An alternative guide to London: Quirky things to see and do

So you have covered all the highlights and world-famous landmarks such as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, shopped until you have dropped at Harrods and Liberty’s, and hopped on and off the iconic big red bus. But now you are after something a bit different, something off the beaten track. Well, you have come to the right place. In this article, Lana Bester lists some of her favourite sights, quirky shopping spots, and other unique things to see and do.

1. Explore the Barbican Conservatory 

On the contrary to its Brutalist architecture, inside the Barbican Estate is the incredible Barbican Conservatory. As well as being free (yay!), the conservatory is infamous and beloved by many. Open seven days a week, you can explore a ‘rainforest’ right in the middle of London city. Book tickets here

2. Experience dining like no other at the Aeronaut 

The Aeronaut is not your generic pub but an incredible immersive dining experience. From themed brunches to live circus and drag shows, the Aeronaut is not your typical night out in London.   

3. Wander Leadenhall Market 

Well known thanks to its appearance in the Harry Potter films, Leadenhall Market is a hidden gem in the heart of London. Its iconic 14th-century architecture and rich heritage make this shopping spot unique.  

4. Take some pretty cool selfies at God’s Own Junkyard 

Hidden away in Walthamstow lies God’s Own Junkyard – a neon paradise. Signs hang on every inch of the wall in this warehouse, ranging from catchphrases to naughty images; all are available to rent or purchase at a steep price. There are numerous instagrammable opportunities as well as ‘The Rolling Scones’ – a quirky café serving food and drinks. Although free to enter, make sure you arrive early to avoid crowds. 

5. Get drunk and nostalgic at Ballie Ballerson 

Originally just a pop up in Dalston circa 2016, Ballie Ballerson, located in Shoreditch, now attracts more than 25,000 people a month. Aiming to combine childhood nostalgia with cocktails, Ballie Ballerson is London’s original and best ball pit bar.  

6. Be wowed at the House of Dreams Museum 

House of dreams museum’ is a life project started in 1998. Within the home of artist Stephen Wright is an incredible masterpiece. Every single surface of his home (and garden) is covered with found objects and hand-written memory boards. Tickets are £7 for students and £12 for adults. 

7. Make your own dildo  

The Art of Pleasure is a dildo making workshop run by Adele Brydges in Hackney Wick. Ever get bored of Ann Summers’ basic pink coloured toys? This workshop allows you to create a unique and personal porcelain sex toy with beautiful decals. Adele describes the workshop as: “push(ing) people’s boundaries and challeng(ing) preconceptions in a gentle, fun, and creative way, encouraging a healthy attitude toward sexuality and ownership over our own pleasure.”  

8. Check out Kyoto Gardens 

Hidden in west London’s infamous Holland Park is a slice of paradise gifted by Kyoto in 1991 to celebrate our two countries’ friendship. Kyoto Gardens features a stunning pond home to many koi carp, as well as some gorgeous native Japanese plants and stone lanterns. Holland Park is free to explore and can easily be accessed from either Holland Park or Notting Hill tube stations.  

9. Get lost in Stables Market 

Originally a local food market in the 1900s, the Camden Markets transformed in the 70s and has since expanded hugely. It is now filled with 1000+ incredibly unique stalls, bars, and hipster shops across two buildings built in 2006 and the original stables and railway viaducts. The closest tube station is Chalk Farm; however, the market is just as easily accessed from both Camden Town tube station and Camden Road overground station.   

10. Sip ‘N Paint  

Brushstrokes and Nudes is the UK’s original nude Sip & Paint. They supply the art materials, the sound beats, and the nude men. You bring the drinks. As well as generic Sip ‘N Paint sessions, Brushstrokes and Nudes also offer parties, afternoon tea sessions, and carnivals and are available to hire for private events too.  

I hope my unique guide to London’s alternative scene has given you some inspiration to organise a weird and wonderful day in the city! Let us know if you have any suggestions.  

Lead image: Photo by Karollyne Hubert on Unsplash

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