Unusual Things To Do In London | This City Has Its Quirks
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 off-the-beaten-track and unusual things to do in London that frankly nobody would even think to get involved in.
Except you, you maverick.
Go To A Listening Party in the Dark | Pitch Black Playback
Listen to an entire album blindfolded, in the velvety surrounds of a retro cinema…
Details: 64 – 66 Brooksby’s Walk, London E9 6DA | Book here
Get Thwacked With Foliage In a Traditional Russian Spa | Banya No. 1
And if you’re after something really intense, you can get four people to do it to you simultaneously.
Details: 17 Micawber Street, N1 7TB | Book here
Surprise Your Ears at a Mystery Gig | Sofar Sounds
Sofar Sounds sweep you off to performances from surprise artists in secret, makeshift gig venues, from treehouses to living rooms.
Details: Secret Locations | Book here
Go Axe Throwing | Whistle Punks Oxford Circus
Hopefully it’s an unusual thing to in London, unless there are loads of people out there who frequently throw hurling heavy, bladed objects at a wall together. In saying that last part, it can also work as an instant bonding exercise…
Details: 53 Eastcastle St, London W1W 8EE | Book here
Create Your Own Gin Blend | The Distillery
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 | Book here
Explore One Of The More Unusual Museums in London
Fans! Freud! Jars of celebrity poo!
Become A Cocktail Artisan | TT Liquor Masterclasses
And make sure you drink all your homework.
Details: 17b Kingsland Road, E2 8AA | Book here
Sing Mass Karaoke with a Live Organ | Organoke
Your pipes and their pipes are a match made in heaven.
Details: See upcoming dates here
Make Your Own Bespoke Perfume | Experimental Perfume Club
Finally, you’re beginning to make scents.
Details: 53 Monmouth Street, London WC2H 9DG | Book here
Sail The Thames in a Hot Tub | Hot Tub Boats
It’s a hot tub. THAT YOU CAN SAIL.
Details: West India Quay, Off Hertsmere Rd, London E14 4AL | Book here
Swim in a Church | Virgin Active Repton Park
The most unique, atmospheric swimming pool in London. Preach it.
Details: Repton Park, Manor Road, Woodford Green, IG8 8GN | Find out more here
Visit A Subterranean Farm | Growing Underground
Who’d have thought Le Gavroche got their salad from an old tube tunnel in Clapham?
Details: 1a Carpenter’s Place, Clapham, SW4 7TD | Find out more here
Tick Off All These Free Things To Do in London | Across London
Spending a day not spending a penny? It’s arguably the most unusual thing you can do in London…
Take A Glass Elevator Up A Giant Chimney | Lift 109
One of London’s best viewpoints awaits you at the top.
Details: Battersea Power Station, Circus Rd West, Nine Elms, Battersea, South London, SW8 5BN | Book here
Watch A Film On The Original Reels | Cine Real
Ciné Real screens films on 16mm reels in a restored 1930s cinema in Hackney. But if you want to do something really different? Hire out their 15 seater screening room for your own private viewing (they’ll provide the popcorn).
Details: 35 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NS | Book here | For more film experiences, check out the finest cinemas in London
Hear Some Life-Changing Music | One Track Minds
Described as a cross between TED Talks and Desert Island Discs, OTM’s events bring together an eclectic line-up of guests to discuss one song that changed their lives.
Details: Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley, London, E1 8JB | Book here
Listen To Live Music in A Subterranean Tunnel | DEBUT
It’s a real underground arts movement.
Details: The Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, Rotherhithe, South East London, SE16 4LF | Book here
Go To a Subversive Penny Arcade | Novelty Automation
And enjoy a friendly game of “Divorce”.
Details: 1a Princeton Street, WC1R 4AX | Find out more here
Pet Frogs and Drink Absinthe With A Stuffed Lioness | The Last Tuesday Society
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. ‘Regular’ as in they happen a lot…
Details: 11 Mare Street, E8 4RP | See what’s on here
Unwind In A Bath Full of Red Wine | AIRE Ancient Baths
Well, maybe this one isn’t so unusual, depending on your kind of Wednesday night.
Details: 2-3 Robert St, Covent Garden, WC2N 6RL | Find out more
Or Let It All Out By Smashing Stuff | Wreck Room
Been one of those weeks? You could sit down, take a deep breath and maybe try to meditate. That might help. Orrr, you could always put on some Beethoven and then absolutely decimate inanimate objects with a baseball bat…
Details: 91 Peckham High St, London SE15 | Find out more here
Take A Stroll Through An Old Cemetery | Highgate Cemetery, Nunhead Cemetery, Kensal Green Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery – Wikicommons
We hear you – mooching around cemeteries doesn’t exactly scream ‘fun’. But London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ – a group of Victorian cemeteries filled with grandiose architecture, nature and wildlife – make for some surprisingly beautiful walks in London. Plus, you can see the graves of Karl Marx, George Michael and Douglas Adams…
Find An Unusual Slice Of Culture | House of Dreams
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.
Details: 45 Melbourne Grove, SE22 8RG | Find out more here
Practice 180s Wakeboarding On The Thames | Wakeup Docklands
And then practice another trick: faceplants…
Details: Wakeup Docklands, 1 Dock Road, E16 1AG | Find out more here
Eat Street Food In A Church | Mercato Mayfair
Then take it up to the terrace to enjoy next to the steeple.
Details: 13a North Audley Street, Mayfair, Central London, W1K 6ZA | Find out more
Make Sweet, Sweet Cheese | Wildes Cheese
And leave with a semi hard blue, apparently.
Details: The Micro Dairy, Units 9 & 10 Frontier Works, 33 Queen Street, N17 8JA | See upcoming dates here
Try a Taxidermy Workshop | A Field Guide to Taxidermy
Everything is supplied, so don’t worry about bringing your own dead mouse.
Details: Workshops take part across London | Find out more here
Watch World-Class Magicians | The Magic Circle
Catch one of the shows at The Magic Circle (the magicians’ HQ) before they do a disappearing act.
Details: 12 Stephenson Way, Euston, NW1 2HD | Book here
Learn To Build Your Own Furniture | The Goodlife Centre
Don’t worry, you’re going to nail it.
Details: 49-55 Great Guildford Street, SE1 0ES | Find out more
Explore A House Filled With Hand-Carved Wood | 575 Wandsworth Road
It’s basically like walking around a giant musical box.
Details: 575 Wandsworth Road, Battersea, SW8 3JD | Closed until May 2023 – find out more here
Scale Castle Walls | The Castle Climbing Centre
One of the more unusual places in London to get fit: enter a former Victorian pumping station in Stoke Newington that looks like a fairytale castle… filled with rock climbing walls.
Details: The Castle Climbing Centre, Green Lanes, N4 2HA | Find out more
Listen To Jazz on London’s Floating Bookshop | Word On The Water
Take a nergroni to go from Sons + Daughters.
Details: Regent’s Canal Towpath, N1C 4BZ | Find out more here
Check Out These Dinosaurs | Crystal Palace Park
Then get lost (in the giant maze).
Details: Crystal Palace Park, Thicket Rd, Crystal Palace, SE19 2GA
Walk Through A House Stuck in Time | Dennis Severs House
This walk-through art installation feels like the residents just left the room…
Details: 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BX | Book here
Brush Up On Your Fan Knowledge | The Fan Museum
There’s over 5,000 different types of the handheld cooling device on display here, making it the world’s largest collection. Founder Hélène Alexander sure is a dedicated fan…
Details: 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London, SE10 8ER | Find out more here
Have A Meal at One of London’s Unusual Restaurants
Feast on crocodile and scorpion; watch contortionists perform on your table; and eat cheese on a barge moored on the city’s canals… suffice to say there are some pretty quirky places to eat in London.
Go Roller Skiing In Hyde Park | Roller Ski
This activity sees all the other quirky things to do in London, and raises them cross-country skiing. On roller-skis.
Details: Hyde Park, W2 2UH | Find out more here
Go For A Midnight Swim | Hampton Pool
And look up at the stars as you practise your backstroke.
Details: High Street, Hampton, TW12 2ST | Book here
Sit Around A Campfire On A Museum Rooftop | Midnight Apothecary
It’s a botanical, candlelit cocktail garden, with all-you-can-toast marshmallows, set on top of a huge Victorian tunnel shaft.
Details: Railway Avenue, SE16 4LF | Open Friday & Saturday | Book here
Learn to Trapeze In A Park | Gorilla Circus
Leaping romantically into each other’s arms, wearing matching spandex. Is this one of the most unusual things to do in London? Yes. Would this make an absolutely killer date? Also, yes…
Details: Outer Circle, Regent’s Park, NW1 4RT | Check the website for upcoming dates | More London date ideas
Discover A Subterranean Roman Temple | London Mithraeum
Just your typical office block with an old cultish temple in the basement.
Details: 12 Walbrook, Bank, EC4N 8AA | Find out more
Ride The Mail Train | London Postal Museum
A secret tube that used to ferry post beneath London.
Details: London Postal Museum, 15-20 Phoenix Place, Clerkenwell, North London, WC1X 0DA | Find out more
Eat Dinner in Complete Darkness | Dans Le Noir
It’s just you and your tastebuds (and well, a restaurant full of other diners, from what you can hear).
Details: 30-31 Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0DU | Book here
Spend An Evening In Prohibition-Era America | The Candlelight Club
A raucous, travelling, jazz-age party, with flappers, dancing, cabaret, cocktails and live bands.
Details: A Secret Location | Book here
Delve Into Abandoned Tube Tunnels | Hidden London
Totally legitimately, we should add, with the London Transport Museum‘s Hidden London tours.
Details: Book here
Kayak to Crate Brewery | CRATE Brewery
It’s the best way to make room for all that beer and pizza you’ll be inhaling.
Details: Canoe Shed, Limehouse Basin, E14 7JZ | Book here
Lodge Overnight with Lions | The London Zoo
We’ve all woken up in some unusual places after a wild night in London. This is hard to top though…
Details: Outer Circle, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY | Find out more here
Explore London’s Best Secret Gardens | Across London
Image: Max Colson (Barbican Conservatory)
The Barbican Conservatory: a Brutalist concrete jungle, St Dunstan-in-the-east: a bombed-out church overgrown with trees, and Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden Bar & Café: a terrace above the Southbank Centre that just so happens to be one of the greenest rooftop bars in London. Okay not a secret anymore, but still…
Cross The Glass Walkways Over The Thames | Tower Bridge
And get a new perspective on London.
Details: Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2UP | Find out more
Host A Mini Olympics at London’s Top Activity Bars | Across London
Besides being one more unusual things to do in London, it’s also one of the most competitive. Especially if you create a day-long tournament of shuffleboard, bowling, table tennis, darts, crazy golf… and virtual clay shooting.
Looking for more ‘normal’ stuff? Check out what’s on in London this month
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