London has it all. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye are all infamous sights that attract over 40 million tourists each year. But have you seen the weird and quirky side to London? When you’ve seen the “Cheese Grater”, posed in a red phone box and ran in to a wall like Harry Potter at Kings Cross what else is there to do in London? Well, as a local and lover of all things random, let me show you ten weird things to do in London.
The small districts that make up this eclectic city are the real heart and soul of London. Shoreditch, Borough lane and Camden markets are some of the favourites but how about stepping even further off of the beaten path?
1. Brixtons pop up bars and street food
The first thing I tell anyone coming to London is don’t miss Brixton! Even my own family, who have spent their entire lives living around London, give me suspicious looks when I talk about it. Sure it wasn’t always pretty…
In the 1920’s Brixton was a thriving shopping district attracting visitors from far and wide. But the area was bombed during World War II contributing to a severe housing crisis, which in turn led to poverty. This was followed by slum clearances and the building of council housing on a large scale. In the 1940s and 1950s many immigrants settled in Brixton as it was a cheap place to live near in the capital.
It’s this rich multiculturalism that makes Brixton such a wonderful vibrant place to visit. Nowadays Brixton is packed with trendy bars, delicious food from all over the world and independent clothing shops. You can find something to fit any diet in Brixton, from a Halal brunch to vegan afternoon tea in London. It’s the only place I know that you can get a Brazilian breakfast, a traditional Japanese lunch, a Jerk BBQ burger for dinner and a proper English cider all for less than 25 quid! There’s nowhere better to eat in London in my opinion.
Check out Pop Brixton, an assortment of shipping containers come bars, for live music and a great evening atmosphere. Brixton village and Brixton market are bringing back the shoppers of it’s heyday, now mostly famous for it’s African and Caribbean food. While Brixton academy is the place to go for music lovers. One of the leading music venues in London once hosting Eric Clapton, Wham and Culture Club when it opened in the 1980’s, as well as the Smiths last ever performance.
Brixton is just 30 mins from the center on the Victoria line, great for a day trip or as a more affordable base than central London.
2. God’s own junkyard
I did promise you weird things to do in London and this place certainly delivers. Although it’s a bit further out of the city you can easily take the tube to Walthamstow central and experience something that can only be described as completely mad. A psychedelic amalgamation of neon signs ad art works collected by a very enthusiastic owner. It’s completely bizarre and infectiously insane. Be sure to check out the industrial brew bars next door for great local ale and cider!
3. Ballie Ballerson
An indoor ball pit for adults with a bar. Need I say more? Ballie Ballerson is in one of the trendiest spots in London, Shoreditch. Go at night to sip a retro cocktail and swim in a see of colourful balls.
Head to the Breakfast Club nearby the next day for the best hangover cure known to man. A full English breakfast!
4. Get tropical at Kew Gardens
Ok so London isn’t known for it’s balmy weather, but the Victorians came up with a clever solution to cure the general grumpiness we all get from the continuous drizzle. A massive greenhouse! The grounds at Kew Gardens are enough reason to visit alone, but the tropical greenhouses are where to be when it’s raining in London. There are different sections filled with exotic plants from all over the world. Around Christmas there are quirky light shows that give it a whole new dimension.
5. Visit the Sky Garden
Another tropical paradise but this time with a view over the whole city. Better yet it’s absolutely free! This greenhouse inspired rooftop is in the “Walkie Talkie” building in Fenchurch Street. Grab a prosecco and a bite to eat as you take in the full grandeur of London from above.
6. Junkyard golf anyone?
Brick Lane is full of quirky markets and great food but what about golf? Indoor mini golf with drinks to be precise. With courses inspired by anything from Jurassic park to neon night club it really has to be seen to be believed. It’s a lot of fun and the perfect way to escape the rain! Check it out here on Google maps – Junkyard Golf.
7. Bar games at the Bletchley
For anyone that’s watched The Imitation Game you might well fancy yourself as an Alan Turing and wondered if you too could break the enigma code. Now’s your chance! At The Bletchley in Chelsea you can crack codes while a bartender whips up unique cocktails. Decipher clues and complete missions to save the world, just maybe go easy on those cocktails until after humanity is saved…
8. The Churchill Arms
If you’re looking for things to do near Hyde park head over to the Churchill Arms. It’s claimed to be one of the most photographed pubs in the world as the exterior is covered top to bottom in flowers. The foods not bad either, if its too crammed head next door for delicious Thai food! Don’t forget to visit the Churchill war rooms while you’re in the city, an unmissable part of British history. Plus you can get a picture with (the old) 10 Downing Street.
9. Boxpark Shoreditch
If you haven’t had lunch in a shipping container where have you been? It seems all the rage in European cities now and for good reason. The small start up businesses that occupy them seem to serve up some of the tastiest and unique fusion food around. Head over to Boxpark for Jerk burgers that will change your life. Or your taste buds at least.
10. Do a tour of the underground tube systems
This really is a great way to get under the skin of London (and probably the first time I’ve ever enjoyed being in the underground). Don hard hats and high vis jackets as you navigate your way through secret passages not normally open to the public. There are loads to choose from. Euston’s lost tunnels have been closed since the 60’s and still display old posters and ticketing booths. At Down Street you can find Churchill’s secret station where he saw out most of the Blitz.
These are just some of the best weird and quirky things to do in London. There is so much to do in this city, although it’s not cheap there are some really great things you can do for free! Do you have any other top places to recommend? Drop a comment below.
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