This post was most recently updated on March 19th, 2019
So you’ve seen Buckingham Palace, fed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square and viewed Big Ben from 14 different angles.
But rather than go to the next thing on every Londoner’s list (Tower Of London? London Eye?) you want something a little less mainstream.
So, just for you here’s our list of the very best non touristy things to do in London.
London Travel Tips: Great Things To Do Off The Beaten Track
1. Go To The Pub
Why not sample the delights of the Great British Pub?
Pubs (or ‘Public Houses’ to give them their full name) have been serving beer to thirsty Londoners for centuries.
They are similar to bars – they serve beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks – but are also very different. Pubs are also rather like a communal main room.
Indeed it is traditional for the pub to be the center of a local area – particularly in villages or, in cities such as London, working class areas – frequented by everyone in the community in a way that a bar, in say the US, isn’t.
Your trip to England is not complete unless you’ve been to at least one pub – quite easy as there seems to one of every street corner (despite more competition for people’s time, they are still immensely popular).
[We’ve done a full post on great pubs in London>>> Click Here]
2. Visit Postman’s Park
Postman’s Park is home to the Watt’s memorial, a very touching gallery of tablets commemorating tragic acts of courage.
George Frederic Watts came up with this way to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee: a ‘wall of heroes’ commemorating everyday acts of courage.
So here is
Elizabeth Boxall, Aged 17 of Bethnal Green, Who died of injuries received in trying to save a child from a runaway horse,June 20, 1888″.
George Lee Fireman, At a fire in Clerkenwell. Carried an unconscious girl to the Escape falling six times and died of his injuries. July 26, 1876
These are just two of the 54 acts of self sacrifice. You can see them all at the park.
3. Highgate Cemetery
London’s Victorian cemeteries are works of art in themselves – but Highgate cemetery is particularly notable for its size (170,000 people are buried here) plus its notable ‘residents’.
George Eliot and Douglas Adams (writer of Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy) are both buried here.
But the main draw is the grave of Karl Marx – surely one of the most influential (many would say infamous) figures in history…
4. Walk The Thames Path
Walking some of the 40 miles of footpath in central London is a great way to see a different perspective on many familiar landmarks (such as the Tower Bridge).
5. Take Tea At The Ritz
The Ritz, along with its namesake in Paris, is one of the finest tea rooms in the world. But it is, as yet, largely unspoilt by the tourist crowds.
So why not dress up (a little) and take tea as the highest of society have done for years. Just also remember to take lots of cash (a ppot of tea is over $10!). But worth it for the experience.
Greenwich was the center of Britain’s naval fleet, the source of the power of the British Empire for 200 years. It bears many of the marks of this time still.
The magnificent Christopher Wren designed Old Royal Navy College was still operational up until 1998 and is a great place to visit.
The Cutty Sark, a well preserved 19th century sailing ship can be visited (you can even go underneath it).
And make sure you visit Greenwich Park, home to the Greenwich Observatory and the center of ‘Greenwich Mean Time’, still the spot from which global time is measured.
7. Little Venice
A pretty pool of water where the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals meet, this has been turned into a lovely area of waterside cafes and pubs.
A great place to relax afer a trip to London Zoo in nearby Regents Park.
8. Smithfield Market
Smithfield has been home to its famous meat market since the 10th century – and is still operational.
Now home to markets of every type – and lots of cafes – it’s a great place to potter and while away a few hours of time wondering around the stalls.
9. Churchill War Rooms, Westminster
Where Winston Churchill was headquartered during World War II.
Left just as they were after the war, they provide a facinating insight into one of Britain’s most dangerous times.
10. Brick Lane
London has always been a cultural melting pot, and never more so than this street in the East part of the city.
Now home to London’s Bangledeshi community it has been home to everyone from French Hugenots to Ashkenazi Jews, all represented by the many, and varied, cafes and restaurants on the street.