Your Ultimate Guide to exploring off-the-beaten track locations scattered across London.
London is known as the best city in the whole of the UK. With that comes some of the best attractions the UK has the offer. For example; Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and of course the London Eye. However, what most people don’t realise are the hidden beauties which are tucked away from the public eye.
In this article, we explore the top 10 hidden gems in London which you can visit for FREE! These spots are perfect to escape the crowds especially in a busy city such as London. So sit back, and save these hidden gems for your next London adventure!
St Dunstan in the East Church is without a doubt a unique area set within the ruins of a Wren church. The Church of St Dunstan was originally constructed around 1100 and is a Grade I listed building.
A brand new south aisle was introduced in 1391 and was repaired in 1631. However, it became seriously damaged in 1666 by the Great Fire of London.
The Church unfortunately was broken again in the Blitz of 1941. However, Wren's tower and Steeple survived the bombing. Throughout the re-organisation of the Anglican Church after World War II, it was decided not to rebuild St Dunstan’s. In 1967 the City of London decided to display the remains into a public garden, which opened in 1970.
2) The Point
The Point in Greenwich is about a ten minute walk from Greenwich DLR/mainline station and offers one of the best views of London without the eye-watering prices of the London Eye and the Shard.
Observing how London has changed over the past few decades is what makes this view so fascinating. It is obvious that some items are missing because the etched metal sign listing the view's highlights was created in 1984.
The Canary Wharf towers are the reason the East End landmarks depicted on the sign are no longer visible, though you can still make out the Olympic stadium, the newest addition to the neighbourhood.
Folly House Beach is located in Canary Wharf, and is known for overlooking the O2 Arena. Folly House Beach boasts a smooth, pebbly surface, and isn't as busy as the Southbank Beach.
This is a great place to bring the kids before a concert or to unwind after a long day of work in London's financial district!
Welcome to the Serpentine Waterfall; a beautiful water feature in the middle of this immense park in the centre of London. Take a moment to enjoy the rippling sounds of the waterfall and the chirping birds. Queen Caroline ordered the construction of the 40-acre recreational lake known as The Serpentine in Hyde Park in 1730.
London's most recognizable "open water" swimming spot is probably the Serpentine Lido. The oldest swimming club in Britain is the Serpentine Swimming Club. In addition to participating in the renowned race on Christmas day, they swim every day between 5:30 and 9:30 am in the Lido area.
5) Neal’s Yard
One of London's most beautiful streets, Neal's Yard, is hidden away down a tiny side street in Seven Dials. Even though it's simple to miss, it would be regrettable if you did.
Neal's Yard was previously utilized as a bin-filled waste area. Rats would most likely be present instead of people taking the ideal Instagram picture.
Fortunately, Nicholas Saunders used his business acumen to save the area before it was destroyed and turn it into the lively, vibrant corner it is today.
Little Venice is a haven of peace and tranquillity even though it is close to congested roads and the commuters leaving Paddington Station.
Where the Regent's Canal and the Grand Union Canal converge, dozens of narrowboats, day trip boats, and waterside eateries line the calm waterway. The gorgeous backdrop is made up of the well-known Little Venice mansions.
Additionally, the triangular pool, which includes a willow tree, is home to a number of floating establishments, including the Waterside Cafe, London Waterbus, a floating art gallery, and a hotel boat.
Views of the Gardens will be magically revealed if you stroll through the treetop canopy. The Treetop Walkway offers a chance to get up close to Kew's trees as it rises 18 meters above the ground.
From its heights, you can see the intricate ecosystem of the trees' topmost branches, a place teeming with animals like birds and insects, lichen, and fungi. To explain how trees grow, sculptures made from tree trunks are displayed on the ground.
It's a tree-lined path with a twist, no matter your vantage point, giving a glimpse into the hidden life of woods and forests.
The Traffic Light Tree is a teen driver's worst nightmare. Just outside the main gate to Bilingsgate Market, there is a traffic island where you can find this traffic light mutation. The eight-meter-tall stoplight, which was created in 1998 by French sculptor Pierre Vivant, was first put in place where a plane tree had once stood but had since perished due to air pollution.
Its morphing patterns are meant to capture the "never-ending rhythm of the surrounding domestic, financial, and commercial activities. The original plan was to have the London Stock Exchange's activity start the lights, but it was abandoned because it would have been too expensive to implement.
The tall "Traffic Light Tree" switches its 75 sets of lights in a random order, much to the bewilderment of unprepared motorists. The roundabout containing the "Tree" was in fact ranked highly when Saga Motor Insurance polled British drivers in 2005 about the best and worst roundabouts in the nation.
9) The Vaults
It doesn't sound like the best night out to be lost in a network of dim tunnels beneath the city. However, things change when the said tunnels are host to immersive performances of theater, comedy, and other genres.
The location in question is The Vaults, which is currently hosting the VAULT Festival. It is tucked away beneath Waterloo station, where the sound of passing trains only enhances the subterranean ambiance.
There aren't many places like The Vaults that you just happen to find. Unless of course you have a habit of exploring tunnels covered in graffiti. To be fair, the local street art is beautiful and well worth a look. Graffiti is not only accepted but actively encouraged on Leake Street in London, earning it the moniker "Banksy Street."
One of London's best places for outdoor swimming is Hampstead Bathing Pond, a natural bathing pond. The Hampstead Heath Mixed Pond is a former reservoir that resembles and feels like a natural pool due to its surrounding trees, rush-lined ends, and presence of fish and waterfowl.
It offers a lifeguarded outdoor mixed bathing area from early April to late October that is appropriate for competent swimmers to enjoy outdoor swimming in fresh water that is quality tested weekly during the season by the Environment Agency.
You enter deep water right from the deck; there is no shallow area for you to stand in. The mixed pond is situated close to the Royal Free Hospital on the Hampstead Heath side facing East Heath Road.
The Hampstead Overground station is less than 10 minutes' walk from the pond, and there is a sizable parking lot nearby. If arriving by train, it is also a 5-minute walk from the station. Near the ponds' entrance, bicycles can also be parked. There is a large car park about 5 minutes walk from the pond and, if coming by train, then Hampstead Overground station is less than 10 minutes walk. Cycles can be parked near the entrance to the ponds too.
We hoped you enjoyed discovering the local finds and less known places which are scattered around London. We are confident that visiting some of these hidden gems will make your London trip even more memorable!
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