London, in many ways, is a pretty typical city.
We have a river. We have a subway. We have an 11th century castle filled with ravens on whose shoulders rest the entire prosperity and security of the nation.
You know, standard stuff.
But sometimes you want to venture beyond the norm, escape the tourist traps and evade the hundreds of events which all describe themselves as ‘a little different’. And for those times, we’ve crafted this guide full of unusual, off-the-beaten-track and quirky things to do in London that frankly nobody would even think to get involved in.
Except you, you maverick.
Surprise Your Ears at a Mystery Gig | A Secret Location
Sofar Sounds sweep you off to performances from surprise artists in secret, makeshift gig venues, from treehouses to living rooms. VIEW DETAILS
Details: Check the website for upcoming dates | Tickets from £16
Go Competitive Axe Throwing | Vauxhall
If anything’s an instant bonding exercise, it’s hurling heavy, bladed objects at a wall together.
Details: Arch 25, Handel Business Centre, 73 Bondway, SW8 1SQ | Open Tues-Fri evenings and weekends | £22-29
Create Your Own Gin Blend at The Distillery | Portobello
This four-storey palace of gin has three hotel rooms, two bars, a restaurant, a private dining room, a mini-museum and a DIY distillery.
Details: 186 Portobello Road, W11 1LA | Open daily | Ginstitute masterclass – £120pp
Sing Karaoke With a Live Ukulele Backing Band | Vauxhall
They’re called Karauke, and they’re marvellous. Oh, and it all takes place on a boat. VIEW DETAILS | MORE KARAOKE IN LONDON
Details: Tamesis Dock, Albert Embankment, SE1 7TP | Third Thursday of every month | Free entry
Explore One Of London’s More Unusual Museums
Fans! Freud! Jars of celebrity poo!
Become A Cocktail Artisan at a TT Liquor Masterclass | Shoreditch
And make sure you drink all your homework
Details: 17b Kingsland Road, E2 8AA | Check the website for upcoming dates | £70pp (includes 5 drinks)
Make Your Own Bespoke Perfume | Hackney
Finally, you’re beginning to make scents. VIEW DETAILS
Details: 4 Netil Lane (entrance via Westgate St), E8 3RL | Visit website for upcoming classes | From £25
Hire A Hot Tug | Regent’s Canal/Canary Wharf
It’s a hot tub. THAT YOU CAN SAIL.
Details: Available daily | £225 for 90 minutes
Get Thwacked With Foliage In a Traditional Russian Spa | Old Street
And if you’re after something really intense, you can get four people to do it to you simultaneously. VIEW DETAILS
Details: 17 Micawber Street, N1 7TB | Open daily | From £30
Watch A Film The Reaaaallly Old Fashioned Way at The Castle Cinema | Hackney
Crowdfunding brought this old Hackney cinema back to its former glory, and it now serves up new releases daily (as well as excellent cocktails in the bar). VIEW DETAILS
Details: 64-66 Brooksby’s Walk, E9 6DA | Open daily | £14.50
Go To a Subversive Penny Arcade | Holborn
And enjoy a friendly game of “Divorce”. VIEW DETAILS
Details: 1a Princeton Street, WC1R 4AX | Open Weds-Sat, with a bar on Thursday evenings | 80p per game
Pet Frogs and Drink Absinthe With A Stuffed Lioness | Hackney
The Last Tuesday Society is a Hackney bar serving absinthe cocktails and platters of insects. And downstairs is Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Curiosities; an adamantly anti-museum museum of the weird, wonderful and subversive, where regular events include séances, storytelling, petting zoos, and anthropomorphic taxidermy. VIEW DETAILS
Details: 11 Mare Street, E8 4RP | Society events every Wednesday | Tickets priced individually
Take A Stroll Through Highgate Cemetery | Highgate
This ye olde necropolis is surprisingly beautiful, plus it’s home to the graves of Karl Marx, George Michael and Douglas Adams.
Details: Highgate Cemetery, Swain’s Lane, N6 6PJ | Open daily 10-4/5pm (Mar-Oct/Nov-Feb) | £4.50 admission to East side, £10 West side
Find An Unusual Slice of Culture at the House of Dreams | East Dulwich
Have a nose around the eccentric abode of artist/magpie Stephen Wright, who’s covered pretty much every spare centimetre of his walls in something kitsch. VIEW DETAILS
Details: 45 Melbourne Grove, SE22 8RG | Open once a month, book ahead | £5-10
Tackle The Castle Climbing Centre | Stoke Newington
A former Victorian pumping station that looks like a fairytale castle… filled with rock climbing walls. VIEW DETAILS
Details: The Castle Climbing Centre, Green Lanes, N4 2HA | Open daily | From £13
Go Flyboarding on the Thames | Docklands
It’s like waterskiing, only you have giant jets of water spouting from your wrists propelling you 10m into the air. VIEW DETAILS
Details: 1 Dock Road, E16 1AH | Visit website for upcoming dates | £129
Make Sweet, Sweet Cheese | Tottenham
And leave with a semi hard blue, apparently. VIEW DETAILS
Details: The Micro Dairy, Units 9 & 10 Frontier Works, 33 Queen Street, N17 8JA | Check the website for upcoming dates | From £40
Learn to Trapeze in a Park | Regent’s Park/Kensington Gardens
Leaping romantically into each other’s arms, wearing matching spandex – this would make an absolutely killer date. VIEW DETAILS
Details: Outer Circle, Regent’s Park, NW1 4RT | Check website for upcoming dates | £30
Listen To Jazz on London’s Floating Bookshop | King’s Cross
Then head over to Ruby Violet for basil and lemon ice cream. VIEW MORE INFO
Details: Regent’s Canal Towpath, N1C 4BZ | Open daily from noon
Go Roller Skiing In Hyde Park | Hyde Park
Cross-country skiing. On roller-skis. VIEW MORE INFO
Details: Hyde Park, W2 2UH | Intro classes every Saturday morning | £32
Head Back In Time With The Candlelight Club | Secret Location
A raucous, travelling, jazz-age party, with flappers, dancing, cabaret, cocktails and live bands. READ MORE
Details: A Secret Location | Parties once a month, check website for dates | From £25
Make an Appointment with the Midnight Apothecary | Rotherhithe
It’s a botanical, candlelit cocktail garden with all-you-can-toast marshmallows, set on top of a huge Victorian tunnel shaft. READ MORE
Details: Railway Avenue, SE16 4LF | Open Friday & Saturday
Get Competitive In An Activity Bar | Across London
Create a day-long tournament of shuffleboard, bowling, table tennis, darts, crazy golf… and virtual clay shooting. READ MORE
Kayak To Crate Brewery | Hackney Wick
It’s the best way to make room for all that beer and pizza you’ll be inhaling. READ MORE
Details: Canoe Shed, Limehouse Basin, E14 7JZ | Check website for upcoming dates | £45
Head To A Bar In A Former Public Toilet | Camden
The Camden branch is Ladies & Gentlemen’s big number two. READ MORE | SEE MORE UNUSUAL BARS
Details: Royal College Street, NW1 0TA | Sunday – Thursday: 5pm – 12am, Friday – Saturday: 5pm – Late
Spend A Day Not Spending A Penny | Across London
Here are London’s best free bits… READ MORE
Watch A Mexican Wrestling Contest | Bethnal Green
Or as they describe it, “10,000 volts of sexy mayhem”. VIEW MORE INFO
Details: 265 Poyser Street, E2 9RF | Monthly events, plus classes every Monday evening
Explore London’s Secret Gardens | Across London
Brutalist conservatories, bombed-out churches and rooftop gardens… READ MORE
Last Updated: 2nd April 2019
Looking for more inspiration? Check out the Best Things To Do In London
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