly known as the Millennium Dome which was built to celebrate the year 2000.
But what’s even cooler than visiting the complex itself is climbing over the top of it with ‘Up at the O2‘! Slide into a harness, strap on your helmet and climb over the domed roof of one of the capital’s most iconic buildings, taking in the amazing 360-degree views over the city skyline.
Unusual things to do in London at night
London’s most unusual nighttime activities…
Have a sleepover in London Zoo
In what has to be one of London’s most unique experiences by night, London Zoo Lodges allow you to stay inside of the zoo’s Land of the Lions exhibit, within ‘roaring distance‘ of the lions themselves.
Each of the lodges is decorated around the theme of the lions’ native Gujarati home in India, with an en-suite bathroom and private veranda to enjoy an evening drink alongside your furry neighbours.
As well as entry to the zoo both days of your stay, guests at the lodges also get three exclusive after-hours tours, plus a two-course dinner and breakfast at the zoo’s Mappins Pavilion.
Go to a silent disco in the Shard
Talk about a party with a view!
While ‘The View from The Shard’, the viewing platform inside London’s tallest building, is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions by day, what many people don’t realise is that it’s also home to one of the most fun and unusual evening activities in London.
Every Saturday night, London’s highest viewing gallery (a whopping 72 floors up) hosts a silent disco, where guests can dance along to their favourite music while enjoying some of the most amazing panoramic views across London by night.
Unusual things to see in London
Weird and wonderful things to see and the most unique London attractions…
The Sphynxes at Cleopatra’s Needle
Cleopatra’s Needle is an Egyptian obelisk which sits on the bank of the River Thames in Westminster, close to Embankment station.
The obelisk is a genuine Ancient Egyptian artefact which was originally erected in the ancient city of Heliopolis in 1450 BC, then moved to Alexandria before being gifted to the UK during the nineteenth century. It’s one of three which have been re-erected in London, Paris and New York City.
But what really makes Cleopatra’s Needle one of the more unusual attractions in London is that the two faux-Egyptian sphinxes, which are supposed to be guarding the needle, were accidentally installed backwards so they are facing the structure rather than facing away from it. A mistake which has never been rectified!
The Lions in Trafalgar Square
While the four lions which surround Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square aren’t exactly an off the radar attraction in London, they do have a fun little secret which not many people ever seem to notice.
The closer you look at the lions, the more you’ll realise that a few things don’t look quite right, and there’s a pretty interesting story as to why.
The lions were created in the mid-1800s by Sir Edwin Landseer, a British artist and sculptor who had never actually seen a lion in real life. In order to make the sculptures, Landseer requested a dead lion from London Zoo, but unfortunately, it started to rot away before he’d finished his work so he modelled the paws and other small finishing touches on the features of his cat instead.
London’s Smallest Police Station
Another unusual London attraction within Trafalgar Square is the city’s smallest police station.
Dating back to the 1920s, the tiny building is made from a hollowed-out lamppost and is just about big enough to fit two people inside. Rather than a fully functioning police station, the structure was actually used as an observation post which allowed an officer to have a view across the whole square.
While the tiny building is no longer a working station, you can still visit the unique structure on the south-east edge of Trafalgar Square.
The Seven Noses of Soho
The Seven Noses of Soho are an unusual art installation in central London.
The noses are plaster reproductions of artist Rick Buckley’s nose and were installed as a prank provoked by the controversial introduction of CCTV cameras throughout London during the 1990s (the noses were installed under the noses of the cameras). The prank wasn’t publicised at first so many rumours began to spread about the origin and meaning of the strange little statues.
While 35 noses were originally installed, only 10 still remain today and searching for them all certainly makes for one of the most unique days out in London.
Cheatsheet: The noses are located at Admiralty Arch, Great Windmill Street, Meard Street, Bateman Street, Dean Street, Endell Street and D’arbly Street.
The Fake Houses of 23 & 24 Leinster Gardens
These two unsuspecting townhouses in Baywater’s Leinster Gardens are passed by thousands of people every year who don’t even think about taking a second look. But if you do take the time to stop and examine the buildings, you’ll notice something’s a little off.
In the mid-1800s, two houses were demolished on the original location to create a necessary air vent for the Metropolitan Line, which was being constructed at the time. However, the local residents became angry about the way the large gap looked, so therefore a fake facade matching the surrounding houses was built.
Unusual museums in London
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Hackney
A part of The Last Tuesday Society, The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History is a quirky little museum and bar in Hackney which houses a collection of extremely unusual items, from Fiji mermaids and Amazonian shrunken heads to erotica and even supposed condoms used by the Rolling Stones themselves.
Be warned though, some of the collection items aren’t for the squeamish or faint-hearted. This unique museum is certainly amongst the more macabre things to do in London.
The Vagina Museum, Camden
Located in London’s iconic Camden Market, the Vagina Museum is the world’s first physical museum about gynaecological anatomy. From vagina themed artworks and exhibitions about the science of the vagina to educating people about the cultural issues surrounding them (such as FGM), the Vagina Museum is certainly one of the most unique museums in London.
Pollocks Toy Museum, Fitzrovia
Pollock’s Toy Museum is a small museum and toy shop inside two Fitzrovia townhouses. The museum has an extensive collection of Victorian toys, including toy theatres, dolls houses and teddy bears. It also houses a collection of toys from around the world such as the world’s oldest teddy bear and an ancient Egyptian toy mouse made of clay. Some of the Victorian dolls are a touch on the creepy side, hence it’s inclusion as one of the weirdest museums in London.
The Old Operating Theatre Museum, Southwark
The Old Operating Theatre is a museum of surgical history and Europe’s oldest surviving operating theatre. The interesting museum is located in the garret (attic space) of St Thomas’s Church, on the original site of St Thomas’ Hospital, one of London’s oldest hospitals. Step inside of the perfectly maintained operating theatre and learn about the history of medicine and surgery in London.
Dennis Severs’ House, Spitalfields
Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields in East London is a self-labelled “still-life drama” and certainly one of London’s most unique museums.
Created by previous owner Dennis Sever, the inside of the house is a creative historical re-imagination of the life of a family of Huguenot silk weavers between the 18th-20th centuries. An immersive and interesting step back in time to experience life in historic London.
The British Dental Association Museum, Marylebone
The BDA Dental Museum was started in 1919 when a woman named Lilian Lindsay became the first female to qualify as a dentist in the UK and donated several old dental instruments to the association.
The collection gradually grew to over 30,000 items spanning dental equipment to photo archives and more, and finally opened to the public in 1967 (previously it was only for BDA members).
While learning about the history of dentistry may not appeal to most, there are a couple of fun interactive exhibits at this quirky London museum, such as being able to test your skills at pulling teeth or using a dental drill to drill into a tooth. Certainly one of the weirdest things to do in London.
Unusual restaurants in London
From dinner in a disused tube carriage to coffee in a Victorian public toilet, check out the most unique and unusual places to eat in London. Plus, you might also like my other posts on the coolest interactive dining experiences in London and the prettiest pink cafes in London.
Unusual places to enjoy a drink in London
Sip on champagne while sailing a hot tub around Canary Wharf
Another one of the most unusual activities London has to offer, Skuna boats rent out hot tub boats (yes you did hear that right) which you can sail around the waterways of Canary Wharf.
The toasty 38° freshwater tubs can fit up to 7 people are a fun experience no matter what the weather. Plus, for those over 18, the boats have ice boxes on the side where you can store wine, prosecco, beers and cocktails to enjoy during this unusual London experience.
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Go canoeing with a cocktail in Hackney
And if drinking in boats is your thing, head to the Milk Float at Hackney Wick where you can hire a kayak or canoe, pass by their sail-up window to grab a cocktail to-go, then paddle away on an adventure around North London’s canals.
The float up bar also does soft drinks if alcohol isn’t your thing. A fun London experience either way!
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Win your wine at Lady Chastity’s Reserve escape room
Lady Chastity’s Reserve is one of London’s most unusual escape rooms, being one of the capitals only strictly 18+ escape rooms combining comedy and immersive theatre.
Located within secret rooms of several pubs across London, guests have to solve a series of clues and negotiate their way through Lady Chastity’s sordid secrets and naughty tales in order to find a bottle of her fabled aphrodisiac wine to enjoy in the pub afterwards.
Try BYOB life drawing in Dalston
A night at Brushstrokes and Nudes in Dalston is one of the most unique things to do in London at night, as long as you’re not shy around a little nudity.
Describing itself as ‘a sexy, social night of art, drinks, music and the glorious nude form’, Brushstrokes and Nudes is a BYOB event every Friday night in Dalston where you can unleash your inner artist by drawing or painting nude models who come around and interact with the audience, making for a fun, frivolous and few-too-many-glasses-of-wine girls night out in London.
Drink retro cocktails in a ball pit in Shoreditch
The pop-up basement ball pit bar which became such a big hit that it’s now one of Shoreditch’s most popular drinking establishments, BallieBallerson is definitely one of the most unique bars in London.
With giant ball pits filled with over a million balls, the unusual bar serves retro cocktails and plays throwback 80s and 90s hits while allowing guests to frolic around in ultimate childhood nostalgia.
BallieBallerson now also does a fun bottomless brunch, with 2 hours of unlimited pizza, prosecco, cocktails and crazy ball pit fun.
Unusual London tours
Interactive Jack the Ripper Tour
This cool Jack the Ripper London Tour stands out from the rest due to its unique interactive nature.
As well as visiting the real-life Whitechapel crime scenes of notorious Victorian London serial killer Jack the Ripper, you’ll also get to investigate the historic crimes yourself with the help of your own suspect cards and an expert guide.
London Street Art Tour and Workshop
This unusual London tour is perfect for those who fancy themselves the next Banksy.
The London Street Art Tour and Workshop will take you on a journey around the colourful East End, showcasing the best street art London has to offer, before returning to a studio to try your hand at creating your own spray-paint masterpiece.
Soho Beer Bike Tour
The original Beer Bike Tour is one of the most unique ways to explore the streets of central London, taking in the areas of Picadilly and Soho while pedalling along with a beer in hand and a dedicated onboard guide and barista to show you the way.
Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll London Tour
London’s Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll Tour takes you on a journey across the capital to explore Hippie, Mod, Hippy and Punk culture, from the backstreets of eclectic Soho to the alternative music scene of Camden Town, plus plenty of famous Beatles sites including the iconic Abbey Road crossing.
Historical London Pub Walking Tour
Say cheers to London and explore some of the city’s most historic pubs, taverns and alehouses with a Historical Pub Walking Tour. Follow in the footsteps of Dickens and others while drinking some of the city’s finest brews as you walk from historic Southwark to the bright lights of the West End.
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