st james park
st james park

Our Bucket List for Londoners 


For anyone who’s lived inside the M25 for a while, the capital’s best known attractions can feel a bit ‘been there, done that.’ If you’re short on budget, aren’t going abroad this year, or are wondering what you can do in London for free, why not become a local tourist and discover these budget friendly hidden gems? We’ve unearthed some of the coolest things to do in town - from secret London events to enjoy with friends, to what to do in London by yourself. Whatever your vibe, our guide will help you find some unusual and new things to do around London.

 

Rediscover the Cultural London

Spend a day exploring these cultural attractions in London that’ll satisfy any curiosity.


 

London's Centres of Culture

theatre

London's Centres of Culture

From the BFI to Auress, London’s Southbank is a hub of culture. The National Theatre, Southbank Centre and Tate Modern are all located on London’s Southbank. The Old Vic and Young Vic theatres are close by, too. These carefully curated buildings house the best in classic and contemporary music and art, screen some of the most iconic films ever made, and host a roster of unforgettable stage productions.

Unusual Museums

museum

Unusual Museums

London is packed with museums and galleries, many of which are free. It’s also home to a number of odd, eccentric and downright bizarre museums that you definitely won’t find on the typical tourist trails. Get your fix of peculiarity by visiting the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL. Or how about Sir John Soane’s Museum in Holborn? Previously the renowned neoclassical architect’s home, it’s full of vintage furniture, sculptures, and artworks by Turner and Hogarth. Entry to both of these museums is free. For more inspiration, read about London’s thriving weird and wonderful museums, here.

Catch a Free Lecture

speaker panel

Catch a Free Lecture

The British Academy holds free lectures showcasing the sharpest minds in psychology, sociology and more. Public talks and lectures are also hosted by universities across the country. Thankfully, many of these are held at local London universities - including Birkbeck. Topics like art, law, sustainability, philosophy and AI are discussed by playwrights, novelists, economists and lawyers. For all things science, visit the Royal Institution to hear talks on everything from emotionally intelligent technology to animal senses - for as little as £10.

 

Rediscover London's Outdoor Activities

Even London’s most spacious parks seem to burst with bodies on a hot day. Why not escape the crowds and try one of these lesser frequented outdoor spaces instead?

Take a Cemetery Stroll

cemetary

Take a Cemetery Stroll

Plenty of Londoners know about Victorian-era Highgate Cemetery which houses the final resting place of famous figures such as Karl Marx. But did you know there are other equally interesting cemeteries that don’t charge an admission fee? A surprisingly peaceful (if unusual) way to spend a day, London’s lesser known cemeteries are havens of quiet away from the traffic and noise. Brompton, Kensal Green and Tower Hamlets cemeteries are all worth a visit. We’re big fans of Abney Park in Stoke Newington - known as one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ which offers an opportunity to wander through the leafy ruins parallel to the bustling high street.

Ham House and Gardens

Ham House

Ham House and Gardens

If you’ve completed Kenwood House and are bored of Buckingham Palace, then perhaps Ham House will satisfy your grand desires. The 17th century mansion west of Richmond-Upon-Thames features a garden and an extraordinary meadow teeming with wildlife that stretches down to the River Thames. Ham House was once a hothouse for the courtiers of the Stuart Dynasty, and is famed as being haunted by the ghost of the Duchess of Lauderdale. Check out pretty Petersham Nurseries nearby. Perfect for a cup of tea and a slice of cake before you head home.

Lavender Fields

Lavender

Lavender Fields

Situated on the edge of London just a short drive from the capital you’ll find Mayfield Lavender Farm. Developed on the site of an original Victorian Lavender field, this visitor attraction is described as like walking through a sea of lavender. The farm covers 12 acres of land and boasts a plant nursery and gift shop. The al-fresco cafe serves cream teas, and even offers afternoon tea hampers, complete with lavender cider. Peak bloom time is from July to August. You can get there by booking a Zipcar.

Stand on the Prime Meridian

Meridian line

Stand on the Prime Meridian

The historic Prime Meridian divides the earth’s eastern and western hemispheres. It’s the precise marker and reference line for Greenwich Mean Time (and reference point for astronomical observations). You’ll find it at The Royal Observatory. From the top of the hill in Greenwich Park, you can spot the green laser in the evening sky marking the Meridian Line as you look towards the city. Entry to the observatory is free for members, with discounted memberships available for families.

Rediscover Bucket List London

Here’s proof that London can still pose a mystery - even for the most dedicated local tourist. We think these hidden gems are bucket list worthy.

Garden Squares Across London

Garden sign

Garden Squares Across London

Anyone who has seen Notting Hill can recall that bit where Hugh Grant makes a fool of himself in front of Julia Roberts by tumbling over a gate into a magical private garden square. Most long-time Londoners have peered through wrought iron gates at one time or another to get a glimpse of what lies beyond. Usually locked and only available to those whose homes flank them, these communal garden spaces open up to the public annually for one weekend in June. The London Gardens Trust event permits exploration of dozens of private squares across the capital, plus rooftop gardens and allotments belonging to churches, historic buildings and museums. No need to clamour over the gate though, legit admission is just £5 per person. Whoopsie daisies indeed!

Visit and Abandoned Tube Station

tube station

Visit and Abandoned Tube Station

For a truly secret London experience, why not visit a time capsule within the city, by going underground. On our list of things you have to do in London, explore disused tunnels with The London Transport Museum’s series of walking tours. Taking place beneath the streets, each walk is dedicated to a different tube station that’s no longer in use. We particularly like the look of a behind-the-scenes tour of Churchill’s WWII bomb-proof shelter. Or how about visiting the subterranean passageways deep below Clapham South? Head torches aren't necessary.

Justice is Served

Old bailey

Justice is Served

As one of the world’s most iconic courthouses, The Old Bailey is as active today as it was during Mediaeval times. The main courts - Court One and Court Two have seen some of the most notorious defendants in criminal history on trial - including The Kray Twins and The Yorkshire Ripper. Even Oscar Wilde has been tried here. Members of the public can queue to view proceedings from the gallery. Visit The Old Bailey website for information on seminars by criminal experts, and guided tours of the building itself.

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