Unknown London : tour of little-known and unusual places

London is a capital with a thousand facets, but it also hides a number of secret places that are often little frequented by tourists. So if you want to get off the beaten track on your next trip to London, here are 12 unusual places to discover. The programme includes architectural marvels, historical encounters and original artistic venues. Thanks to this guide to unusual places, London will no longer hold any secrets for you

Leake street Grafitti tunnel

Also known as the Banksy Tunnel after the English urban artist, this has been a popular spot for graffiti artists for some years now. The City of London has redesigned the surrounding area, making access much easier and less creepy than it was a few years ago. On site, you’ll discover huge frescoes and tags of all colours. Get up close to the walls and contemplate the thickness of paint applied to hide previous graffiti. Along with Bricklane, Shoreditch, Camden Town, Brixton and Hackney Wick, the Banksy Tunnel is sure to delight street art fans

This unusual spot in London is well worth a visit

  • Discover Street Art in London
  • Book a guided tour on the theme of Street Art
  • Address : Leake Street Lambeth
  • How do I get there? Waterloo underground station, the tunnel is signposted and is a 5-minute walk away.

Access to Leake Street is now well signposted

Lewisham Micro-Library

Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott in 1936 for the coronation jubilee of George V, the red telephone boxes are as much a part of British heritage as Big Ben or Tower Bridge. Faced with competition from mobile phones, some of them have been transformed into defibrillators and even tiny libraries. One of them is in London: it’s called Lewisham Micro Librairy, born of an initiative to exchange books between neighbours

The micro library in a telephone box. Photo credit: Pad Swift

  • Address : Lewishan Way, off Tyrwhitt Road.
  • How do I get there? Take the train to Brockley station.

London Mithraeum Temple

Like many European cities, London was founded by the Romans. Around 50 AD, the British capital was called Londinium. One of the rare archaeological testimonies to this period is the London Mithraeum Temple. Located in the heart of the City, this former Roman temple dedicated to Mithras opened its doors to the public in 2017

An unusual visit to London

The visit to the London Mithraeum Temple begins with a display of objects discovered during the archaeological excavations carried out on the site in 1954. The tour continues to the remains of the temple. Bathed in half-light, this room takes you on an immersive, sensory experience as you take part in the cult of Mithras. Then, little by little, the room lights up, the mist disappears and you discover the temple… Magical!

  • Book a guided walking tour of London
  • Address : 12 Walbrook London, EC4N 8AA
  • How do I get there? As the London Mithraeum Temple is located in the City, there are several transport options for getting there. However, the nearest underground stations are Bank and Cannon Street.

Mercato Mayfair

If you fancy lunching somewhere unusual in London, I recommend Mercato Mayfair, a delicatessen/bar/restaurant housed in the former St Mark’s Church, deconsecrated in the 1970s. Also known as the “American Church”, this building is located around the corner from the American Embassy: President Eisenhower and his wife even attended services there

This is one of those unusual places in London

Once you’ve passed the two tall columns on the façade, you’ll be struck by the unexpected majesty of this place. Before settling down for a coffee or a bite to eat, I recommend that you wander inside Mercator Mayfair to admire its stained glass windows, visit the choir and go upstairs to enjoy the view of the nave..

  • Address : St Mark’s Church, N Audley St, London W1K 6ZA
  • How do I get there? The nearest underground station to Mercator Mayfair is Bond Street.

Growing underground

A former air-raid shelter dating from the Second World War, Growing Underground is an underground urban vegetable garden in the heart of the British capital. Located at a depth of around 33 metres in the Clapham district, Growing Underground is the brainchild of urban farming duo Michel Roux Jr and Steven Dring. The shelter’s former bunks have been replaced by shelves on which fresh vegetables and herbs grow. Guided tours are available to discover this totally unusual place in London

  • Address : 1a Carpenter’s Place, Clapham SW4 7TD
  • How do I get there? The nearest stations to Growing Underground are Clapham Common, Clapham North and Clapham High Street. Once there, you can reach the farm either by lift or by descending 180 steps.

London’s Underground Kitchen Garden

Neal’s Yard

One of London’s most photogenic secret spots, Neal’s Yard is a small square nestling in the Seven Dials shopping district, a stone’s throw from Covent Garden. Familiar to Londoners, this oasis of greenery and colour is still rarely visited by tourists, who often discover it by chance while wandering around the district. Neal’s Yard is the perfect place to take a break in a café or buy a souvenir in one of its shops

One of London’s secret spots well worth a visit

How do I get there? Neal’s Yard is a 5-minute walk from Covent Garden underground station. From Long Acre, turn off at Mercer St to Seven Dials. Then walk up Monmouth Street and take the first small pedestrian street on your right: it will take you straight to Neal’s Yard

Little Venice and its canals

Located in the Maida Vale district, close to Camden, Little Venice is a little-known haven of peace away from the hustle and bustle of London. Set in beautiful natural surroundings with cobbled lanes, waterside trees and Georgian-style cottages, Little Venice is an invitation to bohemia

Little Venice, a haven of peace during a stay in London

To discover the canals of Little Venice, you have two options

  • Board a boat in Camden: you’ll pass Regent’s Park, the zoo and a host of green spaces right in the heart of London
  • Walk along the canals: let your steps guide you to the little jetty where the Regent’s Canal meets the Grand Union Canal, where you can have a drink on one of the boats that have been converted into a bar

How do I get there? Little Venice is close to 3 underground stations: Paddington, Royal Oak and Warwick Avenue. Warwick Avenue is the closest. As you leave each station, there are signs indicating the direction to take to get there

Royal Observatory of Greenwich

In the middle of Greenwich Park, the Royal Observatory of Greenwich is a museum of astronomical and navigational instruments. Built in 1675, this red brick house was home to scientists whose aim was to determine longitude by observing the stars. It was not until 1884 that Greenwich became world-famous by being chosen as the 0 meridian, the starting point for time zones and time shifts. The Greenwich meridian is marked by a metal line on the ground. Situated on a hill, the Royal Observatory of Greenwich also offers a fine view over London

A must-see when the time zone changes

  • Cut-price ticket for the Greenwich Observatory
  • Address : Blackheath Avenue, Greenwich, London SE10 8XJ
  • How do I get there? The nearest station to the Royal Observatory is Cutty Sark. It’s about a 10-minute walk to the Observatory.

Jack The Ripper Museum

If you’re a thrill-seeker, you should visit the Jack the Ripper Museum, the nickname given to the serial killer who struck in the East London district of Whitechapel in 1888. More than a century has passed and these crimes remain unpunished: the culprit has never been unmasked… Jack The Ripper Museum tells the story of the victims’ lives, the crimes, the police investigation and everyday life in this part of London at the end of the 19th century. If you want to find out more about this part of London’s history, I recommend taking a guided tour of the crime scenes

A visit you should take without the kids!

  • Address : 12 Cable Street, London, EI 8JG
  • Guided tour in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper in French

How do I get there ? To get to the Jack The Ripper Museum, you can

  • Take the underground and get off at Tower Hill station
  • Take the train to Fenchurch Street or Shadwell stations

Little Ben

Less well known than its big sister Big Ben, Little Ben is a clock located near Victoria station at the junction of Victoria Street and Vauxhall Bridge Road. Built in 1892, the wrought-iron replica is over 9 metres high

Little Ben, the little sister

Restored in 1981 with the help of Elf Aquitaine, Little Ben now has a plaque at its feet reading “My hands you may retard or may advance my heart beats true for England as for France”. In fact, the clock is permanently on summer time , which means it keeps French time during the winter months and UK time during the summer: a lovely way to celebrate Franco-British friendship!

How do I get there? Get off at Victoria tube station

Cyberdog in Camden

The craziest shop in London is in Camden Town. You can’t miss it with these 2 big 8-metre android robots guarding the entrance to Cyberdog. Inside you’ll find all kinds of items for punks, goths, metalheads… all in a fluorescent atmosphere. It’s like being in an old science fiction film where you’re the main actor. Cyberdog leaves no one indifferent, and with its free access it’s one of London’s unusual places not to be missed! And you’re sure to find something to take home as a souvenir of your stay in London!

You can’t miss the entrance to Cyberdog

  • Address : Tables Market, Chalk Farm Road
  • How do I get there? Get off at Camden Town station and walk through the market.

Albert bridge

Built in 1873, the Albert Bridge is a road bridge linking Chelsea and Battersea. Also known as “The Trembling Lady“, the bridge underwent a series of works to reinforce its unstable structure, which tended to move under the weight of passers-by

See it at night with these illuminations

The best time to admire it is when night falls : it shines with a thousand lights, thanks to the hundreds of LED bulbs installed on the building as part of the major artistic project Illuminated River

How do you get there? To admire the Albert Bridge and stroll along the Thames, you can get off at the following stations

  • Battersea Park
  • Sloane Square
  • Imperial Wharf

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