Unexpected London: Seven offbeat things to do

Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.

A magical liopleurodonWhen visiting London, many people go for the touristy attractions that are well known but in fact, London has many usual things to do that are both off the beaten path and inexpensive, too.

From drinking in a loo to exploring the strangest museum in the city there’s plenty to do whether you’re here for the weekend or the week! Here are seven unusual things to do in London.


Hunterian Museum

The Hunterian MuseumThis museum contains over 3,500 anatomical and pathological preparations, drawings, painting and fossils. It’s been dubbed one of the weirdest, most grisly museums in England. You can expect to see a skeleton of a 7’7” ‘Irish giant’ and many other unusual exhibitions that you won’t see elsewhere in London.

Entry is absolutely free so this is great place to go if you’re on a budget! It’s open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.


The Anchor Bankside

The Anchor BanksideLocated near the River Thames and only a short walk away from Borough Market is the Anchor Bankside pub, which has a pretty gruesome history. It is believed that below the pub is the site of a Roman grave and a plague pit dating back to 1603. The site was also used as bull and bear baiting pits but was already a pub way back in 1615!

Amongst the claims of the past it was said that Shakespeare used to enjoy a pin or two in the anchor pub, as the old Globe Theatre site was just next door. These days it’s a great pub to have a drink or three and soak up the London vibes.

Execution dock

London execution dockOne for the most unusual and haunting sites in London was the execution dock where pirates were executed until 1830. Yes, you read that right—pirates! This was used for more than 400 years for invaders coming into London via the Thames. The bodies would be left on the noose until the tide washed over them three times, after which they were sometimes hung up in an iron cage. The body of famous Scottish pirate Captain Kidd hung at the docks for three years. Yeesh!

The original gallows in Wapping are long gone but you can still head down to the riverbanks behind 500-year-old Prospect of Whitby pub to see the old rotting wood and a noose. This is definitely an unusual thing to see in London and absolutely jaw-dropping to say the least!

Go down London’s biggest slide

The London OrbitDid you know London is home to the world’s highest and longest slide? It’s also the UK’s tallest artwork! Built in 2012 by German artist Carten Holler to commemorate the Olympic and Paralympic games, the ArcelorMitall Orbit was built out of steel from all over the world. Its structure is like something you would see in a science fiction film.

If you’re not game to fly down the weaving 40-second slide, then you can always grab a ticket to view London from the top of the structure in the observation deck. It’s open Monday to Friday from 11am to 5pm and weekends from 10am to 6pm.

Drink cocktails in a former loo

Ladies & Gents BarHave you ever been able to say you drank cocktails in a toilet? Well, London offers just that! Ladies and Gentlemen is a bar with a difference situated in Kentish town. It used to be the home of public toilets. Now it has been re-purposed into a popular cocktail bar that’s dimly-lit (and, er, clean) and offers exceptional and unique cocktails. You can even do a gin tour.

Expect to feel a sort of jazz vibe in this underground bar. This place is certainly one to put on your list!


The hidden Roof Gardens of Kensington

Flamingos in LondonHidden above the bustling streets of London is The Roof Gardens, a rooftop restaurant hosting 1.5 acres of fruit trees, shrubs, lavender and plenty of other greenery. You can even expect to see flamingos, exotic ducks and a stream full of fish. There’s a definite vibe of Alice in Wonderland’s croquet game!

Entry is free but make sure you check out which dates it is open to the public otherwise you may be gate-crashing on someone’s party. Who would have thought something so lovely would be hidden amongst London’s busy streets?!

Number 10 Adam Street

The actual 10 Downing StDying to get a picture of yourself outside the famous 10 Downing Street, home of the Prime Minister? There’s actually a lookalike house on Adam Street, just off The Strand near Waterloo Bridge.

The only difference is the blatant double yellow lines on the road, but if you’re a Photoshop whizz you could easily edit that out!

Which attraction would you like to see on your travels to London?


Thanks to Ewan Munro, Loco Steve, Chris Eason, NezTez, The Integer Club, Nick Webb, David Terrar and Ladies and Gentlemen for use of their great images under the Creative Commons license.

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