Off the Beaten Track in London TownSix Weird and Wacky Locations to Visit
Off the Beaten Track in London
A wise man once said, ‘when you are bored of London, you are bored of life´.
Due to the size and versatility of England´s enigmatic – and gay-friendly – capital, there’s a lot of truth to the saying. However, what can get tiresome is seeing the same old postcard pretty attractions time and time again. Sure, Big Ben, the London Eye, The Tower or London and Buckingham Palace are very impressive and all that, but London is a city of layers with more to offer than just the obvious.
Here are six weird and wonderful locations worth straying off the beaten track to seek out. Whether it’s unexpected architectural marvels, mysterious graveyards, grim museums or hidden bars – these alternative destinations provide their own adventures, while still being highly Instagramable.
Once upon a time in the 19th century, seven cemeteries known as ´the magnificent seven` were built and scattered around the capital to alleviate the rather morbid problem of overcrowding amongst the dead. All seven cemeteries still exist to this day and are full of beautiful gothic architecture and are sequestered away from the hustle and bustle of London.
Arguably the most picturesque of the four is found in Highgate.
Highgate Cemetery is a truly fascinating and eerily calm place, where paths wind between lush gardens and sprawling grounds to reveal mausoleums, famous gravestones, Egyptian tombs, ivy covered tombstones and imposing statues of angels and beasts. A grand total of 170 thousand people are buried in the cemetery – including many famous residents, such as the scientist Michael Farady, the singer George Michael and Karl Marx himself.
Marx’s grave has become something of a pilgrimage destination for socialists around the world who come to pay their respects – and debate as to whether Marx or Lenin deserved the higher honor of being placed closest to the gates. Another highlight of the cemetery is the tunnel leading through Egyptian avenue right up to the Circle of Lebanon, a circle of elaborate tombs – belonging to the richest people in Victorian society – encircling a huge ancient cedar tree.
Address – Swains Lane Highgate, London N6 6PJ England
How to get there
The closest tube station is at Archway – 16min walk.
Archway Tube Station is on the High Barnet branch of the Northern line,
Instead of walking you can hop on either the 143 or 271 bus at the station and take it up to the Waterlow Park bus stop.
Ruislip Lido Beach
Yes, that’s right…A beach! In London! No, not those scrubby pebble stone things along the Thames, but an actual beach reachable in under an hour from the center via the underground and a short bus journey. The seemingly out of place beach can be found on the edge of Ruislip Lido, a 60-acre lake by Ruislip Wood National Nature Reserve – a woodland that is twice the size of London’s iconic Hyde Park
If you’re looking for traditional British beach fun, whether you want to muck about in rowing boats or build a sandcastle with the kids, there’s plenty of options for a great day out at Ruislip Lido Beach. You´ll also find a quaint little café selling ice creams and a miniature anachronistic train, whose tracks run around the lake. The beach is particularly popular with sunbathers and bird watchers – so don’t forget your sunscreen or binoculars!
Address – Reservoir Road, Ruislip, HA4 7TY
How to get there
Ruislip Lido is served by the H13 and 331 bus routes.
The nearest Underground station is Ruislip (30 minute walk) which connects with both Metropolitan & Piccadilly line services from Central London and Uxbridge
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
London’s worst kept secret and one to get you off the beaten track in London – mostly due to its sheer awesomeness – is a hidden bar known as The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town. Below The Breakfast Club – a bustling restaurant in Spitalfields – lies a Canadian style bar with vintage furniture and a flashing sign declaring “thrills”.
Here mixologists serve a creative mix of cocktails – that could be works of art in their extravagance – and yummy North American food. The clandestine bar is reached via a secret door found within a fridge – yes, a fridge – and entrance permitted by a request to ‘see the mayor´.
Furthermore, every Saturday and Sunday they offer a bottomless brunch – with a shed load of alcohol thrown in to seal the deal.
Address – 12-16 Artillery Lane, London, E1 7LS
How to get there
A short 300m walk from London Liverpool Street Station on the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, and Central lines.
Located on Artillery Lane and hidden behind a fridge door.
London’s Sky Garden is the perfect place to get away from it all, without actually going anywhere! The concept of this London wonder is simple – take Londoners out of grey streets and put them into a green oasis high up in the sky! From here, Londoners can marvel at 360-degree unobstructed views of London and its iconic skyline or wander further into the garden and enjoy some tranquility among its lush greenery.
Sky Garden´s plantings were designed by award winning landscape artist Gillespies and include Mediterranean and South African plants chosen to work in harmony with the building around them.
Sky Garden also boasts two bars and two restaurants situated to take advantage of the spectacular views of the Thames below. Sky Garden is located at 20 Fenchurch Street and is completely free, although booking in advance is a good idea due to the growing popularity of the garden amongst Londoners in the know.
Address – 20 Fenchurch Street 1 Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF England
How to get there
Monument underground served by the Circle and District lines – 3 minute walk.
Bank station served by the Central, Northern and Waterloo & City lines, and the DLR – 5 minute walk
London’s Little Venice is a hidden gem in London, often overlooked by tourists and Londoners alike. But those who do take the time to explore this tranquil paradise, situated between London’s two most famous canals – Paddington and Regent’s Canal – will be rewarded with a land out of time.
The stretch of canal first branded Little Venice by Lord Byron or the poet Robert Browning – depending on who you ask – starts in North Paddington and is a charming 45-minute walk to Camden past boat shops, pubs, restaurants and even theaters such as the ‘Puppet Theater Barge’.
Alternatively, you can take a boat the full length with the likes of Jason´s Trip, Jenny Wren Canal Cruises, and London Waterbus. It might not be Venice, but it is pretty!
Address – Regent’s park, London W2 1TH
How to get there
Warwick Avenue located on the Bakerloo line is a 3 min walk
Royal Oak on the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines is a 7 min walk
Jack the Ripper Museum
London has a rather grim murder-laden past. The most infamous of its murderers was Jack the Ripper, who now has a whole museum dedicated to him located in London’s East End.
The Jack the Ripper Museum goes beyond history lessons, letting curious visitors walk in the shoes of London’s premier murderer through artifacts from the 19th century serial killer’s investigations.
There are also interactive exhibits for some thrilling thrills, such as true crime-based games and a creepy recreation of what London was like at the time. All this makes it a memorable experience, whether you’re a budding detective or just looking to get your horror fix.
So if you’re ever in London with an appetite for mystery and mayhem, this museum is truly off the beaten track in London and certainly worth checking out.
Address – 12 Cable St, Aldgate, London E1 8JG
How to get there
From Tower Hill on the District and Circle lines – 7 minute walk
From Shadwell on the Overground and DLR lines – 10 minute walk
From Aldgate East on the District and Hammersmith & City lines – 7 minute walk
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