Lesser Known Attractions In London - Explore the Unseen

By Reshma Dewda on Jul 28, 2016
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London is much more than just a city. It’s a state of mind, a way of life. You can never leave the city without the longing to return. When you do return to this effervescent metropolis and are ready to look beyond the touristy facade, the real city starts revealing itself to you.
Are you ready to see the hidden London? The one where locals go for a break? Here are our suggestions for lesser known attractions in London that are grossly underrated and under-visited too.

Not so Famous Parks, Greens & Trails: 

1. Camden Physic Garden

Image Source: Charlie Dave/flickr.com

Founded in 1673, this one is London’s oldest botanical garden and it has still retained much of its Victorian glory. Its beautiful four acres are home to Britain’s largest olive tree, one of the world’s oldest rock gardens and scores of rare, medicinal plants. Also check out the ethnobotany section for an interesting insight on the botany of various ethnic groups and cultures. 

2. Camley Street Natural Park

Image Source: Donald Judge/ flickr.com  

Hiding in plain sight, this park is located at a stone’s throw away from King’s Cross. A completely refreshing landscape, expect to be surrounded with rolling meadows, woodland and water. Left to the creative will of nature, this park attracts a number of colorful bees, butterflies, birds and wildlife too. Great for a picnic on a rare sunny afternoon in London, this secret place is a pleasant surprise for visitors.

Planning a vacation? Start here: London Trip Planner.

3. The Thames Path

Image Source: geograph.org.uk

The Thames path is a 40 mile stretch through London (part of a 180 mile long national trail along the River Thames) that encompasses a number of famous and lesser known attractions. Hire a bike and set off on an urban adventure to discover some unique places along the path. You’ll find Charles Dickens’ favorite pub and many such small undiscovered treasures that you would have missed otherwise.

Some Hidden Museums in London:

1. The Cartoon Museum

Image Source: yelp.co.uk

Full of quirky revelations, the cartoon museum might not be as popular as its neighbor British Museum but it makes for a great visit if you are a comic book fan. Discover British caricatures, cartoons, animation and comics dating from 18th century till date. Not just for the kids, this museum has many thought provoking cartoons for adults too. If you want to go off the beaten path in London, check out this museum.

2. Tate Britain

Image Source: stu smith/ flickr.com  

While Tate Modern takes away all the limelight, Tate Britain, its quieter and hidden counterpart is where you can truly explore without worrying about crowds. A true gem of a museum, this gallery houses famous works of art like Ophelia, The Lady of Shallot and Whistler’s famous works too.

3. John Ritblat Gallery

Image Source: yelp.co.uk

It’s a shame that this gallery isn’t visited often. It is home to invaluable treasures like Shakespeare’s First Folio, Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook and Gutenberg’s bible from 1455. This unseen part of London is a treat for any literary fan, entry to this gallery is completely free of charge. So visit the gallery to find the hidden treasures of London.

Undiscovered Palaces:

1. Kew Palace

Image Source: Matt Brown/ flickr.com  

A good contrast to the on-the-face glamor of Buckingham Palace, the subtle grandeur of Kew Palace is a refreshing surprise. The palace is a good lesson in how the upper-class elite lived in the 17th and 18th centuries. This is where King George III retreated when he was suffering from acute mental illness. You’ll be delighted to see restored Georgian rooms and intricate décor dating back to 16th and 17th centuries.

Not to be Missed Churches: 

1. St Pancras Old Church and Garden

Image Source: geograph.org.uk

The St Pancras Church has been witness to many incidents and historic events over its long life. Of particular interest here is the altar that dates back to the 6th Century and the graveyard under the tree that has a very interesting story. Also not to be missed is Soane family mausoleum built by Sir John Soane that also inspired Sir Gilles Gilbert Scott to make the famous red telephone box of London. 

2. Temple Church

Image Source: Gary Ullah/ flckr.com  

If you’ve read or watched ‘The Da Vinci Code’, you’d recognize this church as the one built by the Knights Templar. Built to resemble Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, this church is a fantastic medieval treasure that hides many mysterious secrets within its walls.

Hidden Markets & Neighborhoods: 

1. Gray’s Antiques

Image Source: Facebook.com

The epicenter of London’s bustling antiques trade, this market is nothing short of a mecca for art and antique lovers. You will be able to find everything ranging from South Asian art to home utility stuff at this fantastic bazaar. It is so easy to get lost in its peculiar vibe!  

2. Borough and Maltby Markets

Image Source: GateC21/ flickr.com 

There’s a unique satisfaction in simply wandering around with no particular agenda. A flaneur’s paradise, the Borough market is full of interesting sounds and smells. Nibble on the fresh produce or just take in the colorful sights, this market is a great break from the fast pace of the city. After you’re done, head over to the neighboring Maltby market for vendors selling lip smacking homemade burgers, cocktails and quirky vintage collectibles.

3. Camden Passage

Image Source: yelp.co.uk

A treasure trove of cafes, vintage shops and boutiques, the Camden Passage is where Londoners go to unwind. A real treat for lovers of quirk, this place is full of interesting stuff like curios, war memorabilia and fun party outfits. Don't forget to include this hidden gem of London in your itinerary.

4. Little Venice

London’s answer to Venice, this neighborhood is the perfect escape for a weekend. Filled with cute cafes and pubs and narrow canals, it feels like a whole other place here. Drop by for a Guinness in the evening or just indulge in a lazy afternoon stroll, Little Venice is sure to take up a little place in your heart.

So next time you visit London, explore the uncommon, unearth the hidden treasures and in that process, you’re sure to discover the heart of the city too.

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