The top 6 must-visit sights in London (that aren’t tourist traps)

Ugo Arinzeh

September 21, 2022
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What to do in London

Let’s be honest – London is filled with incredible things to see and things to do.   Which is what makes it so popular. While many want to tick off the essentials of London, you may be searching for more unique spots. 

Whether you’re looking for a quirky find that even the locals haven’t heard of, or you just want to find a quieter place to enjoy in London, I’ll be sharing my top 6 must-visit sights in London that aren’t your usual tourist traps. 

Get ready to find the perfect postcard because you will definitely want to write home about these places.  

Get romantic in an overgrown Victorian cemetery

Nunhead Cemetery, Linden Road, London, SE15 3LP

Located just a few moments away from the views across London that Telegraph Hill provides, this gorgeous Victorian cemetery is an historical find that’s well worth visiting. While some may feel that a cemetery isn’t top of their list for a romantic walk, you may be surprised at this little gem of London. 

The cemetery is located in South East London where you’ll find a serene, peaceful place to walk through.

To really get the most from the experience, you could attend one of the monthly tours to find out about its intriguing history. They even offer woodland tree walks, as well as open-air concerts in the derelict stone chapel.

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It’s actually right by one of the areas I suggested in my recent video – where to buy in London to get more bang for your buck, so make sure to check it out.  

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Take in the views from the river

Self-drive boating from Paddington

London is uniquely designed around the River Thames, and one way to take advantage of this is by boat

There are plenty of tours you can jump on that include food on a River Thames cruise, but there’s nothing quite like being in charge of your own destiny! 

Goboat offers 1, 2, and 3 hour boat hire so you can jump on, and carve out your own route through London. 

Set off from Paddington, and you’ll be able to see some fabulous sites as you meander through the canals. 

A 1 hour booking, for just £95 will take you through Little Venice (one of my favourite neighbourhoods in London!). 

While the 2 hour booking, for £135, takes you through Regent’s Park and then past the wild dogs and aviary at London Zoo. 

Discover hidden treasures of London

The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

While the museums on Exhibition Road in South Kensington have lines and plenty of tourists, the British Library has some hidden treasures that not many visitors know about. Located right next to St Pancras station for easy access, this is a library like no other. 

The library holds a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland. With over 150 million items, with some 3 million new items each year, you could lose yourself in books every day!

Online Collections Help Article

You can apply for access to the reading rooms for a truly magical experience, or simply explore the permanent and temporary exhibits in the John Ritblat Gallery. 

The gallery has some of the most famous written and printed items in the world. 

For example, you can view the Lindisfarne Gospels, Shakespeare’s First Folio, Handel’s Messiah, the Gutenberg Bible, drafts of the Magna Carta and the Beatles’ manuscripts, to name a few! 

Visit the 2nd biggest greenhouse in London

The Barbican Conservatory, The Barbican, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS

This exclusive, mostly unknown oasis above London, is definitely unexpected. Housed in the brutalist architecture that is the Barbican arts centre, you will discover your very own rainforest of London

Opened in 1984, it is the biggest greenhouse in London, second only to Kew Gardens (which also is a must-visit!). 

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With 2,000 plant species, in an extensive series of concrete terraces and beds, you will feel like you’re transported to a completely different country. 

There are even koi carp and terrapins, as well as a pop-up cafe and bar. 

The Conservatory is open on Sunday and bank holiday Monday afternoons, as well as selected Saturdays until 10 pm.

 If you prefer your visits to be educational, you can take a guided tour or even an afternoon tea. 

 A nice surprise is that entrance is free so I would recommend booking online. They permit booking one week in advance.

For even more rooftop garden options in London, check out my video – Top Rooftop Gardens in London

View an architect’s home like never before

Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, WC2A 3BP

I love architecture and discovering new architects, designers, and interiors truly is a passion of mine. So I was delighted when I discovered this museum by British architect, Sir John Soane.

The museum has been kept in its original condition since his passing in 1837. It displays his vast collection of antiquities, furniture, sculptures, architectural models and paintings. 

The Facade Of The Museum Derry Moore

There is even a gorgeous domed ceiling, inset with convex mirrors in the Breakfast Room. 

You can even view the sarcophagus of alabaster, in the Monument Court. It was carved for the pharaoh Seti I and was discovered in his tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10 to 5 pm, you can take a walk around this home-turned-museum for free. For a little more, you can join a highlights tour, or attend one of their events held in the home. 

Take in a performance in a breathtaking Grade II listed Concert Hall

Wilton Music Hall, 1-4 Graces Alley, Whitechapel, E1 8JB

Wilton Music Hall is a Grade II listed concert hall in Whitechapel offers visitors a very special.  historic experience. 

The building was designed by John Wilton in the mid-19th Century. The exterior is made up of five Victorian house fronts, which then open up to an auditorium that underwent a complementary refurbishment in 2015. 

Wiltons Hall View From Stage By Paul Marc Mitchell

The space features modern lighting, heating and ventilation, while most of the period features remain. From cast iron pillars to a carved balcony with classical arches, the space is a history-buffs dream and is perfect for catching your favourite play or opera. 

If you’re not into the theatre or music scene, you can just pop into the bar to take in the interiors and historic architecture the building has to offer. 

There is a varied list of events being hosted throughout the year and I’ll have a link in the description box below so reserve your place to sit in this stunning London venue. 

So which of these top 6 picks for unique things to do around London?  Were any of them a new find for you? 

If you’re looking to move to London, and want to discover all of the hidden gems, including the perfect neighbourhood for your needs and budget, please get in touch. 

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