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Looking for non touristy things to do in London? Well, look no further! Let me your local London gal show you the best London hidden gems.
From free views of the London skyline at One New Change and Garden 120, to secret graffiti tunnels, East London street art tours, the Columbia Road flower market in East London, the magical Royal Botanical Kew Gardens, Granary Square, and so much more non touristy things to do in London England.
London has so much to offer tourists, but do you want to know what the true Londoners are getting up to?
I’ve lived in the U.K. for over a two decade. So if you want to see a more authentic, lively, and enthralling side of this famous city, stick with me.
When it comes to finding the best things to do in London, non-touristy activities can struggle to compete with the iconic London landmarks in central London and more touristy experiences.
Don’t have time to read the whole article? The best non-touristy tour is this Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour with a near-perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating.
Including London things to do like visiting Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and Big Ben.
But, to understand what makes this city truly special, you have to see it as the locals do. Here are the best local things to do in London that tourists typically miss out on.
In this guide, you’ll find all the best less touristy things to do in London and more. Get ready for an unforgettable, off-the-beaten-track adventure!
29 Best Non Touristy Things To Do In London England
London Non Touristy Things To Do – Take in the Views at Night
Here are a few of the best non-touristy things to do in London at night with your loved ones. Enjoy the cityscapes and views of London in a way that will add to your perception of this famous destination.
1. Enjoy the Best Free Views Over London
One of the top non tourist things to do in London is take in the views of London skyline for FREE, so no need to pay the hefty price like what you pay for visiting famous landmarks like the London Eye.
There are places enjoyed primarily by locals in London with views that will make your jaw drop. Seeing the city from up high is a truly remarkable experience, and the three best places to do this are at One New Change, The Garden at 120 and Primrose Hill.
📸 One New Change is a retail office block that also comprising the city’s biggest shopping centre.
Over and above the impressive design and flawless structure of this building, you can ride the elevator up to its rooftop and get gobsmacked by a one-of-a-kind view over London City with St Paul’s Cathedral as a backdrop .
One Exchange roof terrace opening time: 6:00 am – midnight daily.
📸 ‘The Garden’ is a newer, innovative space that will delight and inspire you, situated at 120 Fenchurch Street.
You can enjoy sweeping vista views over the city on this public rooftop space whilst also taking in the unique touches of the building itself.
For this London non touristy things to do gather with the locals to enjoy the thrilling experience of seeing London city from the comfort of a beautifully landscaped, modern rooftop garden.
Summer Opening Times: Between 1 April – 30 September (Monday to Friday 10:00 – 21:00)
Winter Opening Times: Between 1 October – 31 March (Monday to Friday 10:00 – 18:30)
The rooftop is open to occupiers of the building and the public on a first come – first serve basis.
📸 Primrose Hill is a Grade II listed public park located north of Regent’s Park in London and is the second highest point in the Borough of Camden. On a clear summer days you can see epic view of central London, as well as Hampstead and Belsize Park from Primrose Hill and is underrated things to do in London.
2. Fly on Emirates Air Line Cable Car
Another one of the fun non tourist things to in London is to take the Emirates Cable Car. Glide over the dreamy River Thames, flowing through London in style. Jumping onto the Emirates Cable Car is a simple yet exciting local activity you won’t want to miss.
Not only is this a great way to enjoy your time, but it is also a leisurely way to get from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks.
Although the ride is only 10 minutes long, you can really revel in some of the best sightseeing opportunities of Canary Wharf, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Gherkin, and The Shard.
Insider Tip: Avoid going for rides during the peak times of 7:00 – 9:00, as the high demand will mean your ride time will be cut in half. The best time to enjoy a long ‘flight’ is after 19:00. The Night Flights are slightly longer, giving you more time to soak in the view.
Tickets for Emirates Air Line – adult £8.40 and Child £5
3. Ride the 453 and Take in the Top London sights
For a relaxing, non touristy London activity, consider riding a hop-on hop-off bus through the city. It might seem like one of those cookie-cutter tourist things to do in London, but it’s all about choosing the right bus.
For example, the local 453 bus is one of the most fun things to do in central London with friends. This bus covers London’s top sightseeing bus route where you’ll get to see Westminster, Whitehall area, 10 No. Downing Street, London Eye.
All this for £1.50. What more could you want?
You can find this big red monster of a bus going between the Deptford Bridge and Marylebone bus stations. It’s one of the newer models of the double-decker bus, so it will feel a little extra luxurious, too!
But, combined with the outstanding views you will get exploring London, this is a stellar, non-touristy activity that most travellers overlook.
You’ll get to ride leisurely between two of London’s most gorgeous spots and take in all the scenic delights along the way.
4. Take a Walk on Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill is a popular grassy area where locals go to enjoy views over London city. The hill is well-cared for and all trees are kept low in order to preserve the view of London’s top attractions!
It’s one of the six protected viewpoints found around London and a peaceful place to take a stroll or relax on a park bench when you need a break from the bustling city!
Across the road from Regent’s Park, this viewpoint can get a little crowded at times, which made me hesitant to include it on this list of the best non touristy things to do in London. But if you visit right after sunrise or during weekdays, you can avoid the worst of the crowds.
Alternative Things To Do in London (Non Touristy)
A handful of interesting places London has and awesome activities, here is an alternative guide to London. Bask in the magic that is London culture and embrace your own inner hipster in ‘The Big Smoke.’
5. Be Amazed at an East London Street Art Walking Tour
One of the things that we Londoners appreciate more frequently than tourists is the talented works of art that adorn the streets of London.
While it’s a popular activity in London for locals, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy it, too.
A guided tour has the perks of a knowledgeable guide who can teach you about London’s storied history with street art in East London. They’ll also share insights about the artists responsible for the beautiful creations.
Get into the minds of these exceptional talents and explore the streets of London in a way you’ve never done before.
6. Visit Brick Lane Market
Another one of the top not touristy things to do in London is visit its incredible street markets and independent shops. Shopping in London is a memorable experience in itself, but there is no place like the Brick Lane Market. Overflowing with artistic flair, London’s eccentric culture comes to life at Brick Lane.
Brick Lane is also one of the most scenic places to venture while in London, with bric-a-brac buildings and retro cafes scattered throughout and multiple street food markets. Most travellers don’t make time to soak in local events like this one.
A rendezvous to the Brick Lane Market is just off Shoreditch High Street is by far one of the most fun non-touristy things to do in London.
Insider Tip: This is a weekend-only market. Visiting on weekends, you can enjoy street performers that add to the trendy vibe of the market and find the greatest bargains.
7. Stroll Through Columbia Road Flower Market
The everyday streets of Columbia Road are fully transformed into a thriving mecca of stunning, colourful flowers and foliage.
If you love nature, and all the magnificent varieties of plants the world has to offer, then this is one of the best of London’s quirky things to do for you.
Showcased at the market are extraordinary plants, out-of-the-box art galleries, beautiful threads from vintage clothing stores, and delicious coffee from the cafes.
8. Channel your Inner Hipster at Hackney Wick
The area used to be a very industrial neighbourhood, but recent renovations have made it a trendy place to go for an evening or two in London. You can gaze a street art, check out the local breweries, sip on craft coffee, and enjoy lots of activities along the canal.
If you are looking for non touristy places in London, Hackney Wick should be one of the first places you visit!
9. Wilton Way in East London
Wilton Way is a short street (about 1/2 mile) where you can enjoy historic Victorian architecture, delicious dessert shops (like Violet’s Bakery), and a bunch of cosy pubs and wine bars.
One spot you can’t miss is Wilton Way Deli. It’s a family-owned and operated local restaurant that has been a staple in the community for years! Make a mid-afternoon pit stop for sandwiches, coffee, drinks, and other snacks
Local Things To Do in London
Londoners have their own way of making memories in our home city. Here are some of the best places to enjoy off-the-beaten-path London.
10. Leadenhall Market
Make your way to the heart of the city to embrace the local flavour. The Leadenhall Market is situated on Gracechurch Street, a central hub of London.
The building is also a beauty, with high and intricately designed ceilings and old-school finishings. It was also a filming location for the Harry Potter movie “The Philosopher’s Stone” and is one the underrated places in London.
Find everything under the sun here, from unforgettable fine dining to boutique stores and occasional events.
11. Go for a Run or Bike in Richmond Park
Richmond Park is one of the best London hidden gems. With a tranquil atmosphere and sophisticated design, it is the second-largest park in the city. This conservation area is one of the London Royal Parks and was originally created by Charles I.
It was first opened in the 17th century as a deer park and remains a sanctuary for our horned friends today. You can also spot woodland bird species like the Tawny Owl, Garden Warbler, and Stock Dove.
The park boasts some of the most magnificent trails for a bike ride, as well as some amazing trails for a scenic walk or run.
The park is also home to some of the best non-touristy places to visit in London, like the Fairytale Cafe, Isabella Plantation, the Ham House and views of Windsor Castle.
Insider Tip: The best way to enjoy a bike ride or a walk is on the Tamsin Trail. It is a car-free trail — making it a carefree route!
12. What to do in London non touristy – Relax at Granary Square
Found in King’s Cross, Granary Square, this once derelict area provides a stunning environment for Londoners to kick back and let the stress melt away.
This is a public square where people from all over London get together to chat, enjoy a cup of take-away coffee, visit the street food market, or watch boats drift by in the distance. It is one of the most local things to do in London with friends.
13. Walk along Regent’s Canal from Kings Cross to Camden
Escape the bustling of the city centre and venture to Regents Canal for a breath of fresh air. You will be rejuvenated by the laid-back atmosphere and the sight of the lazy river flowing through the waterway.
You can enjoy boat rides, but if you want my non-touristy advice, soak it all in on foot instead. Start your stroll at Kings Cross, pass London Zoo and then head for Camden Market for some street food – you will see a whole new side to London’s natural beauty this way and avoid all the tourist hubs along the way exploring London.
You can ride a bike or skate along the path next to Regent’s Canal, but it does get narrow at a certain point of the footpath. So, be careful if you do decide to ride along with it.
14. Embrace Nature at Battersea Park
The Battersea Park is a marvellous local gem and bushy park in London that provides a way for you to feel far away from the business of the city, while still keeping yourself central.
A peaceful getaway with plenty to offer, this is a must for all. The park preserves the natural beauty of London, so you can find so many unforgettable spots and structures here.
Some of the best-hidden gems are The Peace Pergola, The Old English Garden, Pump House Gallery, and the Battersea Park Power Station.
Get a feel for some of the best local activities while you make your way through this enchanting park.
15. Bask in the beauty of the Royal Botanical Kew Gardens
For nature lovers, there is nothing better than a gorgeous, well-maintained green space. Find that at Kew Gardens, a local hangout famous for its Royal Botanical Garden and serene layout set in Richmond Surrey.
Learn about conservation and plant habitats while feeding your senses with the sights and fragrances of the mesmerising plants.
Kew Gardens is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site, located just 30 minutes from central London by Underground and Overground trains. The garden consists of 326 acres of gardens, 3 art galleries, a treetop walkway, and Kew Palace.
My favourite building is the Palm House and you’ll have to visit to see this beautiful rainforest boasting tropical plants from some of the most threatened environments in the world just outside London.
Address | Royal Botanic Gardens, Richmond TW9 3AB
Monday – Sunday | 10:00 am — 3:15 pm
16. Venture Through the Hampstead Heath Pergola and Hill Garden
A standing testament to how even buildings can age with grace is the Hampstead Heath Pergola and Hill Garden. This hidden gem in london is fairytale-like place is unreal in its classic beauty, providing sweeping views over Hampstead Heath.
When visiting the Hill Gardens, you’ll witness at least two engagement photoshoots going on in the Garden and Pergola. That’s how beautiful this place is.
Walk along the beautiful terrace in Hampstead Heath and enjoy the charm of the old Georgian Arbour. If you’re new to the city and want to know what not to miss in London, this spot should be high up on your list of places to go.
Address | The Pergola, Inverforth Cl, London NW3 7EX
Monday – Sunday | 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
17. Be Awestruck by Hampstead Heath Pond
Explore Hampstead Heath, London’s most magical and ancient heath. The public space is completely free, and it provides some of the most breathtaking scenery. This special place is also on a sandy ridge, which happens to be one of the highest points in London.
Stroll through this marvellous, open, and natural wonderland and take in the atmosphere surrounding the gorgeous and tranquil pond. If you’re up for it, take a dip! This is one of the best London free things to do.
Fun Non-Touristy Things to Do in London
Seeing London from the eyes of a local can be one of the most incredible ways to gain insights into the city’s attractions. Here are some of the best activities for those wanting to try something new.
18. Non touristy places to visit in London – Catch a gig at Brixton O2 Academy
London’s talents extend to the stage, and the best way to see this for yourself is to watch one of the shows performed at the Brixton 02 Academy. One of the top live music venues in London.
With live music events that will inspire and entertain you for hours, it’s also one of the most unmissable things to do in London.
This venue has a huge reputation worldwide, having seen the likes of Wham!, Eric Clapton, The Police, Dire Straits, and many more legendary acts.
I saw Damian Marley last year at the Brixton 02 Academy on his European tour and loved it. The inside of the building is regal and majestic, with huge cylinder columns, intricate details on the walls, and lush roped curtains. It’s a venue that will leave an impression on you and one of the cool things to do in London.
19. Visit the Beautiful Bookshops in London
One of the top quirky things to do in London is visit the many rare and independent bookshops around London.
There are few pleasures in life as soulful as a good book. London happens to be teaming with some of the world’s most unique and beautiful bookstores for you to indulge in this pleasure.
The whole experience of finding a bookstore is a joy and is one of the most amazing non-tourist things to do around London. Look out for some famous bookstores, like:
📖Shapero Rare Books
Each store tells its own story through its books and the atmosphere. Time will fly as you find your favourite book store in London.
20. Top non touristy things to do in London – Take in A Movie at The Electric Cinema
For a bit of a history lesson, as well as an unforgettable night out in London, go for a movie at the iconic Electric Cinema. It is London’s oldest and most charming working cinema, so it’s bound to make you feel like you’re in a time loop.
Found in the upbeat streets of Notting Hill, there’s no better way to watch a movie in the city, especially for those who want to see London off-the-beaten-path. Enjoy classic films paired with tasty cocktails, scrumptious food, and cosy cashmere blankets to set the tone for the evening.
Insider Tip: Movies start late in the evening, so be sure to look out for the latest shows on the Electric Cinema.
21. Do the V&A on a Friday Late
For anyone asking, “What are some non-touristy things to do in London?” the V&A presents by far one of the most enticing and riveting activities. Friday Late is a special event carried out by the exclusive venue and brand and it happens on the last Friday of every month.
Spend the night having your mind blown by blossoming talents and your eyes opened to the world of contemporary art. You can enjoy live performances from DJs and singers, watch an underground film installation, or partake in a heated cultural debate.
Everything about this event is magnificent and original, focusing on celebrating culture and contemporary art in London. Themes change monthly, so you’re always in for something fresh.
Insider Tip: Entrance to the V&A is free, but there is a separate fee for exhibitions and viewings of the gallery. On Friday Lates, the fee for the gallery drops after 17:30 PM.
22. A Taste of Asia in Chinatown London
Chinatown in London may be the best Chinatown in the world (besides the real deal). This is one of the best non-touristy things to do in England (particularly London) for all types of people. Find delicious cuisine and excellent places to stay near Chinatown.
The best feature of this area is the Chinese Gates (which signal to you that you are in Chinatown) impressive, ornamental structure with architectural touches from the Qing Dynasty. Talk about Instagram-worthy.
Talking about Instagram-worthy, if you are visiting London for the first time check out Bake and the Chinatown Bakery to get your paws on the Instagram-worthy teriyaki fish dessert. Get the matcha favour — you won’t regret it.
23. Non Touristy Places in London – Explore Little Venice
Little Venice may not be the first thing on your London bucket list, but it honestly provides one of the most surreal and wonderful experiences within the city. It’s one of the best London non tourist places to visit in summer.
You’ll feel like you are in Italy, Venice and be mesmerised by the attention to detail in this district.
This little slice of Venice is a local favourite, so be prepared for the most non-touristy, Italian-themed adventure of a lifetime.
24. Stop by Pop Brixton
Support local businesses and social initiatives and enjoy a shopping experience unlike any other. Visit Pop Brixton, one of the best London non tourist attractions, which isa community project that has transformed unused land in Brixton into a hotspot for Londoners with an entrepreneurial spark.
Enjoy beautiful stores, restaurants, and community focus events all set within a one-of-a-kind space. This is one of the most hipster things to do in London.
What To Do in London | Non Touristy Attractions In London
London is a place full of weird and wonderful things that continue to amaze everyone who visits.
However, some particularly non-touristy activities and unusual things to do in London may still shock you with their eccentrics while simultaneously exciting you with their creativity.
25. Walk Through the Barbican and Barbican Conservatory
The Barbican is another non touristy places in London to visit. Get together with some of the most creative minds at the Barbican Centre, a performance art hub in London.
Not only is this the largest of its kind within Europe, but it also houses an extraordinary conservatory.
I still remember attending the Basquiat: Boom for Real exhibition there. The flow and pieces on exhibit were otherworldly and beautiful.
The building itself is one of the best examples of Brutalist architecture in London. Dine at one of the three restaurants, have a special afternoon tea in the conservatory, browse through books in the library, and enjoy revolutionary paintings in the art gallery. Above all, be sure to visit the conservatory, which is also the biggest one in London.
It houses beautiful, exotic fish within its pond and over 2000 species of trees and plants. You are in for a whirlwind of natural beauty.
Address | Barbican Centre Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
The Barbican Centre is open | Mon-Sat: 9 am–11 pm Sun | 11 am–11 pm
Bank Holidays | 12 noon–11 pm
The Conservatory is open on selected Sundays from 12–5 pm.
Website | https://www.barbican.org.uk
26. Visit the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
If you want to see London off the beaten path then visit the Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. The sacred site of Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a Hindu temple that celebrates the spiritual ideas of selflessness and unity.
Not only is this a welcoming space for anyone to come and clear their mind, or learn more about the Hindu culture – but it is also an incredible landmark that is not frequented by tourists.
The gardens are immaculate and stunning, and the architecture of the temple rivals some of the most beautiful temples in the world.
Insider Tip: Dress conservatively for this activity and before you walk inside the temple, remember to remove your shoes.
27. Go on an Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
One of the things synonymous with London, and England as a whole, is the idea of afternoon tea. Indulge in this tradition and book an afternoon tea bus tour.
A cup of tea in this city is an essential experience for everyone, whether you are looking for off-the-beaten-path adventures or an iconic tourist-package in London.
Why not enjoy this pastime while on a double-decker bus, seeing the sights of the city? Be guided to local hotspots and attractions as you take a sip of English tea during an afternoon in the city.
28. Get Your Neon-Fix At God’s Own Junkyard
Enjoy a retro experience unlike any other in London. The neon artwork in God’s Own Junkyard is sure to wow you with its uniqueness and, of course, its blazing brightness.
All the neon signs you’ll see in God’s Own Junkyard are made on-site in their workshop. Pieces from famous movies such as Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut, Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Jack Nicholson in Batman were all made in God’s Own Junkyard.
Enjoy some of the most amazing and eccentric works of art the city has to offer, and then sit down for a bite at the Rolling Stones Cafe.
A hidden gem for sure, this activity offers one of the most exciting and unusual things to do in London. God’s Own Junkyard is in Walthamstow, so you will have to travel some distances if you are coming from central London.
Note: At this alternative things to do in LondonLarge DSRL or mirrorless cameras and video recording devices are not allowed, but you can take photos and videos on your phone
Address | Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall St, Walthamstow, London E17 9HQ
Opening Hours | Friday – Sunday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
29. What to Do in London (Not Touristy) – Leake Street Tunnel
Last on my list is Leake Street Tunnel near Waterloo Station. It’s a place that every person who has a piece of the London spirit in their soul needs to visit.
This famous London landmark is not a typical tourist attraction, and it showcases a completely different, more authentic side to living in this city if you love street art.
The tunnel became a world-famous street art spot after Banksy hosted the Cans Festival in 2008. Organising 30 artists to turn the tunnel into an ever-changing art gallery and included some original work by Banksy himself.
This is the largest area for legal street art, so, as you can imagine, this tunnel is completely covered in astounding graffiti.
Stroll through the tunnel to enjoy some of the local talents, and take a peek through this looking glass into the lives of young artists in the city and is one of the best non tourist things to do in London.
What You’ll Need For Non Touristy Things in London
Now that you know where to go, you may be wondering what you will need for non tourist things in London. Here is a list of essentials.
- A camera to capture the spots you’ll be visiting around London. I take all my photos with the Fujifilm X-T 4!
- A GoPro HERO for cinematic videos of your travels.
- To keep your devices juiced-up, use this power bank. I use this one to charge my phone, GoPro, and cameras while travelling.
- A backpack to carry your snacks and a bottle of water.
- A stylish pair of walking shoes to explore in comfort.
Non Touristy Things to Do in London: FAQ
Where is the best non touristy area to stay in London?
There are a bunch of great non-touristy areas to stay in London. These include neighbourhoods outside of central London like Hackney Wick, Dulwich, Brixton, and Walthamstow.
Where to avoid crowds in London?
You can avoid crowds in London by venturing slightly outside of central London to neighbourhoods northwest of the city. It’s very difficult to avoid crowds near central London, Westminster, and other major tourist attractions
How can I see London like a local?
The best way to see London like a local is by following a local’s guide to the city. You can ask around when you arrive, or find a local’s guide (like this list) with all the best non-touristy things to do in the city!
Last Thoughts on Things To Do in London (Not Touristy)
Although you will be taken aback during a tour of all London’s highlights, some of the best non-touristy things to do in London are even better, but only locals know about them!
This is the best way to really get a feel for London’s inspiring, beautiful, and continually forward-thinking culture.
If you’re looking for more non touristy places to stay in London or planning a trip to the Big Smoke then read my London travel tips. I hope that these activities help you create a more authentic multi-day London itinerary instead of just following the city’s typical tourist map.
Get ready to revel in the magic of London like a true English city-slicker.
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