When visiting London there is no shortage of things to do; from world famous museums to historic landmarks, the list of must-see attractions is pretty endless and you could easily fill up your time in the city and still not get to see everything on your wish list.
Just one trip to London and you can begin to understand why the city is one of the most visited in the world and why millions of tourists choose to come here each year.
For first time visitors there are always plenty of online guides and books which will offer insight on the best attractions to visit and even apps which can be downloaded onto smartphones with directions and hints and tips. In the city itself you will find maps available for us as well as plenty of useful signage dotted around guiding you to the ‘big’ names such as the Tower of London, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square and so on.
Sometimes however, it’s nice to step away from the crowds of tourists and seeing the most popular sights and trying something a little bit more unique.
Certainly in London you will find plenty of diverse and unusual things to do which may not necessarily feature in your standard informative guide to the city but which can be well worth taking the time to visit nonetheless. You can find such hidden gems by scouring forums for recommendations from locals, checking out blogs written by those who have been before you or reading on...
The top 5 most unusual places to go the next time you’re in London:
The City’s Smallest Cathedral
If you want to get up close to the stunning architectural wonder that is St Paul’s Cathedral but you can’t afford the entry fee then worry not; head further down the River Thames to Vauxhall Bridge where you will be able to see a tiny replica of the world famous cathedral in one of the alcoves. Along the bridge there are eight female statues designed to represent the arts and sciences; the teensy model of St Paul’s Cathedral is being held by the bronze statue created to represent ‘architecture’. Other arts and sciences represented include engineering, fine art and education. In order to see the sculptures you will have to walk along the bridge and peer over the side or catch a riverboat which passes underneath. Although it may not be quite as awe-inspiring as actually getting to see the real St Paul’s Cathedral it is certainly something which many of the tourists coming to the city will pass right by without ever realising what they are walking past.
A Jar of Moles
The Grant Museum of Zoology is fairly well known for the bizarre artefacts and exhibitions it showcases. One of the most strange has certainly got to be the glass jar of whole preserved moles; not least because they even have their own Twitter account! Of course with over 68,000 animal related specimens and being able to claim to have one of the oldest natural history collections in the whole of the UK, there are also plenty of other weird and wonderful things to discover here. Other items of note include the brain collection, the giant deer and the dodo bones. If you are staying at one of London’s popular central hotels such as the Grand Park London Paddington Hotel you will find the Museum very easy to access and there are a number of other great attractions in the nearby vicinity including the British Museum and the Royal Opera House.
London’s Brightest Sculpture
Head to Canary Wharf and you can be witness to one of London’s strangest and brightest sculptures; the traffic light tree. Created by a French sculptor, the traffic light tree stands at eight metres tall and features 75 full operational traffic lights on a number of metal branches. It is best viewed at night when it is lit up (it isn’t used for directing traffic) and is situated at the roundabout next to Billingsgate fish market.
Seven Noses of Soho
The great thing about London is that even when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, something comes along which reminds you that you will never really unearth all its hidden secrets. One great example of this is the seven noses of Soho. In 1996, artist Rick Buckley decided to attach sculpted noses to several buildings around central London. You can take a dedicated walking tour with a guide who will show you the different appendages and their locations or maybe see if you can discover them for yourself. It’s an incredible insight into the kind of thing you might have walked past hundreds of times before but never stopped to really look at.
London’s Oddest Decoration
In the mid 1860s when London was expanding at a rapid rate, a new plan was proposed to create a railway line, one which ran right through the heart of the graveyard at St Pancras Church. In order to accommodate the new line, an architecture firm was given the responsibility of exhuming and reburying the remains of those graves which would be displaced by the new railway line and the job was given to one of the firm’s youngest employees; Thomas Hardy. Not yet a well known writer, Hardy dutifully undertook the task but was then left with hundreds of old and weathered headstones. He was, apparently, inspired to place them around the base of an ash tree in the churchyard, which would be untouched by the rail track. Over time some of the headstones have sunk into the ground appearing to almost be absorbed by the tree itself making this a very odd decorative addition to London but one you should definitely put aside a few minutes to see, especially if you are travelling in or out of nearby St Pancras International Station.