101 secret things to do in London

Experience a different side of the city with our guide to secret things to do and hidden spots in London.

There are plenty of secret things to do in London: search for top-secret London attractions, dine at quirky restaurants or hunt for treasures in unusual shops. But keep these secret London spots to yourself... you didn't hear about them from us!

Hidden London areas

Looking at the river Thames, from a bridge, in Kingston Upon Thames on a sunny day. River boats are moored on the right bank, surrounded by trees; while there are buildings and a walkway on the left bank.
Kingston Upon Thames © visitlondon.com/Antoine Buchet.
  1. Head to Walthamstow in Waltham Forest to explore the William Morris Gallery, or stop off at neontastic God's Own Junkyard.
  2. Wander through the cobbled streets of Greenwich and the wider area – home to hidden gems such as Ranger's House, Eltham Palace and the Thames Barrier
  3. View contemporary artworks from world-famous artists at RISE Gallery in Croydon, before feasting on foodie treats at Boxpark Croydon
  4. Kew is not just home to famous Kew Gardens. Explore a little-known royal residence during a visit to Kew Palace
  5. Venture over to Brixton for global cuisine or live music at Pop Brixton, which is built from shipping containers.
  6. Take a trip to the riverside town of Kingston upon Thames and pick up goodies from the daily market in the Ancient Market Place
  7. Wander around leafy Chiswick and admire the 18th-century architecture of Chiswick House
  8. Visit Twickenham to discover the gothic delights of Horace Walpole's former home, Strawberry Hill House
  9. Hunt for hidden gems in Bexley, where you'll find Danson House, Hall Place and Lesnes Abbey

Secret gardens in London

  1. Escape from the hustle and bustle of central London at peaceful St Dunstan in the East.
  2. Take a walk through one of London’s tranquil cemeteries, including Victorian Nunhead Cemetery in south-east London.
  3. Fill your Instagram feed with rooftop views from The Garden at 120
  4. Go off the beaten track to explore sprawling Epping Forest – one of the loveliest secret escapes in London.  
  5. Come face to face with life-size dinosaur sculptures hidden in Crystal Palace Park.
  6. Marvel at the stunning Buddhist Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.
  7. Or admire the much larger Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon.
  8. Wander around the gorgeous grounds of 17th-century Ham House and Gardens.
  9. Explore the tranquil, little-known Kyoto Garden at Holland Park, itself a London hidden gem.
  10. Discover the hidden gems of Richmond Park: explore Isabella Plantation, admire the views from King Henry’s Mound and look out for more than 600 deer. 
  11. Stroll around the secret Garden of Medicinal Plants at Chelsea Physic Garden
  12. Be moved by plaques honouring those who died saving others at Postman's Park.

Unique museums in London

An over-stuffed walrus, racing frontwards, site on a white plinth in the middle of a gallery, with display cases of specimens in the background.
An over-stuffed walrus at Horniman Museum and Gardens. Image courtesy of Horniman Museum and Gardens.
  1. Step inside the home of London’s favourite detective at the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
  2. See a giant stuffed walrus and many more curious items at the Horniman Museum and Gardens
  3. Experience the grand rooms of Apsley House and Wellington Arch across the road both great reminders of the Duke of Wellington who defeated Napoleon in 1815.
  4. Learn about the incredible work of the lady with the lamp at the Florence Nightingale Museum.
  5. The City of London is full of hidden and unusual museums, from The City of London Police Museum, to the Museum of Philatelic History,
  6. Visit the House of MinaLima to see original artworks and props from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films.
  7. Find out about life in the 18th century with a visit to Dennis Severs' House
  8. Explore the homes of two of the world's most celebrated musicians with Handel & Hendrix in London. 
  9. Delve into the history of 19th-century surgery at the Old Operating Theatre.
  10. Head to the Wellcome Collection to find out about the impact of medicine on our lives.
  11. Appreciate the work of one of London’s most famous 19th-century novelists at The Charles Dickens Museum.
  12. Ask to see the "scentilating" tiny museum at the back of Floris on Jermyn Street.

Tucked-away music venues

  1. Enjoy evening entertainment at the glorious Wilton's Music Hall, the world’s oldest surviving grand music hall.
  2. Drop by Village Underground in east London for DJ sets and live music events.
  3. Jive to live music in swanky 1950s-inspired surroundings at the Rivoli Ballroom.
  4. Listen to smooth tunes at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, which has welcomed legendary jazz artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz and Buddy Rich.
  5. Make sure to request your favourite tunes at one of The Piano Works' non-stop live music venues in London.
  6. Dance along to music from super-talented artists at Bush Hall – become a member to access top-secret shows in London.
  7. Head over to The Half Moon Putney whose past performers include the Rolling Stones.
  8. Venture below river level to Tower Bridge’s Bascule Chambers for an unforgettable concert, as part of the annual Totally Thames festival.
  9. Listen to live music on the streets of London at a top busking spot, including Trafalgar SquareSouth Bank and Covent Garden.

Unusual London shops

Looking along Burlington Arcade, with little shops and Christmas decorations either side and people further along the arcade.
Burlington Arcade © visitlondon.com/Ben Pipe.
  1. Fall in love with magical Alice in Wonderland-inspired items at Alice Through The Looking Glass.
  2. Step into the futuristic Cyberdog for florescent fashions and neon rave accessories.
  3. Look for books, toys and merchandise which bring back childhood memories at The Moomin Shop.
  4. Browse for books in beautiful Edwardian surroundings at the Marylebone branch of Daunt Books.
  5. Pick up unusual supplies, from dragon treats to fang floss, at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
  6. Find eclectic shops among elegant arcades tucked away in St James's, including Princes Arcade, Piccadilly Arcade and Burlington Arcade.
  7. Search the London Beatles Store for all things rock'n'roll, from vinyl records to cool memorabilia.
  8. While away a rainy afternoon at James Smith & Sons, which has sold umbrellas in London since 1830.
  9. Shop for tins of tea and more at Twinings, the oldest tea shop in London more than 300 years of history.
  10. Seek out shops in quiet courtyards and backstreets within major shopping hotspots, such as The Yards, Floral Street and St Christopher's Place.

Discover more hidden shopping gems in London for cool specialist boutiques and off-the-high-street brands.

Off-the-beaten-track tours of London

A dimly lit, disused Tube tunnel, track and platform that's lit only by two lights.
Holborn Kingsway station, part of Hidden London Tours by the London Transport Museum © London Transport Museum.
  1. Head out on a puzzle-filled urban adventure with CityDays solving a series of clues to uncover the city's best-kept secrets.
  2. Venture beneath the streets of London to explore abandoned Tube stations on Hidden London Tours with the London Transport Museum.
  3. Scare yourself silly during a ride through London with The Ghost Bus Tours.
  4. See a completely different side of the city one toilet at a time during a London Loo Tour.
  5. Be dazzled by views of the capital from above on a London Helicopter Tour.
  6. Discover the chilling story of London’s most notorious serial killer with Jack the Ripper Ghost Walks and stop off at his favourite drinking spot, The Ten Bells.
  7. Take a tour of the Royal Hospital Chelsea with a resident Chelsea Pensioner.

Top-secret bars in London

  1. Check out one of the city's cool themed bars; options include Cahoots, Alcotraz, The Bootlegger and Moonshine Saloon
  2. Jump into a giant ball pit and sip on delicious cocktails at Ballie Ballerson
  3. Ask to see the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town to gain access to this secret bar in London.
  4. Help solve the latest case at the mysterious Evans and Peel Detective Agency.
  5. Take a bottle of spirit along to BYOC, where the talented bartenders will design your perfect cocktail.
  6. Step back in time to the glamorous 1920s at the Luggage Room in Mayfair.  
  7. Soak up the summer sun with a drink in Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden at Southbank Centre.
  8. Sample incredible cocktails at the Czech-inspired Lounge Bohemia (this top-secret London bar is by appointment only).
  9. Sip cocktails by flickering candlelight at the award-winning Nightjar.
  10. Find bars hidden within venues across London, such as the Punch Room at London Edition, Swans Bar at Maison Assouline and Treehouse Hotel London's The Nest.
  11. Embrace the weird and wonderful at one of London’s quirky bars, or head to a fabulous rooftop bar in London, such as on John Lewis Oxford Street's rooftop and Queen of Hoxton.

Secret places to dine in London

A hand holds a black and red Chinese rice bowl, filled with ice and a macaron.
Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour. Image courtesy of The Breakfast Club.
  1. Tuck into an alternative afternoon tea in London.
  2. Step through a secret entrance in Bubbledogs to take a seat at the Michelin-starred Kitchen Table.
  3. Be plunged into darkness during an unforgettable three-course meal at Dans Le Noir.
  4. Indulge in mouthwatering desserts at top-secret London spot, Basement Sate.
  5. Look out for Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour, hidden behind a green door in London’s Chinatown. 
  6. Mingle with other in-the-know locals over street food at Seven Dials Market, Mercato Mayfair or Market Hall West End.
  7. Or head to foodie hotspots around London Bridge, where Maltby Street Market, Flat Iron Square and Vinegar Yard await.
  8. Find everything from tapas to tagines among Heddon Street's varied eateries.
  9. Tuck into tea and cake surrounded by feline friends at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium.  
  10. Take a shopping pit stop at the hidden-away Bond Street Kitchen in Fenwick on Bond Street.
  11. Head to glamorous Brunswick House Cafe, which is hidden away in a Georgian mansion.
  12. Hush... don't spoil the secret at Hush Mayfair, a quiet townhouse brasserie secreted away in a cosy courtyard.

More secret London attractions

Looking along an empty Leake Street Tunnel, which is decorated with colourful street art on the walls and ceiling, with daylight visible at the end of the tunnel.
Leake Street Tunnel © Antoine Buchet. Image courtesy of South Bank BID.
  1. Spend an afternoon exploring London's cool musical heritage.
  2. Take in London’s spectacular sights from the river while kayaking down the Thames.
  3. Look out for London’s quirky street art. See if you can spot the Seven Noses of Soho or the hidden ears in Covent Garden.
  4. Or have a go at street art yourself during regular events and workshops at Insta-famous Leake Street Arches.
  5. Head outdoors to explore some of London's most peaceful places.
  6. Uncover the abundant history of Roman London, including the remains of the capital’s little-known Roman wall, the London Mithraeum Bloomberg Space and London's Roman Amphitheatre.
  7. See if you can spot the smallest police station in London at Trafalgar Square.
  8. Go for a dip in one of the city’s lidos.
  9. Check into one of London's cool and quirky hotels.

Quirky London events

  1. Peer inside iconic buildings and private homes rarely opened to the public during Open House London.
  2. Watch your favourite flicks underneath the stars during Luna Cinema
  3. Lose yourself in the immersive world of Secret Cinema.
  4. Tantalise your taste buds during a top-secret dining experience with Gingerline.
  5. Catch a spectacular lineup of outdoor plays and musicals at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.  
  6. Enjoy an evening of cheap entertainment at one of London's little-known pub theatres.
  7. Chuckle along to hilarious stand-up shows at the Top Secret Comedy Club.  
  8. Step into the 1920s for a prohibition-themed party in a secret location with The Candlelight Club.
  9. Follow an exciting trail of artworks during all-night festival, Art Night.
  10. Stop by a church to hear the beautiful sounds of a Choral Evensong service.

If you’re looking for even more alternative things to do in London, make sure to check out the best of London’s hidden gems or discover some of the capital’s quirkiest attractions.